Don’t Do Stupid Stuff!

In the midst of a men’s group pancake breakfast yesterday, I volunteered to run to Wal-Mart and pick up more pancake batter. The huge grocery store we normally use was closed for Easter so and we thought Wal-Mart might be open – it was.

I ran in, got the pancake batter, and sped through the self-checkout line. Before leaving the store I realized that I needed to get change for a five-dollar bill – some quarters and four singles. I went to the register and pulled out the $5 only to find out they won’t make change for a five-dollar bill. This aggravated me because I had just paid for the pancake batter with a Visa card, not with a twenty-dollar bill. They said, “We aren’t allowed to do this anymore.” I explained that I had just purchased groceries. No luck.

I ran over to the customer service center and pulled out my five-dollar bill only to find the same. They said they don’t make any exceptions. Keep in mind that this is Easter morning and the store isn’t busy. No one is behind me. Really aggravated now, I walked over to the McDonald’s that is located in the store and they gladly gave me change – even though I didn’t buy any product like I just had at Wal-Mart.

Because I’m so stubborn I won’t shop at this Wal-Mart again. Target is five miles further but I’ll make the drive. I hate when companies do stupid stuff – especially when I have a choice for alternatives.

This got me thinking and wondering if we have any stupid rules that aggravate our customers. Better yet, do we have any stupid rules that aggravate our employees?

In my previous life I did speeches about the subject of “onboarding” – what happens between the time you first interview someone and they have worked with you up to one year? During that time people are still deciding if they are going to continue working for you.

I also learned about the difference between when people “quit” and when people “leave.” Let me give you an example. Have you ever quit a job before you left that job? I’ve heard stories in which  people actually quit over a year before they left – they were simply waiting for the right opportunity to leave. The instant the right opportunity comes along they leave.

Think about this. How good of an effort are your people giving you if they know, in their minds and in their hearts, that it is only a matter of time before they jump ship? What are they saying to their families about your company? What are they saying to their friends about your company? What are they saying to YOUR customers about your company? Are they doing work on the side? Are they soliciting work behind your back with your customers for when they leave?

Let’s go back to the stupid rules or policies scenario.

What would your customers say about how easy it is to do business with you? I’m not talking about smart business rules like paying for the job at the time it is done and not carrying any accounts receivable. I’m talking about the “we don’t give change for a five-dollar bill” rule even though you just bought stuff from us. Do your employees think there are stupid rules for your customers?

If you have certain rules for your employees do you explain to your employees “why” you have those rules?

Leaders do thing that make sense for their customers and for their employees! Your biggest supporter or detractor is that same person you give a check to on Fridays. Don’t forget that.

Do me a favor this week. Ask your employees if they think you have any stupid rules that don’t make sense. Next, look around your office and figure out if anyone has already quit – but is simply looking for new job before they shock you by giving their notice.

You might learn a lot. Have a great week.

 

Get Zapped!

Last Saturday morning I was headed back to Waco, Texas, from my friend’s memorial service from the San Bernardino, Calif., airport and needed some reading material.

If you remember from last week’s blog I had finished Greg Reid’s “Three Feet From Gold” on my flights to California and was looking for a book to read on the way home. I had a connection and long layover in Phoenix. It is not even 6 a.m. yet and I don’t land in Austin for 8 more hours so I have plenty of time to read. After perusing the books I finally see one that catches my eye: “Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose” written by Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh.

Brad Voreis, my Glass Doctor vice president, toured Zappos in Las Vegas last year. He said it was the most incredible place he had ever seen! Brad still talks about the culture there and I’ve always wanted to learn more about it and go visit.

All I knew about Zappos is that in 10 years they went from being just an idea to selling the company to Amazon for $1.2 billion in Amazon stock. I wanted learn about the incredible story it had to be. Now I was going to be able to read about it. To achieve those results the leadership had to be a prime factor for Zappo’s incredible growth.

I didn’t know anything else about Hseih (pronounced Shay). Not much else about Zappos except that my wife, Mary Kay, loves to order shoes there (even some tennis shoes for me that I love … wait, are they still called “tennis shoes” or are they “athletic shoes” or some other terminology that shows my age?) That was my total knowledge of the company—Brad, Mary Kay and money!

I picked up the book and started reading. It is only 240 pages. No pictures of all the events over the years like most books and biographies have. No ghost writer. It was simply Hseih telling his story in his own words.

The book inspired me. It inspired me from a business standpoint, a personal standpoint and especially a leadership standpoint. It inspired me to get creative and take action.

My mind raced for a couple of days trying to figure out what action I could/should take with this newfound insight. Have you ever, like me, said to yourself that needed to take action on something—yet find years later you still didn’t do it? I wasn’t about to let that happen.

In my quest to be a much better leader I decided I would provide the book for franchisees and some selected friends and family members. Then over the next 20 weeks I’d provide this group who took me up on my offer with some action items they could do every two weeks that will just take an hour every two weeks to do. I am convinced by doing this they will be better leaders.

In just one week 64 people took me up on my offer.

I’ll make a similar offer to you if you go out and buy the book and read it by May 1st. You can get it at the San Bernardino airport or purchase it from Amazon for less than $8 plus about $7 in postage if you want it in a couple days. I think it is $17 from Barnes and Noble.

Every two weeks then I’ll send you a couple action items the other 64 o do us will be doing. I am confident by doing this over the next 22 weeks you will discover things about yourself, your business and your leadership abilities.

Just send an email to mark.liston@glassdoctor.com when you order the book. I look forward to hearing from you and hope you, too, choose to get Zapped!