What a Violin Performance Teaches Us About Marketing

Street performers are nothing new.  Rather than simply ask for money or hold up a “will work for food” sign, they try to entertain the public so that passersby might pause for a minute and give them a tip.  Some imitate a statue.  Others perform as mimes.  Still, others do acrobatics.  The most common performance is music.  On a cold January day, a street performer played music for 43 minutes and revealed one of the great truths about marketing.

The street performer’s instrument of choice was the violin.  Winter weather is not conducive to the life of a woodwind.  Thus the performer picked out a spot just inside a subway station.  The performer looked a little like everyman.  He wore jeans, a dark, long-sleeve t-shirt, and topped his mop of brown hair with a ball cap.

He positioned himself in front of a wall, near a garbage bin a few minutes before 8:00 a.m.  He took out his violin and opened the case to face the pedestrian traffic, hoping for a little monetary renumeration.

It was a busy morning.  People were hustling to and fro on their way to work or school or errands.  While he warmed up, people ignored him.

The street performer was born with an ear for music.  When he was four years old, his mother observed him stretching and picking at rubber bands to try and match the notes she was playing on the piano.  He felt born to play the violin.

Warm-ups complete, he started to play.  The violin is an unforgiving instrument.  Played poorly, the violin makes people cringe.  Played well, it can be an earthly version of the Heavenly Host.  This is especially true when playing compositions written by the great composers.

The street performer knew the great composers and led with them.  He played Bach’s violin solo from Chaconne (Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor).  Shubert’s Ave Maria followed.  He played Jules Massenet, then the modern composer, Manuel Ponce.

The street performer played well.  He played masterfully.  Yet, out of 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen.  Twenty-six dropped a total of $32.17 into his case.

Granted, people were in a hurry.  Many, if not most, may have had little interest in, or appreciation for classical violin.  Some likely never realized anyone was playing music because they were listening to their own music, played through earbuds.  Still, almost no one paused.  In a nearby line for lottery tickets, no one even turned to watch.

When the street performer concluded his play, one woman was standing in awe.  She gave him $20 and told him, “I saw you at the Library of Congress.  It was fantastic.”

The street performer was Joshua Bell, one of the world’s greatest, if not the greatest violinist.  He was playing in a Washington Metro station.  He was playing with a $3.5 million Stradivarius violin that’s origin predates the founding of the United States by 60 years.

A few days before playing in the Metro station, Bell had played to a sold-out Boston Symphony Hall.  Tickets started at more than $100 per seat and went up from there.  Commenting on the street performance, Bell said, “It was a strange feeling that people were actually ignoring me.”

A writer for the Washington Post organized the street performance as a “social experiment.”  His write-up earned him a Pulitzer.  Many thoughtful people have drawn an array of conclusions about the experiment and what it says about the state of our citizenry.  They missed the obvious.

People passed by Joshua Bell, playing world-class music on a multi-million dollar instrument because nothing about him looked world-class.  The appearance conflicted with the performance, which most people were ill-equipped to recognize on its merits.  In short, the appearance set the expectation, and 99.4% of the people passing by never got past the expectation.

Take a close look at your business.  What expectation is set by your appearance?  Look at your logo, your business cards, and your letterhead.  Look at company vehicles, your employees, and their grooming and attire.  Look at your brick and mortar location, your website, your social media pages, and your advertising.

Your appearance sets people’s expectation of your performance.  More than 99% of the public will likely never get past their expectations to judge your performance objectively.  If like Joshua Bell in a subway station, you find that people are ignoring you, it just might be your appearance.

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Matt is the 35th and youngest person to be inducted into the Contracting Business Hall of Fame.  The Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigeration NEWS presented Matt with the 2018 “Legends of HVACR” Award.  Contracting Business Magazine named Matt one of the 22 most influential people in the history of the residential HVAC/R industry.  Contractor Magazine named him one of the 18 most influential people in the history of the plumbing/hydronics industries (Matt is the only person to appear on both the Contracting Business and Contractor lists).  The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration NEWS named Matt one of the top five business advisors in the HVAC industry.  He can be reached at mmichel@servicenation.com or by mobile at 214.995.8889.

