Friday, August 21, 2009

Chapter 5: Graham's Proposition

Graham enters.

"Hey guys, how you doing? My name is Graham, it's good to finally meet all you guys. What's your name?"

"Danny. And this is my wife..."

"It's great you guys could make it." He moves to the front of the room after meeting one tech.

"Well guys, sorry I'm so late. I've been meeting with the reps for the past hour getting ready for what we're doing tomorrow. And darn, I got you guys some pizza but I guess the reps ate it all. So I guess I owe you guys dinner." Um, why would you tell us that?

We've been playing hangman on the whiteboard while waiting for the meeting to start. He walked to the whiteboard and asked if we needed what was written on there. We assumed he meant the hangman game and not all of Caleb's numbers and appointments and passwords and information that was also written on there, so we said no. He erased the entire board, while Caleb flinched as all his important info was wiped away. He then asked Caleb to draw a map of Alberta and named some cities for him to point out.

Meanwhile, he launched into his sob story.

As it turns out, our office hasn't been doing very well. Somewhat true. We were promised 30 days and we've been having 18 days at best, so yeah we're not doing the greatest, but things have been picking up lately so we're happy. I mean, it's a Tuesday and we did 15. That's our best Tuesday in a month! But apparently Graham is not as happy as we are. Graham is concerned that he is losing his best reps in our office due to depression. He sent one home just today who he met earlier in the lobby sobbing because she was so depressed because of this job. And you know why they're depressed? There's no feeling of unity in the office. The reps don't feel like they're friends with the techs and vice-versa, which can create tension and cause things to fall apart, so it's probably good that he's worried about this as an issue in the office.

But wait! Why isn't there rep-tech unity? Let's back up.

Caleb and Richard planned to have a rep-tech bbq right at the beginning of the summer. It was going to be paid for by the company and it was going to be a blast. It was going to be on a Sunday so everyone could come. And that's about all the details I can provide you with. We didn't know until that Sunday the location of the bbq, and then we found out it was at a campsite 2 hours away. It was supposed to start around 2, but that's when all the reps left. We found out later that all they brought was beer, so it wasn't much of a bbq anyway. We obviously decided not to go due to the lack of planning and had our own tech party like we'd been doing every Sunday thus far.

There was another opportunity for mingling when Caleb called a special meeting for all the reps and all the techs to work out any differences as far as work is concerned. They showed up for the meeting and were told to wait in the hall while Caleb met with the reps. Then all the reps came out in the hall and the techs went in the office so Caleb could meet with them. joint meeting. ?

Caleb also promised for the entire first month that he'd come over for a tech meeting so he could get to know everyone and he never quite made it out.

Basically, if there was a lack of team unity it was because the reps failed at mingling with the techs. Which usually happens, so no big deal. Besides, there wasn't really a problem with team unity. The techs were doing their job for the reps, and the reps were getting work for the techs, and that's all that needs to happen. No problems on either side. So back to Graham.

Graham proposed a solution to the lack of unity in the office. He said that another of his offices was having similar problems and our office needed to do the same thing they did.

"So what we need to do and what worked in the Winnipeg office is I want to take you guys camping. We'll go for a weekend camping trip and just have a great bonding experience. Every night around the campfire we'll just let loose and get to know each other and I know that after this weekend the morale in this office will just sky rocket. And what we need to do is hit up the northern cities where no one's been. Everyone up there wants a security system and there's not a company up there. So if we take this weekend and go camping up north it will boost our numbers and we'll all feel better about life."

He added some details using the map on the board about the northern cities that are just gold mines. Meanwhile we're all thinking...Camping?

Wait, seriously? He wants to have the sales crew camp? He wants to have the technicians sleep on the ground after working 14 hour days? This is like a really sick joke or something.

We then spent the next two hours discussing this idea with Graham. Someone would ask a question and he would make a ridiculous promise. Examples:

Q: So, when would this be happening?
A: We're leaving at 9 am tomorrow so we can get up there in time to hit the doors by about 4 pm.

Q: And you're providing the tents and stuff?
A: Actually I was just at Walmart today and they have these two man tents for $20 and then you guys can use them later.

Q: How far of a drive is it to where we're going?
A: It's about 3 1/2 hours (it's really 7)

Q: Will our gas be paid for?
A: Yep I'll pay for everyone's gas (he later amended this by saying he'd pay for anyone who got to the gas station at the same time he did and then later didn't pay for anyone's)

Q: What about my wife?
A: Your wives and kids are all welcome to come, I'd just worry about them being cold.

Q: What about sleeping bags? Those aren't very cheap...
A: What you can do is just bring the blankets you have here (Graham, have you ever been camping?)

