Backyard barbeques, homemade ice cream, watching fireworks after dark; these are all great memories for me…as a kid. When I became a contractor, suddenly all of those things still happened but I also saw to it that our crews were out and doing work while most companies were away for the long weekend. Maybe you can relate.
The 4th of July, in the United States, is still one of the most enjoyable holidays. Maybe it’s because it is smack in the middle of the year. Just six months to go to Christmas and just six months after we were celebrating the New Year. The 4th allows Americans to take a well-deserved mid-year break and enjoy a little “R&R.”
Certainly the real meaning of the 4th of July is the great and proud tradition we Americans have for our country. Our “Independence Day” came with a great amount of planning, strategy, perseverance, and even bloodshed. Those early Founding Fathers took note that it was worth the momentary “time-out” to reflect on all that had enabled the young country to break the chains of tyranny.
It is in that same spirit that contractors can also consider all that they have been through in building, leading, and sustaining their companies. While forming and maintaining a company is certainly not as demanding as developing a nation, and discounting the bloodshed, perhaps the 4th of July can serve as a mid-year reminder for you to plan, to have strategies, and to persevere.
Briefly, I’d like to suggest that you make the timing of the 4th of July useful to your own business, and customers. Think about a few ideas to get recharged for the second half of the year.
1. Reflect. Take a few hours with your senior leaders and consider the progress that you have made in the first six months of the year. In what areas have we progressed and in what areas have we continued to struggle? Consider what lessons have been learned thus far and address how problems will be solved.
2. Look Forward. Perhaps in that same “reflection” discussion take a look out over the next six months. Look at what changes or adjustments you should make that will position your company for the best profit-making efforts. Do you need to reposition any of your workers? Do you need to look at leasing or buying equipment? Do you need to work on tightening up your field leader’s attention to project details?
3. Replenish Enthusiasm & Energy. Plan a company outing of some form for the 4th. Maybe it’s not an all day event that some employees might not want to commit to, but look at providing a great lunch, or an evening ice-cream, or a watermelon feast just before watching your town’s firework display from a select viewing spot. I know that some contractors may have workers putting in a half or even full day of work which might be better received if they know that their family can enjoy an evening together...provided by the boss!
4. Bring the 4th to Working Crews. If you do happen to have any employees working on the 4th, even for just a half-day, bring some of the spirit of the 4th to them. Maybe this is coffee and donuts in the A.M. or a late morning break of sandwiches, ice cream, even cooked dogs or brats. While some employees might want to work to get the extra pay, more workers would perhaps be much happier to spend the 4th with their loved ones. If you must work on the 4th, be quick and positive in delivering some 4th of July esprit de corps.
5. Sponsor Seating at Parade, Fireworks, or Your Town’s 4th of July Concert…and Share It with Others! I continue to be amazed at the number of contractors who are able to secure great seats at a 4th of July concert, or to front row seating at your city’s 4th of July Firework “Extravaganza.” Then again, it’s the contractor who most often is the most connected with city employees, or who knows development people with land that will be used for a July 4th event. Help to sponsor such efforts and share the benefits with your customers, suppliers, or employees. Such efforts reinforce your commitment not only to relationships but even more to your commitment to civic or local events. It’s interesting that customers might not go on their own to an outdoor concert on the 4th but the moment they are invited to the same, and with prime seating or free parking or even food, they quickly throw the folding chairs and blankets in their SUV and are “there.”
6. Promote a Worthwhile Patriotic Cause. Do this from your heart first. There are a number of causes today, many of them so important and needed for many people. From cancer, to supporting our war veterans, to promoting greater understanding of “different from me” people. Find that cause that means the most to you and look for ways to invite others to share in your enthusiasm. Perhaps you might invite others to celebrate a cause at the group’s planned July 4th picnic or evening fireworks display. Most people love to support some worthy cause, something bigger than themselves that allows them to give something back to others. Invite customers or suppliers, even some of your competitors, to join you in supporting your cause.
7. Take on a Local VA or Nursing Home to Visit. Contact a local senior citizen center, nursing home, or even a Veteran’s Administration Hospital to see if your company can bring the 4th to some of their people. Many times these wonderful facilities are only too happy to have visitors who will spend even an hour or two with their residents. Contribute hats and whistles or cater the picnic for the location. If you have someone who can dress up like Yankee Doodle Dandy or someone who can play the piano or guitar, bring them along and watch the smiles break out among the group. Again, invite others, customers, suppliers and employees to go along and participate. If you can get them to go once, they’ll look forward to the “Annual 4th of July Senior Home Visit” for years to come.
8. Send a 4th of July Card with Great Story of Patriotism. Customers, suppliers, and even our employees are often still moved when they read a story of American Patriotism. We all love to pull for those who have or are still living their life for us to have our freedoms that we cherish so dearly. Develop a tasteful 4th of July greeting card that simply reminds the reader to remember the 4th, the significance of the 4th, and perhaps why it’s great to love our country. A little more love of country would do us all much good!
I hope you will accept my thoughts on this year’s 4th of July celebration. Like you, I too have had relatives and friends through the years who really did pay the price for this country of ours to be free. Our country isn’t a perfect country, but it’s still one that we can be proud of, warts and all.
You know, celebrating the 4th of July is not a Democrat or Republican thing…. it’s an American thing. Dust off that old Yankee Doodle Dandy spirit (even rent an outfit!) and help others celebrate this great country that still allows entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams. Such spirit is sure to set the hearts and minds of others a fire with similar appreciation.
Yep, a little more love of this country…would do us all a lot of good!
Let’s all raise a glass to toast this country!
© 2012 Brad Humphrey, Pinnacle Development Group/the Contractor’s Best Friend™