The Quinn family summer vacation typically involves a beech. Nowhere in particular but it must have a resort pool, waiters with cocktails, sand and waves. My wife is the one that is in love with the sun but this year she wanted to check something off of her bucket list so we took a trip to Washington D.C. So to bring back a little bit of my third grade assignment of “What did you learn on your summer vacation”, here are 5 things that made a significant impact on me. I hope it means something to you as well.
1. My Father-in-law George Gordon fought in Viet Nam. He came home with two purple hearts and a lot of bad memories. The key here is that he came home. Many have not and many died in a way that they could not be identified properly. The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier is and a great way to pay them tribute. To the members of our military and their families, the Quinn’s are profoundly grateful. What I learned from this stop on the tour…reflect on this sacrifice more often.
2. Many have said that Abraham Licoln is the best President the United States has ever had. After visiting his memorial and learning more about his time as our leader, I understand why people loved him. Can you imagine taking on the issue of slavery back then? Today it would seem inconceivable to most Americans that one human would “own” another. Abe didn’t like it either and pushed through the 13th Amendment to the Constitution Of The United States abolishing slavery. What I learned from Abe…creating change isn’t easy (in a business or a government), so you had better be convicted and willing to sacrifice in order to get what you are after. Abe ultimately gave his life for what he believed in.
3. Apparently Speaker Ryan has better things to do than see me as they kept me waiting for hours outside of his office. Hard to believe they didn’t want to hear some of my thoughts on how they could improve things in D.C. Does everyone get a full blown secret service escort in the Capital Building? Nice of them to show me around.
4. Getting to stand in the presence of the Martin Luther King Memorial was pretty amazing. Dr. King showed us the importance of treating all people with dignity and respect. It’s not that he did it, it’s how he did it that made such an impact on me. Many of the politicians today could learn a lot from studying Dr. King and how he brought people together around an idea. You don’t insert yourself into a group of people and start telling them to follow you. Instead, you get in there and stand shoulder to shoulder with them and work along side of them for the solution. My learning from this stop…if you want to know what REAL leadership looks like for your company, you turn to Martin Luther King. It’s not about dictating terms to get your way. It’s about capturing the hearts and minds of the people around you and getting them to share in your dream. 5. When you tour our nations capital you see a lot of quotes etched into granite. One of my favorites was this one from Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only limitation of our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.” This one made a significant impact on me having just left a great job/company to start a new business. There have been times where I have had some serious doubts about what I am doing. Will it work? If not then what? This doesn’t last too long however because I know if you are ever going to accomplish anything great, that line of thinking will kill you. My learning from this quote…Roosevelt reminded me that “doubt” is the enemy and that FAITH IS A VERB.
In this post I covered about 1/3 of what we actually did on this vacation. We also visited Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and walked around William and Mary College and University of Virginia. Don’t know if you have ever made this trip with your family but I cannot say enough good things about our time on the east coast and encourage you to experience it the way we did. My kids are 14 and 12 and were blown away with what they saw. They have a much deeper appreciate for what our founding fathers sacrificed to create this great nation and what the early settlers did to build the greatest country IN THE WORLD. #proudamerican
Sorry for not posting in the last few weeks and I am going to put it off for one more, but the Quinn summer has been pretty busy so far. Right now I am in the lobby of a hotel getting ready to tour Jamestown so this is going to be short. We have had an incredible trip touring Washington DC and I have much to share so stand by.
The Griswald, I mean the QUINN Family vacation. Not much difference!
One quick thought before I get on the bus. In the past I have written about what it means to get away with the family. It’s not easy to carve out time, put work and life in general on hold, and invest the money to take that vacation but there really is nothing more rewarding than the quality time you get on a trip like that. I hope that you have big plans to see something incredible or even just to go camping for a few days. Whatever it is that you are doing, put the laptop away and invest in the people in your life. The ROI on that is far beyond anything else we are doing!
Gotta go, hope you are having a great summer!
You go on vacation to a certain destination because you maybe read about it, saw it on television, or better yet, a friend has been there and TOLD you all about what an incredible place it was. You buy a new car for similar reasons. You select a service provider in much the same way. So my question to you is what are you doing to earn the word of mouth advertising that is so important to any business?
Do people talk about your products or service? Do they shop with you or look at your website and say, “WOW I HAVE TO TELL SOMEONE ABOUT THIS!” Is the experience that they have with you something that will stay with them and make some sort of impact on how they perceive your category? Do you as a representative of your company give customers a reason to speak up about how great you are?
