Change is Good

I know it has been some time since I have written an article. Some of you may have noticed, and some may have not.

I want to share something very personal with you, and I hope in the end we are both better off for it.  Our industry, like life, is always changing and introducing new challenges.  It is how you face these challenges that defines you and your showroom business.  So where have I been? Well, almost two years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).  I share this with you because I think in a way, it applies to your showroom business.  Let me explain.

How I found out I had CKD was random.  I made an appointment with my doctor because I had put on way too much weight and I needed to make a change.  Through a variety blood work, my doctor found that my kidneys were only functioning at 16 percent.  To put this in perspective, at 15 percent they put you on dialysis.  I did not want to concede the fact I was facing a huge change.  I did not want to do dialysis.  I was scared, and tried to believe it just would not happen.

In October of 2016, I found myself lying in an emergency room bed facing emergency dialysis.  Essentially my kidneys had failed.  I thought my life was over.  I thought everything was going to change.  Turns out, I was right.  Everything did change, but I adapted.  I was honestly afraid of the unknown.  Truth is, the fear of the unknown is always much more frightening than the reality of what we truly end up dealing with.  I had to make some major adjustments in my life, including having to do nightly Peritoneal Dialysis at home as I await a kidney transplant.  When one's kidneys begin to fail it tends to happen gradually.  You don’t notice subtle changes and the buildup of toxins in your system.  But there've also been positive changes; I have lost more than 100 pounds and I feel much better than I have in a long time. 

So you might be wondering where I'm going with this.  What happened to me in my life, can happen to your showroom business.  You may think everything is going fine.  But you might not be aware of the subtle changes happening around you until it is too late.   

 Most people fear change and the unknown; it is human nature.  They would rather keep things as is.  There is a quote by American computer scientist and U.S. Navy rear admiral Grace Hooper I value above all others.  He says, “The most dangerous phrase in language is ‘We’ve always done it this way.’” For a showroom, that attitude or belief can be its demise.  Most showrooms will not survive doing things the way it always has been.  Between eCommerce such as Amazon, local competition and the changing purchasing patterns within our industry, showrooms must adapt to change to survive. 

At this point you’re likely thinking “did he just equate his kidneys failing to showrooms failing?” Why yes, yes I did.  My life revolves around my family and plumbing fixtures.  Just as I want the best for my family, I want the best for this industry.  Change is something our industry is slow to do most of the time.  The key to change is to let go of fear.

I know I make it sound so easy.  But as Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” I know for some, changing is not easy.  Sitting and complaining about eroding margins, losing sales to the internet and competition is much easier. Sometimes it can even seem more satisfying.  But it truly is not.  Each of us has the ability to enact change in our lives.  It’d be nice if we had a crystal ball so we could see the consequences of our actions, but we don’t.  So the only way past this is to face your fear and make educated decisions.  Educated meaning you do your research and plan things as well as you can.  You move toward your goal even though you still have fearful thoughts.  Change sometimes just requires action.  Start by identifying where you think you need to make change.  For your showroom, it could be a simple as changing a manufacturer to one unique to you within your market.  Maybe it is improving your service, or the experience you provide your customers.  Perhaps your merchandising needs updating.  The first step is to identify problems, then make a change to enact solutions. 

Whether in life, or in the showroom, the key to our success in dealing with change lies within our willingness to accept change and to respond accordingly.  I personally could have given up and not fought on, but that is not who I am, and I would guess not who most of you are.  Sure, change and the unknown can be frightening.  I would venture to say failing is much more frightening than the unknown to most of you.  

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