All posts by Expect The Exceptional

Mother, wife, avid reader, creative writer, Tottenham fan, loves everything KC especially the Royals and Chiefs, keen photographer and blogger, Service That Solves

Choosing a service provider for you home or business

As a homeowner, it is very common to find yourself in need of a service provider to perform tasks that you don’t have the time or skill to do yourself.  Whether you are in search of a painter, plumber or even someone to hang your Christmas lights, finding someone to perform the needed service at the time and cost that you need can be a daunting task.

Recently, I was looking for a painter, as well as someone to clean out our fireplace.  For the painting job, I had two different companies come out to give me a quote.  The men who arrived were vastly different from one another.  The first could best be described asbusiness, composition, creativity “old school.”  He was an older gentleman who used paper, pen and a calculator to jot down the measurements in the kitchen.  He was obviously not trying to sell me anything, simply took down the information he needed and gave me just the facts regarding the job at hand.  He told me he would email the quote as he got everything calculated.  The second man was a born salesman.  He played with my son, made jokes and told me all about the charitable work his company does.  He used an iPad to take down the information and was able to give me a quote right after he plugged in the calculations.  Verdict?  I actually preferred the first guy.  His quote ended up being significantly less than the second guy and I appreciated that he a no-nonsense sort of person.  While I enjoyed speaking with the second guy, I was not looking for a friend; I just needed someone who could come in and get the job done quickly, and do it well.  It was a bonus that he would cost less, although as you’ll find from my fireplace search, this is not the most important factor.

When we turned on our gas fireplace this year, we were disappointed to find that there were no flames.  While my husband is capable of doing many things around the house, bioethanol burner, burner, ecofriendlydealing with a gas line is not one we were willing to risk messing up.  I called around to several different service locations and was able to speak with three people from whom I got quotes.  Each place quoted a different amount, and while my initial tendency was to go with the cheapest option, after speaking to the man at the most expensive place, I decided that was going to be our best bet, and here’s why:  the two cheaper places simply gave me numbers; I asked for how much it would cost, they found out where I lived and gave me a quote.  However, the third guy took a little more time to assess the situation.  He asked what kind of fireplace we had and some more questions about how it operated.  He listened to the problem we were having and gave some suggestions as to how we could fix it on our own.  When I explained that my husband had been working on it and I was just making the phone calls, he gave me his name and offered to walk my husband through some troubleshooting tips over the phone when we had time.  So when it came time to choose which company we wanted to use, we obviously felt that the third company, while more expensive, would take the time to make sure we were completely satisfied and we were confident that the work they did would be solid.  It was worth it to shell out a few extra bucks, because in return we were receiving peace of mind that the job would be done right.

Companies like this fireplace company, as well as Royal Services, never claim to be the cheapest.  But they stand behind their extra cost, offering you the added service of contact with a human being who will go above and beyond to ensure you are satisfied with the service you receive.

Have you experienced a company who has gone above and beyond, and have you been willing to pay more it?  Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Ways that you can give back to your local community

This time of year, giving back is on the forefront of our minds.  As we look around at our own situations, we often feel blessed for all of the good in our lives.  This feeling is sometimes followed by guilt, remembering that not everyone has so much to be thankful for.  Consequently, we begin to wonder: what can I do to give back?  In case you have asked that question lately, here is a list of ideas to get you started!

