Policy vs. Values

Marle

Last week, First Sgt. Albert Marle was traveling between Portland and Charlotte aboard a US Airways flight.  He asked the flight attendant if she would hang up his jacket, which was located in first-class seating.  More information and detail can be found via this article from Fox News.  To summarize, the flight attendant refused because the closet was for first-class passengers only.  Placing the jacket of First Sgt. Marle, a passenger flying coach, would be against company policy.  A passenger on the plane wrote this on his Facebook page…

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A couple of team members and I discussed this incident today at NS4L.  Sometimes the best way to learn is through the experiences of others, right?  It brought on some interesting questions…

Did this flight attendant do anything wrong?  She was following company policy.  She didn’t write the company policy.  Was she afraid she may get fired for not following policy?  Isn’t this just common sense?  Here is a member of our armed forces that puts his life on the line in order to defend our country and freedom, shouldn’t we be serving him the way he serves us?

This created an interesting discussion and here is my suggestion for any business…

Prioritize CORE VALUES over Rules and Policy.  I tried to Google ‘Core Values US Airways’ and could not find any listed on their company website or elsewhere.  This doesn’t mean they don’t have any, but if they do, they are not at the forefront of what they do.  Personally, I hate ‘rules’ but even I understand that sometimes they are necessary.  However, if you let CORE VALUES take precedent over any policy, then your team will always have what they need to make good decisions.

Our Core Values at NS4L are as follows:

1.     Create and Recreate the UCE – Ultimate Customer Experience
2.     Stay Calm and Scoot On (When things get tough, remain calm, take a deep breath, and proceed.)
3.     Don’t Believe the Hype! (Stay Humble!)
4.     Embrace and Shape Change
5.     Keep Promises
6.     SOC it to Me (Our way of remembering to maintain a Safe, Organized, and Clean environment.)
7.     Communicate Clearly
8.     SIQ Awesomeness (Service, Integrity, and Quality)
9.     Create a Lifestyle!
10.   Always Put a Teammate First
11.   Serve a HIGHER PURPOSE!
12.  If you are late to work, you better bring breakfast!

If you let your values guide your decision making, you can see how this simplifies circumstances that arise (even if they ‘violate policy’).  If US Airways had the same values as NS4L for example, the flight attendant could have said, “Hanging this jacket will create the Ultimate Customer Experience for First Sgt. Marle.” or could have said, “Doing this would be serving a higher purpose.” and be able to make a simple decision, even though it may ‘violate policy.’

I want my team to know that if they ever make a decision that is in the best interest of the customer and upholds the core values of NS4L, that I won’t get angry with them should it mean ‘violating policy.’  I think this would be a great practice for all business leaders…

Establish core values with your team.  Write down what your values are as a team and then LIVE by them.  Make decisions by them.  HIRE and FIRE by them.  Let your team members know that if they ever get stuck in a situation where they are unsure what to do, ask themselves…  “Would this be violating any of our core values or would it be delivering on our core values?”

What are your thoughts?  Was this flight attendant wrong or was she just doing her job?

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Millennial Questions

Today I received an email from Dianne at Tigers Success Series whose mission is to help leaders build high performance teams with roaring success.  I thought the questions were interesting enough that I thought I would share her email and my reply below.  Check them out…

Collin,

I would be interested in learning your perspective on business and entrepreneurship as a Millennial.

It seems to me that people with talent would find the route to entrepreneurship.  But what about people who are still looking for jobs or who are pigeon-holed into a small little box with no opportunity for career growth?

How do you deal with people you employ and what seems to be the best advice for engaging talented millennial employees?

My best,

Dianne

Below is my response:

Hey Dianne,

I am a “ Millennial,” but barely.  I am 32.  I feel like I fit in a special category between generations sometimes, haha.  Personally, I grew up in an Air Force family that was disciplined and my parents were very much the “you can do anything you can put your mind to” parents.  Being in an Air Force family, we bounced around from location to location and the longest I ever lived in one place was for about 3 years.  So I was forced to make friends quick, which makes me a very social person and greatly helped me when building relationships with customers.