Q: When is this bonding supposed to take place?
A: Right when all the techs get home.
Q: So at 2 am?
A: Well what time do you usually get home? Not 2.
Q: I usually get home between 12 and 1:30...

Q: What about equipment? You guys can only sell as much as we bring equipment for...
A: If we need equipment, I'll go get it. You guys won't have to worry about that.

Q: We've been getting a lot of crap from the reps about techs being more than 20 minutes to a job. Are you promising that no one will get upset if you keep us backed up?
A: Oh absolutely not. I'm happy when the techs are backed up, that means there are tons of sales. No problem there.
Q: Plus if we get backed up that means the next day will be completely full of schedule-outs. Is everyone going to be understanding about that?
A: Oh absolutely.

Q: Can you promise this will be the absolutely last time this ever happens all summer?
A: Well, no. What if you guys love it and want to do it again?

Q: What about the paperwork for the office? (the office manager took a week off because of a miscarriage so she was way behind).
A: I've already talked to Joe, he's going to take care of all your paperwork for you. Just send it to him. (Um, yeah right)

Q: How long are we going to be up there?
A: Just three days, then we'll come back to Calgary and we'll rock it here.

Q: What if we don't want to come, or if we can't?
A: If you can't come we've got about 10 jobs lined up for you here (no, just 2) so you'll be taken care of. And if you don't want to come that's your decision.

All through these questions all the techs had kind of funny looks on their faces. Basically what everyone was feeling was that they had no choice. If they didn't want to go they wouldn't have any work here. Everything he brought up I negated publicly, so he really wasn't happy I was there :D At one point he got very frustrated with my opposition and said "Ok fine. Let's not do this. I give this office 2 weeks before it shuts down." That made everyone realize this really was the only choice for them to make money.

When you sign up for this job you do it with the understanding that you'll be residing in an apartment, the SAME apartment, for 4 months. You'll be working in and around the same city the entire time. Things like this do not usually happen, and it was quite a proposition to be given at midnight the night before all the changes are to take place. We sat around discussing it for another hour or two. Everyone wanted my input because I seemed very opposed to the idea. Richard went out in the hall to discuss things with Caleb and Graham.

A couple techs came in late because they had late jobs. When they entered we all told them we were going camping, and they were immediately excited. Who doesn't love camping? But as we explained a little bit further they started going "...huh." Those two ended up being the two who did not go the next day.

As we discussed it, Marilyn came up with a solution to most everyone's problems. See, we hadn't been getting very much work, so all the techs were kind of poor. She decided to propose to Graham that if he would give everyone $100 for gas then everyone would be excited to go. When she brought this idea up to Graham his response was to look at his watch and say "Well I guess I better get going..." He totally ignored her and didn't answer the question at all.

At some point the guy who works next door came out of his office to complain about the noise level. He brought up the concern that there were children that should be in bed and that it's after midnight. Graham asked if he lived there. The man responded quite curtly "No. I'm working." and Graham retorted with "So are we." and just stared the guy down until he slammed his door. It was 1:30 am.

We continued to discuss the idea and try to decide if we were going to boycott or actually go or what was going on. Eventually it was decided that everyone would meet at our place at 9 to load up with equipment and that Richard would be up later that night after he took care of some tickets and last-minute things in Calgary. Richard would be getting a hotel for anyone who didn't want to camp.

So...I was not excited because I would not be going. Marilyn would also not be going, and I was planning to sleep at her place so we both wouldn't be lonely. But I guess we'd wait and see what tomorrow would bring. Who knows, maybe this would be a good thing...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chapter 4: Moving...

Canadian entropy started with a stupid idea.

Graham had four offices. Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. They were all doing okay for the first month, except Vancouver. They were doing okay for the first week and then sucked. So Graham decided the best thing to do would be to move the office.

Wait, what? Really? You think that's the best solution?

There's a city between Vancouver and Calgary called Kelowna. It's a resort town right next to a huge lake, and Graham felt they could do pretty well there. The biggest problem with deciding to move an office in the middle of the summer is that the company pays out the entire summer contract in housing, so if they leave they've already paid for the apartments back in Vancouver that no one's living in. Graham doesn't really care. He had an agreement with Tyler, the manager out there, and corporate that they would sell a certain number of accounts in Kelowna before they'd be able to try moving again. I forget the number. Also they had to have pretty cheap housing out there. No biggie. Especially if this is the only office in the company this is going to happen.

Burt was the lead tech out there, and he wasn't to pleased with the idea, but it wasn't that big of a deal for him because he just had himself. It was bad for his office because a lot of his techs were local guys. This meant that a lot of them ended up with equipment and tools that never got turned in, not to mention being out of a job all of a sudden. They had to move like, tomorrow, so there were a lot of installs that didn't get put in and it was just a mess. Burt got charged for all the missing equipment as well, which was dumb.

