The Sharpest Tool™

COVID-19 | Leading Your Business With Positivity During the Crisis

Cheryl McRae
Josh Smith
Howard Partridge is an internationally recognized business coach, business owner, and best-selling author. He shares his tips for leading with a positive attitude and finding inspiration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the sharpest tool podcast, where we take the sting out of marketing. This is our third, a special edition that's focusing on the coronavirus its impact on home service businesses across the nation. My name is Josh Smith. I'm the host and vice-president of marketing for home services over here at scorpion. And joining me today is the one and only Howard Partridge, an internationally recognized business coach, a best-selling author, and an experienced business owner. Welcome Howard. I really appreciate you taking the time to join us today.

Howard Partridge (00:32):

Bob pleasure. Glad to be here.

Josh Smith (00:34):

It's such an honor to have you back. It really is. And it's obviously a challenging time for everyone right now, which is why I think, uh, what we're covering today is so important. We're going to talk about how home service businesses can lead their companies with positivity and the right perspective. I'm excited to get your unique insights and advice for people in the trades. So, uh, let's get right to it. You bet. All right. So you've written a few books Howard on obviously everything from leadership to systems in your book, FTI or failure to implement, you really underscore the fact that leading a company can't happen without action. You have to wake up every day with desire, inspiration, and vision. How do you think that applies to what business leaders are facing right now with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Howard Partridge (01:15):

Absolutely critical, more critical than it was just two weeks ago or three weeks ago, because the fact is, is that more than ever before, you need to understand. I created an acronym by the way, for this whole thing. And it's called pivot pivoting as a buzz word right now in the marketplace. And um, so it's called pivot. And the thing is, is that all the things that we've taught over the years, uh, leadership, you know, leaders have to make decisions. Leaders have to act whether they have all the information or not. We need to, I know you guys had Ellen Moore on and her big thing is, uh, KFP understanding your financial position, understanding the financial world, all that stuff, uh, is so important. And the fact is is that people who were had those systems in place and they created that infrastructure before this happened are probably better off.

Howard Partridge (02:11):

And, uh, so today it's critical because all of those things that you just said are going to determine how you're going to come out of this. So the thing is, is that pivot of course has five points. And the first thing is to understand that it's really important to respond versus react, responding as positive reacting as negative reacting is rash and emotional, where, uh, responding is responsible and thoughtful. You're reacting is fear-based responded is faith based. And so P is for, uh, your position. All right. So we have to start there because the fact is is that everybody is starting, uh, we've all been thrown into this together and we're all coming from a different place. For example, if you have a financial means, if you were responsible with your finances before this occurred, you're going to be able to respond differently than someone who is just hanging by a thread.

Howard Partridge (03:18):

All right? And there's a lot of, unfortunately, a lot of trades people out there that are working from job to job and you know, it's about just keeping money in the bank, or maybe they weren't doing a good job collecting money, no time for regret. We have to pivot. And where we have to start from is with our position, really understand our position and then be able to take advantage of whatever that position is. All right. And that's what I'll talk about as we go through the rest of these, the second one is I, and that is your imagination. We have to invent new ways of doing things. I love the creativity that you see in the world when things like this happen, whether it's a drive by birthday party or, you know, the way that someone is, uh, rearranging their business. Now I know with the trades, we can't really go online, but there's a lot of communication that we can do online, which a lot of tradespeople were not doing before.

Howard Partridge (04:15):

Whether that's having a blog, whether that's having an email program or been more present on social media, but we can get creative, for example, um, let's say you have team members who let's say if you're open, right? Like some of the trades are open, all right. And, uh, they can go out. You're going to have a certain segment of your population. If you're not on complete 100% locked down. If you're considered essential business or you're in Florida, businesses are still able to operate. Some are not. I have someone doing cleaning in my garage where social distancing, we're standing six feet apart from each other. I had a, an electrician come. I'd rather electrician come and we both practice social distance. And then to have my house burned down and you know, because there's a Swiss this bad or something, you know? And so, and also I want to support local businesses, right?

Howard Partridge (05:10):

I don't want to be irresponsible, but I want to support local businesses. So if you have clients who are like me, who don't mind you coming out, then there's going to be a certain percentage of the population. You know, that will let you come out via us for boys. What message are you putting in your head? Who are you listening to? This is the time for coaching. This is the time to listen to people who know what they're talking about. All right. And as the time to change your message to be sensitive. But also if you're open to let people know, look, we're open. Here's how we're pivoting. Here's how we're taking care of our employees. How we'll take care of you differently, whatever your concerns are. And maybe a certain number of people are not going to allow you to come to their, and if you are stuck at home, you can't work at all.