What are they saying about you?
Some things you might want to know about the power of a referral:
- 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services-making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness.
- 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision.
- 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.
I know that many companies out there are always asking for the referral. “Like us on Facebook.” “Please fill out this survey and tell us how we are doing!” WHY SHOULD I? Why should I invest the time to go on your Facebook page and spend the 4 seconds it might take to like your company? Or even worse take a survey! Want me to give you my friends names and phone numbers so that you can reach out to them and sell them something. NOT A CHANCE. Unless…
Chic-fil-A blows me away every-time I eat there with the kids because the level of service they give here in Joplin rivals that of some of the best steak houses I have ever been to. At a hotel in Colorado I left my keys at a restaurant and the the hotel shuttle bus had shut down for the night. So the valet went and got his personal car and took me back to the restaurant to get my keys so I could leave early in the morning. I like shopping at Zappos because they create cool videos to help me understand their products better and the overall customer service experience is awesome. All of these guys fire me up. Yes I am a dork I suppose, but when someone goes above and beyond the other people in the market, I get excited about what they are doing at which point I am more than happy to spread the word to friends and family. Isn’t this true for you as well?
If all you are doing is making a bed that is pretty much like the rest of them in the market I doubt you are going to get a lot of love from your customers. If the shopping experience in your store is pretty much the same as every other place you go, then don’t hold your breath waiting for the Facebook like. Not only are you NOT going to inspire someone to lift you up to others, you are going to annoy them for asking for something so valuable as their time when you haven’t earned it. Want to create those raving fans that advocate for your brand? Become what you respect most in the companies you love.
UPDATE: A while back I asked you guys to respond to a young man named Richard Croddy who was working on a paper for his school. Richard works for Mattress Express out in Tennessee and needed for some of you to take his survey and you did! Richard completed his paper thanks to you guys and ended up with an “A” on the paper and an “A” in the class. Well done Q’s Views readers, and Mattress Industry Executives on LinkedIn, I appreciate everyone that took part. A special thanks to Sleep Geek for helping me get the word out!
If you listen to some of the top business leaders out there, many of them will tell you about a mentor that they had rising through the ranks. For Bill Gates, it was Warren Buffett. For Jack Welch it was his mother. So what impact can mentors have?
I have had several in my career. Two of them have been involved since the beginning (literally), and a few just in the last decade:
- First my parents. My mother because she taught me about unconditional love, the value of relationships, and helped to teach me structure and how to be organized. Believe me, that was no easy task. My father because he was a business man and I thought he was brilliant when it came to negotiating deals, working hard, and learning your way into things. He actually let me come with him to business meetings and even brought me along for a legal deposition once. I was hooked.
- Perry Davis, my boss at Leggett and Platt taught me a lot as well. Not about marketing because he didn’t know SQUAT about that! (If he happens to read this he will laugh and agree I promise). But what he did teach me was how to measure every action because the ripple effect can directly impact many other things down the road. The other and more important lesson he passed on was how to approach your job with humility. (Yes, I’m still working on this one.) Perry had a big job at Leggett back then, and an even bigger one now. On one of my first trips with Perry we were staying at a condo in Colorado. Perry grabbed our luggage and I grabbed some of the other gear. Perry had placed my suitcase in the first room which was huge, featuring a king sized bed and its own bathroom. I figured that this condo had two master suites but I was wrong. I went to take Perry a beer and he was unpacking his stuff in a room with two twin sized beds. This guy is 6’7″ tall…are you kidding!? Just because you are a big deal, doesn’t mean you have to act like a big deal. I literally had to force him to swap me rooms.
- Karl Glassman was my other mentor at Leggett. Karl also didn’t know SQUAT about marketing but that’s because he and Perry both attended the Paul Hauser school of marketing; and FAILED! (If you know Paul, that last sentence is pretty funny.) Karl did however teach me how to lead people. In addition to Perry, he is also a very humble guy. When you allow people to do their job, encourage good behavior and don’t crucify people when they make a mistake, you can really get some great results. Karl is incredibly intelligent so you had better not try to BS him, but he knows that he is not always the smartest guy in the room and is happy to trust the guy that is on any given subject. He reminds me a lot of my own father and both of them are very generous in every way. You get more when you give.