So they were off to Kelowna. Not too shabby I suppose. What do I care, it doesn't affect me at all, right?

The second step to Canadian entropy was Burt going on vacation.

Burt was probably the only person who could talk any sense into Graham at the beginning of the summer. I don't know if Graham planned out the entire fiasco beforehand or if he just decided to stop caring about everyone after a few weeks, but either way he respected Burt for a few weeks at least.

Burt planned a trip with his buddy Matt across Europe for about two weeks. He can't really leave his office for two weeks without a lead tech, so he paid my brother an exorbitant amount of money to run things for him. We were all pretty shocked at how much he was going to pay Jay to babysit for two weeks. Well, all of us except Richard who knew the full story...the VancouverimeanKelowna office was moving again! and Jay was going to be the one to do it.

Graham had decided to move the Kelowna office, but not to where they originally planned. There's a city two hours north of Kelowna called Kamloops that's pretty big, and that was the plan for the office. But then Graham heard that Gabe, his arch-nemesis (who knows why) was planning to go to a city called Prince George. Gabe was residing in Grande Prairie at the time, which is about 5 hours east of Prince George. Let me back up a bit. The summer started with Gabe in Fort Mac, which is an oil rig city full of people with money who all want security systems. He's taken his crew up there for a few years and they always do really well. Graham found out about it, so he sent his entire crew up there at the same time Gabe was there and they destroyed the city in less than a month. Gabe was planning to be there for 2 months then Grande Prairie for the rest of the summer, but instead had to go to Grande Prairie at the beginning of May and was planning to finish the summer in Prince George. Graham found out he was planning to go there and got there first, the little stinker.

So Jay had to move Burt's office up to Prince George, which is about 8 hours north of Kelowna. They didn't have apartments up there, they were staying in dorms. ? I don't know. But the dorms were really small. Jay had to find a storage unit for all the equipment, and there were a couple techs who decided they weren't going up because they had families that wouldn't fit in a dorm room the size of a closet. Makes sense to me, but who knows.

Now when Burt left on vacation he didn't just leave responsibility behind...he gave Richard his phone and Richard took all his important calls from corporate and Graham and all that. So when Tyler heard that Miguel, Burt's best tech, wasn't planning to come up to Prince George, he gave Richard a call on Burt's phone to figure out what was going on. Richard explained to Tyler Miguel's situation and made a few suggestions of how to get him up there. He said since Miguel is the best tech he should be provided with a hotel instead of a dorm room, and that the money they'd pay to house him in a hotel would be made up through the work he would do. Otherwise Miguel can spend the rest of the summer working for someone else who will actually take care of him. Made sense to Tyler, but he didn't like the idea. So then Graham called Richard to figure it out. I think he started out the conversation politely enough, but when it became clear that he was not going to get his way on the issue he told Richard to pack his bags and head back to Utah unless he can get all the techs up to Prince George.


Richard's not even in charge of that office, for crying out loud. Anyway Richard said something like "wait, you're going to throw your entire tech crew in Calgary down the drain just because one tech won't drive 8 hours to live in a dorm room?" and I think Miguel stayed in Kelowna doing service tickets for a few days before driving up to Prince George.

K let's count, Richard's been fired once by Graham.

Well, time goes on and Graham is still not seeing the numbers he wanted for his region this year. What can he do to boost his numbers? I mean, obviously his offices aren't doing well in the biggest cities in Canada. I guess the answer is to send them all to the smallest cities in Canada instead. Hey, that's a great idea! Someone tell Graham!

Someone must have told him, and the Calgary office was his next movable target.

Here's how I found out what was going on. I was at home, making rolls with Marilyn and Carol and probably playing American Idol on the ps2 while several small children ran around. My phone started playing Styx, signalling a call from my sweetheart, and I excitedly answered.

"Hi Love!"
"....I wanna go home."

Uh oh...

Richard went on to explain that Graham and Caleb had decided to turn the Calgary office into a moving office. For the rest of the summer the office would be moving to a new city every two weeks. I guess Calgary just got too knocked out too quickly, which is weird considering they'd only knocked in two parts of the city. But then again I'm not a sales manager and I'm definitely not Graham, so I must be missing some vital information on the subject. Richard told me there was going to be a meeting at 11 that night with all the reps and techs to discuss the new plan, and Richard wanted all the wives and children to be present to give Graham a good idea of how many people he'd be affecting with this stupid decision. The hardest part for me was going back inside and explaining to Marilyn and Carol what was going on without telling them anything. It proved harder than I thought since Marilyn immediately assumed there was a problem with immigration and her husband was going to get deported. So I probably should have just told her what was going on in the first place. Live and learn, right?

