On Being a Pro … 24/7

Back when I was involved in launching the alarm industry’s first educational program, we provided positive reinforcement to seminar attendees by developing a management syllabus with various forms. It included more than 100 tips and other suggestions that could be copied and used by any alarm company.

This reminiscence came to mind as I was starting to interview this month’s “Big Idea” guest Ken Kirschenbaum, who is an SSI Hall of Fame inductee. We both started in the industry the same way; I was selling a management system for $25, while he was selling contracts. Today, Kirschenbaum is considered one of the true industry pioneers in establishing customer contract standards for alarm dealers.

Kirschenbaum’s great idea is not unique or novel, but rather timely in that our industry is changing and it’s good to be reminded of some of the basics that successful people employ in achieving their success. And he should know something about alarm dealers; he corresponds with thousands of them every day via a unique newsletter.

I’ve always wondered how a successful business person could have a meaningful discussion about the future of their business without a firm understanding of the present economics of their company, community, industry and the society in which they live. To do so necessitates having a basic understanding of accounting.

A few years ago I asked a group of participants in a seminar I was conducting if anyone could tell me what “profit” means to a manager? Among the 40 or so people in attendance, only one or two even came close to fully understanding what profit – cash flow or, more expressly, EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) – really entails.Without that number in mind, a manager really has no idea of where he or she is starting out in running a business. It’s like looking at a road map with your destination clearly in sight, but not having a clear understanding of where you are right now. Because you don’t know how far you have to go, you don’t know how long it will take you. A financial understanding of business is fundamental to success.

In today’s litigious society, it is equally important for executives to have a basic understanding of legalities of running a business and the financial and personal exposure all of us accept when we run a business. Then, of course, there is the issue of managers and how do we become more effective in the way we manage our business.

Hillary Clinton once remarked that it takes a village to raise a child. In our industry, it takes a businessperson to run a business, and who better qualified to judge that then the attorney who speaks to thousands of alarm dealers every month. Thanks for the really great idea, Ken … be a professional 24/7!

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