Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"We Have Many Important Tools, But This Just Might Be The Most Important"

Every profession has its own specialized tools that are used, and there are more generic tools that are used as well. Mechanics, accountants, chefs, engineers, programmers, mechanics, doctors, carpenters, and others have the tools of their profession that enable to provide their services and deliver their particular work products.

As aging in place contractors, renovators, remodelers, handymen, therapists, consultants, designers, or others involved in evaluating our client's space and creating solutions to serve their needs, tools are important to us also. We will use many hand tools such as a hammer, saw, screwdriver, pliers, or wrench, but that's only part of the picture.

We also will use our computers, tablets, cell phones, cameras, tape measures, checklists, assessment forms, and software. All of these are quite important, and it would be hard to be successful and do a good job for our clients without these tools. It would be hard to say which is the most important to us - or the least. They all are valuable.

If we had to guess which piece of equipment or which tool that we require and use the most to serve our clients, conduct our business, and get our work done, a likely choice might be our phones. It's hard to live without them - with so many apps on them in addition to being able to talk with clients and strategic partners.

Phones tell us the time - how many rely on a watch rather than our phones to see what time it is? Phones tell us the weather, connect us with social media, display our email, send and receive text messages, do our banking, and so much more, depending on which apps we have installed on them.

Yet, there is one tool that comes to mind as the most important - even more important than a vehicle, cell phone, or computer. The tool that all of us should have in our possession at all times that enables us to meet people and record information about their needs, take notes about conversations we are having with potential clients and others, and write down our observations is the pen or pencil.

In today's electronic world of computers, tablets, and smartphones, the lowly pen or pencil, by comparison, seems severely outclassed. It doesn't perform multiple functions or have a display for us to read the information it creates, transmits, or receives. Still, the pen or pencil is the one tool we can never afford to be without if we expect to meet people and be responsive to their needs - allowing us to suggest and provide solutions for them that will let them lead more comfortable lives in their home as they remain living in them.

Of course, something to write on - a piece of paper, a pad, the back of a business card, or even a scrap of paper, paper packaging, Post-It note or a piece of cardboard - is required to use the pen or pencil effectively. People have been known to write on the palms of their hands in a pinch, but that is unreliable because the information recorded can smear or disappear before it can be transferred to a more permanent record.

As we meet people in the course of our daily lives, regardless of where that is and whether we make the introductions or they are referred to us by others that we work with, we need to be able to record essential information about people we are meeting and have a way of reaching out to them again.

For people that express a need for a specific service or solution that we offer - after they learn what we do - we need to make a note of their needs and have their names and a phone number and email address to contact them again after this initial meeting.

While there are some temporary substitutes for writing done personal information when we receive it, such as trying to remember it, making an audio recording or getting a business card, there is one thing a pencil does in our business for which there is no comparable solution. The pencil is necessary and unequaled in marking dimensions on a board to be cut or marking the correct location before installation.

All tools have a purpose, but for us, the pen or pencil is possibly the most important.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.