I spent the next hour or so texting all the married techs to make sure they brought their wives and kids to the meeting, and around 10:30 we all drove down to the office to get ready for the meeting. I was already in a bad mood, and all the kids were a few hours past their bedtimes. Richard looked like a family member had died the whole time we were there. We got there just before 10 and found out they had pushed it back to 11:35 to give the reps time to get there. Then they pushed it back to midnight, and we heard that the reps weren't actually coming, we were just meeting with Graham and Caleb. Yipee.

It was the worst meeting I think anyone had ever been to. I sure had fun, but that doesn't mean things turned out the way I wanted them to...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chapter 3: The New New Girl

My scheduling lasted a few more weeks. Somehow. I was doing the best I could, and my heart went out of it before I even started so my best wasn't that great. But I'm amazing, so I was still doing a good job :D

Meanwhile, Richard was doing amazing things as a lead tech. He put together a neat spreadsheet to make counting equipment a lot easier for everyone, and I was helping him get his tickets and inspections scheduled every week so he was making a lot more money than he was last year when he didn't do inspections. It was great. He even sat down and planned out this awesome incentive for the techs to improve their work and their attitudes. Whoever lost had to grow a mustache for a month lol.

I was having a lot of fun day to day hanging out with Marilyn and learning how to be a mom. I was also cleaning up the house quite a bit. The several groups of people who had lived there before left random things in the basement, and I got on Calgary's freecycle page to get rid of them. I was vacuuming, I was mopping, I had dishes done every day by was great. Oh and Rachel started LOVING baths, so that became part of a new bedtime routine and it worked pretty well. She's so cute :D

But I was hating scheduling.

The reps came up with some cool ideas to help pick up their numbers. They had slowed down a lot in the past month, and the new projected total for the summer was closer to 1600. Remember it started at 3000? Yeah, not gonna happen. We had a tech follow a few reps around all day with the idea that if that rep didn't sell, that tech wouldn't get work. It worked okay I motivated the motivated people and the unmotivated people didn't sell anyways. The next idea they had was an incentive competition with the techs. It was to go for 7 days, best out of 4 gets to pie the other team in the face. The competition was to see if the reps could back up the techs. If any tech was more than 20 minutes to an install, the reps would win that day. If all the techs were on time, the techs would win. The first four days the techs won so we gave up on that idea. Richard's boss thought it was a cool idea and he chipped in some incentive money for a bbq if the techs won, which they did, so we had an awesome bbq. Marilyn and Carol made an awesome marinade and the steaks were sooooooo was amazing.

Speaking of Carol...

I continued to get stressed and kept telling Richard I needed to be done. He kept telling me to ask Marilyn to schedule for a day or something and I kept telling Caleb I would absolutely not be working in June. Eventually Caleb got totally stressed and couldn't find anyone, and I suggested (at Marilyn's suggestion) that we bring Carol up from Logan to try it out. She was already working on getting a visa and was really excited about the idea. Caleb asked if I thought she'd do good and I told him definitely, and he told me to do it. So we brought up Carol and she was so excited. I was really happy to have someone doing it who I could actually watch and help her with anything that came up. And she did great. It was so great to have another person to hang out with and to be FREE from scheduling once and for all!! I loved June.

We had a lot of fun in our office. We would get everyone together every Sunday and have big dinners and play games and watch movies and play with Trevor's slack line and take pictures and once we bought the bbq we had a bbq every was fun. We had such a great work crew and we always had fun when we got together. Things were great.

And then it all went wrong...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chapter 2: Verizon, Techs, and The New Girl

To tell this story properly I have to introduce the technicians a little bit.

Richard: Lead Tech. Has 1 wife and 1 child.
Danny: Has 1 wife and 3 childs.
Jordan: Has 1 wife, but she is not in Canada with him.
Jesse: Has 1 wife and 1 child.
Jason: Has 1 wife and like a billion pets.
JayTrevorDuncan: Single guys.
Nathan: Married to the best selling rep in the office.
Devin: Has 1 wife. Took some convincing to come up here because he had a bad experience the last time he worked for Pinnacle.
Richard W: Has 1 invalid girlfriend (she's in and out of hospitals every week)

This is the best tech crew I've ever seen, which presents some problems. You need at least 1 slacker tech in your office in case there's a slow day. We were under the impression there would be no slow days, so we weren't too worried about not having any slacker techs. But then the slow days started...

