It is easy enough, I suppose, to rattle off an enumerated list of challenges our industry faces over the next 10 years. We are certainly facing the possibility of reductions in the availability of certain classes of chemistry, an unpredictable economy and a growing shortage of interested and qualified field personnel. However, I think we have to look a little deeper within ourselves to identify the biggest challenge and opportunity.
During the pandemic, we regained a sense of importance of the work we do. We even were specifically identified as an essential service. During that time, it felt like we reestablished a sense of balance between business principles and the inherent characteristics of a public health industry. As I look at the post-pandemic landscape, however, it feels like that reacquired balance is slowly fading.
I’m sure there are some who will look at my credentials and position and presume I view our industry from a purely technical perspective. However, I am first and foremost a sales and operations person. We must build strong and growing companies. But in doing so, we need to be mindful of what need we actually serve in the context of society.
Balance. It is all about balance. To achieve this balance, I offer two simple suggestions:
- Have a clear vision of the services you wish to provide your customers.
- Once you have established the scope of the services you want to provide, ensure you have protocols in place that can deliver the results you seek, and that you have selected products that will support those protocols.
For product and service method selection, I use five co-equal objectives to determine suitability or appropriateness — regardless of whether I am establishing a new service line or looking to improve on existing services (and we always should be looking to improve).
- Can the service method and chosen materials provide the intended results in an appropriate amount of time? Also, will the service last through the service interval? For example, if you are performing services in a consistently wet environment, you may not want to use a water-soluble product.
- Will the client be satisfied with the results?
- Does the service enhance the employee’s work experience? Tasks or equipment that are unnecessarily burdensome lead to frustration and fatigue.
- Does the service/materials combination consider environmental impact?
- Will the service yield sufficient profit, is there a market for the service, and is your team qualified to perform these services?
As I look at these five objectives, particularly when I am reevaluating a service or materials choice, I assign three potential values: negative, neutral and positive.
“No change,” or neutral, is perfectly acceptable. However, you don’t want any negatives.
All too often, I have seen companies only look at the sales potential for a service, and only after the fact do company leaders look at the intricacies of performing the service and the impact the service will have. I have seen this behavior in both large and small organizations.
I can appreciate the very real need for companies to grow. Solid business principles and the needs of a service organization cannot be ignored. But starting with a service-first approach will help ensure all aspects of the business are built on a solid foundation — and are in balance.