Sharon Koehler

Marketing Maven

Let your clients know you’re serious about their job…but you also have a sense of humor.Work hard. Keep your nose to the grindstone. Bust your buns. Give 110%. Concentrate. Focus. Work your butt off some more.

Work is hard. Work is serious. You work hard to get ahead.  All that may be and probably is true (unless you win the lottery), BUT there is another side. Where there is hard work, there should be some fun.

Everyone smiles when doughnuts arrive. A few items from the Dollar menu will go a long way. Don’t shake your head and tell me there is no time for fun. Fun should enhance work not hinder it. If you know a good joke – TELL IT! What do you call a nice French Fry? A sweet potato! How many politicians does it take to change a light bulb? 4 – 1 to change it and 3 to deny it. Badda bing, badda boom!

If you see the opportunity for a good, non-destructive practical joke – PLAY IT!  Jay stepped into the shop bathroom. While he was in there, they rolled the forklift up to the door and blocked him in. Everybody laughed, including Jay. 

Once, someone switched the knob on Steve’s office door so the lock was on the outside and then locked the door. Steve was locked out of his office and could NOT figure out what the problem was. We were all just laughing. When we told him, he admitted it was a good joke. I’m not saying to sit around all day on the clock and tell jokes but a joke or two during the day to ease a “situation” never hurt anyone.

Thanks to a local TV segment on “Picture Your Pet,” our office mascot Auggie became an instant celebrity… free advertising, and a free boost in our shop’s name recognition.From time to time, show your fellow co-workers (or if you’re the boss, show your employees) that you appreciate them and their hard work. Spring for some McDonald’s in the morning or some donuts. A few items off the Dollar Menu will go a long way. A couple dozen donuts doesn’t cost much, but everybody smiles when donuts arrive. So, spread some good cheer. It doesn’t hurt and you can feel good knowing that you put some pep in someone’s step.

A few years ago, I worked for a big granite company and at the last minute we were awarded a huge contract. (Another company was awarded the contract but they bowed out at the VERY last minute).  People were working 70 and 80 hours a week. It was nuts. 

Celebrate your birthdays. We did 3 things to keep everyone going. The first thing was that a couple of nights a week the company bought dinner for everyone. This was not an expensive dinner, but pizza, or KFC, or Taco Bell. Bosses, office staff and shop guys used to gather in the break room and eat. Stories were told (and embellished). Jokes were told and once there was even a food fight. It was great.

The second thing was that EVERYBODY went home at 5pm on Friday, no matter what, because everybody deserves an evening with their family and a chance to relax. And lastly, NO ONE stepped foot in the building on Sunday. 

We did that for 6 weeks straight. We filled the contract on time and oddly enough, when it was all over, we all seemed to work a bit better together. I guess we all took the time to get to know one another over those dinners. There is always room for fun.

So what can you do? Plan a BBQ or a seafood boil. Get everyone to bring something from home. There is always someone that has a grill they can bring. And there is always someone who can be the grill master. Somebody’s wife makes the best potato salad in town and someone else’s wife always makes desserts to die for. Tommy brings burgers and Corey brings hot dogs. Dave brings condiments and Holly brings paper plates. Kenny brings chips and maybe the boss springs for soda. Or, take up a collection. Everybody donates a couple of bucks for a couple of checks and then have a lunch BBQ or seafood boil. Have a food day. Everybody brings something and swap bagels for donuts or English muffins for chicken biscuits.  There is always room for fun.

Morale is important. Have a contest or two. The install crew that installs the most square footage in a month without call backs gets a gift certificate to somewhere. The sales person that sells the most jobs in a month gets a bonus. If you have a specialty item you want to push like a laminated edge, the person that sells the most footage gets a prize. 

The business as a whole can have some lighter moments as well. Advertising is serious business and can be expensive but it can be humorous as well. We have a local TV station here that does a “picture your pet” segment during the morning news. We have a fish in our office, so I sent in a picture of the fish and they said our name and our location on local news. Best of all, they even encouraged people to come by and visit the fish. It was advertising on the lighter side and it was free. 

A while back, a local shop in town furnished their installers with work T-shirts in the summer that said the name of the company on them along with the words “We will rock you” from the old Queen song. A few years ago, our guys had T-shirts that said “Everybody must get stone” which is a play on words from the old Bob Dillon song. Everything does not have to be serious. There is room for fun.

Celebrate your birthdays. Decorate your showroom and break room for the holidays. Change your hair color for Halloween and give out candy to kids. Everybody loves a kid’s smile and parents love people that make their kids smile or laugh. Throw a Christmas party.  Have a 4th of July cookout or a Memorial Day cookout. Organize a football or a soccer pool. Show your lighter side.

Yes, work is serious and sometimes it’s hard and sometimes you don’t want to do whatever it is you should be doing right that moment. But, while you are keeping your nose to the grindstone, remember – Laughter is the best medicine!

 Sharon Koehler is a 10-year veteran of the stone industry. Currently she is the head of marketing for Artistic Stone Design in Richmond, Virginia and has been a regular contributor to various trade magazines for several years. Send your thoughts or comments on this article to