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February 19, 2014

What I've Learned About Shoveling

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by Ron Daly

If you've ignored every media outlet for the past week, you might not know that we've had a lot of snow in the DC Metro area. With a foot or more of snow comes the fun of sledding and snowmen...and the un-fun of shoveling.

The main roads get plowed and the sub-streets get plowed. My driveway, on the other hand, is entirely up to me. A cubic foot of snow weighs (roughly) ten pounds. Given the dimensions of my driveway, I was throwing around about 250 pounds over the course of a few hours. My aching back can vouch for me.

Here's what I've learned about shoveling: it's a pain in the butt. It makes you sore and tired and you can't really make a dent unless you have a few hours to spare. If you don't want to shovel, you have a few options:

1) A bigger, better shovel - My older snow shovel is nothing compared to my neighbor's. His has a weird curve that makes it easier on your back and shoulders. He paid a little more but he's done in half the time. 

2) A snowblower - I could theoretically get a snow blower and cut my workload by 90%. The problem there is that I don't get enough snow to justify the cost and I don't really have the room.

3) Outsource - I could hire guys to come shovel my driveway and walkway for me but that takes, you guessed it, more money.

Those are the options, least-costly to most-costly. I'm still weighing them out based on the winter we've been having, the amount of money I'm spending on ibuprofen and the room I have in my garage for more stuff that only gets used once or twice every year. I can only imagine how friends of mine who live in Wisconsin or Minnesota or Michigan are dealing with all this snow. Their cost-analysis spreadsheet looks a little different than mine because it's a problem they have to deal with a lot more frequently. 

One thing is clear to me: "do nothing" is out of the question. If I just decide to wait out the spring to melt the snow, everything will halt. We won't be able to drive to work or get our kid to her swim class. We won't be able to go to the store or invite people over to our home. We're stuck if I don't do something. I can't put the lives of everyone in my family on hold while I wait for the snow to melt.

When spring comes and the time is right, I'll make my move. But for now, I shovel. 

Want to know what else I learned about shoveling? It's a pretty good metaphor for the work we do in the credit union industry. Every day, people come to us looking for answers. We provide: 

  1. Information, so they can make informed decisions
  2. Enticement, so they know what we have to offer and see the value of same, and
  3. Services, so they can live their lives more fully with less hassle.

The tools are out there to provide all three. We can inform potential members, serve existing members and market more effectively to both. The tools exist and the methods exist. At DigitalMailer, we have clients that just need a "better shovel" - dependable technology that can handle small volume. Some clients opt for the "snowblower" - technology that can handle complicated tasks with ease and not much input. Others need manpower and consultation to get things done and to deal with the high volume of members. Different strokes for different folks, but they're all here because the small shovel wasn't moving the snow quickly and effectively.

The more members and potential members accumulate, the more we need to do something. We can do it ourselves with the tools we have but if the tools fall short, we need to either improve, upgrade or outsource. 

We can't afford to do nothing.

 

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