Banks/Financial Institutions

10 August 2021 Categories: Gerry's Corner

      Written in 2012. Nostalgic but still true today

      Recently I spent 4-5 hours in appointments with various Banks to update myself on current products like savings, loans and credit cards. What an education that has been. More people should do (in less time) what I did to learn about new products and their current products they are paying for. Times have certainly changed. When I was 5 years old I opened my first bank account with money I earned by finding and picking glass pop bottles. At 2 cents a bottle it took hundreds and thousands of bottles to accumulate money in a bank account. As a child growing up my Mother taught us the importance of saving our money for important purchases or as she said “for a rainy day”. She was a master at saving and stretching a dollar into hundred dollars. She had a bank account for all her 6 kids where she would deposit our baby bonus cheques. She had accounts for every occasion like Christmas, Birthdays, special occasions, house necessities, car, and mortgage and more. She would go to the bank once a week with her 25 plus bank books. She was a banker for the family. If times were hard and she needed money for an important purchase, she would borrow from some accounts but always paid the money back. When we reached legal age, got married or bought our first car, she would transfer the account to our name with every penny of interest since the day we were born. She was also my Dad’s banker. As a Farmer my Dad had good years and bad years of income. My Mother would save from the good years without my Dad knowing to support him during bad years. In those days if you had a bank account(s) and dealt with one particular bank everyone in the bank knew you by name. At times if you needed changes to your account, better interest rates or special considerations there was a Bank Manager that you could speak to who would look at all your records and history and take a decision on whether to help you or not. That was the good old days. Today the banks do not know you nor do they care. There is nobody to talk to who wants to listen and understand your needs. There is no one at the branch level that can take a decision including the Bank Manager. The only boss now at the bank is THE COMPUTER. The computer will not allow this or that. The computer dictates this rate. The computer says your options are this or that. Nobody looks at your history. If you have been the model client for 20 years it counts for nothing today. If you make a mistake today then you get treated like every crook on the face of the earth. It is God awful what banking has come to be. The banks forget that it was people like me with their 2 cent deposits that got them to where they are today.

       Don’t get me wrong Technology has helped us tremendously however the price we are paying is questionable. The depersonalizing of banking services, the lack of service where it is important, the continued gouging in fees and service charges of all sorts is a big price to pay for less service. Do you remember the days where banks encouraged you to use the first ATMs because it was FREE and discouraged you to talk to a Teller? What happen to the FREE service?

In my recent research it brought to light how confusing and inflexible banking services really are. It also made me realize how expensive banking services are. I would encourage everyone to take a hard look at the cost of their banking services. You cannot expect the banks to manage your money, you must be an informed client and manage your own money otherwise you are not getting what you are paying for.

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Hiring Older Employees

10 August 2021 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Written 1n 2012 but still applies today

Someone told me recently an interesting story about a particular company hiring policy. This gentleman started a new job driving a truck for pickup and deliveries covering a very large territory. His new company has a fleet of 12 trucks with a garage for repairs and a small office staff. This company apparently has been in business for many years in fact the General Manager has been with the company since High School. After a week on the job, this gentleman got to meet most of the staff, other drivers and was a driver’s assistant to learn the ropes and routes. His opinion was the company was well managed, caring to employees, open to questions and suggestions, trucks were very well maintained ( clean inside and out ), all staff ( office and truck drivers ) were known on a first name basis, nice uniforms, etc. Everything looked perfect except for one thing so he decided to ask the General Manager about his observation. He asked him why all employees including new hires were over 40 years old. The reply he received was: “ We do not hire younger people anymore. They are slow, often late or absent, no sense of urgency, poor customer relations, always want overtime, no loyalty, no pride in their work and most of all, they spend most of their time on a cell phone. We have given opportunities to younger people and even hired some as a driver’s assistant but none rose to the occasion. In fact some drivers wanted to do their routes alone rather than babysit these kids.”

Is this not a shame? Opportunities exist but the younger generation do not accept responsibility. I have a client who refuses to consider local hires because of the lack of reliability and is now considering importing immigrants to do his work.

