Remember those post-graduate projects that were really vailed attempts at getting you and unsuspecting classmates to do free research? My husband sure does! At the request of a large building supply store and a paint sprayer manufacturer, he and his team were asked to identify why a sprayer had a 50% return rate. Of course, the team gained access to the sprayer, some paint, an instructional video, and a 300-page manual. As you may have predicted, absolutely no one read the manual, very few watched the video, and almost everyone ended up covered with paint!
The team quickly determined that the high return rate was a combination of a liberal return policy, difficulty in selecting the proper-sized sprayer for a job, and a challenging product assembly. Unfortunately, the VP of the manufacturer doubted the team’s findings and set out to prove it. In front of a team of young graduate students and his own seasoned engineers, he failed to watch the video, ignored the 300-page manual, and ended up covered with paint!
Ultimately, the team recommended changes to the return policy, improved training for retail staff, and updated packaging demonstrating the sprayer’s post-market assembly. The students learned three things from that class project:
- Be generous NOT swindled: Even if you do everything correctly, with the utmost care and the best intentions, some people will take advantage of your generosity (like a liberal return policy). Please don’t let this discourage you from being benevolent! Use discernment in matters of goodwill and your heart of kindness will prevail over tricksters.
- Be informative NOT overwhelming: Let’s face it, 300 pages is a lot of reading, especially when you’re ready to paint. It ispossible to provide too much information. The old adage of “less is more” certainly would have kept a few eager researchers (and a VP) from getting paint in their hair.
- Be right NOT gone: Yes, after the VP sprayed himself in the face with paint, the team was promptly escorted off the premises. Even though the students had correctly summarized the issues with the paint sprayer, they could have shielded the VP from the expected embarrassment. As my husband reflected, he said, “the message and its delivery were equally important,” and then added, “It was pretty funny, though!”
Months later, the local retail staff was trained to help buyers determine the best-sized sprayer for the job. The exterior of the paint sprayer box boasted quick-read instructions for assembly. Both changes resulted in fewer returns. And only former classmates retell “the one about the paint sprayer.”
— Join a Synergy Group where we will discuss what the
Bible says about Return Policies. —
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She founded Synergy Groups, virtual masterminds connecting Christians in leadership around the globe for the purpose of Community, Accountability, and Transformation. She also partners with high-performers and heirs-apparent especially in the STEM industries. Michelle’s formal background in technology, franchise, and project management gives her an edge on implementing best practices and scaling towards sustainable success. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 22 years.