May 16, 2009

I’m Baaaaack!!

By Paul Bieber

So, I just spent 9 days in the hospital getting a new right knee. The surgery went fine, and now in rehab, I feel stronger than when I went into the hospital. About six more weeks of physical therapy, and I should be like new.

When I was in the hospital, there must have been hundreds of decisions made–some minor, some major–and there were no mistakes. Lying in the hospital bed I began to think…”Why can’t a glass business run like a hospital?”

Everyone was helpful and friendly. Everyone double checked their work before doing it, and there were no problems that caused a callback or withholding of payments!

Sure you are saying, “Of course the surgeon double checked which leg would become the bionic one..big deal.” But that isn’t what made this stay in the hospital a good one. Each and every nurse or aid double checked my name and birth date, to make sure no wrong medications were given. The orderly who came in to clean the room said, “Hi Mr. Bieber, is it OK to clean your room now? I can come back later if you rather.” Not that I had anything else to do, but his courtesy and sincerity was right there.

Everyone. Not just one or two extroverts. Everyone. I finally asked a nursing supervisor and here is what she told me.

Everyone in the hospital, over a couple of thousand employees, is required to take courses in serving the customer. Every employee walks with their heads up and smiles and greets any one walking down the hall. Before entering a room, the name is checked, and each patient is greeted by name. Before anything is done with a patient, it is completely explained and questions answered.

This is the only hospital for 30 miles around. They don’t have competition, so why are they so nice to customers? I was told that it helps moral among the employees to have satisfied customers. Also, satisfied customers mean less complaints, which increases efficiency and prevents problems.

So let’s look at a glass fabricator or glass shop. You don’t have to spend eight hours with every new person on behavior, but you should instill in all employees that customers are the life of any business. Customers should be treated with every respect possible. If a customer asks a question while an install is going on, take a minute and answer it. Communicate with your customer constantly, before going to a job site–when you get there, what your plans are–what safety measures you are taking–and what your clean-up plan will be at the end of the install. Keep you customer part of the work equation, understanding what it is you do, and there will be fewer call backs for misunderstandings about what should have been or not been done.

If you could go on every job site, if you could take every phone call, if you could cut every piece of float, there would be no mistakes. It is up to you to motivate your workers to do their best, constantly; to explain that their job is not to install glass, but to satisfy customers. Train them to clean up perfectly after each job, to be polite at someone’s home or office, and to represent the entire company every moment of the day.

Declare your glass company a ‘no grouch zone’. And it starts with you. Each morning, put on your game face and smile, no matter what. If you have to be upset, do it privately. If you have to discipline someone, do it out of earshot of all others. Keep the attitude positive and strong, and like the hospital, you will get stronger moral and less mistakes.