Are our expectation levels changing? I believe they are and my conclusion is that internet shopping is largely to blame - but that may not be a bad thing.
In the day of instant online answers to our questions and shopping via our computer and smart devices our expectation levels as customers have increased and it's been working it's way into the traditional trades and services sector for a few years now.
At Stirling Electrical Services and Stirling Alarms a large part of our service is being reactive to customers who have unexpected electrical and security alarm problems so we are geared up as much as we can be to respond as quickly as possible but increasingly we are finding our customer service team are receiving more phonecalls from customers who these days not 'hope' for a quick response but 'expect' a very quick response.
Back to my theory regarding the internet being a cause for increasing expectation levels, I can relate to this in my own experience. I love internet shopping especially for electronic gadgets and devices and purchase many items online for the business and for home and I admit that I will pay slightly extra if it means I receive the goods quicker.
Several examples of how the internet and especially delivery timescales are affecting our expectation levels was this weekend when on Friday I ordered goods from Amazon. Not only could I pick up the goods ordered on Amazon immediately at my local Argos store in a partnership between those companies when I returned the item I purchased on Saturday mid-morning as it was defective I was told that (instead of waiting until Monday as I expected too for a replacement) I could return to Argos later that afternoon when a replacement would be delivered to Argos for me to pick up.
Another example from this weekend was on late Saturday afternoon when I again ordered goods via Amazon and expected a Monday delivery but in fact I could choose for the goods to be delivered free (Amazon Prime member) on Sunday. The goods arrived at my home late Sunday afternoon.
Yes on Sunday, the last few years has seen many of the delivery companies starting a Sunday delivery service to meet the growing demand and expectations of online shopping.
The above examples add to the recent orders I have placed just minutes before midnight on Amazon for delivery the following day and I believe Next also offer a late at night ordering service for following day delivery.
Our expectation levels and demands are increasing and the instant answers and service driven by internet shopping is well on the way to affecting the expectation levels within other business sectors, and you know what I think it's a good thing.
These days when a customer of mine expects me to have an electrician hiding around the corner just on the rare chance that they may have an electrical problem so we can respond to in a matter of minutes, then although I will initially feel they are being unreasonable to expect an electrician to be waiting just for them, it does get me thinking and makes me take a step back and ponder about how we operate and how we can work towards improving our service level.
Customers expectations, yes for us business leaders they can be a pain at times but as leaders we must put ourselves in our customers shoes at every opportunity and improve and align our own business services as much as possible to match the changing customer exception levels as well as keeping an eye on and learning from other business sectors.
It was pleasing to see the ongoing campaign to regulate electricians in Scotland highlighted on BBC radio this morning by Newell McGuinness of SELECT.
SELECT - the trade association for electricians in Scotland, are in discussion with the Scottish Government to have the profession of an Electrician officially regulated by law, similar to gas installations.
I fully support this case as only this week my company lost out on a job to a retired electrician who could carry out a job cheaper than us but has no up to date qualifications and was planning on installing life saving fire detection equipment in peoples homes not to the current standard or regulations.
Click the audio player below to hear what Newell had to say.
Interview is from Radio Scotland - John Beattie show 27/7/17 (36mins)
What a day it's been for high profile decisions by both the UK Government and The Supreme Court.
First of all UK Government announced that from 2040 all new cars sold will be electric or hybrid and then The supreme Court ruled that charging employees to bring employment tribunal cases against employers is illegal.
I'm going to give it a few days and then blog again in more depth but both decisions leave me with many questions and also anger.
I know it's more than a few decades before the new electric vehicle ruling comes into force and many many technology advances will take place within that time but as someone in the industry the generation of and then the infrastructure demand to cope with electric vehicles (in current power demands) is massive. I think its obvious that today's announcement is only to appease and beat a court order deadline knowing new generation and infrastructure plans can be left for another day and another government down the line.
The other headline news was The Supreme Court's decision to rule that charging employees a higher fee (introduced in 2013) to bring an employee tribunal case against an employer is unlawful.
As I said I will go into this in depth in another post as your point of view on this decision will likely be on whether you are an employer or an employee but let me tell you from experience, this decision will once again increase the risk and heavy burden on small businesses like mine to have to safeguard at a high insurance cost against those odd rogue employees who know at no cost will now be able to again raise a tribunal case against the employer even with a weak and deliberate vendetta case.
