Lucky's Blog

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Toll Plaza

In many other articles I have mentioned about how important it is to act professional at all times. Since you never know where your next customer may come from, you don’t ever want to get caught behaving inappropriately. Below is a story that illustrates my point. While this story is a little long it is well worth the read and may even make you chuckle a little bit. The names have been changed to protect the (and not so) innocent...LOL

Rocky was a great electrician and was always considered one of the top guys at Electric Co. where he worked. While Rocky enjoyed working at Electric Co., he always wanted to have his own business. He spent tireless nights and weekends studying for his master’s test and after more than a year of giving up all of his free time to achieve this goal, he finally passed his master’s exam. He was finally qualified to contract electrical work on his own.

Rocky turned in his notice to Electric Co. and ventured down the entrepreneurial road. He spent several years struggling with the business end. Since he had only worked as an electrician, he wasn’t ready for all the stresses and demands that come with owning your own business. However, thanks to the help of some really great mentors he was able to institute a strong financial and operations structure and started having some success.

Over the next year he was making decent money on small contracts and service work. However he hadn’t had that big break through job yet. He knew that at some point it would come along and would forever change his company. Finally one day, after many months of marketing to the better companies, he got his big break. Pinnacle Construction invited him to bid on a large $30-Million-Dollar project for which they had already won the contract. Well at least in his mind a $30-Million-Dollar project was huge!

Pinnacle Construction was a very reputable general contractor. They were known for building relationships and they were not only interested in who had the lowest price, they were interested in the best value and working with subcontractors that understood what relationships are all about. This would be a perfect fit for Rocky’s company, since he had built a ‘quality first’ minded company and was more interested in providing quality than quantity.

Rocky spent the next week estimating this project night and day. He took the time to really understand the overall design, and had come up with many ‘value engineered’ ideas that he knew the customer would love, and he hoped would give him a competitive edge. Rocky called Mr. Thornton, who was the lead for this project, and asked to set up a meeting for him to hand deliver his proposal and a short presentation of who he was and some money saving ideas he had for the project. Mr. Thornton agreed and they set a time up for 9:00am on Friday morning.

Over the next few days Rocky was so excited that he couldn’t sleep. In his head, he ran over and over his presentation a thousand times, and Friday couldn’t come fast enough. Rocky woke up on Friday morning and got ready for his meeting. He took extra time to make sure that he was groomed to the nines and put on his best suit. Rocky was diligent in every detail. He made sure his shoes had a high shine and his tie was straight with a perfectly tied Windsor knot. He put on his Rolex watch and was ready for the meeting that would take his business to the next level and forever change his life.

Rocky knew his meeting wasn’t until 9:00 am but he left an hour early. Rocky always wanted to make sure he was punctual, so it was a habit of his to get to the place early then park nearby and prepare.

As he headed out, he noticed that traffic was quite heavy that morning, much heavier than he had ever seen it in the past. Oh well, he said to himself, that is why I leave early, right? As he continued on, he merged onto the local turnpike. It was gridlock! Rocky then turn on the radio to see if he could get any information on why the traffic was so atrocious. Then, he heard the announcer say that the President was in town today and many roads would be closed.

Rocky shouted at himself, “you idiot! The most important meeting of your life and you didn’t even watch the news last night which could have helped you avoid this mess”. Rocky started to panic. The time was flying by and 9:00am was fast approaching. He kept jumping on and off the turnpike trying back roads, but it was no use, the traffic was horrible.

Finally, back on the turnpike, things were starting to move a little quicker. He could see the toll booth up ahead and knew his exit was soon after that toll. As he approached the toll, he noticed a red sports car pull out from many cars back and shoot up the merge lane to try and avoid traffic. Rocky was furious. He thought to himself, who does this idiot think they are? Why are they so much more important than everyone else? As the little red sports car approached they put their blinker on to try and merge back in, right in front of Rocky and right before the toll. Rocky quickly closed the gap and blew his horn, making a gesture with his thumb, as if to say ‘back of the line’.

The man in the red sports car rolled down his window and started waving at Rocky to let him in. Rocky was increasingly frustrated. Rocky rolled down his window and exposed his middle finger at the guy in the red sports car and continued to yell obscenities at him. The man became hostile and was screaming what is your problem?

Eventually Rocky was successful at keeping the man with his fancy sports car behind him as he went through the toll. Meanwhile he could see in his rearview mirror that the man in the red sports cars was waving his arm around and still visually upset with Rocky. As Rocky came up to his exit, the man in the red car also exited. Rocky thought to himself, ok lets rock! This idiot is following me and he is going to get his. However as they came up to the intersection the red car went one way and Rocky went the other.

At this point Rocky still had about 15 minutes until his big meeting. So he decided to pull into the local gas station, compose himself and prepare for the meeting. As 9:00am neared, Rocky decided to head on over to Pinnacle’s office building. He pulled in to a parking space and headed into the building. It was a beautiful building with a very nice reception area. Rocky thought to himself, this is the first step to me have a place like this for my business. He walked up to the receptionist and told her who he was and that he was there for a meeting with Mr. Thornton. She asked him to take a seat and she would let him know Rocky was there.

As Rocky waited, he was running though the presentation one last time in his head. Suddenly he heard a man’s voice. “So it’s you” said the booming voice. Rocky looked up and his heart fell to the floor. For standing there in front of him was the man from the little red sports car.

 “Mr. Thornton I presume?” stuttered Rocky.

“Why yes I am, and I have no interest in moving forward with this meeting. We at Pinnacle Construction only deal with professionals, and your behavior earlier was anything but professional. Good day sir”, said Mr. Thornton, and he turned and walked away.

This is a true story. I have kept the real names out of this story out of respect for those involved. While it may not be the norm, it clearly shows why you need to always be on your best behavior. As I have stated before you are always on stage and you are always being judged. 

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