But did we really know how much the good markets in the past were hiding from us?

The sins that I am talking about can be summed up in the following list:

  • Not paying enough attention to cost
  • Taking customers for granted
  • Not fully utilizing technology
  • Taking employees for granted
  • Not listening
  • Not worrying about competition
  • Settling instead of excelling
  • Protecting inefficiencies
  • Being guardians of the status quo

It is stunning, the opportunities we have let go by. And the time that is passed is not going to come back to us ever again. That is the real crying shame of all of this.

Well, the days of waste and laziness and “settling” are over. We need to institute a sense of urgency in everything we do.

Being memorable on the job is not a matter of doing many things right, or being courteous; it is a matter of knowing what we do, and how significant it is. Our work goes beyond important — it is worthwhile. Yet too many employees come to work because of the old Snow White theme song: “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.” Remember, I want our workplace to be a sanctuary in this difficult world we now occupy. I want people to be excited to come to work, to get to their desk or their workstation, because it offers a place where positive thoughts and actions will take place.

I want us to become more accountable in everything that we do. If we did that we would be prepared to weather storms like the ones we are in at the moment.

If I wonder what the many people working in our industry believe that they do for a living. I don’t mean that we sell and rent equipment, nor do I mean that we supply parts and perform repairs and maintenance; nor do I mean we extend credit and perform financing. I mean, what do your employees tell people that they do when they’re visiting after church, or at a party, or at their children’s school open houses? Do they simply say “I work for “Glowworm Tractor Sales”? Do they say I sell parts or I repair machines? What do you think they say?

That, I hope, is a question that has you thinking a bit. I hope that you and they view that list of “things” as important in their own right, as individually memorable services — because what we want to be more than anything else is memorable.

On another front, I want us to pay attention to the details. I want us to be bothered at the money we spend and the things that we waste. I want us to become more accountable in everything that we do. If we did that we would be prepared to weather storms like the ones we are in at the moment.

You know, there are wonderful slogans that sound inspiring:

  • Think outside the box.
  • Passionate people perform.
  • Just do it.
  • Attitude is everything.

But do they really inspire people to “be all they can be?” How do genuinely we motivate employees? In many cases, we have cut back on the workforce. We have rolled back salaries and wages. People have been furloughed or are put onto workshare programs. These are tough times. How do you get people to get beyond those realities and bring a positive attitude to their work? You see, that is where I think we start walking off the straight and narrow. We want positive attitudes.

But I want positive actions, and there is a difference.

In my training for managers and supervisors in parts and service, we deal with motivation, and I suggest that I can’t motivate anyone — but I can sure demotivate everyone. We do it all the time. “You need to do more. I have told you that before. I am busy at the moment, I will get back to you.”

Alright I know you are busy but that isn’t really a good excuse, is it? Our most important asset is the employees we work with everyday. They are the ones who know the work and their jobs better than everyone else. They know the wasteful processes, forms, methods and systems; they may be your most untapped resource. Use them, don’t abuse them. Make sure they have all the tools they need to do the work at hand. And please make sure that the tools and training you provide them are current. That small investment will pay big dividends for a long time to come.

Let’s stop settling and start doing again.

by Ron Slee
April, 2010
CED Magazine

About CED Magazine

Construction Equipment Distribution is published by Associated Equipment Distributors, a nonprofit trade association founded in 1919, whose membership is primarily comprised of the leading equipment dealerships and rental companies in the U.S. and Canada.

With CED, content is king. No fluff, no advertorials – CED just gives AED members what they want to read: business information, industry and association news, plus fresh, original and useful feature articles that they share with their management teams. Our subjects range from rental, product support, sales strategy and customer service to technology, construction markets and legislation – and much more.