Archive for the 'Newsletters' category

June 2010

Jun 30 2010 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

I love words.  I have always had favorite words and favorite quotes.  I love the way words can be put together to form a thought or make a statement.  I love playing with words and drawing on their ability to convey how I feel.  Some of my favorite words are actually more a sense of home than the words themselves.  “Shenandoah”.  It brings a mental picture that 10,000 words could not express.  I can smell it, see the misty fog and hear the distinct accents of the people who dwell there.  Those people who are so unaware that the syllables they pronounce are music to my ears.  I’ve been gone so long now from my home that I am aware of the wonder of it.  Other words offer smiles of pure fun.  I can’t say popcorn with being happy.  Can you imagine a better word for “shenanigans” than “shenanigans”?

As much as I love words, hearing and saying them… I love that some words aren’t just words.  At Employers Resource we have core values that all of you prove every day aren’t just words, they’re actions.  That’s so very incredible to me.  I love that we “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk”.  Now as summer slowly creeps across the country (don’t get me started on global warming) I think of one particular core value…  Have Fun!  Remember to take time at work to have fun and make it fun for others.  I have met lots of clients in the last month, and I had great fun with them.  They love it, it makes us real and makes us friends.  So go on now….  take this season of fun and have some, you’re going to thank me for it!

Mary

Mary D. Gersema, CPP

Chief Operations Officer

Employers Resource

208-376-3000

800-574-4668

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Donald A. Adams

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March 2010

Mar 30 2010 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

March 2010:

Heart of the Matter

Last March I told you an Irish joke about the O’Malley twins, this year I’m going to skip the joke and get right to the heart of the matter.

I have two stories this month, each with a lesson.  The first story is about Ronnie in the Atlanta branch.  We have a new client and Ronnie is the person handling their payroll needs.  This client had a pretty rough on-boarding for various reasons and quite frankly they were not too happy with us.  As it turns out there was one more problem the client would have to deal with and it regarded how we funded the payroll.  Ronnie made a false assumption and… oops!  So following is an excerpt from Ronnie’s email to the client and the client’s response:

“Hi Mary(the client Mary, not me) ~ I AM THE ONE ~   after talking with Lee it was my understanding it had been approved, so I sent the invoice to the accounting department to do the reverse wire, I understand now that you will be doing the wire from your end.  Going forward after I send you the reports please get back to me with your approval, so I can print checks and the direct deposits can be processed.”

Best regards Ronnie

“Ronnie…..you are the nicest person I have met in a long time.  And just for admitting you goofed (heck I do it EVERY DAY), I want to tell you how much more I respect you NOW than I did before.  And I respected you a LOT before!!    If everyone would just own up to a GOOF, life would be so much more pleasant.  And because of YOU…..it will be a long time until we leave ERM!”

Thank you, Mary

This is such a beautiful example of how we do things here and why.  When we make a mistake, we own it.  It’s as simple as that.  We apologize and offer to make it right.  The response is usually positive and cements a relationship.  Thank you Ronnie for showing us the way.

My next story is about a question I have been asking a lot lately.  “Who’s your favorite client?”  I have loved reading each and every story and have learned so much about our clients and have loved seeing your care and respect for them shine through.   Dallas branch put all their responses to my question together and when they did so they came to the conclusion… well, let me allow Mike Watters to tell you “…..it is very hard for my team to pick a favorite client.  The same goes for me.  They like them all!   Yes….some probably more than others.  But the fact is and as I have heard you say, the client they are supporting at the time would be their favorite client.  I hear and see proof of that each and every day.”  That is also the Employers Resource way.  The starfish story is all about “the one we are serving right now”.

Have a wonderful month, own your mistakes, and take care of your “favorites”.

Mary

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February 2010

Feb 28 2010 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

February 2010:

Making My Heart Happy

The heart has long been associated with the soul, love and happiness.  We speak of doing something “to our heart’s content”, of loving “with all our heart” and of having “broken hearts” when things go very badly.  This month I have some of all of that and a client service story of a local company who “made my heart happy” when they went above and beyond.

