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Fighting the Battle of Next Week

Busier than ever, success depends on winning battles on multiple fronts.

It’s been a Tale of Two Coronaviruses for the last six months. You’re either dead in the water or slammed with work. If you’re reading this and can fog a mirror, you probably fall into the latter category. We’ve never been so busy. Customers want everything installed yesterday because they’ve been stuck at home staring at their unfinished construction projects. Our employees are burning the candle at both ends working serious overtime. Our vendors are backordered until the 12th of Never on some of their wares. What once felt like a calm 2020 full of lofty goals has devolved into The Battle of Next Week.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a little action, but this pace has gotten a little ridiculous. I’d rather have too much work than not enough, so I’m certainly not looking a gift horse in the mouth. I figured out we needed to start fighting The Battle of Next Week last Monday at 8:00 AM. Our logistics manager had been trying in vain to clear out some backorders with our vendors and I offered to help. As the old saying goes, “it ain’t what you know…”

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I’ve had the privilege of developing relationships with people from all over our industry, including reps, manufacturers, integrators, and myriad others. Whether it’s been a ProSource Summit or CEDIA Expo, I love meeting new people and leveraging relationships to move mountains. The Battle of Next Week is all about relationships. I picked up the phone and called a buddy of mine who works for a large manufacturer. I told him about a scenario where one of our customers was able to source a product on their direct website sooner than they could get it from us and asked him to make it right. I told him about The Battle of Next Week and asked him to strap on a sword and help us win. We agreed to a week-by-week plan where we’d send over what we needed for the following seven days and get things figured out. The same scenario played out with a few other vendors, and slowly a plan began to emerge. Our logistics manager created a killer spreadsheet to track everything and we shared it out with the manufacturers and they all bought into our shared vision. We want partners in the fight, and I’m very grateful for their willingness to help!

Our customer issues are no different. I’ve been getting calls from members of our sales team expressing concern that our booked-out schedule is causing customers to look elsewhere. I immediately asked our team to escalate any scenario where we might lose a job to me so we could talk it through. We may lose the job, but at least we’d go down swinging. The Battle of Next Week here consists of asking a new client if they need the whole job done right away or maybe we could do the network first and the rest could come in a future phase. That approach has worked well with some of our sales people (including me) going out to install networks in the short term because our installation crews are now booking into January. That’s what it’s taken. Our builder division head has been in the field doing rough-ins with his right-hand man. I’m humbled to work with these folks and we’ll all look back on this time knowing we rose to the occasion.

I’m not sure how long we’ll have the fight The Battle of Next Week, but it’s taught me the power of relationships and how it pays to be nice.

What are you doing to win The Battle of Next Week in your company?

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