Recently Lynnda and I were watching one of the TV cable news shows. A man was sharing a new idea, “You should talk to your customers to understand what they think.” I started laughing. What a novel idea. Companies should actually talk to the people buying their products to get their opinions. I’ve only been doing it for over 40 years. Any successful salesperson or sales trainer understands the importance of talking to their customers and asking questions. If I want to know how Lynnda feels about anything I need to talk to her and listen to what she says. Making assumptions about what people think can make us look like a fool, especially if we have the opportunity to talk to them.
As a young manager I was fortunate to have some good mentors. When my manager in Pittsburgh was coming to visit he would call ahead and tell me he was coming and then add, “Can you set up some customers for us to have lunch or dinner with?” He understood we were in a people business and customers were essential. He always said, “Without customers they don’t need you and me.”
Employees are just as important. Employees who are capable, dependable, motivated, who care about the job they do make companies successful. The late Zig Ziglar, sales expert, author and professional speaker said, “You can have anything you want if you first help enough other people get what they want.” How do you know what your customers or employees want? You need to get to know them. Treat them with respect and importance. Talk with them. You can have anything you want if you first help enough other people get what they want.
In business focusing on others needs ahead of our own is essential for success. Shale Crescent USA has been working with a number of overseas companies since the Select USA conference in June. We had a Zoom meeting with another European company this week. If we want to see high wage jobs and economic development in our region from this company, we first need to help them and others like them to be successful. We need to understand their needs and what is important to them. We need to know about their ideal customer, their raw material, energy, environmental needs and other things of importance to them. We can then help them or introduce them to people in our large network who can be of assistance to them.
Currently most of the foreign companies Shale Crescent USA is working with who are looking to come to our region are European. They are worried about energy and raw materials. Energy and raw materials in Europe are expensive and availability is also an issue. Their natural gas costs roughly 10 times what it costs us here. They like the idea of selling into the large U.S. market by being close to their customers and eliminating ocean shipping costs which are still three to four times more expensive then pre-pandemic cost according to this company.
Right behind these issues companies are concerned with the availability of qualified workers to build and operate their facility. Jobs are already coming to the region and one of the biggest concerns we hear from most companies is a need for people. At a conference this week one employer said his biggest concern used to be avoiding layoffs. For the first time they have had to turn down business because they can’t find enough workers. What can be done to find and attract workers? This is a problem looking for solutions. Here is just one thought.
Back in my corporate life I worked for a company who publicly stated employees were their most important asset. This was true for years. The leadership changed and people became numbers. Their best people left to work for competitors or other greener pastures. They lost market share and closed many of their locations. The new leadership never understood, they could have anything they wanted if they first helped enough people get what they want. I was one of the many who left.
Employers have a challenge with at least four different generations in the workforce who look at work differently. Since the pandemic thousands have left the workforce. My guess is unless they had enough money to retire they are still out there doing something to earn a living. Are they working 2 or 3 part time jobs? Have they started their own business and are working for themselves? Under what conditions might they be enticed to return to the workforce? A little effective communication might reveal some answers. Companies who figure out what some of these people want and find a way to give it to them may solve their employee problem.
Lynnda and I visited a company whose home office is in Florida earlier this year. They have a location in West Virginia and are looking to expand. They let us visit with the project leaders at their tech center. These people were engaged and excited about the work they were doing. We noticed the owners referred to their employees as partners. They were more like a family than a business. The owners found out how to give their people want they wanted. At lunch I asked if they were having trouble finding people in this job market. “No. We actually have people waiting to come to work here when we have an opening.”
Zig Ziglar said years ago, “You can have anything you want if you first help enough other people get what they want.” This means putting others before ourselves. It is true in sales, in business and in our personal relationships. Can companies use this same idea to keep and acquire the employees they need?
Greg Kozera, [email protected] is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.