Chuck Kegler knows the three requirements for success in a service business like the back of his hand.
“You can say it 100 different ways, but there are three things you have to do simultaneously,” says Kegler, director with Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter LPA and a member of the firm since 1968.
“One, you have to provide outstanding service to your customers and clients. That is measured by what they think. Usually it is that you either have a product or service that is helpful to them. You are helping them be successful. If you don’t have that product and the people to provide it, you are not going to be successful.”
The second thing is you want to be able to supply that service in a way that provides professional satisfaction for yourself — and sometimes even personal satisfaction to people with whom you work.
“The third thing is you have to do it in a financially successful way,” Kegler says. “You have to charge enough so you can have the absolute best people provide the best service.”
If those three requirements aren’t in place and operating simultaneously — or just one of them is missing — you have a problem.
“If any one of those doesn’t work, you can’t charge a fee,” he says. “Then you won’t be able to hire good people, you won’t be able to have a good staff, you won’t be successful. It doesn’t mean that you have to charge high fees at all, but in that respect, you have to have enough sense of the whole business side of it.”
While, it may sound like you are writing a mission statement to just hang on the wall, those requirements, when put into practice, will help ensure the success of a project or company as a whole.
“It may sound silly,” Kegler says, “but you should make business decisions based on questions like these: Will this help us provide outstanding service to clients? Can we do it in a way that we will be economically successful or have a chance at least? Will we give our people professional satisfaction? Do you think they will be satisfied doing it, or will they be compromising what they are doing?”
It’s important that each decision feels right to those involved. If it doesn’t, then that’s probably a sign you should reconsider.
“Someone will say, ‘I want to do this’ and it doesn’t feel good,” he says. “If you are representing a certain kind of client who wants to do something a certain way — if it doesn’t feel good, then don’t do that.”
For example, if a client called you and said, “I want you to draft these four things exactly this way,” you might do it and they might be unhappy with the results. The reason is it didn’t satisfy his or her goals. But if you had been able to ask a few questions, it might have become something totally different.
“A client called and asked us to prepare a whole set of documents to raise money according to different concepts he had outlined,” Kegler says. “After about 15 minutes, I said, ‘You know, you can go this way, and it will cost you about $20,000 to $25,000, or you can do it 90 percent by yourself if you do it this other way. You just need to change what you are doing slightly. I think it will be more effective than some big complicated process.’”
Looking back, Kegler recalled how the advice of a college professor led him to his career as a lawyer. The professor, a Jesuit priest at Xavier University who was the head of the pre-med department, suspected Kegler really wasn’t pursuing the right field — medicine.
“He said I had difficulty understanding three dimensions,” Kegler says, remembering how astonished he was at the time of the comment, and the priest added, ‘Your fine motor skills are not very good. Surgery is not something you should be doing.’”
Still probing, the professor asked Kegler what he liked about his family doctor that got him interested in medicine.
The discussion revealed that he liked the office atmosphere and the advisory aspects of the business, so the priest advised him to do something that would help others.
Kegler took a year off from school because his basketball scholarship ran out. His family then moved to Columbus, and he transferred to Ohio State University and changed his major.
“I went into business and then law school,” he says. “My path was pretty clear then. I could see right away I enjoyed law a lot more than medicine. Pre-med is something I felt like maybe I should do or could do. I had enough skills to do it, but it was not something I loved.”
What he does love is the practice of law.
“I really like it,” Kegler says. “I love it. We are blessed to have wonderful clients, we are blessed to be in a great city, Columbus, Ohio.” ?
How to reach: Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter LPA, (614) 462-5400 or www.keglerbrown.com
Putting it succinctly, Junior Achievement’s mission is to help give students — who are inspired to be the young entrepreneurs of tomorrow — a taste of the business world. Since 1919, JA has been educating students about entrepreneurship with passion and integrity. It is the world’s largest organization devoted to that purpose.
One of the keys to JA’s success is the hands-on programs that help prepare young people to operate their own business. Many alumni of the program have cited their experience in JA as the foundation for their interest in being self-employed.
For instance, an inductee into a local chapter’s Hall of Fame recalled that when he was 13, he wanted to be an astronomer. Then, with five friends, he got into Junior Achievement and created a little company to market a useful product.
“We made money in the end,” he says. “After three or four months, we distributed $40 to each person of the company. Forty bucks doesn’t sound a lot today, but that was in 1955. At any rate, I decided, ‘Hey, I’d better go into business because I can’t make any money as an astronomer.’ That’s when I decided to go into business.”
Today, he owns a multimillion-dollar successful company.
JA Worldwide reaches more than 9 million students each year in 380,000 classrooms as well as after-school sites. There are 330,000 classroom volunteers globally who come from a wide range of backgrounds: retirees, businesspeople, college students and parents.
Local chapters each year honor distinguished business leaders who have acted as role models for students.
This year’s honorees for Junior Achievement of Central Ohio include Jim Budros, chairman of the board of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe Inc., the largest independent wealth management firm in central Ohio; Chuck Kegler, director with Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter LPA and a member of the firm since 1968; and Dwight Smith, founder and CEO of Sophisticated Systems Inc., a business technology partner in the Columbus region, and co-founder with his wife Reneé of the Thanks Be to God Foundation to support entrepreneurship and children worldwide.
