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Do you have a narrow entrepreneurial mindset?

by Kayla on May 31, 2011 in it's business

I live in a part of Kansas City, that by definition would be a suburban area, but I am still amazed at how many door-to-door salespeople we get. Maybe it’s the small-town girl in me that just wouldn’t feel comfortable going up to random people’s homes in the “city”. Maybe it’s that I watch too many detective shows (I’m hooked) & am now paranoid. Whatever the case, it amazes me every time I look out to see a door-to-door salesperson. My kids, however, always get really excited & yell “home, someone’s home” – someone is usually replaced with “Daddy”, a grandparent or aunt/uncle.

But I digress…

Today, the doorbell rang, and it was a young man handing out flyers for his tree service. He said they were going to be doing work in our area and asked if we had any trees that might need some branches removed. I told him he was a week or so late, as we did have a tree struck by lightning, with a branch about to fall. However, my husband had removed the branch, as our children play out there, and we didn’t want the branch to fall while they were playing outside. I’m always wanting to support other entrepreneurs, so I was thinking of other ways I could support his business, when an idea popped into my head.

I told him that the branch my husband had cut from the tree was still in our backyard. It was too large for our vehicles to haul away, and I know my husband wasn’t looking forward to sawing/chopping it up into firewood (we still have a lot of firewood in our garage that came with our house).I asked if the branch was something that they could haul away for us, and how much it would cost to do so. He said they could, and walked around to look at the branch in the backyard.

He was gone long enough that I’m sure he was thinking of what to say when he came back to the door – or maybe he even called someone else for their opinion. When he came back, he said that the branch was fairly small (it’s big to me – it’s about the same size or slightly bigger than a small tree) and that their minimum service charge is $100, so he wanted to know if there was any other work that could be done to our trees to make it worth his time & our money. I told him I didn’t think there was any other work to be done to our trees, but that I would check with my husband. He thanked me for my time and left.

I figured if they were going to be working in the area anyway, hauling away our tree branch would be a way to make some extra money for little work. I may have even paid up to half of their minimum service charge ($50). I saw the tree service truck go by about 15 minutes before he came to our door, they could have hauled the branch away today, and made some instant money – that would have been a lot more productive than knocking on most of these doors (as I know even some that are home didn’t answer their doors). Or they could have been prepared and given me the name of a business offering a complementary service (like hauling away our “small” tree branch).

Apparently, $50 is not worth stopping by our house on their way to/from a job in our neighborhood to pick up our tree branch, that might take them 5-10 minutes. Maybe they’re too busy to do something so “small” – although I doubt they’d be going door-to-door if that was the case. Maybe they aren’t really going to be working in the area (at least not until they find someone in the neighborhood who needs their services). My guess is that the company suffers from a narrow entrepreneurial mindset. Otherwise, they could have provided me with the name of a business offering a complementary service, which would have impressed me and secured my business for larger tasks.

I’m sure if I posted on Craigslist, I could get someone to haul it away for free – for them to use for firewood or whatever. Or maybe even someone with an entrepreneurial mindset will pick it up, cut it into firewood & sell it this Fall. Hey, that’s a good idea. If I had the tools, I’d do it myself.

So, do you have a narrow entrepreneurial mindset or do you keep your eyes & ears open to different ways to make money?

Wanna come pick up a tree branch?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Donna Maria Coles Johnson June 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

Wow, Kayla. What a short sighted business person. Not only did he miss a chance to help you by doing something that would have taken him 5 minutes, but he made himself look like a person who would not hesitate to take advantage of you. Imagine what would have happened if he had decided to help, and then you Tweeted and blogged about how wonderful he was, and shared his phone number and links to his sites. With all of the bad weather in your area recently, there’s little doubt that at least one of your friends would have needed some help. I am sure that people with more common sense, and who are in business not only to make money, but also to help people, will get all of the business this guy misses out on. Sad for him. I hope you find someone to get rid of your little big tree. :)

2 Valerie June 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I’m so glad I came across this post. It absolutely kills me, especially with the economy being in the state that it is, that any business is in a position to turn down $50, not to mention the chance to build a relationship with quality work at a lower price point than their usual services. That couldn’t have been the owner of the company, because I bet he would have dragged that thing out of your hard himself if it had.

3 Kayla July 6, 2011 at 12:46 am

@Donna Maria I’m a bit of an optimist in that I think I’m going to get good customer service from all businesses. Unfortunately, I’m realizing that businesses with good customer service are a rare gem these days. However, I’m glad to read more stories in the media of how businesses are noticing the benefits of having great customer service, so we may see a return to this, yet! We did find someone to take our little big tree. My husband and I came home from a weekend away for a wedding, and my brother-in-law had hauled it off to the ditch behind his house.

@Valerie You’re right, I don’t think he was the owner of the company. He was gone long enough “to see how big the tree was” that I’m pretty sure he called a supervisor to see what he should do. Just goes to show how hiring the right people for your business is important, so that others will experience your business in the way you want them to.

The kicker was a few days later, I awoke to this horribly loud sound, which also woke up my kids. Come to find out, the guy across the street had hired this tree removal company to come clean up some of his trees. They brought a wood chipper – I had no clue how noisy those things are! At the time, our small big tree was still very visible in our yard from their vantage point and for a brief moment I thought they might come knock on our door again, but deep down, I knew better. :)

4 teresa August 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

This is a great post! I need to think about it more too. Am I really doing everything I can?
I know that when we do come across someone who is really trying and has that “can do” attitude, we try to support them as much as possible.
We live in Southern California and I’ll tell you that it’s often the people from Mexico who seem to be the most motivated. Illegal or not. I think they appreciate being here and the opportunity to work.
And by the way…. I LOVE your work.

5 Kayla August 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Thanks, Teresa!
That’s interesting that you’ve noticed people from Mexico seem to be the most motivated and appreciative. Everyone I’ve met from Mexico or South America, has always seemed to be full of life. As though they are overflowing with joy. I think when we’re truly grateful, that comes across in our work, and all areas of life.

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