Friday, December 17, 2010

Prepare for glory!

Times are tough around MTB World Headquarters. Good, but tough. For the last six months, we've tried to prepare for the slow season. Now that it's upon us, I realize how far behind we are. We have a real fight ahead of us.

Here's the situation: We are fully licensed and insured. That costs a lot of money. From about November to March, the moving industry slows way down. I don't know why that is -- after all, don't people still have to sign leases and move in the winter? Do people actually plan to move in the summer time? I don't know. All I know is that for the third year in a row, business has increased significantly, but relative to most of the year, it's slowed way, way down.

That means we have high costs, low savings, and not as many jobs on the calendar as we need. Close, but not quite as many. And what we used to consider really busy (about four moves per day -- two moves for two crews), is what I now must consider slow. Two crews working roughly six hours per day brings in what I used to think of as a hell of a lot of money. But when you've got multiple thousands of dollars per month to pay for multiple millions of dollars of insurance, plus all the other repeating costs like gas, equipment, tools, etc., it's like a fire hose of cash going right out the back of the truck.

I'm not complaining -- it is what it is. It's business. In a lot of ways, I like it. I've been thinking of the first move I ever did lately. It was a storage unit clean-out job, and I felt horrible charging someone to do it. Even though it was a ridiculously low amount (about $35 to empty a 10X10 storage unit, lol), it seemed wrong to charge someone. No, that's not rational, but it was my first foray into wealth creation. I was timid, worried that I was going to screw it up somehow (and I did -- I should have brought two guys, a rental truck, and charged about five times as much, and even then it would have been a good deal).

Later, I bribed a buddy to help with a bigger job. And then later, I had to book four guys for an office move where I couldn't be on-site. That was a big milestone -- trusting other people to do a big job without my supervision.

Now, I'm regularly running two or three crews every day of the week, and looking to run five this summer. It's amazing! Until I started doing this, I couldn't have run a lemonade stand.

Fortunately, all this envelope-pushing has prepared me and the guys for one hell of a grueling winter. Not only are we facing a slow-down with increased bills to pay, we're losing a lot of guys to Christmas vacationing, and a couple of guys to Denver where they'll hopefully be duplicating the business out there. By the end of next week, it'll be down to me and Jimmy, pretty much (although we have a couple of new guys). That means we'll be training even more new guys while having less time to get anything else done.

And you know what? I'm excited. Nervous, of course, but excited. I don't think I've ever had anything quite as challenging before.

If we manage to get through the next few months, I'll know MTB is "the next big thing." We'll have rock-solid veterans working out there, a huge increase in business due to referrals and repeat customers, not to mention all the advertising we're doing. With any luck, we'll be able to buy a few trucks AND save a few more nuts for the 2011 slow-down.

For now, we just need to get through the holidays. One day at a time...one day at a time...

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