It’s March Madness. I absolutely love it. This tournament is one of the more exciting events to tune into each year. There’s something great about the small school underdog having a shot to play the goliaths of the NCAA. Not surprisingly, Hoosiers remains one of my favorite movies.
As I prepared my bracket I started thinking about the similarities between coaching and being an owner of Metro Sign. It may sound odd, but those are two things I spend a lot of time thinking about. For the past nine years I have been coaching my daughters’ basketball and soccer teams as well as working in the sign industry.
This winter I coached a recreational team of 5th– to 8th-graders, and as we wrapped up the season, I realized there’s a good reason why I enjoy coaching and my “real” job as much as I do: the seemingly different roles require many of the same skills and present similar challenges and rewards. So before I watch the next round of college hoops, I’d like to share six things I know about basketball and the sign business.
1. We have to work together.
Teaching the basics while minding the details
On the court this past season I had a mixed group made up of girls of various abilities and ages. Some girls had experience playing in competitive travel leagues, and on the other extreme were a few girls who had never played the game. It took a few practices before I was able to figure out ways to teach the new players the fundamentals without holding back the more experienced players.
Here at Metro we find our existing customers have a good understanding of materials specs, color details, lighting techniques, engineering, permitting requirements and so on…while many new customers do not. It is a learning process and providing a clear understanding of the importance of each detail is the best way to help our clients make good decisions about their signs, which ultimately contribute to the success of their business.
2. Good call, bad call, doesn’t matter.
Working within the rules
As I mentioned, our team this season had a full range of experience. All the girls were traveling early in the season. The refs weren’t as lenient as I anticipated. I spent a great deal of time teaching the value of the jump stop when they were flying up the court (rather than to take 6 steps once they picked up the dribble), and I also had to show the value of proper pivoting form.Of course, it was a learn-as-you-play proposition, and try as they might, we were bound to get a few (too many, in my opinion!) calls against us in the first few games of the season. I’m proud to say, the girls took those calls as opportunities to learn better form, and they learned, improvised, and developed their play tremendously – both individually and as a team.
In the sign business, most business owners ordering a sign for the first time have very little idea how difficult it can be to permit a sign. Depending on the city or even the neighborhood within a city or a town, there may be a host of different zoning regulations. We have to design, build and install within the parameters given to us and that takes some creativity – it also takes us all working our hardest, individually, so we can deliver the win (a great sign!).
3. Follow the Game Plan …
…and make on the fly adjustments
Adjusting to the situation is not always an easy thing to explain to young hoops players. Helping them find an effective solution to a seemingly impossible situation is pretty cool. One that comes to mind is when we had a rematch against a much bigger team than ours. They used their size to control the game. That is until we were able to double down on their two post players and regularly strip them of the ball whenever it came inside. Our smaller, quicker girls then went on the attack. The entire second half, we became a run and gun team with great success. We were small but we could run the break!
Back on my “day job,” challenges frequently arise in the production and installation of a sign – generally, after everyone signs off on the design. It is often an unforeseen condition where the sign will be located. Quality surveys can prevent a host of problems but there are just some issues that are unavoidable and need to be dealt with, on the fly. Helping our employees overcome the challenges that arise is a key component of managing a sign business. Fortunately, the team at Metro seems to recognize when it’s time to call “time out.” Taking a step back and working together to review the options always seems to work out well.
(Speaking of time out, can we meet up here tomorrow? I’ve got three more points to make, but the game is on!)