Be Like Levi: The Most Important Marketing Tool I Have Learned From My Dog

It happens. There are times in your day that you want to kill or strangle a client:

  • The client who asks if they can use their 10% off coupon after a project is completed
  • Or the client who changes colors on a room in the middle of a painting project
  • Or my favorite, the client who offers to help out because he just saw the same job done on HGTV.

This can be frustrating, and year after year dealing with it can take a toll on a small home improvement company.

The reality of running a business over the years is that you lack or hold back your enthusiasm.  The constant problems of running a small business, plus the occasional problematic client, can “beat down” a home improvement contractor. This is where you need to prevail.

Enthusiasm helps your businessThat is when I look at Levi.

Levi is a four year old Bernese mountain dog. My wife brought him home one day when he was two years old. He is a huge mammoth of a dog that was beaten by his previous owner.  However, I love my  dog so I  accepted this mammoth animal that was bigger than all of my children into our home.

Over the past few years I learned to appreciate one aspect of Levi. A trait seen in almost every dog I have met… enthusiasm.

For example, at 5am every morning my alarm goes off. If I do not spring out of bed, I begin getting licked and see a 150lb dog jump on bed in pure excitement. Why?

  • To see the same .25 acre of yard he sees everyday?
  • The amazing meal that is fed to him each and every day?

I know that it cannot be me and my wonderful morning breath. Levi shows an enthusiasm that cannot be matched. Something that as his owner I thrive to achieve.

 “Without enthusiasm, you cannot work up to your fullest ability and potential; you’re just going through the motions. And just going through the motions won’t bring you to the level of competitive greatness” – John Wooden (10 time NCAA champion coach of the UCLA Bruins men’s basketball team)

Enthusiasm is the one thing that as a business owner you need to have. It is a trait that needs to be displayed not only to your potential customers and clients but also to your employees.  Regardless if it is a clogged drain or a complete room addition.   The homeowners are excited to see you, so it is important to equal or exceed that enthusiasm.

As a small business owner, if you are not enthusiastic every day then you should not bother showing up.  I know that sounds silly, but if you are not providing the right dedication or support to your employees, clients and to your own business it will show up in the bottom line.

If you’re not feeling your enthusiasm or passion on a particular day, start from the outside and work your way in. Put a big smile on your face every time you meet with a client.  While on occasion people can be suspicious of people who we think smile “too much,” we are – in general – drawn to people who are smiling.

Five Quick Things To Get Your Enthusiasm Back In Track

  • Maintain A Positive Outlook – Regardless of the project, always be positive and listen to what the client wants. They are excited about it, so should you.
  • Be Grateful   You own your own business. You are your own boss.  You are no longer working for the “man.” Be happy about it.  When someone is feeling grateful, they are more likely to be excited and passionate about what they are doing.
  • Look Towards the future – There are slow times in a contractor business and those times can be tough.  The best way to not fret about this is to be enthusiastic about the projects you are working on.  You cannot control the market, so there is no reason to worry about it.
  • Without Your Employees, You Have No Business – Your employees thrive off of your own enthusiasm. If you are unhappy, pissed off or just having a bad day, they are aware and it effects them too.  Always keep your employees up to date on everything and share your enthusiasm with what the future may bring.
  • Get Out Of The Rut – If you have been in business for over 10 years, the job and the company can be routine.  Develop a new specialty or service to offer, take on a new responsibility, or do something else to reinvigorate your enthusiasm for your work.


Aaron O’Hanlon is a marketing consultant with Footbridge Media , a marketing firm, specializing in the contracting industry. It is his mission to create awareness of marketing online to the home improvement industry, and to educate, inform and assist contractors on taking over their own online presence.