  1. Local church – whether you belong to a church or not, they are always looks for volunteers to help with various things, as well as donations of clothing or food.
  2. Participate in a charity fundraiser – find an organization that is close to your heartrunner-888016_960_720 and run in the 5K, or volunteer at one of their fundraising events.
  3. Volunteer as a coach in the local parks and recreation sports program – this is a great way to get involved in the community, as well as give a child a role model that they may be needing in their life!  In Johnson County, KS you can simply lg on to the parks and rec website for opportunities.
  4. Salvation Army bell ringer at Christmas
  5. Lead a charity event at your place of work – This is great for team building. Check out Royal’s website to learn about the different community outreach programs in which they have become involved, it’s a great place to get ideas!
  6. Clean up – Volunteer your time in helping to clean up the local school playground in preparation for the start of the school year. Collect litter from the highway or help clean the local stream in your neighborhood.
  7. Make a financial donation – if you feel you are too swamped to attend an event, dollar-660223_960_720financial donations are always appreciated.  Just make sure you know where your money is going to be used!
  8. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen – soup kitchens are full of volunteers around the holidays, so try volunteering at another time of year when they truly need the extra help.
  9. Get involved with an inmate program designed to help people prepare for life after jail.
  10. Create an event yourself to support a charity – if you can’t find something you are passionate about, make up your own event!
  11. Find someone in need and personally help them – make a grocery run for your Basket, Groceries, Vegetables, Fruits, Food, Asparaguselderly neighbor, or buy a few toys for the kids down the street whose dad just lost his job.
  12. Carry a survival pack in your car that includes socks, gloves, toothpaste, a toothbrush, some snacks etc. that you can give to homeless people when you see them.

These are just a few ideas, and most of them are things you can do all year long!  Do you have any other things you like to do to give back?  Leave your ideas in the comments below!

How to Shape Your Company Culture

Company culture has quickly become one of the most important predictors of a company’s future success. With this in mind we are always looking for ways in which we can take even better care of our team. We most definitely live by Richard Branson’s idea of:

“Train people well enough so they can leave,
treat them well enough so they don’t”

I truly believe in this statement, and look forward to seeing it come to fruition over the coming years at Royal Services! 

Source: How to Shape Your Company Culture

Creating a killer company culture

A great company culture is not something that can be created overnight. It takes months, even years for this to evolve and there are certain things that need to be in place for your company to thrive. One of the most important decisions to make is whether you want to be a boss or a leader. There is a huge difference between these two, and it is only leader-2206099_960_720possible to create an incredible company culture with one of them. Hopefully you know which direction to take, and that is why you are here. The simple thing to remember is a leader will create a killer company culture, whereas a boss will literally kill company culture. The choice is yours!

