Volume 8,  Issue 4                         July/August  2006

Customer Service
t i p s   f o r   q u a l i t y   s e r v i c e
tompkins.carl@sika-corp.com

One of the most significant factors behind success is the ability to understand that a specific course of action is required in order to reach any particular goal. As Will Rogers stated, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll still get run over by just sitting there.” 

When is comes to priorities, the first and most significant is action. Action is the cure-all for fear and antidote to procrastination. Nike phrases it quite well in many of its advertising campaigns with the slogan, “Just do it!” My interpretation of this slogan is to quit whining, quit making excuses, focus all attention and effort to diving in now and getting the job done. 

Within our industry, one of my most cherished occurrences is to meet up with a business owner who shares the excitement and desire to “just do it” when it comes to embarking on some new business activity, aimed at improving the bottom line. The sad part is to learn, some time later, that nothing new has occurred. Inaction means getting run over. 

In order to make sure action takes place, utilize the “Swiss cheese” approach. View any project as if it were a large wheel of cheese. Shoot holes in it by getting started with small action steps; one action step equates to one hole in the wheel of cheese. Such steps could be getting a file started, asking someone to provide some information, making a phone call, or completing some paperwork. The wheel of cheese disappears one hole at a time. 

This concept is similar to getting into a swimming pool—few ever run to jump in at the deep end. Instead, putting one toe in at a time is the typical approach to learn that the water temperature is fine. Major projects in business are accomplished by one small step at a time and they all get started with small steps follows the principle that “success by the inch is a cinch but by the yard is hard.”

To ensure that a beginning series of small action steps is sustained, the second priority is to become “calendarized,” which is a term I use to define the need for planning. A key to reaching goals is to have each time-bound. There must be a beginning and an end to each activity. By scheduling activities to a calendar, you are applying a great principle in order to stay on track and make regular progress. I was once taught that to be the most successful you had to be the most organized. Not only is the time issue important, but the planning of activities in terms of who is going to do what by when is just as critical.

You’re Not Alone
Getting other people involved with your plans is a priority because they represent a great resource of support towards implementing new business activities. Standing on your own not only is lonely but, when the going gets tough, progress usually stops. People need reinforcement to remain dedicated to accomplishment. I’ve been asked many times to assist in other peoples’ company projects, sometimes in the form of training, general consulting or even the provision of materials. This represents an example of how others can be incorporated into your action plans. 

Don’t overlook using other business associates or employees. They provide a great opportunity for additional talent, expertise, and, above all, the peer pressure to keep pressing on without quitting. Depending on the size of your business and culture, the bigger and older the more often full delegation of projects is required. The reason for this is that larger companies with very old business cultures find it nearly impossible to change on their own without granting the authority of special projects to outside consultant groups to make it happen. While such organizations realize the need to change, they fall captive to the old dogs-new tricks syndrome.

Having outlined the priorities of “how,” I want to wrap up with the priorities of “what.”
From watching and listening to so many in the AGRR industry, I have two distinct perceptions that lead to the need for two new priorities. 

Same Old, Same Old
The first perception is that many companies are hanging on, doing business the very same way as in years gone by. I had a real good laugh in talking with an owner who was discussing this very issue with me recently. He stated that his company did not fall into this trap because the company had become a lot smaller through downsizing and each person had his or her job requirements double, so nothing was the same.

You have got to get rid of some old, antiquated, time-consuming activities and replace them with new ones. This is a critical priority. Think of new markets, new products and new ways to market those products in order to adopt a couple of new ideas each year. 

The final perception is that way too many companies are sitting back hoping that someone else does something to save our industry from further erosion. Much has been written touching on this issue. Attorney Chuck Lloyd recently commented that no program, lawsuit, or special interest group can replace the efforts of individual companies all pitching in to do their part. Branding is a very important aspect of success in our industry.

These considerations lead to the final priority which is to improve our industry by taking care of the only thing you can control. That is to exert every effort possible to perfect the performance of your own company. What have you accomplished to support your national and local associations? What have you done to support your industry’s national AGRSS Standard? What have you done to promote your business within your service area? 

A guest speaker told an audience of graduating college students that in order for the world to be right, the person has to be right. I would alter that to say, “In order for our industry to be right the glass shop has to be right.”

Carl Tompkins is the Western states area manager for Sika Corp., Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash.


AGRR
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