I have very few pet peeves. In fact, I am almost peeve-less. With the exception of underwear that doesnít know its place, I take most everything else in stride.
When my employees start to spin out of orbit, itís me pulling them back down to earth. I canít remember the last time I got excited about anything good or bad. When it comes to temperament, I am what you call low maintenance. Which means of course, that if I do get annoyed, itís an event! People generally take notice.
So with all of that said, I am announcing that I have a peeve.
No One Is Perfect, But . . .
Over the last few years I have made a habit of observing the various online forums for our industry. These are places of fellowship, camaraderie and answers. As resources they are tops. As archives they are wonderful libraries. I simply cannot begin to express the value that they represent for our industry.
Stars are born on the forums. Visitors latch on to the words of certain people who post and through heavy online traffic develop reputations as particularly knowledgeable, or at least readable. Personalities emerge, friendships develop and knowledge is shared. Itís good, all good. Except . . .
Occasionally on an open forum someone will complain. More specifically, they will complain about a vendor. It may be couched in terms like, ďIím having problems with a certain vendor, is anyone else?Ē Or, ďThis vendor has always been reliable until now.Ē No matter how softly worded, I believe vendor complaints donít belong on open forums. The feeling a vendor has when seeing public criticism has to be akin to being blindfolded, stood up against a wall and shot. There is absolutely no defense.
Imagine knowing the other side of the story and not being able to tell it. Or imagine not knowing you had a problem with a new employee in the warehouse until you find out with 1,000 onlookers.
No company is perfect. As workrooms, designers and installers we all know that. In our own businesses we deal with difficult customers and, frankly, at Plumlee Place we goof up occasionally. Sometimes we boo-boo a little, but occasionally we make monumental, colossal, stupendous, stupid mistakes. But we fix them.
Imagine how I would feel if one of my customers put an ad in the newspaper with the headline: IF YOU HAVE HAD ANY PROBLEMS WITH PLUMLEE PLACE PLEASE CONTACT ME. Every customer I have would be inspecting his or her window coverings with a microscope.
Companies want to know if there is a problem. Stuff happens. Employees donít always do what they are told. Machinery doesnít always function like it is supposed to. Management needs to know. But they want to know firsthand, when something happens. If you have a problem with a vendor, you donít need permission from anyone to let the vendor know.
So, please, common courtesy, etiquette and good manners should be standard, not the airing of dirty laundry on a public forum. It takes thousands of dollars, effort and time to develop a companyí reputation. All of that can be damaged unfairly in a moment, and spread far and wide.
Iíll keep reading and contributing to the online forums for all the good things they do. When I read someone being unfairly bashed I might not say anything because Iím not into embarrassing people in public, but readers will know it caused me, a formerly peeve-less person, to grit my teeth.
Mary Ann Plumlee is the owner of a retail and wholesale workroom. Starting with only $50 and a home sewing machine in 1985, her business has expanded to include a showroom, 12 employees and two locations. She firmly believes that in this business only the tough survive. Finding the humor in the everyday life of a ďcurtainladyĒ is how she not only has survived, but thrived in this industry. Plumlee is often seen traveling around the country teaching classes and seminars. She is the author of The Adventures of Curtain Lady and has launched a workroom related blog: www.workroomintelligence.com