Redefining Success

Next to sleeping, most of us spend the bulk of our time at work. Work is important. It challenges our brain, gives us purpose and, of course, allows us to pay our bills and afford some of the nicer things in life. I see so many otherwise driven people who push personal things off in an effort to get ahead. But what are they striving for? What is their ultimate goal? When will they have enough money, enough accomplishment and enough accolades that they take time for some of the more personal things?

While work is important, you can accomplish good with it as well. As a small or medium or large business owner, do you set funds and time aside to help those in your community? Do you mix some personal goals in with some of your company goals?

When I think of this, one man comes to mind—Frank Thomas of Thomas Auto Glass in Phoenix. Whether it’s answering a few questions from a pesky editor (such as me), or hosting charity fundraisers or supporting others in his community, Thomas always has time to help others.  

Thomas learned about loss early in life. His first-born son died of cancer at the age of three, 40 years ago. During the fight to save the boy, Thomas says he received “overwhelming assistance from many people and organizations,” and he wanted to pass that on to help others.

For 40 years now, Thomas has helped others, organizing more than 100 fundraising events, mostly golf tournaments.

Beneficiaries of his work have included the Crisis Nursery children’s shelter in Phoenix, Wounded Warriors, March of Dimes and United Cerebral Palsy.

This man has earned my respect and likely the respect of many others in the industry. He sets a sterling example of not just what it is to be a good business man, but one who cares and gives back.

Another company that comes to mind is Techna Glass. The company often teams up with local radio celebrities to raise money for local initiatives, such as the Primary Children’s Hospital.

The company’s Utah automotive glass shops have invited consumers out to get their windshields repaired with all proceeds going to the children’s hospital.

So this brings me to my question, what do you do to give back? These companies and their owners are not alone in their effort to support charities and give back to their communities. Have you considered redirecting your drive for success into another avenue for a while … an avenue that will help others?

Why am I tackling this topic now? One of my family members has been diagnosed with cancer. He is in and out of the hospital. And when something like this happens to someone close to you, it makes you stop and think about your priorities. I am thankful for good team members and bosses who supported me when I took some time off to go spend it with family.

And for those in need of support in your community, taking the time to hold a fundraiser, gathering employees to help refurbish a house for someone in need or more, can go a very long way to making a difference. It could even redefine what it means to be successful. Or at least put it in a new light.

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Do You Kill Your Customers with Kindness?

Everyone has a bad day now and again—some more regularly than others. But do you let that bad day impact your customers? At lunch, I almost always run out for a little while, even if it’s just 20 minutes, to take a short break and grab some food. It gives my brain a chance to unwind for a little bit. There are some fast food restaurants I frequent more often than others. Why? Because their staff is nicer and their food is more likely to match my expectations.

On a break a few weeks ago, I stopped by a local burger drive-thru for the first time in months. I wanted to take advantage of their chicken nugget deal. When I pulled through the drive thru, I requested that they make the chicken nuggets fresh. Their response caught me off guard. “They are fresh,” I was told. I’m glad they are this time, but last time I ordered nuggets from this restaurant, they were not fresh. If I had not been so hungry, I would not have eaten them. My stomach felt a bit queasy afterward, too. Am I likely to go back again soon after my most recent visit? Probably not.

Have you ever received food from a restaurant that you were sure has been sitting under the hot lamps a while? Where you could tell they just didn’t care what they were serving you, it just felt like they wanted your money and for you to leave? Perhaps the cashier could have instead said, “I’ll make sure they are fresh for you.” Perhaps, it’s just me … but these two statements seem to come across differently. One says I care … the other does not.

My usual lunchtime haunt is Chick-fil-a. Why? Their staff is always friendly and thanks me for my business. When I go there at lunchtime, I know there will be a line. I usually time it so I go early enough to beat the line … or else, their parking lot looks like a bad traffic jam, with people waiting it out for their chicken sandwiches. It is still a fast-food restaurant. Their food is not the healthiest option in the world … but their parking lot is always full. There are headlines about other fast-food companies struggling with revenue, but this headline rarely seems associated with Chick-fil-a. Why? They take the time to care about their customers and their employees. It shows—both in their locations and their profits. At least that’s my take.

When it comes to automotive glass repair and replacement, few customers understand what is involved. I know I did not the first time I had my windshield replaced. I was happy to go with the cheapest company as no one took the time to explain the importance of safety and the role a windshield plays in the structure of a vehicle. If someone had explained why their company might cost a little more and why it’s worth it, I would have been much more likely to choose them over going with the cheapest price. The same holds true today. I’ll spend more when I know the experience and service is reliable.

Maybe you are having a bad day where a part you ordered came in broken and the weather is bad. Are you able to push that to the side when a customer calls? Do you focus on explaining the replacement process and why it is important they choose your company even if a replacement costs a bit more with you? Do you stress to your possible customer the importance of safety and installing the windshield properly? Do you take the time to answer their questions? When your technicians arrive onsite, do they greet the customer with a smile? When the customer pulls up to your shop, does your front staff greet them kindly? Are they approachable if a customer has a question? If you ensure a customer knows you appreciate her business, she is much more likely to return. We all have routines, whether it’s where we go for lunch, which mechanic we use … or where we go for a windshield replacement. If you kill them with kindness, they are more likely to return.