Daddy’s Lessons Archive

Don’t work for every person that asks you to.

Posted January 23, 2013 By tjflynn

When is the last time that you met someone who immediately rubbed you the wrong way? Somebody that you wanted to immobilize with a korean throat pinch, bare your teeth to and tell them to be nicer while glaring into their face from an inch away? But you couldn’t do that because it is not socially acceptable and illegal? Those are the people that you should NOT work for.

Yes, I’m the same person that advocates adopting the posture of a servant and loving your neighbors as yourself. But I also strongly believe that I should love butthead neighbors from afar and not involve them in my business. This way, my spiritual growth is not in danger of de-evolving into the guy from the second sentence of the first paragraph.

I read, yesterday, in an InterNACHI online course that not working for difficult people is a risk reduction technique. That’s what got me thinking about the subject of “difficult people” or buttheads as I call them. My dad had a graduated technique for dealing with them. I’ve developed my own technique. Everyone that stays in business does.

In my book Putting Up Restaurants, I list three options for dealing with a risk: Risks My preference is number 3. I can see how others would fare better by using number 1. I’m thinking about companies that depend on a lot of little jobs and have a lot of workers. They just spread the cost of dollars lost to buttheads in their normal fee. Obviously managing a risk (number 2) is the worst case, the one that takes the most work.

My dad’s technique included all three options. When he met with potential customers, he would nicely walk away from easily identifiable buttheads to avoid risks. If the customer would not let him walk away, he’d double or triple the price to manage the risks. If he was fooled during the initial contact and the customer turned out to be a butthead, he would do his best to manage it. One of his more effective techniques was to hide a water shutoff that could be turned off and used to “motivate” butthead customers to be reasonable. Few people wanted a home addition with a new bathroom that could not be used.

How does all of this relate to a blog on Service? Well, it takes a ton of effort to provide stellar service to a butthead, doesn’t it?

Common sense seems to indicate that you should leave difficult people to your competitors.

Daddy’s Lesson One

Posted December 10, 2012 By tjflynn

My dad was not a well-educated man, but his common sense was extraordinary. With a 9th grade education, he raised 5 children of his own and some of my mom’s brothers and sisters as well. He had a few principles that he never deviated from.

One of those principles was: “Do it right the first time.” This sounds like a grade-school admonition to people that give a hoot about service. In my experience, however, very few people remember the simple things. We are all bombarded with 12 step programs and 12 rules for this and the other and we just forget to do the most basic things.

One of my brothers grew up working with Daddy just like I did. He was always in a hurry to finish the task and sometimes took shortcuts in getting there. I used to tease him that you could not build a roof until the walls were up. To which he’d respond by throwing a heavy tool at me or burying my head in the nearest sawdust or builder’s sand pile and saying something that I could never hear because I was at the first aid box looking for a bandaid or cleaning crap out of my ears.

He never did things right the first time and I spent a lot of time fixing his work. He used to “cobble it up”. I never really understood what that meant, but Daddy used to say, “It doesn’t take any longer to do it right than it does to cobble it up.”

Daddy used to say “If it is worth doing, it’s worth doing right”, also.

Common sense here seems to advocate doing it right the first time and not cobbling it up.