We have been using our PayPlus system for over 20 years now.  In the IT world it is beyond antiquated.  I have loved being associated with this software as it not only has great people that I have been friends with for years.  It has gotten the job done everyday for a very long time.  We have waited for over 5 years for the new and improved upgrade from PayPlus to PeopleHQ and have sadly come to the realization that the PeopleHQ dream probably won’t come true, at least in the way we envisioned.  This was heartbreaking because we had poured much sweat, tears and money into it.  Out of that heartbreak came hope as I  went to Pasco, Washington with a group of very talented people (many of whom I’ve been PayPlus friends with for years) and we got to dream again of “what may be” as a result of our hard work and determination to have the best software available for the PEO industry.  We were able to come together and work through issues and have resolution and a plan that will require we work with all our hearts and I am sure the results will make many hearts happy.

Leaving Boise for Pasco with a “happy heart” came as a result of taking my car to the Phillips station on Overland Road near Cole to fill up with Ethanol-free gas and to have my car cleaned for the trip.  This is the only place I go to get gas or have my car washed.  They have this location and the one in Meridian on Fairview just west of Locust Grove.  I recommend them highly.  Back to the car wash story.  My car has a weird kind of cup holder and I always push it in before I give the car to them so it doesn’t get broken.  When I got my car the cup holder was out and would not stay in so I was not too happy.  I talked to Joe, the manager on duty and he asked if I would wait until the next day to see if it was just damp inside and once dry would work.  I agreed and the next day it still would not work properly so I called the owner, Dave and explained the situation.  He asked if I could take the car to the Meridian location so their maintenance guy could look at it.  I explained that it was pretty far out of my way as I picked up my kids by the mall and lived almost in Kuna.  He asked if he could call right back.  When he called back he told me he had made arrangements for the maintenance man to come to the Overland location just after my kids were out of school.  I was thrilled!  I picked the girls up and went straight there.  They met me immediately, took the car into the shop and fixed the cup holder.  I am a renewed fan and this is the kind of service I want us to provide to our clients.  Just like Dave did at Ultra-Touch Car Wash, I want you to make the lives of our clients easier so they will be renewed fans.

And, I hope you got lots of love from your special peeps on Valentine’s Day.  My girls and I all got beautiful bouquets from George.  My daughters were thrilled that Daddy remembered them with flowers they felt “loved with all of his heart”.  I wish you all love and joy as we move forward in 2010.

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January 2010

Jan 30 2010 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

January 2010

Under Every Cushion

Have you ever found money in a pocket of your jeans or the back of an old handbag?  Have you ever actually been in a position where you looked for coins in your sofa cushions and between your car seats?  Me too, and when I found some… awwhhh, I love that!  Now I am looking for coins in the company and I need your help as we have lots of pockets and sofa cushions and I can’t get to all of them.  This year is going to require that we all be sticking our hands down between those cushions and putting all the coins we find in the “piggy bank”.

When I ask people this question I get very valuable information:  “What do you see us spending money on that makes you go hmmmm?”  So now I’m asking you to ask yourself that question as you go about your daily work.  It does not matter if it is your own department or not.  If you see us “dropping coins” please bring it to my attention.  Also, please remember to purchase based on value (where price and quality intersect).

Sorry this article this is so short, but I have some cushions to go look under.

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January 2009

Jan 28 2010 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

January 2009

by Mary Gersema
Is it really 2009?  When did the years start flying by at this incredible pace?  Well, no matter… here we are.  I find it hard to begin looking ahead to the New Year without first taking another look back at what was accomplished in the past year.  Want to stroll backwards with me for a moment as we look at a partial list?
 
We were dedicated to training this past year.  We put together a new styled company training package called “The Process” we conducted 5 trainings.  We had 65 people receive their certificate and a song from George.  They also learned a lot about the company and industry and they can all do the Macarena and be a little teapot.  It was so awesome to get to know each of them (you) a little better.
 
