Featured

I love our people!

“Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.”

Okay, work with me here (all of you that are not from the greater Boston Area). There is something about that sign (and every city has its own landmark). When you see the Citgo sign, you know you are in one of the greatest cities in the world and right around the corner from the legendary Fenway Park. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, brings back great memories, and is just simply awesome. Ever since I was a boy (my wife might argue that I still am one), this sign has been a back drop for the home runs over the Green Monster. Somehow that backdrop also brings good summertime memories, and for anyone who loves Boston in general, the sign has huge value.

Some of you may not be as fortunate as I am in regards to employees. My employees are probably some of the best people in the business. Both personally and professionally. They have a bounce in their step, have tremendous integrity, are hard-working, like their job, and generally are happy to be alive. Sometimes I wonder if this was orchestrated or if is just by chance that this caliber people are working side by side with me every day. Either way, I’ll take it.

I challenge all of you managers, supervisors, and executives alike. Get out of your office. Say hello to all of your people daily. Call them by name. Get to know them. Carry their burdens (to an extent) and share in their victories. Trust them. Train them. This will help you keep them. You might find this to be a secret weapon, as many employees don’t quit companies, they quit supervisors, managers, and executives.

Once you get to the point to where you see your people like I see the Citgo sign, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Painting the Outhouse Does not Take the Stink Away

So many times, people feel that a job change will solve all of their issues. It is always someone else, if you’d ask them. Either their boss is a pain in the neck; their pay is not good enough; there is not enough opportunity; they are not appreciated as they expect; and more.

Truth be told, if we would take the time to invest in ourselves, magically, our environment would seem to get better. Get a hair cut and . . . SHA-ZAM, you instantly feel better. Get a new suit or professional clothing, and the same result happens. Read books on personal development and leadership, and begin to change your thoughts from ” I’m a victim” to “I NEED TO CHANGE”.

Once the victim mentality diminishes and the new self emerges, everyone should be willing to fire themselves (figuratively speaking) and re-hire the more productive, better attitude, better dressed self. Unfortunately for most, a job change will still produce the same result until they do more than just paint the outhouse.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Cut the cord, pull off the band aid, sever employment, etc. Whatever you’d like to call it, it nevertheless needs to be done. Anyone in a position of leadership has from time to time, hired the wrong person. I mean the totally wrong person, not just someone who is mediocre. Once it has been determined to be a very bad hire, the necessary steps to remove that person, need to take place. And, the quicker the better. Most of the time, a bad hire occurs from making a decision from a point of weakness, rather than strength.

When hiring, it is always better to hire slowly. When we are shorthanded, we want to hire quickly, and that is when the mistakes start to happen. We can sometimes hire to fill the position that is empty, rather than hire the best possible candidate. If we hire slowly, it weeds out many candidates that just “want out” of their current job and do not care where they land. We want candidates that “want in” to the opportunity we are offering, more than they “want out” of their current job.

Once we have identified a bad hire, we must act swiftly. It is never an opportunity to put someone down and make them feel bad about “why” we are removing them. We should speak the facts of how the person is not meeting the basic needs of the position, encourage them to land on their feet, and close the door for other possible positions within the company. In doing so, there will be light at the end of the tunnel and certainly will not be a train coming the other way. However, if we do not act swiftly, the collateral damage can be huge. The damage can range anywhere between employee moral to lost customers, and more. In that case, the light at the end of the tunnel will indeed be a train coming the other way.

How to Turn the Hulk into a House Cat

How can I do this you ask? Very easily. That’s how. Follow me here; customers only turn into the Hulk when their concerns are not resolved. Think about your personal life. When was the last time a person from a particular company irritated you beyond belief? Think back. When that happened, was there someone to speak to? Did they exceed your expectations and resolve your concern in a quick and professional manner? If they did, it was over and behind you. If they did not, and avoided your calls and/or emails, you most likely began to turn green, your muscles popped out, and your clothes tore off. At that point, you could easily see yourself ripping someone’s head clean off their body.

Why do you think you are any different than your customers. When a customer complains, FIX IT! Acknowledge their concern quickly and resolve it to the best of your ability as quickly as humanly possible. Most times it plays out like this; you get a voicemail or an email and you avoid returning the call or email like the plague, because let’s face it, you’re afraid of being yelled at. When you hit the pause button on a customer, simply because you do not want to be uncomfortable, you get them a bit more mad. It is like a thermometer, or should we say angry-ometer. The more you put them off, the higher their “temperature”. So, they call again, email again, and give you a poor online review. What do you do? Put it off even longer. Now, your customer is the full blown Hulk and nothing short of your head on a silver platter will do.

Customers are usually reasonable. Most humans are not opportunists. They feel they have a legitimate concern. Listen to them. Look for an opportunity to empathize. Get others involved in the solution if need be. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Yes, you might get yelled at. But, by waiting too long, it only gets worse. BE A PROBLEM SOLVER. Run into the mess with all intentions of solving your customer’s riddle. I promise if you do, they will not turn green. In fact, in the end, they will probably be as tame as a house cat.

