Not a long time ago I met a bodyshop owner in Greece, with whom I had a long and friendly conversation about life in general and business particularly. The guy, let’s call him Giorgos, gave me his courtesy card, which looked like it was designed by a five year old child. Giorgos was very proud and told me that he created his business card himself… I put the card in my pocket trying not to stare at it too much. “I do everything myself”, Giorgos told me, and invited me for lunch. To make the story short, we had a good meal enjoying sunny Greek afternoon. While having frappe – very popular iced coffee in Greece – Giorgos asked me what would be my advice for him to grow his business. My reply came rough. “Stop doing everything yourself”. Naturally, I didn’t have any intention to upset otherwise a good professional car painter and a friendly person. In fact, I really wanted to give a valuable advice. Frankly speaking, I meet people like Giorgos a lot in the collision repair industry, so below is my vision.
Jack of all trades, and master of none.
Probably you already know this proverb. Luckily, most of the people I rub elbows with, are real masters, craftsmen in their job, whether it is doing quality car repairs or selling materials for the bodyshops. On the flipside, many of them try, like Giorgos, to do every single business related function themselves. But until now I haven’t met a “master of all trades”. If you are good at color matching, it doesn’t mean that you will choose the right color for your business card. If you have deep knowledge about automotive refinish products, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be that great in bookkeeping or advertising. Having two thousands friends on Facebook doesn’t guarantee that your company page will bring you any customers. “Maybe you are right”, said Giorgos reluctantly while studying my business card. “But I can’t afford any employee or marketing manager”. My reply was laconic…
What big international companies understood quite some time ago, yet small businesses struggle to comprehend? You have no reason to do everything in house, yourself or by hiring an employee. Business tycoons in every imaginable industry outsource a good deal of their operations. Call centers, customer care, accountancy, logistics, IT security, legal issues, advertising, organizing holidays, you name it, have been outsourced by narrowly specialized professionals from different parts of the world. So, why, for God’s sake, Giorgos designs business cards himself?
In Etalon we outsource accountancy, logistics, legal matters and IT. Our team is concentrated in developing, sourcing, testing and marketing the best car refinish consumables. This is what we do for living. I cannot imagine doing everything within the company.
In order for the outsourcing to be successful, what you really need to do yourself is a good market survey. Ask people around you, not only colleagues from the trade. If you liked your doctor’s business card, praise it and ask for the reference. She will be more than happy to give you the contact details. Do not fall into the trap of giving the job to your cousin, who “is good with computers”. Do not delegate the bookkeeping to your wife just because she was good at maths in high-school. Frequently relatives or close friends are the worst help, even if it comes free of charge.
Giorgos was clever enough to listen to my advice. Now he has new business cards, website and corporate identity. Luckily he didn’t print too many of his previous cards.
Jack of All Trades illustration by Matthew Stumphy
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