Saturday, March 8, 2014

From Classroom to Pump Room Part 7: How desperate was I?? Prettty desperate!

So, what was my plan for the following summer. I was going to go around with him once or twice a week to check our pools. I was going to basically manage around him and work with him like I would with a student who couldn't write, or a basketball player who couldn't shoot a free throw. I told myself, if I assemble a better support team of employees, all he had to do was take and make the appropriate phone calls. He assured me, looked me right in the eye, and swore he could and would do this.

Another ad in the newspaper provided an older gentleman, Don, who also happened to be a part time school custodian, knew pools backwards and forwards, had a pool in his backyard, had actually been in charge of a couple of small mountain towns' water supply and in general is just a great guy. I had, at this point, given up on my partner ever actually fixing anything. All I hoped was that he could coordinate repairs and communicate with all involved. How stupid am I? Extremely. But in my defense, I was completely ignorant but fiercely loyal to my friend. What was I going to do? Fire my partner? Start a business without him? (Through it all, there was always a little bit of strength in numbers, even if one of the numbers was mentally compromised. I admit it, I was afraid to go it alone.)

That summer actually ran pretty smoothly using Don to make our repairs while moonlighting from his school custodian job. Now, the problem was our terrific, young student athletes we counted on to be terrific, young employees were not so terrific. In fact, they were horrible. There were, to be completely honest, a few that were just stellar and worked for me for a number of years. But, all in all, we could not count on them. As good a student, athlete, citizen as they may be, a kid will walk past a bag of McDonald's wrappers left from the day before all day, every day. He will then be pissed tomorrow when he's fishing it out in a thousand soggy pieces from the pool's bottom. I was never surprised that our young employees did what they did. They were in a situation, with little leadership, and expected to actually think and be proactive. Granted, I still didn't know much about the actual  pool servicing. That was my partner's job. Yes, I know, why would I think my partner would know anything at this point? I wish I had an answer. I think the best way I can describe it is to say that I had been watching a man deteriorate before my very eyes and was still hoping the young, enthusiastic teacher/coach I once knew, still had it in him. By now you should have already guessed how that worked out. So, our training program, my sadly sinking partner meeting them at a pool or two and showing them what he doesn't even quite know, wasn't exactly comprehensive training.
I keep stressing this because it's my truth. The whole point of this blog and my open, maybe biased, interpretation of  "my story" is to demonstrate that the possibility of making money and actually making money is what keeps a hopeless dreamer and "idea" guy going. I am now looking back and laughing at my dumb luck. I was too hungry to give up. I looked at it as a competition between me and the business world. I used to subscribe to Inc. magazine, used to subscribe to cheesy business magazines selling the "own on your business" dream like, Business Opportunities and Entrepreneur. I stayed up late watching what at the time was relatively new, Real Estate millions and the three day seminars. I never did actually go to one, but I would watch those shows and the millionaire would spend the entire hour giving away his only a smidgin of his secret formula, enough to entice you to spend the couple hundred for his seminar and failsafe book. I felt an urgency to make something financially positive happen. I took to reading books, usually more motivating than actual business X's and O's. I read success type stories at first. Then, as the years passed, I read more and more business strategy, marketing, personnel and other business detailed books and articles. One time I did actually send away for a free "sales kit" of a roof coating product either called "Pace" or that was the name of the company selling this amazing roof top weather sealant. I was going to take off driving the back roads of Colorado during my summers off from teaching, knock on business doors, especially large, flat roofed warehouses, demonstrate this amazing tar like substance by poking a hole in a styrofoam cup, lathering on the product and filling the cup with water to see the revolutionary sealant. Haha, I'm laughing at myself and the others who will read this and have similar thoughts. If you are a teacher, I'm certain you have.

But....we made even more money. This is more a comment on the poor service of other companies, that was industry standard, in our area.

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