We have made it to the end of our five-part blog series discussing the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. Over the past four weeks, we've discussed value, compensation, influence, and authenticity and how it relates to small businesses. Our final topic is about receiving.
We breathe in oxygen and we breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees "breathe" in carbon dioxide and they "breathe" out oxygen. We breathe in and receive the gift of oxygen that trees provide and we breathe out and give the gift of carbon dioxide that trees need to survive. This giving and receiving creates a relationship, and, in this specific example, our very lives depend on that relationship.
In business, we have to be open to having a giving/receiving relationship with the people we interact with. Our team members, vendors, customers, and peers all have gifts they're willing to give us if only we are open to receiving. These gifts could come in the form of advice, referrals, a lunch out, or even a listening ear. Receiving allows us to enter into a relationship with those around us and those relationships are integral to building the kind of business that not only sustains us financially, but also sustains us mentally and emotionally.
What gifts have you received lately?
Below: Richard (left) has given us great advice from his many years of working in manufacturing. Ashlee and Seth (right) give us a fun and light-hearted work environment. We are so grateful for our team members!
In our last blog post we talked about serving the people in your network. Today we're going to talk about being authentic.
No one likes people who are pretending to be someone they are not. Can you trust a person if you don't know who they really are? What draws us to be in close relationships to the various people in our lives is that we can trust them to be authentic with us. The same is true with our customers; they trust us to be us.
At Bridgeview, we value friendship, kindness, generosity, and authenticity. We value teamwork, a job well done, keeping our word, and supporting our customers. We value small businesses, American manufacturing, and a symbiotic relationship between workers and employers. We strive to be the best version of ourselves and we know our customers appreciate that.
What do you value? Do you bring your authentic self to your relationships?
Below: Peter (left) is busy twisting wires but still finds time to update everyone on the scores of the latest basketball games. Ashley, Seth, and Richard (right) work hard together as a team to make sure we meet a tough deadline.
Today we're in part three of our five-part series discussing the book, The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann.
Who is in your network? When we talk about network, we're not really talking about it in a typical business way. The word "networking" calls to mind chit-chatting over drinks while hoping to put that person in your contacts list for future business opportunities. Network, in our case, is really just the people you interact with on a regular basis. People who like you, who trust you, and who want to see you succeed. This could be your spouse, your parents, your roommate, or your co-workers. When thinking about these people, one of the things they have in common is that they're givers. They give of their time, talents, and resources to help you succeed.
How can we be more like those people? How can we give of our time, talents, and resources to help others succeed? Service! In The Go-Giver, the authors talk about keeping score. Unfortunately, some of us approach our relationships this way. "If I do for you, then you do for me," is a common mindset when dealing with people in our network. Another way of saying this is "win-win." This is a way to keep score because what you get and what the other person gets is even. The authors encourage people to throw keeping score out the window! Put the other person first and trust that you will eventually get what you need.
Who are you a raving fan of? Do they have a giving personality?
Below: Kevin (left) and Bennett (right) spend time training our new hires. We believe in coaching our team members and giving them the skills they need to succeed.
Continuing on from last week, today we are discussing acts of service. We've all seen those cheesy lists describing Random Acts of Kindness a person could do. Things like "Leave a note of encouragement on a car," or "Pay for the person behind you in the coffee line," are acts of kindness but being kind to strangers and having a service-focused mentality are a little different.
The more people we serve, the more we receive in payment. We discussed as a team who in our lives we serve on a regular basis. Spouses, kids, parents, and friends were on that list. What do we receive in return for our service? Love, respect, satisfaction, happiness, and fulfillment were some of the words our team members used to describe the "payment" for their service. Serving others at work has the same affect. When we serve our customers and get positive feedback from them, it makes us feel proud of a job well done.
Who do you regularly serve in your life and what is your payment for that service?
Below: Ben (left) is working on heat shrink and Ashlee (right) is using our wire cutting machine. These acts of service to our customers help them feel job satisfaction. Way to go, team!
Today we're starting on a 5-part series based on the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. Each week we'll discuss a concept, or law, found in the book. We're delighted that the values found in the book align with the values at Bridgeview, and we hope you get as much out of the book as we did.
Who does your company serve? The first law discussed in the book is about value and what makes your company valuable. It says, "Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment." Now does that mean we give away free products? Of course not, we still have to pay our vendors, our team members, our rent, etc. What it means is that we can add value (to our products and our service) that we're not charging our customers for. We're choosing to take an attitude of service versus a transactional attitude.
