Learning from mistakes – something you should warm to

January is usually a time for New Years resolutions; after making mine I wondered why I should just stop there? So, what did I learn from an experience last year and how can I apply it in the future? I put the kettle on and reflected…

I know……my central heating problems; for some time I had been struggling to get the radiators working, some were hot one day and not the next. So I called the local plumber out to bleed the radiators and tape a few pipes. Of course, it wasn’t that simple, the same issues still persisted.

I was desperate (many of you might remember the winter of 2011/12, it got down to minus 15c!) so out he came again, this time he removed some of the offending radiators and drained them. I watched with interest as lots of black sludge trickled out of them, surely that will solve the problem?

But the same radiators still weren’t working, and then I got it! I had watched him taking a radiator off on his last visit so I thought I could just save the money and do it myself, how difficult could it be?

So, armed with my toolkit, bucket and a cloth, I started to loosen the nut on the first radiator, to my horror, the pipe split, water was gushing out all over the carpet! I reached for my mobile phone with one hand whilst pressing my thumb over the gaping hole of the pipe to stem the flow with the other. I felt so stupid, how difficult could it be to separate a radiator from a pipe? By the time the plumber arrived my thumbs were going numb, the bucket was full and my credibility was in tatters!

It was two days before Christmas, so we agreed to repair the split pipe and consider the next course of action after the holiday – after all, it was only the room my mother-in-law was going to be staying in.

Over the holiday I had a chance to reflect; was getting the local tradesman really the best course of action? What I had assumed would be a fairly easy problem to solve had turned out to be more complex and was costing me money, with no solution in sight. So I turned to Google, there must be someone who specialises in trouble shooting central heating problems.

There were several companies to choose from, but one really stood out. This company would come to my house, use specialist equipment to check the system; they even had customer testimonials (something my local chap didn’t have, I’m not even sure he had a website come to think of it). It didn’t matter if the system was in a new house, stately mansion or office they knew how to locate and fix the issue.

It wasn’t long before I felt these people really knew their subject matter and I was happy to pay for them to travel out to me; they weren’t local, but they clearly knew their subject! They arrived and walked around the property, asked me lots of questions and then declared they would use the “gas sniffer”, I was impressed and it wasn’t long before there was a loud bleeping noise coming from the sitting room. I rushed through and found the technician with a big grin on his face, BINGO, he had found the problem. He repaired the pipe, flushed out the entire system with a pressure machine (another piece of equipment he just happened to have in his van, after all they were after all experts in their field). It wasn’t long before ALL the radiators were roasting hot.

So what did I learn and how can I apply it in the future?

If you identify you have a problem, and you know you don’t have the skills, knowledge or tools to do the job yourself, get an expert in who does.

So how does this apply to our industry?

When a hospital or healthcare provider is looking for a new system to implement, do they only talk to local suppliers, no, they spend time evaluating who is out there and has the best proven solution. They are happy to work with suppliers, even if they are from different geographic territories and I suspect the suppliers are happy to secure their business; after all, they will have taken up references. We live in a world where distance and the use of technology removes barriers, so taking a more holistic view really can pay dividends.

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