- Author: Noah Rickun
- Subject Matter: Management
- Issue: Employee morale
This month’s article is a bit of fun, a bit of made-for-your-entertainment videography and a bit of a business lesson. My team of transmission sales reps destroyed our $2,000 Dell color laser multi-function printer with sledgehammers. Yep. I let them do it. In fact, I watched from my office window and smiled.
Because the printer was causing problems for the team for several months. The sales reps complained of documents not printing, faxes not going through, copies not looking right, time wasted standing around waiting for stuff to work, countless phone calls to IT and so on. I’m sure some of the issues were exaggerated (as they often are), but I could see the frustration on their faces – and I even heard them complain to customers about it on a few calls (as in, “We’re having problems with our fax – it may take me a bit to get this to you”).
I’m a businessman. I invest in technology that increases efficiency and/or improves the customer experience. Sometimes, however, I buy stuff that adds to the fun factor around the office. I’m well aware that few people would consider anything to do with a printer “fun,” but I was able to find a business justification and a fun reason to buy the team a new printer recently.
First, the business: I found a new printer for $900 that had all the bells and whistles. I spent about 15 minutes comparing the stats (first-page output time, print speed in pages per minute, copy speed and fax memory), five minutes determining the annualized cost of replacement toner cartridges and then a minute realizing that the printer was going to pay for itself in under three months. It was a pretty easy decision.
Now, the fun: Nobody knew that I had bought a new printer. Nobody knew that I had even paid attention to all the complaints. And, nobody was prepared for what I did at the company holiday party. Just when you’d think the party could not get any better, I rolled in a big package (covered by a black tablecloth) and unveiled the new printer for all to see. The amazing food, open bar, table-tennis tournament, and fabulous cash and prizes all paled in comparison to the new printer. You just had to be there.
Finally, the outcome: The team had a blast. They went all “Office Space” on the printer and they loved every minute of it. Morale is up, everything is printing smoothly and we’re back to selling transmissions. Now, if I could just get the new printer to print money …
So, what’s the lesson? Something relatively trivial to you (the boss) may be very important to your employees. Sometimes you have to give them what they want so they can give you what you want – better morale, happier customers, more sales.
Noah Rickun, aka Captain Reman, is the vice president of sales & distribution at ETE Reman. An aftermarket veteran, Captain Reman is known for sharing his sales, business and customer-service knowledge weekly through the e-newsletter Reman U.