We have an office in Raleigh, NC which is a mere 3½ hours to my Mama’s back door.  The operations team had a wonderful retreat.  It literally knocked me off my chair into the arms of my very nervous peeps!  It’s a long story.  We are using BAT for our benefits administration and had a smooth (it’s all relative) annual enrollment.  We rented more office space at corporate.  Yeah!  Except I still have to walk up the stairs.  Thank you Lord for strong legs.  We became active in the new PayPlus Power Users Group.  That will be at the top of the list for 2009 and it was great to be in Dallas with Doc and Pam to get the ball rolling.  Jim Grimm accepted the challenge of moving into National Sales Management and I am so happy to have him in that position.  And I hired Barb Howard to be our new Director of Payroll Operations.
 
And now dust off that crystal ball cause it’s time to turn around and look forward.  What’s in store for us?  I think 2009 will be a year of improvement.  Now that we have (almost) all been through “The Process” it’s time to begin looking at all of our work through the eyes of our clients and begin making the process (pun intended) smoother.  This will allow us to be more flexible, more approachable, more efficient, and very importantly, more profitable.  We will need to really get tight for the upcoming year of uncertain economy.  I am excited to begin working on how we can begin to measure each job in the company on the basis of “how does what I do affect a person in a real way.”  I think that will help cut out the unnecessary and focus in on the urgent.  I am also most excited to have Barb taking a big part of my daily job so I can focus on the company as a whole.
 
For 2009 I am committed to spending time in each corporate department as well as working with the Power Users Group and continued training for the company.  And I have a new stack of books to read and report on.  And you know you love that!  Well, I’ve taken more than my allotted space so I have to run now.  It truly has nothing to do with the Fiesta Bowl and watching Texas!  It’s gonna be fine in 2009!

From a different “Heart of the Matter”

The HEART of the Matter – by Susan Hastings

Relationships make a difference

What relationships in your personal and professional life make the greatest difference to you? Who is the first person who comes to mind? The relationships that nurture my life usually come down to HEARTS.

What do I mean by HEARTS?

Honesty:

Relationships that that grow and make a positive difference are based on honesty. Relationships are a matter of give and receive, and that includes knowing we can give and receive honest feedback, knowing it is coming from a caring heart.

Energy:

Energy is contagious. There are people you are simply drawn to because of the energy they give out, their positive attitudes. There are others you avoid because of their negativity.

Alignment:

This suggests that we “walk our talk” and “Be what we say we are by acting in accordance with our words.” Are your spoken priorities the same as your behavior?

Risk:

Relationships that make a difference may mean taking risks.  What do you really want? What are you doing now? Is what you’re doing now working? If not, plan for change. Change often entails risk but without taking risks, you can get stagnant.

Trust:

Nothing is more important in any relationship than trust. In the relationships that matter the most to me, I know I can trust and am trusted.  Can we trust ourselves to act with integrity, to speak words and take actions that are congruent, to listen to our inner wisdom? And can we trust ourselves to make good decisions?

Spirit:

Spirit implies a connection to something higher than ourselves.
I can give more in relationships that make a difference to me when I feel a connection to a power higher than myself, when I will take the time to be quiet, to listen, to give gratitude, to ask for healing.

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November 2009

Nov 30 2009 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

Nov 2009

Effectiveness Challenge!

November already?  You have got to be kidding me!  2009 is almost gone and I have something to share with you.  Life really does go faster the older you get.  It has reminded me to slow down and look at what is truly worthy of my efforts and time.