Participant or Spectator?

You’ve heard it said that you’re either the participant or the spectator, the pavement or the steamroller, or in this case, the hawk or the squirrel.

Life is going by, and at a very rapid rate, I might add. For too many, the parade of life is passing us by and we are on the sidewalk of life, simply observing the action. There are many studies that say we will spend upward of 5 years on social media alone in our lifetime. 5 years. Let that sink in. On our death bed, what would we give if we could have that 5 years back to enjoy the people that matter, visit the places we never had the chance to, or experience moments that we let slip by?

Consider being  a participant in life. Read more books. Spend more time just thinking. Travel more. Be grateful more. Speak well of people. Enjoy the moment in front of you. Smell the roses. Be in awe of the rain. Look at the stars on a clear night. Relax, and be in the moment more than you worry, or are anxious over things that have not happened yet.

So what will it be; will you be a spectator or a participant?

 

Photo courtesy of;

@intentionallywick, @markpsweeney

Half-Full? . . . YES!

“Your attitude is the fertilizer that grows your success or it is the poison that kills it”

It is a choice. You either see it half-full or half-empty. Be a “half-full kind of person. Instead of spending your time giving all of the reasons something will not work, won’t be sold, or won’t fall into place, be the person who thinks “how CAN it work”, “How CAN I sell it”, or “how CAN it fall into place”.

Christopher Columbus did not discover our land by saying “we’ll just push off from Spain even though the world is probably flat and we’ll probably not find anything of significance”. He most likely said “GET IN! We’re off to find something great!”.

Attitude is a HUGE portion of whether we succeed or fail. Attitude (good or bad) is contagious. Are you a chronic complainer? Stop it and change your vocabulary. I am quite confident it is not as bad as it could be. In fact, I assure you; IT CAN GET WORSE. I once heard someone say “when someone spits on you, they do not make you mad. They make you wet. You decide to get mad”. I know that’s a bit over the top, but the principal makes total sense. It is how we look at a situation, how we approach a set-back, how we handle rejection, how we deal with disappointment, and how we overcome failure that matters. We can either have a poor attitude, complain, make excuses, and belly ache about anything and everything, or we can have a glass-half-full attitude towards the very same issues. The proverbial “when life deals you lemons, you make lemonade” attitude. Your attitude is the fertilizer that grows your success or it is the poison that kills it. The choice is totally up to you. Should you see it half-full . . .YES! Will you see it half-full? That is up to you.

Digging up what you’ve just planted

I have met many smart people in the automotive business. Quite frankly, much smarter than I am. For some of them however, their M-O is shared in other offices, board rooms, and sales platforms around the globe. They simply come up with brilliant ideas, implement these great ideas, and then promptly abandon the ideas because the results are not quite happening as fast as they would like. The problem is, they want the results NOW. So they are in a constant state of plucking their newly planted idea up from the roots.

All good ideas that are implemented take some time to bear fruit. There must be an idea acted upon, a launch of a particular process, a refining period, and finally a run of success using the process to reap the rewards of the initial good idea that was acted upon.

Why in the world do leaders not recognize that their constant change of direction keeps them in a constant “planting” stage? After the planting, there must be a time for watering, and fertilizing, and sunlight, and most important – TIME to grow.

I have also seen leaders fired from their job because they could not “fix” what the previous leader (or leaders) have screwed up over the last several years. And worse, they could not fix it in 6 month’s time. Let’s be real, it is analogous to going into debt; it takes one shopping spree to max out a credit card and years to pay it off. In the same line of thinking, a previous manager, GM, or executive runs a business into the ground, and someone in an ivory tower believes it can all be fixed in 6 months. Hogwash. Worse yet, they just keep replacing people every 6 months and wondering why it is not getting “fixed”. What they are really doing is digging up what they just planted. #LETITGROW

I dare you . . .

“I dare you to give us a bad review”! Have you ever thought this? Have you ever said this? Have you ever wanted to say this?

Online reviews are part of the modern culture. We certainly like to use review sites to gain insight into a product or service for ourselves, but when it comes to our customers, we become so offended if they do not like a product, their experience, or worse yet . . . US!

I recommend creating a culture that is so customer centric, that our reputation speaks for itself in the marketplace. If our focus is for our customers to be ecstatic with their experience with us, then we should never fear a bad review. Bad reviews simply state we missed the mark. Most people are reasonable and will allow us to rectify the situation and in return they will either update the review or delete it all together.

If we have a good follow-up process to ensure our guests are happy in the first place, bad reviews become even more rare. Especially if we are consistently getting positive reviews. A bad review will not kill your business, it is an opportunity to correct a bad experience. It will not hurt your great reputation if your focus is giving the customer an amazing experience each time. If the customer has a valid point, you will resolve their concern. If they are professional extortionists, you can say “I dare you” rather than bend for someone just looking to get something for free, by using the platform of online reviews as leverage to extort you.