Thursday, October 10, 2013

Put Your Money Where Your Face Is

We were sitting in a showroom making some choices. The job of the representative meeting with us was to facilitate our decisions. Unfortunately, there were times when she switched hats, and acted as if she were the buyer. She expressed strong preferences and tried to push her opinion into our determinations. This happened enough during the meeting to become annoying. In fact, my companion became quite irritated, and stated that she would not meet again with this person.

As a business consultant, my habit is (1) to be a fly on the wall and observe what is positive and what could be perceived as negative (2) determine any underlying philosophies, practices, or procedures that contribute either positively or negatively to the organization, (3) determine what improvements might accelerate the greatest success, and (4) determine an actual process to make them work.

Dealing with the showroom person several things came to mind.

First, this individual represents the company – an organization of several hundred people. That is a critical fact to remember. You may have the most wonderful and competent group in the galaxy, but if the people on the front line meeting customers are poorly trained, negative, argumentative, or do not operate appropriately, your customers will never experience your proficiency.

Second, the underlying training and support philosophy is probably backwards. That is, it  puts very little expenditures with the people who work most directly with the customer and more with the top management.  That is kind of like buying a fast and expensive car and running on worn-out tires. No matter how fast the car can go, if the tires blow out not only does that put an end to the advantage of a fast car, it could be very dangerous to the point of destroying the car and driver. Ineffective up-front people can take down million dollar businesses.

Third, turning that situation around is inexpensive and uncomplicated. The key here is training and supervision. There is always a temptation to replace workers in an effort to find the right person. Even the “right” person needs attention. Additionally, replacing personnel is more expensive than is usually thought (see youtube  determining the actual cost of hiring).

Finally, don’t just do the traditional training program. Usually, this first training is more mechanical – how to do their job. The important part in this scenario is the follow up that is geared to the needs of the individual. In the case noted, the lady basically knows her job. However, she needs coaching on how to be more effective.

I always recommend investing your money with front line people.  They are how your organization is known. They are the inviters or the turner-awayers, they are the company representatives. They are your “face.”

No comments:

Post a Comment