It is so easy to get “busy” with life that I miss the good stuff.  Kenny Chesney has a country song that talks about that.  I’d recommend it if you can handle country http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYQZJ9NUzYU

So, that made me think about work…  How much time do we all spend on the routine, make busy work instead of what is truly important?  I did a life coaching small group last month and made the commitment to spend time every day doing what is most important to my effectiveness.  I determined that getting and staying organized is the most worthy thing I can do to be effective at my job.  I have spent the last month getting organized and making a work environment where I can be effective.  I am so thrilled with the results.  I feel on top of my “job” for the first time in a long time.

Challenge:  what keeps you from being the best you can be every day?  what keeps you from doing the best job you can every day?  I bet each of you can identify 1 thing that you can clear away or change that will give you a big increase in productivity and a boost in your morale.  I challenge you to spend 30 minutes every day doing that one thing that will increase your effectiveness.  Let me know how that’s going.

p.s.  I am writing this from my beautiful new office.  I have been thinking about making some changes in here for a year or so and just didn’t have the confidence to do anything about it.  I know what I like, just can’t get ‘er done.  Along comes Susan Szabo… who has the gift of decorating like you would not believe.  She went shopping with me to get the book case and chest for behind my desk and then surprised me with an extreme makeover – office edition weekend before last.  Last Monday was so incredible to come around the corner into my new office.  Many thanks to Susan for this priceless gift!

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September 2009

Sep 30 2009 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

Sept 2009

Change is Good, You Go First

Oh my gosh, a change of season is coming and for the first time ever, I’m ready for it – and yet there’s a feeling of bitter sweet about it.  I hope you are all wrapping up the best summer ever.  My Rachel goes to High School for the first time this year.  She and I are both kind of nervous.

This year is the first time we go through annual enrollment with a full and STRONG team of client service professionals as well as a Director of Payroll Operations to help with the branch side of things.

This September we will have our first ever Office Manager training in Boise, complete with hands-on computer learning.  How exciting to use our new training room for this event.

Everytime I experience a first I have at least a little case of jitters, don’t you?  Whether it is anticipated eagerly or not, it’s just natural to have heightened awareness when doing something for the first time.  Our clients experience that also.  That’s why it is so important to stick close to them every time they have a “first” at Employers Resource: first payroll, first benefit enrollment, first payroll invoice, first time benefits are deducted from an employee’s check, first W/C claim, first annual enrollment, etc.

Would you do our clients and me a favor?  At your next huddle ask the team “what ‘firsts’ do our clients have that our team is responsible for” – and then come up with ways to be right there beside them every step of the way.  An example might be to have Client Service deliver the first payroll.  I want to hear back from you via e-mail what you came up with; we’ll share what we can to other areas so they and their clients can benefit as well.  In addition, there will be a prize to the team coming up with the most comprehensive list of “firsts” our clients have with us.  Get you list together and get it to me, and maybe try to “be first.”

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July 2009

Jul 05 2009 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

July 2009

By Mary Gersema
What’s Their Story??
“O.K., so can you tell me how this makes our client’s lives better?”  This seems to be a question I am asking people lately so I thought I’d talk about it here to get us all on the same page.

We all know there are some things that would make the clients’ lives easier that just aren’t possible so let’s get those off the table right away.  Us funding their payroll, not requiring general liability insurance, not having participation levels on benefits, paying under the table…you get the point.

Let’s look at the flip side, using some examples of things we can do.  When I say we should know our clients I mean “really” know them.  I want us to know their business, their story, their hobbies, family, pain, passion.  That lets us take care of our clients in ways that people who don’t know them can’t.  Example:  the leave-behind gifts we have are a good generic beginning.  What if you have a client who doesn’t drink coffee (you did know this, right?), a coffee mug is not a cool gift.  Maybe a small box of great dark chocolate would be better received.  What do they collect – snow globes?  So, when you see a unique one pick it up for them.

Here’s a thought, it’s summer, it’s hot.  Call the client and ask if you can bring a cooler of popsicles over for the guys out back.  Ice down a cooler and get some nice ice cream treats.  Is there a place that sells homemade lemonade by the gallon (there is in Boise, it’s Pronto Pups).  Take cups and some homemade lemonade by for the guys.  Call and let the client know you want to come by the next morning with donuts and milk for no reason other than making their life better.

