UPDATE: NEW ENGLAND CALIFORNIA CLOSETS: Before I get into the real meat of this blog entry I thought that an update would be beneficial. I have not posted for awhile as we are in the middle of a very successful promotion with our best product: Lago wood products from Italy. We are taking 20% off all units built with this green product imported from Italy. This promotion is going fantastic and our clients are taking advantage of this unique promo. At the end of June this promo is going away – so if you are sitting on the fence you have until June to take advantage of this promo. Even with tough economic times it is still imperative that we keep involved with quality marketing and socially redeeming events and causes. Kim, our Marketing Manager, has again set us up as a co-sponsor for Magic 106.7’s EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN AWARD. This program will take place on May 8th and we are proud to again be involved. Since last I blogged the new CaliforniaClosets.com website has been brought on line. It is AWESOME. I have never seen our people excited about something done at the corporate office as they are about this new website. It fits all the needs for our designers and our customers. It is quick, organized and definitely conveys the California Closets experience. You must visit the site as it is something we are all psyched about.
COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE
Anyone who has read my blog knows how I am proudest of the California Closets business because we are committed to be an excellent company in all aspects of operations, product development, design, and customer satisfaction. I am always excited when one of our people go out of their way to make the California Closets experience one that is second to none. Our designers and installers are just top notch and take their roles in a company that is committed to excellence very seriously. However, excellence is all around us and in these times it is important to see it and recognize it where and when we can. Why in these times is this even more important? Because in bad economic times it is easy to utilize the short term fix than to stay committed to values that will stand up for the long term. It is easy to get discouraged when faced with adversity and to just take it without fighting back by demonstrating creativity and commitment.
So…… I decided to look around for more people and things that I recognize to have a commitment to excellence. A few came to mind immediately: Chapin’s, my favorite restaurant in Dennis on Cape Cod – the food is always great, the staff is always friendly, and the drinks are always generous. I love that place. Wellbridge, in Cambridge, is where I work out every morning and there are people there who have that commitment to excellence. Marci, one of the trainers takes her job very seriously- she teaches the Tuesday morning exercise class and the Friday morning spin class. She is always prepared, very cheerful, and attentive to the people in the class. Nothing is left to chance and other than the fact I feel exhausted at the end, it is always an excellent experience. I am always amazed by my friend Theresa who works for Coldwell Banker. In an industry that has been devastated she maintains a high level of performance and commitment to her chosen field. Her knowledge and professionalism is unsurpassed: ask her about any property in Cambridge and she has the story. She has been creative in her approach and her commitment to networking and customer service are relentless. These are all examples of that special commitment to excellence that we strive for here at California Closets, however, one of the most obvious and prominent examples of that commitment to excellence is so very close by: my wife Joanne, the teacher extraordinaire.
THE TEACHER AND THE COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE
In business you can get pretty accurate measurements of your efforts – how many leads came in, did you make the sale, are you profitable, and are your customers satisfied. In the business of education you do not always have that accurate measurement of your success. There are always forces that get in the way of knowing how successful you have been at your tasks. It takes a real high level of commitment to maintain a level of excellence when your efforts are hard to measure and the feedback is limited. To maintain the commitment to the students over a long time period takes a special person. There are many “committed to excellence” teachers, but the one I know the best is my wife, Joanne.
Two years ago she committed to going back to college so she could improve her teaching skills. Once she committed and put her mind to it there was no stopping her. She applied and received one of the Conant Fellowship Awards to attend Harvard University. She was enrolled in the Harvard School of Education in the Technology and Innovation in Education Program. Of course she graduated near the top of the class and was voted Graduation Marshall by her classmates. She was committed to excellence and getting the most from this fabulous opportunity. After graduation her goal was to go back to her beloved Tobin School in Cambridge and utilize her new learning in the best way that she could. She was assigned to be a Title One tutor working with students at risk for performance in the MCAS testing program. Since Tobin was also transitioning to a Montessori School, she also needed to train and understand the principales of this 1909 educational philosophy. Coming from technology and innovation to a philosophy developed early in the last century and meshing this with MCAS and underperforming test takers was a task that was unique.
People who are committed to excellence are undaunted by a mixed bag job description. For Joanne the most important aspect of her job was to her get the students excited about learning. Be they Montessori or MCAS test takers they were the core of her commitment. Her first attempt to mesh her technology and innovation learning with her school objectives was to attempt to get the school to buy new and innovative computer software aimed to helping students with their math. This “Timez Attack” program was to cost a whopping $250. You would think she was the Defense Department trying to get Congress to approve a new weapon’s system. The beauracratic crap you have to go through to get this done was incredible. I got so frustrated just hearing about the ongoing process I almost paid for it myself. She got through the whole requsition process, but has yet to get this software installed properly by the technology people. Road blocks mean nothing to people with a commitment to excellence. She wanted to use the technology that kids are so adept at to reach her objectives. This woman lives on Google. So, she finds a free trial for an online math program called IXL (I EXCEL- get it?) and creates a contest where she gives out prizes for those students who have spent 3 hours in the week on the on-line program. She gets to monitor how much time each student puts in on the program and how much real work they are doing with the program. This week she posted the first week’s contest results in the hall on bulletin board with the heading MCAS PREP LEADERBOARD. Some kids who have not demonstrated much joy or commitment to math were ecstatic that they hit their goals and were winners. They were excited and even more committed to getting back on line to learn more. Some of those that had not put in enough time were now seeing that they had to get on the bus with the program. The next day one student who did not make the leaderboard spent 6 hours on the program. Others were joining the program and making improvement.
You have to understand that in education today it is all about the MCAS test results. But there are other objectives that are long term important. How do you energize the student? How do you make learning effective and fun? How do you reach an ever increasing level of diverse students who have different life experiences and differing parental support for education? Remember, Joanne’s goal is to get students excited about learning – they were excited and she was excited. Those with a commitment to excellence see the long term needs and work hard to reach goals that honor the greater good.
In these tough times rely on those committed to excellence. They do not see just the small picture. When something is less money look past the superficiality of the sale and really look to see if this is something that has that stamp of commitment to excellence. California Closets will always exist to meet the long term needs of its clients. We are committed to excellence. By the way it is very hard to keep up to the standards set by my favorite teacher.