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 user 2003-12-20 at 10:32:00 am Views: 136
  • #4302

    It’s Only A Machine

    We make our living from machines. Copiers, faxes, printers, computers, whatever. They’re not heart-lung machines or kidney dialysis machines. They don’t provide life support on the international space station. Nobody dies if they don’t work.

    In our day-to-day activities, we don’t have to protect ourselves against saber-tooth-tigers. We don’t perform life-threatening surgery. We don’t leap over the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle. We don’t drive a taxicab and wonder if the fare is going to put a bullet in the back of our head. We are not riding in a convoy in Iraq wondering if we are going to be the casualty of the day. We are not the guy who sends the convoy out and feels that he is responsible when that happens.

    Do you see how easy we have it? The people who use our machines don’t have to worry about these things either. And even if they do, the machine that we service for them has no effect on any of those things.

    It’s no big deal
    So what’s the big deal? A lot of us run around like chickens with their heads cut off, because there is some kind of machine crisis, as if there could really be a crisis. Sure, it’s important, a little. Machines and how they run are how we feed our families, buy all those sneakers for the little feet, or if you are me, try to pay the college bills. Office machines are an integral part of everyday life. So are traffic lights, doorknobs and zippers. All of these things need to work properly. It is much better if they do, but it is not the end of the world if they don’t. Nobody should get bent out of shape or lose sleep when something goes wrong with an office machine, or a delivery, or a service call. Problems go with the territory. If it were easy, everyone would do it. It would be a hobby instead of a job. You would be looking for vintage parts for your favorite Toshiba 702, like I do for my 55 Cadillac. It’s not a hobby, it’s a job; a pretty easy low-pressure job.

    No pressure
    Low pressure? Yes, that’s what I said. Take your worst day. At the end of the day, think about it. Is your family OK? Nothing that you did wrong, or that went wrong in the course of your day could have hurt them. Nor could it have hurt anyone else’s family.

    Maybe you got a call back. Maybe you got three of them. That happens. I call it the “Midas touch,” when everything I touch turns to something spelled with four letters, but it’s not gold! Maybe you got a bad check. Maybe someone was really nasty. Maybe two bad checks. Maybe several people were nasty and aggravating. Maybe all of the above happened in the same day.

    A bad day isn’t so bad
    So, let see. You got two bad checks, three nasty customers, and three callbacks. How does that affect your family? Not at all. Ok, maybe you have to work a little harder to make up for everything, but that is nothing you’re not used to already anyway. If your kids did well in school today, doesn’t that still matter more than the bad checks? Are you going to make them suffer because someone put the wrong length screw in a platen cover and the scanner hit it?

    You have to work harder. In a service business, we are pretty much never caught up anyway. When we are, we complain that we don’t have enough work to do, and worry that we won’t have revenue thirty days from now. So, the answer is from Alfred E. Newman. “What. Me worry?”

    You be the customer
    Put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s say your car’s air conditioner conked out. Of course you would want it fixed. You would make an appointment, and hope it gets done promptly. Would you expect the AC repairperson to really WORRY about it? Of course not. His job is to fix it, that’s all. Would you call five times a day to see if it was done? I hope not. Would that make it get done faster? No, but it might slow it down if the technician has to stop working to talk to you.

    There are other decisions. How much to spend on the yellow pages ad? How to pay all the bills? What quantity of supplies to order? Big deal. You make decisions. What is the worst that can happen? You make every one wrong, and you lose your business. Well, guess what. You can make every one right and still lose your business. Circumstances beyond your control or beyond your abilities can make that happen.

    So, let’s say you do lose your business. That is a worst case scenario, wouldn’t you agree? Well what happens next?

    Outcomes that don’t happen

    • Do they take you and hang you in the Village Square? No.
    • Do they take your children away from you? No.
    • Do they put you in debtor prison? No.

    Let’s say you do everything right. Every business decision is correct. Every customer is happy. Competition causes you no problems. IRS, sales tax and medical insurance are all under control.

    • Do they build a monument to you in the Village Square? No.
    • Are your children guaranteed a perfect life? No.
    • Do customers call you and tell you how wonderful you are? No.

    Best case and worst case outcomes
    There really is not that great a difference between worst case and best case, is there?

    At least not relative to the important things in life. If you lost your job, or your business, you would find another one, wouldn’t you?

    Let’s say you are driving to a service call and you see a little old lady with a flat tire. Being a nice person, you would love to help, but you don’t have time today. Isn’t that kind of screwy? If it were your mother, would you think that clearing a jam in a copier 20 minutes sooner is more important than leaving her out there?

    Don’t let it get to you. Whether a business owner or an employee, if you let the so-called “pressure” bother you, you will be less valuable, and probably less healthy. Stress causes physical disorders. This is not stress. Our business is one of convenience. There is no reason to be stressed out, aggravated or annoyed. Ok, a little aggravation and annoyance are appropriate. But that’s all! Don’t let me hear you complaining. Take things lightly. They are not that important in the grand scheme of things. Go home at the end of the day (probably about 8 p.m. for most of you,) and relax. Whatever is wrong is minor. That’s what this business is.

    Have a nice holiday season. Remember. It’s only a machine.