Kindness matters

Being kind to others can reap benefits that may never have occurred to you

As I write this column, it's -19 F outside in Chicago and this winter's worst weather. Yes, I get asked: "Why do people live there?" It's a great question, but the answer, I guess, is that though we complain about the cold, we secretly love to brag about our toughness in enduring it! There is something special about that toughness, and I appreciate roofing workers who endure days on end of working in extreme cold or heat and do the best work in the world. I think about those people often.

In many ways, our nation was built by people like roofing workers. Men and women who build roads, the buildings we work and live in, bridges, airports, furniture ... you name it. Standing unseen are the millions who make our lives better in countless ways. What would our world be like without them? Do you ever stop to thank them? Perhaps more important, do you consider their value?

I think of truckers. Every day at your roofing company, delivery trucks drive in full and out empty with the materials you need to conduct your business. In many ways, the trucking industry mirrors the roofing industry—strong people doing thankless work in most cases. It mirrors us in another way, too. Talk to any trucking company owner, and you are likely to hear there simply are not enough drivers. I hear from you, too, that deliveries are taking longer and trucking companies have become more demanding and difficult to find. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who is an independent trucker. You know what he told me? He hates delivering to roofing companies, so he chooses not to do it. Yes, he has enough work that he can choose.

He told me with new regulations restricting the hours he works, he has no extra time in his day to spend waiting for his truck to be unloaded. He tires of trying to find a foreman who can help unload when he does job-site deliveries. He admits he appreciates the work but wishes people would recognize his frustrations, too. The conversation got me thinking: Maybe we need to consider his words and respond in a way that makes roofing companies or job sites THE place truckers want to deliver to.

First, if time is a trucker's biggest concern, we should work to shorten it. For example, you could provide advance instruction for job-site deliveries to streamline the time it takes from when a driver arrives until he or she leaves. When you can, preplan the process by getting clearance from the building owner or general contractor so the driver easily can find you and the place where materials need to be unloaded. Make sure there are workers with equipment ready to assist with the unloading process.

When a driver delivers to your office, the same things apply, but you might be able to offer some additional conveniences. Offer the driver a cup of coffee and use of your restroom. Prioritize unloading the truck as soon as it arrives, and make the driver know he or she matters to you. In essence, make your stop his or her best delivery experience of the day.

If you do things like this regularly, independent drivers will choose your delivery over someone less accommodating. I know what some of you are thinking: Why isn't payment enough to get good service? Maybe it should be, and it might be again if a day comes when there are more drivers than deliveries. But that is not the case. We all adapt to the circumstances we face. The best business leaders see this and make changes to allow their companies to win. A bit of kindness can go a long way in our stressed-out world. Consider giving kindness and consideration of others a chance. Your life might be better for it, and your deliveries might be on time.

Reid Ribble is NRCA's CEO.

This column is part of News + Views. Click here to read additional stories from this section.


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