I will always be grateful to these people that helped to shape my life and business career. The impact they have had on me will last a long time and hopefully benefit others that come into my circle. I know that I would not be where I am today if it were not for their kind hearts and influence. Because of what others have given to me, I try very hard to be that to those that ask it of me. Another mentor of mine from a long time ago was Roxanne Stevens at Sealy who once told me that she thought that her most important job was to help me get better at mine. She did, and I hope to do the same for the people that look to me for help.
How about you? Do you have a mentor that made a big impact on you? Are there people in your universe that would look at you as their mentor? If not, I encourage you to be that to someone because you can usually learn just as much from them as they do from you.
People love to share their stories of catching the big fish, making the big sale, or winning the big game. What we don’t talk about enough is the failure that happens along the way.
I was convinced that our industry was missing it by not having a box spring that delivered value. (I first wrote about this in 2013 so give that a look HERE.) Yes we have the adjustable bed which has been terrific for the industry, but just about everything else under the mattresses these days is basically a space filler; a platform. When I started in the industry I worked for Stearns and Foster and we had an 8-way hand tied foundation that really set us apart from everybody else. We wanted to do something like that with Spink and Edgar so we created the Adaptive Comfort box spring which was basically a wood platform with micro coils on the top to provide additional comfort and durability to the mattress. We wanted to give the rsa more story to set us apart. Good idea. Bad result. (We are taking down the link to Adaptive Comfort box spring on May 12th so if you want to see it, better hurry.)
After touring Sit’N Sleep stores in Los Angeles with my brother Jeff, industry veteran and our local rep Jeremy Bercier, and product developer extraordinaire Eric Johnson, we discovered that our box spring idea was creating problems for the rsa. They would sell Spink and Edgar and the cool new foundation but when they tried to transition them into an adjustable bed base the consumer would ask, “Will this change the feel of my mattress going to a firm platform?” The answer is that it would, and there in lies the problem. We couldn’t create a hurdle for the rsa to get that big ticket sale on the adjustable bed, but if the rsa didn’t sell the benefit of a coiled foundation they would never justify the price/value on the unique design. We had a 20 minute huddle in the store and made the decision to change the spec to a Euro Base, which is a Semi-Flex foundation with a hemp insulator pad that we grow on our farm in England. We still have some story but were able to remove the problem for the rsa.
What is the take away and why am I sharing this fail with you? Because there is something to be learned from it and I want you to benefit from that. The impact it had on me:
- We have to listen to the rsa. Those guys are on the front line and if we are smart we will get them involved in the beginning to help us find the sweet spot.
- We actually had retailers involved during product development so we were smart in that sense, but even then we missed it. You are never going to have all of the answers until your product hits the floors. Only then will you know what you really have.
- If and when you discover a problem you have to listen, push the ego aside, and make a quick decision. We told the rsa’s that were explaining our problem to us that we decided to change our foundation and they really couldn’t believe it. First, they felt like they were being listened to, and second that we were willing to change if it helped them succeed. Even when that meant selling off of our box spring into one that we would not benefit from. And we did it fast.
- Speed is important. I have worked for large companies for my whole career and the best leaders don’t screw around, they make decisions and move on. We have all seen the executive that dismisses the feedback from the field or takes that information in and puts it to committee where you “meeting” it to death and make a decision three months later after the real damage is done.
- As much as you can control it, get people on your team of like mind. I don’t mean people that will agree with you all the time, I mean people that have a similar approach to business. That is one of the things that my brother and I love most about working with Neil and Lance Ellman and Simon Spinks over in England. Simon trust us to know our market and when it comes to making decisions, we have a good discussion about the issue but are quick to get to the answer.
- We messed this up there is no doubt, but I think we reacted in the right way. Don’t focus on the problem, get to the fix.
I don’t care how much you think you know about this industry, there is always going to be something to learn if you are paying attention. Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Well, we learned a lot from this one and it is already in our rear view mirror. I still don’t know HOW WE MISSED IT!!! Have any failures we can learn from? Share them in the comments section.
PS Many thanks to everybody that donated to Elijah Gomez-Spiers. If you read my blog a few weeks ago I wrote about Elijah, a fellow mattress industry geek, and how his family lost their home in the Houston floods. Today that fund is over $21,000 and I know that many of you donated to that so THANK YOU! Special shout out to my good buddy and neighbor Rob Fogarty who has absolutely NOTHING to do with this industry but reads Q’s Views religiously and was kind enough to donate to Elijah. You Da Man!