When I wrote about enthusiasm in my last column, I promised to follow up with some specific examples of how you might foster enthusiasm in your own firm. True to my calling, I sought advice from a variety of businesspeople to see what they might share with my readers who hadn't thought of the suggestion or simply needed a reminder.

Allow me, however, to offer one that seems a bit simplistic yet is the perennial suggestion all of us should follow when thinking about adding enthusiasm to the culture mix at our distributorship.

Practice what you preach. I can't think of a more self-defeating result than to preach enthusiasm to your employees while you exhibit the exact opposite in your own behavior. Everyone looks to the person above them on the hierarchy to set the tone and style of the culture in the workplace. And they even look at the person they rub shoulders with. So, if you're not upbeat, enthused, positive and willing to add that extra effort or zest on the job, why should your co-worker or a subordinate act any differently? And don't fake it. You don't need a Mensa I.Q. to divine a false or forced enthusiasm. Enough said. Here's what the real experts say, including Mark Alan Effinger, who comes from a third-generation HVACR family.

Apply How to Win Friends (Dale Carnegie's classic book) every day. These guys work hard, in often nasty conditions. Show you care, and make it personal.

  • Give them tools. On a Friday, I would ask employees what one tool they could really use to make their job easier. On Monday that tool was wrapped with a bow and on their desk. Made all the difference in the world.

  • When on-site: Follow up by text or phone to see how they are doing, and what they need to make the customer happy. Amazing how just being a voice in their ear can make them realize you care.

  • Provide a pre-packed cooler of cold drinks in summer, hot drinks in winter, for them to take to the warehouse, shop or client site.

  • A Quotes Board: We have a place for employees to share stupid, funny or outrageous quotes provided by fellow workers and “overheard” by clients and on the phone. That one board was the center of much joy around the office.

  • Phantom Stock: Sure, you can't divide up the actual stock pie… but you can assure employees that in the event of a sale, they get something beyond a gold watch. It's all upside with no downside. And the tax benefits to all are exceptional.
    Mark Alan Effinger, chief evangelist, www.thoughtoffice.com

Meet regularly. Promote successes, develop customer experience strategies and exchange customer service stories. Most meetings deal with operational and technical issues. Always include a customer service component to your staff meetings.
Barry Himmel, senior vice president, Signature Worldwide, www.signatureworldwide.com

  • Periodically post quotes on the subject: General Colin Powell: “Optimism is a force-multiplier.”

  • Place a laugh basket on the conference table at the next meeting. Label it “TaDah!” or “Snap out of it!” or even “Stop whining!” Fill it with novelties and goodies to stop negativity or boredom before it starts.

  • Encourage people to fight a slight with an invite. Find famous examples: Hillary Clinton invited Newt Gingrich's mother to the White House, after Mrs. G referred to her as a canine female.
    Marlene Caroselli, director, Center for Professional Development, www.caroselli.biz

Our office had a meeting this year, and we all wrote a song together about our company. We tried to be creative, incorporating rock ‘n’ roll words to describe the “ad sales process.” It got quite clever.

My company, Publicitas, contracted www.songdivision.com for our sales conference. As strange as it may sound, writing a song and performing it in front of the company really boosted our ENTHUSIASM. Some of us work in L.A., Chicago, NYC and Miami and never really have time to bond or connect. This exercise really helped open our minds and unite us as employees for one organization — we all felt we were part of the team. Still to this day, we sing the silly jingles we came up with in the office, and it lifts our spirits even on the most stressful and busy days. I will never forget the activity at our sales meeting.
Kevin Conetta, Publicitas North America, www.publicitas.com/usa

There you have it. Some interesting, purposeful and even fun tips. Now all you have to do is take action and, don't forget, do it with enthusiasm.

EDITOR'S ANNOUNCEMENT

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See p. 26 for more information, and be sure to visit www.hvacrdistributionbusiness.com/subscribe to opt in.


HVACR Distribution Business welcomes letters to the editor. Please send correspondence to: Tom Peric', Editor 2040 Fairfax Avenue Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 856/874-0049 or e-mail tsperic@penton.com.