I mean, really. Change is scary. It might lead to success or even recognition. Change does strange things to us.
I’m going to write about my horse now. Please bear with me, prepare to saddle up, don’t go wandering off into the sunset, try to shoe a pig. I’ll do my best not to be cliché.
Sam is a draft horse. Sometimes draft horses are known as gentle giants. There was a TV show that told us that. Big draft horses are gentle, kind souls at heart. They never get upset and are gentle with kittens and small children.
Sam is a gentle giant. He is big and strong and gentle with the barn cats all of the time. He tends to enjoy small children most of the time. When he is not being a gentle giant, he is being mule-headed, stubborn and obnoxious. In the time that he has been my companion and friend, he has tossed me from the saddle five times. Each time was due to a disagreement as to who was directing whom. We have our moments.
While we’ve managed our way through most of the troubles, Sam has a couple of habits that are absolutely unbreakable. One issue in particular drives me around the bend. Sam likes to eat grass whenever I am leading him in his halter. It never fails that, as soon as the halter goes on, his head drops to the ground and he goes after the grass.
It is not such a bad habit as habits go. The trouble is, it is something that I don’t want him to do. I have my reasons. The reasons are valid so don’t go all judgmental on me.
I have done just about everything possible to get Sam to stop grazing under halter. By now, I’ve found that the best I can get is that he will lift his head when I jerk on his rope. He also pays attention when I say “Stop!” in my dad-voice. If I say nothing or just keep walking, he’ll drop his head to the ground and stop to grab a bite. When that happens and because Sam is about 1300 pounds heavier than me, I also stop, often very suddenly.
They say that horses will change habits within six or seven weeks with steady and consistent training. Sam has hung on to his habit for five years with absolutely no sign of giving up. Even for a horse, that’s a long time.
I know a lot of people who are like that. We have clients who insist on calling with orders, expecting us to just record them. Each time, we ask for a valid purchase order. Responses vary but everyone does at least give it lip service. They are always shocked when they call back a week later and the verbal order has not been started.
My response is always the same. “I can’t do it without a purchase order”. Heck, I can’t even remember that we ever discussed the logo if I don’t have a purchase order. When they finish being upset I will quietly repeat that we can’t keep track of anything without a purchase order. And their response is typical. “Well, it’s the way I’ve always done things.”
In the 25 years Team Mates has been doing business, we have made many changes to our processes. We have adapted to the requirements of our customers and we have reacted to our growth by streamlining our systems and through the improvement of our processing. We do this in order to be of better service to our customers. After all, our goal is to listen to our customers, consider their needs and react through change and adaptation. That is how we provide service.
Sam will never change. He is a horse and has a different thought process. He can’t communicate with me to tell me why he won’t adapt. He might have his reasons for not wanting to stop eating under halter. It might be that he just doesn’t understand. No matter the reason, I don’t ever lose patience with Sam. He is a horse. I am not.
My customers, though, are humans (for the most part). They are reasonably intelligent and we take the time to explain the reason for needing to change our policies and procedures. We also explain how the changes will benefit them.
Those customers that see the value of change are usually the most successful in their businesses. The ones that continue to call in their orders and never change are pretty well guaranteed never to be successful.
Fortunately, Sam will manage quite nicely.