Just four weeks ago, I wrote a blog titled “Knowing When to Cut Ties with an Unresponsive Custom Install Prospect.” Back on July 1, I had yet to receive a payment for the several site visits and two rounds of estimates. I was ready to write off the project and any hope of getting paid. How quickly things change. Just two weeks later, the client has hand delivered a check for the initial estimate fees plus a small retainer to show good faith. Last week we started the pre-wire after receiving the full initial deposit and a signed contract.
Not only was the client profusely happy that we were able to schedule him in so quickly, as the construction is moving forward and walls are starting to be closed up, but he pulled me aside and told me how much he trusted me. He had made changes to the contract and he stated that he would normally not have provided the full deposit without all contract changes executed and a finalized product list (he’s changing the size of some TVs and a few other things), but he really appreciates how professional my team has been through the process. He called us the most reliable and professional company on the renovation project. I was so proud of my team and so pleased to hear that from a customer, that it made me almost forget all of the hassles of getting the initial payment. Well, almost… I’m still going to make sure we are fully paid before moving on to future phases.
But his glowing words and the impact it had on me reminded me how important it is to provide positive reinforcement in all aspects of business and life, including (and most importantly) our employees. It’s critical to give feedback, both positive and constructive to every employee on a regular basis. This is something that has been reinforced not only by my interactions with this client, but also by Mark Feinberg, the owner of Home Theater Advisors. Mark was previously in Corporate America and managed large teams of professionals. He has an MBA and went through many management-training programs provided by his employers. He is also an enormous supporter of regular reinforcement.
One of the most important comments he ever made to me was “Money attracts, it doesn’t motivate or retain”. By that he meant that people may come to work for you for more money, but throwing more money at them every time they seem unhappy or to reward them or they comment about pay only has a short-term effect. You need to find other ways to motivate and retain them. They stay with you because they are happy and you provide a positive, engaging work environment.
Here are my six suggestions for creating this time of climate for your team…
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