Posted by Howe Q. Wallace on Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Keith Reinstetle, who leads our multi-site sales efforts, and I were discussing the fragility of customer relationships.
“People don’t realize how complex what we do is,” Keith said. “The lumber has to be the right dimension. The species has to be right. We deliver it on time with the right style of trailer. It may have to be dry and must have the right markings. We have to do so many things right.”
He continued: “And the whole thing can be thrown off track with a terse email or an unanswered call. Or maybe a less-than-enthusiastic encounter with one of us. It blows my mind.”
I tell this story to reinforce what I hope you know – each of us serves someone who ends up helping us serve the paying customer. Our success at meeting or exceeding their expectations will determine our success as individuals and as a team.
A great load of well-built pallets or treated lumber gets wiped out with an upside-down stencil or an ill-attached bar code.
An on-time delivery is marred when our truck driver is rude to loading dock personnel. Our margin gets wiped out when we have to chase down payment because our invoicing information was incomplete.
It goes on and on. You can write your own story: “If I don’t do (fill in the blank) well, the system we have will break down.”
I believe that we do what we do in an extraordinary fashion. I receive compliments all the time:
Our loggers complimented for the care they take with the landowners’ property when we cut down trees.
A plant complimented for surging to provide a customer with three emergency loads because another supplier failed them.
Individuals praised for staying late, calling early, anticipating needs. We have the customer focus so many places.
Yet, the other side occurs too. We fail from time to time. Sometimes they’re honest mistakes. Sometimes circumstances converge to cause a rare error.
But, most of the time, it was someone not paying attention, someone not trained, someone not taking care.
You make a difference. Every one of you. If you don’t know it, let us help you to understand. Once you know it, endeavor to do your job. There are many people around you counting on you.