a bit part in a TV gangsta pilot
I mean "THE" family
[continued from posts of May 3 & 26, June 7 & 21, July 4 & 22, August 22, September 6, 2009]
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- Latin nefarius, from nefas = crime, from ne = not + fas = right
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Mr. Bxxxxxxxx was waiting for us as we entered his office. He seemed to be in one of his regular 'agitated' states...like he was on a caffeine high [only it probably wasn't caffeine].
Mr. 'X' sat in one of the chairs across from Mr. Bxxxxxxxx. I guess he wanted his presence to be known to us.
As he points at me, Mr. Bxxxxxxx asks my VP, "So, what's this great idea of yours? ...and what's he got to do with it?"
My VP shoots right back with, "Jimmy here is the guy who's gonna help us pull this off."
It now seems I play a role in it, even though I haven't heard the plan yet. Now if it fails, its my fault. These guys are pros at covering their backsides in case things go wrong.
He continued speaking to Mr. Bxxxxxxxx, "Remember when I called you last week and asked if your people could get me some names in the Chicago area?"
Pointing to the guy who normally sets in the corner of the room, he says "Txxx called me back with the names I needed: Jimmy gumshoe and Manny the rat.
Yesterday, we made house-calls on four contract Agents in the Chicago / Gary area. I dropped the names and struck gold at two of them. These guys don't want any trouble like the kind Jimmy gumshoe and Manny the rat can cause them. I told them I needed to know why they don't throw more business our way. Seems we're slow payers and our commission rates aren't the best.
We gotta get someone in our company to work with these guys ... you know, face-to-face. We gotta schmooze them a little. We need to pay faster and we need to pay better. If we want revenue from them we gotta treat them better. What we're doing now isn't throwing much revenue onto our books."
Mr. Bxxxxxxxx is listening and figeting in his chair.
"So, that's what you're saying we gotta do? Pay them faster and pay them more commission?", Mr. Bxxxxxxxx asks.
My VP comes right back with, "...and we gotta get the right person getting the word out that we're gonna do just that. We have over a hundred of these contract agents . I'm saying we gotta have somebody with the title and the power to make things happen."
The quiet guy in the chair next to us butts in: "Are you saying Jimmy here is the guy?"
"Absolutely!" says my companion.
"How much is it gonna cost us?" asks Mr. Bxxxxxxxx. "...and what're you gonna call him?"
"It'll cost a 'big one' ... and he needs new business cards - fast. We can call him: Vice President of Agency Development."
"Well, can you do it?", Mr. Bxxxxxxxx asks as he glowers at me?
"If I've got front-office support and the expressed authority to do what needs to be done, then, 'Yes!', I can do it." That's about the best I can come up with on the spur of the moment.
Mr. Bxxxxxxxx stares at my VP then looks over at the guy setting next to us. Mr. 'X' nods one time affirmatively. Mr. Bxxxxxxxx returns his gaze to our Vice President of Sales for the Western Region.
"Let's do it!" he declares.
Mr. Bxxxxxxxx then looks to me. In one of the few almost normal comments I've ever had from him, he asks, "What do you need from me?"
I have several folders in my lap. Each contain records for one of the four contract agents we visited the day before. I'm keenly aware of the weaknesses in our Agency program.
"I need the Manager in the Settlements Department answering to me. I need to be able to implement changes in the way we process Agency business. I need to adjust payment levels as needed to get business from our agents. Commission rates don't have to be the same to all agents. We only have to be higher than what they get from other carriers. And I need you to speak personally to our VP of Operations and to the Settlements Department Manager - let them know of the changes." There! I had said it. Unplanned and unrehearsed.
Mr. Bxxxxxxxx raised himself from behind his desk. "Let's go see them right now." He looked to my VP and told him to go to payroll and get the pay thing squared away ... and get my business cards ordered 'rush'. I had no idea about this. We hadn't discussed anything.
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An hour later, the conversations had been concluded. I was given a small office outside the Operations Department. I would be making a lot of phone contact with our agents. After that I'd be on the road a lot, seeing them face-to-face.
I went to dinner with my Vice President of Sales for the Western Region. I heard it again: "You do for me - I owe you. I do for you - you owe me." I wondered who owed at this point. I asked about the pay thing. "Remember when he asked what it would cost? I told him 'a big one'. Well that was your raise ... a big one ... a grand a month."
I was now a Vice President, and I had a thousand dollar a month raise. This was a few years back - a grand was very nice. I told him I needed to go home for a couple of days. He suggested I stay there in HQ for a day. Get things set up in the Settlements Department. Make some phone calls. Then go home. After that, get on the road. Make something happen quick. We both knew they didn't like negative reports at sales meetings.
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I called home and gave my wife the news. She was thrilled about the money, but I think she had a sense of what it was going to cost us. I was only beginning to imagine what was happening in the company. As long as what I was to do wasn't illegal or immoral, I'd give it my my best shot.
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Out of the chute, the agents were thrilled to hear the news. I didn't know how long-lived the euphoria would be. Increased commission checks are great ... if the checks don't bounce.
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[to be continued as time allows]