There’s an interesting aspect of human nature that can be a devilish problem for entrepreneurs. Unfortunately I have experienced this issue a multitude of times throughout the years. Let me offer an example that happens too often in our business. Let’s say we have a large apartment community that has been suffering with poor occupancy. We develop a creative and aggressive marketing program that produces results, and in a short period of time the property has reached 95% occupancy – in our industry this is considered to be stabilized occupancy. We pop the corks and celebrate this accomplishment in high style. So far, so good. But this is where the trouble begins.
Over the next few weeks we see an ever so slight downward trend in the occupancy. After two weeks, the occupancy stands at 94%; after three weeks it’s 93%, and after four weeks the occupancy stands at 92%. Now this may seem like no big deal – the occupancy still sounds strong. But a deeper dive shows something that really is disturbing. Our on-site leasing team is resting on their laurels. When we were pulling out the stops to push the occupancy up, the team was visiting major employers and area businesses on a daily basis to promote our complex. They were posting multiple times each day on social media and encouraging existing residents to refer their friends and family. But once the property reached 95% occupancy the on-site team dialed back their marketing efforts and started “coasting.” This resulted in the occupancy beginning to slip.
I have always advocated that our on-site teams should be aggressively marketing 365 days a year regardless of the occupancy level. If a property achieves high levels of occupancy, we can raise the rents and build waiting lists. There’s absolutely no downside to continuing to market as if we were suffering from low occupancy. In other words Never Let Up.
This concept can be seen in a high profile way with sports teams. A team in any sport gets a healthy lead and then there’s a letdown. The players don’t play with the same intensity as earlier in the game. They aren’t as sharp and aware. The other team chips away at the lead and eventually wins on a last second play. How many times have we seen this happen?
In the entrepreneurial world we see this all the time. Perhaps we let up on our marketing efforts much in the same manner as the apartment property example cited earlier. Recruiting can also be a problem area. We fill an open sales position and think we’re done. But six weeks later we find that another sales position is open. And guess what? We had shut down our recruiting effort and all of the quality candidates we considered for the last position have found new jobs. So, we have to gear up and begin recruiting again. The same thing can happen with product development and product improvement. We’ve had a great run with the creation of new products. The public has loved these products and our team has rightly been proud of its success. But . . . it’s been a while since we put any new products in the marketplace. And not much has been done to improve our existing product suite. Sales begin to slip and customer satisfaction has dipped as well.
What can we do to combat psychological let downs? Maintaining a constant focus on the basics and fundamentals of our business enables us to continue achieving the highest levels of success. As entrepreneurial leaders we must emphasize this every single day. Members of our team should be held accountable for practicing the basics and fundamentals. I know a commercial real estate broker who has specialized in office leasing for more than 30 years. He has made a ton of money and has been one of the top brokers in the business for his entire career. Nevertheless, he continues to make his cold calls every day and build new relationships – just like he did as a rookie. By continuing to focus on the basics and fundamentals, this real estate professional has Never Let Up.
The other thing that is critical for us to stress is a mindset that the game is never over. We may be winning at the end of the quarter or the half, but in the entrepreneurial game (unlike sports) the clock never runs out. We can’t get tired or lazy. We must maintain the same level of discipline at the end of the year that we had at the beginning.
We entrepreneurs cannot afford to rest on our laurels or we will surely lose in the end. Instead, we must have a Never Let Up mindset that occurs with a relentless and disciplined focus on the basics and fundamentals of our business.
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This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.