Author: Brani Andreev, MBA, is an expert in nationwide management of process service, consultant, speaker, and developer of the breakthrough Management Model of the 4Ps™ that ensures the consistent quality of process service.
Just like the four characters from Dr. Johnson's parable "Who Moved My Cheese?", Sniff, Hem and Haw, process servers can grow their businesses and find the many clients they are asking for.
A common question among both experienced and new process servers is how to attract more clients and how to find more work to maintain or grow their process service business. In the past several months, particularly during the current health crisis, most process servers have seen their volumes shrink to less than half and many are still struggling to return to the average number of jobs from last year. Even before these difficult times process servers were finding it hard to get ahead of the competition and the need for reliability and professionalism has grown stronger. More than ever process servers are asking for help to build back their volume of services. The question often asked is “What Happened with All the Services I had?” or in the words of Dr. Spencer Johnson “Who Moved My Cheese?” Perhaps sharing this powerful story with you will help you discover yourself in one of the characters and move you in the right direction to build your process service business up again.
Dr. Johnson’s powerful novel “Who Moved My Cheese” is a simple yet memorable story about four characters, 2 mice named Sniff and Scurry and two little people, named Hem and Haw. All of them are living in a twisted maze as they strive to find their favorite Cheese. As you learn the story of Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw, make sure to think about yourself as a process server. When you read about the cheese, think about your volume of many services that you are trying to attract. Cheese is a metaphor for all that you want to have in your life, and the Maze represents your process service business or life in general.
Key Idea #1: Your “cheese” or success in process service may be paralyzing you.
The two mice, Sniff and Scurry, don’t think about things too much. Instead, they spend their time running up and down the corridors of their maze, in search of cheese. This seemingly “brainless” way in which these two mice set about achieving their goal is often the most effective method in reaching your own goals. In fact, acting without thinking too much can save you time and energy. If there’s no cheese at the end of a path, for example, Sniff and Scurry simply turn around and scramble down another path – without wasting time being angry or frustrated.
At the same time, the little people Hem and Haw were also searching for cheese in the maze, but not because they were hungry. Rather, they thought that finding cheese would make them feel happy and successful. With their more “complex” brains, Hem and Haw worked out strategies to find cheese, memorizing the maze’s dark corners and blind alleys. Yet with all this planning, they still often got confused, and sometimes lost their way. And whenever the pair came up empty-handed, they became depressed, wondering if happiness would ever be attainable. As a process server, do you feel you tend to overcomplicate things? Do you overthink issues or ideas? Do you become overly attached to the status quo in your process service business?
Working hard as a process server may finally land you that great new client you were searching for. You feel happy and proud! In the story we are telling, Hem and Haw also found a huge stash of fancy, imported cheese down one corridor, at Cheese Station C. Every day they made sure to wake up early and visit the station for a snack. Yet the pair’s life gradually began to revolve around the feast at Cheese Station C. They felt at home there, and were very proud of it – yet they also began to take it for granted.
Like Hem and Haw, when we find success or “our cheese,” we can quickly become dependent on it, so much so that our life revolves only around our “cheese.” Perhaps you find yourself serving legal documents day and night to keep your clients happy. Perhaps you months or years have passed and now you are taking that great client you landed for granted.
Key Idea #2: Good situations never last forever, so be prepared!
So Hem and Haw woke up one morning and were shocked to realize that their cheese was gone. Change always happens, sooner or later. Whether it is because of a global health crisis or an economic downturn or courts being closed, being aware that change always happens, can help you keep a closer eye on your current situation, to better anticipate the change ahead.
Once Sniff and Scurry realized that Cheese Station C was almost out of cheese, they moved on without stressing too much about it. And luckily, they found a huge stash at another station, Cheese Station N.
Hem and Haw were not so lucky. Unable to cope, the pair kept returning to the empty station, growing increasingly hungry, depressed and weak. Take a lesson from these two “little people”: The less you hem and haw and the sooner you adapt to change, the better off you’ll be.
Key Idea #3: Visualizing your goals helps you push through the fear that keeps you from dealing with change.
Why do so many process servers (and many of us, in general), just like Hem and Haw, get blindsided by big changes? It’s fear. Fear is what makes confronting change so difficult. After all, change requires you to cope with a new situation and grapple with a new set of rules. That can be both disorienting and frustrating, so it’s natural to be scared of change. As long as you’re afraid of leaving your comfort zone, things will never get better.
For example, once they came to grips with the empty Cheese Station C, Hem and Haw had to venture again into the maze to find food. They worried that they might get lost, or find themselves in a blind alley with no way out. Even though Hem and Haw were hungry, they were still too fearful to explore new paths in the maze. Instead, they smashed down the walls of Cheese Station C to see if there was something to eat behind them! But all in vain.
Haw eventually discovered a good way to deal with his fear. He visualized himself sitting atop a huge wedge of his favorite cheese, soft-rind French Brie. Indeed, visualizing your goal in vivid detail, for example to get more services, to attract new clients, to build your process service, will actually increase your desire to attain it. So if you find yourself stuck, or you can’t tame your fear, visualize your goal. That will stoke your desire and give you the energy to move forward.
Key Idea #4: Dare to move in a new direction and things will get better.
After visualizing his goal, Haw moved on to find new cheese. But Hem refused to budge. He stayed at the empty cheese station, angry and emaciated, and crucially, far too afraid to go out and search for cheese. At the same time, Haw’s experience improved dramatically.
When you move in a new direction, you learn how to better embrace change. Instead of fearing the difficult times and complaining about it, work harder as a process server. Take extra care of the few clients you have, be reliable at all costs. Take a little time to get further training or improve systems in your process service business. Ask us for help!
Key Idea #5: Use the lessons you’ve learned from this “cheesy” parable to reach your own goals as a process server!
So how can you apply the lessons of this parable to the benefit of your process service business or even your personal life?
The experience of the “little people” and mice can teach you to let go of fear, and be on the lookout for new opportunities to grow and sustain your process service business. Just consider how our parable ends. Even though there was plenty of cheese at Cheese Station N, Haw – having learned his lesson – kept exploring the maze, looking for other stashes. Indeed, what works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow. As the environment changes, your process service business needs to change, too – or you’ll be left behind.