Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A little dirt under his fingernails

VP of Sales Pat Roberts helped free the mower
from the bog-like conditions in which it was mired.

   Those of us in the publishing industry generally sit behind a desk. Sure we make it into the field once in awhile and hop on a mower or a skid steer, but the bulk of our time is at our desk with a nose near the computer screen and fingers flying over the keyboard. And even when we do make it out into the field, rarely do we suffer the usual trappings of outdoor work — dirt and mud.

   That all changed one morning for one of our fearless executives. Pat Roberts, our VP of Sales, was waiting for his morning train (which was late as usual) when he heard the strained roar of an engine and the mumblings of a very frustrated landscaper. It seems the eager city contractor found himself stuck in some mud after an all-night rain. Pat watched for a moment as the worker valiantly tried to free himself from the slimy morass. Pat knew what he had to do.

   Pat assessed the situation, and without any thought to his own safety leapt into action. With Pat's help, the contractor was able to free the machine from the muck's gooey clutches, and left our fearless hero with a little dirt under his fingernails, on his shoes, pants and shirt.

   Somewhere out there is a contractor who breathes a little easier (and so can we all) knowing there are people like Pat willing to risk a pair of freshly polished Bruno Magli's to help his fellow man. (Really, I have no idea what brand of shoe Pat wears). But the city of Shaker Heights, OH owes Pat a debt of gratitude and at least a shine.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Shining a light on customer service

Just had a really nice meeting with Maria Burke from Kichler Lighting. We were ushered into the company's conference room to give our presentation and to talk about our ongoing relationship, but before we got started, there something that caught my eye.

Like many companies, their conference contains the ubiquitous large table and matching chairs. Only in this case, one of the chairs was a little different.

This seat was upholstered with a different fabric and had a sign hanging over it that read: "Reserved for our customer's point of view."

A lot of companies talk about staying customer-centric, but clearly Kichler is shining a light on the concept. Of course just having a chair with a sign doesn't mean the company automatically focuses on customers. That still takes conscious effort and persistence, but I suspect having that visual cue serves as a regular reminder to at least try to think about issues from the customer perspective.

And maybe that's why Kichler is able to report record breaking sales in 2011.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Intelligent Use of Water Awards

Sitting less than a mile from one of the Great Lakes (Erie) it's sometimes hard to remember there are places in the world — places in this country — where water is much more scarce. Professional landscapers are stewards of the environment. There's no question our industry plays a huge role in the protecting this most precious resource.

The folks at Rain Bird understand that, too. That's why Landscape Management and our sister publication Golfdom supported Rain Bird's Intelligent Use of Water film competition earlier this year and we plan to do the same with a new program, the Intelligent Use of Water Awards.

Rain Bird will award a total of more than $50,000 to projects that "uses water efficiently, promotes green spaces and is an example of sustainability." Individual projects can earn $1,500, $5,000 or $10,000. Simply put the contest is open to, "anyone with a water conservation project in need of funding."

Entrants submit their projects to the contest website where the public votes on the projects it thinks are most important. As of this writing their are only six projects available to vote on, but since the contest just started, we don't think there will be so few projects to consider in the near future. You can vote on projects or submit your own here. Voting ends March 15, 2012.

According to the contest website: "Once a project is submitted it is made available for public voting, meaning anyone can anonymously cast their vote for their favorite project. All projects can be anonymously voted on by visitors (one vote a day per project, per individual user), and the projects with the most votes in each funding category will be awarded a combined $51,000 in grants to be used towards the completion of their winning project. Winners will be announced on World Water Day – March 22, 2011."

We'll do our best to check in on the contest during the next several months. So check back here periodically for updates. Let us know if you've entered the competition. We'd love to hear about the water project you think is worthy of some prize money.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Going that extra mile?

Diane, a former boss of mine, posted the following question on her Facebook page (comments follow and the names have been truncated to protect the innocent):

Do you think it would be too brazen of me to call the piano tuner and ask him to stop at Winn Dixie and bring me a small carton of 2% milk on his way over here? I would pay him back:
2 people like this.

Jane LOL Go for it.
Ben Not at all! How about some "tune-a-fish" too?
Tim Um. Yes?
Diane Ha ha ha ha ha, so funny! But seriously, how well do you know him? This might start a trend with service people!
Joe You'd have to leave him a" note"
Diane Badaboom - cchh! Ladies and gentlemen, Joe and Ben will be here all week!
Jayne hahahahahahahah!!!! hahahahahaahahah!!
Mary Go for it. I'll bet you have a 50-50 chance of getting the milk! Make sure you have some cookies to give him while he is there!

My question is: How would you feel if one of your regular customers called the office and asked the crew to pick up an item or two on the way to the job (assuming there was a store along the way)? Is this something you'd consider a reasonable request for a good customer? Is it something you'd be willing to do once or on rare occasions?

What have you done to go that extra mile for a customer? Feel free to leave your comments below or send them to me at: