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Nowadays, the whole Rohr family works the seminar circuit. Hot Rod presents classes as the training manager of Caleffi North America. Max represents the Radiant Panel Association and various manufacturers through his job at Shamrock Sales, a rep firm in Colorado. This week, I presented a business building seminar series sponsored by Dakota Supply Group (DSG).

Tom Rosendahl is president of DSG. He is a charismatic leader who bangs the drum of the company mission: To help their customers be successful. They offer all kinds of training programs on management skills, financial analysis, sales and marketing. Tom and his team understand that pipe is pipe and wire is wire, unless you differentiate yourself. Their commitment to their customers’ success is a fantastic way to add value.

I worked with Team DSG to put together an agenda for the class. We decided to focus on the challenges that their customers tell them are the most pressing.

Employee Problems: How to find, and keep, great people working at your company.

Growth Issues: How to develop the team, and find new customers…profitably.

Transition Challenges: How to create opportunities for employees and family, and wealth for the owners.

We put on the show in five cities in five days, throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota. In my presentations, I aim to bring my best, tested tactics, gleaned from working directly with hundreds of contractors. I don’t try to get our students to do things my way. I encourage them to think about what they want, and clarify their dreams and goals. Then, I may be able to offer ideas about how to make those a reality. Even better, I love helping the attendees solve their own challenges, and help each other.

This week, I learned a lot, as I always do. This is what a few of our contractor students shared.

Recruiting great team members

“We’ve decided to provide childcare services and/or reimbursement for our team members. We’ve found it’s a great recruiting tool.”

“We offer a mentoring program through our local high school. We 'adopt' a few kids to spend time with our team. They ride along with our techs. They learn about operations. So far, we’ve found a few great guys who have chosen to come to work with us.”

“We pay for education and tools. We used to offer reimbursement for education, but a lot of young people just didn’t have the upfront cash. We used to take money out of their paychecks for tools, but it ended up being a pain for our bookkeeper. We just made it simple and it has allowed us to hire from a larger pool of recruits.”

Growing profits

“My banker told me that he has never known a company to go out of business because they raised their prices. But he has had dozens of clients who had gone bust because they wouldn’t.”

“When we raised our prices, I thought that our customers would squawk. They didn’t. I asked one of them why they used us, when they could hire someone who would charge less. She said, ‘I assumed that because you were more expensive, you must be better. How about that!”

Growing a new business

“I grew up farmer. I became a soldier. I created a real estate company. Now, I am starting a contracting business. I have a plan and I am working it. I’m 40 years old. I’m not going to look back at 60 and wish I would have done what I can do right now.”

“I bought my company from my dad. It wasn’t given to me. I’ve committed to learning how to run a successful business. I’ve spent lots of time with my accountant and bookkeeper figuring out the balance sheet and P&L. I’ve signed up for a financial analysis class. I’ll take every class I can, and read every book, to figure out what I need to do.” This was from a 28-year-old.

I love seminarland because, within the sanctity of the classroom, anything is possible! We get to dream and plan and hope. If we are going to change our lives, we have to change our thoughts. A seminar gives you the time and space and support to lay claim to, or reclaim, your dreams.

Change takes focus and discipline. However, when it comes to changing current behaviors, for a few, it is a lot easier to just…not. Some people are fired up in the classroom, but have the enthusiasm punched out of them as soon as they get back to the real world.

I know I can’t, but if I could, I would grab those few students by the chin and implore them to take a chance. Your businesses may be your best shot at getting out of debt, creating a retirement, sending your kids to college and living an amazing adventure. It may be worth it to fix the business you have or launch the one you’ve been thinking about.

At the end of each class, I read the report cards and review the day. Sometimes what I share “lands” and sometimes I miss the mark. Usually, it’s some of both, but I can’t wait to get out there and do it again. I’ve learned so much from so many great teachers, including Frank Blau, Harry Friedman, Jeff Gitomer, Al Levi, Frank McQuire, Lance Secretan, Kenny Chapman, Howard Partridge, Michael Gerber, Zig and Tom Ziglar, Clint Arthur, Melinda Emerson, Nely Galan, Mark Victor Hansen and a zillion others. It just takes one new thought and one new action to quantum leap our lives and businesses. Often, I get that new idea from one of the attendees.

I’m proud of Hot Rod and Max for putting themselves out there. They, like me, and like the companies who sponsor our programs, want you to win. That’s what gets us on the plane or in the truck and into the classroom. l

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