  1. Lead by example – Live everyday the way you want your employees to behave. You are the leader, which means you do things first, and your team will follow. Set the standard for your team, and then hold them accountable. If you are late for every meeting and continue to keep people waiting, you will be quite a hypocrite if you get mad when employees are late. If you act in this way, you will soon be seen as a boss instead of a leader, and your culture will begin to crumble.
  2. Hire smart – When you are adding to your team hire people according to their behavior rather than their skill set, whenever possible. There are obviously some vocations where you can’t follow this principle, such as within the medical world where you need to hire a surgeon who is qualified as a surgeon! However, there are many positions where the skill set can be trained, and the most important thing is to find people who easily slide into your company with minimal disruption.
  3. Understand your why – You and your team need a purpose for coming to work everyday. If you are just going through the motions, and have no true purpose, it’s going to be very difficult to motivate people to deliver what you are looking for. Understand your why and make sure this is something that is discussed during the hiring and onboarding processes. This is your company’s DNA and needs to be your north star in every decision that you make.
  4. Tell your story and continue to refer back to it – Your company might be 25 years old, but the new members of your team haven’t experienced the trials and tribulations that you have been through. They don’t understand the hurdles you have overcome, the economic downturns, the bankrupt clients, the successes, and the differences that your company has made over the years. Tell your story so that your entire team understand more about your history, and the path traveled thus far.
  5. Establish traditions – these are activities that will help to motivate your team and make them feel more like a family. Company-wide lunches are a great way to achieve this, as are social events, team-building activities, community outreach projects, 5k’s, marathons and other charity events.
  6. Document core values – Decide what matters to your company and what you want Conceptual core values integrity ethics circle concept word clouthe focus to be on. Document, share, and live by these values on a daily basis. Keep referring back to them and make every decision according to what is stated here.
  7. Recognize and reward – Let people know that you are proud of them for their achievements and reward them accordingly. Surprise thank you’s are always fun for everyone involved and require very little effort. How good would you feel if your boss swung by your desk, gave you $50, thanked you for your incredible effort over the past few weeks, and told you to take your spouse out to dinner? Wow your employees and show everyone that you appreciate what they are doing.
  8. Treat others how you would want to be treated – If someone is performing at an incredible level and continues to deliver exceptional results, reward them for it. If someone is struggling due to a death in the family, or a sick child is causing lack of sleep, be empathetic and go easier on them. Show them that you are a human being and truly care about your team.
  9. Stay out of the ivory tower – Get out and about and interact with your team. If you keep yourself locked up in your office and employees only see you when things are wrong, there will be a massive disconnect. Be present, interact with your team, get to know them, pick up trash, replace the printer toner, and show them that you are a team player. Everyone will benefit from it and the collaboration is guaranteed to improve when people feel the collectiveness.
  10. Develop your team – Show your team the paths that they can follow to work their way up in your business, and provide them with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. Increase their hunger and show them what they are capable of. This is so much more enjoyable and rewarding than hiring external people, and will allow you to positively impact so many people’s lives.
  11. Get to know your teamYour staff don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Understand what matters to them, what makes them tick, and how you can help them realize their dreams.
  12. Catch your people doing the right thing – Far too often we try to catch people doing the wrong thing. This is such a negative way of living and isn’t enjoyable for anyone involved. Instead of searching and waiting for the bad, hunt for the good and celebrate when your team do the right thing. It’s a similar idea to when parents look at a child’s grade card and focus on the one C, instead of the four A’s that the student has achieved. Focus on and reward the things that you want your team to do, everyone will be so much happier.
  13. Smile – If you are following steps 1 through 12, this will happen naturally and you will live a full life.

smiley-2055681_960_720

Good luck!

Prioritizing tasks around the house

As a happily married father of 3 with a full time job, a small business, a home, 2 cars, and numerous bills to take care of, things are typically quite chaotic. I have a list of things that need to be done around the house, and as most people will understand, there is just no way of handling every single item on the to-do list.

The first thing that is done is deciding which of these truly need to be completed. There might be something that I would like to do, but it is not urgent and can be put on the backburner. There are other tasks that simply cannot be ignored. For example, winterizing the sprinklers in preparation for the harsh midwest temperatures. If this isn’t handled, then we will find ourselves with huge bills to repair our irrigation system in the spring, or we could just not repair it and let our grass and plants die when the summer heat hits. Either way, we will be paying for something.

The sprinklers are an item that I have no clue about, and to be honest, I have no interest sprinkler-1209900_960_720in figuring out what needs to be done. There is expensive equipment involved and there is a lot of risk that has to be mitigated. I do not have this mindset, or the time to mess around, so I trust a local landscaping company to take care of it for me.

Then there are other jobs that are easy to do, that need to be done, but just take up a lot of time that could be spent in other directions. If I have the option of paying a neighborhood middle-schooler $20 to collect all of my leaves, which allows me to spend an extra couple of hours with my family, it’s a no-brainer as far as I am concerned. Instead of washing my car by hand I would rather use that time to take a walk to the park with my family, and pay $8 at the local Green Lantern carwash for a great clean!

There are other tasks such as repairing the washing machine and tuning up my lawn-mower that can be achieved, and I have achieved, with the help of a YouTube video. calculator-385506_960_720Then there are those tasks that I just have to do such as paying bills, managing the family budget, and monitoring investment accounts that only I can do. I try to save these tasks for later in the day so that I don’t miss time with the boys, and it also bores me, so it helps me get to sleep quicker!