 

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Doctors

27 July 2021 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Here is my experience with a particular Doctor some 40 years ago when living in the GTA. Our Family Doctor for 10 years whom delivered our youngest daughter had a very busy practice. He was not only a good Doctor and popular but he was a Business person with an interest in making money. He was an investor in the stock market but also belonged to some select investors groups which would buy properties for resale in both the domestic and international markets. He frequently took business calls during patient appointments. Between personal phone calls and over bookings,  he was constantly very late for his appointments, thus the problem. He would book your appointment  for 1:00 pm but would not see you for 2-4 hours. While waiting in his office I have witnessed mothers with newborns run out of milk and have to leave and rebook their appointment. I’ve seen irate husbands come 3-4 times to check if their wife was finished yet and the same for people bringing elders to the Doctor’s office. Never did I or my family members go to his office without being there for at least 2-4 hours. The waiting room was always full and at times some people had to stand or sit on the floor in the hallway. One day I decided to poll the people waiting to determine when their appointments were scheduled for. I found that in most cases people were booked 3 at every 15 minutes. My common sense told me that it was impossible to see 12 patients per hour. That is definately overbooking. In my Business being late for an appointment would mean Bankruptcy or lost of Professionalism at the very least. I felt sorry for some of the Moms and the elderly, so I took it upon myself to talk to the receptionist. Her response was : That is the way it is in the medical field, too many patients and not enough Doctors. When I finally met the Doctor for my appointment, I brought the issue to his attention and he gave me a speech about that is the way it is and could not do anything about it. As nice as he was, you could not argue with him or challenge him. He was always right and he knew everything because he was a Doctor.

Time and time again we waited endlessly for our appointments. Basically when you went to his office, you had to plan to be there for 4 hours and bring a lunch in case. Well I got more and more agitated with these 1/2 day appointments. We preferred not changing Doctor after having a long history with him. Then one day I thought I am going to appeal to his Business sense. I mailed him an invoice for my 4 hours of  lost work time. He called me one evening at app. 7:30 pm. He says; ” Gerry what kind of a joke is this invoice”. I said no joke. You are costing me money. You make an appointment, I show up on time then you make me wait. I could be billing my time out rather than sitting reading out dated books/magazines. I asked him: ” What Business are you in?”  He said : ” The Medical Care field of course”. I replied; ” No you are not. You are in the Business of making money. No one overbooks like you do and expect to give quality care to all their patients. Besides you take personal phone calls about your investments while we are waiting. I can’t afford that much time to see you. It is unprofessional”. Well he gave me a piece of his mind in words I cannot repeat.  I told him that every time I have to wait more than an hour to see him, I would send him another invoice. If  he did not pay I would have a Lawyer call him or I would bring him to small claims court just to get a note put of his credit bureau. Now he was really mad.

The next visit to his office was by my wife and daughter. That night she tells me she was in and out of the Doctor’s office within a half  hour. I thought maybe we were in for some positive changes. On my next visit to the Doctor’s office, I get called in ahead of some people that had been there for some time. We deal with my medical issue with no mention of our telephone conversation and I am out of the office within 1/2 hour total. The short version is we never talked about that infamous call and from then on my family and I never waited more than 1 hour tops ever again. We did feel bad we were seen ahead of other people but it suited our needs at the time.

To be fair, I have to admit to having tried similar approaches with utility companies and two Hospitals however the results were not as positive.

Note: This same Doctor many years later was investigated by the Provincial Government

for excess billings.

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Banks

27 July 2021 Categories: Gerry's Corner

I have 2 stories to share but before I begin, I want it to be clear that I am NOT sharing these stories as recommendations but purely for humorous reading. These actions that I took in response to some unpleasant experiences felt like the right thing to do at the time. Both these incidents happened more than 40 years ago.

