- A record turnout of 128 QSC members and guests, including 20 Canadian contractors who added an international flavor to the event. A vast majority of QSC’s 102 member firms were represented.
- The hiring in April of QSC’s first full-time executive director, Sam Baker, who presided over a smoothly functioning program in Toronto.
- Publication of the first module of QSC’s “Fast Track” manuals designed to teach customer service skills to service technicians.
- A well-received two-day program schedule with four speakers focusing on some aspect of profound industry changes.
Author Sam Geist kicked off the session with a two-hour presentation based on his book, Why Should Someone Do Business With You ... Rather Than Someone Else? The title served as the launching pad for a spirited review of things a business can do to differentiate itself in the marketplace.
Also on the first day’s program was PM editorial director Jim Olsztynski, who gave two presentations. First was a one-hour session with the self-explanatory title of “20 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Business Writing,” which concluded with a critique of writing samples from QSC members.
His next session spanned an hour and 45 minutes with an overview of industry consolidation. In this program, Jim reviewed facts, speculation and opinions about the buying binge of PHC service firms by national consolidators. (See accompanying story.) In addition to his own research, Jim drew many contributions from QSC members who had been approached to sell or otherwise had knowledge of the consolidators’ activities.
Educational programming on the second day featured “Sales Techniques for Service Pros,” by renowned PHC industry consultant and occasional PM contributor Dr. Bill Stiles. He was followed by Denis Cauvier, who explained the intricacies of writing a business plan in “Strategic Targeting of Your Company.”
Meet Sam Baker: PM believes that the hiring of a full-time executive is the most important move made by QSC to move forward as an organization. Sam Baker is a retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel with an MBA degree from the University of Utah. He came to QSC after serving with the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association.
What follows are excerpts from a brief interview with Baker conducted at the Toronto QSC meeting.
QSC Accomplishments: “One of the most important things is that we’ve pulled together as a group with active participation by the members — not just checkbook membership. They continually come to meetings in great numbers.
“We’ve also published the first 500 of our ‘Fast Track’ manuals designed to enable the owner to augment the apprenticeship program and bring technicians to full productivity in two years. The first module focuses on customer service,” said Baker.
Strategic Planning: QSC’s board held a strategic planning meeting at the Toronto event and came up with literally hundreds of ideas for the future. Asked to pinpoint priorities, Baker said “member growth is the key. With more members you get a multiplier effect of networking and this ends up developing more perceived value for QSC members.
“We’re also attuned to many of the industry trends now occurring, including subtle issues such as more women in the workplace. We have to develop products and services to help us thrive amid these developments.
“QSC members clearly are positioning themselves for the future,” said Baker. “We’re in an era of unprecedented change, so we must move forward with unprecedented responses. We cannot be burdened by the past.
“We’ve been blessed with insightful trustees,” he continued. “As they reach the end of their tenure, we must attract new blood to continue to the new century.”