Howard Partridge (06:01):

That leads me to number four, which is your opportunities and your opportunity to shine as a leader right now is incredible. My whole goal with my service company, even though my team is able to work, it's at about 50% right now, we got a profitable March, but you know, who knows with the guidelines of everybody wanting to follow those guidelines and some team members not wanting to come in to work. So the opportunities that are there, for example, when, um, the last time I did a podcast for you guys, one of the biggest challenges in the trades was I can't find good employees. One of the opportunities that'll come out of this is that you'll have an abundance of potential team members to come to work for you. And my goal and my company, I feel blessed to be, you know, doing well financially. I want to keep my team.

Howard Partridge (06:55):

If I have to pay my team for a month or two to stay home, I'm going to do it because I don't want them to lose their insurance. I don't want them to not be able to feed their family. I don't want them to go somewhere else. I want them to be there because I feel like when this is all over, that we're going to be busier than ever, right? Other opportunities that those creates is what if you're not an essential business, can you partner up with someone who is, can you market to your client base and help someone else out right now? Right? If you have been looking at real estate, I mean, I hope real estate prices don't fall, but if they do, what are the opportunities there? I'm hoping that, uh, you know, I'll be able to buy some properties. My dream home that I'm sitting in right now, I am unfortunately, or fortunately, however, you look at it, self isolating on my private beach in Florida.

Howard Partridge (07:51):

And I'm the only person for three miles that way. And three miles that way. And the only reason I can sit on my beach is because it's private and I bought this property because of the 2008 recession. So keep that in your mind too, that there will be many opportunities and there are ways to partner up and create opportunities for your clients. I get a great example. There's a group I work with that does exterior cleaning of buildings and homes and things like that. So they went out and started sanitizing playground equipment when we were still able to go outside and now some homeowners associations are paying for that service. And let's say that, uh, you could partner with someone who does janitorial. And that brings me to the last one, which is T and that is your training. This is your opportunity to work on your business is the opportunity to learn a new trade or to learn how to do something that you can do in the future. Something that you can do right for your clients, because your clients still have needs of some sort, right. And so pivot is your position, your imagination, your voice, your opportunities, and your training.

Josh Smith (09:12):

I love that that's actually really well laid out. I love the opportunities aspect, too. That's something that we've been finding on our end. And just me personally, I see these it's like, I've been thinking a lot about this idea of trials as like transformational opportunities, you know, opportunities for us to transform our businesses, our culture, us as professionals, as people. And, uh, it's a mindset shift. It's a perspective thing. You know, I'm kind of curious on the inspiration aspect when it comes to failure to implement in your book. Um, how do people find inspiration during a time of crisis? Like,

Howard Partridge (09:46):

Well, I think one way is to listen to things like this for people to Zig Ziglar said that the secret ingredient of success is desire and, uh, that desire comes from a vision. And so a vision that inspires you, inspiration is something that happens on the inside. Motivation can be positive or negative. You know, I have to do this or that because of this trial I'm so I'm motivated to, you know, maybe have enough toilet paper. And, uh, so I'm gonna find toilet paper, crazy thing as a, in my marketing training, you know, I teach that people only buy things because they have to, or they, they, uh, want to, you know, and so I would ask audiences. So what's something that you have to have. And many times they would say toilet paper. Well, we proved that that was true, you know?

Howard Partridge (10:42):

But, um, yeah. So the thing is, is that you can be motivated positively, or you could be motivated negative. Listen, there is no getting around the fact that probably every human being on the face of this earth has some level of fear right now, but our level of faith, our level of belief, our level of being able to see a bigger vision. And I think in order to do that, we need to be around people who are thinking positively. I just, the way I'm wired, I've been like this my whole life. I don't know why, but I just see things that possibilities, maybe that other people either don't see, or they don't talk about, or they don't think about very much, but most people are not like that. And so the biggest thing that we need to do is make sure that we stay around positive people that are thinking bigger, that are thinking about opportunities rather than threats.

