Build Your Business with Gratitude Chains™ - Part III
FEBRUARY 28, 2008David J. Pollay, HappyNews ColumnistThe third in a three-part series on building gratitude in your life and business.
Our three-part series on gratitude has focused on building Gratitude Chains™ in your life to increase your happiness. Today we’re going to focus on how you can create Gratitude Chains™ to support your business. Remember you create Gratitude Chains™ in your life when you cultivate three things: (1) Awareness of what and for whom you are grateful, (2) Curiosity about what they do that makes you feel grateful, or what makes something you value possible, and (3) Memory of what is good about these individuals or things by engaging in gratitude practices. I interviewed Arthur J. Kobacker earlier this year in his home. Art was 83 when he passed away on July 12, 2007. Art was a philanthropist with his wife Sara Jo. One of Art’s most personally rewarding endeavors involved providing the initial funding (and supplemental annual funds) to build and support The Village Academy, a K-12 school in the heart of Delray Beach, Florida’s inner city. Art was also a successful businessman who sold his Kobacker Shoe Company (679 stores in 31 states) in 1994 to Payless ShoeSource Inc. In our two hour interview Art shared some of his experiences in business and in life. Art believed in the importance of building Gratitude Chains™ in business (although he used his own words to describe the idea). He believed that successful business leaders should always connect directly with their customers and their employees.So let’s look at a Gratitude Chain™ focused on business. And we’ll include Art’s insights to illustrate each part of the Gratitude Chain™ building process.Step 1: Cultivate Awareness Spend time in your stores. Visit your customer service centers. Art told me about a time when an international group of businessmen arrived for a week-long visit with him, but they arrived on the wrong week. And Art was out of town visiting a store. So Art’s office called his wife Sara Jo to ask if she knew where he was.Art said, “I remember my wife started calling stores…and she reached the store in Portsmouth, Virginia, talked to a very nice store manager, and she said, “Is Mr. Kobacker there?" And he said, "No, he’s not."
"And had he been there?"
"Is he expected?"
And this manager said, "He is always expected.”Step 2: Cultivate CuriosityAsk your customers what they value. Ask them what they like best about your products and services. Ask them what they would like you to improve. Talk to your employees. Ask them how they best take care of your customers. Ask them what helps them support your customers the most, and what makes it hard for them to do their job. Art said to me, “If you ask the right questions, you get the right answers, and you find out where you are making mistakes and where you are doing things that are right, and you might expand on them. And I just learned a whole lot from doing that. Visiting stores, meeting with people, and the store employees, and the store manager, and talking to customers were the high points of my retail experience.”
Step 3: Cultivate MemoryRecognize publicly and privately the employees who best service your customers. Include “great service” stories in your talks and interviews; spread the word that customer service is prized in your company. And pay personal visits to your best employees. “We had a particular store manager by the name of Bob Mallick,” Art remembered.“And he was... in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania in a Picway Shoe Store, and I used to say at various times, "Let’s fly to Belle Vernon and worship at the seat of Bob Mallick." So here we would come flying in on a plane with our head of store operations, and our regional vice president, and the district supervisor for that area, and the men’s buyer, and the women’s shoe buyer, and the children’s shoe buyer, etc. And we would all arrive in the store, and we would ask Bob Mallick, ‘"What do you need?”Art concluded, “I always felt that I could learn so much from a store manager who had to deal with the customer every day, all day long.”Gratitude Chains™ Build Your BusinessThe best leaders build Gratitude Chains™ in their business. They make it clear what they value. Arthur J. Kobacker knew how to build Gratitude Chains™ in business. And the beauty of Art was that he knew how to build Gratitude Chains™ at home and in the community. Increase your gratitude: Build Gratitude Chains™ in business and in life.
David J. Pollay is a syndicated columnist with North Star Writers Group, creator and host of “The Happiness Answer™” television program, an internationally sought after speaker and seminar leader, and the author of “Beware of Garbage Trucks!™ - The Law of the Garbage Truck™.” Mr. Pollay is the founder and president of TheMomentumProject.com, a strengths-based training and consulting organization with offices in Delray Beach, Florida and Washington, D.C. Mr. Pollay is also the associate executive director of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). Email him at david @ themomentumproject.com.