Archive for July 4th, 2008

Independence Day

There has been a lot of talk about having one of our day’s holidays more in the summer so I would like to put in my own tuppence worth.

What about making the 4th of July our own holiday?

We could be celebrating the same day, for the same reason, as the Americans? Although we are lucky not being a part of a country whose government rides roughshod over its citizenry, a government which strives constantly to increase its hold over the country in every sphere of its people’s activities, and a government which tries to impose its own brand of democracy on others at the point of a gun.

Whoa – just a minute I thought – after reading the above paragraph… am I really talking about Americans here? The points raised above apply equally to our own government.

Perhaps we should wake up and smell the coffee?

Another drink George?”
Did you see that penalty kick last night?”
What’s on the box tonight?”

Ah well… perhaps another time?



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The two most important people in your business.

These are, believe it or not, your receptionist and your telephonist.

After a stint in journalism and travelling in three continents, and a spell of four years in the British Army, I spent a couple of decades in sales and marketing (before returning to journalism in the eighties).

One book which I thought was extremely good was “Up the Organisation” by Robert C. Townsend, and I will come back to this man a little later.

The first contact a potential client has with your company is either your receptionist or your telephonist. And depending on the attitudes of either one of these two important members of your staff, the prospective new client will judge your company.

A little example. I rang a company to buy a £500 product recently and the woman said, that department is on another number and she rattled the number off. Now any staff of mine in the past would have got a rocket if she said anything other than:: “I can give you their direct line but if you give me your name and number I will get someone to return your call straight away”. Needless to say, that company lost a £500 order which, in these difficult times, can be an expensive error to make – especially multiplied a few hundred times!

Robert Townsend took over as the CEO of a small back street New York car hire company and built it up to what it is today. Avis! His book (now out of print) tells how he achieved the turnaround of a small company and turned it into the world’s number two in the car hire business.

The first thing he did was to redesign the reception, with a luxury restroom off the desk for the staff, and a comfortable area for visitors and doubled the staff. He did the same with the switchboard. Moved ot out of its poky area under the stairs to a large office, increased the switchboard operators from one to four, and the second half of the office was a comfortable lounge. The switchboard operators were asked to “stay with the caller” until they were through to the person they were asking to talk to.

I can hear some businessmen muttering “stupid!” And all I can reply to that is “Avis”.

Once, as a travelling salesman I went into a reception and spoke to the receptionist. Now a salesman’s worst enemies are a receptionist, switchboard operator and secretary. She welcomed me with a smile and said “Thanks for visiting our company” and that I couldn’t see anyone today but if I filled in this form (and she handed me an A5 size two-part form) she would make sure the appropriate person would get the copy and the director of that department would get the original. The form asked for my company name and address, my name and telephone number, a subject, and a brief description of what I wanted to discuss. I didn’t expect to hear from them again but it was a nice gesture; you can imagine my surprise when I did in fact get a reply and made a sale.

When you are trying to run a business you may find “people” an irritant. Lots of bosses, and their line management, do. But those who remember that everyone has a job to do, and a put-down may make you feel good, the really successful people treat everyone as an individual human being – either because they have a genuine interest in people, or they remember the old maxim, “the toes of the person you tread on today might be attached to the arse you may have to kiss tomorrow”.


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