Technician Accountability and Your Bottom Line

How To Utilize Technology To Improve Employee Engagement and Move Your Business Forward

No matter the industry, perhaps the most common trait of great leaders and employees is accountability. Why? Accountable workers can truly make a difference to a company by directly driving positive results.

The value add of accountable individuals can’t be denied. They take responsibility and pride in their actions and behaviors, providing full transparency into their work, strategies, successes, and any changes, challenges, or roadblocks they may encounter along the way. This openness and effective communication help create healthy team dynamics, increase collaboration, and build trust internally and externally.

In a nutshell, accountability is a key component of successful teams and businesses.

Technology Adoption in Field Service

For many field service providers, increasing technician accountability may not be the leading factor for adopting a new technology platform. The most common goals and reasons we’ve heard from service providers looking to incorporate a modern technology solution into their day-to-day service often include:

● Streamlining and improving business operations

● Improving transparency and communication with customers

● Improving technician training and troubleshooting

● Increasing customer satisfaction and trust

● Achieving market differentiation

By enabling process standardization through streamlined on-the-job checklists, modern technology solutions like XOi’s Vision app can help commercial and residential service providers achieve the goals listed above. 

The Vision app allows techs to easily and safely capture critical job site information, launch on-the-job remote support, access relevant equipment documentation, and provide customers and managers photo and video documentation of all recommended and completed work.

The result – improved and guaranteed quality of service and complete transparency into each step a technician completes while on site.

Why is improving technician accountability important?

Studies show that 82% of employees feel their leadership team had “limited to no” ability to hold employees accountable. That same study found that 91% of respondents believed “improving the ability to hold others accountable in an effective way” was one of their business’s top leadership development needs.

In addition, research has found that improved accountability not only bolsters individual employee engagement but also positively impacts your overall bottom line. According to Gallup, highly engaged workforces significantly outperform competitors, resulting in 21% higher profitability.

Instilling a sense of accountability into your business’s culture gives employees a sense of autonomy and ownership over their work. For field service providers, it’s important for technicians to feel trusted by their employers. A system of accountability, transparency, and documentation will also help give you and your customers peace of mind that their work meets certain quality standards.

 

Cydney Myers is the Marketing Manager for XOi Technologies.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Did You Find Everything You Wanted?

Within a four-mile radius of our house, there are 17 grocery stores. Of those, I frequent three. Not because I want to, and not because I like shopping, but because none of them carry everything I want. The three I go to most are Sprouts, Tom Thumb, and Trader Joe’s. All of them have the plusses and minuses, each has their idiosyncrasies, but there’s one thing all have in common: when I check out, the checker always asks, “did you find everything you wanted?” or some variation of that question.

When I was young, I don’t remember anyone asking me, “did you find everything you wanted?” I think they were more concerned with getting me the hell out of there before I broke anything. But at some point, some retail consultant must have figured out that to maximize the dollar purchases for each visit, you need to ask people, “did you find everything you wanted?” It’s a good way to increase sales, keep in touch with the customer, and take care of the customer. Every checker in every one of the 17 grocery stores in my area knows to ask every customer that question.

Have you ever had the experience in a long line at the grocery store where the person in front of you with a million groceries in her cart suddenly pauses and says to the checker, “oh, I forgot peanut butter. I’ll be right back.”? The 30 people in line behind her all roll their eyes as she meanders off to find the peanut butter and maybe pick up a few other items. You don’t want to be THAT person, right?

So I had this really interesting experience at Trader Joe’s. I’m in line, checking out, busy time, several people in line behind me, and the checker asks the question, “Did you find everything you wanted?” I said I did, and then, with a painful flash of memory, realized that I hadn’t. “Argh,” I slapped my forehead, “I forgot flour – my wife asked me to get flour.” I looked at the line behind me – I don’t want to be THAT person – “But, I can get it next time,” I told her.   

“It’s no problem,” the checker said, “we’ll get it fast.” She rang a little bell. Instantly a young man appeared. “John,” the checker said, “this gentleman needs flour.”

“What kind of flour, and what size,” John asked me. I told him, and he jogged off. (Not exaggerating here – he jogged!)