At the end of the day you have to decide what is important to you, and what your time is worth. I pay $8 for a car wash because I would rather spend that time playing with my two sons, or sitting on the patio drinking a glass of wine with my wife. I would rather pay someone to do the more complex jobs where I do not possess the required skillset nor am I prepared to take the risk associated with completing the task myself. However, I always mow our grass as I find it relaxing, it’s good exercise, and my two boys have toy lawnmowers and will be out in the yard with me throughout! Incorporating family into chores around the home is a great way to get things done, save money, and still spend time with loved ones!

What matters to you? What are some things that you will never complete yourself because you value your time too much, and what are some responsibilities that you have no interest in doing due to a lack of technical knowledge? What tasks do you actually enjoy and are you able to get your family involved in any of your regular chores?

Trade Shows – the good, the bad & the ugly

I recently attended the 2017 PRSM Mid-Year Conference in Indianapolis. The trade show PRSMwas over a 3 day period and there were a few things that caught my attention:

  1. False claims – Nearly every company used verbiage such as “the biggest”, “the leading”, “the most trusted”, “the most reliable” and of course “the best”.
  2. A lack of knowledgeable and passionate team members – Many of the booths were manned by salespeople, and some even had temporary workers who had just been brought into promote the company for the duration of the tradeshow. Although on the surface their performance was acceptable, they were found out when the tougher questions came out. We had the director of the department in question with us and this was hugely positive with great feedback received from many attendees about the knowledge and passion that she shared.
  3. Scanning your badge and collecting your contact details – many companies attend these events in an attempt to collect as many contacts as possible who they can then bug with marketing emails long after the show has ended. No effort is made to even make introductions and before you know it you find yourself being attacked by a badge scanning maniac.
  4. Receptions and happy hours – It’s always nice attending events such as this as they give you an opportunity to meet face to face with existing and potential clients, as well as meeting fellow trade professionals. It’s great to mingle and make introductions, and the food that is typically available isn’t too bad either!
  5. Education opportunities – These events are normally jam packed with hundreds of speakers-414562_960_720classes and workshops where you can learn about latest industry trends, new technologies, things that are in the pipeline and issues to be concerned about.
  6. Late starts/ missed seminars/ unmanned booths – This event was a little more challenging to evaluate attendance as the event was sandwiched in between the destructive hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, which prevented many people from making the trip to Indy. One thing that isn’t difficult to recognize is when groups of people arrive at the exhibit hall a couple of hours after everything started and spend most of their time sat down trying to drown themselves with black coffee. The biggest disappoint for me is when exhibitors just completely fail to turn up and leave their booths unmanned. This creates a very bad impression of the business in my opinion and definitely reduces the chance that I will work with them.
  7. Traffic Police – People stood out in the aisles essentially forcing you to move towards their booth where their colleague will go ahead and pounce on you. There are unfortunately many areas where companies will put the hard sale on you without even knowing what you are looking for. Again there is no attempt to find out what you need and provide potential solutions. They instead try to force their product/service down your throat.
  8. Awkward but useful – The most enjoyable, but slightly awkward, session is typically the buyer-supplier forums where both sides of the table get to drill each other with tough questions. These are very beneficial as both sides are typically closer in their opinions than many would think, and this leads to some great conversations.
  9. After the show is over – the follow up is crucial. I personally believe that the most important thing is to develop strong relationships and lay the foundation for more in depth conversations at a later date. The face to face time is a great opportunity to explore your counterparts problems and compile a way in which you can bring value to their business. I try to develop the relationship in person, and then talk more in depth in the follow up.
  10. Services vs. products – At most tradeshows there will be businesses selling both services and products. The challenge here is that many products can obviously be commoditized, but the same is not true for services, which is what my company provides. It makes the conversations a little more challenging to change your audience’s mindset, but this is something that we are expecting and have plenty of experience with!
  11. Useless junk – The marketing materials that people use to lure you into their booth vary substantially in quality and usefulness. The worst item that I saw at this show was a small booklet where you could store all of your online account details and pen-2532710_960_720passwords! This booklet was a godsend for identity thieves as there was room for the website, the username, associated email address, and of course the password! You can’t make these things up! I obviously did not take part in this offer and instead will continue to rely on my memory and the ability to make unlimited changes to my login details when I forget my credentials…. There were however some great takeaways available that I was able to load into bags and take home to my two sons. There were also some useful things for my wife and me including powerpacks, USB adapters, and of course THOUSANDS of pens!

