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Taking Care of Business: Stop Kicking Stones All Day

August 18, 2008
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John R. Hall

When I was a kid and bored out of my mind, one of my favorite pastimes was kicking stones. I’d kick them down the driveway, onto the sidewalk, into the street. If I was on a dirt road I could kick them forever. There was nothing else to do and kicking stones seemed the only thing available.

The latter half of summer always seems to give me that same feeling of boredom. While all of you folks are out there putting out fires and managing your staff during the heavy repair and service season, trade writers like me are planning upcoming fall events because we have exhausted the summer calendar.

Now I don’t want to give you the impression that I am bored and not doing anything. Anyone on my e-mail list can attest to that. Just because I am not on the road visiting contractors doesn’t mean I am not putting my noodle to good use.

Which brings me to my point - are you putting your noodle to good use or are you just kicking stones? I don’t doubt that some of you are feeling the effects of an economic slowdown and you’d like to be busier than you are. For those of you who aren’t, please keep reading because I know there are times when you aren’t busy either. There are plenty of things to do during the slow and boring times - productive things that could keep you or your staff busy as you prepare for a busy fall season.

UPDATE YOUR CYBER CONNECTION

One thing that I have noticed about lots of businesses with Websites is that they often set up a very nice and informative site, costing a hefty sum of money, and then walk away from it. How many times have you visited a Website and seen information that is a few years old or online coupons that expired when Nixon was in office? OK, I exaggerate slightly but it is called “creative license.”

If you are looking for something to do to replace the stone kicking, why not update your Website? With so many people turning to the Internet for news and information today, there is an increasing need for current and accurate information about your business. People want to know what you can do for them today, not what you were doing for them three years ago when your webmaster designed a now-tired Website for you.

Times change, and even if you update your information, the message delivery system may have become obsolete. Ask your staff to create some new design ideas for the site and have fun with it. Tell them to pull no punches and come up with a new design that will be eye-catching and informative. Have fun with this and make it into a contest. The winning design gets a gift card to a local restaurant or a paid vacation day (hopefully not a 95°F, 95 percent humidity day).

Turn boredom into an event that will keep everyone, including yourself, busy. Yes, you can enter the contest, but if you win prepare to draw the wrath of your staff.

REVISIT YOUR CUSTOMER LIST

A two-fold project that can also keep you or your staff busy is reviewing your current customer mailing list and updating or adding to it. No doubt many of you do this on a continual basis but there will always be some customer names and contact information that falls through the cracks.

Again, this can be a group participation project since I am sure some or all of your staff has access to customer information. Assign a certain letter or letters of the alphabet of customers last names to each employee. Ask them to go through the current list and verify phone numbers or e-mail addresses. This can be done by picking up the phone and calling the customer or e-mailing him or her. The updated information can then be added to the file and tagged, indicating that the task has been done.

Turn this into a contest, too. The person with the most updates is the winner and an appropriate prize is awarded. You can even take this exercise one step further by offering your customers a discount on services as a thank you for helping to update the records. You have generated more business and kept your records current.

Not bad for an exercise on a boring day.

If you are using any other means for stone kicking this summer, drop me a line. I’m ready to get more rocks out of my head.

Publication date: 08/18/2008
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