Before Jim Corrova could shut down his TAT Ristorante di Famiglia for a vacation this summer, he had one final task: making lunch and dinner for two customers for the entire week he would be gone.
They wouldnt eat anywhere else, says Corrova, who with his wife, Dolores, owns the restaurant on Columbus East Side. I was flabbergasted they would do that. Thats what you call loyalty.
Customer loyalty, in fact, is key for Corrova and Stans Restaurant owner Bill Loscko, who closes his North Columbus eatery for a two-week vacation each year. Losckos duties before he closes include donating any leftover food to Second Servings for homeless shelters and food kitchens.
Corrova and Loscko say theyre able to take the vacations because their businesses, both founded in the 50s, are well-established.
However, they still have to make many arrangements before theyre able to pull off the time away.
Consider the payoff.
About 30 years ago, everybody said I was crazy for doing it, Corrova says of his decision to close for vacation. I said, Well, if I lose business, I lose business.
Corrova loses between $35,000 and $40,000 the week hes closed; Losckos out about $45,000 a week. They both budget for the loss and keep a reserve on hand each year.
Nowadays, stress is just a killer, Loscko says. You need the time. You get burned out in this business. You need time to relax, think about other things and be with your family. To me, Id pay $45,000 to spend a week with my family. Its that important to me.
Corrovas wife, two daughters, a son and a brother also work at TAT, so if he wants family time, hes got to close.
Loscko says if he were to remain open, it would be tough to find replacements for key employees who would want to take two weeks off. Not only that, but hed have trouble if he wanted to take a vacation while his restaurant remained open.
Youd be worried about it constantly, he says. Youd be on the phone every day, and there would be no peace.
The vacation also helps refresh his staff.
Everybody has a great two weeks theyre all rested and relaxed and ready to go for the rest of the summer, Loscko says, adding that he sometimes takes the opportunity to do maintenance work, such as painting or remodeling inside the restaurant.
Work with the employees.
Of Losckos 96 employees, only two were disappointed with the two-week shut down, he says. They would have preferred to choose their own vacation dates.
I set them down and talk to them to tell them I think this is for the better good, he says, noting he tried closing for just one week the first four years he did this. He added a second week in 1998 because, It actually takes me three days to close up and another three days to open back up, and I wasnt really getting any time off.
This year, especially with Easton opening, I was worried we would lose some people, Loscko says, but we didnt lose anybody.
Corrova tries to work with employees who do not want to lose income during the one week TAT closes each year.
If I stay in town, like I did this year, we do deep cleaning like rug cleaning, and any employee who wants to work, they can come in and help and I pay them to clean, Corrova says.
Both owners say most of their employees get three weeks paid vacation total, so they can take the remainder of the time whenever they wish.
You have to be very flexible, Corrova says. Nowadays the service is so hard to get ahold of.
Notify your customers.
The sign in front of Stans Restaurant read: Closed Jun 28 to Jul 12. Gone fishing.
When Loscko first started closing for vacations, that was the intention: to fish with his father, restaurant founder Stan Loscko. This year, however, he went golfing.
Signs notifying customers are very important, Loscko and Corrova say, especially considering theyve got a slew of regulars.
In addition to using the restaurant sign, Loscko puts notices on every door of the building about 10 days before the closing. He also makes sure his answering machines outgoing message explains the vacation and the dates.
Corrova, on the other hand, starts even earlier.
We advertise on radio and hang signs in the window about two months before time, he says, adding that hell do the same when he closes for a few days during the Christmas season. He stresses that business owners considering closing during vacation should make sure the signs explain that fact. If you dont, he says, customers will think youre going out of business.
Be specific about the dates, he adds, so theres no confusion.
Be prepared when you return.
Corrova and Loscko reopen their doors to crowds of grateful customers.
Its unbelievable, Loscko says. This is like the eighth wonder of the world. Were probably up, I would say, 15 to 20 percent over an average day, and that goes on all week.
Its just like a grand opening when we first open back up in July, Corrova says. Were packed. People miss us. Thank God for that.
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a reporter for SBN.
