Buggas & Portees: How my 3-year old son inspired me to focus on developing our business to be easy to work with and respond quickly
A few months ago my son David came to me and said, “Daddy, I don’t like buggas,” and then started to clench his fist showing me what a bugga looks like. Naturally my wife and I were confused. He then followed up by saying “I don’t like Portees too,” and displayed this to us as dangling fingers.
After a few more days of hearing this, we finally found out what he meant. We were eating Sausage Lasagna as a family and David pushed his plate, panicking like many toddlers, that he was not going to eat his food because of all the buggas and portees. Buggas refers to visible seasoning usually embedded within food like sausage, and portees refers to food that is stringy or dangling, such as the cheese in the Lasagna or the strands of tomato in the sauce. My son’s aversion to his meal was purely visual, inciting a lack of appetite. Like most parents, I thought my son was hilarious in creating his own words for referencing his distaste for food, but only recently was he able to inspire me with his simple wisdom for getting what he wants.
A few days ago we had a long time customer call into the office and demand to speak to someone in charge, because she was requesting an answer to a request made four-days prior. She stated she left numerous messages with a member of my team in requesting an additional service at a second location, and needed to know if we wanted her business or not. Upon hearing this I was frustrated, as any business-leader should be, because my pride is so heavily invested in what we do here. Upon investigation I learned that my team-member was leaving her messages but not able to connect with her. To me this is a Portee, an incident where something is dangling, and because of the loose-ends we as the service provider did not take the initiative to tie-things up and avoid not meeting a customer’s deadline. As a business leader it is my responsibility that we work with our team to insure all customers needs are being met with a timely response, if this is not likely with that team-member, then we need to change that member.
Around this same time another customer of ours requested that a new field services representative be assigned to them because the customer felt that our representative was difficult to work with. Delving into this I learned that we had a situation where my employee was trying to explain that a service we provide is underbid, and therefore was trying to explain it to the customer. The customer took this not as a, “You’re wrong! I refuse to pay money,” situation, but rather as a “I understand but I feel like the people I contract are putting me in a hard spot and do not care about me as much as themselves.” In this situation the customer agrees and understands that we are losing money by providing more service then what we make in revenue for that service, but we took a defensive stance out of the gate that was devoid of empathy. This is a bugga, a situation where we are so embedded in the fact that because the customer ordered something and got what they paid for, we feel right in rubbing that into our customer’s face. When we remove empathy, clench our fists and treat our customer like an agreement or scope of services, then that will cause them to hunker down, and treat us like a service provider which they can get from someone else. Our customer will agree, (even though they won’t admit it to us,) that they made a mistake in what they requested, but will gladly seek their solution from a competitor of ours.
Whatever business you are in or service you provide, I ask that you keep my three-year old son David in the back of your mind, to insure that you deliver quickly and pleasantly, so that you receive repeat business, and long-term financial gain. Commit to not serve buggas and portees.