This is article three of the series we started about differentiating your company and making a difference in the lives of those around you. We have discussed treating others as you would like to be treated and being truthful in all you do. This month we will talk about "Taking the Extra Steps."

Much of the work activities we are engaged in eventually have a hand-off involved. Internally, the estimator hands-off the estimate to the project manager. The cabinetmaker hands-off the casework to the installer. Externally, the products we build are handed-off to the contractor or owner.

Quite often we accomplish just the bare minimum of what is required in fulfilling each of these tasks. If we would take the time to consider who will be the recipient of our work, then we could determine how we could do just a little extra to help the next person or group. Many times ten extra minutes can save the next person hours of time. Whether it is taking a few minutes to recap what we have done or create a short checklist of what they can expect or labeling our products with just a little more information before they go on the truck, this type of consideration can make a big difference to your customer.

So often we are just glad to get that task off our desk. But how often does unclear or incomplete information result in the next person having to come back to you for what they need to use your data? Thinking about the next in line for your work may result in you changing some of your forms or processes to make it just a little easier for them.

I am amazed that architectural drawings so often seem to be very user unfriendly. Instead of grouping needed information on one sheet we are required to play "where's Waldo" to learn the intent of the design professional. While we cannot change the architectural documents, what about our own shop drawings and submittals? Can we put just a little more information there to help our fabricators and installers?

Today's technology can either help or hinder this precept of adding a bit more to what we produce. Shortcuts in information flow are a direct result of texting and Twittering. Because information is so much more accessible today, sometimes a quick cut and paste of more detail can keep the recipient of your handoff on the right track to reach a comprehensive understanding of what you have done.

Learning to "go the extra mile" is the topic of an article by Napoleon Hill found here: In this article Hill identifies applying this principal as a personal habit and the extraordinary success that follows those who have adopted it. He clearly shows that reward is inevitable to those who apply their right to do more than they are paid to do. He shows how in a world where so many are willing to "just get by" it is easy to differentiate yourself and be noticed for promotion by taking the extra steps - above and beyond what is just expected of you.

Customers notice how easy or how hard it is to do business with your company and with you personally. Many times the choice to award the contract or purchase order boils down to "who would I prefer to do business with?" Taking the extra steps will most certainly differentiate your company with noticeable pay-back and provide you with personal success.


Michael Bell is a 38-year veteran of the woodworking industry. He was deeply involved in the two-year project of melding the AWI/AWMAC Quality Standards Illustrated with the WI Manual of Millwork which resulted in the new Architectural Woodwork Standards. In addition to his work for AWI, he serves as a Woodwork Inspector for the American Arbitration Association. Bell studied Design at Southern Illinois University in the early 1970s under the noted futurist R. Buckminster Fuller. He has conducted numerous seminars for national and regional CSI and AIA meetings on the subject of specifying architectural woodwork and on the Architectural Woodwork Standards. He is also a member of the AWI Speakers Bureau and presents AWI Advanced Estimating Seminars. Bell is Director of Estimating with Allegheny Millwork & Lumber of Lawrence, Pa.

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