He returned with the flour even before the checker finished ringing up the rest of my groceries. No rolling of the eyes behind me, Trader Joe’s got at extra seven bucks, and I made my wife happy (priceless).

An Interesting Fact

One of the key performance indicators (KPI’s) of grocery stores is sales per square foot. Guess what, in that measure, Trader Joe’s is number one. In fact, they’re number 1 every year. Number two is so far behind that Trader Joe’s should win the number one place, the number two place, and the number three place.   

A Funny Story

Again, I’m at the grocery store. This time it’s Tom Thumb. I cannot find graham cracker crumbs. I’m going to make a Key Lime Pie for my mother-in-law, who loves my Key Lime Pie, and I need graham cracker crumbs for the crust. I can’t find them, and there’s no employee to ask. I give up, grab a box of graham crackers, gonna pound the crackers, and make my own damn crumbs. While I’m in the checkout line, it occurs to me: the checkout clerk is going to ask THE QUESTION, and I’ll find out where the graham cracker crumbs are. Furthermore, there is no one in line behind me, so I don’t have to worry about being THAT guy. Sure enough, the cashier asks, “Did you find everything you wanted?” I beam. “I did not,” I reply, “I couldn’t find graham cracker crumbs.” 

The clerk looks thoughtful and then says, “Yeah, I don’t know if we carry that.” I wait expectantly. I arch my eyebrows and cock my head, waiting for some kind of resolution. Waiting for the follow up that never happens. Nothing. Nada. Zero. He continues ringing up my groceries, reads me the total. I pay and leave…

The Interesting Fact Corollary

Tom Thumb does not lead the grocery industry in sales per square foot.

The Lessons 

There are so many lessons from this story. Here are two that I got:

  1. Incremental sales are important. There are many reasons why Trader Joe’s leads the industry in sales per square foot, but one of them is incremental sales. They make it easy for their customers to buy more. If you want incremental sales, then make it easy for your customers to buy more.
  2. Training and Processes. Training is important. Processes are important. Training to processes is REALLY important. Tom Thumb has training. The cashier knew to ask the question. He didn’t know what to do if the answer was “no” and probably had no supporting process if the customer answers “no”. Trader Joe’s has training. They have the processes. They train to those processes. If you answer the question “no”, the cashier knows to ring the bell. If stock runner hears the bell, he knows to drop everything and get to the customer, and get his product quickly, so the customer doesn’t feel awkward, and the people in line don’t roll their eyes. Result: increased sales, happy customers, and industry-leading KPI’s.
How About You?

What’s your takeaway from the story? What did you learn? What will you do differently? I’d like to know. Email me and let me know… David.Heimer@ServiceNation.com

 

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Risk-Taking

We have all heard the expression, “don’t try, just do.” So, “try” many times has a negative connotation. 

Especially when knowing that doing, and not just trying, will have a positive outcome. For example: “I’m going to try to eat healthier” or “I’m going to try and exercise more.” In both cases, doing it will have great health benefits, so “don’t try, just do.”

I would suggest that when it comes to taking risks, “try” can have a more positive connotation because the outcome may result in success or failure, and that is not as predictable. So when taking risks, “you can do it if you try.”

Taking risks doesn’t mean that you will succeed every time. The risk may lead to success that you can celebrate or failure that you can learn from. Either way, it is better to have tried and failed rather than having never tried at all.

Risk-taking involves thinking outside the box and may stretch you beyond your comfort zone. It may involve hiring that person from outside the industry, looking at acquisitions to expand, or adding plumbing to your HVAC company. All these risks need to be calculated and planned for, and not just treated as “risky behavior.” If planned for, risk-taking can become very rewarding. 

Once again, risk-taking is not as predictable as the results achieved from eating healthier or exercising regularly, so it may make you uncomfortable, which may cause you not to try. The uncertainty may make you uneasy, yet the rewards can be great. The fear of failure will keep you from succeeding and achieving your dreams and goals.

 

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

 

You see, risk-taking in and of itself is not about achieving a positive outcome from every chance; rather it’s a process of learning and adjusting until you succeed. The key to success is learning from your failures and moving past them.

 

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

 

Failure should not be viewed as a negative, but as a learning experience that leads to wisdom. It makes one stronger and persistent. Your desire for success in anything that you do should always trump your fear of failure.

