After Burning Bridges – Catching Waves of Optimism

About 14 years back, I began my journey as an entrepreneur offering concierge services through Service Square’s help desks in large corporate organizations. We are exiting this business model, from the beginning of February, excepting for the one at Hyundai.

It is impossible to be everything to everybody and still excel. That is why we will focus only on a few core services from now.

This business has been a significant part of our DNA all these years, so there is this unsettling feeling welling up inside like an overwhelming tide. Letting go of a business that was giving us some money – when money is so critical – seem far too adventurous. It is easy to speak about burning bridges, but there is an aftermath to deal with. And it is not easy.

Bah! There is too much of drama in this copy. I am making myself sound like an entrepreneur hero, jettisoning what was considered the core business and plunging into new and uncertain territories – all for traveling on a higher trajectory.

Now that I have exposed myself and spoilt a nice script at the very start, it is time to admit I should have read the signs and taken this step long ago. And, it is not a bright idea to cling on to memories of the burnt bridges. I have taken the plunge and what remains is to swim even if there are undercurrents.

Why should I even imagine there could be undercurrents? I have to watch my language. It paints horrible scenarios. This is my mind tricking me, for its selfish reasons, into staying marooned in the familiar past.

So, I come to the present.

The business has been good the last three months. We have two customer service executives now and two more are joining within the next few days. The two executives who have been relieved from their help desks will be out in the market, selling our services. There are 15 people in the housekeeping team. And we have started making our presence felt by advertising in The Hindu with 3.5 cm x 5 cm ads every week. We also advertise in online portals.

We are ready to launch our Real Estate Transaction Advisory Services with 4 people in the team, for a start.

Depending upon which way I look the present is laden with huge opportunities or looming large with dark clouds in the horizon. I have to admit I allow myself to be shadowed by fear needlessly.

Last week, we had interesting meetings with housekeeping supervisors, customer service and the new sales executives separately, to plan for February and the months beyond. We discussed about the main things to do and accomplish.

I stressed, a few intangible essentials are important to sustain the efforts of everyone.

One is about time. Days roll by into weeks and all too suddenly 52 weeks coalesce into a memory – of a year gone by. We have ambitious targets. So there is a much greater awareness currently that time is money. We have started counting the cost of and opportunity hidden in every hour.

The second is about processes. It is fantastic we are becoming aware of processes and systems that would not be at the mercy of any individual’s discretion.

Thirdly, we have just woken up to the reality that marketing and selling are all too important elements to be relegated to the background.

During our internal discussion it was a revelation even to me that we are already offering attractive packages to customers. Sadly, our team is hardly conscious of these, leave alone our customers or the market… We have so many strengths to communicate.

  • We offer housekeeping free for those who are availing our painting services.
  • For those who use our housekeeping services, sofa cleaning is offered at 50% discount.
  • Our customers can opt for a free demo before deciding on our floor polishing services.

We have to find a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that would give us a distinct identity. “Expert Housekeeping Service Experiences. Guaranteed” was considered, but a friend of mine said, and I agreed, that it sounds more like a tagline. And it does not have the punch. We will find a very good USP that will be the core of what we are. Something that will challenge us every day.

We also have plans for our weekly bulletin – Chennai This Week – to evolve reflecting the needs of its readers. And, for all the hard work and money we put into it, we will start monetizing it before the end of March.

The customer service executives and housekeeping supervisors have taken reasonably challenging targets. It remains for everyone to keep their eyes on the ball and energize one another.

Training is one investment which can bridge the gap between intentions and delivery. It can surely keep the team members charged to meet the challenges confronting Service Square now. Once in a while, Vigneswari and I discuss matters relating to our company’s goals and the challenges. She has a huge role to keep everyone in the organization on the edge of possibilities. She is doing a great job. As for me I have to build on the momentum that is building.

Mathan continues to contribute significantly. He keeps doing new things to change the look of the housekeeping teams and the way they approach their work. Uniforms of the staff and the new equipments carried in smart bags will surely add to their charged spirits and the way customers would perceive us.

The time has come for me to show up at work more than I have done at any point of my life. I have to seize every possible minute of every day to make a difference. The consequence of me not rising to the challenge will have an adverse sway on the company, our staff and most importantly my self esteem which is now on the mend.

More than the hard work and more than infusing everyone with enthusiasm, the most important factor is for me to be steeped in optimism. It does not come easy, I have often let worry and fears wear me down for several years in the past. I consciously won’t scratch that itch any more.

By dwelling on fears so much, I am scratching the itch. I tend to them and make them grow.

Let me adjust my antenna to catch waves of optimism. There is abundance in store for Service Square.

There can’t be a better time for me to delve into the powers that lie within.


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