Howard Partridge (11:40):

We need to expect the best we need to say, okay, what's my best outcome. We need to maybe even be okay with surviving instead of thriving. You know, if we went into this year with the goal of doubling our revenue, you know, we might want to say, okay, if I survive this up, be satisfied. But the point is is that we have to think positive. We do have to prepare for the worst, right? So that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to get as much cash as possible. I mean, you know, my real estate is, you know, got a lot of equity in my real estate. So I'm trying to just, just take some equity out of my real estate, uh, just in case. Cause we don't know what's going to happen through all this. Right. So be prepared, use your head, good around people instead of listening to news and worse than that gossip, right. If somebody tells me something, I'm like, look, don't tell me what somebody else said. If it's on the news. And if it's fact, you know, like I read the study recently and the study, uh, the report was based on 865 people. That's not something reliable. I mean, you know, what list are you using? You know what I mean?

Josh Smith (12:54):

Yeah, absolutely. How about an organization? How does one tackle thinking about priorities during the crisis? What would you prioritize as a business owner?

Howard Partridge (13:02):

Well, so again, my priority is cash, right? So going back to imagination for a second and Benning new things, uh, one of the things I'm thinking about is, again, depending on your position, all right, if you have high end clients, they have money, but they may not want you at their home right now. But whenever everything opens up again, you're probably going to be slammed. So just an idea. I haven't tested this yet, but what if you could roll out a pay now play later promotion, right? Another way to reinvent yourself as a lot of offline does is have not used online strategies. You need to have an email list, pick up the phone and call every single client you have and say, Hey, I was just thinking about, you want to thank you for your past support? How can we help you? Don't ask for anything. So I have some things I'd like to add value to you for free. If you don't mind me putting you on our email list. So we're just sending out good information, positive information. And if you want to send out an offer and say, you know, pay now play later. We'll give you priority scheduling when everything opens up, because truly can you imagine what's going to happen if we're shut down for another month or so. And when people finally get released, it's going to be crazy.

Josh Smith (14:24):

Yeah. And then, you know, you, you mentioned the T if pivot is training with respect to home services specifically, where's the focus need to be when it comes to training right now,

Howard Partridge (14:35):

I think a financial resources is probably going to be a big one. Another one is going to be, what do I do about my team? You know, do I lay them off? Can I give them leave? Do we cut everybody down to part-time hours? And again, it all goes back to your position, right? You may need to train yourself in another service. For example, you know, I came from the cleaning and restoration industry, the restoration side, you know, they're really busy right now. The janitorial side is really busy right now because they're out there disinfecting everything, right. And especially if they're working for governments and they're out there disinfecting and sanitizing and cleaning things, you may be able to get in on that game, but you're going to have to have some training to do that. So I would say that those three, uh, financial resources, whether that's from the government, from your assets, what to do about your team, what are the options that you have?

Howard Partridge (15:34):

Cause you know, our position is we're going to do, whatever's legal. We're not going to make you work. If you're afraid of getting the virus and we're going to provide all the PPE that you need. And you know, we're not going to penalize you for your concern, right? Cause we want you be safe. And so training, as far as that goes, and then any new certifications like this company, I was telling you about that. Uh, the exterior, uh, service company, they did an online certification and then they made their contractors that were gonna offer that through a training cation and get their certificate before they can go out and say, we're doing this under this brand.

Josh Smith (16:18):

Yeah. They, you know, you talk a lot about process, obviously talked about it earlier on, um, it's littered throughout your books for a company who doesn't have good processes in place. Now that's helping them weather. The storm is now the time to start that. And if so, how would a business owner even go about that? Because it seems like with everything going on right now, we've got to not be reactive. We gotta be responding to the crisis at hand, but some developing process can be a long-term thing as you do iterations and things like that. It's not a short-term fix. So how would you go about advising a business owner who's in that place where they don't have a good process or system in place and is now the time to do?

Howard Partridge (17:01):

Yeah. I mean, I think that's one of the biggest opportunities right now is, uh, you know, we have a lot of small business clients around the world and it's crazy, but we've been doing online training forever and all of our training is full and people are engaged and they're like, you know, I've been trying to get around to this forever and they're, they were busy and now they're at home with they're looking for stuff to do. So what a beautiful opportunity to get your infrastructure together so that when things get back to normal, you're gonna, you have transformed. The funny thing is the, in my, uh, acronym for pivot, the T was transformed. I changed it to training, but you have the opportunity right now to transform your company. But many people need training to how do I build systems? What are the right strategies? Some people, you know, it's your opportunity to go from maybe low end or middle and learn how to track hiring clients. Maybe you didn't take the time to learn the marketing strategies that you needed to learn or to the leadership concepts that you needed to learn. Maybe you didn't have good systems on hiring and training and, and those kinds of things. Yeah. And to work on your business. Great opportunity. Definitely.