So much of the Millennial Generation has their face buried in their smart phones (so sometimes unsocial) and is quite often used to having everything handed to them.  I know there are tons of exceptions, but it seems like this is a common stereotype.  I have always been taught that nothing is ever going to be handed to me…  “Good things come to those who wait” is not what I was taught.  I was taught that “Good things come to those who bust their ass, pour their heart and soul into it, and don’t stop until they have succeeded.”

My perspective on business compared to others is probably a lot different.  I believe that culture is one of the most important aspects of any company.  I believe that small business is simply a TOOL to serve others.  This means serving the community through giving and by setting the example for all businesses.  The most important thing is not money.  The most important this is providing a work place that changes the lives of the people within it.  It means changing the world in a positive way and leaving this Earth better than how we found it.

Here are answers to your questions more specifically…

It seems to me that people with talent would find the route to entrepreneurship.  But what about people who are still looking for jobs or who are pigeon-holed into a small little box with no opportunity for career growth?

To me, having talent doesn’t necessarily mean you can be an entrepreneur.  It takes a particular type of person to be an entrepreneur.  One that is a risk-taker.  One that is willing to put all others before himself/herself.  One that is willing to risk going through tons of failure in order to make a difference and change the world.  I want to impact people’s lives.  Sometimes people with talent simply want to be paid for their talent.

When it comes to those who are looking for jobs or who feel stuck in a small box with no opportunity for career growth, I would tell them this…  Life is what you make it.  Maybe the ‘ Millennial’ Generation is sitting back and hoping that opportunity will knock, when instead they should build a door.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be an entrepreneur either.  For example…  My sister (a Millennial) finished nursing school and was told over and over that she had to go through HR at Shands Hospital and go through that whole process, yada, yada.  Most people would do just that…  Sit.  Wait.  Apply to some other places and HOPEFULLY get called in for the next step in the process.  Then there are ‘go-getters.’  People that don’t sit and wait, but people that know what they want and GO AFTER IT.  My sister knew the name of the head person of where she wanted to work and knew that all employees email addresses ended with ‘@shands.ufl.edu.’  My sister took a shot in the dark and took a very good educated guess at the person’s email address and nailed it!  She went after it, pushed her foot through the door, and now has a job as a nurse at Shands.  I have several stories where I have done this as well.  This is exactly why we have a couple of the biggest brand names in our store (Vespa & Genuine).  When I want something bad enough, I go get it.

How do you deal with people you employ and what seems to be the best advice for engaging talented millennial employees?

My team has to ‘deal’ with me more than I have to ‘deal’ with them, haha!  The best advice I can give for engaging talented millennial employees is to hire slow, fire fast, and hire team members that have the same values of the company.  The good thing about much of the Millennial Generation is that they are not all motivated for money (though in order to keep talent it is important to pay as well as competition – we make an effort to make sure that we pay better).  They want to feel that their work is meaningful and makes a difference.  Find people that believe in your vision and want to be a part of it and build a culture around core values and you will be headed in the right direction.

This is all my take, but I am only 10 years in the making as an entrepreneur, so I still have a lot more to learn.  I would be happy to talk more when I return from my trip!

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Letter from Collin to NS4L

Put Your Team Members First
NS4L Team:

I just wanted to take a moment this Sunday evening and share a couple of things with you.

1. Seth Godin is a biz genius I respect very much… Read his short blog below.

Pleasing a person who is not in the room

One reason organizations slow and stumble is that teams of well-meaning people form committees and go to meetings, determined to please the boss.

What they do, instead, is assume that the boss is far more conservative than she actually is. They buff off the edges, dilute the goodness and quench their curiosity. They churn out another version of what’s already there, because they’re imagining the most risk-averse version of their boss is in the room with them.

It’s the boss’s job to continually ask, “is this the most daring vision of your work?”