I really do believe you have to employ people to even start to appreciate the extra demands, burden and costs placed on small businesses who just want to create jobs and contribute to the economy.
Let me tell you that when an employee gets charged and convicted in court for a personal offence that means they cannot undertake their job but an employer can then still have an unfair dismissal tribunal case raised against them then the system is wrong and this decision just opens up the floodgates to rouge employees and rogue no win no fee lawyers.
'Back With The Team' today after nearly two working weeks off and it was great being back engaging with them all again as we collectively work to improve as individuals and also as a business.
The family break in Lanzarote was most welcome and deserved after another challenging but also rewarding past 12 months. When you run a business especially one that employs many people there will always be ups and downs and it's how as business owners we react and the decisions we make to the challenges and successes is what determines how the business progresses and grows.
Watching my young boys have fun and how they have improved in their swimming over the past 12 months gives me such energy and drive and does an amazing job at recharging my batteries.
My office team fully expect me to be on the phone or email to them every day while I'm away but although I have various business information if I require at my fingertips via iPhone/iPad apart from seeking basic updates I have learned over the years that it is not healthy-management and is very soul destroying for my team for me to constantly check in to make sure all is ok.
A combination of introducing various procedures and systems over the years allows the day to day operations to operate efficiently but I am confident in the knowledge that our systems are run by our excellent office team who do a wonderful job keeping everything together and running smoothly. It's a team game, we all have our own individual roles within the team but collectively we must work and be motivated as a unit.
Although I've talked about my own experiences above, which I know I must continue to work on and improve, the principles of team building, delegation and trusting your team as well as taking time out to recharge from the day to day coalface are all crucial to small business owners with employees.
Time off, recharging and reflecting is a great investment in the business.
Electrical Fixed Wiring Testing (EICR) and PAT Testing became mandatory for Private Rented Properties in Scotland in December 2015.
New Smoke/Heat/Carbon detection legislation was introduced in May 2014.
This applies to all Private Rented Properties.
Visit our website for more information as well as the view the information in the below, supplied by Stirling Council to all Private Landlords in July 2017.
I would like to echo the compliments from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland in thanking again all the kind people who donated to my Stirling Marathon charity fundraising a few months ago.
Do you have plugs still in use like the old style plug to the left above on appliances perhaps such as standard lamps, older garden and household equipment - if so then these old style plugs place the end user at a higher risk of shock due to the non-insulating plug pins.
Notice the black insulating shields on the two pins of the new style plug top right - the new plugs are designed like this so that when the plug is not fully inserted into the socket outlet then any part of the pins on view and exposed are insulated so metal cannot be touched reducing the electric shock risk. This safety feature is not on older plugs meaning a higher shock risk when not fully inserted into a socket outlet.
Click for more safety info on plugs and extension leads.
Writing this blog nearing the end of my family holiday in Lanzarote my mind drifts back more often now to business and the months ahead running several companies.
I don't like taking time off - I know I must, I know I must for not only my family but also for my wellbeing. In recent years I feel that I am getting better at relaxing during the downtime and allowing my team back home to look after the day to day operations.
They are more than capable and I do take heart knowing that our procedures and systems we have worked tirelessly down the years developing are now in place and being handled well.
When companies get to a certain size having procedures and systems in place that help everyone understand the day to day processes is very crucual to the efficiency and consistency of the business.
It's a busy period for us in the electrical and security system trade and we have many ideas and plans for the coming months that will require hard work from myself and the team but for now, for me, there's still another day to relax...the hard work of resuming running can also wait another day or two as well. I know this final day downtime will be another day invested well in myself and family.
The development of the smartphone and apps over recent years has given me and other business owners the tools that at a glance an overview of certain crucial business information such as bank, accounts information and emails can be sought easily with the facility to drill down into the information if I wish but to be honest I don't go into them in depth while I'm away. Knowing the information is there if I require it is good enough.
On holidays though I do tend to spend time planning my diary, todo list and note taking as ideas and problem solving can become much clearer when your away from the everyday hustle of the office.
A change to a slower pace is required at times whether it is for one day or one week. Although I've started to realise this in recent times I've still a way to go and can improve to relax further.
I never like taking my eye off the ball from my business life but I've believed this week off has given me the rest and boost required to tackle the upcoming next stages in my business development.
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