5/9/05

Stress Busters

Traveling, especially flying has become a high stress activity. I used be able to get to the airport 20 minutes before my flight was supposed to leave, rush to my gate and was off to my destination. Now you have to plan to leave at least two hours before your flight and know that you are going to be interrogated every step of the way. I’m all for the new safety measures, but a little compassion would go a long way from airline employees.

I’ve been flying the same airline for over 20 years, and I guess forgot that I have a choice. The airlines are very good at getting you heavily entrenched in their frequent flyer program so you keep booking on their airlines hoping to get an upgrade which would make the flight more tolerable. As most airlines are these days the one I’ve been very loyal to has financial problems so it seems like every week they take away one of the services they offer. I have a feeling they are doing the same thing to their employees because you can tell they don’t want to be on that plane any more than I do.

As luck would have it unknown to me I was booked on a “codeshare flight” a few months ago that would have me flying Northwest Airlines the first leg of my flight and “the other airline” the rest. There is another way to fly! There is a happier, customer focused airline that appreciates my business! The Northwest team is amazing – high energy, obviously enjoying their jobs and customer focused – they have gone out of their way to make my flights and trips less stressful. Even though I’ve given up any chance of flying first class for awhile, it’s well worth it. Before when I returned from a flight it took me days to recuperate – now I’m ready to go the next morning. After flying Northwest 3 times in the past month I’m happy to report that each flight has been a stress-free experience.

We do have a choice of who we spend our hard earned dollars with, and customer service usually isn’t a cost for a company, it’s a state of mind. The next time you have a bad experience with a company, or get the feeling that they really don’t appreciate your business remember that you can make changes. And also remember when you do have someone who goes out of their way to make your experience a pleasant one thank them and let them know that their customer service and attitude are appreciated.

5/8/05


Lifestylist(r) Suzanne Felber
(c) LAS Photo

My Life as a Trailer Diva

Trailers, or manufactured homes constantly get a bad rap. Gone are the days of tires on the roofs and “tornado magnets” - today’s manufactured homes are actually a preferred form of housing.

After being a homebuilder and designing “traditional housing” for over 20 years I decided that the future had wheels and I wanted to roll along with that trend. After looking for 10 years, I’ve found my destiny – I’m now officially a Trailer Diva.

Why manufactured housing? Try to take any traditionally built home down the road at 65…OK, maybe 55 miles an hour and let me know how far you get. Whether a manufactured home is $20,000 or $2,000,000 they are built to withstand all of the potholes and issues that we have to face every day when we drive down the road.

There is a misconception that manufactured homes are made with “trailer parts” and to fix or replace anything in your home you would have to go to a special store and get special parts. Any home that I have been in is built with the same materials that you would find in any home (if not better) and you can upgrade your faucets or carpet at any home improvement store.

While working with Patriot Homes I’ve been fortunate to be able to visit all of their building centers and get to know quite a few of the people who are responsible for building these homes. They are an amazing group and really take pride in the homes that they build. When’s the last time you saw a happy contractor at a typical construction site? Another bonus with manufactured homes is that you have a workforce who works at the same location every day in a controlled environment and are supervised. Manufactured homes are built to national – not local codes and each home is inspected by a national inspector. Patriot’s northern plants are in areas that have a high concentration of Amish workers – true craftspeople that take great pride in their work.

Designing trailers is a blast! I haven’t met a snob yet and they have all been open to new ideas and trends. The day is coming where trends start in the manufactured housing field and then get picked up by site builders. MSNBC recently had a live poll and asked people if they would buy a manufactured home. Over 85% of the people polled stated that they would live in one if it was well designed.

The next time you are considering buying a new home or thinking about investing in a vacation or retirement home, take a look at what manufactured housing has to offer. I promise you it will be one of the best investments of time you will ever make.