This is my first blog post, and I am very excited about being able to express myself more than once every 6 months through my Newsletter "Grass Clippings". In my 59 years on this earth, I've encountered a ton of mediocrity in this world, and it is one of the few things in life that bothers me. My good friend (and the only person who has cut my hair since I was 16) Clem and I often discuss the "meaning of life" in his barber chair, and he told me once that he gets really bothered when he sees his trash man spilling garbage or leaving his trash cans in the street. "Howard" he said, "It doesn't matter what a person does, but he should do a good job at it - even a trash man", and he is 100% right! That goes for bridal store owners and it certainly goes for Sales Reps.
What makes a good sales rep? Is he responsive to his customers? Does he follow up in a timely fashion. Does he support his stores' best interests in dealing with his companies? Is he knowledgeable about his product and his industry? Is he professional? I'm sure you could add a lot to this list, and I hope that I would get a "good grade" in this regard. But something happened last week that led me this theme for my first blog post…
I live in Philadelphia, and only have a few accounts in upstate NY, which is the most distant part of my territory. I usually save this area for the end of the Fall season, partly because of the weather and partly because I am a creature of habit and have always travelled my territory this way. Having higher priced bridal lines like Paloma Blanca and Mikaella, combined with the fact that I see a few of my NY stores at market, I ended up with only 3 stores I needed to visit last week - one in Syracuse, one in Rochester, and one in Buffalo. So I scheduled all 3 appointments for Wednesday and Thursday, and planned on leaving Tuesday in my car for my first appointment on Wednesday. On Tuesday morning (within 30 minutes of each other) I received 2 phone calls canceling my Syracuse and Rochester appointments, leaving me with one appointment in all of upstate NY - and it was in Buffalo! Take a look at a map… West Chester, PA to Buffalo, NY is a 9 hour drive, and I would have had to turn around and drive home 9 hours right after the appointment .
I knew that if I called my Buffalo account and told her I would need to drive 18 hours in 2 days to see only her, that she would have ABSOLUTELY told me "we could do it over the phone". When I was very sick 3 years ago and was not able to get to Buffalo, we did work over the phone - and it sufficed under the circumstances. But I was not sick last week and this is a very important account (all of my stores are important). Anyone who has seen the type of presentation materials Paloma Blanca and Mikaella gives me to allow my stores who don't go to market to make good buying decisions know that it it is MUCH more advantageous to use my folders to pick their samples in person - as opposed to ordering from a catalog.
To be truthful, I didn't drive 18 hours in 2 days to see one store, but I DID keep the appointment. I ended up booking a last minute flight from Phila to Buffalo (through Detroit), rented a car (which I never do), arrived at my store at 9AM and had a very productive meeting. I then drove to the airport, took 2 weather delayed flights to get back to Philadelphia, and got home around 2AM. Now no one needs to feel sorry for Howard Grass. He has a great job that he loves, works for 4 great bosses, and earns a nice living. I don't regret for one minute the decisions I made that Tuesday - to keep the appointment instead of canceling it and working over the phone, nor the decision to book a flight last minute rather than drive - because it allowed me to live up to my own standard for life in general - and for work specifically: Do things THE RIGHT WAY! HG