How do we add value to our products and service that we don't charge for? One of the things we pride ourselves on at Bridgeview is that we are a very people-centric company. We SEE the people behind the names of our customers. We don't work for companies, we work for the people who make up the companies. When we get an email from a customer telling us that they're short staffed, under the gun, stressed, and worried, not only do we help by providing them with a quality product on time, but we also send them an encouraging card signed by our whole team cheering them on. We pray for our customers. We send candy or dog toys in our shipments. We have even been known to spend time on the phone just listening to them as they vent about the million things that bother them, whether that be the state of the economy or the naughtiness of their kids. No one gets paid to take a 30 minute phone call or sign a greeting card, but we have taken an attitude of service and serving means giving of ourselves without expecting anything in return.
How have you served someone this week? What unexpected blessings did you receive as a result?
Below: Kevin (left) is supporting a customer who needs a listening ear. Christina (right) is packing some fun dog toys in with a shipment to a customer.
There are 7 areas of wellness that we focus on at Bridgeview and we encourage all of our team members to set goals in each area and actively work to accomplish those goals.
But wait a second, why would a wire and cable company focus on wellness? Because we care about our team and wellness not only means a happy team member at work but also a happy team member at home. If you're successful and fulfilled at work, that will carry over in your personal life. If you feel stuck and unhappy at work, chances are you'll also bring those feelings of frustration home with you. One of our goals as a company is to support our team and that means supporting them in all areas of their lives.
Ken Coleman of The Ken Coleman Show had a recent podcast episode talking about wellness at work. You can catch this 8-minute episode here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AskxY4ths2c&list=WL&index=1 Ken talks about the disconnect between leaders and team members and how that disconnect results in unrealistic work conditions and the wellness of everyone in the company. We want to avoid that disconnect as much as possible.
We encourage our team to set goals in the following areas:
Does your company encourage wellness? How do your team members feel supported by leadership?
Below: Haley (left) feels fulfilled working for her family's company, and Kevin and Collin (right) grow intellectually by experimenting with faster processes for upcoming assemblies.
Patrick Lencioni wrote a great book called "The Ideal Team Player" and in his book he writes about a team of leaders who are deciding on what kind of people they would like to hire. They settle on people who have the three "virtues" of humble, hungry, and smart. Humble means you don't brag too much about your own accomplishments and you also don't have to be forced to accept praise. It means knowing you did a good job and sharing that win with your team. Hungry means driven to get the job done and doing what it takes to meet goals. Smart doesn't mean you know how to do calculus. It refers to emotional intelligence. Smart means knowing how to have good relationships with your team mates. Lencioni does a wonderful job at describing these three characteristics and gives great guidance at the end of book on how to establish them at your own company.
We have adopted humble, hungry, and smart at Bridgeview. When we do our initial phone interview with potential candidates we explain to them that our company is very people-centric. We SEE the people behind the company names of our customers and vendors. We're interested in them as people. All our team members need to have this same attitude. Potential candidates are told what our company mission is and how being humble, hungry, and smart will help them accomplish that mission and feel satisfaction and happiness at work. We don't want unhappy, unfulfilled people working at Bridgeview. We want people who are happy to serve, who want to give of themselves, and who are interested in other people. We also want our leaders to be humble, hungry, and smart. Our team members should be able to see our leaders modeling this behavior. After all, if the leader is a sourpuss, what gives team members the motivation to be caring and driven?
Has your company adopted humble, hungry, and smart? What can you do as a leader to encourage your team to adopt these three virtues?
(Below: Bennett (left) is hungry! He's driven to get his soldering done so he can move on to the next step of the process. Haley (right) is humble. She's open to learning how to solder fans and is doing to prep work while waiting for her lesson.
We're currently hiring!
We've had so many great applicants send in their resumes and we've spent hours on the phone, trying to get a sense of who has the right attitude to work at Bridgeview. Once we've narrowed down the list, we've invited those who made it through to the assessment portion of our interviewing process.
Why is it important to add assessments to the interviewing process? Liz Forth, a blogger at Namely.com, published a great article on the benefits of workplace assessments. Her blog article can be found here: blog.namely.com/5-key-benefits-of-workplace-assessments
Liz says that workplace assessments benefit everyone. Employers can match potential team members to the role that might best suit them and team members can be confident that they will succeed in those roles. Everyone is happy, right?
At Bridgeview we strive for workplace satisfaction. We want to know at the end of the day that we have done the best very work for our customers and that our work goes out into the world to empower our customers to succeed. A person needs to have the right attitude to work here and asking people to take assessments is one of the ways we make sure our team members are happy in the roles they have been placed in.
