Magic Decoder Ring

By Paul Starkey
Published on: April 3, 2020

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As a kid, we imagined there was a secret decoder ring that would open up the secrets of the universe, unlock coded messages, or in today’s vernacular, crack the latest video game.

Decoding hard stuff can be challenging. Many of us students-of-business have been on that track for 45 plus years. And what has the collective success rate been?

For CI companies, getting to consistent growth, a handsome profit, and accumulating cash while your employees grow is a high goal.

John Maxwell defines the advanced stage of leadership as, “to be successful as a leader you must grow your successor or you have failed”. To grow your successor you must create an environment where the business and people thrive. How many owner-operators have a strong #2 poised to take over?

Here are some of the answers to questions you probably have. From my own personal decoder ring:

Understand your business model completely and maximize it. That will get you both Profit and Cash. Growth on the other hand is a challenge; it is the art for continuously finding new clients.

That sounds like business development, right? Some might say marketing; but marketing has a bad rap, often lost in pretty graphics, promotional schemes, casting of seeds in unintentional directions, and an uncertain return on money spent. Finding and maintaining the right clients is marketing. And at the same time for CI companies, business development. It centers on design-build trade partners who normally get to the clients first. Yes, those are the relationships you want to cultivate.

So then you say, “all I have to do is get my model right and find more clients?” Pretty simple, right?

So why don’t we in the CI channel do it more effectively? Believe it or not, it’s because we won’t allow ourselves to buy into the three things that CI luxury dealers must do to get the business model correct. Call me and I’ll tell you what they are.

Here is what my decoder ring is saying: If you grow double digit each year, and yield 20 percent or more in profit and help your people grow, it says there will be a happy ending.

But wait. Is anyone thinking about the one big flaw in all of this? Where do you get the production staff to feed this engine?

That brings me to the BIG solution. You need a large organization that can attract, train and develop talent.

Is this the only thing holding us back? All these years and this is the single thread holding us back?

Your CI company could have incredible value. You can’t do it alone, or you would have already done it. Consider becoming the $20M to $50M player in your marketplace. Let’s talk on how to get there. The decoder ring is free; the work is not.

Keep it Vital

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey is a 23 year CI industry veteran who led control manufacturer ELAN from infancy to a 150 person company. He is a visionary, keen on innovation, pioneer of on-line training, and numerous product innovations. He is co-founder of Vital Management.

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