Hourly America: Stop 42 at NS4L

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When I decided to become an entrepreneur, I never thought, “Let me start New Scooters 4 Less so I can meet lots of interesting people.” Haha.  But I have!  I have become friends with many of the athletes that come through our shop, met some of their ‘professional athlete’ parents, met crazy successful entrepreneurs, become friends with TONS of our customers and have built long-lasting relationships with several of them.  It has been a true blessing to meet so many incredible individuals, so you would think that I wouldn’t be ‘surprised’ for more outstanding individuals to come driving into my life.  I mean this quite literally…  They showed up in an RV!

Monday, December 1st, the NS4L team showed back up to work after a wonderful Thanksgiving break to receive a voicemail from a Mr. Heath Padgett.  Heath explained in his voicemail about how he and his wife, Alyssa quit their jobs before getting married, got married, and decided to set out for the adventure of a lifetime as their honeymoon.  They purchased an RV on Craigslist and decided to create a documentary called Hourly America.  They set off to visit ALL 50 states (of course would fly to Alaska and Hawaii) and work (Heath works, Alyssa videos!) at 1 business for 1 day in each state to ultimately share the stories of everyday workers! They are creating a documentary with a mission to change the way a lot of people are perceived in hourly positions, especially in the service industry.

Check out all of the buzz their journey has created within the media: CNN, Fox and Friends, and Huffington Post

Check out their website:  Hourly America
Follow on Facebook!

In Heath‘s voicemail, he explained that a simple Google search led him to our business and he really enjoyed the way our website highlighted our team, the reviews he read online where customers shared their stories and great experiences at NS4L #UCE, and more.  He said he knew that NS4L was the business he wanted to work at in Florida!

I’m pretty sure the NS4L team’s response was a resounding, “Heck yea!”

So NS4L became the 42nd stop on this amazing journey of theirs!

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 Heath got his hands dirty learning how to change oil, gear oil, and headlight bulbs on scooters in our service department, learned how to operate a forklift and took delivery of a bunch of Genuine Scooters that came in to our warehouse, took a scooter ride out for lunch for Taco Tuesday at Tijuana Flats, and finally assisted our sales team with scooter sales and changing the voicemail (since we had a Thanksgiving ‘were closed’ voicemail up).  That went really well!  Check out Casey‘s jingle of “Do you want to buy a scooter?” to the Frozen song “Do you want to build a snowman?” with the assist from Heath:

 We had an amazing time and it was awesome to play a small part in Heath and Alyssa’s journey and to make some great new friends!  They inspired us and hopefully we left them a little inspired as they left for stop 43!

Best wishes to our new friends!

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NS4L is hiring an online sales / social media position #thevoice

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Here’s the story, but if you want to get the ‘low down’ on the position first, I get that…  So skip to the bottom…

Want to make a difference in the world?  Want to contribute to something greater than yourself and feel like your input matters?  A company I founded ten years ago is growing and we need team members to join in and contribute to its greatness.  If you are looking for a ‘job,’ this listing is not for you so you can stop reading now, but if you are looking to make an impact and change our world for the better, then continue to read my story below and the details of the help we are looking for below…

Ten years ago I was a kid attending the University of Florida.  Like a lot of college kids, I felt lost.  I was a good student. I studied, went to class (when possible – you will understand in a minute when you get down to the part about buses), received great grades, but like a lot of college students I was under pressure.  What pressure you ask?  The pressure of entering the ‘real world.’  I was about to graduate college.  I was about to be out on my own.  I needed to find a JOB.

Just like all the other UF students, in January (of 2004), I attended the Career Showcase at UF.  I was dressed in a suit, walking from recruiter to recruiter, handing them my resume, and putting on a fake mock interview.  I was so out of place.  1. I may have worn a suit a dozen times in my life prior to that moment and 2. The only thing going through my head was, “Oh my gosh… I am never going to work for you.”  This was an obvious sign that the whole ‘getting a career’ thing, probably wasn’t going to work out.

