Have you ever had instant regret? Most of us are probably shaking our heads in agreement. Next question, have you ever noticed that when you have instant regret…it isn’t actually “instant?” Think about it, the last time you found yourself saying “I instantly regret that,” what was it for? Was it when you missed an opportunity to convert to a delivery route? Because you forgot to order enough supplies? Or was it because you didn’t thoroughly inspect a piece and now…major headaches? Those are just a couple of examples that we could find ourselves saying “I instantly regretted that.”
When you take a step back, you may realize it is not actually instant. There were things leading up to all those previously mentioned scenarios. For example, if you didn’t order enough supplies, it wasn’t necessarily in that moment that you forgot something, more often than not it’s because you don’t have a procedure in place to ensure this problem from happening.
I’ll tell you a funny story. Many, many years back in my less than knowledgeable time, I was cleaning a comforter, a down comforter at that. I inspected it, good, but not great. I was moving quickly to say the least. There were customer calls to make, training to take place, reports to analyze and many other tasks to complete. So, I acted as if that comforter was like the thousands of other comforters I’ve handled before. On average, fine condition, nothing to worry about. I decided to run it in the machine per usual, thankfully by itself (which was hindsight). It did not take long for the machine to start “yelling” at us that something was in fact wrong. Some of you may be able to tell where the story is going. If you are saying to yourself, there must have been a rip and the feathers went everywhere…you would be correct. The feathers went everywhere. That laundry list (pun intended) of things I mentioned before… just got multiplied. In the hurry to get back to “the list” I did one of the silliest things I have ever done, to this day, ever. I took the extra feathers and dumped them down the drain. I know, I know…not my most proud and shining moment. Did not think twice of it at the time. As of now the comforter was back on track, the mess was cleaned up, I was ready to get back to that infamous list. I was feeling good.
Cut to a few moments later. I get a knock on my office door. The bathroom is backing up. This is where the instant regret was first said. That’s right, the drains were somehow connected (I’m not a plumber, so I don’t know the logistics) however, I do know that it caused a massive, and I mean massive, back up. To the point where I now had to call the plumber, get everything plunged, snaked, and cleaned out. I said to myself “I instantly regret removing those feathers like I did.” In hindsight, it was definitely not instant.
All of us, no matter the size of our business, no matter how many years under our belts, we all have a long list of things to get done. Sometimes we are working in the moment and not thinking straight. We are thinking about the laundry list of items and tasks we need to get done. This story is intended for us to be reminded that no matter how busy our day is, no matter how many things we have on our plate, it is a matter of when, not if, something will go wrong.
When that happens, take a step back and think clearly, think as if you’ve had a day to “sleep on it” so your decisions are made with a clear mind and the results will be what you need. This is a for sure way to have fire prevention as opposed to fire fighting. The clearer your mind the less fires you will put out. The next time you find yourself saying, “I instantly regret that,” take a moment, step back and think, was it instant or were there things that you could have done to prevent this from happening? If you are finding that there were things you could have done to prevent that situation from happening, make it one of your top five priorities for the month. Reverse engineer the problem so that you are not duplicating it and putting out a fire but preventing it. When you do this, your future self will not be saying “I instantly regret that.”
Jennifer Whitmarsh has over 18 years experience in the dry cleaning industry. From working the front counter and developing delivery routes, to Chief Experience Officer and co-owning a dry cleaner in the Buffalo, New York area. Her expertise spans throughout all departments. She specializes in developing team members that create a culture full of dedicated employees. She has brought her skills of developing people to the industry known Route Pro team.