I walked into the main
office the other morning and noticed a fresh new face.
"This is Gina," said Ms.
Ferguson, my loyal office manager. "Sheís the one I told you
Ms. Ferguson tells me many things, few
of which I remember. "Nice to meet you" I replied. Not wishing
to look too uninformed, I left it at that.
I retreated to my office and asked Ms.
Ferguson to join me. "Refresh my rotten memory," I said.
"Remember, sheís the one I found
to help us better understand our computer system."
The fog lifted. Gina was our new nerd!
I rushed back out of my office and
pumped her hand vigorously. "Itís so nice to have you here," I
exulted. "Iím sure you can straighten things out. Let me know what
I can do to help."
Gina, in true nerd fashion, was oblivious to
my slobbering. She is not an employee, only a consultant. And while a
good, reliable computer consultant is not easy to find, Gina added another
dimension that warranted true affection Ė she was Ms. Fergusonís
Happy days and free advice are here
What a find! The fact she is charging
us less per hour than her regular customers is only a pittance of her true
value. Thatís a one-time savings that I could probably find by shopping
around for a few weeks.
The real value comes in the months and years
ahead. Picture this conversation between Ms. Ferguson and Gina at 7:30 on
a Sunday evening:
Ms. Ferguson: Hi, Gina, howís
everything going in your life?
Gina: Oh, fine. How are you?
Ms. Ferguson: Great. Are we going to
see you at Christmas?
Gina: Well, itís five months away but
I hope so.
Ms. Ferguson: Iím really looking
forward to it. Oh, by the way, how can you back up data in the network
from the C-drive to the A-drive?
Whatís Gina going to do, get her
clock running? No way. Ms. Ferguson gets the info, no charge, and the
problem is solved.
And thatís not all. While free
emergency phone calls, day or night, are a huge advantage, think of the
wealth of gratuitous information that will pass from Gina to Ms. Ferguson
when they get together for family gatherings.
Remember, Gina actually loves
computers. What else is she going to talk about after all the family
gossip has been churned?
The more I thought about these
advantages, the more I thought about revising my employment applications.
Iíd have to check with the Department of Labor, but my initial reaction
is thereís nothing wrong with asking applicants to list all of their
relatives and their respective talents.
Then it dawned on me. I already have 45
employees. Figure an average of an extended family of 10 per employee, and
thatís a pool of 450 potential free advisers! Hello, bottom line!
"Ralph," I intercommed to my
general manager, "come into my office, quick. And bring your family
Ralph wasnít into genealogy. When he
got to my office, I was ready for him.
"Do you have mothers, fathers,
brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or cousins with any talents you can
siphon for the benefit of the company?"
Ralph was a little taken aback, but
after explaining Ms. Fergusonís value of being related to Gina, he
understood. He thought for some time and came up with a couple of
suggestions, but they were weak.
"Thatís your whole family,"
I cried. "Youíve got to come up with something better than
He wracked his brain while I gave him a
lecture about how difficult it is to survive in small business these days.
You need to surround yourself with people who can add those little
intangibles that boost you above your competitors.
"Iíve got it," cried Ralph.
"My second cousin Jerome Ė heís an electrician!"
This was too much. An electrician as
part of our family! He might even call us back immediately, or cover an
emergency on weekends!
Ralph and I hugged and danced a little
jig, knowing his job and my company were a little more secure.