So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.” The Book

First Rate is an application software vendor. Our raw material is good. We turn it into a product that works. We go the extra mile to insure quality service. But it’s the First Rate customer experience that keeps our clients loyal to us.

When a prospect begins looking at First Rate as a possible vendor, we do everything in our power to encourage that prospect to visit us here in Arlington. I want them to meet us face to face. See our offices. Learn about our methods and strategies. Have a meal together and perhaps go out and have some fun.

Competency is almost indistinguishable in today’s business world. All work with the same raw materials, cooking up similar products providing fairly equal services. It is experiences that makes the difference.

A simple example of our service experience: if you place a call to us, you will have a live person answer the phone. Plus, you will never be sent to voice mail. Never. If you call Kate Baird and she’s not available, you will be transferred to another live person. If you ask to be sent to her voice mail, we will gladly do so, but it’s your choice.

Service stems from stewardship.

You don’t hear that word much these days. It’s the key that unlocks a true servant’s heart. Often, we reduce life’s roles to owners and renters. A steward is different from an owner and a renter.

A steward is someone who doesn’t have his own interests as a by-product of what he’s doing. He doesn’t claim any benefit. Think of a butler. His role is to take care of the interests of his boss, along with others who may be in his house at that time. It’s not for his own selfish needs. He simply serves those around him—both owners and renters.

Servants operate, not from position, but from posture. “How can I best serve you?” is the question they ask.

Servant leadership is flipping the organization chart upside down, so we are serving those ‘around’ us from a servant’s posture.

Jesus teaches posture, not position. It’s the mindset He wants us to have.

To be a servant is to be great. To be a servant is to be a steward of what has been entrusted to us by our God. Most of all, to be a servant is to be like God Himself.

First Rate Living is serving!

Serve our co-workers

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. The Book

  • First Rate is a company doing business. We provide products and services and we make money. In case that wasn’t clear, I wanted it stated.

    Having said that, allow me to state my preferred way to describe First Rate:

    We’re a family.

    And we’re a family that extends all over the planet.

    Recently, the leadership at First Rate decided it would be a good idea to make our American branch more available to our international workers. Four of our American family members travelled to India to help train some of our family from our office in Kabul. John Watkins, Rob Bethman, Harper Wilson and Steve Norwood spent two weeks getting up close and personal with our brothers and sisters halfway across the planet. It was an amazing experience.

    Well, you can’t have a major event like that in your family without getting the whole family together afterwards to hear about it. And there’s no better occasion than mealtime. So, we put together a Company Luncheon in the cafeteria area of our Arlington offices.

    After some great food, it was time for the program to begin. I offered to serve as the Emcee. The four Americans shared their experiences in India. It was fantastic. It was all about co-workers serving one another. Just like family.

    The time flew by. I was about to dismiss when a voice came from the back of the room. “Uncle Dave, may I please say something?”

    It was Fahim. It had to be. He’s the only guy in the office that calls me ‘Uncle.’ Fahim is my dear Afghan brother.

    “Sure, Fahim, come up here,” I invited.

    Fahim started right in. “Some of you may know that I just returned from several weeks in Afghanistan. It was a coincidence that I was there right after the four guys had done the training in India. But it allowed me to ask those who had been trained what they thought about it.”

    Did the Afghans think as highly of them as they had thought of the Afghans? Fahim was up front to deliver that answer.

    “’So, tell me, what did you think of the guys who trained you?’ I asked my fellow countrymen,” Fahim continued. He paused.

    “They said, ‘We thought Uncle Dave was the only perfect one, but now we know better!’”

    Co-workers serving co-workers. I guess that is pretty close to perfect.

    First Rate Living is serving our co-workers!

Serve our communities

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

The Book

  • When we talk about serving here at First Rate, we talk serving our employees, serving our customers, and serving our community. It’s a heartwarming experience for me to watch serving in action. Especially the serving that makes its way to the community level.

    I received an email recently from one of our wonderful co-workers—John Watkins. As you read it, please pay particular attention to the paragraph concerning serving his community:

    Dear Dave:

    I have always loved First Rate’s family first attitude. Being able to see my kid’s activities at school and work from home sometimes has been HUGE for me. It has helped me stay close to them and they really appreciate it. When other people ask me about my job, they all say, ‘Wow, you are so lucky! I want to work there!”

    First Rate also allowed me to work from Odessa, as well as working weird hours while my father was suffering from ALS. That really meant the world to me.

    First Rate has given me the desire to step out and help in the community. I have been involved in the YMCA Father/Child Program, Dad’s Clubs at schools, coached my kid’s teams, Boy Scouts, volunteer at church, built houses in Mexico, helped at shelters . . . all of these activities have allowed God to help me replace the pride in my life with humility (most of the time, anyway!) Had it not been for First Rate, I doubt I would have done any of those things.

    Working for a place that gives 10% of our revenue to charities makes me feel like I am fulfilling God’s purpose for my life. I may not be physically in the fields, but I am still making an indirect impact.

    Living by these core values has changed my whole outlook on life. I used to think money and success was what made your rich. That is so wrong. Serving God, having a great wife, great kids, helping people, strong friendships and having a humble heart is what makes you rich!!

    John Watkins

    Our business can be an expression of God’s character through people participating in the community. We can do more than just go to work and then go home. We can serve our communities in many areas: government, education, media, arts, charity and religion. John mentioned a few of those areas he has served.

    What’s so great about serving? A friend of mine once said, “When I write a check to charity, something is withdrawn from my account. But when I serve, something is deposited into my heart.” It’s not write a check or serve. It’s both.

    Another friend asked me, “If you closed or moved your business, would anyone in your community miss you?” I think a successful business is more than a great place to work with happy customers. I believe God has given First Rate a mission to be more and do more. Co-workers that serve their communities are fulfilling God’s vision for First Rate.

    First Rate Living is serving our communities.

Serve our customers

GOD hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is aboveboard. The Book

  • Recently I invited the President of First Rate, Craig Wietz to join me to discuss First Rate’s concept of serving our customers.

    “Talk to me about serving our customers.”

    “That’s easy, Dave,” he began. “First Rate treats customers as a part of our family.”

    “Give me an example,” I replied.

    “The annual First Rate Conference is an excellent example,” he answered. “Every year we give our customers sessions with exceptional content that’s current, so it’s not wasted time coming here. We also give meaningful gifts to take home with them. But it’s the relationships that matter the most. That’s what the customers talk about most—the friendships they have developed here with our people.”

    “Why does that happen?” I mused.

    “I think it’s the fact that we work hard to build a genuine, caring, loving relationship with them—for many of our customers, that’s quite a contrast from the way they’re treated at work. Some don’t get treated very well in their own companies,” Craig responded. “They come here and we get to love on them and it’s a win-win.”

    “Of course, Dave, serving our customers always reminds me of the historic road trip you made in 1993 with First Rate’s co-worker number one, John Watkins, in a Recreational Vehicle!”

    “Ah, the good old RV business trip,” I replied. “John and I packed up for a three week road trip to Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston, Springfield, Ney York City, Charlotte, Atlanta and Orlando. In an RV! It gave us a chance to visit some of our customers face to face on their home turf. One of our clients nicknamed us the Griswolds of National Lampoon’s Vacation movies. It was fun! And it was business. We wanted to serve our customers in their office, not over the phone. The fact that we would go to that effort seemed to pay big dividends.”

    “Absolutely,” Craig agreed. “I still have customers who tell me about that historic visit. Along with your presence, you and John brought your attitude of service to their front door. People don’t forget that sort of thing.”

    Customer service isn’t a department. It’s an attitude.

    First Rate Living is serving our customers!