Alright. So why scooters?  Well…  throughout my time at UF I lived at University Terrace West on SW 20th Ave.  Apartment 407 to be exact if you know anyone that lives there.  Southeast corner bedroom, if you know anybody that lives in that apartment and you really want to freak them out.  Anyway…  Ten years ago the RTS system wasn’t what I would refer to as ‘great.’  Has it gotten better?  Yes.  I hear there are still issues though.  I would go outside to the small bench out in front of ‘UT-Dub’ (University Terrace West) (which is no longer there (the bus stop I mean – it has been moved to a larger bus stop further down)) and I would wait for the bus like normal UF students.  The problem?  The bus route started all the way down at the mall and it would pick up so many students before it got to my stop that by the time it actually got to my stop it would drive by with the words “FULL BUS” lit up across the top.  If I was even lucky enough to get on a bus, guess what…  Standing room only and after we had all just been standing outside in the Florida heat you can imagine how much fun it was standing up against other sweaty students that had to hold their arms up in order to hold the hand rails. #sweatypits

You can imagine how many times this happened before the lightbulb goes off and you think to yourself, “Man!  This is a huge problem!” Know what else?  I had a car.  I finally got to the point where I had 60 credits, which way back yonder was enough credits to get a ‘Commuter Lot’ parking decal to park on campus (which everyone knows that NEVER guarantees that you will get a parking spot).  Did I ever get a Commuter Lot parking decal?  Nope!  As soon as I reached 60 credits, UF bumped it up to 90 credits.  As soon as I got up to 90 credits…  Yep.  You guessed it.  It had been changed to 120 credits.  Congratulations…  You now have to be a GRADUATE student to receive a Commuter Lot parking decal.  Is that the case now?  I honestly have no idea (again, this was over 10 years ago), but could you see all the signs going off in front of me saying “WAKE UP COLLIN, THIS IS A BIG PROBLEM!”?  Yep.

When I was in school, scooters were BARELY in existence.  In fact, it is safe to say that bicycles were the main way for students to get around.  Mine was stolen.  #FAIL  (Ten years ago hashtags weren’t a thing either)  I remember there being way more motorcycles than scooters on campus.  It was only $30/year to park a motorcycle / scooter on campus way back then.  (Student Scooter Riders that are reading this…  I know!  Don’t freak out!  $156/year now?!  The SAME as a car when a scooter takes up 1/6 of what a car would take up?!)  There wasn’t even scooter parking.  You know those hashed areas at the end of parking spots?  A sign was stuck right in the middle of those that said “Motorcycle / Scooter Parking.”  Try getting your motorcycle or scooter out if you were stuck in the middle of the hashed block!  #thisiswhyUFcreatedactualscooterparkingslots

I can’t believe my eyes when I look around Gainesville and see the huge impact this company / THIS TEAM, has had in creating an entirely new LIFESTYLE in Gainesville.  When we opened up, motor scooters were looked at as being ‘dorky’.  In fact, we sold more scooters to Sophomores at UF.  Why? Because they thought scooters were dorky as freshmen until they suffered through that first year and then stopped and thought to themselves, ‘I’m not doing this again.  I’m getting a scooter!’  I remember parents bringing their kids in to look at scooters and these parents would literally BEG their kids to get a scooter (knowing what a time saver a scooter would be) and these college freshmen would say, no.  (Meanwhile, here I was, an entrepreneur silently screaming in my head, “WILL YOU JUST LET YOUR PARENTS BUY YOU A SCOOTER?!”)  #truestory  Today…  We have successfully created a scooter lifestyle that is COOL.  A girl walks in and tells us she is going to buy a scooter from us because everyone in her sorority has a scooter from us. Guess what?  Number one customer is now FRESHMEN too!

What’s even more awesome?  We are growing!  (This is why we need your help!)  We put TONS more scooters on the road in 2014 than we did in 2013 and we know (from 3rd party research) that this team is on track to sell more scooters in Gainesville this year than all the other dealerships do combined!

You see scooters everywhere.  Now if you pay close attention, you will see the NS4L logo on the side of lots.