I don’t like the term ‘boss’ (the word he uses, but he is describing a ‘corporate’ world in my mind) as I feel that the term puts the individual on a different level than the rest of the team where as I always view our organization with us on one level with equal responsibility. That is what creates a TEAM.

With that said, I think that ‘avoiding risk’ is common amongst most organizations. Doing so will cultivate an atmosphere of mediocrity and I know that you guys know that this is NOT what I want. An individual recently asked me during his interview, “What things make you proud of employees?”

I am most proud when someone takes the initiative and risk to do something that will make this company even better. Andrea, for example, took the initiative to create a system for all the scooters that have already been sold for back to school but have not been picked up or delivered yet. We didn’t want to lose track of these important customers during back to school madness! Thank you Andrea for creating a great system for this and for creating systems for many other things!

Guys, this is just ONE example of the MANY things different individuals are doing to make this team greater and stronger. I hope that you will ask yourself, “Am I making this company stronger today?” as you go through your day. CHALLENGE yourself.

2. I know you guys see me every day. You know the stories. You know me. So I know you will probably look at this and be like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah…” haha, but I wanted to share it with you anyway :) Business in the Heart of Florida blessed me with the opportunity to write another article in their magazine! I feel that God’s purpose for me in life is to inspire, motivate, and build other leaders. I hope that I do that first and foremost within NS4L, but I also want to do so within our community. Because YOU inspire me, please take a moment to read this latest article…

5 Life-Changing Leadership Lessons

You will find that one of our core values and another popular NS4L quote from Leigh, our Chief of Wisdom, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” made the list. You guys have such a huge impact on me and I wanted you to realize how often you influence me.

3. We are one step closer to back to school. Thankfully we have approximately 40 deposits for Fall 2014 Back to School! We have over 125 scooters in storage that have to be re-prepped too! Things are about to get CRAZY to put it lightly!  We have thousands of new students coming to Gainesville and we have the privilege to welcome so many of them to our NS4L family!  Let’s make August the greatest August to date and welcome all of these new family members! Let’s earn their business and show them why New Scooters 4 Less is THEIR GAINESVILLE SCOOTER STORE.

Thank you for making my world a better place. I love you all.

Collin

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4 Lessons from my personal experience with a new startup

As an entrepreneur, I naturally want to help new entrepreneurs. I LOVE seeing others succeed and most people know my passion for entrepreneurship and small business. We need more small businesses!

I know how hard start-up life can be, so when I meet someone who started a new business and it is a service that I could use or benefit from, then I try it out. #naturally ;) This was the case with a new entrepreneur I met that started a mobile auto-detailing business. Because the experience was mediocre, I thought I would share some things this business owner did (or didn’t do) in hopes that it may help other entrepreneurs. I am not going to disclose the business’ name. I am not bashing on their business. I want to help their business! God knows all the errors I made in my first few months as an entrepreneur. I do feel that these lessons could really help other businesses, especially startups that are in the same early stage of entrepreneurship.

Here are four important lessons from my experience with this auto-detailer startup. (If changes aren’t made quickly, this business won’t be around long-term).

1. Wake Up and Be Awesome. (Ok. So I technically stole this phrase from one of my former (graduated) team members.) When you are interacting with a customer, WAKE UP! You should be attentive, well-spoken, polite, and have good eye contact. Unfortunately, this individual was very quite and spoke only a few words to me. Not necessarily the interaction that would make me want to have him come back.

2. Over Deliver (especially as a startup)! The gentleman showed up with his trailer and materials and went to work. He detailed my truck. He did a good job, but there was nothing that WOW’d me. The detail job was comparable to any other detail job. Nothing made this business stand out over auto-detailers I have met. It was just another auto-detailer. It was ‘blah.’ You should offer a great detail on my truck at a competitive price, but then go just a little bit further. Maybe when I enter my clean truck for the first time, there is a nice air freshener installed on the AC Vent or a small gift of some kind sitting in the cup holder. Remember, the small unexpected things go a long way.

