My first job was as a paper-boy. Ahhh, it brings back such fond memories.
I remember rushing home from school at 2:30 pm, loading up my blue BMX bike with yellow mag wheels, putting the Asbury Park Press newspaper in my newspaper bag slung on the front of my handlebars, and rushing out on my route to deliver to my customers by 3:15 pm.
I was just 11-years old then as you had to be in the 6th grade to have that job. I kept that job all the way through H.S. It put a little bit of change in my pocket, allowed me to save up for some new ice-skates and even a new, faster bike. I loved being able to make a little money and buy a few things. I also loved the smile on people’s faces when I delivered the paper to their doorstep.
This was my first taste of life as an entrepreneur. Looking back, there are 5 valuable lessons I learned as a paperboy that still impact me today.
5 Valuable Lessons Learned as a Paper Boy!
1. You Gotta be on Time.
People would literally be waiting at the door for their newspaper many times. Especially on weekends. Man, you don’t mess with someone’s Sunday paper. But let me tell you, when you are on time, there was the biggest smile on people’s faces.
And if you were late (like if the Asbury Park Press printer broke and the bundle got dropped to my house late and it delayed my delivery), people didn’t care what the excuse was. They wanted their paper on time.
I sometimes had to say, “I’m sorry. I got it here as fast as I could.” And I would just smile.
Lesson: Be on time. It’s the first step to great customer service.
2. You Gotta “Collect.”
Man, I hated “collecting.” I would actually hope that people were NOT home when I went collecting. This is when every Wednesday I had to go around and knock on their door and say, “COLLECTING.” It was $1.95 for the paper during the week. It was $2.25 if you got the Sunday paper along with it.
Yep. $2.25 for 7-days a week newspaper delivery to your house from a paperboy with a smile on his face.
I just never liked asking for money. Still don’t.
But I realized that if you want to do business, you gotta have great customer service. And eventually, you gotta “collect.”
When people would give me a .25 cent tip, I was pumped up. And if they gave me $3.00, that meant a .75 cent tip. I would be ecstatic. Do the math. .75 cents x 30 people or so people averaged $20-25.00 per week. That’s $100.00 per month. That was good money for a middle school kid in the 1980s. Heck, that’s not bad for a middle school kid today.
Lesson: Great customer service is just the beginning. Don’t be shy to “collect.” You’ll be shocked that you sometimes even get a great “tip.”
3. Priorities first.
There were so many days that I had massive amounts of homework or a backyard football or hockey game that I wanted to play in.
I always chose my paper-route first. Otherwise, I was negatively impacting my customers.
Typically, it was this order:
- Play sports in Bob Wood’s backyard. It didn’t matter what. We competed every single day. And many of those days ended up in fights. And then reconciliations. But we always had fun. And we always competed.
- Homework. Until it was done.
Lesson: Put your big-rocks first. Even today, PRIORITIES are crucial to success in business. Do the things that impact OTHERS first. Make sure you are working on the right things. (And don’t forget to smile!)
4. Get Help.
Sunday’s were the “big” days. The newspaper was twice as thick on Sunday’s. And it seemed like my entire neighborhood got the paper on Sunday’s.
Worse yet, on Sundays, the paperboy had to “put the paper together.” That meant they would drop the bundle at your house but you had to organize all the sections, the cartoons, and the coupons and advertisements section. All of it.
And it was heavy.
Typically, the Sunday paper would have required 2 or 3 trips back to the house to re-stock my bike. That would take about an hour.
Most Sundays though, my Dad volunteered and he would drive me around for delivery. We would load up the back of his blue Bonneville with about 50 Sunday newspapers and I would just get in and out of the car as needed as I would dart from home to home hand-delivering the papers on the front-step or handing it to my customer as they were typically in a bathrobe sipping on a coffee (Yes, different era I know!).
Lesson: When the load gets heavy, it sure is nice to have some help. I couldn’t do what I do today without my team. They play a big part in helping me deliver my mission. I believe I learned that lesson from my pops back in 1983. 🙂
5. “Build your Route.”
When I first got my paper-route, they gave me 13-people to deliver to. By going door-to-door and “selling” the paper, I built my route to over 30 people weekly for many years. My Sunday route was always about 50 people.
I loved the “building” part. I loved the challenge of trying to get new people. And then I loved the challenge of keeping those people happy.
Lesson: Regardless of what you do, you should always be looking to “build your route.” Increase the number of people you serve and double the care you deliver. Your growth is unlimited when you’re focused on serving your customers, clients, patients, or members more and helping them achieve what THEY want!
It sure is fun to look back. It’s a different era now with how people consume the news. But in the 1980s, newspapers were a great way to find out all the local and national stories and happenings.
That being said, many of the same principles stand true whether you run your own business today, you’re looking to grow your sales or “book”, or you want to become even more successful.
Thanks for stepping back down memory lane with me. I think I might pick up a paper-route again just for nostalgia sake. On second thought, I’ll keep reading the newspaper every day and enjoying my fond memories.
Then again, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and attempt to keep putting smiles on people’s faces!
Much love…and many newspapers!
P.S. #1. Are you ready to “build your route” and take your business and life to the next level?
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Thursday, Sept 12th. “Top 5 stories in the NFL…”
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