Overall, this conference was a great experience and one where I gained some very useful information.  I learned a lot from other attendees, both what to do and what not to do and am truly looking forward to the next event!

What have you noticed about trade shows that you have found useful?  Is there anything that has worked especially well for you?  Please leave your ideas in the comments below, and as always, Expect the Exceptional every day!

Problems associated with increased cell phone usage

 

Thanks to modern technology and advances with cell phone capabilities, you no longer need a camera, an alarm clock, a Rolodex (remember those!?), a journal, a notebook, a diary, a shopping list, a watch, or a music player! These are all great woman on phonetechnology improvements and benefits that have occurred over the past decade. While the emergence of the smartphone has had tremendously positive impacts in so many areas, and has helped make the world more connected than ever before, there are unfortunately many negative consequences that have accompanied the evolution of the modern day mobile telephone.

  1. Addiction – dopamine and serotonin is released when we hear a ping, receive a message, or have a post liked by one of our peers.  Do you think you may be addicted to your phone?  Check out these signs and symptoms.
  2. Reduced productivity in the workplace – due to problems associated with number woman holding phone at computerone, addiction, it is very possible that you could spend more time on your phone than you do in face to face interactions.  And I’m not just talking about work-related items; answering texts, personal calls, checking Facebook and other social media, as well as news updates coming through almost by the hour can eat up a huge chunk of time each day.
  3. Dangerous driving and an increased number of accidents – this is something that constantly amazes me.  There have been so many senseless deaths and injuries due to cell phone use while driving – so why do people still do it?  NOTHING is that important, but if you feel like it is, PULL OVER!
  4. Poorer social skills – it is so aggravating and rude when you are speaking to someone and their phone rings and all of a sudden it’s like you are no longer there!  Why do phones get priority over people?
  5. Cyberbullying – this is obviously a huge problem, with adults and children alike.  cyberbullying-victimization-20152Having all social media and communication available to us 24/7 makes this so much easier.  If people took the time to think about what they were going to say before they started typing, perhaps the problem wouldn’t be so big, but cell phones do not require that we take that time allowing for immediate, and often rash, responses.
  6. Increased crime – people always know where you are because you constantly check in or post a picture of your dinner.  And how often do you see your friends posting pictures of their children in front of their school?  Anyone who wants to find you can do so, at any time.
  7. Health issues – from minor issues such as back and neck pain due to being hunched over a phone all day to major issues such as cancer, there are a number of health issues associated with cell phone usage that should not be ignored.
  8. Disruption of sleep – exposure to blue light can cause us to not sleep as well as possible, while constant updates coming through buzzing at us through the night will disrupt our sleep patterns.
  9. We are always connected – this leads to increased stress as it is nearly impossible to disconnect from work, and the world in general.
  10. More distracted and less interactive with those around us – it’s amazing to me the family-on-phonesnumber of parents glued to their phones while their kids are playing at the park.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the urge.  Your kids are occupied, you have a second to breathe, what a perfect time to check your email!  But as we know, it only takes one second for a child to be hurt, or even worse, taken by a stranger!  Not to mention, they know when you are focused on your phone instead of them, and we certainly don’t want to give them the impression that a phone is more important than they are.

This is a great video that takes a look at millenials and cell phone usage.  I recommend the whole thing, but the cell phone segment begins at 3:20 – take a look!

What problems have you encountered due to increased cell phone usage?  Put your thoughts in the comment section below!