Here are some paytech/office staff ideas to keep in mind.  Send a nice handwritten note telling a client how much we appreciate them.  If a client calls and says they need to change a pay rate, don’t tell them what they need to do… make it easy for them and write it up for them and sign it “per phone conversation with Bob”.  Call every client every time an employee is not being paid to find out why and get the employee off payroll if necessary so we aren’t billing the client for benefits.  As you find out things about this client, like the fact that they are passionate about a certain cause; pass that information to the rest of the team so we can act on it.  How cool would it be that we made a contribution to a soup kitchen in honor of a client because you are the one who found out that’s their pet charity?  Do you think that client would tell his friends how great we are?

Now the hard part.  I can’t think of all the ideas myself.  I challenge every one of you to begin making it a habit to know your clients better.  You all have clients.  Some of your clients (maybe all) are internal.  That’s o.k. they are still clients.  Begin a database, however informal and start collecting information about your clients and then act on it.  Begin looking for ways to make their lives easier by little things you can do everyday.  Be proactive, not reactive.  And then, let me know of your successes in this challenge so I can celebrate with you.

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June 2009

Jun 30 2009 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

Getting Rid of Our Customers

By Mary Gersema

Are they our customers or our clients?  Can they be both?  Can we turn them from customers into clients?  Do we want to?  YES.

We want clients not customers.  Let me explain.  In my mind there has always been a difference I knew but had never articulated.  I have always referred to our clients as “clients.”  I have always corrected anyone who referred to my “clients” as “customers.”  “What the heck is up with that” I wondered one day.  So with nothing else to do but ponder and be on the internet (that’s a joke), I decided to look up the definitions of the two words to help me articulate it.

Here’s what I found; a customer is a person who buys goods (usually a commodity) from another.   A client is someone who comes under the protection of another.  Ahhh, that’s it!  Our clients come under our protection.  We promise to make their lives easier and we accomplish this by keeping their best interest at the front of our minds.  Our new logo says we are the “trusted guardian;” doesn’t it all just fall into place?

Last month I told you about Lois at JoAnn’s Fabric Store.  It was an example of what not to do.  This month I want to tell you about Valerie.  Valerie works for a clothing store called Catherine’s.  A clothing store is easily a business that could have “customers” but in this case has clients.  I have been a loyal client of Catherine’s for years, here’s why.  I went to Catherine’s recently to buy some summer clothes and was told by Valerie that some of them would be on sale on Sunday and she could hold them until then, saving me a lot of money.  I told her that I was leaving town and would be in Savannah on Sunday so I would just have to pay full price.  She asked if I needed the clothes for the trip and when I told her no she offered to take an imprint of my credit card and run the sale through on Sunday and I could pick up the clothes when I got back to Boise.  I trust her, as I have been her “client” for a long time and a “client” of Catherine’s for even longer.  So I gave her the imprint, went on a trip, came home and picked up my clothes.

What did I gain?  A savings of dollars for sure and maybe even more than that, I gained the deeper understanding that they are looking out for me.  What did they gain?  Even more “client” loyalty AND much word of mouth advertising.  I have told all my friends this story and now the ripple gets bigger with this telling.

Now the application – are we being a Valerie to our clients?  Are we doing all we can to make their lives easier?  Remember in the story, my first response about Sunday’s sale was that I could not take advantage of it because I’d be out of town.  Notice what happened next.  Valerie did not stop there; she probed to find out if I needed those clothes for my trip and made a suggestion to help me that I would not have considered.  Do we rob our clients of the best experience they can have with us because we serve at a surface level instead of probing deeper?  I encourage you to make a difference in the life of EVERY client you deal with and remember to probe to get the best result.  And just one more thing… some of your most valuable clients are internal.

