The cost of procrastination for your security business

March 11, 2008
Delaying actions in staff training or in facing industry issues (like AMPS) is like leaving money on the table

I wonder when was the last time you saw a wad of cash on the ground and thought to yourself, "Yeah, I think I'll pick that up later."

Frankly, it might have just been this morning right in your office when you left money on the table which should have been yours for the taking. In my mind, I question people in positions of leadership who see far beyond the status quo, but who fail to act on needs, wants, and aspirations for no reason other than "It's not the right time." I'll let you in on a secret, in most cases there is never the "right time" to bring people in for training or to make a change which involves work and planning. Having the benefit of experience that comes from running a security business, and now by working with a couple of hundred companies on a consulting basis, I have a very clear view on just how detrimental and how costly the willful act of procrastination is. It causes us all to fail at many of our aspirations.

Let's face it, many of us put things off so long that very often a great plan is either completely lost, or we are backed into a corner and forced to do something immediately. Is it "the right time" then? I wonder how many business people in our industry knew about the AMPS sunset for quite a long time, yet did little or nothing to step up and prepare for it. Then it was a "fire drill" of trying to rush out reminder letters to customers and then to rush around and change over your long-term customers' equipment!

Give this next idea some careful thought: When it comes to running any business, sooner or later procrastination will absolutely affect your bottom line. I am here to remind you that just like fear; procrastination is one of our greatest business dangers!

Many people tell me that, "It's not the right time" to train their team on better ways to save customers or empower employees with taking more ownership when problems arise. "It's not a good time" to help sales people close more deals or garner a higher percentage of resigns. The list of "not the right time" is long. So let's be truthful with ourselves by answering this question. When is it "not the right time" to make more money or grow more business, or change out analog cellular transmitters (as should have been done long before last month's Feb. 18 deadline)? Is it the "right time" now?

Let's just call it what it is, shall we? Procrastination is the overwhelming temptation to do something that is much easier to do, rather than to do the hard work and bother of doing that is needed now. The reason we have succumbed to the temptation and justified it in our mind is because it feels good to put it off and say, "I'll worry about that later!"

Friends, we have become like horses that are wearing blinders, bobbing in an endless river of fire drills because we intentionally don't acknowledge the immediate need or benefit which is usually just to the left or the right of our peripheral vision. It is the difference of being either proactive or reactive. When you are proactive, you set the schedule and are in full control. When procrastination has forced you into being reactive, you have lost control and are at the mercy of other factors. And when is it a good time to be reactive? My satirical answer: A "good time" for being reactive is probably about the same time as it is to 1) leave money on the table or 2) sell more security systems just to keep pace with the clients you have lost. Neither of those sound like "good times" to me.

Change it now! It's not that we don't know that we should do things now; it's that we've forgotten how. Unless we specifically set aside time, something else will always come up. Just the other day, I missed taking out the trash and the garbage truck came and went. My wife asked me if I forgot it was trash day. The sad truth was that I knew it was trash day but something else came up. Plain and simple: if it comes to mind, then do it now!

Compare your actions with your personal values. If you talk about growing more business, then start today to make it happen. There is no shortage of "lip service" when it comes to this topic. Sure you want to grow, but have you started the journey or are you waiting for the "right time?" Consider this simple truth. The things that are priorities in our life are things we actually do. If you want to train your team or make more money but something else always comes up, the plain truth is this is not really a priority to you. When your employees recognize this pattern they will inherently follow your lead. If changing out analog transmitters was a real priority, then how was procrastinating about it for more than a year actually getting the job done? At the end of the day, you may have had to do it in a big hurry at a much bigger expense than you would have by starting the project back when you originally decided to "put it off". Can you even begin to count just how much procrastination has cost you in terms of lost sales, lost customers, slow company growth, employee retention, and low moral?

But just like facing the addictions of smoking, credit card debt, and a liquor habit, procrastinators first have to recognize the detriment to their own well being and the well being of people around them. Then act today to stop the procrastination. There is never a "right time" to put it off.

After all, the last time you saw cash lying on the ground there is no question you stopped everything and bent over to snatch it up just as fast as you could. Yet, there is a truck load of money sitting on the table, right in front of your security business, and your procrastination is leaving it just out of your reach.

About the author: Bob Harris is managing director for The Attrition Busters. With over 30 years in the alarm industry, he provides seminars, business consulting, and workshops to help great companies become even better. Bob can be reached at (818) 730-4690 or by email at [email protected]. Learn more about The Attrition Busters at