March 1, 2017
George Uvari
George Uvari

Improvement, value, perception and confidence

What are you worth?

Have you ever wondered why some people can charge large for their work while others can’t? Believe it or not, much of it has to do with pure boldness. My late Uncle Leslie Solty once said to me, “It is better not to work than to work for free!” He was oh-so-right. Your attitude and belief in your self-worth have a huge impact on your financial success.

This of course does not give license to charge pie-in-the-sky rates, but another 10 per cent would mean a lot, if you could get it. The only way to get it is to try charging more where you can. Proof of this is a company I mentored who was giving away designs for free. After I convinced them to charge for drawings, they added $20K to their bottom line — just in designs.

Of course you need to know your costs to figure out breakeven and what you need to charge. Still, the ‘Why choose me?’ has a lot to do with your attitude. If you are priced higher than your competition, you must believe you are worth more. Customers can sense confidence and they can also sense weakness. Do you see yourself as “The Best?”

I know I have a penchant for nice people, places and things, and recognize deals are usually someone else’s misfortune. Finding deals all the time is a lot of work, and sometimes it can blow up in your face. Of course I am an opportunist and will pick the low-hanging fruit, but I do not like risk. Therefore, I will pay more for lots of things, knowing that I am getting value. Service is something I do not commoditize because I know you usually get what you pay for! You have to believe this in your heart of hearts, or you will be constantly chasing the deal and believing everything can be done for less!
So let’s get some practical things out of the way. Or in economic terms, let’s make some assumptions.
Your designs are different and creative
Your build is superior
Your customer care is amazing
You cannot stand mediocrity and strive to continually improve

If the above statements are true you have the foundation to price on reputation.

How well is your business run? Try scoring yourself from one to 10 in these areas:
  • Finance: Do you know your numbers?
  • Sales and marketing: Are your trucks shiny and nice, does your staff wear uniforms? Do you have cool signs in front of your projects? Are your sales presentations concise and comprehensive?
  • Operations: Are your people on-site Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.? Do your leaders represent you well? Do your crews have the information they need? Do you have the equipment to get it done?
  • Human resources: Do you have smart, thoughtful, caring and well-trained staff?
  • Technology: Do you have great communication with staff and customers via smartphones, software etc.?

If you score less than 85 per cent, your foundation for confidence will be tenuous at best. You will have so many problems and your time will be stretched so thin, you will not exude the confidence you need.

My advice in this case? More is not necessarily better, but better is better. If you keep it tight and simple, it’s easier to be less stressed and more confident. If you want to build an empire, make sure you charge enough to fix your problems and pay for your mistakes along the way. If you want to stay small and keep it simple, that’s okay, too — but insist on making a good living. The confidence to say ‘I am worth it’ will help create the reality.
George Urvari is president of Toronto, Ont.-based Oriole Landscaping.