Can it happen to window cleaning companies?

What happened to Southwest Airlines over the holidays, and why?  Thousands of flights were canceled, luggage was lost, large numbers of people were stranded, and millions of dollars were lost.  Southwest took it on the chin.  Their name brand took a serious hit.

Why all the chaos?  SWA employees who were interviewed thought they were ready for the Christmas rush.  Extra planes and crews were readied. Airport personnel was beefed up.  But when the rush started, the antiquated computer system failed, causing frustration for customers and ticket counter employees.  The weather in the Northeast was so severe that many flights were canceled, and airports shut down briefly.   The cascading effect disrupted the entire system.

But the crisis didn’t have to be so severe.  The upper management at SWA no longer consisted of operations people who knew how the airline worked.  They were replaced by business school graduates who couldn’t take their eyes off the ledgers.  They decided upgrading the computer system would be too expensive.  Their priority was to show a greater profit, drive the company stock price up, and look like heroes to the investors and the corporate governing board.

There is a lesson and a warning for all of us here.  Don’t sacrifice quality on the altar of profit.  Keep your CRM updated.  Splurge for the new Water Fed Pole System if needed.  Keep your best employees happy and well paid (without giving away the store).  The profits will take care of themselves in the long run.

Matt Johnson, Formerly of Blue Sky WC, INC,  St. Louis, MO