Anyways so where were we. I'm scheduling. From home. On my cell phone. Which shouldn't normally be a problem with all these crazy unlimited plans they've got these days. Unfortunately, every cell phone company in the US dropped their Canada calling plans except for Verizon. We didn't find this out until we started getting long distance charges with Sprint that they didn't warn us about. Sprint's customer service is a bit lacking lately. So we had to switch to Verizon in order to make this whole expedition even possible. We've always wanted to switch but never have because Richard is obsessed with his expensive palm phone. When he went in to Verizon they were having a 2 for 1 sale on late model palm phones, so that made us feel a little better about switching. I now have a pretty sweet phone :D That being said, Verizon's Canada plan is not very good. Probably mostly because they're the only Canada plan, so they can do whatever they want. Our plan includes 6000 anytime minutes and 1000 night and weekend minutes. No, I did not get that backwards. We also have unlimited texting within the Verizon network, and depending on how much we feel like paying that month a few out of network texts.

We knew going into this that Richard was going to be on the phone a lot, so we got the biggest plan they offered for that purpose. We did not know going into this that I would be scheduling for any amount of time, so I had a minimal texting plan and I was sharing Richard's minutes. If I knew I would be scheduling I probably would have gotten a different plan or we would have gotten Canadian phones or something, because the way it turned out was just ridiculous. We used almost 12,000 minutes in May. 12,000!! Do you know how many minutes there are in a month? 43,200. That means we spent almost an entire week on the phone. Yuck!

To combat these costs, I tried to spend as little time as possible on the phone. I would answer it when a rep called in a sale, but then I would text the information to the tech instead of calling him. This mostly worked, but sometimes the service wasn't very reliable and my texts didn't end up going through. Or a tech left his phone in the car. Or on silent. Or something. So on occassion techs were slightly more than 20 minutes getting to a job and it was my fault for not calling them to make sure they got my text. But I got really good at texting :D

All in all it was a pretty good system. Except for when Rachel started crying every time she saw my phone. Being a scheduler is a really weirdly time consuming job, because you can pretty much do whatever you want all day long but when the phone rings you HAVE to answer it and you HAVE to keep track of the techs and the jobs they're putting in. So it's ideal for a tech's wife who doesn't have much to do besides hang out with the other wives and wait for the phone to ring. It's a little more challenging for a tech's wife who has a house to clean and organize and laundry to do AFTER taking care of the needs of a 2 month old baby. Who goes through all her growth spurts earlier and longer than expected, so she has to eat pretty much all day long. I got really good at doing things with one hand while feeding the baby :D Which is a great accomplishment, but I got really worn out and tired and unhappy and no one ever paid me.

So I told Caleb I was done. I gave him a few days to find a replacement and I told him I'd be more than willing to train her up and stay with her for a few days to make sure she understood everything and did a good job. I told him on Saturday that Wednesday absolutely needed to be my last day. He said cool and thank you and told me if I emailed my hours to Graham he'd be sure to get me paid through Richard's account. I didn't really believe that was going to happen since I know how the back office side of the company works and that's not it, but I figured if Graham really has as much sway as everyone is showing he does, then it might work out. So I emailed over my hours and was feeling quite confident that Wednesday would be my last day. This was right around 15 May.

I understood from Richard that Adam (assistant manager) was working on hiring someone, so I was pretty excited. He was interviewing on Tuesday, hiring on Wednesday, and I'd be training on Thursday. Pretty sweet :D We made arrangement for me to have the car so I could drive downtown to the office and train that day and the next, just to make sure everything went smoothly. We found out they did hire someone, so plans were in motion.

I went in on Thursday around noon to train the new girl. I understood that she'd be in the office all day, so I had her help me put up a wall chart like I had in Texas that worked really nicely for keeping track of the jobs and the techs. I explained the whole process from when the phone rings until the tech is done with his job, and I had her download the app for facebook that I was using to text all the reps and let them know how we were doing on sales for the day. I had her write down all the phone numbers for the techs and told her about each tech, and everything seemed to be going pretty well. Tragically, it was a slow day. Which meant we were bored all day. Jennifer, the new girl, was neither a mother nor LDS, so she, Kristy and I had very little to talk about except work. Kristy and I kind of complained a bit, and I think we gave her a bit of the wrong impression about the job.

Towards evening it became quite clear that they weren't going to pick up very much for the rest of the night, and I was out of milk. I asked Jennifer if she'd be okay if I took off for an hour to go shopping and she assured me she'd be fine. When I got back she was still doing great, and I could see she was following the system really well. I was pretty pleased. She told me she was fine to go home for the night, so I showed her how to forward the phone to her cell so she could take any late or early calls and make sure everything was taken care of and told her to stay until about 10. Cool. I'm going home.

