tips for the business manager or owner

GOOD IDEA: replace all of the cords in your business at one time.

Some years ago, a light bulb manufacturer introduced the concept of "group relamping" -- replacing all of the light bulbs in an area, rather than replacing them one-at-a-time as they burned out.

Many property managers regarded this as wasteful. It seemed silly to throw out bulbs when they were still working properly. But when the bulb maker pointed out the cost of sending out maintenance people with ladders or hydraulic scissors lifts, and the cost of the interruption to business, it didn't take long for group relamping to become a standard business operation.

There is a parallel with the cost or replacing phone cords.

Unlike light bulbs, phone cords seldom die suddenly, unless they get cut, burned or bitten. Usually they fail gradually over a period of years as they get twisted and stretched and the tabs break off the plugs. Conversations get noisy and are interrupted. People usually tolerate the annoyance for a long time before complaining, often taping up the wounds.

Even the best cords cost only a few dollars each, and we have quantity discounts that can save you a lot of money. If you are a business owner or manager, replace all of the telephone handset cords every few years. How many is a few? That's a good question. Take a look around. It depends on your work environment and your people. Probably somewhere between two and five years. Line cords should probably last ten years or more.

GOOD IDEA: give new employees new phone cords, and maybe new phone handsets, too.

New employees deserve a clean working environment. Get rid of the old ketchup and mustard packs from the desk drawer. Replace the blotter and note pads and chewed-up pencils. And spend a few bucks for a fresh handset cord. Keep some in the supply closet.

Also consider a new phone handset, especially if the previous user of the phone was a smoker, sloppy eater, or had bad breath.


GOOD IDEA: color-matched line cords

For many years black phones had black line cords, green phones had green line cords, and even pink phones had pink line cords.

But around 1970, AT&T realized that they could save millions of dollars if all telephones were equipped with neutral silver-gray line cords, regardless of the color of the phones they were attached to.

And since AT&T was a monopoly, customers' complaints could safely be ignored. Later on, when Ma Bell got some competition, most phone manufacturers followed Bell's profitable example since that's what people were used to, and the tradition continues today. Ironically, a $10 kid's phone is more likely to have a color-matched cord than a $400 CEO's phone.

In many cases, particularly if the back of the phone is against a wall, it makes absolutely no difference what color the cord is between the base of the phone and the phone jack, because nobody sees it except when the furniture is moved.

However, if a phone is on a desk away from a wall, and positioned where visitors see the cord when they enter the office, a light gray cord on a black phone sticks out like a sore thumb; and spending a few bucks on a matching cord will restore esthetic harmony.

Your feng shui consultant and interior designer will be very pleased by the improvement. We don't have a dozen colors, but we have enough to make a difference.

BAD IDEA: mismatched handset cords

If a handset cord suddenly fails, you can plug in any color cord to restore vital communications.

But a large number of businesses don't seem to ever get around to replacing the emergency cord with one that's the right color.

There's a very nice Italian restaurant in Scarsdale, New York with a black Panasonic phone that's had a white handset cord for at least three years.

The owner would never tolerate a waiter coming to work with one black shoe and one white shoe. But this eyesore -- in plain view of every customer -- is ignored day after day, year after year; and would only cost a few bucks to correct. Phone cord color doesn't matter in the kitchen, but it does matter up front in a restaurant where people pay $30 for a meal. Inattention to small details like this will get noticed, and shows that management is not managing properly, especially if the problem exists for years. If simple problems are ignored, people begin to wonder what big mistakes are not being corrected.