Just seeing a small child with a cell phone drives me a bit crazy. Maybe I’m getting old, but have you recently had to have a one-on-one or heart-to-heart with a young child or even a teen that is holding a cell phone? Because they are trained so young and distracted, rest assured the conversation will be a bit one-sided. You will see glazed-over eyes darting back and forth and fingers fiercely and frantically, fleetly flying from icon to icon. Forget finding depth of soul or a modicum of understanding. It is a wasteland of mumbles and stares and epitomizes the bane that is technology.
Based on the above, it is easy to see how the Luddite movement took hold among the English textile workers in the 19th century. They were so upset with technology and potential lost jobs that they vowed to destroy the weaving machinery in factories as a form of protest. Count me as modern day Luddite. But before we smash the latest IPhone on the alter of dissent, we need to rethink the value of technology, because, whether we like to admit it or not, technology has and always will be a net-plus.
Technology increases productivity, employment in the long-term, wealth and knowledge. It makes our lives easier, in many respects, and often times better.
Take the example of a technology we rarely consider anymore because it is so common place: the lowly elevator. It is arguable that when Elisha Otis had that famous rope cut that was suspending him above the crowd on a platform at the New York Crystal Palace exposition, 1853 World’s Fair and it did not fall; the world changed forever.
Since then, New York and thousands of other metropolitan areas were literally able to grow “up”. Before the safe elevator, the growth of cities was relegated to horizontal space or how high a person was willing to walk up, one step at a time. After old Elisha, the push of a button made it easy and quick to be whisked away to a different floor, sometimes hundreds of feet higher, in a matter of seconds. Even the term “skyscraper” was not in use regarding buildings until the elevator made it possible.
So why is this important? We are living in an age that has embraced the technology of elevators so much that we barely notice it anymore. “Ding” and we step in; of course unless the “out of order” sign is taped to the hall call. So when that elevator is down, it is more than an inconvenience. We expect to push the button and to go up or down with ease and we are disappointed, and even angered, when it does not work like we want. When broken, we are forced to trudge up a flight of stairs or two. Oh, the inhumanity!
So, as a building owner or manager, making sure the elevator runs properly is a big must. People are relying on that technology probably more than a teenager and a phone, and the taller the building, the more reliance.
To make sure the elevator is functioning properly with precious few shutdowns, you have some work to do. You must stay in contact with the elevator company. They are more than a friendly face that pops in occasionally, they are your maintenance partner. Hold their feet to the fire because your relationship with the users (your tenants and visitors) are reliant on them. The elevator maintenance personnel must be able to do the following:
- Diagnose – If it takes multiple times to get the problem figured out, there is a problem. Are they diagnosing or guessing?
- Explain – No one wants a problem but when there is one, a courteous explanation is required. They must be willing to take the time, go over the issue, and explain it all.
- Solutions – Solving the problem is a must. Constant guessing and return trips shows a lack of experience or ability.
- Fast – The maintenance provider should be willing to stay longer and work harder when needed. No one should stand for a slow-motion repair.
- Honesty – This is often reflected on the bill. Sometimes, if you don’t keep tabs, you end up paying for dropped tools, long lunches and nap time, instead of repairs.
If you suspect a lack of ability in any of the above, send a certified letter canceling the service contract. You probably should do that anyway, so you won’t get stuck with another five year contract you can’t get out of and that has automatic rate increases (but that’s another blog post). Sending the cancellation letter will not get you out of your current woes; however, it will serve notice with your provider. Secondarily, open a line of communication. Don’t just rely on the person that shows up to do the job, to relay concerns, especially about them! Likewise the scheduler at the office is probably the wrong person to contact about your concerns. Start climbing the ladder. Eventually you will get someone that cares about your problems. If not, then aren’t you glad you cancelled?