Competing with The Machine

By Beacon Staff

There’s a guy who sells a boring product here in the Flathead. If he’s your client, you don’t think of him or his product as boring.

Despite selling a boring product that all businesses need but don’t really want, he makes it a point to keep his eye on the niches his clients do business in, which allows him (among other things) to keep in touch with them using a link to a story, a printed article, or just a mention about an industry issue.

That’s never boring because it’s about you and your business, not about him.

But that isn’t why I mention him. The reason why I bring him up is that competing against him is not something most want to do. Some call him “The Machine”.

Not because he’s like a robot, but because he gets stuff done. Not just once in a while, or on the day before vacation, but every day like clockwork.

He has a system to keep him on task. It doesn’t matter whether it’s paper, Outlook, a PDA, smartphone or some other tool. It works for him.

Remember what Zig says about the day before vacation? “Everyone uses a todo list before they leave for vacation because they *have* to get those things done – why don’t they do that every day?”

“Boring” systems like whatever The Machine uses are what create consistency. Consistency is never boring when it comes to being a customer. Who doesn’t like being able to depend on a vendor we use?

How many of your vendors (business or personal) are dial-tone-dependable? Would your customers put you in that class?

That brings me to this week’s real point: Do it for them before you expect them to do it for themselves.

Everyone has heard the saying: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

While it sounds nice, most people aren’t interested in changing their daily routine to spend some time fishing (no, I don’t *really* mean fishing, I mean doing something that will improve their business).

Regardless of how you figure this stuff out, human nature is a powerful teacher and change continues to be one of the hardest things we deal with.

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about change for change’s sake. I’m talking about adding a new product or service, or adding new tactic to the mix of stuff you do to get/keep clients.

That kind of change is hard, kinda like pushing a railroad car.

Until the car starts rolling, you feel like you’re doing a lot of work for nothing, but eventually that incredibly heavy car will start moving just a little. Then a little more.

Once it gets some momentum, it’s as hard to stop as it was to start.

Still, introducing new processes into your routine business day is tough. Because they’re new, it’s forget or set them aside, much less view them as “busy work”. If you aren’t careful, they don’t get done.

Unless of course, you’re The Machine.

New processes can disruptive if not downright annoying, but they have to be done. You know what happens when you don’t do those things? Nothing new.

The power of your daily routine is tough to break. That’s good until it prevents you from getting new stuff done – and that’s when a guy like The Machine takes over.

Every single person reading this can do what so-and-so does radically improve some aspect of their business (or whatever).

Trouble is, not everyone will actually do those things.

A lot of the reason for this is that people just aren’t used to taking new actions. Sure, they get up for work in the morning (even if they work for themselves) and they go about their business, but they struggle to make new things happen.

Sometimes you just have to do these things *for* your clients. You might even structure your service such that they have to get it done for them before they are provided with what is necessary to do it themselves.

Why? Because change is hard. Meanwhile, The Machine is still out there, chugging away.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.