Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2011 - (Page 24)

This Ain’t . . . It’s Just BY ROB McELROY, P.E. WE’VE ALL BEEN there. You’re late for work and traffic is slowed due to roadway construction in the area. It’s been like this for days. You can’t even figure out what the purpose of the project is. Why does this section of road even need to be re-paved? It seemed okay to you. And why do they have to work on it during the busiest month of the year? Then you see something that really makes your blood boil...idle workers leaning on shovels chatting away with each other while you struggle to get to work on time. You check your watch. Yep…you’re going to be late. You look back at the road crew and the entire story is quite clear to you. “Typical lazy government workers…my tax dollars going to waste again.” Is this really what’s going on here? Does it even matter what the “full story” is? Not really. What you see fits into your preconceived ideas about how typical road crews operate: slow, over-paid, underworked, uncaring, etc. In your mind, someone’s “make work” project is interrupting your normal commute, delaying you getting to your destination and no one on this road crew cares. You are not alone in this way of thinking! If you substitute “waterline installation” for “road paving” as the project in our example, does anything change for the vast majority of passersby? Not hardly...and this is the crux of the problem we face when we oversee field construction in the utilities industry. It may not be fair, but it is certainly common in the “perception is reality” world we live in. Failing to deal effectively with these public perceptions can make your work a lot harder than necessary and can severely damage your reputation. Fortunately, with just a little effort and these low-cost suggestions, you can set your utility up for success in your next field project. Build the relationship long before the project begins The very best way to prepare for a major field project is to win the customer over long before work in the field begins. Waiting until a major project is upon you before you start this vital conversation with them can make succeeding much more difficult and costly than it needs to be. The best time to start winning over the customer is NOW. Don’t be a stranger — People don’t trust strangers and, if your customer does not have a personal connection with your utility, then you are a stranger to them. Start now doing things that get your utility noticed for the right reasons…like winning hard-to-get awards or receiving special recognition. Enlist your employees to help spread the word throughout the community. Update them regularly on The smallest thing can show customers you care about them in a big way. Look for ways to astonish your customers on every construction project. 24 • First Quarter 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2011

Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2011
From the President
Engineering Contracts 101
Design-Build is New and Different, But it Works
A New Angle: Environmentally Friendy Angle Well Construction
This Ain't Business...It's Just Personal
Fill Up Your CUPSS Today!
Regulatory Update
A Joint Letter to NRWA and AWWA Memberships
Throwing My Loop
Index to Advertisers/
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2011