Yes, taking risks does involve failure. If it didn’t, and you were successful every time that you tried something, then it wouldn’t be a risk at all. It’s OK that you don’t succeed every time because you learn from every failure, which makes you a better person by improving your ability to recover faster the next time a difficult situation comes your way.

The worse thing that can happen is that you stop taking risks due to experiencing failure. When this happens, we become stagnant, and growth becomes difficult. When learning from failure and moving on, one becomes humbly confident. That may sound contradictory, yet failure teaches us to be humble, and learning from it will build confidence to overcome the fear of the next risk.

Fortunately, according to many psychologists, confidence is a learnable skill. 

In an article written by Marelisa Fabrega, “Daring to Live Fully,” she describes “a mantra that will change your life”:

 

      “Everything is Learnable.”

 

She proposes a question:

“Look at the following phrases:

  • I wish I were…
  • I wish I had…
  • I wish I knew how to…

How would you conclude each of these phrases? There are hundreds of ways to do so, and nearly 100% of them are learnable.” 

Then she cites 20 examples of how skills can be learned, and confidence is one of them.

Marelisa concludes with, “If you want to learn something, go learn it. You don’t need anyone’s permission (except for your own). 

Live your best life by understanding that everything is learnable. Make it your new mantra!”

So, the takeaway here is that you can learn to have confidence when taking risks. You can learn to overcome your fears. And you can learn to be humbly confident.

No matter what the outcome is, failure or success, we grow and learn from it either way. Learning these skills will help you take more risks, which in turn will increase your chances of success in achieving your personal and business goals.

 

Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Your Candidate Lost, Now What?

I’m writing this at 7:35 am on November the 3rd. Which means I have no idea if your candidate won or lost. What I do know is that some people are very happy right now, and some are very upset.

And, I imagine that social media is being set afire with very strongly worded opinions about the results.

This short message is meant for the leaders of the world; the entrepreneurs that set the tone; the managers, CSRs, techs, sales pro, and administration members that are to lead-by-example.

Hopefully, this will help you.

If Your Candidate Won

Show grace today. I’m sure that you are feeling tremendous about the outcome. You are probably very excited. You may even feel like your party has won a literal battle!

You may feel like this battle deserves some type of social media battle cry.

“We won! You lost! SUCK IT!” for example.

Now, that wouldn’t be very gracious. In fact, it would be the start of a huge waste of energy and time. Because, not long after your post, you are greeted with 97 comments of opposition and confirmation. You now get spun up in the game of a social media battle. You waste time, and you make some enemies. It’s just not worth it.

If Your Candidate Lost

I promise you it’s not the end of the world! Every election is a hype machine of doom and gloom. Politicians play way more on our fears than they do our hope. Each side believes the other guy is an enemy to their hero.

But guess what? The next president isn’t going to save you. The presidents of the past didn’t save you.

You save yourself. You and your people are going to make the next great thing in your life happen.

If policy changes or taxes go up, or restrictions get tighter, then you will pivot and make it work.

So, it will be ok! And, I give you the same advice that I gave your political opposition…. “Show grace today.”

We Are In This Together 

Aren’t you just sick and tired of all the backbiting and fighting between Americans?

I really am.

We are the greatest nation on the planet. We are the greatest nation because our experiment of Democracy and Unity works. Well, most of the time it works. We are also known to have moments of intense civil disruption.

Civil disruption is normal for a young nation. It’s a reflection of growing pains and working out the kinks of our system.

Yet, we are not an infant nation any longer. We have matured into young adulthood.

We are a mighty power with the economy and the resources to change the world.

A mighty power demands a mighty leader. And a mighty leader needs wise counsel and the support of the people.

“United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”

This idea of power in unity is older than the US. In fact, you can find similar references in Matthew, Mark, and Luke of the Bible.

So, on this day, I encourage you to take a moment and reflect in silence. Pray. Meditate. Take a walk. Do what you need to do to prepare for the future. Be calm, and lead the people in your influence with Kindness, Power, and Hope.

 

Todd Liles is the Founder of Service Excellence Training and creator of the PRESS PLAY Training System.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!