Great Service

We had our air conditioner serviced last week. The HVAC company we use services the heating and air conditioning on a yearly basis. Sometimes we skip a year….though I’m a believer in preventative maintenance.

Curtis arrived about 2:30 on Monday and worked steadily until 4:30 checking the a/c system (including a capacitor that was never checked before)! Most of the time Curtis was outside and it was a 95+ day.

We have had good success with this contractor. They called prior to Curtis arriving and set up a time period….all very professional.

Curtis did a great job….was pleasant….and thorough. Most people might not recognize the little details. Yet it’s people like Curtis and Melanie that make great companies.

The Company: 72Degrees Heating & Air Conditioning


“A company based on taking personal responsibility, not on blaming the heartless, profit-focused system.” –Seth Godin

How often do we get excuses from businesses? They could not do what was promised because of ?. Our business brand was also our name. If we made excuses than we weren’t taking responsibilty. We did not always have the right answer and did make excuses from time to time….and that wasn’t right.

Our name identified us in the community. After many years….we are still remembered by those of that era….hopefully in a positive manner.

We completed a sale of our Michigan home….so that last connection is gone.

The only lasting memory is our name….Baker….that is most important to us.

Note: The business name was Baker’s Furniture. The reason for picture. The original family name was Czechoslovakian. Translated it means – Little Baker

Long Distance

No Response – No Business

Recently I wrote about a home roofing project in MI (07.08.11). While I still maintain contacts in my hometown….I’ve lost track of others. Contractors everywhere always seek out work or at least I thought.

Here are some responses:

+ Don’t buy that shingle brand….it’s no good.

+ The contractors web site no longer is active.

+ After a week… no proposal from another contractor….it’s too hot….the reply.

+ From a friend’s referral….this individual works on the side….though he works for one of the above contractors.

While a little surprised….because the economy is still recovering in Michigan….I would expect these contractors would be thrilled to have business come their way.

It is a challenge in completing this project long distance….even more so when the results have only been average.

Note: We are close to selecting our contractor!

Always Service

Dick’s Hot Dogs

From a recent N & O:

“You don’t stay in business for 90 years without treating people right,” Lee Gliarmis said last week. “That’s why somebody in the family always has to be here, to make sure the customer is treated well from the moment they walk in the door until they leave.”

Most businesses have to change to adapt to a changing environment….yet some don’t change. Though Dick’s Hot Dogs probably has upgraded its equipement….among other things….it’s the service that hasn’t changed and that’s what has kept it successful for over 90 years.

It’s all about treating the customer well….even for a $1.55 hot dog!

Note: I worked in Wilson for 7 years and never went to Dick’s….our crew liked Parker’s for North Carolina Bar-B-Q. I need to visit Dick’s.

New Kind

“Part communications agency. Part design studio. Part management consulting firm. But we prefer the term community catalysts. Our tools are brand, culture, design. We are a New Kind of agency.”

Sundays News & Observer had an interesting story on a marketing (?) firm….New Kind. The firm evolved from Red Hat….the leader in Linux open-source software.

What is intriguing is the business philosophy and their location in a modernistic office that reflects New Kind’s belief in the role of good design in creative work environments. The offices are adjacent to the NC State campus.

The take-away from the story was that building a strong community around a brand (like Red Hat) inspires innovation and gives the company a competitive edge. In addition….their approach means that a company has to live up to the ethics it professes to its employees and customers.

Unfortunately not all businesses can do that.

Note: A very good web site and an excellent contact page.


What Property Management?

There are two shopping centers on a main road in Cary. One has very little care. The other expertly cared for.

The first used to have a Kroger grocery store. The Kroger has been replaced by a Big Lots (and little has been done to change it from the Kroger store). There is a restaurant and a few specialty retailers….perhaps ‘C ‘level businesses. This shopping center is the same as it was 20 years ago

The other center (larger) has several ‘A ‘level businesses ( Trader Joes, Staples, Hallmark) and a wide variety of better retailers. This center was recently upgraded with attractive landscaping.

What center is full and what one has empty storefronts?

Businesses that look good attract customers. Unfortunately the first center has poor property managers and/or owners….it’s a shame to see a good property not realize its potential.

Add Value

“The bottom line to me is that we don’t care about your processes and what you do to get the product to us.  We only care that it fulfills our expectations. You should too.”  – Mike Neiss

Mike is a management consultant located in Southwest Michigan and also an associate at Tom Peters Co….so he knows what he is talking about.

From Mike: Companies tend to focus on product processes and getting the product to the customers. They tend to look inward. The other approach is to look at products/services that meet customers expectations….and what can be added to the product to give it greater value to the customer. Customers don’t care about company internal functions….all they see is the end product.

In my experience….forget explaining why the shipment hasn’t arrived….or the manufacturer messed up.

Satisfy the customer first….that’s what they want. Give added value….custtomers remenber that.

Sell Your Product

Roof Shingles

We are in the process of completing a reroof in MI. There are several large roof shingle manufacturers. In North Carolina….it seems CertainTeed and GAF are the predominant companies. In Michigan….at least in western Michigan….IKO and Tamko are the leading brands.

We received several proposals….some for IKO….some for Tamko.

One proposal was somewhat unique…. when the company owner started out the conversation by criticising the other manufacture. Not a good selling technique.

If a business has confidence in its product(s)….there is no need to criticise the competition. Let the company and its products/services stand on their own.



Businesses have to operate in a FedEx….smart phone….email world. What that means is they have to communicate instantly with customers….suppliers….people.

The past few days we have been seeking proposals on a reroofing project in MI. Since we live in NC….all of this has to be conducted via phone….fax….email.

Whether in NC or MI….some companies have not recognized the instantaneous world we live in….no web site….email….or blackberry to make quick responses or provide necessry information.

Quick Time tools are available….well-run businesses use them all.


Doing It Right

Two nice stories in Sunday’s News & Observer….though both about food….they really were about making quality products.

  • Two entrepreneurs in Winston-Salem turned to pickles to start a new company. Miss Jenny’s Pickles are an upper end product segment that large producers don’t compete in.
  • North Carolina wood smoked Bar-B-Q restaurants are becoming fewer and fewer. Wood-smoked Bar-B-Q considered a dying generation in porkyland.

Both were good stories from a business and personal perspective. The key point that no matter what a business does….quality is always what makes the difference.