Category Archives: Business practices

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!


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!


Conference calls: Are they worth it?

If you ever find yourself on conference calls, I am sure you will be able to totally relate to the video below. This is a classic example of something that is seen as being important and necessary for a company to function, but something that has the chance to negatively impact all parties involved. When I watch this video I immediately get flashbacks to previous companies where conference calls were a frequent occurrence.

Anyone who has taken part in a conference call knows that this video is not just trying to be funny.  These things do actually occur, and at the end of the meeting you end up feeling like you have just wasted an hour of your work day that could have been spent in a much more useful manner.  Instead of spending your valuable time on conference calls such as this, here are some alternative ideas that could be very beneficial to your company!

  1. Video conferencing – Skype or other teleconferencing tools are a great solution as everyone can see each other, which will remove some of the difficulties shown in the video.
  2. In person meetings – when possible, meet in person.  If you have an hour or so drive, having one in-person meeting a month will accomplish much more than meeting four times a month over the phone in many situations.
  3. Smaller, more personalized calls – try having fewer people on the call.  Make sure you only have absolutely essential people involved, and avoid bringing those on the line that don’t have much to contribute.  If you only include two or three people, those people can in turn send out a summary of the meeting to those who weren’t involved.
  4. Collaborative work documents – Google Docs, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, etc. are all great options for collaborating through online documents rather than over the phone or even in person.  They give people a chance to really think about their responses as opposed to shouting out the first thing that comes in their mind.

The main thing that I would suggest is to be as efficient as possible and don’t just have meetings for the sake of having meetings. Have an agenda and objectives, and stick to the tasks at hand.  Also, stress to the members of the group the importance of timeliness.  Start the meeting on time, and if people are late do not go back and recap what you have already discussed.  This is especially frustrating for those of us who show up on time and have to listen to something two, or even three times!

Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to conference calls, or tips for making conference calls more effective?  If so, put them in the comments below!  And as always, Expect the Exceptional every day!

Dedication & diligence in the workplace

Dedicated employees are the driving force behind any successful company.  Dedication can be described as an “exceedingly strong feeling of support and loyalty for something or someone.”  When your employees are loyal to your business, it usually means that they love what they are doing and have a vested interest in the company doing well.

You can recognize a dedicated employee by noticing the first people to show up and woman on computer in bedthe last to leave at the end of the day.  These employees will typically continue working once they get home, as they experience great pleasure with the success of the company’s success, as well as their own.  These added hours are not put in due to a fear of losing their job, it is just that they truly enjoy what they are doing and have trouble putting their work away.


Here are 12 characteristics displayed by loyal employees who are described as being “dedicated”:

  • An infectious passion for work and belief in the company’s mission and vision
  • Steers clear of negativity and drama, instead focusing on positive ideas
  • A positive attitude in personal interactions with teammates and clients
  • Punctuality at all times for work, meetings and functions
  • High attendance and low absenteeism at work
  • Knows the history, mission, values and vision of the business
  • Frequently shares new ideas and ways in which the company can grow
  • Flexibility and excitement when it comes to change
  • Incredible work ethic
  • Always manages to get things done, regardless of obstacles they may face
  • Leaves work when the job is complete, not when the clock strikes 5pm
  • Continually looks for ways to improve individually so that they can contribute more


On the flip side, burnout is a common trait among employees who have been in their position for an extended period of time.  If you notice a high rate of turnover, it’s probably time to examine where the problem lies and make changes accordingly.  It could be a simple matter of employees being in the wrong position at your company and a few lateral changes may just do the trick.

It is possible to love the actual work that you are doing, but have major problems in your current work environment.  I was in a position previously that made me miserable.  I shed many tears and suffered major stress over finding a new job, if only for my sanity.  When my husband asked me what I would like to do, I realized that I really enjoyed the actual work I was doing; the problem was WHERE I worked and those that I worked with.  That was very eye-opening and led me to hasten my retreat so I could find something that made me happier.  As an employer, it’s important to ask yourself if you are creating a positive workplace environment that nurtures those who love what they are doing, and in turn leads to positive growth in your business.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter, so please share your comments below. What are some ways in which you research a company prior to joining to make sure that you have a strong chance of loving your job and sticking around for multiple years? As an employer, what do you do to create a positive environment that encourages people to stick around because they love their job? Where have you previously worked where you experienced burnout? Until next time, have a brilliant week and in everything that you do, Expect the Exceptional.




