How ID Plans CEO Jeff Landry weathered the recession and came out on top. His main takeaway? Winners never quit. And quitters never win.
Anyone who starts their own business knows there will be peaks and valleys. Successes and failures. Ebbs and flows. It’s easy to celebrate during the good times – and well-deserved, too – but it’s how you react when the going gets tough that will ultimately determine whether your company stays afloat or sinks like a stone.
According to research, companies fail for a variety of reasons – a shortage of funding, a lack of demand for the product and poor marketing, to name a few. But then there’s also the attitude of company leadership. Are the people in charge ready to fight for what they’ve built, or are they willing to take the loss and move on?
For Jeff Landry, CEO of ID Plans, giving up was never an option. And while he’s enjoyed a lot of big wins and successes since 1999, when he cofounded the company with partner Mike Rustenberghe, he’s also experienced his share of challenging times, too. In this installment of Conversations from the Corner Office, we talked to him about how ID Plans weathered the storm when the recession hit in 2008, how the company bounced back, and the lessons he learned along the way.
JL – It was a constant upward battle. It took a long time for us to get the business steady because we were introducing a new product, something that was never there before. And even once we’d been in business awhile, it was still tough getting people to understand our product, although once they started using it, they saw the value immediately. I compare our products to cars or cell phones. We can live without cars or cell phones because they’re somewhat of a luxury. ID Plans is the same thing. You can live without it, but the products we provide can definitely make your job a lot more efficient.
JL – We had three full-time employees and 10 contractors.
JL – For us, we were humming along pretty well and then when it hit, it was pretty sudden. Even though the commercial side didn’t get hit as hard as the residential side, we still felt it. Our customers stopped spending money because there wasn’t enough in their budget for any extra expenses. New customers were saying no. Deals were hard to find. Sales went down. Everyone was being very cautious and conservative with their money.
JL – First, we were concerned if we could stay in business. Things got pretty tough. My partner and I took a big cut in pay, although we didn’t ask our employees to take a cut. We went into a tenacious mindset and we told ourselves we had to make it work and get through this somehow because we knew our product was worth fighting for. We weren’t going to give up.
JL – We had to make some deals we didn’t necessarily want to take because they were less profitable. Sometimes we only broke even on them, but we did them anyway because we knew that if we kept at it, we’d come out on the other side eventually. Mike and I went out and did some of the labor to get jobs done – we were out at job sites doing the measurements alongside our field team members. We also cut our expenses as much as possible. I’m proud to say we never had to lay anyone off.
JL – We noticed improvements in 2009-2010. The economy was getting better. People were saying yes more. At the same time, our product was getting better. Even though we’d been going through a difficult time financially, we were continuing to develop new software. We also maintained our relationship with our customers during those challenging years. The products we offered to them never suffered, and in turn they saw the value of what we were providing. Once they had the money in their budgets again, they began to send more deals our way. Sales definitely started to pick back up.
JL – There were definitely moments when we didn’t think we’d make it, but we had a tenacious spirit, and we never wanted to give up. This experience wasn’t for the faint of heart, but you have to have faith.
JL – Don’t be wasteful, don’t take your business for granted, and make sure you build great relationships with all your stakeholders – your customers, your employees, property owners, vendors – these relationships are what will see you through to the other side. Winners never quit, and quitters never win.
JL – I always keep one big goal in my mind – I want ID Plans to be the most desired service provider in the commercial real estate industry.
Have you gone through similar challenges at work? How did you survive them? What lessons did you learn? Leave your comments below.
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