3. Never Turn Down Another Sale/Job. I feel this is obvious, but yea… It happened. My wife came home while this gentleman was detailing my truck. Since she was home (and since I knew her car needed a good scrub too) I asked the gentleman, “Would you like to go ahead and detail my wife’s car as well?” To my surprise he said no. When you are a startup (heck – even when your not), you never turn down the opportunity to make another sale! Seriously?! Did that just happen? Nonetheless, I gave him the benefit of the doubt… Maybe he had another appointment to get to? I told him, “Ok, no problem. Just give me a call when you can work it in your schedule and you can come back out.” Did I ever hear from him? No. This is bad. Real, real bad.

4. Follow Up. You just detailed my truck. You want to keep me as a customer. So you should follow up! Send a thank you note thanking the customer for the business. Maybe provide an incentive to get the customer to book another appointment soon… “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to detail your truck! I really appreciate the opportunity. I have included a 10% off coupon if you book another appointment within the next 60 days. Here is an extra discount to give to a friend that you think may like our service as well. We appreciate any referral you may be willing to send our way. Thank you again!” These types of moves are detrimental to the success of a business, especially early on. I did not receive any type of follow up.

I am always trying to learn from experiences my business friends have had, whether they are successes or failures. I hope that these lessons from the experience I had with this business will help you!

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Treat Others the Way You Want to be Treated

Ok. I admit it. I am obsessed with customer experience stories. I love hearing about them. I love seeing videos of peoples reactions when a company goes above and beyond. I really love seeing our customers reactions when NS4L delivers an awesome customer experience… It makes me want to do it again and again.

Yesterday, Leigh came into my office to discuss a scooter repair that has been in the NS4L shop since April. I know. Crazy, right? This is EXTREMELY rare. It drives me nuts if a customer’s scooter is in our possession this long. Let me explain because I know NS4L customers read this blog and I don’t want anyone freaking out :) . . .

This doesn’t happen with scooters that are purchased from our store. We stock thousands and I mean TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars of parts in our service department. The scooter brought in appeared to be a scooter purchased online and this ALWAYS makes it very difficult to find parts sometimes. This was the case in this instance. We spent hours upon hours trying to find the parts. Many dealerships would even charge for the the amount of time in research it would take to locate these hard-to-find parts. We did not. Leigh asked me if we could comp an oil change for her due to the length of time the repair took… I told him that I wanted to give our customer the ENTIRE repair for free simply because it took so long.

So many people think this is crazy. Some people even tell me that it is not smart business. However, I believe that such moves may not show results in the short-term, but will have long-term positive effects.

Sure we lost money on the repair. Sure it wasn’t necessarily our fault we couldn’t locate the parts. However, I push my team to be the very best and I felt we should have located the parts sooner!

If you simply reflect on this Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” you can’t go wrong. It’s a concept that is lost because the whole world is obsessed with money. I knew that I would be a little frustrated if my scooter was in the shop for 3 months. I also knew that my frustration would instantly be dissolved if the entire repair was just handed to me for FREE and then be ecstatic if the business went beyond what was necessary and gave me a free general service as well (we ended up giving this customer a free oil change, transmission service, and valve stems that she needed).

This customer will be back. I believe that she will be an advocate for NS4L and will let her friends know that we truly care more about her than we do her money (which is absolutely true).

We somehow have become known as this ‘UCE’ – Ultimate Customer Experience business. It is a tough label to live up to sometimes, but we will continue to do what we can to do just that.

I also want to make a conscious effort to highlight other businesses that deliver such great service and experiences. That is exactly what I did when I wrote this article in the Business in the Heart of Florida Magazine. I highlighted 4 Rivers Smokehouse, a restaurant that has exceeded my customer expectations multiple times. I will never forget the time that a 4 Rivers employee remembered who I was and wrote NS4L in BBQ sauce on my ribs :)

NS4L at 4 Rivers Smokehouse

NS4L written in BBQ sauce on ribs at 4 Rivers Smokehouse

Take a look at how 4 Rivers delivered our service manager, Leigh, with the Ultimate Customer Experience not too long ago.

