This #tbt goes back to a post that I first wrote in May 2014. A few things have changed (for one pricing has definitely gone up again) but some things haven't (I'm still learning the art of communicating even when things go wrong, especially when things go wrong).
Since writing this originally I've also learned that communication in a relationship is really important and helps things go much smoother.
For instance, Ryan left for his parents' house today. He comes home on Saturday but I'll be in Austin this weekend spending a girl's weekend with my sisters. It's a little silly but this is the longest we've been apart in a LONG time and I was having a hard time saying goodbye before I left for work.
I knew he would be on the same street as my work later in the day for his Crossfit class so before I left I told him I'd really appreciate it if he swung by on his way out of town to say goodbye (again).
In 2014 I wouldn't have said anything, I wouldn't have verbalized by need, but today I'm glad I did. If I hadn't he probably wouldn't have stopped, I would have internalized that as though he didn't care and then spent the weekend wondering why he didn't care.
Instead, simply by expressing what I needed I got to see him one more time. I felt loved because he listened and responded, giving me a part of his day even though he was late getting on the road.
Unsure of how people will respond when you share a need, want, bad news or a change of plans, it can be scary to open the lines of communication but it's so much better when you do because you give people a chance to respond in a positive way. (Sidenote: they may respond in a negative way but at least you'll know for sure how they feel and won't have to agonize with the unknown).
March 28th, 2014
I was getting ready to leave the office when I realized I had forgotten to do something pretty important on my checklist today…raise the price of the 20oz beverages in all our micro markets.
Now that’s probably not something I should write about. People would prefer to believe that the price of their snacks and sodas are never going to increase, that the price on the day of install will be the same as the price years down the road. I fear that suggesting anything other than that paints the picture of a money hungry company, laughing in delight as prices rise with every click of a button.
However, the truth is that raising prices isn’t fun; people get upset when they realize they are spending more today for the same product that they bought yesterday. And because I know that people get upset, every time I finalized the price increase at a market I also sent an email to my key contact at that market.
The emails did two things:
1. It informed them that the change was happening
2. It explained why the increase was necessary
As I was sending the last email I found myself getting annoyed that I thought the email was necessary. I was thinking the price increase should be a given (the price before the increase was well below market value so people have already been used to paying a significant amount more at the grocery/convenience store) and that because I was now at market value (maybe even a little below) our customers should embrace it.
My brain wandered from agitation to thoughts on communication to plane rides.
I don’t know if I’ve already shared this but I often rate the pilots that I fly with. They get points for introducing themselves at the beginning of the flight, for a smooth take off and landing but they get the most points allotted if they communicate with me during a flight.
I hate flying and scare easily every time the seat belt light comes on, every time there’s a change in noise, every time the plane hits a bump of turbulence, pretty much I’m terrified the entire time I’m in the air.
But when a pilot comes over the intercom and explains why he’s turning on the seat belt sign or preps me for the turbulence ahead (even if I can see the dark clouds ahead and know that those dark clouds mean I’m in for a bumpy ride) I feel calmer, like everything is in control.
I think the same could be true in communicating with your customers. You may know why you are doing something but it’s important to let them in on it too (even if you think it’s a given), especially in businesses like vending where your contact has employees/bosses that will be coming to them for answers. I could just make a price increase and let the dice land however they will or I can make a price increase and explain why so that my contact will know I’m in control and so that their employees will know that they are too.
For the record not one contact has responded upset. All have simply said thanks for letting them know or thanks for the heads up. Also for the record I couldn’t find a picture worth posting with this blog so I decided to share a video instead. Hope you enjoy!