Contractor Tip Of The Month: How Can I Help You, Help Me, Help Us, Become Successful?

Damian Lang

Your competitor is not your enemy. In fact, your competitor may be your best friend. Many managers refuse to share knowledge with others in their industry. After all, why help someone who’s vying for the same projects? But if you hoard your knowledge, you are essentially living in a bubble and only hurting yourself.  

If you do not share with others, they will not share with you. Then you both lose out on the opportunity to help each other become more successful.   

How I Learned What I Know 

Everything I know, I learned from someone else. Everything you know, you learned from someone else, too.  

Someone once told me that if I want others to help me succeed, I would need to find a way to help them first. That is why I started writing this Contractor Tip of the Month over 17 years ago.  

As I spend hours each month writing these tips, people often ask me why I keep doing it. Believe me, I have thought about quitting several times. For the amount the magazines pay me for writing (which is nothing), I could be doing other things. However, it’s the outpouring of emails, phone calls and letters I receive thanking me for my help that keeps me writing.  

There’s No Such Thing as Free Advice 

In reality, I am not writing for free. When people contact me about a tip they read, sometimes they do more than just say thanks. They offer me advice on something they are doing that has helped them succeed. Because my advice was helpful for their business, they are more open to doing business with my companies in return. We both win by being open to sharing knowledge. 

So, if I can help you, help me, help us, become successful, would you invest your time helping me?   

Friends and Competitors 

Scott Zemba of Zemba Brothers, Inc. called me a couple months ago and asked if we could meet and share best practices. He mentioned that a mutual friend and contractor, Eric Riel, told him the two of us really need to talk because we have a lot in common. Eric is also the guy who coined the phrase that I used for the title of this month’s tip: “How Can I Help You, Help Me, Help Us, Become Successful?”  

I had always seen Scott’s equipment and trucks on local job sites but had never met him. So I quickly took him up on his offer to get together. I spent a day touring his facilities and learning some of his best practices of doing business.  

Then he came to my facilities, and I shared with him our best practices. Scott even attended one of my company retreats to see how we facilitate them. He was thrilled with what he saw and invited me to attend one of his company planning retreats as well.  

The Secret to Success 
It is possible Scott and I will compete with each other on future projects. We are both good at what we do and run reputable businesses. But neither one of us fears that competition because both of us will be more successful by helping each other. The secret to success is being open to helping others in your industry.   

Of course, I am not talking about colluding with the competition by sharing numbers before bid day. Any contractor doing business like that won’t be – or shouldn’t be – in business for long. The profits you may earn in the short term by committing dirty deeds will fall far short of the long-term ramifications. Remember, the good Lord is always watching.    

Sharing is Caring 

When someone shares their knowledge and teaches you something, they also help themselves. If you want that same kind of help, you must share your knowledge first. There’s an old saying that knowledge is power. But sharing is even more powerful – and more rewarding.

Damian Lang is CEO at Lang Masonry Contractors, Wolf Creek Construction, Malta Dynamics, and EZG Manufacturing. To view the products and equipment his companies created to make jobsites more efficient, visit his websites at ezgmfg.com or maltadynamics.com. To receive his free e-newsletters or to speak with Damian on his management systems or products, email:dlang@watertownenterprises.com or call 740-749-3512.