Friday, September 24, 2010

Crows in the field, deers in the woods, somebody’s done come, and stole all the goods…

Many of our readers know that our business is built on a foundation of service to others, not beating the other guy, not getting the Atta boy awards, and sometimes just doing what has to be done to take care of our customers, even if it means conflict with others.

We are well known for endeavors in assisting those we serve by finding grant money and helping develop cooperative programs, creative ideas, and service beyond the ordinary. The single objective is to help those who can most benefit through combined effort. It's called the Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM) program.

We occasionally speak in parables, parodies, or prose (such as the poem above). Sometimes the parables tell a story (such as the one that follows), and occasionally we will use a musical selection to make a point. The purpose is always the same – to better communicate with those we serve, sometimes to share information, sometimes to encourage, sometimes to invoke creative thought and sometimes to reflect on the concept of mutual respect for the betterment of all. The following is about mutual respect.

Over a year ago, we introduced the idea to a group of volunteer fire departments in a rural Alabama county to come together for the purpose of improving communications in their communities. We explained the concept of a regional communications grant, got them organized, and set them up with a professional grant writer who offered to help them for little cost (It worked out to $125 per participating department). In return, they were rewarded with a quarter million dollar grant. We all understand the concept of quid pro quo. At least we thought we did. This group did not. Instead of working together with the one who made it all possible, they chose to consider us as just another bidder. Our response to them might better explain what business (and life) is all about. Here is an excerpt of this response. We should preface this by noting that the point of contact is involved in large farming activities and is the fire chief of a small volunteer fire department.

As a farmer, you know the process of preparing, planting, caring, and reaping with the anticipation that your efforts will be rewarded if this is in accord with the will of your Creator. He doesn’t owe you a crop but if the crop comes in, it is your crop. There may be others who didn’t plant a crop or those whose crop didn’t come in. That is unfortunate, but the fact remains that it is your crop.

Business is like that. We have gone through steps one through three and I now learn that another dealer has been given the opportunity to submit “a price”. He didn’t prepare, didn’t plant, and was not involved in the process of taking care of the details. Should he get the crop, or in this case, the business?

We understand that a highly publicized grant of the size awarded to your department would gain the attention of other dealers. We understand past relationships with local area or existing service providers. We understand brand preference and even personal likes and dislikes. We also understand people who didn’t plant a crop would take yours if they could. You now have the opportunity to give my crop away because we am simply  tenant farmers– not an owner. Like your Creator, you owe us nothing, but it may just be that treating us fairly could be of benefit to you and the others concerned.

In farming, you define not only what you are going to plant, but the specific type of seed to be planted. In business, we call this defining specifications. Without standards and specifications, we don’t know what we will get. All corn is not the same. All radios are not the same. You have to define a specification. To accept a price from another dealer without a defined specification is inviting disaster. That is why I made the effort to produce a twenty page document to explain your options, the theory of operation, the cost, and the intended result.That is a whole lot more than “a price”.

By following the previously provided product specifications , you can be assured that you will be acquiring equipment capable of meeting your requirements. You will know that the prospective vendor has experience in providing systems of this type, and you will know that you are getting top of the line equipment at prices that are in line with your grant limits.

Now, we have a question for you dear reader. If YOU had been the one who made the decision not to respect the efforts of the ones who helped you and YOU had received the aforementioned letter, what would YOU do?

That’s what business and personal ethics is all about – MUTUAL respect. That is the way we do business, and the way we will continue to conduct business and personal relationships for as long as our Creator allows us to continue to serve.

And what happened with the farmer/fire chief you may ask? It’s not important. What IS important is that we all do our best to live our lives in love and service to others. Sometimes, it is a very easy thing to do. Sometimes, not……..

The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting; But the substance of a diligent man is precious.              Proverbs 12: 27