A couple of years ago I took a huge step in my already-crowded life and moved to a small town . Now instead of a 1930-’s era flat in the centre of a big city, I live in a house built around 1880, with a wrap-around porch, gingerbread trim and a garden. My home office is on the second floor, and as I write this I have a view of the maple tree in my front yard, just starting to bud.One of the first things I did when I moved here was to meet a bunch of wonderful tradespeople. Marketing and small business often gets awfully complicated, and I’ve appreciated the whack on the side of the head these guys have given me.
My really estate agent, Laura, introduced me to Mike, my home inspector. Mike introduced me to Bill the painter, Sheldon the HVAC guy, Mike (2) the handyman, Mike (3) the electrician and Doug who refinished my floors. The girls in the next chairs at the hairdresser recommended a vet, who introduced me to Angela the dog boarding person. Bill the painter invited me to the local BNI group where I met Ken the art director who is now my business partner. Tina who works with Mike (3) found me Norm the plumber.
That’s a fair amount of business with a cost of sales of zero. and it all happened in under a month.
The work these people have done is miraculous. They showed up when they said they would, did excellent work, shared the learning they had gained in over 20 years on the job, told me when I didn’t need to bother doing something so I could save a little money.
Here’s what I learned:
- A core value of small business owners is counting on each other for referrals. Over and over, people have told me “we want to support each other.”
- They are motivated to do good work: their friendswill know if they don’t, and they don’t let their friends down.
- They don’t need to prove how good they are. They don’t sell. They don’t seem hungry. They talk about the job and what you, the customer, needs, not about themselves.
- They have all the work they want.
None of us will get big bail-outs or help to stay the course while the economy is shaky and credit is tight. Let’s learn from each other, lean on each other, grow and prosper together.