We use a variety of assessments, everything from DISC (an assessment of how people communicate) to a basic math skills worksheet. By using these tools, we can further weed out who might not be happy working here. Those who make the grade are then asked to come back for a final interview.
Do you use workplace assessments? If so, how have they benefitted your company and your team members?
Collin (left) is studying our ruler assessment and Bennett (right) is looking at the results of our DISC assessements.
When it comes time to choose a contract manufacturer to help take your company to the next level, most people tend to choose one of three options – hire a local company, hire a company known to a friend or colleague, or hire the first company to pop up on a web search. Before diving into the world of contract manufacturing, we want to help you be a little more deliberate with your choice since it can be easy to choose a company that might not be the best match for your goals. Years of experience have allowed us to put together this list of Do’s and Don’ts that will help you select and work with a manufacturing partner who will not only build your product for you but will also give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on other things, like sales.
Do #1: Do I even need a contract manufacturer (CM)?
In many situations you may decide that to keep costs down you want to assemble everything "in-house", meaning that your product will be assembled in your own facility and by your own staff. This can be really helpful during early product development when things move quickly and can be difficult to do any other way. There’s nothing wrong with starting out as a “kitchen table” manufacturer but once you’ve outgrown that stage and find that most of your time is spent building products, you might want to consider the hidden opportunity costs of building in-house, namely what are you not able to accomplish while performing relatively menial work? A CM can help free your time and give you some room to breathe. Since labour is usually the highest cost in manufacturing a product, if you continue to build in-house you might have to hire help and that might not be feasible for your budget. A CM can give you a unit price with no hidden costs and no additional payroll to manage. Quotes are generally free so it doesn’t cost you anything to find out if a CM would be right for you. Ask yourself: Do I need to free my time?
Do #2: Ask around
Some new entrepreneurs may have experience with contract manufacturing because of their prior employment and would be able to hire a CM based on personal experience. Other entrepreneurs might have to start at ground zero. In either case, it's worth reaching out to people you know: prior work colleagues, prior customers, friends, family, neighbors, people at church, etc. Word of mouth is still one of the most reliable ways of finding help. Even if the people you ask have no direct knowledge of a CM, they may know someone who does. This kind of research can be slow but can provide honest reviews that you likely won't find by just searching for a company on the web. If you do have to hire a CM that is unknown to you, look for testimonials from other entrepreneurs that you can contact. Ask yourself: Do I know of anyone that has hired a CM before?
Do #3: Be specific with your needs
When communicating with someone regarding a topic we're intimately familiar with (like our product or industry), it's easy to subconsciously assume that the other person has that same degree of familiarity. Don’t let the other person fill in the blanks like a game of MadLibs. When it comes to your expectations of a CM, make sure everything is spelled out so everyone has a realistic expectation of the work needing to be done. For example, if you make underwater wireless speakers and you need a CM to fit the electrical components but not assemble the entire speaker, you need to be specific with what you need. Are you going to supply the materials and just need the CM for labor? Do you want the CM to purchase materials for you? Do you need help with engineering drawings? Do you need technical support to help you redesign your product to meet industry standards? Maybe you just need someone to print interesting labels and you can do everything else. Whatever you need from the CM, you need to be the one to communicate that clearly. Vague instructions leads to mistakes and mistakes can lead to costly re-works and even the severing of that relationship. Ask yourself: What exactly do I want a CM to do for me?
Do #4: Communicate!
When working with a contract manufacturer, communication is extremely important. Unfortunately, because of the workloads many CMs have, some just aren't great at communicating with their clients. It's really common for CMs to 'build-to-print' (building exactly what is shown on an engineering drawing), which is fine if your design is complete and you simply need your product at a high volume and a low cost, but don’t expect a lot of communication and support from a CM with this type of service. What if you have a new product, one whose design might change frequently? You'll need good communication from a CM who has experience in helping entrepreneurs make a quality product. After initially contacting a CM, look to see if they replied to you in a timely manner. Did they answer all of your questions, give you feedback or suggestions, and were they personable? Willingness on the part of the CM to visit your location and see your product in its native environment also shows willingness to become a part of your team and a desire to develop a lasting relationship with you. Ask yourself: Do I need lots of communication with a CM?
Do #5: Take care of the details
Getting the details down can be a chaotic process with the potential of many small changes that sometimes happen at the spur of the moment. When working with a CM who is helping you with changes to your design, there might be a large volume of communication between you that can be difficult for everyone to process. Take the time to STOP, THINK, and then TAKE ACTION. Don’t leave communications regarding small details for later. Not answering clarifying questions as they arise can be disastrous, leading to repeating the same problems, reworks, and delays. It's tempting to let these things pile up and see them as adding little value or to tell yourself you'll take care of them once the important stuff is done. These little things, however, soon add up! Look for a CM that is as concerned about the details as you are and you’ll find the CM that is right for you. Ask yourself: Do I have the details down?
