Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting What You are Worth

A couple weeks ago I laid helpless in my dentist's chair with a power drill down my throat. Rob, my dentist of several years and a towering figure launched into something he was obviously very convicted about that day. “Dave, I do not have an ounce of guilt charging you today for my services. We're renovating our house and I just got the designer's invoice. Wow.. he sure is not afraid to charge.”

What could I say?! No matter what I thought of his outburst, I wasn't in a position to argue.

Ironically and thankfully Rob's designer launched a curious and positive chain of events.

Because the designer wasn't afraid to charge, Rob's Power Drill Manifesto about it all affected me later that day as I went to quote a prospect I really wanted.

The temptation with business we really want is to focus everything on the lowest possible price. Sometimes with the only reward being that we might actually make some money down the road with more business. Rob's manifesto reminded to me to just ask for what I was worth.

Getting what you are worth. What a concept.

For many of us it may seem like some sort of far off dream.

It is a concept that:

a) Many of the business people that attend my Communication & Leadership seminars struggle with.

b) I have to keep myself honest with on a daily basis.

c) Having served the Transport Sector for close to 20 years: I recognize as one of the primary issues that needs to be addressed in helping build the foundation for a vibrant, resilient and successful transport sector in Canada for future years.

Let's face it, the consequences of not getting what you are worth are many:

Loss of Self Esteem



A negative attitude

all leading to Financial Struggles both on a corporate and personal level

Can I encourage you with a personal and corporate truth that I always need to remind myself of:

I am always in control. No one can undervalue me unless I let them.

I am extremely fortunate to mingle with some positive leaders each and every year in the concept of getting what you are worth. They are many of the men and women who win their way into the annual Wowtrucks® Calendar I photograph and produce. Wowtrucks® is my way of combining two personal passions, photography and people.

I take 3 trophy winners from each of the 4 major show n shines across Canada each year and together they form Canada's Big Rig Calendar. The calendar, even more importantly than showcasing really cool trucks also showcases really cool people. To me the image of the truck is simply a portrait representation of that person.

Your clients/prospects get images of your truck(s)/fleet every day. What do those images say about your or your company?

Many of the Owner Operators who win their way into the calendar are not afraid to ask for what they are worth and they tend to get it. They are certainly not completely immune to swings in the economy, however in tougher times they are still making more than their counterparts who don't get the concept of asking for what you are worth.

Sometimes they achieve this by accepting to do less and not taking business that is demanding them to work for far less than they are worth.

Here's the chain of events that are common to their stories:

  1. They take pride in their Rig and their fleet.

  2. Customers see that and start to associate it with quality and reliability.

  3. They deliver on their promise. Loads delivered on time, safely by drivers who are happy to be there and care about the client.

  4. Long term positive relationships form and clients recognize the value of dealing with them.

  5. That value translates past a $ per mile cost and they aren't under the same constant pressure to match bottom market pricing at all times that their peers are under.

  6. Because they feel valued they feel good about going back to Step 1.

At this point I know a few of you will be thinking to yourself

“Earth calling Dave! Earth calling Dave!" Very nice on paper buddy but my clients will never pay me what I think I'm worth and there's not a thing I can do about it.

If I don't take the business at those lower rates there's another company that will in a heartbeat.”

I hear you and reality says that that all to frequently you are absolutely right.

And while my answer is slightly more involved than the straight forward path I'm going to suggest: The basic solution path I would encourage you with is:
  • Provide value to your clients (1000's of ways to do this aside from cost per mile)
  • Ask for what you are worth.
  • Potentially walk away from clients who won't pay you what you are worth.
  • Let your competitors take that business at non sustainable rates and drown.
  • Be happier and thrive in a very competitive industry.

The alternative is accepting less than your worth and in a nightmare scenario actually surviving. Surviving as an unhappy, underpaid, overstressed supplier of transport services complaining and blaming everyone around you for your circumstance. Even when the reality is it was a choice you made and continue to make.

If you provide value to your clients and go out and ask for what you worth, the absolute worst thing that can happen is they won't recognize it and that you transfer your skills and talents to a marketplace or industry that will.

Canada is full of corporate and personal examples of where Getting What you are Worth is not a pipe dream. Getting what you are worth simply boils down to two choices we make on a daily basis:

1) Providing Value

2) Asking to be recognized for it

Confuscious once said: ""Strive not to be a man of success. Instead strive to be a man of value."

He is right. From personal experience, when I've just focused on providing value, success measured by monetary and other rewards just seems to naturally follow. If each one of us were to take that message to heart and go ask for it, it would radically change the face and health of the transport sector in Canada today.

If you need a nudge to get moving, just envision your dentist with a power drill down your throat!