Is that the whole story?  Nope.  There are tons more.  A lot of adventures.  They are fun stories to reminisce over on ‘Beer Cart Fridays’ when hanging out at the shop and relaxing with the team…

You:  “So what is this Collin?!”

Me:  This is a job description!  A bit unorthodox, I know, but if you know me…  I am a bit unorthodox.  When I took over as sole owner of this company in 2006, I had one mission:  To help students get to and from class, at their convenience, on high-quality, affordable transportation, without having to wait for the bus!  We want to continue this mission and help others find the transportation they need as well!  :)

So what makes us different?  We believe we are a customer service business that just happens to sell, repair, and rent scooters.  Our number one core value is to Create and Recreate the UCE – Ultimate Customer Experience.  We live and breath customer service.  Do we fail sometimes?  Yep.  Sorry…  even I can’t have a great day and be on my game 100% of the time (but I strive like crazy to!).  You try smiling and clearing your eyes of tears to deliver great service when you just find out that your grandmother passed away.  It’s not easy.  How do I account for this?  I simply work at building relationships so tight with my team members that should something like this happen and be weighing on someone emotionally, I can recognize it and let them go home for the day.  We all have bad days and it is imperative that we work hard so these ‘bad days’ don’t affect a customer’s perspective or experience with us.

Can we make EVERY customer happy?  No.  (This really really sucks honestly, because I have lived so much of my life trying to please EVERYONE.)  Of course we do everything in our power to make our customers happy, but we are not the scooter store for everyone.  I haven’t quite figured it out, but there are people that are living right now, breathing air, and hating every aspect of their life that they feel it is absolute necessary to take it out on the rest of the world.  We have had a customer threaten the lives of our team members before.  That is uncalled for and that type of behavior will never be tolerated from any customer.  This is NOT the store for those kind of people and I have no trouble telling customers not to ever come back should I feel that the customer may cause harm to my team or other customers.  My team and the customers that appreciate and share our values are my family and I will do everything in my power to help and protect them.  I will always bend over backwards to ensure the safety and satisfaction of our customers.  This business is my baby and supports my wife and baby boys…  Believe me, nobody wants to make sure customers are happy more than I do.

You:  “So why are you telling me all of this?”

Me:  It’s simple.  Students graduate school and leave Gainesville for a ‘job’.  My team and I need quality help.  We know your mom and dad want you to go get a corporate job with lots of benefits, corporate structure, yada, yada, yada.  Believe me.  I know.  When I told my dad I was starting my own company, he was against it.  Yet, here I am.

If you want to spend the rest of your life in a cubicle, have fun.  I don’t believe that most of you want to work in a cubicle your whole life.  If you are like me, you feel like you were put on this Earth for something amazing.  You want to make a difference and impact people’s lives for the better.  You want to connect with other people that are out trying to create a better future for the son or daughter you haven’t even had yet.  You want to have your name written in a history book so that when you die, your time on Earth mattered.  You want to simply CHANGE THE WORLD.

Guess what?  Me too.  If you can’t tell then you need to just stop reading now.  This is my ‘we’re hiring’ post.  We aren’t just hiring anyone though, we are hiring people that want to CHANGE THE WORLD.  If you want to be a cubelet (my word for someone that spends their life in a cubicle), then NS4L is not the place for you to work.  However, if you want to make a difference in the world and be part of a young business that wants to create a lot of change within its community, region, nation, and world.  Then this place is for you.  If you want to be a part of one of the most unique company cultures in our region, then NS4L is the place for you.  We are known for being wild, eccentric, and fun, yet all that stems from the customer service we provide our customers.  Our team is a family, so if you like building close relationships with a team, having brothers and sisters you can count on, then NS4L is the place for you.  If you want to have ‘coworkers’ (our coworkers are family) say hello as you pass them in the hall and not feel like you want to steal a printer from your work and beat it to death #officespace, then NS4L is the place for you.  Don’t get me wrong, we would beat a printer to death with a baseball bat, but it would be because it doesn’t work.  We would also NEVER do so without recording it and putting it on YouTube either.

