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Are You The Best Industry Executive You Can Be?

BE CREATIVE AND SUCCEED IN A DOWNTURNED ECOMOMY.
The laundry industry desperately seeks a return to stability, respectability and most of all profitability. I would estimate that this yearning will make 2003-2005 the years of deals, beginning with a consolidation trend in which the big get bigger and the others get lost. These mergers must take place in order for the industry to be profitable. There is way too much duplication.

When things shake out, it is likely that only a handful of suppliers will be left standing. So how can industry executives ensure that their company lands on two feet? I believe innovation and customer service will be the key factors in generating future success.

Over the past year I have heard different comments about how slow the sales process has been for our industry. On just about every occasion the sluggish situation is blamed on the economy. Quite simply my recommendation to the industry is to get a wake up call and stop blaming the economy on slow performance, poor performance and growth. Take a look around you, some companies are doing better than others and some are having great years compared to previous years!!

Unfortunately in our industry in particular, when most organizations encounter a reduction in sales, the top executives refuse to change their plan. Usually the top executives simply encourage their sales departments to do more with the segment of the organization that is not as productive as others and then they refuse to spend the money required to get out of the dilemma created. In the midst of their dilemma, they cannot comprehend why they need to change their approach in a more expeditious manner in order to avoid a more severe downturn. In some cases it is often too late to realize that sales practices need to be changed on a regular basis.

There are things that can be accomplished to ensure your sales team has a mindset for continued improvement. To keep poor sales from continually challenging your organization, look at the following examples and make them part of your business practice.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE
For an organization to be successful it must have an unconventional person at the top of the ladder. Such a leader must have a passion for the company and an innovative approach. The leader has an obligation to demonstrate the kind of behavior, attitude, kindness and philosophy that the sales team must employ.

When leaders of companies demonstrate principals of creativity and respect and encourage an open and fun work environment, employee morale and enthusiasm for the company will shine in the eyes of the client. A harsh attitude, lack of respect for others and disorganization will eventually destroy the company no matter how good your product performs, as the clients sees this first and foremost.

It is not the economy that determines success; it is the team that generates the final frontier. What matters is the commitment to initiating change combined with the tolerance for taking risks, dedication to employee training and advancement, and smart leadership. When all these factors come together, you should have a world-class team.

RISK TAKING
If your team is to sell with vigor, the leader must encourage risk talking. Most people are creatures of habit. They call clients the same way they sit at their desk, without excitement and close to being unconscious. When it comes to sales, taking a risk means having the courage to step out of the circle. This is important because people enjoy working with people that are a little zany.

Some good examples of stepping outside of the box include taking a ride on a balloon, going to an amusement park, having a motivational speaker instead of the same old business meeting or training program, writing a letter to a client instead of an e-mail, or better yet, a handwritten note. None of these examples are totally crazy, they do however demonstrate something that could be memorable. Remember when you are average, your team will always be average. And if you look closely, average is closer to the bottom than the top. Whether your team sells washers, dryers, ironers, conveyors, folders, uniform dispensing equipment or carts, taking some risks does beat the normal dull day.

PREPARING FOR CHANGE
There are probably more events represented in this periodical than took place 20 years ago. Our world in the laundry and textiles arena has totally changed. Twenty years ago, who would have thought we would have today’s industry automation? For the technology industry that supports our industry the changes have been even more dramatic. Those who are comfortable with change view this as an opportunity and to adapt new learning experiences with day-to-day
circumstances.

Leaders of companies must encourage change. Leaders must challenge everyone in the organization to be creative and to put this spin on every sales technique that is utilized. One must also find the customer and prepare them for change.

Leaders must reward those who come up with change and innovation. And they should never assume they know all. They know they don’t, never will and shouldn’t even attempt to try to make it look like they do. Leaders realize that they are only as good as the team they are surrounded with. They delegate and let others learn as they have, taking the final say on the big decisions not the small ones.

New things when discovered rarely come without challenges, therefore if something doesn’t work compliment your team anyway, this will encourage them to continue to be innovative.

STIMULATE TRAINING AND EDUCATION
Assuming everyone on your team has raw talent, which hopefully was determined upon employment, they must also have a passion for learning. To insure a stable and proactive, successful organization you must invest in learning.

It is unfortunate but true that most companies in our industry invest in equipment and manufacturing equipment before taking an interest in making sure the team is learning. Be advised that when employees have consistent access to self-improvement, they will usually become more talented and skilled. When you competition is doing this and you are not, you will eventually be the loser.

When planning for education and learning, remember everyone does not need the same application. Keep away from the classroom scenario and target self education. Find out from the source what your sales team requires to get the job done. A good example of this was that recently I was talking to a person who was very successful in selling products and found out that a friend was giving him a Palm Pilot for the holidays. Why didn’t the company know of his needs and provide this? Another example, if someone on your staff has difficulty writing letters provide them some education so that they can improve those skills, this will truly benefit the organization. It is no secret that focused education on the individual eliminates being lazy, reduces boredom and will eventually benefit your organizations. Customers can tell.

SEEK EXTERNAL VIEWS
Never assume everything is going as planned or that your employees are satisfied. And when looking for other views, don’t be afraid to ask others, outside your organization. Never ask for these views from a friend or associate, go to someone who will give you an honest answer. You will be surprised at what you may learn about your organizational structure, your sales team, your ability to market, your ability to deal with Human Resource issues, and most importantly you ability to communicate with your customers.

In conclusion, many suggest that merging into larger companies won’t be sufficient for the laundry industry to thrive in the future. The industry must re-orient to provide an array of new products. It will be important to gain this perspective at the Clean Show in Las Vegas, will customers see the same old stuff, same old displays or will the innovators step out of the box with innovative displays and products that will or may in the future change our industry?

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Charged For A Fire That Killed 2 Firefighters

CHICAGO, Ill. — The owner of an abandoned laundry in which two firefighters died during a fatal fire was charged with criminal contempt because it was alleged that he ignored a court order to secure the laundry building and repair the roof which collapsed during the fire. In addition to the death of two firefighters, 15 other firefighters were injured when the roof collapsed.