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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

On The Road Again 

Well today I'm off to Daytona. It's already shaping up to be a very busy week.

After a week of meetings to roll out our national lines, then two weeks in Atlanta - I have to admit April wasn't my most productive, numbers wise. But it was a very good month. The training has done a lot to build my confidence and sharpen that focus - both sorely needed about now.

I know a lot of people that feel that training is just a waste of time, especially if you've been in a line of work for any amount of time. That train of thought will get you fired every time.

I love training. For several reasons. One is that I spend so much of my time alone on the road I look forward to interacting with my team face to face. We get a chance to talk eye to eye and also to cut loose and have a little fun.

I also thrive on the exchange of ideas. If I'm honest that is probably what excites me the most. You see, everyone has a different way of looking at things. We all bring a different history to any given situation and that history is what prompts our response. I LOVE hearing how someone else tackles a fire situation. I really enjoy watching the way peoples minds work - it's fascinating.

So today I'm off to tackle a few irate customers. The stores are starting to feel a little neglected. I can understand that, but it's still kind of funny. We are pretty lucky here. Most of us only have about 40 some doors and can maintain a two week call cycle. However, with the month we had, that just wasn't possible. Plus, when we do line roll outs we pay very special attention to each customer as we roll that out. They know it, they also know they are not our only account. The trick is to make each STORE feel that no one is more important to you than they are. Not always the easiest thing to do.

I learned a few tricks lately. Some I already knew, just stopped using for whatever reason. My favorite - when it gets really busy just make a lot of phone calls. If you talk to a store often enough, they will forget that you haven't been in to see them. I'm a big one on phone calls. (I keep saying I live on my cell phone.) I called every one of my stores over the Easter weekend to wish them happy holidays and just chat for a minute. Then, on my way to Atlanta I called them all again. I also watch newspapers and major trade magazines for news on sleep and consumer trends. Just print out an article and add a little note - mail it off and the customer feels loved and thought of. (Don't try this with your mother - it doesn't work, trust me.)

Lots of driving and lots of sucking up today. Right now I've only got three doors in Daytona so I'll get to spend some quality time at each location. Walk the floor, talk about sales trends and get back into the grove. I caught myself last night getting a little nervous. I have to relearn all the lines. I refuse to walk in those stores and not know what they have on the floor and not remember any questions we had discussed during my last visit. It goes back to making them feel like they are the most important store on my roster. Plus, I hate to be blindsided.

The car is packed with my bag of tricks and all my files. I'm loaded down with water and will stop for my 44oz Diet Pepsi. The proper CDs are in place for the drive and I've got a full tank of gas. I think I'm ready - I only hope they are.


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My "Other" Family - Fizzen Sparks