Advice, humor and more!

Forget About Sales

Harry Bullis, former chairman of the board at General Mills, used to give his salespeople the following advice: “Forget about the sales you hope to make, and concentrate on the service you want to render.” The moment people’s attention is centered on service to others, they become more dynamic, more forceful and harder to resist.

“I’d tell our salespeople,” Bullis recounts, “that if they would start out each morning with the thought, ‘I want to help as many people as possible today’ instead of ‘I want to make as many sales as possible today,’ they would find a more easy and open approach to their buyers, and they would make more sales. The person who goes out to help people to a happier and easier way of life is exercising the highest type of salesmanship.”

History and Traditions of Halloween

Be a hit at the upcoming Halloween parties! All Hallows Eve expert Jerry Wilson gives us the low-down:

In the 5th Century B.C., in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31st. The Celts believed that on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed, so on the night of October 31st they would dress up in ghoulish costumes and misbehave in an effort to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

The tradition of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840s by Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates.

The custom of trick-or-treating originated from a 9th Century European custom called souling. On All Souls Day, people would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes,” made of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remain in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul’s passage into heaven.

The Jack-O-Lantern comes from Irish folklore. A man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, conned Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross into the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil up in the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let Satan down from the tree. After Jack died, he was denied entrance into heaven because of his evil ways, but he also was denied access to hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. To keep it glowing longer, the ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip. The Irish used turnips as their “Jack’s lanterns” originally. But when the immigrants came to America, they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips.

Cozy Up to Your Banker

Build a close relationship with your company’s bankers during the good times so they’ll be more helpful to the company if problems arise. That’s the advice we get from William Goodman, a partner with KPMG Peat Marwick LLP in Milwaukee.

Goodman says that too often, managers do just the opposite, neglecting bankers until they fall into financial difficulty — then rushing to the bank desperate for a loan. The likelihood of getting a loan in a time of difficulty is much better when bankers have developed trust in the company’s management during good times, and believe in the company’s ability to resolve problems.

The Value of Your Workforce

A survey by Baltimore-based RewardsPlus shows that 91 percent of companies surveyed feel responsible for improving their employees’ lives. That’s a dramatic change from just five years ago, when the majority of the same companies said employees were responsible for themselves, their own careers and their own well-being. Recruitment and retention now are priorities, with nearly 50 percent of companies saying they’ve changed their attitudes to keep up with the competition.

We don’t need no stinkin’ ladders! Greg Johnson, Olsson Roofing, Aurora, Ill.

Photo Caption Contest Winner!

Runners up:

“Honey, I’m home!”

Bobbie Cantz, Gulfside Supply Inc., Ft. Myers, Fla.

“According to the manufacturer, the Spud Bar F-150 is the fast and efficient way to remove shingles in half the time as conventional methods.”

Wes Simpson, MFM Building Products Corp., Coshocton, Ohio

“Just another ‘Fly-by-Night or Day’ roofing truck, able to leap small buildings in a single … well, almost.”

Greg Norton, Norton Roofing, Amarillo, Texas.

“New ASTM 99999 – Test Method for Impact Resistance of Shingle Roofs: Pick-Up Truck Drop Test.”

Ed Hausknecht, Tremco Inc., Beachwood, Ohio.

We are so impressed that RC readers can be creative that we want to continue photo caption contests. But we need your help. Send wacky photographs to Editor, Roofing Contractor, P.O. Box 7021, Troy, MI 48007. Remember, though, this is a family-oriented magazine …