Years ago as I was struggling in my business, I had the opportunity to be mentored by an older retired business owner. If I was willing to take his advice, he was there to help me understand how to make my business produce a profit.
One afternoon, he called me and offered to pay my way for a workshop helping new business owners understand the basics of financials and business plans. I thanked him for the kind offer, but turned it down because I just didn’t have the time to take a day off. I had a payroll to meet at the end of the week, and wasn’t sure where the money was going to come from to meet it.
A lesson to learn from
After hearing my reason for declining the offer, my mentor laughed and proceeded to tell me a story that forever changed my thinking about business and training. It was a story about two lumber jacks, both very skilled at their craft. The first was a younger man who was big and powerful and was known for his ability to cut a great number of trees in a day. The second was an older man who was much smaller than the younger man but also carried the reputation of being a great lumberjack.
One day, both of the lumberjacks were cutting at the edge of a town and the local people were making bets as to which lumberjack was the best. When the younger man heard of the bets being made, he decided to challenge the older lumberjack to a contest to settle the argument once and for all.
When morning broke, the entire town showed up to cheer on the lumberjacks. The competition started and the young man leaped into action. He swung his axe vigorously and continuously without stopping, knowing that every tree he felled brought him closer to the victory he knew he would have.
The older man started with the same energy as the younger man, but at the end of the first hour he stopped swinging his axe and took a break. Seeing this, the younger lumberjack's confidence grew. He thought if he worked harder and swung his axe more, victory was surely his. This pattern continued on throughout the day until dusk when the contest came to an end and the downed trees were counted.
The younger, larger man stood proud and exhausted by his pile of trees confident that he was the winner. The smaller, older lumberjack also stood by his pile of trees. Unlike his competitor, the smaller man was still fresh, ready to continue if necessary. He was also confident and secure in the knowledge that he had done his best.
When all the trees were counted, it was announced that the second woodsman, the smaller and older man, had indeed felled more trees and won the competition. The younger man and the townspeople stood in stunned silence at the announcement.
The older man was not at all surprised. He knew all along that in order to win, especially against a larger competitor, he would have to take the time each hour to stop and sharpen his axe.
Investing time in your success
I let the story sink in and told my friend that he could count on me using the ticket for the workshop. It is important to remember that you need to take time off from your business to learn how to better maintain or grow it. Today, I am so glad I took time out for the opportunity to learn more.
The reason I bring up this story at this time is because I have had several dealers ask me over the last few weeks if I thought it would be a good use of their time to send their techs and managers to the training sessions going on at this year's GIE+EXPO. There are many valuable opportunities for dealers and their staff at GIE+EXPO.
Some benefits of attending include EETC technician training on electrical and two-stroke diagnostics as well as how to troubleshoot the new EFI engines. It's also important that managers and owners participate in the workshops I am conducting with the help of my team on parts, service and dealership operations.
I discovered long ago you can be the young, strong lumberjack and work yourself to death, or choose to be the older, wiser man who understands the value of a sharp axe. This year more than ever, I encourage you to take the time out of your dealership, and invest in your people and yourself by coming to the GIE+EXPO, attending the workshops and leaving with a sharp axe ready to go into the 2013 season.