Saturday, March 5, 2011

Me, My Dad, and Home Depot

This morning I went to Home Depot to pick-up a piece of molding strip.  As I was walking towards the molding section, I ran into a group of toddlers huddled around tables happily assembling wooden toy cars, with the help of their parents.  Some were still in assembly phase while others were sitting on the floor rolling their cars back and forth with their moms and dads.  What a special sight that was.

As I later reflected on this, both from a human as well as business perspective, the more it occurred to me that this is one car I'll bet they will keep probably for the rest of their lives. 

At the moment I am sure it's just another toy for them.  Yet one day when they will look back on it, I am sure they will find themselves walking down memory lane, recalling that special moment they spent with their parents.  Along the way, they'll have purchased and thrown away many expensive toys.  But this little toy car, which probably cost less then couple of bucks in materials, will become priceless, a much cherished memory. 
And guess who else will become part of this special memory?  Home Depot and Toyota.  After all, they put the car together at Home Depot and one of the logos on the car is that of Toyota Camry.  

I wouldn't be surprised if one day these very kiddies find themselves driving Camry's and shopping at Home Depot, with one of the subconscious reasons being that they come to associate these companies with the special happy experience they had with their parents.  What a great example of doing good and doing well.

Oh, yes, one more thing.  Overcoming my initial hesitation, given I was so much older then these kiddies, I finally decided to ask the Home Depot man if I too could make a car for myself.  While he looked me a bit funny at first, he then smiled and handed me a kit too.  And I sat there right along side those kiddies making a car for myself too.  What a joyful experience that way.  And here's a picture of my very own masterpiece which I am sure will become part of my office for years to come. Thank you Home Depot and Toyota.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Moments of Truth

In 1987, Jan Carlzon, then President of Scandinavian Airlines wrote Moments of Truth, one of my favorite books.  In it one of the statements he makes is that "Coffee stains on the flip tray suggest to the customer that we do not service our engines properly."  I read this book when it came out and this statement has always stuck with me.  While I understood it, I never quite experienced it as strongly until the last weekend.

My wife and were recently in Pittsburgh where we stayed at the Holiday Inn, located on the University of Pittsburgh campus.  It's a nice clean facility with overall friendly service and reasonable rates.  We have stayed there many times and we certainly plan to stay there many more times.

On this recent visit though, we decided to have dinner at the restaurant located inside the hotel.  When the server brought out the salad, they used the tray shown in pictures above.  It had plops of dressing, beacon crumbs, salad droppings, etc. all over the tray.  What an unappetizing site it was.

As I saw this, while logically it may not make sense, I wondered if this is how they serve food out in the open, then how must they handle food in the back, how dirty must the kitchen be, how dirty must the rooms be, and so on.  What started out as just a dirty tray turned into my questioning how they must maintain their entire facility. 

This particular incident really hit home the message of Moments of Truth. That being it isn't the big things but rather little things that lead to big impacts.  If you haven't read the book, it is a very worthwhile reading.  Apply what is presented in the book and watch your business grow.  It certainly worked for me when I was in my own business.  It was in fact one of the big secrets behind the growth we experienced.  I am confident it can have the same impact for you.