Richard came home around 10 as he rarely managed to do these days, and his phone was ringing off the hook as usual. He got a strange call from a rep with a sale because he said the office number was busy. I figured Jennifer was just taking a sale and handing it out like usual and the rep was just kind of impatient. But when Richard got done dispatching the job and got off the phone he told me he wasn't sure about Jennifer's capacity as scheduler. Apparently he called her looking for one of his techs and she sent him to a job that another tech was doing. Kind of strange...but oh well. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Richard got a text the next morning from Caleb informing him that Jennifer had quit last night. There was nothing in the text asking me to schedule again, but I figured I might as well, so I just picked up right where I left off. We went in to the office to take care of some things and found the note from Jennifer. She didn't even call anyone to say she was quitting, she just left a note around 9:30 at night (still rush hour) saying the job wasn't what she thought it was going to be and she had a better offer. I was flabbergasted that she would just walk out on a job without telling anyone. She was the sole dispatcher and she just left. I couldn't believe it. She showed absolutely no sense of responsibility, and that's just rude. Anyway I looked at the book and the wall chart and she had really messed things up big time. She skipped three techs and gave one tech two jobs without everyone having one, plus she had a lot of names wrong and it was just crazy. I eventually got it all sorted out, and that day was kind of a mess as far as the order goes just because she screwed it up so badly the day before.

So here I am, back to scheduling. I guess we'll see how long this lasts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chapter 1: Our new home in Calgary, AB

So here we are in lovely Calgary. We've been informed by locals that we live in the ghetto. Really? It's a pretty nice neighborhood, so if that's ghetto Calgary I'm pretty excited for the sales this year. We live in a townhouse among hundreds of other townhouses, and it's pretty cool. We even get two bedrooms without paying for it since the other one is for "equipment" which is actually in the basement. We didn't bring anything with us, though, so we didn't use the second bedroom anyway.

First things first: This townhouse has been rented by Pinnacle for over a year and 3 or 4 different people have lived there. The last couple that dwelt therein left half of their earthly belongings in the living room when they moved up to Edmonton. So right when we moved in we were bombarded with strollers, garbage cans, and cleaning supplies that we weren't all that interested in. Kind of made it hard to move in. The other thing that made it hard was the guy that hadn't moved out yet. When he left he managed to take one of our towels with him as well, but we won't hold that against him.

Once we got all the stuff that wasn't ours sorted and thrown in the backyard to await pickup, we began the adventure of unpacking and inspecting our new place. The couches are disgusting but very comfortable, especially the one that people had jumped on until it broke. There are black marks on all the walls and soda stains on the living room carpet. Basically I'm embarrassed when people come over because they think I designed this travesty. Gross. We wanted to move the couches up to the landing upstairs so the living room could just be for tech meetings, but the broken one was too long. So I had my living room upstairs where I could watch dvds on my small dvd player that sat next to the big tv that didn't work without a remote that we didn't have. It was really nice: Richard would have his meeting at 1 every day and I could just go upstairs and be away from it all. Wasn't a bad setup at all.

Our first adventure was that first Sunday when we wanted dinner and all we had was beans and rice. We didn't realize we didn't have a garborator (Canadian for garbage disposal) until after we dumped the leftovers down the sink, so when I ran the dishwasher later that night the rice expanded in the pipes and we had a swimming pool in the kitchen. So then we had no towels.

Richard's first meeting was pretty interesting. He hadn't even met a lot of the techs he'd be working with since Burt hired them, and Burt also sent over a bunch of his techs to help out for the first week since it was going to be huge and Richard needed to be able to train all his new guys. He had some pretty weird techs, but after a week or so they all pretty much quit. Except camo pants, but that's another story for another day.

This brings us to selling day one: Tuesday, April 28, 2009. Richard was running around as usual getting techs organized and equipment and answering the phone etc while I was unpacking and making lunch and taking care of the baby etc. We passed each other at one point and I casually asked if Kristy had arrived and if Caleb had hired a scheduler yet. Richard kind of sighed and said "Actually, Caleb asked if you could do it just for today. Kristy will be here tomorrow. He said he'd pay you out of pocket." I said cool, but he didn't have to pay me. I don't mind doing everyone a favor like that. I rounded up a scratch piece of paper and a pen and got ready for the day.

Day one wasn't that bad. Rachel was only a month and a half old, so she was still sleeping most of the day and didn't squak too much when I was on the phone. I kept track of everything on a little paper I found and it wasn't organized very well, but I figured it was okay because it was just for one day.

Day two was really annoying. Kristy and Jesse rolled in that afternoon and needed the day off to unpack and get settled. That's not annoying, and I didn't mind helping Kristy out for an extra day. What was annoying was that Caleb hadn't even started the hiring process yet. No ads or anything. Oh well, I can manage for another day.

I was free for the rest of the week once Kristy started scheduling. I was very hopeful that she would do a good job and that Caleb would find someone by the end of the week like he promised.

