The Missing Eddie Factor - Eric Rhoads - MediaBizBloggers
Published: January 18, 2011 at 06:29 PM GMT
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Last Updated: January 18, 2011 at 06:29 PM GMT
By B. Eric Rhoads
Every morning at about 6:30, I drag myself to Gold's Gym. Though I'm not a big fan of working out, I go because I know daily exercise is important to lengthen my stay on planet earth. And the longer I'm here, the more I can nudge the radio industry into change.
There's nothing particularly special to me about Gold's Gym. I picked it because it's closest to my home. Like all gyms, it has treadmills, elliptical machines, and rows and rows of weights, and it has clean restrooms. It has what every fitness center probably should have.
Every day I walk through the front door, I scan my card, and Eddie at the front desk says, "How's it going today, Eric?" Eddie is probably about 19 years old, not yet bruised by too many rough trails in life. He says hello with a smile. He looks me right in the eye. He does it every day, without fail: "How's it going today, Eric?"
Eddie and I have chatted several times, and I can tell by the way he treats me that I'm the only gym member who's ever asked about him. One day he told me about his dream of owning his own gym. I goaded him into writing a business plan, which I evaluated. I told him I'd offered advice to our former editor Ed Ryan, who also had a dream of building his own gym -- and did it, and it's been a huge success.
This fall, after I returned from the summer away, I scanned in at the gym, and nothing. Maybe Eddie's off today. Next day, the same. Maybe Eddie's on vacation this week. After a week, I asked the person at the desk where Eddie was. "Oh, he doesn't work here anymore." "Where is he?" I asked. "Don't know." And that was it. Eddie was gone.
Looking back, I realized how important it was to me to be greeted by Eddie. It may seem like a small thing, but it really isn't. The moment you interact with someone by name, you create a bond, and it grows stronger over time. Now Gold's is just another gym to me. When Eddie was there, I somehow felt more connected. The new guy at the desk has never asked my name or told me his, which, to me, means I'm just another customer. No one ever asks how my workout went, or what my goals are, or ever says much more than hi or bye.
Managers often tell me good people are hard to find. Really? When your sales manager walks through the door every morning, is she excited to see you and get to work helping clients? Or does she put her head down and pretend she's making copies? When your salespeople come back at 4:45 in the afternoon, do you instantly jump on them with, "What did you sell today?" Or do you greet them and ask how their day went?
We're all busy people and the demands on our time are tough, yet we all need a little bit of Eddie in us. Going to work or doing business is always better when people take time to know us and make quality human contact.
Are you building a team that wants to work for you all the time, a team that goes that extra mile, that puts in that extra hour, cuts that extra spec spot, or makes that one last sales call? Are you building a team that doesn't want to disappoint you because of the trust and confidence you have in them? Do you make each of your people feel like they are the most important person in the building?
I have no idea where Eddie went. Maybe he started his own gym, maybe he got fired for talking to the customers too much. But he was my one and only personal connection to that business, and if he called to ask me to switch me to his gym, I would do it if I could.
I once asked my dad what the most important thing he did each day was, and he told me that every morning he would walk through his factory, say hello to each worker by name, and, whenever he could, say something personal to them: "Did that kid get that summer job you told me about?" or "Does your wife still have the flu?" The factory walk was not just a routine with an ulterior motive, Dad was truly interested. I know because he used to talk about the people in his business and their families at dinner. He always said there is no better fertilizer than the farmer's shadow.
Do your customers and employees look forward to the personal connection with your people? Are you noticing your people? Or are you just showing up and going through the routine without appreciation and acknowledgment?
Something as small and seemingly unimportant as losing Eddie has changed my relationship with my gym. A personal connection can change everything.
B. Eric Rhoads is CEO of Streamline Publishing, Inc. Rhoads writes regular columns for his publications and is an active blogger in the radio and art industries, including Radio Ink Tank, Artist Marketing, and Blue Chip Gallery Marketing. He is an active speaker, consultant, and advocate in the radio, art, and technology industries, and he sits on a number of advisory boards. Eric can be reached at eric@RadioInk.com.
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