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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingOctober 18 - October 24, 2017
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Is Good Enough Good Enough

2 71fd1By Don G. Archer

We heat our home with propane gas. The local gas company drops by and fills our tank a couple times per year. The process is simple: the truck driver pulls into the driveway and runs a 4' hose to the tank. He then lifts the round metal helmet that covers the gauge and fill nozzle, secures the hose to the nozzle and begins pumping in the gas. Once completed, he removes the hose and closes the helmet thus protecting the gauge and fill nozzle from the harsh elements.

Recently, a bush that had grown up next to the tank encroached too far into the tank's space. When the last driver attempted to close the helmet over the gauge, a small limb prevented it from latching properly.

About two months later during a snowstorm, I noticed the obstruction. I removed the 1/2"-diameter limb and secured the helmet properly. Later that week I grabbed my pruning shears and remedied the problem for good.

While I understand that pruning the bush is my responsibility, I want to make one, seemingly small point about the driver's behavior and my interpretation of it. It would have been just as easy for him to take two seconds more and move the limb to the side, so that he could properly secure the latch ... but he failed to do it. It may have been a passive-aggressive attempt to get me to trim the bush or it could have been because he just didn't care.

When given the opportunity to respond to a questionnaire, leave a review or make a choice about future purchases, customers may not remember all the good things you did for them; but you can bet they'll remember if you didn't care.

As an employer how do you get your employees to care?

You already know that for your business to grow and thrive you need to impress upon your employees the need to provide exceptional customer service. When on the phone you want smiling, empathetic voices talking to your customers, not grouchy, detached people who would rather be texting or looking at Facebook. At the point of sale, such as roadside or at one of the local repair shops, you want tucked-in shirts and clean-shaven faces—not renegades who do their own thing when you're not watching.

If you're like most of us, you've made many attempts to inject caring into your employees but have missed the mark—many times. After doing so you've indulged in excuses to make yourself feel better. The reason you can't find or nurture exceptional, caring employees is because "these young kids just don't care anymore," or "their parents must have spoiled them."

The truth is caring starts at the top.

The real reason why employers have a hard time finding quality employees is because we're not looking for individuals we can bring into the fold. We've been jaded so many times by what we term as bad seeds so we hold employees at arm's length. Rather than being full of potential, we see them as future ex-employees.

Think about when you are with your friends. You talk about stuff that not only matters to you, but you also listen to what matters to them and you truly care about how they are doing in their lives. In the role of employer we fail to care as much, even though we spend more time with our employees than with our friends.

If the propane delivery driver felt that his employer truly cared about him and his life, maybe he would care more about the people he serves. In turn, those people would remain loyal customers, helping the company to grow. This is neither a transactional, or reciprocal relationship, it's a caring relationship; it starts at the top.

American Towman Field Editor-Midwest Don G. Archer is also a multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at TheTowAcademy.com. Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, Mo. E-mail him direct at don@thetowacademy.com.
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