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World Cup – Brazil 2014

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It’s difficult not to get wrapped up in the excitement of the World Cup.  It comes around once every 4 years and let’s face it…  Soccer is a religion in most countries.  People obsess over it.  I also get wrapped up in the excitement and can’t wait for the United States to take the field on Monday night.  The countdown is on!

As I watch these games, it is difficult for me to turn off my ‘business brain.’  I can’t help but wonder how much revenue is being generated by this worldly experience.  How many people are attending each game?  How much are the tickets?  How many sponsors are flipping up on the sponsor boards around the edge of the stadium?  (This also makes soccer the greatest sporting event to watch as you will never have a commercial interruption).  How much did those sponsors have to pay?  How much does a single game generate in revenue?  How much will the entire event generate in revenue?  Who gets this money?  The country?  FIFA?

Then other questions come to my mind… Is this helping Brazil’s economy or hurting it?  Heck…  after a little research I found out that Brazil spent $270,000,000 to build a stadium that is in the middle of the rainforest only accessible by boat or plane that will be used for 4 World Cup matches.  Does that make sense?!  Who made that decision?!  I feel like $270,000,000 could be used for so many more (IMPORTANT) things!  Did this hurt the environment?  Everything I read tells me that this stadium was built in the middle of the Amazon.  Does this mean that part of the rainforest was plowed down to build a stadium that will be used 4 times?!  Please tell me no…

One would think that the businesses of Brazil would benefit greatly from all the tourists and psycho fans traveling to Brazil to part-take in the excitement, but does that benefit out way the cost of hosting the event?

From what I can tell, FIFA is not a non-profit organization (though they claim they are).  They are a government doing what they want, when they want…  Manipulating countries to change laws and preventing themselves from paying taxes to the countries that host the event.  How is that possible?!

So a friend sent me this…  Now I understand that it is a ‘late night show’ for entertainment, but I have to believe that the majority of this is true…

(Caution:  It is late night television.  A bit crass, but funny and true.)

It’s now 2 – 1 as the Swiss just scored a goal in stoppage time to win the game over Ecuador.  This is what I love and why all of us get sucked into the madness called The World Cup.  My mind is boggled by all of the controversy, yet I am still entrapped by all the action and excitement and I have to admit, I wish I were there.  I am sure lots of my friends are saying…  “Dude…  turn your ‘business brain’ off and just enjoy the soccer game.”  I CAN’T HELP IT!

Enjoy the World Cup, but remember that this is much more than a soccer tournament.

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USMNT vs. Nigeria

Not really business related, but a lot of fun, so I thought I would post a couple of pics from my weekend in Jacksonville as some friends and I traveled to watch the United States Men’s National Team take on Nigeria in an international friendly before heading to Brazil for the World Cup!

If there is anything to learn from this…  It would be to make sure to get out and CELEBRATE some of the wonderful things in life!  Seeing everyone come together to celebrate our nation and this team was so much fun!  And of course I took pics with person after person just because I was Captain America!  :)

Why was I Captain America?  The truth is I LOST at Saturday morning’s round of golf and that was the punishment.  Let’s face it though…  I rocked the Captain America suit and it was meant to be…  We have the same initials.

Oh… and this just happened…  http://www.gainesville.com/article/20140612/ARTICLES/140619904?tc=cr

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Royal Caribbean Cruise Vacation

I went on a vacation!  #saywhat?  I know!  It is a miracle!