Id be remiss this month if I didnt point out to you a recent change at SBN Columbus.
Our staff reporter of two years, Joan Slattery Wall, has been promoted to associate editor. Joans work has graced the cover of SBN Columbus quite frequently in the past 12 months and she has been instrumental in the development of our now-standard, back-page feature called, Who to Know and the snappy, bi-monthly piece titled, Must-see Web sites.
We are very fortunate to have a talented, dedicated individual like Joan on our staff and I hope youll join me in congratulating her on this well-deserved promotion.
Not counting all the road construction slow-downs Central Ohio commuters have been wrestling with this year, getting downtown by car from any of Columbus 15 suburbs takes an average of 22 minutes, according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. Only residents of Bexley can do the commute in less, MORPC estimates. Heres how the drive times break down:
Downtown business commuting
From Distance Drive time
Bexley 4 miles 12 minutes
Canal Winchester 15 miles 25 minutes
Dublin 13 miles 27 minutes
Gahanna 8 miles 20 minutes
Grove City 9 miles 16 minutes
Groveport 12 miles 22 minutes
Hilliard 13 miles 22 minutes
Obetz 7 miles 18 minutes
Pickerington 16 miles 26 minutes
Powell 15 miles 27 minutes
Reynoldsburg 13 miles 25 minutes
Upper Arlington 9 miles 18 minutes
Westerville 16 miles 30 minutes
Whitehall 7 miles 19 minutes
Worthington 11 miles 23 minutes
Source: Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
J.F. Jeff Keeler Jr. lists his home phone number on his business card.
He also doesnt mince words about how he entered the ditch digging career that set him on a path to becoming chairman and CEO of The Fishel Co., a $150 million privately held business: I married the bosss daughter, he says without blinking an eye.
Keelers refreshing frankness, however, is nothing new to those who know and work for him.
- On a monthly basis, Keeler sends employees a letter telling them how much profit the company has made or how much money it has lost.
- In a cash profit-sharing plan, the company divides among its employees whom Keeler calls teammates one-third of its before-tax profits. When he first did that in 1984-85, employees received a bonus of one weeks pay annually; this year, bonuses could top eight weeks pay.
- When Keeler developed Vision 2000, a strategic plan outlining the companys goals, he shared it not only with employees but with major clients.
Keelers demeanor is just as open in one-on-one dealings. Without hesitation, he gives matter-of-fact answers to the most pointed questions.
What has been the scariest moment of his business career? Having a Fishel teammate seriously injured or killed. Getting that phone call I go to funerals, visit with families, he says. Thats happened not often, but its happened a time or two.
What is one thing most people dont know about him? I was dyslexic as a child, he says. Keeler was behind in grade school and junior high, but has learned to overcome the problem. I dont look at it as a disability; Im just a slow reader, he says.
Keeler expects Fishel teammates to be as open and enthusiastic as he is. Celebration bells in all the companys offices are rung for accomplishments, from making a sale or finishing a project to personal mileposts such as family additions.
Keelers openness explains how he develops such innovative ideas to lead The Fishel Co., which provides utility contracting for energy and information systems.
Im a sponge for business knowledge, Keeler says, noting he gets many of his ideas from organizations hes joined, such as the Chief Executive Organization and Columbus Presidents Organization, of which he is president. He also serves as a board member of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
Furthermore, Keeler gets ideas from other company boards on which he serves: Bank One, Davon Corp., AirNet Systems Inc., Metatec Corp., Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc. and Sports Imports Inc.
One reason I go on a board is, I feel I have something to offer, but I also have the opportunity to learn, he says.
His knowledge has garnered the respect of others in the business community.
Jeff should write a textbook on management because he knows more principles of good management than the people who write the books and spend their life studying good management, Roger Blackwell, a marketing consultant and Ohio State University business professor who has authored several books, says in Keelers Hall of Fame nomination form.
Jack Ruscilli is equally impressed.
It has been Jeffs forward thinking that has taken The Fishel Co. well beyond the worlds greatest ditch digger, Ruscilli says in Keelers nomination form.
