It’s a Gift to be Simple
The other day, Aaron Copeland's
composition "Appalachian Spring" came on the radio. It had been
quite a while since I had heard it, but I had a sudden rush
remembering how much I enjoyed this piece of music. Copeland is a
quintessentially American composer, and his body of work includes
such fabulous pieces as "Rodeo," "Fanfare for the Common Man" and
"Billy the Kid." Part of my enjoyment comes from the piece's
evocative representation of the essence of our country.
"Appalachian Spring" sounds like America.
Copeland used the melody of a Shaker hymn as the foundation of
the composition. The hymn is "Simple Gifts" and it begins with the
lyric "Tis the gift to be simple."
I love simplicity. I adore it. I admire it. I seek it out. I try
to live by the rules of simplicity. In my writing, I try to take
complicated ideas and make them simpler and more accessible. The
language I use can be interpreted as simplistic, but even in its
plainness, simple language can convey complex ideas. We strive as
writers to be concise and precise.
As contractors and fabricators and installers and erectors and
manufacturers and distributors, we can all benefit from making our
business operations simpler. The best way to do that is to
implement procedures we can replicate time and time again.
In this month's issue, we include a feature about how metal
roofing contractors should manage customer complaints. (Managing
Roofing Customer Complaints, page 18.) We report on two
contractors, American Metal Roofs, Flint, Mich., and McCarthy Metal
Roofing, Raleigh, N.C., who have become adept at implementing
systems that simplify their sales and production processes.
Much of what we do in construction is the repetition of the same
tasks over and over. Day in and day out, we sell the same kinds of
projects, we install the same kinds of products and we work on the
same kinds of buildings. To accomplish these repetitious tasks, we
create templates and cutting jigs and business forms to make sure
our efforts are consistent and easily executed.
Improving our businesses should follow the same pattern of
simplicity. Why beat your head against a door that somebody has
already opened? Our lives can be so much easier if we seek out
those people who have already figured out how to do something and
learn from them.
Too many contractors, though, abide by the other American creed
that Copeland also extols- individuality. We stand on our own two
legs and face the problems that come, no matter the
That individuality stands in the way of our success because we
believe we need to figure things out for ourselves. Again. Why bang
your head against a door that somebody has already opened?
Trying to figure out how to do job costing? Somebody already
has. Trying to improve your close ratio? Somebody has already done
it. Trying to reduce your overhead? Somebody has a system.
All you need to do is find the right person and the right
system. How? That's simple, too. Network. Join an association.
Follow up on a magazine article. Hire a consultant. Attend a trade
show. If you're devoted to educating yourself, improving your
business becomes simple.
And it's a gift to be simple.