Happy Halloween y’all. It is our favorite month here in Thompsonville. It has been what seems like forever since I have been here, at my keyboard, typing words as they flow from my brain to my fingers. A few months ago I chose to stop writing and focus on myself. I have missed this and just because I was not putting thought to text, does not mean that I was not on the lookout for blogging ideas. One such professional interaction is not just worthy of being written about, it is deserving of being the “re-icebreaker” into this next chapter of my writing here. It is a bit of a read so I have chosen to break this into stages. First…..
The Set Up
Dawn and I had been dealing with a large section of our driveway that has been slowly settling. In the winter, I could slide half way down the drive, or fall on my arse while wearing my not so grippy crocs. After a few years of our own splash pad/ice rink it was time to pull the trigger on getting it corrected. It was not bad enough to replace and we chose to “interview” leveling companies.
Hopefully you noticed that I used the word “interview”. Yes, when representatives come to the home to explain their service, as consumers it can be considered an interview of the company.
We called three companies and received their “sales pitch” and quote. First off, I will almost never use someone who attempts to “sell” me something. Next, during the interview we look for character. Important to note here, we were not looking to flip the home or simply decide based on the lowest price. I have been in construction my entire existence and I have been down on funds. I certainly understand when simply looking for the best you can get with the dollars you have is how the decision is made. I respect that.
The Initial Interaction
Dawn and I weighed all our options and chose the company based on the sales rep who came to the house, explained and coached us on the work that would be done, and the process they would use. He did not “blow up” the other companies. Simply stuck to the facts of how his company would complete the work. Also, at the time the rep came to the home, I was out of town. He took the time to call and speak with me by phone. More impressively, he respectfully did the same for Dawn, in person. He did not speak down to her or short her any of the information he had already explained to me. There was never the indication of, “As I explained to your husband”. This impressed me/us as well. Next, we had to approve the quote, which was not the least expensive nor was it the most by a long shot.
Conducting Business Can Include Kindness
I soon received a scheduling email letting us know that it would be a couple of weeks before we knew where we fell on the calendar. I reached out on a Sunday asking for clarification of an item in our quote. I started my email with “Happy Sunday” knowing that it would not be read until the following day. Anyone reading this, that knows me, knows how I feel about creating emails that reflect personality, especially if you are communicating with someone for the first time. The response I received from the scheduler was as if I had coached her myself; she started with “Happy Monday”. She then proceeded to kindly clarify the estimate. In my response, I let her know how happy I was to see her greeting, how it indicates personality and sets the right tone, that whatever anyone says, just keep on doing it. She appreciated my kindness and sent me a truly heartfelt response.
After just a few days, I was getting antsy and reached out to her to ask for an update on the scheduling. I knew that it would take a couple of weeks but as I mentioned, just got antsy. I started my email with “Happy Friday Eve”. I did not ask for anything or indicate that I was looking for anything other than a scheduling update.
She had every right to hit me back with a canned, unfeeling, response of “it usually takes 1-2 weeks to get you on the schedule. She could have done that and been “right”. Instead, she was so appreciative of the interaction that we were having and the impact that it was making on her work, that she took the time to move us up in the schedule.
Her and I continued to communicate back and forth and just days before our installation, she sent me a reminder that included the names of the team members and some light details about the technicians on the crew. For many years, I have emphasize the importance of individual self-esteem and creating opportunity to make people feel as if they are part of the process. Keeping customers “in the loop” can have this same effect. Being regularly updated and being informed of who will be coming to your home feels as if you know them, just a bit.
Organizational Values Represented in the Field
The team was just as impressive, never once getting annoyed with my wanting to observe and ask questions. When they were done, although invisible to me, they pointed out that there had been an issue. A small hairline crack had occurred due to binding of the slabs. They explained why that happened, did not blame me or my driveway, and asked me if I was going to be ok with the result.
Once the work was completed and final payment made, I asked them for a few minutes of their time to ask a couple of questions. I started with why? Why, with everything going on, have you chose to work a very blue collar job, with a small company. The answer from both can be described as “a family environment”. One of the techs has been with the company for a long time, worked along side the owner early in his tenure. The owner, he says, always started the day on the shop floor by greeting everyone and smiling. They both said that the owner and management take the time to get to know each person. The day starts with positive conversation, care and concern for the individuals. Not just about work, but in their lives.
I have commented, and spoke for many years, that if we treat people, the way they wish to be treated, there is a better chance for team members to stay. That is exactly the point that they made here and why they stay where they are.
The Wrap up, Finally
There is an argument to be made that I could have “demanded” that my work date be moved up, been a total “a-hole” and perhaps ended up with the same result. I am going to continue to advocate for kindness in the workplace, in the home, with our neighbors, and in our neighborhoods. Being an “a-hole” is stressful, for both parties. The people dealing with this approach loathe the call and can not wait for the transaction to end. There is an underlying approach to work here in our western culture that says you have to be hard, cold, and calculating if you want to have a successful transaction. That if there is a problem, you have to immediately move to “fight” mode. There is a time and place for that as you will see in my next entry.
I was given permission to use the names of the folks who worked to complete this transaction, each role building on the other to achieve a truly successful project.
A big shout out to our sales rep, Frank. It was your approach, coaching, and respect of myself and my wife that helped us “feel” good about working with the company you represent.
Next up is Emily, the creator of the “Happy Monday” email. The personality that you included in your digital correspondence left me with the impression that I was actually speaking to someone face to face, a person who cared. I enjoyed each of our communications. You truly made an impact on my day and week.
To our installers, Devan and Susy, you were both awesome! The time that you took to explain the process, show me what went well and what did not, was second to none. You were friendly and I appreciate the few minutes that you gave me at the end and the insight that you provided.
Finally, to the owner, whom I am thinking this will be forwarded to. Keep on keeping on. Your approach is first class, your team is reflective of this approach and it shows up in the actions and communications that I had with each person. You are on the forefront of a new and improved way of conducting business.
For those of you that have this or a similar culture, I am very happy for you and your co-workers. For those of you reading this, and are smirking or rolling your eyes, don’t be a hater. And, for those of you wishing this was your work culture, it can be. It can start with you. Smile at your coworkers. Do not accept instruction from your boss, or anyone, until they have wished you good morning. And yes, I have done this and it makes superiors stop in their tracks. We have the power to be kind in the workplace. Work can be and often is stressful, the days are sometimes long. There is anxiety in most roles that we have in our respective workplaces. Buy why are we accepting of a culture and way of conducting business that is not rooted in self-esteem, respect, and general kindness. It can start here. It can start with you.
One thought on “A Successful Business Can Also Be Rooted in Kindness”
Good Info, Tommy T! Coming from someone who gets to witness your interactions first hand, you truly practice what you “preach” – lead with kindness.
LikeLiked by 1 person