By the Time You Read This ...
— By Ron Davis in ESA Newsline, April, 2011
My wife and I will have celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, I will have been to a Trader Joe's grocery store at least three times, and I will sit back and admire the work of my associate, Art Romero. And, wonder of wonders, I will tie it all in to a meaningful message to alarm dealers everywhere! Actually, this will be for entrepreneurs everywhere who were wondering whether or not there is light at the end of the tunnel, or if that's a locomotive coming right at us going the wrong way through a tunnel. Now, for the explanation!
50 years ago, almost to the day, at an embarrassingly young age, my wife and I started a journey that would lead us to where we are today. At the time, I wondered if in 50 years I would be happy, I would be doing something I enjoy or, for that matter, whether or not I would still be around. I'm sure my young bride who was even younger than I had similar thoughts. Not unlike those of the entrepreneur — someone who starts a business from scratch — who might wonder whether or not he or she would be successful, and would be able to endure, or would be happy with the journey that was about to begin.
Chances are, if you look back at any time in your past, you will tend to focus on the peaks, more than likely, rather than the valleys. I'm happy to say that in my life the peaks were many and the valleys few. As I sit back and review these disparate thoughts I wonder what my life would have been like had I known in advance where the valleys were, and how I could've avoided them.
I can say with some degree of certainty that many of the challenges that I encountered really were of my own making. Obstinate, opinionated, pigheaded, refusing to hear others opinions were just a few of the challenges that I face. All of this came to a head as I sat down at my computer to write this article. Could I possibly eliminate some of the valleys for you, tie in a grocery store visit, and let you know why I think Art Romero is nothing less than the genius. Okay here we go. If I had just gotten up a few mornings with an attitude of acccepting others ideas, I would have avoided some of the valleys. If I had the ability to foster the attitude of my coworkers the way at Trader Joe's has been able to do with its employees, people would have be beaten a path to my door.
Trader Joe's is a funky kind of neighborhood store that carries hard-to-find items, puts out a magazine that is fascinating to read, and gives the shopper a feeling of being just a little bit better than everyone else that shops. I really don't know how they do that, but just last week, I was joking around with one of the stock clerks about an item that they no longer carried. The clerk proceeded to tell me where I could find that item, at a competitors, and would let management know of my displeasure. And he did it in such a nice way that I didn't feel bad about not finding what I came for. Knowing what I know now, I could never be someone who trained somebody like that clerk to do what he did. But I do know that if I couldn't do it, there would be somebody that I could find who could. And now, let me tell you a little bit about Art Romero
Art is the guy who does our advertising and sales promotion, manages our website graybeardsrus.com, layouts for print media and helps manage the e-mail promotions that we do. Essentially, we're business brokers who help alarm dealers sell their business. At any given time, probably 5% of alarm dealers are actually prospects for us and 95% are probably not. How do we get a message across to a small group of potential clients without alienating the rest of the dealer base? I was beginning to think it couldn't be done. Then Art came up with some ads that were almost cartoonish in nature, really funny, that people told us were fun to read. Oh, and by the way, it generated the inquiries we were looking for.
Now, let me see if I could tie this all together in a way that will cause you to at least think about some of the things that you have control of, as well as some things that you just don't. 50 years in the alarm business will go by in the blink of an eye. Your mission as a manager is to do all of the things you can so that when you look back, you'll see nothing but peaks — no room for valleys. And when you think of what customer service can do for you, you will either attempt to manage the process or find someone who can. That's what real managers do. Finally, if you're not creative like Art is, you'll probably want to give him a call to see if he can help you the way he helped us. Feel free to take a look at some of the things that Art has developed in the alarm industry and you'll know why I felt so good about what we were doing. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
We only go around once, we need to surround ourselves with the best people, and we need to treat everybody as though they were the most important person in our lives. If we can do that, we will look back on our careers in the alarm industry and recognize that we have been on a truly successful journey. Oh, and by the way, after 50 years, my wife and I are having the times of our lives!