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  • Removing Barriers and Building Bridges Back
    I lived in Seattle for over 30 years and so I have some experience with bridges. The Puget Sound (Seattle) is also a rugged landscape consisting of rivers, lakes, mountains and of course the Puget Sound, so I know a little about barriers as well. In my time in Seattle I saw a portion of the Hood Canal Bridge and a portion of the I90 bridge sink (520 Evergreen pictured). Why? Because of some seemingly insignificant, and yet catastrophic, mistakes combined with unusual circumstances. Both bridges were, and are, floating bridges. They are kept afloat by sealed ‘floats’, which work fine as long as the ‘floats’ don’t fill with water. In both cases maintenance doors were left open (some question this) at a time when winds were whipping up high waves, which ultimately found their way into the ‘floats’, causing the ‘floats’ to fill with water and sink, pulling still other ‘floats’ with them. So what does this have to do with business, and in particular, a commercial cleaning business? A lot actually.
    At the basic level a bridge links people and places together while a barrier separates and hinders connections. Similarly in business there are both bridges and barriers to our clients. The thing about bridges is that they come about as a result of a need to connect one group or individual with another and require a lot of hard work. Bridges make two way access possible in a rapid and efficient manner. Barriers on the other hand, prevent connections, slow the process and in some cases make it impossible to reach the other group. And just like with the bridges above, if you don’t pay attention to the details and maintain them, there will be failure.
    Barriers rise up naturally without effort
    The thing about barriers is that they are somewhat natural and organic. It takes no effort to create a barrier. Think about your business, is it easy for clients and vendors to get an answer or resolve and issue? If not, you have barriers, not bridges. In our world, as in yours, mistakes are made and details are missed. At this point our client wants resolution quickly. We can create a barrier without even trying. We can do nothing to create a resolution process, we can do little to get all the information we need to resolve the issue and we can do nothing to take action. Virtually no effort was taken and bingo, we have a barrier.
    Look around your business. Ask your clients (this is scary, I know) where is it hard to work with your company. Is it in the original sales process or the follow up or the production process or the customer service after the sale? Wherever it is difficult for your customer, a barrier has been created. So what are you going to do next? I’ll tell you what we do. We look at every step of that segment of our business and ask some hard questions. How does this make it harder for our customers to reach us? Can we remove this step altogether? Can we add something to speed up the process or give the client more access and control? A barrier is only a barrier until somebody builds a bridge.
    Admin
    Jan 30, 2017
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