Canadian Rental Service

Editorial: March 2012

Patrick Flannery   

Features Business Intelligence

Philosophical musings from the depths of a Super Bowl hangover.

Philosophical musings from the depths of a Super Bowl hangover.

This is our March party issue, and I write this the day after one of the biggest parties in North America, the Super Bowl. The NFL has really done a great job of turning its big game into an unofficial holiday for everyone who likes football, and now it is drawing in the wives and girlfriends as well with acts like Madonna at halftime. Super Bowl game day has the feel of a holiday in the U.S., and if others at work this morning feel the same way I do, there is probably widespread support for making the holiday into an official three-day weekend. Write your member of parliament.

Last night, I saw a man score a touchdown when he was not supposed to. It was a rare situation in football where it was actually better to not score and hold possession of the ball than it was to get the points. The player (Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants) was clearly aware of this, but equally clearly unable to stop himself given a chance to score. His internal conflict was amazing to watch as he stopped at the goal line, almost knelt down, almost tried to run off to one side, then ended up pirouetting and falling, butt-first, into the end zone and scoring anyway. He tried to say later that he realized too late he was about to score and could not stop his forward momentum, but I saw the play and I don’t buy it. Birds have to fly, fish have to swim, and running backs have to score touchdowns.

It makes me wonder how much of our behaviour is really planned and reasoned out and how much is just the result of habit and our prior conditioning. I suspect the answer may not be flattering. In business we are supposed to be rational actors, coolly calculating the course of action that will bring our employees and ourselves maximum benefit. But studies show that people make up their minds first, then think of reasons why their actions make sense later. How much of what goes on in your shop is happening just because that is the way you have always done it? Sometimes it is a good idea to bring a fresh perspective into the huddle because a new set of eyes might see an area for improvement that has completely slipped under your radar. I imagine this is one of the great benefits of the Canadian Rental Association’s Business Leadership Program, where rental operators can visit other shops in other parts of the country and see how they function. I bet everyone taking part sees at least one thing the other operator is doing that addresses a problem they did not even know they had.


Also, how much of your customers’ activity is simply habitual? Heading down to their neighbourhood Big Box Depot every time they need something for a home renovation may be so ingrained they never even think about it. If you want them to consider their local rental operator instead, you may need a strong message to shock them out of their normal patterns. After all, even his quarterback’s screamed instructions and the hopes and dreams of millions of New Yorkers couldn’t break Ahmad Bradshaw out of his. 
Next issue: April is the cruellest month, according to Chaucer, and that is certainly true if you miss our annual Buyers Guide. Search engines are great, but grabbing your handy directory and flipping to your favourite supplier is still faster.  

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