Keeler is quick to stress the role of teamwork in getting the 63-year-old Fishel Co. where it is today.
One thing Ive done is surround myself with people who are smarter than I am in their own special area. I brag on my officers, but they have people working for them who are equally as good. I also am blessed with the best board in the United States of America, he says with conviction.
His motives for success are opportunities to improve and the challenge to be the best in his business. Every team, he says, has its own motivator, depending on its mission and vision.
I dont have to be the leader in every situation, he says. I think you only recognize that with age and maturity. It goes back to hiring people that complement your experience and hiring people that are smarter than you are. Then I step aside and yield and follow their lead.
Joan Slattery Wall (email@example.com) is a reporter for SBN.
The Ohio Department of Development honored local businesswomen Erin Nyrop Glasgow, owner/president, Sterling Electric Co., Dublin; Mindy D. Hedges, president, Media Solutions Inc., Delaware; Vickie Hutchins and Jo Ann Martin, owners, Gooseberry Patch, Delaware; and Rhonda J. Slotta, president, TDCI Consulting LLC, Worthington, at the 1999 Excellence in Enterprise Awards. The Ohio Department of Developments Womens Business Resource Program/Small Business Development Center and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP established the award in 1996 to recognize the achievements and economic contributions of Ohios women-owned companies.
Gov. Bob Taft has appointed 21 business executives to his Small Business Advisory Council. Local executives named to the council include Linda Hondros, president, Hondros College; James Matesich, CEO, Matesich Distribution Co.; Curtis McGuire, owner, Redlegs Lumper Service Inc.; Dwight Smith, president, Sophisticated Systems Inc.; and Robert Vennemeyer, CEO, Design Group Inc.
Michael E. Flowers, partner of Bricker & Eckler LLP, has been elected chair of the business law section of the American Bar Association. As chair, Flowers will implement three new initiatives for the section, including a business law ambassadors program, a career forum and an electronic resume bank and job posting service.
Rogers Drew has been appointed international tax partner in the Columbus office of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
Samuel S. Stallworth Jr., vice president and general manager of WSYX-TV, has been elected a national vice president of the voluntary leadership of Muscular Dystrophy Association. The associations vice presidents provide counsel in their areas of expertise and assist through advocacy and support of its programs.
David A. Diamond has been promoted from vice president to senior vice president-corporate controller at Nationwide. Before joining Nationwide in 1988 as director of financial projects, Diamond was senior manager at Ernst & Young.
JoAnna W. Cooke has been named vice president of marketing for the United Way following 10 years of volunteer involvement with the organization. Prior to joining United Way, Cooke spent three years with Bank One Corp. as vice president of strategic marketing for its Finance One Corp. and vice president of marketing development for Banc One Credit Card Services Co.
Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates Inc. has named Neal Gearinger vice president/account director. Gearinger, formerly the director of managed care marketing, neuroscience and infectious disease with Bristol-Myers Squibb, will be responsible for all aspects of a number of the agencys pharmaceutical accounts.
Alan Silow, former director of marketing and public relations for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in New Mexico, has been appointed executive director of ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.
Paul A. Gydosh Jr., a Columbus-based certified financial planner, has been named to Worth Magazines annual list of the top 250 financial advisors in the nation. Gydosh is a financial planner with the Steinhaus Financial Group, an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp.
When SBC Advertising wants to communicate with its clients, it sends them to Area 51. Granted, the North Columbus firms clients arent actually visiting the Nevada military base of extraterrestrial notoriety.
Instead, SBCs Area 51 is a special section of its Web site created so clients can periodically check on the status of their projects and offer feedback in a more efficient manner.
For example, on a recent project in which SBC launched a new bank card for The Kroger Co., the firm needed input from the Minneapolis bank issuing the card and from Kroger officials in Columbus and Cleveland.
We were able to put that creative [project] up on Area 51 and did a live conference call. Everyone was able to look at and comment on the work simultaneously, and when changes needed to be made, everyone was able to view it again in the afternoon, says Jeff Tritt, SBCs senior vice president.
