For companies in a specialized industry, which involves the use of sophisticated equipment or industrial systems, knowledge – about the operation and maintenance of these devices – is essential. Failure to master these items can cause a shutdown in facilities, a significant loss in time and money, freeze productivity and leave workers jobless, unless vendors offer additional training concerning the best ways to keep machinery running.
That opportunity, to hold monthly classes about the details relating to specific products and services, is both a necessity (for customers) and proof of a company's integrity (for the public at large). The alternative, which is nothing more than a sell-it-and-forget attitude towards current or prospective clients, is disrespectful and destructive; it puts profits above people, and perpetuates ignorance in the face of intelligence.
So, yes, there is a better way to make these issues more accessible to technicians and earn the goodwill of customers throughout the United States.
I can attest to that fact because, in my role as Operations Manager for FD Johnson, a leading supplier of lubrication systems, valves and connector products, there is strong demand among clients to purchase equipment with a reputation for longevity and reliability. Our job, and the responsibility of any company in a similar situation, is to educate buyers about the nuances and overall details regarding a particular piece of machinery.
This concept of the vendor-as-teacher is a mutually beneficial relationship because it treats clients as friends and colleagues, which is the essence of business success, to have a personal connection with customers. And secondly, it establishes a union of trust, confidence in a supplier's suggestions and assistance, which is the sustenance to strengthen and fulfill that bond. Translated into its most practical definition, this approach honors the spirit and letter of our own motto: “We Keep Your Machinery Running!”
The broader point for all executives, regardless of their respective industries, is that service – and a vendor-run school is the ultimate example of this principle – is as much an investment in people as it is an investment (by clients) in equipment. That is, highly technical subjects, such as systems analysis or management of controllers and monitors, require teachers with an absolute command of the material and the talent to convey these ideas with passion.
In not so many words: Any teacher can teach, but very few teachers can truly educate their students. The latter is an exercise in patience and a self-proclaimed resolution, no matter the course or the classroom, to show by doing; to communicate with sincerity – through the joy of knowing what it means to know something – so actions, the live demonstrations involving the use of equipment, become a universally understood language in their own right.
Inviting Customers to Return as Colleagues and Friends: The Power of Education
These ideals are not the exclusive province of manufacturing; they are, instead, an exercise in dignity, which fosters a spirit of friendship and community. Think of this emphasis on education as a variation of customer service, which itself is an indirect form of marketing or public relations.
By public relations, I do not mean media profiles and accolades from reporters about a company's success. Rather, I mean everything a business does, from the moment it opens its doors and the workday begins; by reading and responding to emails from consumers, returning voice mail messages from existing clients and partners, approving and paying invoices, answering calls from suppliers, and approaching each in-store buyer with deference and the proper protocol – all of that (and more) is public relations.
Which brings me back to my comment about community. Since a company rooted in a community can ill afford to alienate the citizens of that same community, the power of public relations rests with an organization’s ability to influence individuals; to confirm a business is an office of quiet decency and uncommon valor, where neither the winds of economic chaos nor the temporary tumult of global change will undo more than 80-years of loyal history.
For multiple generations of families, employees and consumers among them, there is a singular mission: “To Keep Your Machinery Running!”
The takeaway theme for readers and executives is to act honorably, so your business may flourish forevermore. By all means, therefore, invest in service, elevate the value of education and secure the fellowship of the compatriots we call consumers.
Do these things with excitement and pride, so education can enlighten the mind and brighten the morning – so wisdom may illuminate the soul, and enrich the lives of consumers and reinvigorate the conscience of a community.
Brian Robson is Operations Manager for the FD Johnson Company, which has an 80-year commitment to excellence, ensuring the proper installation, maintenance and performance of lubrication pumps and systems.
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