They join the more than 80 business leaders inducted into the Junior Achievement of Central Ohio Hall of Fame in the past 25 years who give inspiration and purpose to young people to succeed in a global economy.
George McCloy remembers back in the mid-1960s when he sold his first life insurance policy as well as when he delivered his first death claim.
“The first policy I ever sold I actually had to deliver to the guy in a hospital,” he says. “He was no longer insurable, but he had prepaid it, so I was able to deliver it. Because of that, his family was able to stay in America ? they were from Italy.”
McCloy feels this was the first incident when belief in his product was a key point in his career. “People who really succeed in financial services are people who believe in what they do,” he says. “If you don’t know the benefits of life insurance, it would be hard to sell because it’s intangible,” says McCloy, president of the 50-employee McCloy Financial Services.
“My first actual paid death claim was a fraternity brother of mine who was killed in Vietnam. I went to his wedding in May, his funeral in September and delivered an insurance policy check to his wife.
“So it’s not hard when you have that kind of thing happen early in your career to believe in what you do.”
Once McCloy secured a deep belief in his product, he found a second key to success was diligence.
“I am blessed with ‘stick-to-itiveness,’” he says. “I’m not afraid to work; I never had what is known as ‘call reluctance.’ So, I set a task for myself and stick to it, trying to accomplish that in a year ? tell people I would do it ? you mix those all together, and you end up usually building a pretty nice clientele.”
Persistence is a personal key to his success, and he heartily endorses it for others, especially those starting out in an industry.
“I would give them the advice that it’s not what the industry might do for them but what they might do for the industry, meaning that a lot of kids maybe come out of college not having the same work ethic that I had when I graduated,” McCloy says. “If they would put their head down and work hard toward whatever their objective was or if they could pick out their niche and stick to it, they could be successful in the business.”
Another key to success is working well with people. An understanding of figures or stocks and bonds and insurance-type products is a good thing, but it’s not necessarily a dealmaker.
“You’ll do better financially for yourself if you are good at working with people because you can get anybody to work with figures,” McCloy says. “The ability to work with, understand and listen to people would be much more to their advantage than just working with figures.”
Most people are born with some people skills that can be later groomed and improved. But the opposite for those only comfortable with numbers is not necessarily true.
“It would be much easier to teach somebody who understands how to work with people how to understand numbers than it is to take somebody who understands numbers and try to get them to be fluent with people,” McCloy says.
“I know some very successful people who are not terribly extroverted,” he says. “You could be an introvert but understand how to get along with people. You don’t have to be the big ‘rah rah’ guy to go out and be an extrovert to make it.”
Finding your specialty, believing in your mission and sticking to it can result in big accomplishments in your career, even if you aren’t a cheerleader, so to speak.
“I know some actually humble people who picked a niche like the pension business or the group insurance business and have done quite well by getting something they understood. They stuck with it, learned it, asked questions, listened to people and did well but weren’t that extroverted.”
Community involvement is one of the steps in developing people skills.
“Give to your community in some way,” McCloy says. “You get to know people, then people tend to want to talk to you. That’s my motif.”
A final key to success, although not the least one, is motivation to imagine your success.
“If a young person can paint the story of success and you ask that person what the definition of success is in the next 12 months or five years from now, you’d have some idea of either how logical that person is in the thought process,” McCloy says.
If there is a reasonable goal that is obtainable, you can motivate people by activity.
“Focus on a certain market segment activity, and if you are willing to do it two or three times a day, as opposed to two or three times a week, then you will be successful,” he says.
“If I believe in something and I’m excited enough to go out and do it and I can demonstrate a certain level of success — you know, if you sell two truckloads of this, you get X dollars — it’s not hard to motivate somebody else to say, ‘Well, gee, maybe I can sell a truckload.’”
How to reach: McCloy Financial Services, (614) 457-6233 or www.mccloyfinancial.com
A letter from Greg Moran, chairman of Junior Achievement of Central Ohio:
On behalf of our community partners, Junior Achievement of Central Ohio is proud to host the 2011 Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame ceremony. The Hall of Fame has recognized more than 80 distinguished business leaders during the past 24 years.
This year’s inductees — Sue Doody, George McCloy and Robert White Sr. — are deserving additions to the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame. Excellence, leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit will be well represented by the class of 2011.
The 2011 Hall of Fame inductees act as role models for students in our community. Junior Achievement celebrates their careers as we prepare young people to succeed in the global economy. Junior Achievement volunteers and staff teach financial literacy, work readiness skills and an entrepreneurial mindset to students throughout the central Ohio region.
I am excited about what the entrepreneurs of the past and present have done for Central Ohio. Working closely with business and economic development leadership, we look forward with anticipation to the contribution that Junior Achievement alumni will make in our community during the coming decades!
Today, we have an opportunity to celebrate these Hall of Fame inductees, standing on the foundation they’ve laid as we help young people take control of their future and fully live to their potential in our region. We are proud to be partners with our school systems, employers and community leadership in educating our future work force. We invite you to join us at www.jacols.org or search Junior Achievement of Central Ohio on Facebook.
Greg Moran is chairman of the board for Junior Achievement of Central Ohio and senior vice president and chief information officer, Infrastructure and Operations, for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.