Working smarter

A few weeks ago I wrote about the benefits that come from completing a Franklin Electric 2207 Submersible Motor Installation Record for each and every installation. Last week, while visiting a large contractor in the southwestern US, I saw a variation on that theme.

That part of the country has some of the toughest conditions anywhere, so the contractor puts a flow sleeve (shroud) on each large submersible he installs–every single one. Then at the installation, not only does he complete a 2207, but he also marks the shroud in heavy, permanent marker with all the pertinent information about that installation. He includes the customer name, order/job number, date installed, location, water depth, GPM, etc. Even if he loses that 2207, he still has a downhole record in the event he ever has to pull that pump.

Sure, this means a little more work at the time of installation, but it can save valuable time down the road. If that unit ever has to come out of the hole, it’s easy to tell which one is which when it ends up in a pile of others back on the shop floor. A shroud and a Sharpie might be all it takes to cut your administrative time by a bundle.

I learn something new whenever I spend time in the field. This contractor reminded me of the value of working smarter, not harder. If you’ve got tips and tricks you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear them.

Credit where credit is due

One of the most important practices in business is to recognize your employees for the job they do. Give them credit when they deserve it. I could find a lot of well-researched arguments about the psychological and performance benefits of doing so, but that’s not where I’m headed. It’s just the right thing to do, and when you find the right guy, you just can’t help it.

That guy is Keith Hall. After 43 years of service to Franklin Electric, Keith is retiring from his position as training manager and field service engineer, and I will feel his loss deeply.

Many people probably think Keith has always been part of Franklin’s field service organization. In fact, that’s not the case. Keith is living proof that you sometimes find your best people in the most unlikely places. He actually came to our field service organization after working for over 30 years at our 4-inch motor manufacturing facility in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He had worked his way up to operations supervisor, insuring that over 1 million motors a year were manufactured with exacting adherence to Franklin Electric’s Key Factors of Quality, Availability, Service, Innovation, and Value.

As part of that job, Keith would conduct our plant tours during our FranklinTECH classes. Somewhere along the line, people started to notice that this unassuming guy who knew his stuff blindfolded also had a way with people. In 2004, someone suggested, “You know, Keith Hall does a great job with the plant tours. He’s really good at talking to our contractor guests. They like him, and he seems to enjoy them as well. Wonder if he might want to join field service?” Continue reading

We’re not selling pumps

Pay attention to any commercial or look at any advertisement, and you can quickly discern what they are really selling. You also quickly realize that hardly anyone is actually trying to sell that product itself. They are really selling something else, and their product is the way to get it. Examples are countless:

  • Cadillac doesn’t sell cars or even transportation. They sell luxury and prestige.
  • Most fitness clubs don’t sell any kind of strenuous exercise. They sell “how good you’re going to look if you just come in and join.”
  • Dentists don’t sell cleaning or tooth restoration. They sell smiles.
  • McDonald’s doesn’t sell food. They sell fuel to get you through your day.
  • 7-Eleven stores don’t sell soft drinks or candy bars or cans of motor oil. They sell convenience and location.
  • Infomercials sell how much better your life is going to be if you would just pick up that phone and order this product.
  • And finally, Apple doesn’t sell devices. They sell “up-to-date and cool.”

The list is endless, and it’s a great starting point to help us think about our own industry in these terms. What does our industry sell? What is our real product?

We sell something very real and tangible and needed, but it’s not pumps or pressure tanks or even the drilling service itself. Very simply, we provide water. People count on us for the reliable delivery of water to their homes, farms, schools, and businesses. They count on us every time they turn on a tap, take a shower, water their lawns, cool their machinery, and wash down their work surfaces. And we give it to them, using the highest quality products, with expert installation and maintenance. Our industry doesn’t sell pumps. We provide much, much more.

Next time you’re in front of your customer, don’t forget what you’re really selling.

Armed and dangerous

Competition has never been tougher, in this industry or any other. A struggling economy tends to quickly separate the good from the bad, the experts from the posers, the leaders from the followers. Unless you actively distinguish yourself from the next guy–and live up to your promises–you could easily find yourself outside the fray. These days, you have to earn your spot on the squad.

That’s why it is so important to take advantage of every resource available that can improve your game.

Thankfully, those resources abound, especially in the electronic world. Manufacturers, including Franklin, offer a wealth of product information online and in hard copy. Find out what’s new and understand how to apply it in traditional and non-traditional ways to solve problems for your customers. Training seminars practically fall out of the sky; state, regional, and national associations offer sessions at every meeting. Distributors provide training opportunities at their open houses and at scheduled events throughout the year. Manufacturers, too. Local chambers of commerce provide business insights and networking opportunities in a variety of formats from structured events to mixers to one-on-one consulting. Online forums and blogs allow you to see who is talking about what, both on the supply side and the consumer side. You can easily identify problems and solutions that might be relevant to your area, simply by staying abreast of the world around you. Continue reading