Being The Best You Can Be: Lessons From Al Berg

Photo: wn.com

Reading Dan’s post yesterday on Great Artists Steal , I was reminded of a little story I would like to share. Back in the days when a fax machine was considered a technological marvel, I worked for a little company called Marchon (over 25 years ago). I still remember the sales meeting where Al Berg gave his closing speech on being the best you can be. If we were the best we could be, that would help them to become the best they (Marchon) could be. Their goal was to be the the BEST in Customer Service and they needed the reps (army)  to help them achieve their goal of the Best In Customer Service.

Several things that he said, have stayed with me for over 25 years and they are applicable today and apply to every person in the optical industry.

#1.) Al said, there is alot of product out there and we may not be able to compete on product, (boy was he ever right, product sucked until they got the CFG1) but we can make a new customer service experience. After evaluating our competition, we will strive to be the BEST in customer service in the optical industry. We are re-defining the term customer service. Once that decision was made, everything they did was geared toward becoming #1 in customer and they were innovators! They started the overnite delivery via courier services, liberal exchange policy (bet they hate that now), frame warrantee’s, streamlined systems, better inventory information /best seller information for retailers and no backorders. Everything they did was to implement systems that worked to become the best in customer service.

That same philosophy applies to each person from optical staff, sales reps and vendors. What things can you do to become innovators or to become the best in your area?

#2.) The other thing he did- ask each of us reps to be THE BEST we can be. Not to make more calls, not to necessarily sell more frames, but to be the best rep in our territory. While I am sure that many reps blew it off, the reps I knew went out and strove to be the best, whether it was training seminairs, putting in car phones (that was a luxury), giving out bagels, doing newsletters …. Guess what happened? The reps that strove to be the best were successful. Their motivation was not money, their motivation was simply to be the best you can. The end result, they sold more frames.  How simple was that-  ‘We are asking you to be the best rep in your territory’.

That speech is still applicable today to every single person and every single eyecare office. If you are a manager, do you ask your staff to be the best they can be? If you are a rep, do you strive to be the best rep you can be? If you are an owner, do you strive to be the best you can be?

Dan Feldman wrote a post about visiting your competition, I say visit your competition (Brick and Mortar) and  your competition online. Make a list of everything they are doing Right, not wrong, right. Strive to do better than what they are doing right. In fact, I would set your staff on this task. They should know what the competition is doing because quite frankly it is called job security.  This should and can be a discussion in a staff meeting.

On being the best- Do you personally strive to be the best you can be? If you are an office manager or owner, do you ask your staff to be the best? Do you make available opportunities to learn and grow. Do you reward your staff for taking initiative?

Bottom line and I truly believe this, Marchon made it not because they had great product, they made it finding a niche that hadn’t been filled -customer service, investing back into their company, believing in their sales reps and making it easy for retailers to work with. It was a lethal combination.

My question to eyecare professionals and sales reps as well, What are you doing to become the best in your territory? Feel free to share!

 

Similar Posts:

Next Post
Previous Post

Comments

  1. Hopefully, Al didn’t take credit for what he said as being his original thoughts. When Al and Larry and a bunch of great people were at Avant-Garde, before Luxottica took it over, THAT was the philosophy espoused by Frank and Ruth White, half owners of Avant-Garde. Mr. and Mrs. White, being people of sterling character who never stole anything, tried to buy the 50% of A-G that they didn’t own for about $12.5 Million. Their partner, Michael Berle of Venezuela, said that rather than sell his share of A-G he would buy it for the same amount. The White’s, with their sense of honor felt compelled to sell their share to Berle and family. Whereupon, Michael Berle sold that half to Luxottica for $25 Million. Leonardo del Vecchio subsequently bought out Berle.

    Anyway, these were precepts drummed into us by the White’s, Larry Roth, Cy Chyette, Henry Sand and others. I guess that these were lessons learned very well since Larry and Al sold there company for almost $750 Million. So who said that there is anything wrong with doing well by doing good.

    Cathy, Avant Garde would have been better had you been with us. Another thought, nobody remembers those precepts in the wholesale frame business anymore; are the White’s progenitors of anybody new? Step right up!

  2. Ira, I didn’t know that about Frank and Ruth, but if so, it is one of the reasons, why luxottica is where it is today, building a customer service base! I bet you can tell some great stories. Thank you for the kind words, so who do you think is re-inventing and innovating now?

  3. Thanks for capturing at least one key concept that an individual can control.  People can’t control others but they certainly can control their own actions and activities and striving to being the best.

    To be clear, I never said I invented “be the best you can be” but you know that.  I am sure these words were first said thousands of years ago. In my case it was my parents who instilled this deep within my soul and of course special people along the way reinforced that message like Frank and Ruth White, Jeff, Larry and many others including you and the great inspiring Marchon team that we were fortunate to work with.

    The Key is not the words.  It is the actions that each and every one of us can strive for, and drive for.  

    Keep up the good work on sharing great ideas with others so they can build their own success.  It all starts from within and your individual drive to be the Best you can Be.  

    Best Regards,
    Al

Trackbacks

  1. […] Lessons From Al Berg […]