My youngest daughter has a paper route. I’m very proud of her for taking it on but this week she’s off at camp so someone else needed to step in to cover it off for her. I’m off this week so I thought, what the heck, I can do that. I had a flyer route of my own when I was young so this might be an interesting trip down memory lane. What I didn’t expect was to to be reminded of some life lessons along the way.
As I started the route I was hit by the fact that doing this task humbled me. The people who saw me delivering the papers had no idea who I was or what my background was or what my regular job was. They just saw me as the guy delivering the papers. They may have known that my daughter had the route and could have been impressed by how she got this guy to cover for her. Possibly they thought that I was out of a job and this was the best I could do while trying to find something else. Either way they judged me based on what they saw and filled in the blanks with assumptions. How often did I do that myself? I need to take the time more often to look at what is really going on in a situation and not jump to conclusions.
The next thing that struck me about the paper route was it was right in line with my philosophy of experiencing the frontline job before taking on a higher position in an organization. When I worked on the McDonald’s and Subway accounts, I took the time to work in the store and actually serve customers. It gave me a great perspective for, not only what the customer was looking for, but also gave me a small insight into what the staff serving the customers deal with on a daily basis. Certainly made me think twice when we were working on a promotion to run in the stores and about what the impact would be on the staff that needed to make it a wonderful experience for the customers. If it was tough to execute, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea. Take a flyer route before selling print ads – might give you some insights or even some credibility. Interesting.
The final thing that occurred to me as I delivered the last paper to the last house on the route was how important it is to consider that each customer contact needs to be treated as unique and special. It’s so easy when we’re having the same sort of contact with customers over and over to lose sight of the fact that this may be the 20th time that we’ve discussed this…but this is their first time. We need to make sure that the last customer is treated with the same care and attention as the first. Each customer deserves to have their paper delivered on time and in pristine condition.
So many great lessons from such a simple task. Business, personal, life. Hopefully my daughter will pick up a few as well for herself. Of course she will, she’s sharper than her old man. Maybe I’ll share that with her some day. Hah.