Is your brain getting mushy?

The skills gap has been a hot topic among business leaders, educators, and politicians over the last several years. According to a recent study by Career Builder, a company on average loses more than $14,000 for every job that says vacant longer than three months. Rather than waiting for the perfect employee to come along, we suggest you consider utilizing professional development to build the skill sets you need in your organization.  Below are just five of the many benefits professional development can provide for your business.

1. Increase Retention

In an era where more and more employers are cutting costs by taking away giving a presentationopportunities like training, your organization can stand out from the rest by offering and promoting some professional development options. Offering professional development shows your workers that you care about their career progression and are interested in keeping them at your organization long-term.

2. Make succession planning easier

Professional development programs are great tools for training future leaders at your organization. Rather than hiring outside the business, promoting from within is a great way to show your staff that they can have a long career with your organization. It can also reduce the knowledge gaps that are inevitable with turnover and outside hires. By choosing professional development programs that help your employees master skills they need to progress, you can shape the development of your future leaders.

3.  Re-energize your staff

Get-Moving-at-Work-to-Prevent-Varicose-VeinsProfessional development can help break up the monotony of everyday work and re-energize your staff’s creativity. Providing periodic professional development can also help your staff gain new skills and perspectives, which can translate into how they approach their jobs.  It also allows for discussion among peers, giving employees a chance to bounce ideas off of and learn from one another.

4.  Give your employees an edge


Professional development can give your employees the confidence to step into a role they may not normally have the courage to take.  This can lead directly back to number two, allowing you to hire from within rather than find someone brand new.

5. Keep minds active

There are many studies that discuss the importance of keeping your mind active, cube-2582067_960_720essentially “exercising” your brain the way you exercise your body.  Personally, I feel my brain getting “mushy” if I am not learning something new.  After I graduated with my bachelor’s, I looked forward to returning to school to complete my master’s degree, as school kept me sharp in all aspects of my life.  But now that I am finished with schooling, and have no plans to return, I need to look for new ways to keep my brain active.  The Brain Yoga app on my phone helps a little, but I need something more, and I imagine your employees do as well. Professional development is a great way to keep your employees sharp and teach them new skills at the same time.


Hopefully these ideas will give you some inspiration for some additional education for your team.  And if you are a member of a team that could use some extra knowledge, this is a great thing to recommend to your boss, and will show initiative on your part!


Mistakes are inevitable, so how do you handle them?

Life happens. Despite the best laid plans, hours of preparation, and having the best there is on the case, life always manages to throw curve balls our way. If adequate preparation has been done, and high quality back up plans are in place, we are often able to overcome the smaller issues. However, there are those days when things do not go correctly, and it seems that everything you touch goes from bad to worse. These are the moments in which our character is truly revealed.


Unfortunately, as soon as some people experience a couple of challenging situations, they psychologically convince themselves that they cannot turn things around, and they start flying the white flag. There are others who continue striving to find a solution while blaming everyone else for the problem, and cursing about how it’s always them that has all the bad luck. Then there are those special people who despite the hurdles they face, they own the task at hand and do what is needed to get to where they need to be.

Today, we are going to look at some ways in which businesses rely on their employees to go above and beyond the call of duty to overcome issues that stand in their way. No matter what industry you are involved in, mistakes are inevitable, so you might as well embrace them and turn them into something positive!

Apologize – Show that you care about what happened and let those involved know that sorryyou are sorry for what happened.

Communication – When things aren’t going well, it’s definitely time to share the problem, rather than burying your head in the sand. There is often the feeling of failure and the fear that you are going to be dressed down for the way that you handled things, but if you are up front and honest it often diffuses the situation and makes others aware that you are in need of support. It is also a great way to develop trust in a relationship as you are not trying to hide things. A recent example of this was when a service provider was due to call me but completely forgot. Instead of creating some bogus story he immediately apologized, took responsibility, and said that he had just forgotten. You might not think that this is a great way to grow your business, but the honesty and this genuine approach sold me on what a relationship would look like with this company.

