The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Community Outreach Stimulates Growth
When I met Mike Polizzi nearly 30 years ago, I sensed his company was on a fast track to success. He wasn’t just dedicated — he embodied all of the elements that make an entrepreneurial success story in the alarm industry.
Polizzi has proclaimed his single greatest reason for success was his fierce determination for providing the customer with everything that was promised, anticipating the customer’s needs and delivering results early. ABF’s success was directly linked to Polizzi’s commitment to civic organizations and services to the community. Polizzi joined them all, including the St. Louis Rotary Club,Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis and Lions. He ran for office, succeeded at some and became extremely visible in the St. Louis business community. Residents approached him and they soon became customers. Those customers referred others, and soon his company was booming.
He also exhausted valuable time finding quality employees for his company. It became apparent to me that Polizzi sought help and assistance everywhere he could, and in the process, he found the right people to serve his customers.
What could you do in your community that could enhance the customer’s perception of the value of your business? If there is a lot more you could do, then you may have truly discovered one of the key ingredients to Polizzi’s success in this industry!
Look for Investment Opportunities
Even with a flourishing company, Polizzi still has one regret: capital early on. If he could do it over, he would have brought in a partner who had the capital to invest in a growing business.
Polizzi is an old-fashioned Italian businessman. He pays everything in cash, honors his word and never disappoints a customer. When you have those kinds of core values at the heart of your business, it isn’t difficult to grow your company as rapidly as ABF.
However, there are people with money who are looking for investment opportunities. How do you find these people? Simply by word of mouth, advertising in business publications, attending entrepreneurial-oriented meetings and by networking through community organizations.
I’m not sure how much bigger ABF could have grown with capital early on, but I think the way Polizzi did it probably served him well. He took the time to learn and to do things right.
As I recall, he was at every seminar I ever conducted in the St. Louis area, and I suspect he was at every other meeting in which he could have learned something. He took what he heard and applied it to his business.
Polizzi was never surprised by his success. If you know where you’re going, almost assuredly you’ll get there in a predetermined amount of time. A business plan is no different from that, and hopefully this idea is one that you will think about, be on the lookout for assistance and recognize it when it comes your way
Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates Int’l in the 1980s.