Josh Smith (18:18):

What should owners be doing in their downtime? Do you think during while they're off the clock?

Howard Partridge (18:22):

Yeah. I think they should be working on their systems for when things get back online, you know, and again, all of this is relative to, you know, what your position is, right. If you have no money and you're like a solo operator, or you had a couple of guys and they can't work, they're building a house next to us. And all of a sudden, you know, they were going slow to start with, but I mean, it's like nobody's there. And, uh, so you know, some of those guys maybe, uh, you know, so operators, they got a small crew or whatever, and they have no money coming. And so their priority may be, you know, it really goes back to a, that Maslow's hierarchy of needs, right? The first one is survival. You got to survive, that's your priority. And again, depending on your, uh, position, building those systems work in on the business, getting your infrastructure together, maybe spending more time thinking about where you are and how you're going to respond. Are you going to maybe hire some people whenever this is? Oh, because there's, there's going to be an abundance of, uh, potential team members out there. I feel. Yeah,

Josh Smith (19:34):

Definitely. You know, it's interesting that it's been said that hindsight is 2020, right? So you say the past is taught us, um, such as the recession in 2008, what can we learn from the past and apply it today?

Howard Partridge (19:47):

Be prepared, man. Nobody saw this coming, but still, I mean, even just a little that's the thing is, is I get so passionate about small business owners who don't take the time to understand their numbers. They don't take the time to market. They don't take time to build their email list. They don't take time to get those processes together. And, you know, when something like this comes, it breaks and it breaks badly. And so I would say the biggest lesson, nobody could have been prepared for this fully prepared for this at any body was, but you know, you can have an emergency. I know you had Al Le'Veon here. And, uh, one of the first things that he told me whenever I did some consulting with him is to have an emergency shutdown plan. If there's a tornado or storm or something like that. Well, that's a little different than a worldwide pandemic, you know? And so for sure that biggest lesson is be more prepared and be able to float yourself and float your team for a period of time so that you can weather the storm financially without losing everything.

Josh Smith (21:03):

Definitely. Well, what have you found in the past to be effective for yourself that you could pass on to someone in the trades about maintaining a positive mindset and focusing on the future during the,

Howard Partridge (21:14):

Well, I think that's the thing is, is to, uh, you know, I'm a person of faith, but even a person of faith, I'm also, um, I helped Tom Ziglar run the Zig Zig or corporation. And so Zig taught us. And what I believe as a person of faith is you need to be putting in the pure of the positive, the powerful on a regular daily basis. And what you want to do is you want to step outside of yourself for a second and observe your behavior. What are you listening to? What are you talking about and make sure that you are putting the pure, the positive into your mind, because as they say, you are what you eat and that goes for mentally as well and spiritually you are what you think. And that's why it's so important to shut down any of the negative commentary, the negative voices, because it's so easy.

Howard Partridge (22:12):

I mean, it doesn't even take a very big imagination to imagine how this could turn out. Yeah. I mean, it does take any imagination at all. And I mean, seriously, if you dwell on that for too long, I think that one thing that's really powerful. One of the positive, powerful, pure things that you can put into your mind is gratitude. And Mr. Ziglar said that the attitude of gratitude is by far the most important, the most life changing. Because when we have gratitude, we're not thinking about our problems. We're thinking about things that we have rather than things that we don't have. And so I try to, what I do is I switch my mind when I go to fear. When I go to doubt, when I go to those negative thoughts, I have just built the habit to switch it, say, I'm thankful, I'm grateful.

Howard Partridge (23:05):

I mean, I think everybody listened to us. There's probably a whole lot that they could be grateful. I told my wife when this first started and everybody was really freaking out. And, you know, there were a lot of people moving around still. Then as soon as it happened, we came down here to our house in Florida and we're pretty secluded down here, but we had gone to the store or whatever. And, you know, we were just driving along. I said, you know, this could be, this could be a lot worse. I mean, when we look around it's normal, I have a freezer full of food. I have electricity. I want it. We have internet. We're doing a podcast right now. I mean, we have family and I feel sorry for those people who have lost loved ones. I don't know anybody personally that has the virus or anything like that, but there's something we can be grateful for. And what I've been sharing with my clients is to put all this into perspective. We're not in a concentration camp somewhere in Germany right now. Okay. I love this meme that somebody shared this, that Anne Frank was with, uh, several other family members in a 450 square foot space. And they had to be quiet all day for 761 days. We have our site we're alive, we're healthy. We have well on those things, we have to be grateful for what we have and don't focus on what we don't have.