At the beginning of the year, during all the ‘New Years Resolutions’ and all the dos and don’ts for 2014, I read an article that encouraged business owners to get away for 2 straight weeks and completely break away.  I’ll admit it.  I don’t think I am ready for that.  I think my team would handle it ok, but I think I would personally miss it if I was away from it all for 2 weeks and the ‘catch up’ process wouldn’t be very much fun.  I guess I still have to learn to delegate better so I don’t have any ‘catch up’ when I get back from vacation.  Anyway… My wife and I decided to take a 4 day cruise.  No phone.  No email.  Nothing!  Complete separation!  (Scary!)  Everything went just fine!  In fact, my team gave a guided tour to Buchholz Academy of Entrepreneurship on Friday while I was away!
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Anyway…  I just wanted to share a few quick things I learned (and others can learn) from this mini-vacation:

1.  Customer Service is alive and well (at Royal Caribbean anyway).  Every single employee greeted me with a friendly ‘hello’, ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ as I walked by them in the hallway.  I didn’t realize how much of an impact this actually makes until it happened to me.  Consistency is key though!  If one person I walked by wouldn’t have said hello, it would have stood out in my mind.  Lesson:  Customer Service is important (duh!) and consistency is just as important.

2.  There is unity in our differences!  I was beyond impressed with how Royal Caribbean celebrated the diverseness of the crew and customers on board.  There were approximately 50 nations represented within the crew of our ship.  Lesson:  The differences we have as individuals and in our cultures should be celebrated!  (Seems like common sense right?  So why don’t we celebrate it more often?)

3.  Everything is going to be alright.  Business owners…  Get away!  Take a break.  Trust your team!  You will feel fresh, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the world upon your return!  Lesson:  Just do it!

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Sweat the Small Stuff

You often hear people say “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  I say, “The small stuff can mean the difference between mediocrity and excellence.”  (#miniboom)  ;)

As one who wants to build cultures around the UCE, Ultimate Customer Experience, I work hard to encourage my teams, both at NS4L and with my partners at Gulejo, to pay attention to the details.  Believe me, we are good, but we could always be better.  Of course, as an entrepreneur, I will probably always be our worst critic.  There is always room for improvement.

I can’t tell you how many times I get annoyed by someone showing up late to work or a meeting, how often I find coffee drips on the coffee counter, how often I find a piece of trash laying in the parking lot or even in the shop, or how often I find a helmet strap hanging from a helmet in the NS4L showroom instead of being properly tied up.  These are details and details are important.

Will any of these things keep us from making a sale?  Probably not.  Take NS4L for example…  I know a customer isn’t going to say, “Oh no!  I am not going to buy this scooter over here because this helmet right here on this shelf has a helmet strap that isn’t strapped up and the presentation is terrible!”  (though that would be hilarious)  Some members of my team may tell you that I am ridiculously obsessive.  Maybe I am.  I want them to be too!  They will learn.  It’s my responsibility to teach them, right?

“So Collin… Why is it soooooo important then?”

Besides the fact that I feel presentation is HUGE, there are several reasons!  I am sure I could go on and on, but let’s just take a couple of important ones:

1.  The snowball effect…  If you decide to not “sweat the small stuff,” what else are you going to let slip?  These details that are missed will continue to be missed, you will start to miss additional details, they will compile and compile until finally the snowball hits the wall at the bottom of the hill and creates a huge mess.  I have never been one to half-ass anything, so I hope that you won’t either.

2.  Customer perception… Face it, people judge books by their covers.  That’s just the way it is.  What makes you think that would be any different with your business?  Look at it like this… If you pay attention to details, customers will take that as an indication that you will be there for them in the event there are any major concerns that need attention (and of course make sure you do should that moment arise).

I understand the difficultly in paying attention to the details, but work on it!  Doing so will contribute to providing that UCE.