I was working onsite at a client. This particular day when I arrived at work the client gave me a cheque for my last invoice. Being on a tight family budget, I decided to go to the bank to deposit my cheque during my lunch hour. I arrived at the bank and it seemed like everyone decided to go to the bank at the same time. These were the days before ATMs. Now I have to stand in a serpentine line of app. 20 people with only 2 tellers working because the other tellers were at lunch as well. I waited in line for 45 minutes to complete a 2 minute transaction. Even though I was a Business client with the bank, I was not allowed to go to the Business teller because my Business was too small, in other words I did not deposit many cheques, cash and coins. When I finished at the bank, I did not have time to grab any lunch because I had a meeting to attend at 1:00 pm. I forfeited my lunch and was on time for the meeting. It bothered me tremendously that I had to stand in line so long and miss my lunch. I was thinking, I give my money to the bank to keepsake it for me, they in turn give me no interest but yet the bank makes money on my money. I thought the bank should be in line for me instead of the reverse; afterall they were going to gain the most from this transaction. That night I could not get this situation out of my mind. Then I put my Buusiness hat on and thought time is money therefore the bank cost me money for waiting so long in line. I decided in a fury to send the bank an invoice for my waiting time that day. I prepared an invoice, addressed it to the Bank Manager and mailed it. What have I got to lose? Two weeks later I get a call from the Bank Manager asking me if I had made any arrangements with any of his staff members for work that was covered by my invoice. I replied no and explained that I was charging him for my lost time being in a line up so long to deposit a cheque. Of course he advised me that he had to talk to Head Office about this but he did not think they would allow him to pay my invoice.  So I replied like a typical CEO ”  Well you will be talking to my Lawyer ”  Two more weeks go by and I heard nothing further from the bank so I sent him another invoice plus interest for past due payment. I received another cheque from my client and off I go to the bank to deposit it. I really don’t recall if it was at lunch time but again I was in line a longer time than acceptable. I get to the teller and as soon  as she seen my name on the cheque, she moves aside and whispers something in the ear of the teller next to her. That teller leaves and talks to another person and that person literally runs to the back offices. You would think that I had just presented a note to the teller saying :”  This is a robbery ”  The teller very slowly continued to process my cheque then a short and stocky gentleman comes from the back offices straightening his tie and suit coat. This gentleman comes to where I was standing and says : ” Oh, you are _____”? Then says ” I am ____ the Bank Manager, could I see you at the other counter, please “. I went to the counter and met the Manager. He starts explaining to me that since I had sent my invoice that he had conducted an investigation and found that I was treated unfairly. He had found that I was a Business customer in very good standing and that I should never have been in line with the retail customers. I explained to him that I was rejected by the Business teller more than once and that the Business line was strictly for large Business clients like stores. He then told me that I would never be rejected as a Business customer again. I thanked him and told him to forget about the invoice I had sent him.

The real funny part is the next time I went to the bank everyone knew me, even greeting me by name. I was now a somebody. When I went to the Business teller I found I could do my retail banking ( personal accounts, kids accounts, etc. ) as well. For the time I dealt with that bank branch I never had to stand in line again. Read my next blog for the second story on a similar subject.

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Tone of Voice

26 July 2021 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Here is another complaint or observation on today’s Technology. I truly believe that we are losing something very valuable and important in communications by relying more and more on Electronics. Text messaging and the likes is not the same as talking to the person. You lose the most important element which is the tone of voice. Even voicemail does not do justice compared to the real person. You say a phrase 10 times in various tones and you can convey 10 different meanings. Take the important phrase   “ I love you “ One tone could convey words only yet with another tone give a warm feeling to the person we are saying it to. Electronics have not evolved to that degree. Reading a sentence or message does not give you the real meaning of the message or the opportunity to ask for clarification. In relationships this could mean the difference between strengthening a relationship or breaking up. The communications between child/adolescent and parent and vice versa is critical to get it right the first time.

In Business this could mean the difference between getting a sale orlosing sale. Here is a case in point. I have been looking for an item that is difficult to find. I wanted to find it locally so I could see it before buying. An Internet purchase was out of the question. I very seldom buy on the Internet anyway. I started calling certain specialty stores to find out if they carried this particular item. I called this one store and was lucky enough to have the owner answer the phone. I asked about the item and she genuinely felt bad that she did not have this product or related products. She proceeded to ask me if I tried this store and other stores. Her tone of voice was conveying a deep concern that she disappointed a customer or potential customer. I thanked her and she wished me not only to have a good day but also success with my search to find this item. I got off the phone with her, paused and thought about our conversation then said to myself   “ She was so genuine, polite and accommodating I feel great about this conversation. I think, I will visit her store, thank her in person and see what is in her store.” Had she been rushed, rude or just have a colder tone of voice then I would never visit her store.

