If the ashtrays are full, they think we don’t know how to service the engines!

Oct 01, 2012


There was a time many years ago, when smoking was still allowed on airplanes.  This title comes from a true story relayed to me by a friend.  He was flying cross country, and seated next to a rather irate passenger.  The passenger turned out to be the President of the airline on which they were flying.  And he was angry because the cigarette butts and ashes had not been cleaned out of the ashtrays in the armrest [remember those, anyone?].  “If the ashtrays are full, they think we don’t know how to service the engines!”  You get the idea.


Same friend, similar story:  We were headed to lunch at a nearby restaurant.  As we walked in, my friend noted the trash (small papers, cigarette butts, etc)  up against the curb and in the bushes next to the building.  It was clear no one was cleaning up the place.  My friend pointed out:  “if they don’t pick up the trash, people think the restaurant and the kitchen inside are equally filthy”.  He was right.  The restaurant and adjacent hotel closed soon after.  Not enough business.  I wonder why.


Last story:  One of my clients runs a very successful manufacturing company that uses lots of toxic chemicals.  Safety is critical.  As you walk in to the plant, the landscaping is impeccable.  The sidewalks are always cleared in the winter, there is no trash.  The parking lot has not a single pothole, or even chipped pavement, in spite of the heavy trucks.  You might not want to eat off of the plant floor, but you could.  It is that clean.  All of this sends a clear message to the employees, the customers who visit, and the bankers.  They run the cleanest, safest company in their industry.  Everyone knows what is expected.  And it shows. 

More from Randal Suttles…

About the Author

Randy is a seasoned executive with 30 years financial and senior management experience. Industry background includes life and health insurance, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, among others.

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