Richard's life never slowed down, however. He was up and out the door by 8 am every morning to help techs finish jobs, move reps into their apartments, work with the managers of three different properties to make sure everyone had a home and furniture, talk to corporate about any border problems that arose, and do general training of his techs. He'd come back at 1 for his meeting, then be gone again before 4 to help on jobs for the rest of the night. He got home every night for the first two weeks between 1 and 2 am, and he was on the phone for hours at a time answering rep and tech questions and working things out with Caleb.

Here's the thing. Pinnacle offices are always pretty much the same: Rep makes sale. Rep calls scheduler to get a tech. Rep leaves house to go knock on more doors. Tech arrives within an hour to complete install, then informs scheduler so she can give him the next job. Every office operates like this. Every office. Not some, not a few, but every office. What we didn't know was that Caleb's office does not operate like this. Caleb's officd: Rep makes half a sale. Rep calls scheduler to "give an address". Rep continues to close the sale while the tech scoots over to the install. Good techs will call the customer on the way to let them know they're coming, but that is unacceptable in Caleb's office as it turns out. Caleb would like the techs to call the rep to tell him he's coming. Okay....whatever floats your boat. Anyway if the tech doesn't get there within 20 minutes he's basically a tard. The rep waits in the home until the tech gets there, and if he's not there ASAP he's keeping the rep off the doors. Making a rep wait more than 20 minutes is just not even an option.

All summer long if a tech was ever more than 20 minutes (and that means anywhere from 22 to 35 minutes) getting to a job the rep would call Caleb to complain. Caleb would then call Richard to complain. Richard would then call the tech to find out what took him so long to get to his job and find out he got stuck in traffic. Richard would then call Caleb back and explain that, and Caleb would tell Richard he needs techs there before the sales are made so they don't get stuck in traffic. Did you count the phone calls? I'll go over our cell phone bill for the month of May in a later chapter. This became pretty stressful for Richard and he had several conversations with Caleb about maybe not being so particular with the timing of the techs, but Caleb always won. Which meant more phone calls for Richard.

Alright back to week one. Kristy scheduled up through that first Saturday. Jesse came over to get some equipment that day and called Kristy to ask about me maybe going over and helping her get situated, since I've done her job two years running and had a pretty good system. When he called she had a breakdown because of how stressed she was doing both jobs; the paperwork and the scheduling. Did I mention Kristy has a 1 year old? At that point I figured since Caleb hadn't hired anyone else I could probably help her out a little bit and do the scheduling until she caught up or until Caleb hired someone else, which he promised to do by the end of the week. And so it began...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Graham Saga: Prologue

I decided not only for posterity that I should record our experiences this summer. They're actually quite amusing. I think it might turn into an okay book that I shall someday publish when Graham has become imprisoned for being the world's biggest douche bag and then I shall profit off of HIM for a change.

I need to preface this a bit. First of all, I suck at blogging. It's become a well-known fact, and I apologize. I'm better at facebook. But the fact remains that I am a decent writer, and I can't move from decent to good until I write more. In an effort to move in this direction I have tabbed blogger so I'll see it every day on my row of clicky buttons, right after the fail blog.

Second preface: I have a small child. This means I probably won't be able to write very much at a time. Maybe that will keep everyone on the edge of his/her seat, which is, of course, my goal.

Third preface: I really hope I keep steam for this project so it doesn't just end with this post, as it well might.

Ok here we go.

Our story begins early in the spring of 2009 in the apartment of Jill and Richard Gwilliam. Things are a bit hectic as the couple prepares for a new baby, along with the excitement of Richard finishing his semester at BYU and Jill trying to find and train a replacement RS Secretary. Added to the pile of things to do (which never ends, as we all know) is the looming thought of the upcoming summer. Questions in mind include whether Jill should try to work as the office manager whilst caring for a small baby and if she doesn't, who will, as well as whether to return to Dallas with McKay or follow Burt up to Canada.

Burt has been working long and hard to put together a pretty solid region of techs up in Canada. He's assistant regional manager (assistant to the regional manager) up there and as he is Canadian and has no problems entering said country he is actually handling a lot more of the load than his manager. But that's another saga for another day. Since Burt and Richard are Canadian, they have been handed a special opportunity to make a lot of dough this year. Enter Graham Wood.