Years ago some companies trained people for face to face service like Banks or for telephone service and support. Their training in part was to skill practice while looking in a mirror. The concept was relatively simple: Would you buy from this person in the mirror? Would you want to talk to this person who is not smiling in the mirror? “

In Business and personal life take the time to talk to people and mind your tone of voice rather than electronically communicate, it will always serve you better. No one minds talking to a happy voice. No one can get mad at a happy voice. Use your happy voice and have yourself a great day.

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Managers

13 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Recently someone told me when describing a work situation that Managers should not be promoted to a Manager’s position unless they have or have had children. This person was adamant that there is a difference between Managers who have a family or not. She then starts enumerating the long list of skills required to raise a family which a non-family Manager does not have. I had never heard that point of view but it makes some sense. Being responsible for directing and leading a group of people takes the same set of skills as dealing with kids. In fact it is harder with adults because it is harder to teach them and change behaviours. If we take listening skills as an example, kids are infamous for wanting to be heard and get attention. Is that not the same as employees? Listening skills are one of the main complaints employees have. My Manager does not listen to me. Understanding and assessing situations are other skills which are tested by kids constantly. Having these skills would help a Manager in their daily routine. Communicating in various ways depending on the situation permits kids and employees to understand and learn. Organization skills are a must with kids. It must be practiced by the parent so that the child can learn from the role model. Employees require the same from their leader.

The list goes on and on. The more I thought of this concept which is not new, the more I realized she made a lot of sense. Again I learned that some solutions to our career challenges are obvious and already with us we just have to stop and think a little.

 

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All I want for Christmas

12 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

This a re-post from last year but it is worth reading again.

With our ever changing environment, I have to continuously make personal changes which I hate. Whether Technology changes our lives or society changes our lives, I am bombarded with constant change.

In my last blogs I have ranted and raved about change. Recently I seen an item on the internet which I could relate to and decided it was worth sharing with you. This item really depicts our changing times.

       “My kids each year ask me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I’d give them my real answer. I think it’s probably the same answer for a lot of the parents I know, so I decided to share it:

What do I want for Christmas? I want you. I want you to keep coming around. I want you to bring your kids around, I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help and make me feel needed. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job, your worries, your husbands/wives, your kids, your fur babies. I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care.

I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how, and I’m not bragging, but I did a pretty darn good job. Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work, I’m pretty proud of it.

Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I want you to bring your kids around. I love it when they’re here, and to be honest, sometimes I love it when they leave, too. I want to tease them, play with them, teach them, spoil them, and do the things I didn’t have the time, money, or wisdom to do with you. They’re my “do-over”. When I’m dead and gone, I want them to miss, me. I want them to remember me and say, “Those were good times”.

I want you to spend your money make a better life for you and your family. I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Christmas, I say “nothing” because you’ve already been giving my gift all year. I want you.”

I want to be treated, respected, look up to, loved and cared for as my Grandparents were.

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Bad Managers

11 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

In my dealings with employees, the most frequent comment I hear is      “I have a bad Manager”. Most employees do have bad Managers. There are many reasons for this, too many to enumerate in this blog. What almost all employees forget, as much as they are managed by someone else, is they have an obligation to manage themselves. It is too easy to blame others in particular the Manager. Employees have to take control of their own actions and be responsible for the outcomes. Have I had bad Managers in my Career? More than I dare to count.  You can be miserable in your job or you can do something about it. That does not mean quitting your job because chances are great you will find yourself with another bad Manager. It does not mean to complain to another Manager or Human Resources. You turn your miserable situation into a positive learning experience. Working for a bad Manager conditions you to become a better Manager at a later time. The key here is to learn to manage your Manager.

