June 25, 2013

Owning Or Managing A Glass Business Is Like Coaching A Youth Baseball Team

By Paul Bieber

I should know, I have done both.  Baseball coach for 10 years and glass company manager for 22 years.  It’s all about the numbers.  Ball players have a batting average, you have a sales goal.  Pitchers have a win-loss record, you need to make a profit on most of your jobs.  The big difference though, is, at the end of the season a team that is in last place will play again next year, and get better draft choices because of being in last place.  A glass company, in a competitive environment, that is in last place, will be out-of-business.

Here are some tips that I gave my kids in baseball, and how they can also help you in your glass business.

  • When standing at the plate, keep your eye on the ball when you swing.  In your glass shop, your swing is to successfully land profitable jobs.  Don’t look at jobs that are interesting, but show no chance of making a profit.  Don’t take jobs too big for you to handle, or so small that you can’t make a buck.
  • When you are in the field, don’t pick the daisies.  Always be ready for a ball to be hit to you.  In your shop, always be ready to take a call that may mean a job coming your way.  Don’t close up early; answer your messages promptly, and always give a potential customer all the courtesy you can.  You don’t know how big a job they have in mind until you get into a conversation.
  • When you are pitching, use your best pitch to make an out.  Why, in your shop the same is true!  Give the potential customer your best offer and depend on that to seal the deal.  If you nibble around the edges of the plate, suddenly you have walked the batter, and conversely, the customer has walked on to their next bidder.
  • Every team needs a coach and a team captain.  You are the coach; encourage, train and teach your players.  Isolate their weaknesses and work on them, always with an eye towards improvement.  Your team captains – or your foremen – lead the team out each and every day.  Make sure they have your goals in site, give them the backing they need to motivate the team and reward them when the team wins.
  • When you have two strikes, choke up on the bat and hit singles.  At work, if you are having a bad day, take a good grip on yourself and try for a small success that will feed to a larger success.  Take some time and teach a skill to another person, clean up a pile of papers on your desk and call back the vendor that you have been avoiding.  Hitting a bloop single here leads to a solid double in your next call.
  • And lastly, keep your head in the game Baseball is a mental and a physical game.  So is running a glass shop.  Watch your expenses, keep tabs on bids, always care about safety and plan what you are going to do when the ball is hit to you. 

Your up at bat…swing away!