Run Your Business: Character building


February 6, 2023

Photo: Branimir76/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: Branimir76/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Like many runners, I am a creature of habit. I like to do my long runs first thing on Saturday mornings. Around the holidays, I woke up one Saturday morning to cold, wet, windy, nasty weather. It was perfect weather to just get back into bed and forget about working out or just jump on my treadmill and not have to deal with the elements.

Neither of those two options worked for me. I layered up and hit the roads. From the first steps it was, honestly, as bad as it sounded. The wind whipped the rain in my face. The puddles soaked my shoes and I caught a chill that wouldn’t go away. Worst of all, my phone got wet and was unable to track my run.

Sometimes inclement weather can be fun. The rain cools you off, or headwinds turn into tailwinds pushing you along. But not this day.

When I got home, my wife looked at me like I was crazy and wondered what possessed me to go out in this weather.

Rather than complaining, I said this was one of the character-building runs you have to get through. Anyone can run on a beautiful, sunny day. But to go out, and get through a run like this, makes the easy days even easier. Once you get through a terrible run like this, you can get through anything.

It’s the hard things in life that build our character. Anytime we are running a service business, there will certainly be character-building days. Right around the time of that horrible run, I got up to one of them: Within an eight-hour span, one of our service managers got in a car accident and needed to get the car towed; a technician said he’s dropping his vehicle off as he decided to move to Mexico that day; and a major account of ours had some serious issues.

It would be easy to just climb back in bed and avoid all the headaches. But like that run, you have to layer up and get out there.

One customer, many problems

At our pest control company, we work with a lot of apartment buildings. One negative of this is you tend to deal directly with property managers and not the tenants. After a recent bed bug treatment, a tenant reached out to us directly to say she was concerned about a smell in her apartment after the treatment. One of our managers went right over to meet with her and did not observe any odors at all. Of course, he gave her all his contact information for her to reach out anytime.

Michael Broder

Michael Broder, BHB Pest Elimination

Needless to say, she took him up on that. She reached out multiple times over the next few days saying the odor is getting worse. Then, after 7 p.m. one night, she called saying everything smells. She would have to throw out all her clothing and furniture, and we would be responsible to replace everything.

It’s certainly not what any pest control company wants to hear. But again, it’s one of those character-building moments. We knew there wasn’t a smell and we did the application correctly.

My manager asked what to do, ignore her? We knew nothing good would happen if we let her suffer overnight. The easy answer was to ignore her for a few days, or simply send an email. Instead, he stepped into the storm head on. His compassion and patience slowly worked on her, and she calmed down.

What could have easily escalated into an unnecessary lawsuit was settled by taking the time to calmly deal with the customer.

Inevitably, we all are going to face those difficult days. Whether it’s stepping out for a run on a cold winter day or patiently listening to a frustrated customer, each time we take that first difficult step forward rather than closing the door to ignore it, we build the strength and character to succeed tomorrow.

Have a great run!

About the Author

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Broder is owner of BHB Pest Elimination, New York, N.Y.

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