The Area 51 process not only saves on travel, SBC and its clients avoid the costs and time involved in producing color copies and sending them via courier or mail. In addition, using Area 51 gives the firm the opportunity to get a product to market sooner because it isnt waiting so long for feedback.
We have found it to be just as beneficial to clients in town as clients in Cleveland, Tritt says. Our time and their time still is valuable.
Not top secret
Tritt says the idea for Area 51 was born when SBC noticed clients, in a business world of downsizing, were having to do more things with fewer people.
Time is a premium item for them, Tritt says. They dont have time to have lethargic meetings talking about minutiae.
Now, that minutiae is handled over the Internet by more than half of SBCs clients, who visit SBCs Web site www.sbc-adv.com click on Area 51, enter their password and choose the project they wish to view. They can print out a copy, make note of desired changes and call, fax or e-mail the information back to SBC.
We get quicker feedback and more time to work on something without affecting the timeline, Tritt says.
Clients also gain more flexibility in working with SBC.
Its convenient, says Lisa Dulay, advertising manager at Express-Med, one of SBCs clients. Express-Med uses SBC to produce direct mail pieces, and each month she visits Area 51 to view new creative work from the advertising firm.
If we were out of town on a trade show, we could look them up and print them out and take them with us instead of not getting back with them in a timely fashion, she says.
Area 51 also helps the flow of communication at Express-Med, she says.
Anyone can go on and look at it at their convenience and not have to wait for somebody else to look at it and pass it on, she says.
Authorized entry granted
In order to ensure its clients would approve of Area 51, SBC had to design it so it would be easy to use and secure and fun.
Because SBC already had its own Web site, an in-house programmer simply had to create the Area 51 section. Security parameters, such as code names for client companies and passwords for each employee, alleviate confidentiality concerns for clients.
Here are some steps the firm took to simplify the process for its own staff and its clients:
- SBC provides clients with written instructions and consults with them one-on-one by phone to make sure theyre comfortable using the site. Our clients vary in technological aptitude, Tritt says. We try to make it very simple for someone who is not far down the line on computer competence.
- The firm decided to use a PDF, or portable document format, to transmit the creative pieces, because those files are smaller and easier to download. That format holds the quality and color well so the client gets an accurate portrayal of the firms work. The client can zoom in and out of the document on the computer screen to get a better view.
- SBC account representatives notify clients by phone or e-mail when a new creative piece is posted on the Area 51 site or when revisions are ready. So SBC can keep control of the product quality, clients cannot make changes directly to the creative pieces posted on the site. Instead, they can look at the piece, which appears in color, and either telephone, e-mail or fax comments to SBC.
- The firm also automated the process internally. Rather than having just one computer expert who can load information onto the site, all creative staff employees can do it for their own clients. So its not like were waiting on one person to get it up on this complicated Web site, Tritt says. Its very simple. So simple, in fact, that it only takes 10 to 15 seconds for someone to post a project to the Area 51 site.
- To notify clients of the general availability of Area 51 to review project work, SBC sent out press releases. The firm also provided clients using the site with a laminated identification card, complete with password, that resembles a real security badge. We tried to make it fun for clients who might be intimidated by it, Tritt says. The badge, in fact, has been the only out-of-pocket cost for the firm.
Really, its intellectual property. We already had the Web site; we have the server. Its just increased the functionality, Tritt says.
Tritt expects the increased efficiency from Area 51 to both free up time for SBC to work on more client projects and be an attraction for clients to choose the firm in the first place.
When its easy to get things done through us, Tritt says, its easier for them to give us more projects.
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor of SBN Columbus.
I just read your SBN pain article [A recurring pain, October 1999] with interest. I have been telling friends and family for years about the circus our medical system has become, but was just written off as a whiner.
Then, after 39 years of excellent health, my wife finally had to enter the game and quickly began to experience the frustration that you and I experienced.
She decided it was more healthy to stay sick.
Although you must have felt you were at your wits ends, you actually found the right doctor fairly early on in the game. I am still chasing the wild goose after decades of this merry-go-round.
