Common Sense in Business
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Common Sense in Business

Larry Heuvelman
Oct 28, 2014

light bulbIt never seems to amaze me some of the decisions business owners make every day. What ever happened to common sense?

I heard on the radio many years ago that it’s important not to have too many rules for kids growing up – it confuses them. At the time a young father of two children, I decided to only have 11 rules for my kids: The Ten Commandments, and common sense. I added this last one because I wanted my kids to think for themselves and to be able to reason their decision-making process.

Recently, a pickup truck with a tandem axle trailer pulled in front of my home and parked three-quarters of the way in my grass. They proceeded to drive a large commercial riding lawn mower off the trailer and get to work on my neighbor’s yard. I thought, what kind of business owner parks in my yard to work on my neighbor’s?

I started thinking of all the potential conflict that could have been created by this decision. They could have a very upset neighbor (me), they could upset their client (my neighbor), they could cause a potential rift between my neighbor and myself, my neighbor could be embarrassed that the company they hired who would do such a thing (yet possibly afraid to say anything to the business owner) – the list goes on. Not really a smart position for the business owner to put their client or themselves in.

I went outside and politely asked the guy mowing the grass why they parked the equipment in my yard while they are working in my neighbor’s yard. He told me his boss told him to park there. I asked him to please take care of it. All good and done, right? Not so fast! The owner replied to me, “I don’t see what the problem is. It’s in the easement.”

I was stunned the owner of the company would defend this action, especially after I was very polite about it. I looked at her and said, “Really? As the owner of this company, you are going to try to defend this? You should be apologizing!” She then said she was sorry as I turned to go inside.

Interestingly, after they moved the vehicle to my neighbor’s yard, they decided that wasn’t a good spot either, so they pulled into my neighbor’s driveway. Why didn’t they do that from the start? Where was the common sense?

I started a remodeling company in 1986. I had a 16-ft.-long enclosed trailer I kept all my tools in and locked onsite, and I would have never thought of parking on the neighbor’s property (easement or not). I always got approval before I parked anywhere.

Common sense should include a decision-making process, rather than just doing. Simple choices to use common sense - such as treating your clients’ (and their neighbors’) property the way you would want yours to be treated – can prevent unpleasant ripple effects that can negatively impact your clients, your reputation, and your business.

Impressing upon your employees that you expect them to use common sense – and leading by example – can empower them to make better decisions that reflect more positively on your company.



Larry Heuvelman is president of The Owner Consultant and a contributor to the CEDIA blog. Learn more about Larry at theownerconsultant.com.

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CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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