First of all you need to think and act like a Manager. Good Managers will study their employees and make notes of their strengths and weaknesses to better manage them. Therefore, you make a confidential list of your Manager’s strengths and weaknesses. You also make a list of your own strengths and weaknesses. You take note of the similar skills, habits and behaviors you and your boss have. Work these to better your relationship with your boss. The areas where you clash then need to be analyzed and determine what you need to change to make a difference. You may seek training on your own or identify someone in the company that could help you with the areas you want to improve. Seeking someone to help is easier than you think. To ask someone for help in improving yourself because you feel they are good at certain things is a very high compliment. It is very difficult for someone to turn down your request when you say I want to be like you or I want to develop skills like you. By working on your weaknesses and developing yourself will only make you happier and more valuable to the company. You also turn the focus on yourself instead of dwelling on your Manager’s deficiencies. By following this simple process, even though it will take time, you will have one of three possible results. Firstly, by being a better employee you will make your Manager look good. That is not a bad thing because either he will be promoted or moved possibly because the powers to be noticed you could do a better job. Secondly, maybe someone in the organization will notice your efforts and good work therefore wanting you on their team. Thirdly, at the very least you are developing yourself to take on new responsibilities therefore making you more valuable in the marketplace.

This simple process makes working life so much easier because you are doing something positive for yourself rather than waste valuable time criticizing the boss. Become the Manager he/she is not by working on the skill sets you need to become a Manager.

It took me a long time to realize this system but when I did my Career started to progress at a faster pace. Simple rule: Take control of your work life by becoming the Manager you can be. Gerry’s rule # 259.

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Resumes/Phone Numbers

10 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

There was a day where employment applicants had numerous phone numbers to contact them. They had a home number, a business number, cell number and a number to leave messages if the other numbers where not answered. Today one sole number is given namely a personal mobile number which is not always reliable or effective. People especially younger generations change phones and their numbers in some cases 2-3 times a year but do not update that little detail on their resumes. Mobile numbers with no voicemail or no activated voicemail are useless. I have left up to 3 messages over 3-4 days and not received a call back. If I get a call back these are some of the most common reasons for the late return call: My phone was broken, my phone has been acting up, my phone was not charged, I could not find my charger, I could not find my phone, my sister hid my phone and the list goes on and on. You are looking for a job why would you not be ready to receive calls. Don’t get me started on how people answer and behave on phones.

 

Don’t answer your phone if you are unable to talk. Don’t answer your phone if you are at work or on the job because you just told me that if you get hired you will be using the phone regularly while at work. Resume then goes in don’t hire pile.

 

All I’m suggesting is if you are seeking employment and sending resumes to companies prepare yourself for receiving phone calls. It may not be a bad idea to have a working voicemail and a second phone number in case the 1st does not work.

 

This is far too common.

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Employment References

01 November 2017 Categories: Gerry's Corner

Along with a good Resume, you need good References. Employment References or also known as Employment Checks are the tools to verify the information in your Resume or to verify what you might have volunteered in an interview. You need to keep these references separate from your Resume and current, which means you need to keep in touch with the people you use for references. Without References you limit the effectiveness of your Resume and what you may say in an interview. Everything needs to be verified and confirmed for accuracy.

Unfortunaley the fact that companies close, move or get sold means that people within those companies also move. Therefore it is very important to keep in periodic touch with your contacts whom have volunteered to attest to your performance. Otherwise you have no way to prove the information in your Resume is correct. Too many times I have seen individuals who cannot provide Reference information. For example, your last 3 employers closed and you have no idea where the Managers and Supervisors have moved. For a new employer, it is critical to verify your information. The lack of verifiable information may cost you your next job opportunity.

Written References are not very effective. If the company has moved or closed, this document becomes useless to the new potential employer. Written References are also too easy to forge therefore most companies do not use them.

My suggestions are: firstly, ask permission to use someone’s name for an employment reference. Also ask them if you could use both their business phone number and their home phone number. Secondly, contact these people at least every 3 months to make sure they are still at the phone numbers they gave you. If they have moved, it is easier to track them down in 3 months rather than 3 years. Remember to conduct an effective job search you need both a good Resume and current References that can be contacted quickly.

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