Making our work meaningful is one of 9 Core Values at ECRS. If you think about it, the transformative nature of free enterprise provides us with endless opportunity to find meaning in our work, such as helping our community become more prosperous, creating decent jobs with good benefits, and creating innovative and exciting products. Yes, point-of-sale and supply chain automation are exciting to some, including me. However, I personally find the most meaning in my long-term customer relationships.
Becoming your customers’
P-51 fighter escort
Finding meaning in our customer relationships starts with delivering real value, but it’s more than just that. It also means being a trusted and stalwart ally in an increasingly hostile business climate, being there for our customers as they face steep business challenges, and working together to solve real issues. A good way to describe it would be how the US B-17 Bomber crews must have felt during WWII, when they saw the P-51 Mustang fly up over their shoulder to safely escort them through their incredibly dangerous missions. I imagine the P-51 pilots felt a deep sense of meaning knowing that they made the difference between life or death for each of the brave B17 crews they were there to protect. While I’m sensitive to the fact that business is not war, I find meaning, knowing that what I do helps my customers succeed in their mission.
We first need to deliver value before we can become the trusted P-51 ally, yet it’s hard to build a win-win, value-centered relationship when you’re sprinting from one quarter to the next, chasing unrealistic sales goals. While your customer is trying to solve long-term issues, you’re too busy focused on the pending month end to dive deep with them. This is a problem that plagues the health of American business today, and it’s a ridiculous way to to run a company. Frankly, my team knows I don’t care about quarterly numbers. My experience has shown that the numbers follow not too far behind, when real problems are solved and value is consistently delivered. This is the major benefit of having a clean balance sheet and simplified private ownerships, allowing your team to focus on your customers first, and the numbers come second. If you want to solve real problems, you’ve got to dive deeper, and you can only do that if you’re focused on customers’ needs first and foremost.
More walking and less talking
It’s no secret that many of our customers enjoy visiting ECRS, here in Silicon Hollar. It’s a great opportunity for them to get away from their business, review our latest developments and see leading edge retail technology in our lab and local test stores. Sometimes it might mean getting out of the office, replacing our work wear with hiking gear and just walking together through the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. My favorite hike is close by, from Moses Cone Manor to the Fire Tower, just 2.5 miles up hill and back down the same way, on some of the easiest, most pleasant carriage roads you can imagine. The sheer beauty of the old Moses Cone estate, now a Federal Park, has a way of slowing everything down and disarming people. During these walks, it’s easy for me to stop talking and just listen and learn. I’ve found the hiking time shared with my customers gives me the opportunity to better understand their perspective, and I’ve yet to come away without a new idea of how I can better serve them.
Enjoying the view together
The best part of our hike together comes when we climb the stairs of that fire tower and share the amazing panoramic 50 mile view. So don’t forget to stop and take time to celebrate a shared successful outcome. When we celebrate together, good friendships and meaningful business relationships can blossom, renew and prepare us all for the next mission just up ahead.