FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF?
For most of my life I’ve been self employed. That involves a lot of responsibility. As President Harry Truman used to say: The buck stops here. The same applies to operating your own business. Every problem, every decision, every move – right or wrong – is in your hands. You are both the quarterback and coach. You not only have to get the job done and done right, you have to instill the same work ethic and principles in your team. Everyone has to be singing from the same song book. There’s no “phoning it in.” And you are the guy that makes it all come together.
My business philosophy is simple: Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Always do what you say. Return phone calls and emails promptly. Manage your customers’ expectations at the outset. Respect your customers’ time by always showing up on time. Listen: to your people, your customers, your sub-trades, your suppliers – you never know when someone will have an idea better than your own. Stay humble. Be flexible – there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. Take responsibility when things go wrong. Most importantly, deliver nothing less than top notch service and a product that is second to none.
So let me tell you about myself. I’m a pretty easy going guy. I like to be busy in my work environment. I take ownership of my tasks and responsibilities. I’m punctual. I work hard. I enjoy problem solving. I love a good laugh. I’m an avid reader and rare book collector. I write for fun and profit. I’ve recently taken up the hobby of photography. I enjoy exploring the city. And I also like to relax in front of the TV from time to time.
2. WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BRING TO AN ORGANIZATION?
I’m the guy you can rely on to get things done. I’m not there just to put in my hours and go home. I understand that to be a successful employee I have to make the company money. I’m highly organized. I’m great with customers. I work well with others. I’m computer savvy. I can write copy for the web, blogs, advertisements, business correspondence, and so on. I have good judgement skills. I can think on my feet. I’m punctual and am rarely sick. I’m not a high maintenance person.
3. WHAT KIND OF WORK ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Primarily something that I’m already good at and something in the city of Toronto, ideally the east end. I’m a talented sales person and would be very comfortable selling business to business or something consumer related. I’m also great at coordinating and managing projects and would thrive in that setting. I’ve been in a customer service role for most of my life, so that sort of position would be a good fit. I would excel at any sort of office administration position. Marketing and communications would also be an excellent fit. I can also easily fit into a supervisory or management role.
4. WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS?
I tend to be very organized. I can quickly figure out how to put things together toward a successful outcome. I’m very detailed and analytical. I’m a perfectionist, but more importantly I understand the downside to perfectionism. I’m a realist. I am in touch with my ego. I can be very persuasive. I respect the opinions of others and am humble enough to accept when I am wrong. I understand the importance of effective time management. I treat customers and co-workers the same way I like to be treated. I don’t let people down.
5. WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
In an effort to do the best job possible, I sometimes spend more time than I should on a task. Seeing this as a potential issue around overall productivity, I try harder to find a balance between getting things done and making things perfect. I sometimes expect too much from others, wrongly assuming their work habits should align with my own. I’ve learned to accept that everyone has different working styles and all that should really matter is the end results. I tend to avoid confrontational situations. I recently took a course in Assertiveness Training at George Brown to help me become better at handling various situations.
6. WHY DID YOU LEAVE YOUR LAST EMPLOYER?
Unfortunately, the company I was working for was hit hard by the recession. The layoffs started last fall and one by one throughout the spring. Being one of the newer people at the place, I knew my days were numbered. Sadly, my turn came and I was laid off. It’s too bad, really. While the money wasn’t very good, the job was close to home, the hours great, and the people were all wonderful to work with.
7. WHY DID YOU GET OUT OF THE RENOVATION BUSINESS?
I was working on starting a new business, as a professional home inspector. I’d been doing home inspections part time for a couple of years and finally decided to take the plunge and try it full time. Unfortunately, it never worked out. The business was there, don’t get me wrong, but the liability was tremendous. It’s probably the only service industry in existence where you provide a three+ hour service for a few hundred dollars but can be sued for hundreds of thousands for an error or omission. The payoff wasn’t worth the risk involved so I sold the business and moved on.
8. ARE YOU ABLE TO WORK UNDER PRESSURE?
You simply cannot make it in business for almost two decades without learning how to handle pressure. I also edit a national trade magazine, which involves tight deadlines that cannot be missed – it can be pretty intense. I do tend to be a bit of a worrier and have had my share of sleepless nights, but I’ve yet to encounter a level of pressure that I could not handle.
9. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS?
It all comes down to how you look at it. When something goes wrong or there’s a problem, I think most customers expect the company to make excuses and try to exonerate itself from any responsibility. In such cases, one has to ask, is it really the customer being difficult, or the company? The way I always looked at it is this: My customer and I are on the same team in that we want the same thing. We both want a satisfied customer. I always try to defuse the situation by reminding the customer that we are on the same side. From there it’s usually pretty easy to work out an acceptable solution. What I don’t waste time on is finger pointing or excuses. That fixes nothing. The best approach, especially if you want to keep your customer and maintain a good reputation, is to find a solution as quickly as possible and make absolutely sure you follow through. Every phone call and every email must be replied to promptly. Every appointment kept on time. If you drop the ball during this stage, you risk losing your customer’s confidence. You have a real opportunity to shine in the eyes of your customer if you handle things right when things go wrong. That’s the real test of your mettle. Why on earth companies take a pass on that opportunity is beyond me.
10. ARE YOU A SELF-STARTER?
You don’t get to be anything less when you’re self employed. If you aren’t a self-starter, don’t expect anyone on your team to be one. You have to lead by example. Everyone’s watching, be it your employees, sub-trades, customers and so on. Over time it becomes second nature. I don’t really consider the term “self-starter,” anymore. I just get things done. That’s what’s expected of me, from myself and everyone involved in my projects.