It was a Saturday morning in May when I realized that I was not as smart as I thought I was. This happened about 35 years ago but it is as fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday. I was operating one of my franchise organizations and this franchise was in the Lawn Care industry. In this business, there are certain days in the year where you can make 10 times the amount of money than other days. One of those golden days was any Saturday in May. On those Saturdays in May, you want to have all of your trucks on the road, all of your employees out there, any one you can get to work for you. And you want them out there from dawn to dusk. A Saturday in May to someone in the Lawn Care industry is like the Saturday before Christmas to someone in the Christmas tree business.
As the Franchisor and owner of this organization, I thought I had made this crystal clear to all of the franchisees. Apparently not. As I was just leaving my office to go visit some of the local franchisees in the area, a franchisee walked into my office and asked if I had any extra t-shirts in stock. I was speechless, he had just driven almost two hours to get to my office and would spend another two hours driving back and the purpose of this half-day exercise was to see if I had any extra t-shirts. Forget the fact that you use a telephone to ask that kind of question, he had just wasted one of the only four Saturdays on a routine administrative task that could have been done by anyone at anytime, EXCEPT that time.
I realized that I had done something wrong, not the franchisee in front of me, but me, the supposed expert in the field and the owner of the whole kit and caboodle. It was too late at that point to explain what he had done was wrong and had cost him a great deal of money. What was left to do was to figure out how he could have so badly misunderstood what we had spent so much time trying to explain to him in the extensive training we had already provided. Clearly, there was something lacking in what we had provided him.
What made this situation so chilling was that when I asked the franchisee why he was coming over on a Saturday morning to ask for some extra t-shirts, he said because he read in the manual that it was important to have all of his employees in proper uniform. There was the problem. He was right. In the training manual it said that all employees must be in proper uniform when they are in company trucks, no argument that proper procedures was to ensure all employees were to be in proper uniform in company trucks.
On a scale of 1 to 100, 1 being the top, where did spending time on a Saturday in May on the road rank compared to spending that same time ensuring that your employees had proper uniforms on? Spending time on the road ranked number 1, at the top, and spending time driving around on the same day in May getting t-shirts, ranks at number 100, the absolute bottom. In this instant, it became very clear that there had to be a system, a way of ranking what was important with what was REALLY important and then what was Irrefutably important.
Having a clean truck is important. Having your employees in that clean truck with proper uniforms on is REALLY important. But spending all of the Saturdays in May in those trucks on the road is Irrefutably important to your success. I had failed to make that distinction between what was important, REALLY important and then Irrefutably important. Clear. Up to that point, I simply did not think that the distinctions were important enough to think what I was doing was not sufficient enough to make these people successful. That was a defining moment in my progress as a businessperson and as one who looked upon himself as someone of authority. It was a humbling experience.
I started to develop the Irrefutables for this particular franchise organization as well as expanding this concept to all of my other clients and business interests. The results were simply astounding. It was if I was coming out of the dark ages. Once the concept was fleshed out, it seemed so simple and so basic, after the fact of course. Having your own set of Irrefutables will give you the core issues and values that will allow you to run your business, your professional life by a constant set of rules that will ensure that you get on track and stay on track.
Having your own set of Irrefutables will give you the core issues and values that will allow you to run your business, your professional life by a constant set of rules that will ensure that you get on track and stay on track.