The Six-Letter Word

Aug. 1, 2019

Why talking about (GASP!) profit is so frightening

OK, don’t panic, but I’m going to bring up a word that may make you uneasy. I mean, it’s just something we shouldn’t talk about—at least not in public. We’ve been taught this. We’ve been conditioned this way. Generations have stuck to this pact of sworn secrecy, but I’m about to break it. 

Luckily, this is just between you and me. Don’t tell anyone. 

So, here’s the word: profit. 

I’ll wait a moment, and let the gasps subside.

Still waiting … and waiting … and … are we good?

Clearly, this is a little tongue-in-cheek, but let’s be honest, profit is often a very uncomfortable topic. At Ratchet+Wrench, we witness that discomfort in nearly every interview we do for our stories. Most people will explain in detail the improvements they’ve made in their operations, offer up numbers that display their growth, and talk freely about how others can do the same. But ask about their net profit? Silence. And I get it—wanting to earn a living and be successful is one thing; wanting to share the details of that success with others feels a bit immodest. Fair enough. We ask for a few specific reasons, though. One is to “qualify” the information we get from sources; we want to ensure that the strategies and concepts we share really do work. Another more valuable reason, though, is to eliminate the stigma around the topic of profit. Our goal as a company is to help you. We are only successful if we help you succeed. We can’t get there together without being open and honest about profitability. 

While that thought process is at the heart of all the content we produce, it’s really front and center in this month’s main feature about diagnostics. As you’ll see in associate editor Nora Johnson’s story, the business side of diagnostics comes down to valuing your own services, understanding the investments you’ve made, and explaining what that’s worth to the customer. People make buying decisions based on value, and if we’re open, honest and not afraid to think about profitability, it creates a transparent experience for customers. 

You’ve worked hard to build the business you have, and it’ll take even more hard work to reach that next level. That future growth and future opportunity for your teams are dependent on your ability to be profitable. Profit isn’t that six-letter word that we have to whisper; it’s a necessity.

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