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Perceiving Perception

Perception Example 1:

A couple days ago a gentleman walked into the shop.  He was greeted by our one of our amazing team members, Shaina, and the gentleman informed her that he had a laundry list of items he needed to get taken care of on his scooter.  The customer was a new customer and had never been to our shop before, so Shaina politely asked him to fill out our new customer information sheet so that we could get him and his scooter into our system (standard routine procedure).  As the customer began to read the information and then fill out the new customer form, Shaina proceeded to help the next customer…
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Between the showroom and our office area is a wall with a sliding window.  This sliding window was open and our videographer, Austin, and I were cutting up and joking about a new video and contest we were planning on having for the shop.  Fun, craziness, loud music, and laughter are all things commonly found at NS4L…  Unfortunately, I saw the customer out of the corner of my eye throw his helmet on and swiftly walk out the front door.  I obviously found that peculiar, so I jumped up and ran outside to catch up with him.  As I did, I asked, “Sir, is everything ok?  Was there something I can help you with?”  He simply answered, “I’m good, thanks.”  I had asked if he was waiting on someone or something and he wouldn’t even speak to me.  I continued to rack my brain as to what had happened and started investigating…  Everyone had done everything they were supposed to do.  Then I found out from Shaina that he was a NEW customer.  Maybe it was something he read on our new customer information form?  I’m not sure.  My theory?  I believe he saw Austin and I cutting up in the back office and he perceived that our ‘fun’ was more important than he was.  Obviously, that is not the case at all, but it may have been the customer’s perception.

Perception Example 2:

A couple of weeks ago, I had a young lady (who was in the process of purchasing a scooter from us) recognize me as the owner as I walked in from being gone due to a couple of meetings I had that particular morning.  The customer asked to speak to me for a second and had a complaint.  I was floored because we don’t get them very often!  I was even more surprised at how professional the young lady was being by addressing the complaint to me as opposed to jumping on a review site and leaving a bad review like most people would probably do.  (Pay attention to this if you are a person that typically leaves a bad review for a company before speaking to the management and giving them the opportunity to fix whatever the issue may be.  This individual handled it in the appropriate and professional manner.)…

“Hey Collin, the reason I came to New Scooters 4 Less was because of the stellar recommendations from my friends.  I have to be honest, my friend and I here were really hungry [as it was almost lunch time] and anxious to get the scooter and get on the road, but the scooter was pushed through the back door to be prepared and it was left there for more than 20 minutes before anyone even began to look at it.  It seemed like no one wanted to prepare the scooter or even cared to prep the scooter.”

I thanked her so much for her professionalism and feedback and told her it would be addressed and that of course we would work hard to make sure that the experience for our customers are beyond superior.
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So what happened?  What the customer saw and what actually happened were two different things.  The scooter was pushed through the back door and one of our technicians removed the battery from the scooter seat, went to fill the battery up with the battery acid, seal it, and give it the quick charge before putting it in the scooter.  A process that takes approximately 20 minutes.  The scooter sat in place for those 20 minutes while that process was being completed…

The customer’s perception was different and a negative one.

Perception Example 3:

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine put up as a Facebook status that has always stuck with me, “Must be nice to be the boss and leave at 3pm on Friday.”  I couldn’t help but chime in and say, “Unfortunately, you don’t see him on those typical late nights when the rest of you guys leave at 5pm.”  Again…  Perception.

If you have ever thought something like this about your employer, stop and think about the early mornings and late evenings your employer often has.  I start my day at 5am and frequently end the day late into the evening as well.  That doesn’t prevent my team from seeing me between the hours of 9:30am and 6pm when they are around.  If I leave early one day, they could easily perceive the same thing.  I have never heard one of them say something about me leaving a couple hours early one day (perhaps one or two of them have thought it though).  Then again, such an instance is probably considered a ‘miracle’ in my world, haha ;)

Perception.  It is important thing to remember as you develop (whether as a leader of an organization or as a member on a team).  I think the 3 examples above allow you to look at things from another perspective and that is exactly what you have to do.  I have found myself putting myself in the shoes of others more often in order to understand and familiarize myself with the situations from that other point of view.  This has allowed me to make stronger and healthier decisions for my company and learn / adjust from situations that arise (especially in terms of the customer-related situations described above).

Oh…  and don’t get me started on the way people perceive me as an entrepreneur that shows up to work on a Friday in a Who Wants A Ride? NS4L t-shirt, loud board shorts, Vibram shoes, and ball cap.  ;)

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