Friends, family, associates, churchgoers and fellow sufferers were quick to steer me to their favorite doc who would most certainly be able to fix me right up. I found that these lay referrals only served to provide a never-ending fountain of dead-end avenues chewing up time, money and frustration endurance.
The system cannot be changed with knowledge alone. For years, I have come to feel that I knew more about the diagnosis, symptoms, drugs and alternative treatments for back pain than any doctor I ever met. Certainly I knew more about my pain. Knowledge of the medical system is more important than knowledge of the medical condition, as it turns out.
The real problem is that doctors are a legal monopoly. If you need drugs, surgery or elaborate diagnostics, the only place you can get it is from the system. And you can only get what they say you will get. You have the right to decline service, but you cannot demand it.
You cannot threaten to go somewhere else, because there is nowhere else. So they get away with practices which would doom any other free-market organization overnight.
The same solution that works for runaway government works for runaway health care: The people need to take control. For this to happen, a whole lot more people need to care.
But you and I are a good start, dont you think?
D. Keith Lamb
Micro Resources Inc.
So do something
This letter is in response to your editorial, A recurring pain. I usually scan SBN for any information that may be helpful for me. Your editorial caught my attention.
Actually, Im a little confused by it. By the standards that you set, you may have had a successful experience.
The drugs didnt harm you. You could have had a myelogram. How about exploratory surgery? Your insurance, it covered most of the inflated bills, right? What you went through is a typical scenario. The medical people are looking for a disease. No disease, no pay. They found no disease, so they figured you would get better anyway. You are lucky you did not find a really aggressive specialist.
So you want to change the $1.7 trillion [thats a lot of zeros] medical system? Me, too. However, if you intend to wait for your next issue to develop, then you are actually doomed to repeat the experience you just wrote about. Excuse me for telling you that you will need a completely new way of looking at health, but you do.
As a leader in the business community, let me put it to you this way. If we shifted our consciousness from disease and symptoms, looking for the quick fix, to a proactive health care approach, all levels of productivity would be increased. Fred, if you had a fleet of vehicles, would you rather protect your investment by maintaining them or would you wait until they began to break down? This is the approach to health that you describe in your editorial.
I am a chiropractor. I want you to know that chiropractic is not about pain. Pain is a symptom. Pain is the bodys way of telling us that something is wrong. Chiropractic is about removing the cause of your disease, which is interference to your nerve system, or vertebral subluxation.
The chiropractic you were referred to is actually physical medicine. You tell me, was it different than the physical therapy? There are a lot of my colleagues that treat symptoms. Unfortunately, it is not what chiropractic is about.
Mr. Koury, the time to do the research is now, not when you are having an issue. If you have been in business more than a month, you know that there is usually more to the story than what meets the eye. This is certainly true in the health industry.
To begin with, health comes from within, not from a pill or potion. The nerve system is the most important part of your body. It is the first system to form in the developing embryo. It is the only system with its own protection [skull and vertebra]. You will only get one. It controls every function of every cell in your body.
If there is any interference with its message, you cannot be healthy. Chiropractors are the only profession trained to detect nerve interference. Check it out; no one else in town is talking about the nerve system for health.
Just think, if everyone was concerned with maintaining their health, there would be fewer days missed at work. Employees would be able to concentrate better, make fewer mistakes. The possibilities are endless. You said you could do something about it.
Brian G. Foltz, D.C.
Network Chiropractic Center
Former U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Grady L. Pettigrew Jr. has joined the law firm of Cox & Stein Co. LPA as a shareholder and principal. The firm has changed its name to Cox, Stein & Pettigrew Co. LPA. Prior to joining the firm, Pettigrew was an equity partner in the Columbus office of Arter & Hadden for 12 years. Earlier in his career, he served as a judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio, was a member of the bankruptcy faculty at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C., and worked as an adjunct professor at the Law School of Capital University and The Ohio State University College of Law.
New officers for the Columbus Chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives include Dan Pealer, chairman; John Boyers, vice-chairman; Barry Turner, secretary; and Lowell Masten, treasurer.
