Happy New Year! And I say that with both optimism and trepidation. Trepidation because if you look at the year, you could read it as Twenty Twenty too and we all know how 2020 sucked. But I’m also extremely optimistic, as I usually am.
One of the nice things about a New Year is the opportunity to put the past behind us and prepare ourselves for the future and upcoming days. We can take a little time to pause, reflect, look over the path we’ve travelled and begin making plans for the steps we will take tomorrow.
As is my custom, I take the days between Christmas and New Years as my time to evaluate my life, my business, my goals and objectives and take a very critical view of myself to evaluate what I do, how I do it and what results are from my efforts. I’m making a list of habits I need to break or change and I am looking at opportunities for improvement to implement. But, it’s also a time for me to take a good long look at everything and be grateful. Have a read and perhaps something will twig for you to be grateful too.
I am grateful for Covid. Yes, it’s been devastating for many and it’s disrupted lives and businesses the world over. But, it’s also been a huge catalyst for change. For a few decades, dry cleaning has been in decline, with many people who should not be in the business in the business. Many of these people who should not be in the business were dragging many others down with poor service, poor quality, low or no skills and frankly, lowered the standards of professionalism within the industry. Covid and the decline in pieces and sales dollars has squeezed all of us, but those who were poor business people, poor managers, poor operators, well, Covid has killed many of those off. Those of us who survived, have survived because of better service, better management and better practices. Those of us who have survived, are going to emerge much stronger and for that, I’m grateful.
I’m grateful for disruption, change and never accepting that what is done today, will continue to be done tomorrow. It’s far too easy to fall into a groove where our lives become routine. Falling into the false comfort of the established rut of daily going through the motions is simply a mundane path to death. While it’s perhaps ‘over stimulating’ (to say the least) having a steam line burst, or the bottom of the boiler fall out, it is also rather exciting to overcome such obstacles. You must admit, there is great satisfaction in overcoming and surviving such surprises. And yeah, it might seem like a huge crisis to lose your entire plant in a total loss fire (and yes, it does happen), many people I know report that they have built back better even after a total loss and in many ways, the total loss fire was a good thing. Which leads me to the train of thought, perhaps we need to manufacture our own crisis more. We need to challenge ourselves to disrupt our own businesses and begin to think outside the box. Start asking ourselves, is there a better way to deliver pick up and delivery services? Is there a better way to bring our store (and services) to our customer instead of them having to come to us? Is there a better way to present and sell what we do for our customers that will create new (profitable) markets to extend our business? Is there a way I can disrupt my business (and my competitor’s business) to bring better service to my customers? Yeah, I’m grateful that there are people who think the same way.
I’m grateful for competition. Yes, while nobody enjoys competition, it’s competition that causes friction, the type of friction that irritates, rankles, but ultimately, forces us to ‘Up our game’ and better our best. Customers and clients are demanding, but in a good way. Customers and clients want the most for their money, to maximize the return on what they spend and that is fully their right. Competitors want their piece of the pie too and of course, they compete for that piece of the pie. Competitors are always trying to take away for customers, your clients and cut you off from the revenue and cash flow that customers and clients provide. Over time, I’ve grown to not only appreciate the competitive process, buy enjoy the never-ending battle of improving, to be better than the competition and find new, better, more effective means of delivering customer service, customer satisfaction and customer fulfilment.
But, that said, I’m grateful for the customers and clients I’ve lost. Yes, it’s never fun to encounter rejection and it hurts to be rejected, or even fired. But there are valuable lessons to be learned in losing customers and clients. Every customer lost and every client that leaves, is giving you the opportunity to discover what is wrong in your business, your service, or your quality. While it’s painful, it’s a rare unadulterated view of your operation through the customer’s eyes. While it’s brutally honest and you may not like what you see, it’s what you do with your new knowledge that matters. Simply sulking and putting all the blame for the break up on your customer will accomplish nothing except speed the decline to your eventual business death. Take the view your departing customer gives you and find ways to improve, to get better, to fix whatever is wrong and get back on track to satisfaction and growth. If you ain’t trying, you’re dying.
I’m grateful for problems. Problems pop up almost daily. Problems are not the inconvenience one might think they are. Problems are really opportunities disguised as obstacles. Think about it for a moment, a customer dropping pizza sauce on their pant leg, it’s a problem for your customer, but it’s an opportunity for you. It’s your moment to serve. So, when the customer comes to you seeking a solution to their problem, it’s your opportunity to do a job, earn a few bucks and perhaps begin a life long relationship. If the problem of a pizza sauce stain didn’t exist, none of the events that followed would manifest themselves and life would be empty. So, really, you should be grateful for problems too.
I’m grateful for creativity. While nobody like radar traps and photo radar cameras, you do have to admire the creativity of some officers to hide in plain sight while wearing high visibility clothing. But at the same time, I’m grateful that I can see the world differently. I can look at an image, a setting, a scene and see multiple ways to present dry cleaning and image maintenance to the market and then design and build systems to make the sale. I really admire our industry for being so creative, finding new ways to deliver convenience and maximize ease of service to our customers. Some saw lockers as a school storage unit, others saw a new way to deliver convenient drop off and pick up. Some saw a vending machine or an Automated teller bank machine, others saw a robotic 24 hour drop off and pick up service. Selling route services on social media, Tik Tok videos to rave about service and to educate customers. The list grows every day and I find it EXCITING!
But most of all, I’m grateful for each new day because one does not have to wait for the New Year to begin making changes. Each and every day gives us the opportunity to begin afresh. You can have 365 days of New Year’s Eve and 365 days of New Years Days by facing each day as a new opportunity to start over. Let’s make 2022 a good one!