Leaders Find Ways to Give

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Clockwise from top left: Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall and Josh Mix pose with Doug Rogers and his wife, Liz.

I hate to admit this but I haven’t gone to many Christian music concerts. Okay, okay. I went to one, once, when I was going to high school. That was 40 some years ago.

I love Christian music. I love to sing and in my car I have a couple of stations pre-programmed, along with classic rock, sports radio and NPR. Talk about someone who is either mixed up or just has several personalities. Neither sounds good.

When Doug Rogers, my fellow Dwyer Group president who leads Mr. Appliance, was recuperating from his tragic bicycle accident (that I wrote about several months ago) his wife read the book “Thrive” to him. It was written by Mark Hall, leader of the Christian rock group “Casting Crowns,” whose song “Thrive” is a big hit. “Thrive,” both the song and book, continue to inspire Doug and Liz through their journey.

Doug returned to work just more than 11 weeks after his injury and made the trip to Dwyer Group’s annual convention in Orlando. This is a guy who was supposed to be incapacitated for six months to a year! He spoke at the convention prayer breakfast and Dwyer Group distributed more than 400 copies of the book “Thrive.”

Last Thursday, we read a feature in the local paper about a Casting Crowns concert taking place the next day very close to where we live in central Texas. When we learned that Doug and his wife, Liz, were attending, Mary Kay and I decided we would love to join them.

Back to the article. I told Mary Kay it would be so cool to find a way for Doug to meet the band. Together, we drafted an email to the Trib writer seeing if knew of anyway he could suggest a way for Doug and Liz to meet the band. Crickets. Nothing in return from him. Not Thursday … not Friday … not yet.

I found the Casting Crowns’ website and started learning more about this amazing band.

I’d heard a couple of their songs but knew nothing else about them. I found that Casting Crowns was the fastest-selling debut artist ever in Christian music with sales of their self-titled release surpassing 800,000 copies in less than a year. They also made history when their song “Who Am I?” became the first song to simultaneously hold the No. 1 position on Christian Radio and Retail Weekly’s Adult Contemporary, Inspirational and Christian Hit Radio charts. More importantly for me, I like the rock music they write and perform!

On their site they had a quick bio about each of the seven band members. Remember, until this time I couldn’t pick any one of these performers out of a lineup of two people – the other being an NFL lineman. I tell you, I had no idea who they were.

I sent an email to the entire band, their manager and anyone else I thought might be able to get Doug a chance to meet them. This e-mail was sent at 6:41 p.m. At 6:49, 8 minutes later, I received the following email from Megan Garrett, again, someone I never heard of until that evening. It read, “Thank you for emailing us! We’d love to meet all four of you tomorrow night if possible.”

I went back to their site and found that Megan was actually a band member! In fact, she is the lead female singer of Casting Crowns! grabbed Mary Kay and told her I’d already gotten a response and it was from a band member … and they wanted to meet us!

After another email exchange Megan said she would leave four backstage passes for us at the will-call window and we needed to be at the concert an hour before the show. Frankly, I couldn’t believe it. I hoped to receive a response from someone – but never from someone who was undoubtedly rehearsing the day before the event.

As we met Megan and the other band members Friday night it struck me that leaders, regardless of how successful or popular they are, take time for others. Megan said, “How could we not have wanted to meet Doug?”

Now we have memories, pictures, a signed copy of “Thrive” and pictures with the other two groups that performed Friday night, the singer Mandisa and Dave, lead singer of “Sidewalk Prophets.”

Megan’s husband(like many of the group’s members) is a youth pastor in the Atlanta area and Casting Crowns only performs Thursday through Saturday so they can be back in Atlanta Sunday morning with their youth groups. Amazing.

Leaders do things others don’t do. They lead in so many ways, just as Megan did with her kindness to us. Speaking of leaders, I continue to be amazed by Doug. You can watch his story chronicled and the award he received from Dwyer Group in September by watching the 20- minute video, “The Doug Rogers Award,” on YouTube.

This week I ask you to think about someone you can help, someone who needs your time, someone you can reach out to just like Megan reached out to us. Don’t think I’ll wait 40 more years for my next Christian rock concert. Doubt that I’ll ever meet anyone, though, like Megan. She gave four people from Waco, Texas, a memory for life. And Doug continues to inspire others; yesterday he was a featured speaker at a Wounded Warriors event, sharing his message to THRIVE!

Have a good week.

Leadership Lessons—This Makes Good Cents!

Has this ever happened to you? Your technicians come into your office and tell you that your prices are just too high and that you had better cut back on pricing if you are going to be competitive in the market. You also hear them discussing, behind your back, that you are ‘filthy rich’ and don’t care about their future as long as you make your money and keep gouging people.

The next day they come in and tell you they need a raise.

On the weekend you find out they went to some sporting event and paid $8 for a 16 oz. beer. Got four or five beers and tell you they can’t believe how expensive cigarettes are these days!

Or am I the only one that has ever experienced this?

As a leader you often have to “cut through the noise. You also have to help people see reality. For instance, you can’t cut prices and give employees a raise. It just doesn’t work that way.

As soon as you tell them that you can cut prices … then ask how much of a pay cut they want and tell them you’ll do the same … you’ll find you really upset them. The key then, as a leader, is to find a way to get your employees to better understand the costs of running or owning a business.

Go to the bank and get 100 pennies.

First you must ask your people what they think you make for every dollar you bring in. It is important to get an answer from them. If it is your own business explain to them, too, that you have risked everything you have. Also explain that you (most likely) had to leverage your house to be able to get the load to buy/start your business.

Next, put those 100 pennies on the table and explain that you want them to better understand what it costs to be in business. This might help you prevent them from becoming a competitor. If you can use an actual P & L with percentages it becomes much more dynamic.

  • Take pennies for your cost of goods—use your percentage of revenue. This may be your cost of glass and other job-direct costs.
  • Take certain amount of pennies away and explain that this is for the true labor costs—including pay, benefits, insurance and workman’s compensation.
  • Take another portion of pennies away for phone, repairs, etc.
  • Take a few more pennies away for rent.
  • Take more away if you are providing any insurance coverage.
  • Keep going … take even more pennies away and explain what you spend on advertising.
  • Money that covers office supplies, credit card fees, computers and computer supplies comes next.

You won’t have much money left—usually less than what they think you should be taking out of the business.

  • The final cut is what you have to pay in taxes. Take those pennies away and explain to them this is what you are able to take out of the business.

I’ve seen another version of this that is even more powerful. My franchisee drew a chart showing the percentage that was taken out next to what the right number should be. For instance, he would look at his P & L and explain that 31 percent was the cost of goods. The true number should be 26 percent (or whatever your number is).

When it got to wages he would do the opposite and explain that if the team could reduce some percentages of waste or inefficiencies—there would be more money for wages.

Simple? Absolutely! Effective? Yes, if you do it correctly. This is the importance of using a real P & L.

Owning a business is hard enough in life. It becomes easier if you know the team you lead is supporting you every step of the way and they know you are supporting them as well.

Try it … you’ll like it!