Don’t #1: Don't undervalue yourself
When starting out in a new business, it’s too easy to fall into a sense of self doubt and devalue your own thoughts and concerns. When looking into manufacturing partners, do not put your concerns aside by thinking that, as a customer, your lack of experience is not worthy of good service. If something doesn't sit right, trust that instinct and ask questions. Get your concerns answered to your satisfaction. If your CM is just too busy to help you understand the process and answer your questions, take your business elsewhere. An issue with a CM early on could translate into not being able to meet your deadlines later, which could be disastrous. You're worth it, and so are your products, so ask those questions! Ask yourself: Does my CM make me feel like I can ask questions, no matter how silly they might seem?
Don’t #2: Don't put too many irons in the fire
When starting anything new, even just a simple household project, it's easy to underestimate how much time, resources, and stress the project can demand of you. When working with a CM you may be tempted to put forward too many projects, thinking you’re being efficient and taking care of everything at once but the truth is that too many irons in the fire can lead to confusion, feelings of being overwhelmed, and ultimately, might make you feel like giving up. Start with one or two projects and build from that. Handing off a large package to a CM, especially with designs that need lots of tweaking, can cause problems with both the CM processing your request and you efficiently evaluating that output. Working with smaller chunks of a larger project works better and cost less for both you and your CM. Ask yourself: How can I break up my larger project into more manageable smaller ones?
Don’t #3: Don't leave 'em hanging
When looking for a CM to partner with it’s important that you communicate your final decision with everyone you contacted. If you've selected a path forward with the CM of your choice, be sure to give feedback to all the CMs you contacted. A simple explanation of why you did or did not choose them is helpful. Maybe they responded to all your questions with enthusiasm and assurance. Maybe they were unwilling to work with your drawings. Maybe you loved the promotional materials they sent you. Maybe you emailed them 3 months ago and they never got back to you. Feedback helps everyone: the CM you selected will have a good idea of how they’re doing, and those who were not selected will have solid reasons why they weren’t chosen, providing them opportunities to do better in the future. Ask yourself: What are the CMs I’ve contacted doing right and what can they be doing better?
Don’t #4: Don’t walk away without something to do
Working with a CM is a partnership where both parties agree to work together to accomplish a common goal. Don’t leave any meeting or phone call without some kind of action item for you to do and deadline for when to get it done by, even if it’s just “I’ll call you back on Monday”. Without establishing things for you to do (and when they need to be done by) it’s possible that you or your new CM will allow those things to fall by the wayside. Failing to force yourself forward (or sometimes your CM, for that matter) can stall the process and leave you back where you started. We always want to be moving forward and keeping a running to-do list with deadlines helps to keep everyone focused and on the same page. Ask yourself: What tasks can I do after each meeting and phone call to help keep the process moving forward?
Don’t #5: Don't be “extraordinarily preoccupied with efficiency”
Pope St. John Paul II discussed this problematic approach to work in his 1995 encyclical “Evangelium Vitae”. He said that sometimes we become so preoccupied with efficiency that we forget about people. Without actually getting to know the people behind the emails and phone calls, we could easily dismiss a company because it doesn’t meet our ideal price, our ideal lead time, our ideal qualification or certification, etc. At the end of the day, working with a manufacturing partner is about building a relationship. When we take the relationship out of the equation, we miss out on the support, encouragement, and even possible friendships that might come our way because of the business relationship formed. When assessing your options, don’t use price as your only guide. You’ll always get outliers, such as prices significantly higher or lower than the average quote, but leave the prices there on the table and focus on other aspects of the company you might like. Remember, cheap and fast becomes meaningless if your overall experience is bad. You want a CM that believes in your product, in your company, and ultimately, in you. Ask yourself: Other than price, what am I looking for in a CM?
We have spent years working with entrepreneurs, helping them take their products to the next level. We’ve helped with everything from engineer drawings to locating suppliers, from giving feedback on designs and materials to building thousands of products. We love working with everyone from one-man operations to large corporations. We believe in relationships and communication. We really hope that our Do’s And Dont's of Hiring a Contract Manufacturer has helped give you a better idea of how to proceed into the world of contract manufacturing. Please email us with your feedback, questions, comments, or even to request a quote. Let’s build something together!