George W. Smith, vice chairman of the board for HER Inc., Realtors, has been elected as the year 2000 president of the Ohio Association of Realtors. Smith was president of the Columbus Board of Realtors in 1993. Currently he serves as a director of the National Association of Realtors.
Columbus Countywide Development Corp. has honored Leslie Weilbacher, director of the Central Ohio Small Business Development Center, as the Economic Development Professional of the Year. Columbus Countywide also recognized six Central Ohio lenders for their contribution to small business job creation and community development in 1999. The Lenders of the Year include Scott Green, Fifth Third Bank; Robert Halley, Heartland Bank; Ryan Henson, Key Bank; Dave Entsminger, Firstar Bank; Laura Frum, The Huntington National Bank; and Roger File, Champaign Bank.
Thomas C. Sawyer, co-founder and president of Opinion Strategies, has received the Ralph Davenport Mershon award from The Ohio State University Alumni Association Inc. for demonstrating exceptional leadership and service to the university. Sawyer has served three terms on the Presidents Alumni Council and was elected to the alumni associations board of directors, also serving as its chair. He also was president of the Ohio State Student Loan Foundation and served on the campaign committee for the Longaberger Alumni House.
Dennis Dowdell Jr. has joined The Longaberger Co. as vice president of human resources. Dowdell joins the company after nine years as corporate vice president of human resources with Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.
Columbus Countywide Development Corp. has recognized Central Ohio lenders and businesses for their contribution to small-business job creation and community development in 1999. Fifth Third Bank was named Bank of the Year for number of loans, volume of loans and job creation. Projects of the Year and their lenders and financing programs included Diehl-Whittaker Funeral Services and lender National City Bank, SBA 504; Coyne Printing Inc. and lender Park National Bank, Ohio 166; Technology Advantage Inc. and lender Huntington Bank, SBA Pre-Qualified Program; Pepperberry Cottage, Central Ohio MicroLoan Program; and X Design Inc. and lender Key Bank, Columbus Growth Fund. Damons and lender Peoples Bank were named Enterprise Development Corporation Project of the Year, and the Economic Project of the Year was the Linden Medical Center, with lenders Key Bank and City of Columbus Department of Trade and Development.
Heartland Bank of Gahanna has received the inaugural Olive Award for Excellence and Innovation, co-sponsored by the Community Bankers Association of Ohio and Olive LLP, a financial services company in Cincinnati. This award recognizes high-performing Community Bankers Association of Ohio members who are ensuring a healthy future for their banks and their communities. Heartland Bank won for the significant role it plays in 4-H activities in its community and its innovative Switch program provided to help customers change banks.
Three local companies have received recognition on the Inc. 500, Inc. magazines list of Americas fastest growing private companies. Local recipients are No. 323 Quick Solutions Inc., a technology consulting company that has been on the list for the past three years; No. 338 Progressive Medical Inc., a national managed care provider; and No. 409 Photonic Integration Research Inc., a manufacturer of fiber optic components for telecommunication systems.
Athletic Business magazine has awarded Moody/Nolan Ltd. the 1999 Facility of Merit award for its design of the Jerome Schottenstein Center at The Ohio State University.
Construction Management Association of America has named Gilbane Building Co. a recipient of two 1999 Project Achievement Awards for its work on the Hilltop Development Project in Columbus. These awards honor the company for excellence in management of the construction process.
EXXCEL Contract Management Inc., a Columbus-based general contracting construction firm, has been ranked No. 72 on the top 100 design-build firms list by Engineering News Record magazine. The listings were based on 1998 revenue from design-build contracts.
The board of trustees of the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio has presented 1999 Business Integrity Awards to Campbell Builders Inc. in the small business category, HYTEK Material Handling Inc. in the medium size category, and Holt CAT/Holt Power Systems in the large business category. The awards recognize firms whose business practices and related activities in the community exemplify the BBBs mission and principles.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority has approved tax credits for business expansion projects in Ohio. Local projects include seven-year, 55 percent tax credits for three companies. The Scotts Co. in Marysville will expand production and create 30 new jobs; American Eagle Airlines Inc. will lease 63,800 square feet of space at Port Columbus for an aircraft maintenance and office support facility expected to create 57 new jobs; and AmeriLink Corp. in New Albany will construct new corporate headquarters, creating 65 new jobs. In addition, PETsMART Inc. will receive a 65 percent tax credit for eight years to construct a 600,000-square-foot distribution center in Columbus, creating 240 jobs. SubmitOrder.com Inc., located in Groveport, will receive a 65 percent tax credit for seven years to lease a 437,000-square-foot building and create 214 jobs.
