I had an experience this past week that caused me to take pause and think about the process of overcoming obstacles and formulating solutions.
My wife has her own business, and I am very proud of her success. In the process of building her business, she put a tremendous amount of mileage on her vehicle. This vehicle has gone from The City of Brotherly Love to the Rio Grande and all points in between – several times a year. This vehicle has a name (Fiona, since you asked) and is almost a part of the family.
As with any tool that is mechanical, it wears out, and that is what this one did. Now, we expected this, but it brings us to the small issue that we had – and it is probably not what you think.
While Fiona was in the dealership having major repair work done (to the tune of almost 4 weeks), my youngest daughter started her senior year in high school. We can all remember the excitement of being in your final year of primary education and having the freedom to drive yourself to school – and of course, out with your friends. Herein was the problem. The school system which serves my county will provide a parking permit for one vehicle. Only one. As a family we have several vehicles, but the one that is available during school hours was Fiona. Which is in the shop. Now we had a rental, kindly provided by the dealership, but it can’t be issued a permit. We did not own it and could not provide current registration for it. We could not even prove that it was registered within our county.
Why can’t my daughter just take the provided transportation to school you ask? Heck, it’s my tax dollars paying for those busses and salaries anyway! Well, she is taking advantage of classes offered by a local college campus that provides credit hours towards both her diploma and a college degree. As well as an internship with a local business for one of those classes. Truly a dilemma, since neither my wife nor I desire spending most of our day “in the street” dropping our daughter off between these three locations.
A Parking Permit – the initial problem
The problem that we encountered was one of communication. We had a situation that fell outside of the norms expected. Like many projects that I routinely see in the course of business. A problem, that to me, seemed very easy to fix. Do you have a temporary permit? Could we use it on this vehicle until my wife got Fiona back from the dealership in good working order? It seemed an easy fix.
“Could we provide a tag receipt for this temporary vehicle, or could we provide the title,” we were asked? Well, no. A well known national chain of rental cars had all of that, in their corporate name. It was a temporary vehicle. “Could we provide the rental agreement and a tag receipt for my wife’s vehicle?” Well, we could get a copy of the rental agreement, but it would be in the name of the local dealership that was providing us the car. And we could provide the latest tag for my wife’s vehicle, but it would expire in the next week or so. We can’t get a tag for her vehicle when it has no engine in it. What to do?
Engaging an expert for a solution
Fortunately for my daughter (and by association my wife and I), there was a solution. Eventually, we discovered a person at the school that dealt with exceptions to the standard rules. This subject matter expert was able to help us navigate parking permit purgatory and we got a temporary parking permit for our daughter. And it only took us three weeks. Perhaps you don’t think that this is a big deal, but I mention it to illustrate something that we all encounter in business.
Well defined solutions exist for most of our needs, wants, and desires. That is why Henry Ford was so successful. He manufactured vehicles that most people wanted at a reasonable price and within a reasonable time frame. He made it so anyone could afford a vehicle. But what about the people that fell outside of the bell curve, the people needing something different? Well, there are solutions for those people when they research the options, or get an expert involved. Ford isn’t the only car company out there. There are companies that manufacture nothing but large trucks, electric cars, or vehicles for where there are no roads. Soon maybe even cars that can fly.
The point is that these solutions are out there, and knowledgeable consultants can help you make the right decision. Or, in extreme cases, help you build the right solution. Not everyone needs a Mars Rover, but when you need one, you need one, right? And unfortunately, that convertible mustang just won’t do.
How this applies to your business
For most of the things you need, there are simple solutions that are mindless to choose. A loaf of bread or a ream of printer paper. For the things that you need that are more complex, more specialized, or just more expensive to acquire, it pays to engage an expert – or become one. Someone who knows the ropes, has been there before, or who can put you in touch with those who do. Maybe not for those times when you are trying to just “get a parking permit”, but you never know. I can assure you that it will save you time, money, and above all frustration.