Are there many differences in the way they operate?  From my perspective, probably not.

 Working in state government for 20 years, there was an element of professionalism in my office, but it seemed that no one could make a move without 10 people ‘signing off’ on that move.  Of course, this sometimes meant that something you wanted or needed done yesterday would actually be done next month. .  I exaggerate some, but there is a ring of truth to this.  Maybe this contributes to the poor reputation of government workers.

When I came to USFSB and began working with some of our national corporate vendors, I experienced some of the same patterns. In many ways, working with large corporations was more sophisticated than state government, but in government, one big difference is that staff usually had the same job for years so at least there was consistency with the players.

In large companies, staff can and did change so frequently at times it could make you feel like you were starting all over again.  Sometimes the transition was handled well however, usually a person would just be gone without warning and a new person answers their phone or I would just get an email from someone who introduces themselves as my new account manager.

Other times, I got a courtesy phone call or email to say “I took another position” and they provide contact information for the new person who is taking over or “we’re not sure who is taking over my accounts yet so just wait to hear from my boss in the next few weeks”.  No matter how the transition happens, the next question from the new manager is usually “So, what is it  that we do with your company?”

It can be very frustrating to work with these national vendors.  We have set contracts with them but the new staff person almost never took the time to read the contract or learn about the program and become familiar with it before contacting me.  This inevitably led to us having to defend our program, thus starting over again.  This was especially true when upper management or VPs changed and the account manager and USFSB would have to defend our program together.

For the last few years, I have also been working with the health, dental and vision insurance carriers.  This is a similarly frustrating experience.  Insurance is a regulated industry which is in constant flux with their changing rules and regulations and includes time constraints when informing the ‘insured’s’.  Many times, we are left to scramble at the last minute to create and mail notification to our members.  This is particularly unnerving during open enrollment periods because large numbers of members need to receive information all at once.

All of this brings me to an appreciation of being a small business owner. Joe and I ultimately make all the decisions so  when we do, implementation is swift.  Sometimes, less is more.