What you’re wearing, your handshake, what you say and how you say it…”You Only Get One Chance to Make a First Impression”… but how do you make a lasting impression?
Read the excerpt below from Mustang, The Story, Chapter 8 and discover how during a competitive bidding process, Bill created a lasting impression that became a tradition within Mustang which is still celebrated today.
Slim Chances of a Win
There were going to be six to eight bidders and four would be short listed for presentations to the board. We would be the only competitor that had not worked for the city and one of three that had not worked for Metro. It looked doubtful for our management team being willing to invest the overhead manhours required to try and get us into a competitive position, considering that at best, we might have a 12% chance of winning the work. I pulled together all of the information I had gathered and the summaries of what we had learned in the site visit to present to Paul and Felix.
As a young company, we did not have any transportable ability to give presentations using the computer. Down the hall from us was a Campbell’s Soup™ marketing office that threw out some thick advertising posters that showed cans of soup. I picked the posters up and wrote the presentation on the back of them. I worked on the floor in the living room in front of a fire.
I sat and tried to picture our DBE, WBE and a few Mustangers on one side of a room making a presentation to the board lined up on the other side as Dick had described the normal layout. They would have seen three other presentations and been working hard since before 8:00am. These presentations were being given by engineers so there was a good chance three quarters of the time was boring as all get out…especially for the non-technical folks! Their normal lunch hour had to be 11:30 or 12:00 depending on their flex-time schedule, so the tummies may be starting to growl a little. Then, on top of all this, they will be listening to a company called Mustang that normally works on offshore oil platforms in the Gulf.
There seemed to be a 70% chance that the board would tune us out and pick one of the earlier “safe” companies that knew how to push all the right bureaucratic buttons on the evaluation forms. Some of them might feel that we would just be chasing this work because the oil patch was dead and we’ll run back to that work as soon as it became available.
From painting this mental picture of the situation we were likely to face, I was able to push myself into figuring out a way to change the whole potential dynamic. At the minimum, I wanted to break down the wall between the board and our team. Then, even if we did not win, at least we would be remembered.
Our team walked in carrying an easel and the advertising boards – just hoping to get some attention. I then flipped the first board over to reveal the start of our presentation. Written in magic marker were the words:
“MUSTANG WILL SATISFY YOU”
I then probably broke all of the protocol rules of Metro and walked over into their space. I had a Kroger plastic shopping bag in my hand and starting with the first board member, I put a large Snickers® bar in front of each of them. Of course I sort of sang the Snickers jingle, Mustang style. Smiling and bouncing a little as I walked down the line, I told them that I wanted them to focus on this presentation…not lunch!! We were going to tell them about a company that is focused on solving their problems. Our feeling was that if we take care of their problems, they will gain trust in us, which will increase efficiency and lead to more work.
I had worked my way down to putting a large Snickers® in front of the last board member, when I said “Oh and here is a small one for your baby”. That comment got everyone on both sides of the room laughing, because she was pregnant but not yet showing. It was very obvious through sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and feeling of empathy, that Mustang was really going to be focused on Metro and their needs.
By going into the board’s space and getting them laughing, we were able to totally change the whole dynamic of the room. We drew them into a great conversation about their concerns. We talked about how Mustang would help solve those concerns, if Metro would help us minimize the bureaucracy and paperwork required of our people. Before the “Presentation” was over, we were all working together to figure out how to take care of each other in a fully win-win fashion that really felt good and energetic to all participants.
Metro ended up deciding to go with Mustang and give Dick what he felt he needed to upgrade their facilities. Metro’s going rate for engineering was higher than what we were used to in the super competitive offshore market, so we had a boost to our bottom line. But the most important thing that resulted from this effort was that 80% of our drafting room ended up working down at Metro from December through February, when there generally is no offshore work to win. This really saved our reputation with our people as we were trying to develop loyalty and trust…and perhaps saved Mustang.
This is the “Snickers” story that has been with Mustang from the beginning. It is why we serve small Snickers® bars at all functions. We want to continually remind people to be other-oriented in our ongoing effort to build trust.