Monday 19 March 2018

The Monday Motivational Moment #1 - "Do it safely, do it properly, do it once".

Monday is the start of the week. Monday is the day when it is hardest to get out of bed, especially on a day like today, when the ice is on the inside of the windows. If you were to make a list of songs, Monday is the one which has all the negative connotations. The Boomtown Rats famously sang "I don't like Mondays" and New Order sang ""Blue Monday". As you arrive at work, you know that there is a whole week ahead. I have a ritual. I get a cup of tea, log on to my Laptop and check my diary. I make a list of everything that has to get done this week, everything that should get done this week and everything that it would be nice to get done. I then sort them by priority and launch into the most urgent. Often by the end of Monday, I've actually got all of the really important stuff out of the way.
Rog T's Monday Motivational Moment
Except that is for days like today. Today has been a nightmare. Due to a problem on the National Grid, five of our studios are without power. This means that we are earning no money from them and have upset customers. Today there was no cup of tea. Our in house sparks, Dave was on site at 4am. He identified the problem and called the National grid. By 7am and engineer was despatched who confirmed his diagnosis. He said that this was a priority call and someone would be with us shortly. Dave estimated that it would be two hours work to rectify the problem. 

At 5pm, having been on site for 13 hours and made numerous calls, Dave was informed that they would be with us "within 12 hours". Like many of our team, Dave is a freelance worker. He is highly committed, and so will stay for the duration. As you can imagine, there will be a rather large claim going into National Power. The problem was identified in January and a quick fix was done then. 

People like Dave are the people who keep this country running. They go that extra mile. They drop everything to sort out serious issues for their customers. With Dave, there is no Call Centre to negotiate. There are no excuses. He turns up and works. 

As someone who runs a successful business, I feel it is my duty to pass on some of my tips to any young people out there who are thinking of starting out on their own. I was lucky when I started out. My parents ran a business for all of their working life together. They were always there to offer me advice. I also had a brother and many older friends, who ran businesses. They'd always pitch in with some help and advice if I asked and often if I didn't.

The workplace has evolved since 1979 when I started my studio business. When we started, I had no insurance, we had no health and safety policy, we had no safeguarding policy. We just rented a disused workshop, got hold of some musical equipment and started renting it out to musicians. Much of the early building works and electrical conversions were done by mates, in return for a few rehearsals. Over time, the studios evolved. One customer suggested that our studio wiring was unsafe in the mid 1980's. I replied that we "hadn't electrocuted anyone yet" rather immaturely. He responded in a very adult fashion "You are running a business, you have a duty of care to have safe wiring, you need to fit approved circuit breakers and have this place rewired. If you don't then when you do kill someone, you will be liable". We then got an approved electrician to rewire the building. It was a wake up call. I realised we had no insurance and the whole business was an accident waiting to happen. 

I realised, in very tragic circumstances, just how lucky I'd been about 20 years ago. A lovely guitarist, who was a customer of ours, bought a new amplifier and rented out a room to try it out. The only problem was that when he tried to play it, the amp blew all of the breaker circuits in the room. I reset them and they immediately popped again. We identified that it was his amp causing it. He complained about the studio, but ended up borrowing an amp. I suggested that he really needed to get it serviced. He said that there was nothing wrong with it.The next day, we were informed that he'd taken the amp to a gig and when he used it, he'd electrocuted himself. It was tragic and completely avoidable. 

For me however, what happened was a massive motivational moment. It may seem odd to say it, but it reminded me of something an old boss of mine said "Do it safely, do it properly, do it once". When I worked for him, he'd insist that every job we did, we put safety first. The safety of ourselves when we did the job, the safety of our customers when they used it. He said that if we did it properly, then there would be no comeback. He would say "So long as you can explain why it is taking longer than you thought, I will support you" and he did. He would always insist on talking through how we approached a task. He'd make sure we thought of any problems and recognised any dangers. Often he'd quote for a job and fail to get the work, because he'd be the most expensive. He'd always say "I don't mind. They'll be back in six months when they want it done properly". He'd always make sure he explained to prospective customers why he cost more and what would happen if they took a cheaper quote. Often, he was right. They would be back, tail between their legs saying "We should have listened to you the first time". We worked on one house that the 240 bus used to go past. The paintwork I did lasted 20 years before it was repainted. 

With my studio business, the same maxim applied when we have a problem with a studio or piece of studio equipment. We have seen a massive fall off in build quality for studio equipment over the last 20 years, with the advent of outsourcing of electronic equipment to China etc. Many of the Vintage amplifiers manufactured in the 1970's and 80's are still working fine, whilst ones bought three or four years ago fail under the rigour of constant studio usage. One rep even said to me "Amps aren't designed to be used all the time". It is all quite ridiculous. 

We need to get back to a culture of building things properly. We need to get back to an old school work ethic, as Dave demonstrated so admirably as I write this. And we need to say  "Do it safely, do it properly, do it once". 

We will be featuring a regular Monday Motivational moment. 

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