Volume 48, Issue 2- February 2013

ShopSavvy

Back to Basics
You Can’t Live In the Past … But You Should
by Paul Bieber

Huh? “You can’t” and “you should” all in one headline? What’s going on here? This month’s USGlass is all about new technologies to help each of us run our businesses better, gain customers, cut costs and get more sleep at night. Read carefully, learn from industry sources and pick one or two ideas that will benefit your glass business.

Future Thinking
In the future we will all use more technology in our businesses, from computerized quoting and job submittals, to CAD and sending and receiving electronic payments of monies due. Yes, this is the future, and if you are not part of it, you can survive as a nice, little corner store. That’s exactly what some folks want. So don’t feel like you have to be a technology wizard to survive in business climates of the future. But there are some parts of our past with which we must continue; some things are so basic to business success that without, all the technology in the world will not help you.

The most important asset of any business is the employees who walk out the door at 5:00 each evening. Treasure them. Give them a smart phone and a tablet computer. More importantly, give them a pat on the back for a job well done. And when the job is rare (okay, not well done), then give constructive criticism, privately and calmly, that will help the employee and your company the next time the situation appears.

Provide all the current benefits: the 401(k), the company car and a laptop. The greatest single benefit, though, a company can offer is a path to grow at your company. People want money and perks, but every survey about employee attitudes says that the opportunity to grow, to learn, to earn more money by taking on new challenges is more important than the cost-of-living raise and the Christmas bonus.

Don’t be Afraid
I know many business owners who are afraid to educate their employees for fear they will start their own business, or go out into the job market with their new skills. And yes, this can happen. Although I feel you will gain ten times over by sending your crew to seminars and introducing new technologies to them. They will be grateful to you and more often than not will feel an even stronger attraction to you for giving them opportunities.

Be sure to educate yourself as well. You need to know enough about the Internet to hire a web company to create your website and handle your email. Ask your vendors to help you set up your website with their photography and graphics, as well. Know your accounting system so you can get the most out of it.

Know the names of your employees’ family members and occasionally ask how they are doing. Give a small Amazon gift card for a high school graduation or any special event. Know what is going on in your employees’ lives … if they have a sick parent and need some schedule adjustments, work with them.

When employees take a vacation, don’t let them come back to a huge pile of work. It’s a great opportunity to cross-train another member of your team by handling the vacationer’s workload. There is nothing wrong with an employee on vacation checking their email and answering a few questions, but limit it to no more than 15 minutes per day.

You do want to have some separation between yourself and the team; after all, there may be a time when you do have to act like the boss. Avoid the happy hours on Friday; you’ll just get stuck with the check anyway.

Learning new technologies is important to your future, no doubt about it. Just don’t replace the old basics.

Paul Bieber has 30 years experience in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. You can read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com

Paul Bieber has 30 years experience in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. You can read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com.


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