On the firing line
September 3rd – day three of our eastbound 2021 Cross Country Adventure. We stopped for lunch at the Yreka, CA Black Bear Diner. When we walked into the crowded restaurant, Nick, his first day on the job, smiled and with a warn friendly voice said, “I can help you find a booth.” We were hungry and ordered as soon as we were seated.
I began noticing people looking past us at something outside. I looked out, saw a white, late model SUV with smoke billowing from under the hood. It was obvious that the car’s engine was on fire. The owners of the car were in a panic trying to get all their valuables out before it was too late. The car would soon be burnt to a crisp.
Nick didn’t hesitate. Like Clark Kent after a few seconds in a telephone booth, Nick grabbed a fire extinguisher, rushed through the crowded restaurant, out the door, popped the hood, and put out the fire!
The car’s fire was out before any emergency vehicles could respond. By my count, five emergency vehicles with sirens and flashing lights arrived shortly after Nick had put the fire out.
Whenever we use a key term, especially a subjective term like quality, it’s important to have an established working definition for the term. After all, quality standards for a Rolls Royce Phantom and quality for a Chevy Spark are miles apart. The customer has higher expectations for the quality of the Rolls Royce than you do for the Chevy.
Turbo Leadership Systems defines quality as:
“The highest possible quality,
at the lowest effective cost,
with the fastest customer response time.”
When you go to a fast-food restaurant, you have certain expectations for the speed of your entrée. When you dine at a family restaurant, different expectations and when you choose up-scale fine dining, you have still another set of expectations for the speed of your service. Speed is always a factor in the customer’s definition of quality.
To meet your customer’s quality expectations, you must beat your competitor’s response speed. To do this, you must learn to take the initiative. When things are on “fire,” there is no time for a team meeting. No time for reaching a consensus decision. You must act!
For your team to meet your customer’s ever-increasing demands for speed of service, take the initiative. Someone is watching, waiting for you to seize the initiative, overcome inertia, like Nick, and put out the fire.
P.S. October 12, while writing this Turbocharger, I called The Black Bear and was happy to learn Nick had already been promoted!