By Steve Arendt CEO Teeco Solutions
When I used to own a party rental company, lunchtime at the ARA show (or any rental tradeshow) was always an interesting time for me. Any conversation that confirmed my outlook was always affirming and left me feeling confident. Other conversation that did not coincide with my outlook sometimes challenged me and gave me great ideas to implement upon my return. Yet sometimes conversation really turned me off and left me feeling almost bitter, questioning whether or not I stacked up.
How could a simple lunch leave me so uptight? The answer to my tension was the fact that although we were in the same business, we had completely different starting points and strategies in our business outlook. Because we did not share a foundation in our business identity, it became hard to “compare notes”.
Sometimes the differences were subtle. For instance, one time I sat with a company that provided predominately for the fireworks in industry in a rural setting. Yet, I provided for parties to the higher end clientele of the affluent section of town. Yes we both rented tents, and that is about as far as it went. Things that were important to my survival included: clean product, new trucks, costly advertising/marketing, and taking the time to ensure everything was exactly perfect. None of these things were important to my lunch partner’s survival or identity. When I suggested my ways of doing things as a potential improvement to his business, I found absolutely no agreement in him. Our conversation went nowhere! It was because we each got out of bed each morning with a different vision in mind as to how we would use our tent inventory for making our living.
My lesson is all this is that each party rental company is unique to its own vision, and strategy. I did not have to be like the other guy at the table, and being true to the picture of who we wanted to be is what is most important. At the end of the day both he and I made a good living pursuing our own individual visions. At the end of the day, we may share a common title to an industry and be in two completely different spaces.
This outlook changed everything. Owning the fact that no two strategies or visions are the same made all the difference. Knowing and owning my own vision and starting points allowed me to be unique. I could set myself apart from competitors. I could hire the people that best fit who we were and what we were doing. I could start to seek out customers most in need of who we were. I could avoid those customers that were not a fit for who we were.
Lunchtime at the show proved to be valuable. And oddly enough it was the lunches that held a bit of tension in them that taught me the most.
I would love to hear your experiences or outlooks about this, your comments are easy to leave!