You:  “Collin, I am a college student and want to work part-time while in school, will you consider me for a position?”

Me:  Yes!  Some of the BEST hires have been part-time college students.  I do want this particular position to be a long-term position, but if this position isn’t right for you, we may have another that is.  Many of these students saw me speak at UF about entrepreneurship and came to me and said, “Collin…  I think I can help you.”  BOOM!  So it began…

You:  “Collin, I don’t see a job you offer that I would fit really well in, but I think I could help you in so many other ways, will you hire me?”

Me:  Go ahead.  Create your own job at NS4L.  I can’t promise that it is right for this team, but I love people that are creative and if you want to help me change the world, then I would be stupid to not at least listen to what you have to say, right?

I hope all of this shows how passionate I am for what I do.  If it doesn’t, then I really (REALLY) failed.  I hope that things like upsetting the status quo, family, making a difference, being a part of a team, creating change, having fun, and being heard will take precedence for you over bureaucracy and boredom. So here are the details of the position…

JOB LISTING:

Details of current OPEN position
New Scooters 4 Less
NS4L Voice
Sales & Operations: Job is Located in Gainesville, FL

The NS4L Voice plays THE vital role of representing New Scooters 4 Less online.  You are the VOICE of the team and ’speak’ on behalf of NS4L online.  This team member works at NS4L and ‘on the go’ to keep NS4L active on all forms of Social Media!  Our team is looking for someone who is energetic, hard working, organized, detail-oriented, fun, determined and just the right amount of weird!

NS4L Core Values

1.     Create and Recreate the Ultimate Customer Experience
2.     Stay Calm and Scoot On
3.     Don’t Believe the Hype! (Stay Humble!)
4.     Embrace and Shape Change
5.     Keep Promises
6.     SOC it to Me (Safe, Organized, and Clean)
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!

Responsibilities include (but are certainly not limited to):

·      Taking NS4L online!
·     Online sales through websites like Craigslist, Gainesville4Sale (and similar sites), Cycle Trader, and more.  You will be our ‘sales lead’ for anything web-based. (You will be required to have extensive knowledge of the scooter business and industry.  You don’t have to know all this to start, but you are going to have to study and learn quickly.)
·      ‘Speaks’ on behalf of NS4L on Social Media.  Makes and schedules posts relating to NS4L and other articles and happenings that relate to our customer demographic and industry.
·      Increases ‘followers’ and ‘fans’ by building online relationships with customers.  Stays active by posting and tweeting with customers and fan base.
·      Increases scooter and service sales through social media.
·      Grows the NS4L website blog and builds content.
·      Grows the NS4L website:  scooter inventory, available colors, etc.  Keeps the website up-to-date and fresh with new content.
·      Lists parts, accessories, and other products on eBay to work on expanding sales of NS4L products nationwide.
·      Grows and constantly strives to take NS4L’s reputation up a notch by keeping an eye on what is being said about NS4L online.  You will be the ‘first responder’ and NS4L’s primary customer service manager responsible for addressing customer service complaints immediately and delivering all customers with the Ultimate Customer Experience.
·      Make New Scooters 4 Less active on forums related to our industry.  Network and communicate within these forums to expose NS4L to more customers and ‘fans’.
·      Create video (iPhone, GoPro) to expose customers and fans to the ever-growing culture of NS4L.
·      Begin the inner-workings of creating an ‘online’ business future for NS4L.
·      Work with our team to achieve our monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals!
·      Be an active part of recognizing opportunities for improvement and efficiency in order to increase the overall productivity and online growth of NS4L.
·      Actively contribute to our unique, exuberant, outlandish and exciting culture!
·      Build relationships with the greatest people in Gainesville (our customers, business friends, and team)!  Get out and network to capture more content for NS4L!

