A matter of Perspective

Sorry, it’s time for another rant. I’m tired of people complaining about how bad Covid is – especially when they’re not doing anything to improve their own situation.

Stop whining! This is the new normal. Put on your mask and get to work. Learn how to make a living in the current marketplace. If it ever gets better that will be wonderful, but in the meantime you have a business to run. And it will only be successful if you make it successful.

Either change your perspective or close the doors and go home.

Plan to succeed – or fail

We have customers who are only open three days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – and they’re complaining that they don’t have any business. That’s because they have chased all the customers away. When a customer finds your door locked, they go somewhere else and they probably don’t come back. And that is your fault – not Covid’s.

The worst part is that these are mom and pop stores. The owner could sit there all day long and it doesn’t cost him anything extra. But it’s boring, so he goes home.

There is a new restaurant opening up right next to one of our customers. Is he an idiot? Where does he think he is going to get business from? I don’t know, but he has a dream and he is making it happen. He will succeed.

What have you done for a year?

Hopefully you didn’t waste this last year. Did you take any of the DLI online courses? Or a management course?

There are many things people are doing now to generate some income: sewing masks, wash-and-fold, pickup and delivery, drapery cleaning, free cleaning for first responders or people going for a job interview, alterations, table linens, monogramming clothing, fire and flood work, vehicle detailing, Amazon lockers, house cleaning, washing windows or cleaning eaves troughs.

Yes, that is a long way from dry cleaning. But those companies are trying to keep their people employed. You need to find something that your employees can do that customers are willing to pay for. If you are hoping for more suits to come in, it may be a while.

Since you have some spare time, I’d like to recommend a book by Spencer Johnson called Who moved my Cheese? It’s an easy read and kind of humorous. He talks about some fictional mice and how they respond to changes in the world around them.

Our society has changed so we have to change, too. Those who don’t change will eventually run out of money and close. Is that what you are planning to do? No? Okay then, show me your plan.

Money where my mouth is

So what have I done this past year? Our company has done some management training. We have held monthly training meetings with our staff. In the meetings, we covered equipment problems, product training and some motivational subjects. We hired a new technician in January. Did we need him? No, but we will in June or July, and it takes a while to get someone trained. We also shifted our hours to better match the hours our customers are open. We sold some equipment at cost to keep moving a few pieces. We adjusted our prices so we could cover wages but nothing more.

There was at least twice in the last year when we spent an entire week phoning every customer just to say, “Hello. How are you doing?” Trying to encourage them a little. (I was actually multitasking. I sorted nuts and bolts and old parts while I was on the phone.)

We made a commitment early in the pandemic that we would try not to lay anyone off. We also went through the entire warehouse shelf by shelf, cleaning and organizing things. We got rid of some obsolete parts, tidied things up. Our guys worked hard for us because we were keeping them off Employment Insurance. They are our people, and we are committed to taking care of them.

Right now we are making plans for our annual training seminar this September at our office.

Tomorrow is a new day

Are you approaching your business like that fellow who is opening a new restaurant? Or are you bored and just wanting to go home? You don’t care whether you pay the bills or not; you don’t care anymore if you succeed. It’s all Covid’s fault and you couldn’t possibly do anything different.

Or could you?

It’s all a question of perspective.


Kevin Marois founded Calgary-based Integrity Mechanical in 2003 to service plants in western Canada. He writes on issues related to equipment, its purchase, maintenance and use. You can reach Kevin at office@imicanada.ca or via his website www.imicanada.ca

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