Graham Wood has been in the alarm sales industry for several years and through several companies. At this point in our story this is what Jill and Richard understand and believe about Graham Wood: He was a sales manager for Apex. He did a buttload of accounts last year in his region and is going to do close to the same this year. One of his managers, Caleb, has never slowed down in production, and promises 2400 accounts this season. And here's the problem: Apex lost money last year because of how many reps they had selling billions of accounts for them. In order to make money they put limits on some of their managers. Graham's limit was 3000 accounts for his entire region. That's four offices like Caleb's that planned to do 2000-3000 each, so that's quite a pay cut. Graham decided that sounded like baloney and thought he would trot over to Apex's competition to see what kind of sweet deal he could get for bringing his entire team with him. Now, Pinnacle has been trying for ten years to catch up to Apex. No one quite understands why, but they're always a few steps ahead and Pinnacle just can't seem to hit the same numbers. So when Graham came over with his Apex crew, the owners of Pinnacle were ecstatic. Now here's a guy who can produce. The records show it and he's here saying it. He's a pretty sharp looking guy and there's just no way around that sales-rep rhetoric (aka he's a douchebag and everything out of his mouth is a lie) so they said sure, bring your team. We'll give you whatever you want. You want Canada? You can have it. The whole country. Just run amok. Ok, that's not exactly what they said, but pretty close. Graham Wood has whatever freedom he asks for within Pinnacle. There is absolutely no way around that.

Here's the problem. Richard is a trusting person. And his office with McKay in Dallas last year did about 1300 accounts. I'm sorry, but 2400 is a lot bigger than 1300. My trusting husband and his trusting brother got in cahoots with Graham about this whole Canada thing, and it's just gonna be so great. The whole region is going to be number one in the company, and Richard's office with Caleb is going to be number one as well. Money all around! We're going to be able to buy a house when we get back, and affording the study abroad in Germany will be a cinch. And I apologize to anyone who didn't know about the study abroad. Like I said, I suck at blogging.

By March the plans were all set. Richard and Jill (and Rachel) are headed to Calgary. It was kind of a mess, but through much diligent work and several road trips Richard was able to get a really good (I just typed gut lol...I've also been dreaming in German lately but that's another story) tech crew put together. He was planning to have 25 techs for his office of 35 reps, and was pretty sure they were all going to get 4 a day. I mean, 2400 accounts is a LOT. And Richard was ready for it. He spent hours on the phone with each tech as well as with BUNAC about visas and passports to make sure all his guys would be taken care of. And they were, and it was great. Meanwhile Burt was up in Canada recruiting up a storm of techs to handle all the work Graham's region would be giving them. And I was busy trying to pack with a newborn. You need a lot of stuff to survive for 4 months, and I was doing my best to bring just the necessities. But it was still a lot.

Richard was on the phone with Caleb every single day in April trying to smooth everything out and make sure things were going to go off completely without a hitch. There was a problem with the office manager situation, however. Caleb's rule is NO FAMILY. Too bad Pinnacle's rule is ALWAYS HIRE WIVES THEY WORK FOR DIRT. Also a problem is the fact that Pinnacle likes to hire all the office managers, but Caleb wanted to hire his. Oh well, that's not really my problem since I decided I wouldn't be able to do it with Rachel. I'll let Caleb sort that out.

While Richard was on the phone with Caleb, I was on facebook chat with Kristy, a friend from a few years ago when we worked in Portland together. She brought up a lot of questions about the office manager position, and I was able to answer most of them from my experience and direct her to the proper department for the rest. After a few weeks of chatting Kristy decided she was going to do it. She got signed up as the full-time girl with a promise that since Caleb promised so many sales in that office they'd be hiring a second girl to handle scheduling. It took a lot of convincing to get Caleb to be okay with the idea of Kristy doing the office, since her husband was going to be a tech and that violated his NO FAMILY rule, but he was mostly okay with it since she wouldn't be doing the scheduling. He planned to find someone else to do that and promised to have her hired and set up ready to go once the office opened. Every time Richard talked to him he asked if he had found a girl yet, and the answer was always no, right up to and including the week we got up to Calgary. I guess what you can infer from this experience is that Apex guys don't do much pre-planning for anything. Just post-planning, I guess.

And so it began. We were headed up to the best summer of our lives. We'd be living in a town house in Calgary, right across the street from a park and just down the street from Walmart. We switched some apartments around and Richard's sister and brother-in-law ended up just a block away from us, so I had someone to hang out with nearly every day. Things were going to be great. We packed up all our things and dropped off what we weren't taking at my parents' house and we were on our way. Rachel didn't really enjoy the ride, but I was sure things would be just fantastic once we got there. Problems? Sure, they'd be there. But they'd be managable. I was very confident that my capable husband would take care of everything he needed to and that this would be a great summer. He had a great relationship with the sales manager and they were already working well together. Kristy has a degree in office management, so I wouldn't have to worry about that at all. And after a bit of a struggle Marilyn and Danny made it through the border. All in all, things were looking great.

Please stay tuned for the next installment of "The Graham Saga" coming soon!