I started writing this on the plane coming back, I’m in a fairly old 747 which is rather loud so the chances of me getting any sleep whatsoever is about nil. I’ll probably try to catch some sleep on the train back from Heathrow.
I bet you were all glad to see your Twitter timelines empty and your inboxes quiet while I was away! I have been in the big apple for the last week as many of you will know, and I’ve come back loving the city and America even more than I did last time. For those who have been already, I don’t have to explain to you why this is probably the greatest city in the world. For those who haven’t, all I will simply say is that it has an electricity that you cannot find anywhere, that is constant 24/7. A buzz that always keeps you looking up and around, while at the same time having probably the best man-made, skilfully crafted pieces of tranquility where I promise you it is impossible to take a bad photograph! I’m going to finish this post with some of my best pictures I took. Hopefully it will convince some of you who haven’t been to go and book a trip there. I promise you, it will be one if the best things you will ever do!
Aside from that, I want to share some of the observations of the country, and what we do right and what we could learn from the Americans when it comes to the way we all do business and generally treat other people.
Waste. Despite what the American Government will tell you, this country still has a lot to do when it comes to being green. Waste and inefficiency are everywhere! Yes they are trying to make the buildings more energy efficient. The Empire State Building has just finished a £550m renovation which has made the building 70% more efficient. But its what goes on inside these buildings which does the damage. Let me give you an example. We were eating in the restaurant in Macy’s, when we paid for our food, the cutlery given to us was wrapped separately, no fork and knife in one packet, they were in each in their own wrappers. Save plastic, wrap them together!
Another example; in our hotel room, there was a message saying that if we wanted to help look after the environment, hang up our towels after using them instead of leaving them on the floor, that way they won’t get changed and they won’t have to be unnecessarily washed. So, like good green temporary citizens, we hung them back up. But despite this, we kept getting clean towels! Even the hotel wasn’t listening to its own green policy!
Customer service. This is probably one of the most stand out things that impressed me while we were there. Almost everyone we came across either in the hotel, restaurant or shop, was happy, helpful and courteous. But they were genuinely helpful. Not that miserable kind of British helpfulness that makes shopping in the UK depressing. The Americans are very good at making you feel good as you leave their premises. Why can’t we do that in the UK? All it takes is a smile, bit of energy in the voice and about 10% enthusiasm. You’d be surprised how much a bit of American sparkle will surprise your customers into enjoying buying whatever it is you’re selling! There is a lot more to say on the subject of customer service but I am going to expand that into another blog post altogether.
Cost. Wow its cheap in America! Especially motoring. We saw endless advert after advert from a plethora of car dealers offering unbelievable packages on cars. One that stood out for me was Ford. They were advertising BRAND NEW trucks and four door sedans for no deposit, first month payment free, zero interest and temporary insurance cover at a cost of around $250! It might have even been less. Mazda and Hyundai were doing similar offers, as were Jeep and Mercedes though these were slightly more expensive. The monthly amount you pay for cars in America is less in dollars than we pay for cars in sterling. Its staggering. Also, they think that paying more than $3.50 over gallon for gas is scandalous. Food is cheap when you consider the grossly over proportioned amounts that you get on your plate. Internet and phone packages are cheap, coffee and tea is cheap. I don’t understand how the American economy struggled for so long!
Oddities. There are quite a few things which make me laugh and scratch my head a little when it comes to America. TV for example, there are adverts all the time and in all the wrong places! They put adverts on right at the very end of a programme then start another one straight away, then cut right to commercials again! No structure at all! Other little things; a lot of school buses are privately run. Businesses have to pay to have their waste taken away. The NYC sanitation department only takes away household waste. Tax, or VAT as well call it, is not included on almost everything. So when something is ten dollars on the tag, add around 8% on that. One of the biggest things, the whole city, and I’m sure the rest of the country, runs on coffee! Its everywhere, all the time. If you stood in a street in New York and looked around, you would probably see at least 6 different places to get coffee from! I think if there was a coffee shortage then America would cease to function normally as a country and all hell would break loose!
However, New York and America has a charm and simplicity about it that draws me to it. I still have a very strong desire to live there. Yes there are some things we do better and things that seem a little odd and backwards over there. But they have such a more positive attitude towards life and the future. Everyone seems to be happy and patriotic. We are certainly not either of those two things which is a great shame. My Twitter pal @white_wem went roughly the same time as me and will be able to tell you whether I’m right or wrong on the above (hopefully he’ll agree!) but it really is one of the greatest places on earth and somewhere I want to go back to as soon as possible!
Right, as for windows and all the other little projects I’ve got on the go, I’m back and recharged ready to make sure that 2013 is even better than they year before! The NFA’s are going to be something you will all be able to get involved with and both me and Nick certainly hope you will! I also want to make sure that our family business continues its strong performance from last year and beat the challenging targets we set ourselves at the end of last year! As for this site, I’ll be doing my best to make sure you all have something fresh to read everyday. Except for one or two changes I’ll be introducing this month which hopefully you’ll all like! You’ll see for yourselves soon enough what they are!
Happy new year to everyone and I hope that you are all ready and raring to go in 2013 after a great holiday season!