Over 15 years ago, my tent rental company was broken. Since then I sold that company and have been listening to similar stories of broken tent rental companies throughout the world.
FIXING A BROKEN TENT RENTAL COMPANY
In the book, “The EMyth,” Michael Gerber talks to a baker who starts her own business. After I read that book, I realized that Sarah, the baker, could just as easily have been a tent rental operator. She works hard. She grows the business and generates a nice income for herself. Then one day she wakes up and realizes that she has grown to hate the business. She realizes that she chased her dream straight into what seems like hell. The paycheck is not the problem–the problem is that she is tired. She has too much business and can’t keep up. She works long hours. Her customer service is slipping. Her attention to detail is slipping. She can’t seem to find the right employees to help her. She is making poor financial decisions. She is ready to either drastically downsize or get out of the business completely. Her frustration is really high. Whether you’re baker or a tent rental operator, the story and the lesson are the same.
“Something has to give and that something is you. Does this sound familiar? Well, if you’ve been in business for awhile it should.” -The EMyth Revisited
Growing a business is hard work. Getting started is mostly about doing the necessary grunt work: setting up tents, taking sales calls, doing estimates, developing advertising, paying and collecting bills, purchasing tents, and maintaining & cleaning tents. Initially it’s fun and challenging and “wearing all the hats” is what it takes. Then the company grows and doing all that needs to be done eventually becomes impossible. The next step is to hire a few employees to do the things you can’t. Now an excessive amount of time is spent searching for employees who will do the job with enthusiasm and commitment. Unfortunately, you don’t have time to search for these employees—just keeping up day to day is taking all your time.
And things keep getting worse. Employees come and go. Tents don’t get set up safely and in the quality manner they used too. Delivery trucks get lost and take too much time finding their way around. The warehouse becomes a wreck–so disorganized that loading and unloading takes much more time than it used too. Tents don’t get cleaned as quickly or as thoroughly as they used too. And with no time to study the finances, the costs start to rise and profits start to fall. Most people will work harder and longer hours. But some take the time necessary to find a different solution. Michael Gerber calls this a “french fry moment.”
“The system runs the business and the people run the system.” -The EMyth Revisited
Go anywhere in the world, walk into a McDonalds and it’s pretty much a given that you’ll get the same french fries served to you in the same amount of time that you did back home. This concept is really important for those tent rental operators searching for a different solution to the frustrations of a growing business. The key to the french fries is NOT the employee. The key is in the method and machine used to do the frying. McDonald’s has built the best system for frying french fries in the world. They invested in machines that were easy to use and wrote clear instructions on how to use them. They developed and implemented a system for just about everything they do. Now their employee issues were solved. As long as the employee would show up to work with even a small desire to succeed, that employee could consistently and effectively do his or her job. Having the best machines, procedures and systems set that employee up for success and guaranteed the company—and the customer–great fries. Armed with their systems, McDonald’s could easily grow the company and not have to worry about the employees being a weak link.
WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH YOUR DIRTY TENT TOPS?
Maybe now you’re taking the time to find a better solution. You may have the same issue that McDonald’s had except yours is with cleaning tent tops, not frying french fries. Most likely you’re a growing company who finds it difficult to maintain a consistent quality of clean. Finding employees to do the work of cleaning is difficult and the number of tent tops that need to get cleaned is increasing and so is the pace of turning around clean, rent-ready tents. Customers may be noticing the change in quality and may be complaining. Sometimes crews have to be sent back to a jobsite to re-clean tent tops. Keeping tent tops clean in growing company can affect every aspect of the business.
You’re not alone. Successful companies just like yours on three continents of the world have worked through the same issues. Like you, they are taking a good look at their business and finding ways to grow, find and keep better employees, reduce their stress and become more profitable. And when it comes to solving the dirty tent top dilemma–they’re buying tent washing machines. Like McDonald’s they then hire employees to run the machine. They train them and the results show that employees who could not produce consistently high quality clean tents by hand washing, can now do it every day, all day with a machine.
“If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job.” -The EMyth Revisited
I had a broken tent rental company and fixed it by doing the same things McDonald’s did, and ultimately what Sarah, the baker did. I went through each area of my business and found machines or technology or systems that I could use to train employees to get the tasks done efficiently and effectively. I bought GPS systems for the truck drivers. I bought better warehouse equipment and storage technology. And a tent washing machine became the standard item to deal with our dirty tent tops.
The path was always there for Sarah, our EMyth heroine—she just got lost and didn’t trust it. But, she rallied, went outside of her comfort zone and turned things around. Now she works on her business instead of in it—and her business thrives. So can yours. If you’ve ever considered a tent washing machine for your business but for whatever reason, couldn’t quite make the leap, we now have a 4 Part Guarantee that will literally take the risk out of making that purchase. This is huge—we’re really excited about it!