- THE MAGAZINE
In the recent Strategies for Success seminar I attended you said much of SFS has been based on your “bone-headed blunders” and your desperate attempts to recover from them. My partner and I had a good laugh over this!
Anyway we got to thinking maybe you could share your worst mistake with us so we could feel better about some of the stupid tricks we’ve pulled! So come on, Steve, spill the beans on the dumbest thing you ever did!
-Inquisitive in Iowa
Wow, Inquisitive, where do I start! I think we need to differentiate between the big “strategic blunders” I made (which were many) and just stupid, thoughtless mistakes. And I made even more of these!
Let’s focus on the big strategic blunders in a different “Ask Steve” column. So let me tell you about one of my first dumb stunts. Almost 40 years ago my partner and I found our first decent janitorial account in Florida. It was a Florida Power and Light branch office and the manager, a Mr. Rowlett, (who was a really nice guy) took a big chance hiring a couple of rookie kids just barely in their twenties.
Chris and I worked all night stripping and refinishing their floors and at about 5 a.m. everything looked beautiful. Then Chris got this idea (I'm absolutely positive it was Chris!) to put our nasty black stripping pads in their break room dishwasher to clean ‘em up. Hmmm... so we jammed them in and put it on the "pots and pans" cycle. Chris even threw in some extra detergent to clean them up real good.
We started loading our equipment into the truck of our car (we couldn't afford a van) and tidying up the offices just as dawn was coming. About 30 minutes later we walked in to get our nice clean pads out of the dishwasher and go home to some well-deserved sleep. But no…
Instead, we walked into soap suds 2 feet high 30 feet down the hallway even before we opened the door of the break room! Then as we timidly cracked the break room door, we waded waist deep into soap suds!
That’s right - all the mop strings and junk in the pads had stopped up the dishwasher, the stripper in the pads and the extra detergent Chris threw in had foamed up incredibly and the water had just kept on coming!
We turned around to run and there was Mr. Rowlett grimly staring at us! (He had come in early to get a head start on some paperwork.) He looked at the huge mess, never said a word, turned on his heel and went to his office. We started desperately cleaning up!
Later that day I dressed up, went in to see Mr. Rowlett and profusely apologized. He just gave me a level glance with his steely blue eyes and said, "Never let it happen again"! But hey, he didn't fire us! And I never did make that particular “bone-headed blunder” again!
NOTE: I wasn’t a TOTAL idiot in business ALL the time. So I’ve made a checklist called “12 Secret to Success in Carpet Cleaning.” Download it for free HERE or just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll e-mail it to you!
So do you feel better now, Inquisitive? Thanks for letting me take you on a trip down my personal memory lane!
P.S. The moral of this story? Don't do anything your partner suggests at 5 a.m. after a sleep-starved night! And episodes like this are the reason why my official title at Jon-Don really should be “How to Avoid Screw-ups Based on My Idiotic Mistakes!”
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