Requirements:

·      Experience with all types of social media and understands how to interact and build relationships online.
·      Experience with wordpress.
·      Experience with photoshop, illustrator, etc. preferred.
·      Sales experience.
·      Thorough understanding of online SEO.
·      Blogging and writing experience.
·      Marketing / Social Media background preferred.
·      eBay experience.
·      Must be able to “smile with your voice” and have a good “email/online voice”
·      Positive attitude and ability to interact with customers in a friendly manner.
·      Has to have close attention to details as well as a vision for the bigger picture.
·      Must be coachable, open to feedback and dedicated to consistent self-improvement.
·      Leadership experience and open to growing as a LEADER as there will be lots of time dedicated to leadership development.

What You’ll Get:

·      NS4L Swag Bag.
·      Snazzy freaking uniform.
·      Exposure to sales and growth in communication skills.
·      New MacBook Pro and Thunderbolt display for work use.
·      A lot of experience with customer service and interacting with different personality types.
·      Exposure to the ever-growing entrepreneurship world of Gainesville.
·      A dedicated team that is fun to work with and will become a part of your extended family.
·      Paid sick time.
·      Paid vacation time once employed for 1 year.
·      Paid holidays.
·      Participation in Donut Fridays.  #awwyea

If you want an opportunity to grow and learn in a fun and exciting position, we invite you to apply! Please make sure to email Andrea Ramos, our Chief of Sales, Marketing, Events and HR at andrea@ns4l.com your resume in order to receive our employment questionnaire!

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Employee of the Month

A friend of mine, Anthony, tagged me in a Facebook post this morning…

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First, let me say that I love being a ‘cultural junkie’ and it is absolutely true.  I pretty much obsess over customer service (UCE – Ultimate Customer Experiences) and Culture.  I don’t care what anybody says, in my opinion, these elements are the lifeblood of any business and really you can boil everything down to CULTURE.  Why?  Because if you have a healthy company culture, this means you will have happy employees, and happy employees mean happy customers.

So…  Employee of the Month?  Nah!  It can actually hurt your culture!  My train of thought is that if everyone else does something, then that often means that is the wrong thing to be doing.  This is not the case all the time of course, but by following everyone else’s lead, we won’t be innovative and come up with ways for NS4L to do things.  So you won’t find any ‘employee of the month’ pic hanging up in our shop.  You will, however, find Fractures of our team members and of course, stick figure pictures of everyone who hasn’t been ‘Fractured’ yet (simply because we haven’t yet done their head shots, haha).

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What kinds of things to we do at NS4L to recognize employees since we don’t have an ‘employee of the month’?  Personally, I drop emails to individuals and pull them aside to thank them as well.  I also like to take them out to lunch one-on-one to spend some quality time with them.  Pats on the back are extremely important.  It is easy to call someone out for doing something wrong, but we forget to praise someone when they are doing something great!

We also have a new ‘experiment’ in the works at NS4L…  the Fish Bowl!  This is a place where anyone on the team can write a note and highlight anything that any team member has done to inspire, help, make a difference, etc. at the shop.  On the 4th of every month (since we are NS4L), we will put all the notes up on the wall for all team members to see and read.  This way team members are highlighting and recognizing the efforts of each other and ‘senior management’ are NOT the ones handing out any reward or highlighting any one person.  The reward ends up being the public recognition given by their peers.  Everyone gets to see everyone else’s notes!  (which I am overly excited about for some reason, haha).  Then we start all over the next month.

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Even though the ‘Why You Should Kill Your Employee of the Month Program‘ article states that ‘reward programs create a culture of praise junkies’, I am a sucker for surprise awards.  I like to give and I like to see someone’s face light up when they receive a spontaneous gift.  So what do we do different?  Again, we let the TEAM decide!  About once a quarter, we get the team together for a company dinner and team meeting.  Every once in a while, I will do something like ask the team to write down the name of the team member on a post-it that has positively impacted him/her/team the most the last quarter.  We will put all the names in a hat and draw them one by one.  The individual who gets the most will get something like a surprise $100 bonus.  It is way more fun when the team decides who is most deserving :)

We have found that these things have worked for us.  The fish bowl is still an experimental stage, but so far so good!  I will let you know how it turns out in the near future!

Know this…  recognizing team members is important and should be done often, but read the article as it got my brain churning, so maybe it will do the same for you!

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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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