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Northeast HVAC News Guest Column

Nice Guys & Gals Finish First!
By Mark Matteson

I was on the East Coast conducting seminars for two great companies, Isaac Heating in Rochester, New York and Wooldridge Heating in Lynchburg, Virginia. One is in the north and outgoing and the other is in the south and laid-back. Those are the differences.

Now for the similarities: They both happen to be mechanical contractors who treat their employees as assets with honor, respect and dignity, both are true servant leaders, and
both attract and retain the best people in their region. Here are some of the
causes of their success:

  • They train and educate their associates like crazy. Isaac has created “Isaac University” and requires 100 hours of technical training and 24 hours of SOFT SKILLS training a year.
  • Pictures on the wall of associates play a big part of their culture.
  • They celebrate their success in unique ways and share in the gain.
  • They measure everything and reward what they want repeated.
  • They promote from within.
  • Their facilities are world-class: clean, organized, and shiny.
  • They are innovative marketers and use shopping-list pads, letter openers, mugs, pens, newsletters, coloring books for kids, water bottles, sunglasses, shopping bags, and magnets with their logo. The list goes on and on. They know that the name of the marketing game is “Remember Me” and do it as well as anyone in their industry.
  • They both built their companies on service agreements and inspire everyone to sell and market the company 24/7/365.
  • As true servant leaders, they both do lots of little things to make people feel good. In a word, they practice acknowledgment.
  • They are truly nice people. They attract nice people. It really is true, NICE GUYS AND GALS FINISH FIRST!

On my way home from Rochester, I invested in a copy of Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For at a bookstore in the airport. Do you want to know the causes of success? Would you like to learn how to attract and retain the best people? Invest in a copy of this edition of the magazine and study it over the weekend. Success leaves clues. Go to each company’s Web site and duplicate their ideas. Model the things they do.
The title story about SAS, the number-one company, will blow you away.

Story continues below ↓

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They do things for their employees that almost no one else in the country does for theirs!

In the same airport bookstore, I also picked up a copy of the new book, When the Game Was Ours, written by legendary NBA rivals Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. One was quiet and shy and the other outgoing. Both were intensely competitive. Larry Bird’s first book is called DRIVE. That says it all. Here are my two favorite stories from their collaboration:
When Larry Bird and the Celtics were at the height of their success, the team
went out to celebrate in a posh Boston restaurant. Money was no object. When the bill
arrived, one of Bird’s teammates went around collecting money for the tip and wanted
to give the waiter twenty percent. Bird asked, “What are you doing? That guy only
brought the food out to us.” He grabbed the cash, walked back into the kitchen, handed
the money to the cook, and left without a word.

Near the end of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career, he approached Magic one day
with his hat in hand. He said, “I want what you have. I want to enjoy the kind of
business success you have off the court. Teach me.” Magic, with a sad expression on his
face said, “No you don’t. You see, in order to do that, you have to be nice to people. You
can’t blow off reporters, be indifferent to fans, and ignore people when they ask for your
autograph.” Then he told the 7-foot Hall of Fame center a story. “When I was a rookie, a
father and his young son approached you and asked for a picture with you. You didn’t
even make eye contact. You simply said NO. Seeing the disappointment in the young
boy’s face, I approached them and said, ‘Hey, I will take a picture with you. Maybe one
day I will be in the hall of fame, too.’” The father beamed. They took a picture with
Magic and his million-dollar smile. Years later, when Magic was making a sales pitch to
a group of investors, a 29-year-old attorney and his CEO father approached Magic
afterward. The older man said, “You probably don’t remember us, but years ago, you
were kind enough to make the time to have picture with my young son and me at the
Staples Center. I still have that picture on my wall in my office. That meant so much to
my son. By the way, were are in. We want to invest with you.” Magic closed the deal.

It doesn’t cost any more to be nice; it’s a long-term strategy for success. I love doing book signings after I make a presentation. It’s my favorite part of the process. I get feedback and it makes both my audience and me feel good. Taking extra time is good business, for the long-term. You just never know.

Do want to take your company to the next level? Be nice. Be nice to your employees and your customers. Take the time to go the extra mile. Treat people with dignity and respect. Do you believe in Magic and Drive? I do. Work harder than anyone else in your field and be nice.

In the end, it matters. I can’t wait to go back to those East Coast companies.
I learn so much from them because they are such nice guys.

About Mark Matteson
Mark Matteson is one of those rare professionals who can say he is speaker, consultant and author and mean it. His annual speaking commitment typically means 40 Keynotes, 20 Seminars and Workshops and 5-10 Consulting engagements around the world with HVAC Service companies as small as $2M to $2B/year. Mark also works with the leading
organizations around the globe like Microsoft, t-Mobile, GE, Surety Mutual Life of New York, AFLAC, John Deere, Johnson Controls Inc., Honeywell, York, Carrier, Conoco-Phillips and Trane. He started his career as a speaker in 1993.

Mark Matteson gives over 75 presentations each year. Book him now to secure the inspiring message that will spark your groupʼs success! To read more FREE blog posts, articles, special reports, or to sign up for Mark’s monthly ezine or watch Mark’s demo video, go to:
Call 206.697.0454 email




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