The state Development Financing Advisory Council has approved a $142,800 loan for Cardinal Imaging Inc. to purchase machinery and equipment and a $350,000 loan for Action Group Inc. to acquire a 155,000-square-foot building, machinery and equipment.
Clary Communications Inc. and Mod Dog Internet Services have formed a strategic business partnership to develop business-focused Internet solutions for clients.
Executive Jet Inc. has opened the first phase of its new $25 million operational headquarters at Port Columbus International Airport. The new facility includes support space, office space and an operations center. We are eager to remain at Port Columbus since this is where it all began, says Richard Smith, executive vice president of the Executive Jet Columbus facility. Executive Jet is a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. company. Gilbane Building Co. is overseeing the construction of the new facility, which was designed by architects URS Greiner Woodward & Clyde.
We wait on hold, talk to voice mail, play telephone tag ... its no wonder some business people have gotten so frustrated with the phone that theyre increasingly relying on e-mail, faxes and other technologies to communicate.
While these new media have their places, theyre usually no substitute for actually talking with a client or business associate. Given that, here are a few ways to make the telephone less frustrating and a much more effective communication tool.
- Record a voice mail greeting that works.
One of the biggest complaints about the phone is the seemingly endless games of tag we play with callers. All too often, the greeting on our voice mail is a big part of the problem. Dont just say, Leave a message and Ill call you back. The only message most people will leave is, Hey, its Joe. Call me. Instead, try, Please leave a detailed message outlining exactly what you need. That way, Ill have that information when I call you. Thanks.
- Better yet, answer your own phone.
A lot of people think having someone screen their calls saves time, but I disagree. Messages get garbled. Sometimes people wont discuss a confidential matter with a secretary or administrative assistant. Why duplicate efforts? Your associates time is valuable, too.
- Dont be too quick to say, Ill call you back.
If someone calls and requests information you dont have at hand, but can get quickly, dont say Ill call you right back. Odds are, youll just start another round of phone tag. Instead, ask callers if you can put them on hold. If they hesitate, explain, Itll take me less than a minute to get that information and we can settle this right now.
- Let more callers hold.
If you choose not to answer your own phone, instruct the person who handles incoming calls to ask everyone to wait on hold for just a few seconds, to see if youre available. If youre on a call, youll usually be able to conclude that conversation and take the incoming call. Its frustrating to miss important calls because you were on an unimportant one.
- Put yourself on hold, too.
Most of us have more than enough to keep us busy at our desks, so why are we in such a hurry to leave a message when the person were calling is on the other line? Instead, announce you dont mind waiting on hold, put your phone on speaker and get back to work. So what if you wait five minutes? Youre getting work done. And you know the person you need to speak with is in, so the wait is worth it.
- Alert your assistant about important incoming calls.
Your assistant cant read your mind. If youre expecting an important caller, let someone know and leave instructions to interrupt you.
- Make calls before or after hours.
Often, you dont need to talk to someone you just want to leave a piece of information. The trouble is, what should be a 30-second phone call can become a 10-minute rehash of the weekends football game. To avoid these conversations, leave messages before or after hours.
- Keep your voice mail message current.
You call a business associate Monday. Her voice mail says to leave a message and shell call you back. You leave a message. No return call. You leave another message Wednesday. On Thursday, you finally learn shes on vacation. Youve wasted almost a week because she didnt update her voice mail message and she probably lost an order.
Charles Nekvasil is executive counselor at Lord, Sullivan & Yoder Public Relations in Columbus. On a typical day, he makes and receives more than 100 telephone calls. Reach him at 846-7777.