Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You can learn something anywhere

Back in the '90s, Ron VanGelderen of the CRI asked me to go to Washington to make a presentation on behalf of our cleaning method about a new labeling law*. Bureaucrats had decided that every piece of carpet needed to be labeled with cleaning instructions. The fact that the label would be on the underside of installed carpeting didn't make any difference to them.

My flight was delayed and as I arrived at the meeting facility the doorman asked if I was there for the big meeting and I said yes. He said, "It's in the main section of those meeting rooms right over there. I slipped in and took a seat in the back row so as not to cause a disturbance. There was a panel discussion in progress that drew my immediate attention.

A gentlemen on the panel said, "Take the carpet cleaning industry for example. They have the opportunity to work for a customer many times during the anticipated life of that carpet. This represents a long profit stream. That's not the case in our business. We can only do it to a customer one time." The room errupted in laughter.

That made me suspicious as did the large number of people in attendance. As I looked around the room I didn't recognize anyone and began to feel as if I were in the wrong meeting. I stepped out in the lobby to check and sure enough there was a sign I hadn't seen when I came in the other door. They were funeral directors from DC, Maryland and Virginia.

The guy on the panel was right. We are so blessed that we can work for a client many times during our careers. If we're careful and treat the customer right we can even work for their descendants. Some cleaning businesses started in the '70s are now in their third generation. That's exciting.

*The bill never made it through congress.