Owning it – We have all been there. As a kid you were sat in a classroom and the class clown decides that now is a good time to play a prank. The teacher is upset and demands that the perpetrator make themselves known. They keep quiet and the entire class is punished for one person’s misbehavior. Immaturity frequently plays a part in the behavior of people in these situations, but the culprit is almost guaranteed to be found out. Frequently it’s due to one of their peers sharing the information with the teacher as they are not prepared to suffer the consequences of someone else’s poor decision. When this information surfaces, the child in question is now likely to be reprimanded in a greater way than before for the time they wasted. Admit that you made the mistake before someone comes to you knowing that you are responsible.

Approach – Most people see making mistakes as a big negative that should be avoided at all costs. However, this frequently isn’t the case, as most mistakes are just small steps along a bigger journey and in the end they are essentially irrelevant. Everest is the world’s highest peak and many people over time have attempted to make it to the summit. In total, 29,029 feet above sea level in the Himalayas. More than 290 people have lost their life while attempting to scale Everest. There was obviously the challenge involved in the climb, the reward of becoming one of the few to make it to the summit, the journey and obstacles along the way, the dedication and determination involved in preparing for the climb, and the opportunity to prove people wrong who doubted your abilities. These 290+ people all had their reasons, and going into the adventure knew that there was a huge amount of risk involved. However, they went for it in search of the great reward. Even though Everest took their life, I believe many of these courageous adventurers wouldn’t view this as a mistake as they died doing something that they were truly passionate about.

Progress – If you are afraid of making mistakes, then the chances are you won’t get out of your comfort zone, and your life and/ or career will become stagnant. Most of the most famous and successful people of all time are those who took risks, made huge mistakes, but took the knowledge gained from them to catapult them to success.

Keep things in perspective – It can be difficult to maintain a sense of perspective when perspectiveyou’re upset with yourself, but try to make sure your emotional response is proportional to the mistake that you made. Making an error at work typically is not a life-or-death situation, unless you are a surgeon, a Nascar driver, or a pilot, and most mistakes can be resolved quickly. So you forgot to include an attachment, you accidentally included someone on an email that shouldn’t have been there , you were late for a presentation, or included a typo in an important report. You’re still alive. No one was mortally wounded. On the freeway of life, this is a parking ticket, not a multiple car pile-up.

Create a safety net/ build up credit – The best way to earn people’s trust and admiration is to consistently deliver great work and go above and beyond what is expected. Do this, and occasional bouts of forgetfulness or slip-ups here and there are likely to be quickly forgiven and forgotten.

Learn – one of the most important pieces involved in this whole process. Reflect on what you did, or did not do, and look for ways in which you can prevent, or significantly reduce the chance of this happening again in the future. Look at lessons learned, learnalternative strategies, and how you can turn something negative into something extremely positive.

The best way to earn people’s trust and admiration is to consistently deliver great work. Period. Do that, and occasional bouts of forgetfulness or slip-ups here and there are likely to be quickly forgiven—and forgotten.

Make up for it – We can all say that we are sorry and regret making the mistake, but the key way to bounce back is to make up for it with your actions. Were you the one who forgot to add a crucial document that lead to your company losing a business opportunity? Were you responsible for failing to complete your part of a group project on time? Was it your poor follow up and lack of communication that lost your company a client? In this day and age, these things happen all the time. They are part and parcel of today’s world, and unfortunately no one is immune to them. If you are the one that drops the ball, this is a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship by going above and beyond to wow the other people involved. If you are involved in losing

If you ask most people to think back in their life about mistakes that they made, most people will give you an answer about something that they didn’t do, rather than an issue that arose from something that they did do. This fear and worry is something that controls so many people’s emotions and unfortunately can prevent them from truly making the most of the opportunities that are available to them.

The next time you have worries about making a mistake, step back and think about what the worst thing that could happen is. Often it’s nothing like as bad as you initially thought! Go for it, take that chance, try that new idea at work, share that business idea with your colleagues and as the famous Nike slogan goes, “Just Do It”. If it does turn out to be a mistake with some negative aspects, follow the ideas above and turn it into something positive. Embrace risk and mistakes and see them as opportunities that will help you to progress.

Bonus tip: When you next find yourself in a job interview and are asked about examples of great things that you have done. It definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing to discuss something negative that you managed to turn around with your diligence and problem solving capabilities.

Until next time Expect The Exceptional in everything that you do.