Josh Smith (24:33):

Yeah. I think there's so much opportunity in there too. And that's absolutely the, that's what kind of pushes us forward with specific action that we can take place. And I love what you said about Yarra, which he mentally spiritually, obviously physically, because that's powerful. It's a powerful truth that a lot of us aren't aware of all the time. And so I think sometimes it's just you to step back and you got to survey the landscape and use that opportunity to recognize what's really happening and the opportunities that you really have in front of you. And, uh, that's why, you know, I set it on Al's and, uh, Ellen's podcast. It just rings so true in this time you have two types of people, right? Those going into a valley and those coming out and that's the ebb and flow and roller coaster of life. And there's nothing necessarily that needs to be, it doesn't have to produce bad feelings when you're aware.

Josh Smith (25:27):

And you, your expectation changes along with, okay, well, here's one of those times where I'm in the trenches right now, but I know it's not going to last forever. I know there at the end of this, you know, there's an opportunity here to create something bigger, using imagination and implementing training, identifying the opportunities and re hunkering down on our voice. If you think of like, to my dad's in manufacturing, he's been in manufacturing for a long time. And, uh, so every year they do something known as a Kaizen event where they, uh, they it's all focused on lean manufacturing principles, six Sigma it's, let's get lean and down and hunker down about where we've been afforded a little bit more luxury to be flexible. We got to now get back to our root basics and make sure those are running on all cylinders and a great opportunity for that.

Howard Partridge (26:16):

You bet. You bet. Well, I think that that's true mentally, too, that we take a mental inventory. So under position, maybe we need to evaluate where we are mentally, spiritually, and we need to build that up so that we're resistant to. Yeah, well, things get worse. Okay. I might, Hey, I might be grateful today and posit the day. Is that going to be the fact when, if things get worse, so it's, so to be grateful, you know, it's easy to be, uh, to regret all the ground that maybe you lost or that you may lose, you know, like being debt free and then go on and mortgage in your house or taking a home equity loan or whatever. And I'm like, man, I did that before I did that. W you know, years ago, because I had to. And so thank God that you have it, you know?

Howard Partridge (27:07):

And so, yeah. So I think just keeping the right perspective, Ziglar said, you are what you are, where you are because of what has gone in your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes through your mind. So let's put in the pure, the powerful, the positive will be good. Things that come out of the, uh, Tom Ziglar just wrote a little ebook called stronger. And here's the thing. Here's my hope. And I believe that no matter what happens, what the circumstances are, I think that we can get stronger as individuals we'll be stronger because of this. If we go through it the right way, we'll be as strong a leader, we'll be a stronger business owner will be a stronger family person, a stronger friend, and a stronger faith member. I believe that. Um,

Josh Smith (27:56):

Awesome. Well, Howard, this has been awesome. I really appreciate you taking the time to be on this special edition of the sharpest tool. Is there any kind of one last thought you want to leave everybody with right now, given everything going on?

Howard Partridge (28:08):

Yeah, I would just say, uh, I guess I would say you can do this. You can get through this. You don't have to live in fear. You can endure, you can weather the storm, regardless of what happens. There are opportunities. Keep your head up and your eyes open and look for those opportunities. Look for the silver lining.

Josh Smith (28:33):

Yeah. I love that. The information you shared, I know it's going to be valuable with everybody working in home services right now, especially during right now. People want to reach you for more information. What's the best way for them to do that.

Howard Partridge (28:44):

Easy peasy, Howard, powered

Josh Smith (28:50):

Well, Howard, thank you so much. Appreciate you again so much for all the insight really do

Howard Partridge (28:57):


Josh Smith (28:57):

And for everybody listening definitely hit that like button and definitely tap that subscribe button, ring, that little bell, wherever you might be listening at. So you can make sure to stay tuned for more of the sharpest tool as we continue to pump up these news specials and these updates during the coronavirus pandemic. And if you have any questions, reach out to us over here at scorpion and from all of us here at the sharps tool. We'll talk to you soon. Thanks.

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