Recently when I returned home from a trip, it was still 60 degrees outside on a late February evening in Massachusetts. Crazy weather. I opened the door to my home to find it was only 50 degrees inside and it’s fair to say I was less than thrilled. Turns out I had neither heat nor hot water and the water temperature running through the pipes was 52 degrees, otherwise known as dang cold. Yes, I called the HVAC folks, but I also did something counterintuitive for a late February evening in the Northeast. I opened every window in the house to let in some warmer air! Then I put on a pair of wool socks, another blanket and went to bed. The next day the HVAC person came and fixed the problem — and didn’t charge me for the visit because they had just been to the house barely a month earlier to do maintenance on the system. Clearly part of that process was not completed in January. Not okay.
How does this relate to business? Here are a few ways I can think of — no doubt you can add a bunch more.
1. Sometimes going counterintuitive is best. Opening all the windows in late February in the Northeast seems just goofy. But it let in warmer air that night. Is there something in your business you’re doing just because “it’s always been done that way?” Think about how to do things differently.
For example, are you always reactive to customer service issues? How can you be proactive instead? The fact is, proactive may well be more cost effective and is most certainly more reputation saving/enhancing. I was prepared to gift my HVAC company with a healthy dose of my ire if they had charged me for this visit since technically it was a few days outside of their 30 day service window. Instead, the technician said almost immediately that I would not be charged for this fix. Think I’ll use them again?
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to resolve customer service issue with another vendor that’s been going on for four months. Think that’s making me a raving fan or a raging (trying to be) former customer?
Do you nip customer service issues in the bud or allow them to bloom?
2. Is there ‘regular maintenance’ on your business that is not getting done? Yes, I had had my system maintained about a month earlier, but the truth is that I had let it go for a few years which was dumb. Sometimes it pays to bring in outside help to keep your ‘systems’ working well. Is your bookkeeping current? If you have bank loans, when is the last time you called your banker to keep in touch (fyi…..they hate bad news surprises and love being kept in the loop of how your business is going)? Are you doing all that regular IT backup stuff and virus running that mitigates against really really bad days when the computer goes kaput? (I plead guilty to not being a role model in this area and periodically pining for a return to just pencil and paper).
3. Are you able to stay on track even when your schedule gets upended with unforeseen issues? This is a super hard one for me personally, but I’m getting better at not trying to supervise the technician visit. They are the expert and need to do their work unimpeded. Same with stuff that comes up in your business. Need to bring in an IT wizard? Go make phone calls while they wave their magic wand. Don’t hover – it wastes your time and theirs.
May you never return home to no heat nor hot water on a winter’s eve and may your business prosper by implementing a combination of intuitive and counterintuitive thoughts.