Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Volume 2 – Nationalism, Customer Satisfaction & Accountability

Let’s strip the pedal from the rose on this subject for I’ve had about all the ‘red, white and blue’ flag waving in the business community I can tolerate. Yes, folks we are talking about hiding behind the skirt of the American flag raving about “customer loyalty, fierce independence, made in America” and all the other PR words that money can buy.

I have nothing against programs that espouse ‘buying American’ nor those legitimate politicians, if any really exist, who jump infront of the bus to protect jobs in the United States. Nor is there one iota of anti-unionism within these thoughts (if your able to look up who started one of the first police unions in the State of Ohio, it was me).

So enough of political correctness, we are speaking here about stating the truth. Making statements, which have, at least, a semblance of matter that resembles the truth. We are talking about not being ‘two faced’ when addressing customers and employees but speaking what you know, as an official of a company, to be factual and not part of a systematic public relations program that simply substitutes words to hide fact from fiction.

Let’s get back to the topic of waving the flag. I’m talking about Presidents and CEO’s of companies waving the “buy American flag” who damn well know that in their private meeting sessions they are advocating purchases of parts from Asia, India and Mexico with their other divisions already having products going to the same customers that have no “made in America” connection whatsoever. If you gain a competitive advantage by purchasing a product or part overseas then by all means do it but don’t lie about it. Be ‘up front’, tell the truth and by all means keep ‘old glory’ out of the story. She deserves much better then to become a prop in your sad play.

Hide behind the flag if you must. In fact, add the Church, Temple and Mosque to your list of props, to attempt your cover-ups of the truth, but if you do, at least, be honest enough to live your practices. Don’t hand me your crap about how serious a responsibility it is to take care of your 700 employees and their families within your company, while you give out turkeys at Thanksgiving or at your semi-annual employee meetings when the fact is you don’t give a damn about them, hourly or salary, and would do everything within your power to get rid of your unions, cut staff and benefits, etc. to save a penny off the final production cost of your widget without a ‘blink’ toward that ‘family of employees’ and our ‘greatest asset are our employees’ speech. If they are, and they should be, your greatest asset, then manage your business like it should be done and cut other frivolous costs within your structure to save that penny on the end result but make no mistake in believing that lowest price is lowest cost.

Don’t preach to me about being fiercely loyal to your customers when you can’t produce ‘on-time’ and complete’ 100% of the time and yet your marketing department comes out with further programs such as ‘quick ship’ program when you can’t keep normal stock product regulated through an on-time inventory management system that is real time. Don’t talk loyalty with me when you have plans to hurt distributors rather than help with unjustified price increases. Those being defined as ones in which your cost structure, capitalization, is so high that you have to raise prices. Not the customer’s problem that your cost structure got out of control. And, don’t dare blame everything on raising steel or petroleum product costs. It’s a ‘global problem’. Understand that concept and the ramifications. Its costs have risen for all manufacturers. It’s just as expensive for the Mexicans and the Chinese as it is for you.

And then, the biggest lie of them all, starts with “trust me” or ”you have my word on it”. Well, everyone should feel really comfortable with that! I’m satisfied that some President of a company said we have his word on it (whatever the subject is). What exactly does that mean? Both the “trust” part and the “you have my word on it” part? It means absolutely nothing. He’s a paid employee that could be gone tomorrow. Just another example of attempting changing the color of lipstick on the pig from red to blue attempting to hide the fact that it’s still a pig. And the shame of it all is that the customer knows, understands and you think he’s simply stupid.

Now, the very complex business answer. Treat your employees like they are your most prized assets, for they are. Give the customer what he wants. Stop the frustration in the process of purchasing and using products that one manufactures or supplies. The established relationships with any positive anticipation dissolve when the customer endures the torture of simply attempting to read a simple packing list, which is unreadable. A phone call to the home office to find out if an item is in stock or completed often takes longer to yield an answer than it would take to have the customer service person walk to the warehouse part of the building and roam the aisles of racking looking for an item, which happens only if you’re lucky as having no answer at all or “we’ll get back to you”. With few exceptions, the customer experience can only be described as worthless.

The rate of customer dissatisfaction is on the increase. If you own a company or run a company ask yourself “why” and fix it with a good product, at a fair price, on-time and complete every time for the benefit of the customer. Find the problem areas and correct them at any cost. You don’t need HR involved or studies or consensus of opinion or experts from afar. Ask the people who do the work; perform the tasks and who talk with the customers. Then call the customer and listen. Then implement a program that shows true results toward solving problems without accepting excuses.

Volume 1 – Nothing sacred

I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in talk radio. In fact, I’m amazed that such a thing exists during the daylight hours. Who the hell is the audience? On the other hand, if there was a late night (early morning) talk radio show one could visualize the audience with some credibility. The hard working people who work an afternoon shift with constant overtime or those that work a graveyard shift with the benefit of a radio or those in the service industry who have just got done kissing your ass, general public, for the past eight or ten hours for lousy tips and poverty wages to struggle to become managers where they could work ninety hour weeks and/or put their lives on the line if not today, at some time in the future. They are on their way home just wanting to unwind before they have to go back to their Hotel, restaurant, tavern, police house, street department, fire station or diner job to put up with the likes of the so called professional person who’s indignation, arrogance and sheer stupidly are usually beyond imagination or maybe worse, the general public who is mindless at best and doesn’t have a clue. Thus, the name of my blog (for someday, I just might have that type radio show. Of course, I’ll have to own the radio station, and it will be located in the one of the gardens of the Cantinell di Capri on the Island of Capri encircled by the Mediterranean, but that’s another subject.)

Why the ‘blog’ site at all is even a more interesting question but one that I have accepted due to the start of my new company and advice of a person I do respect. Of course, in my blog, as you should already be able to discern, there are no boundaries. I’ll attempt to keep the subject on ‘business’ and related subject matter but I’m opinionated. And, if I decide to write about school shootings, lack of dress codes and apathy of parents and teachers, or the sexual predators in the Catholic Church, so be it. You have the right not to read it.

I have also been advised to tell you a little something about myself. I’m never really sure why something like this is important especially over the ‘net’ considering that I could be anybody with a tale to tell and an imagination equal. However, to appease those wiser than I, I’ve had four major categories of employment throughout my lifetime, to this point. They have occupied the fields of education, transportation, law enforcement and business management, including five years as President and CEO of a 45 million dollar company. I have degrees from Kent State University and Case Western Reserve University with even a one-year stint in the seminary.