Quality Service Contractors members gathered in Houston, Texas, to hear an array of presentations on customer service and business management.

"Prosper in 2000" was the theme of the Quality Service Contractors' Power Meeting XII, and members gathered in Houston, Texas, Feb. 3-5 to hear an array of presentations on customer service and business management.

Ronald Resnikoff started the series of events with his discussion on customer care. Geared to retaining and servicing existing customers, the title of his presentation, "How To Build A Fence Around Your Customers" became the keynote refrain for the weekend. The president of the advertising and public relations firm Mitchell & Resnikoff, Resnikoff focused his remarks on maintaining existing customers through exceptional service, upselling and cross-selling. Asserting that retaining your existing customer base is the most cost effective way to do business, Resnikoff stressed that quality customer service is the key to success in any business.

His emphasis on the often overlooked, but always essential, underlying psychological component was picked up by Dr. Joseph Mancusi, who emphasized the importance of emotion in every aspect of life. His presentation - titled "Why Some People Succeed: How To Be One Of Them" - stressed the value of what he calls emotional intelligence, or EQ.

Citing studies that attributed only 20 percent of success to IQ, Mancusi emphasized the value in knowing and accessing one's own underlying emotions as far more vital than intelligence. EQ, he said, is the key to personal satisfaction and business success.

Mancusi then led a spirited discussion in which he outlined typical employer pitfalls, then helped develop strategies to improve business environments for both employees and customers. Each participant in the discussion was rewarded with a stuffed killer whale, a memento of what Mancusi terms the "killer whale" model of management, which emphasizes teamwork and reward.

The contrast between Mancusi's style and that of keynote speaker Don Beveridge could not have been more pronounced. With a style reminiscent of a fire-and-brimstone sermon - or at least a stern fatherly lecture - management consultant Beveridge detailed his thesis on why successful businesses fail. Pointing to the fall of the U.S. auto industry in the past few decades, Beveridge cautioned that "good times mask poor performance." He also asserted that identifying a business with the product it sells is a fatal mistake.

Only 40 percent of a buying decision is made on product, stated Beveridge, so other factors are key. "Your product isn't hot water heaters, it's expertise" he asserted. "You are there to solve your customer's problems." He returned to the theme of customer service, stressing the importance of seeing things from the customer's point of view.

Beveridge allows no concessions for the current craft shortage when it comes to employee standards, warning: "Don't trade customer satisfaction for employee satisfaction, or you're on your way out of business." According to Beveridge, most businesses fail not due to deficiencies in knowledge, but deficiencies in execution. Developing a proper management style - one that coaches employees and holds them to high standards- is the key to meeting the needs of both employees and customers.

Peer Groups

A non-profit organization within the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors - National Association, QSC provides its members with programs to enhance their image, improve their businesses, and provide continuing education and training. Inspired by the presentations, the more than 130 contractors attending the event conducted several "Round Table" discussions on various methods to improve customer service and employee morale.

Lists of tips generated at these discussions were distributed to all at the event. These peer group sessions were cited by several attending members as the most important benefit of the meetings. By meeting's end, 10 new members had joined the organization.

The weekend's events also included a trip to Modern Plumbing Co. in nearby Pasadena, Texas, where Eddie Hollub III, Albert Hollub and Steve Burch conducted a tour of the company's facilities and opened up every facet of the operation for questions from the group.

QSC Elections

In other convention news, elections were held to name a new chairman and trustee for the organization. Scott Ziegler, of Ray A. Shaffer Inc. in Schwenksville, Pa., was elected to succeeded Bill Trombly as the chairman of QSC, while Lawrence Snow of Anytime Plumbing in Las Vegas, Nev., was elected to the board of trustees for a three-year term. Trombly, currently the vice president of the PHCC-National Association, stepped down after five years as chairman of QSC. Concluding the weekend session was a banquet in honor of Trombly, where he was roasted by Ziegler, Roger Peugeot, Allen Inlow, Sonny Friedman and PM's Maurice Maio.

The next QSC Power Meeting will be held in Denver, Colo., September 22-23, 2000. For more information on Power Meeting XIII, contact QSC Executive Director Charlie Wallace or Emily Lowstuter at 800/533-7694.