The Big Idea with Ron Davis
How Service to the Industry Can Benefit Your Own Business
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month's great idea comes from Charles "Dom" D'Ascoli, president of the Electronic Security Association (ESA).
D'Ascoli's great idea: Select good people, empower them to do the job, and stand back and watch the results.
Dom D'Ascoli is founder and president of Franklin, N.C.-based Smoky Mountain Systems, and by his own admission he's a serial entrepreneur. In other words, D'Ascoli loves to start businesses.
We were sitting next to each other at dinner during the recent Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) meeting in Venice, Italy. I asked him an obvious question: "How is your business doing now that you're spending so much time working on behalf of the industry as president of ESA?" He thought about it for a moment and replied, "Actually, my business has grown in the last year and 2012 is shaping up as being a good year too."
Take a second to consider anew the great idea above.
While D'Ascoli is not necessarily standing back, he's doing so much work on behalf of ESA that I can't help but wonder how he's able to juggle all of the things in which he is involved. But juggle he does. So I questioned him further on why his business is succeeding in spite of him being engaged elsewhere much of time.
"Looking back, it's entirely possible that I was too close to the business and probably got in the way of the people that should be making decisions in the company," he said. "By being away from the company as much as I have been, it forces me to keep my hands off the day-to-day operations, and it helps empower all of the managers that are involved in the company. The results speak for themselves — increased sales, increased profitability, no turnover and everyone seems pretty happy!"
I'm not sure if it's necessary for the average person reading this to take a year off (two years in D'Ascoli's case) in order to empower people in your company to do the best job they can. However, I think there could be similar benefits to realize if you, as the entrepreneur, step back and instead focus on the great issues of your company rather than operational issues.
One Question to Ask
Indeed, everywhere I go in the alarm industry I meet people who are giving back to the industry. Presidents of local associations have watched their businesses grow while they devote an inordinate amount of time in this way. Is it worth it? There is an easy way to find out. The next time you attend an association meeting (local, state or national), seek out those who are working hard on behalf of the industry and ask them: "Is your business better off, the same, or under distress because of the time you devote to the industry?"
I suspect the answer will almost always be, "Better off!" Here's an old adage for you to ponder: Our rewards in life are in direct proportion to our contributions. Think about the contribution you're making. Think about how well your business has performed and see if there isn't some sort of a positive correlation that you could add to the mix. You'll love the result!
Ron Davis is a SSI Hall of Fame inductee and President of Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group Inc. Also known as The Graybeards, the company is active in acquisitions and mergers exclusively in the alarm business.