O.K., it’s summertime.  Get out there and have the best one ever and what a perfect time of year to wear those starfish.  Keep making a difference and have some fun!

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May 2009

May 29 2009 Published by rEmBranT13 under Newsletters

Did you ever have one of those moments when you wondered, “Is this a joke”?  One where you look at the situation and think, OMG…  this is a prime example of how NOT to do something.  O.K., have I got one for you.  As you hopefully know by now, great client service is my goal.  I am always looking at service in the market place and mentally grading it.  I just gave a big fat “F” to Jo-Ann’s Fabric Super Store and you will not believe how outrageous this was.  (You have to be kind of familiar with fabric store procedures to really get this.)

I had been looking forward to going to the brand new super store in Boise for months.  I had been driving by watching for the “We’re Open” sign.  Finally, I get to go get some fabric!  The store is pretty empty on my Sunday afternoon visit so I’m delighted to be able to have the store to myself.  I select my fabric and go up to the cutting table where three employees are standing, presumably waiting for me.  I laid the bolt of fabric on the table and said to the employee right in front of me “two yards please” to which she replies “do you have a number?”.  Are you kidding me?  I’m the only customer in sight.  They all have a straight face and while two of them try to look busy, the one I’m in front of very seriously repeats herself, only louder.  “Do you have a number?”  I look all around (very dramatically – you know I love that) and say to her very quietly so as not to embarrass her “I’m the only customer here”.  “Yes, I see that but the rules are you have to have a number.”  The conversation continues with me trying to get her to see the idiocy of this, but alas she will not relent.  My 14-year-old daughter is cringing at this point so I walk over and take a number from the number machine.

I kid you not, she picks up the speaker and announces to the store “Now serving number 43″.  I hand her the little piece of paper and she cuts my fabric and then before she completes my transaction takes a phone call from the cashier.  The other two employees evidently can’t see she is assisting customer number 43 so they did not attempt to catch the phone.  I waited for her to read to the cashier the fabric SKU number of the fabric she cut for customer number 42 as the cashier cannot read her writing.  After the lengthy call she gets back to me, customer number 43, and slowly and very carefully (did I mention slowly) writes the SKU number on the paper to attach to my fabric.  She spends extra time explaining to me that while it seems to be taking a long time it is very important to write the correct number or the cashier will call and interrupt her assisting customer number 44 and have her say the number out loud.  I am pretty tickled at this point having just picked up the material for my May newsletter article and am smiling as I head to the cashier.  She is pleasant enough, rings up my order, looks at the register with a disgusted look and asks if I have any clue who cut my fabric.  I tell her that Lois (the only employee working) had cut it and she picks up the intercom and says “Lois at the cutting counter call the cashier as I cannot read the SKU number on the fabric for customer number 43″.  (NO, I am not making this up – this is how life happens to me).  It seems that as slowly and carefully as Lois appeared to have been, she had been better at slow than accurate so I had to wait for her to pull the bolt and verbally tell the cashier the number.  While we waited I was explaining to the cashier about the procedure for the number at the cutting counter to which she replies, “oh yes, that’s a rule”.

Lesson for us…Do we at Employers Resource ever pull a “Lois” while serving our clients?  Do we allow “rules” to make us look dumb when common sense would have made us look great?  Think about the company rules you enforce while serving clients and see how many you can find.  Here’s an example from a real life situation in a branch that I watched unfold.  A client called a branch payroll person (no longer working here) and told her that he wanted to increase Joe’s pay from 10.00 an hour to 11.00 an hour effective with the first day of the next pay period.  The payroll person told the client he would need to complete a change of status form, sign it, and fax it in.  I was able to step in and assure the payroll person they could complete the form for the client and write on it “per phone conversation with Tom Brown, owner”.  The objective is to have a record of who authorized the increase and the effective date not to have the client complete the form.

Please send me any examples of how we “Lois” our clients and I’m going to collect them for training purposes and we may even establish “Lois Awards” for the employees coming up with the best new procedures.

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