Last week I uttered the four words my wife fears like I fear kidney stones: “I can fix that.”

Backstory: About 2 weeks ago, my wife and I noticed our washing machine wasn’t quite draining all the way, leaving our clothes in a soapy mire from which we had to squeeze-rinse before putting in the dryer. Since the holidays were coming up we decided to wait until after to deal with the issue.

The day after Christmas we entered the laundry room to the smell of stagnant water and realized our dilemma had taken a rather unpleasant turn. My wife immediately said, “Call someone to fix this,” to which I responded, “Okay.”

I decided to do a little online research before calling someone (because I have the World Wide Web at my disposal and also because I’m a cheap bastard) and came to the conclusion that I could fix the washer myself, sidestepping the need to call a professional into our home to do what he is expertly trained to do.

So Monday night I set to work. I had the laptop on the kitchen table with four tabs open to various DIY forums on washing machines and a Youtube video on fixing a washer that won’t drain. Armed with my hour of research and zero experience, I was ready to tackle the washer.

Needless to say, two and a half hours, a few cuts and bruises and a scratched up washing machine later I had accomplished absolutely nothing. I had taken the front panel off just like the forums said and checked both hoses for clogs. I cleaned the pump and motor fan and snaked the drainpipes for blockages. It was all Greek to me, but I used my minimal training and my washer was further from repair than when I started.

After my failed attempt at appliance repair, my wife made me call a professional and he came out to our house the next day. Within 15 minutes he had located the problem(s) and listed 2 or 3 possible solutions. The long and short of it was that our washing machine was broken beyond monetarily feasible repair, so we went out and bought a new one.

It all worked out in the end but I couldn’t help wondering where had I gone wrong.

FYI, Not My House

3 Lessons Learned

Even though my foray into appliance repair ended in failure and a new washing machine, there are a few things I learned from the experience:

  1. Call An Expert – This might seem commonplace and should go without saying, but I’m not naive enough to think that in a lot of case people don’t call the experts when they know they should. I didn’t at first. Experience is key and when you go about trying to solve your companies digital strategy or branding issues without the proper knowledge or experience you’re hurting more people than just yourself. Dolling out social media “job” to random people throughout the organization to save money on consulting fees might save you that money now, but when those avenues are poorly monitored and no strategy has been expertly put in place, the customers you lose quickly make up that cost difference. Experts are experts for a reason, use their knowledge to help you.
  2. Don’t Make A Mess – One thing about trying to fix a broken washing machine that I learned is that if you aren’t careful, you can make a real mess. Once the mess is made too, it will take longer for the appropriate person to clean up to even begin the correct strategies. You’re free to go in and try to “get all up in that social media” with your customers, just know that if you handle it incorrectly, you might make a mess that is going to take some time to clean up. The Internet has a long memory.
  3. Don’t Wait – I wanted to wait until a couple more paychecks had cleared and the holidays had been safely packed behind us before looking into fixing our washing machine. The problem with that plan was that we ended up with a whole mess of dirty laundry and our laundry rooms smells like stagnant water. If you are thinking of getting your brand or company involved in social media, don’t wait. 2011 can be your year to put the resources necessary into proven methods of growth. Studies have shown that anywhere from 80-86% of B2B and B2C companies claim to use social media, but that they aren’t putting significant efforts towards it. It’s a new year, don’t wait any longer.


Okay, those are the lessons I learned. I hope all of your appliances had a wonderful holiday season and you are all looking forward to a great 2011.

But if you find yourself in a situation where you see customers and community members leaking through, don’t wait. You can Contact Me today and we can set up a time to talk about your strategies and plans for 2011 in the areas of digital marketing, blog content, or social media or you can just check me out at Empty Jar Marketing to see what we can work out.

Let’s make 2011 amazing and not start the year with a soapy mess in your laundry room.

What situations have you learned valuable lessons from? Is there anything I can focus on in this blog that would be helpful to you in 2011? Could you have fixed my washing machine?

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