Every December I send you a note that goes unanswered. Remember I don't write on my behalf, but on behalf of thousands of men and women in the floor covering industry. This year I cut the usual multi-page list of wishes down to five from the past for your review. Please give floor covering people your magic pills.

1. How come you give all of the breaks to the big boxes? Why don't you throw a monkey wrench into their operations? You've consistently brushed this one aside with, "Why don't floor covering people capitalize on their strengths. That would reduce the competitive size of big boxes to milk cartons."

2. Why do you refuse to put some magic into our Christmas stockings? You have tremendous resources that will turn us into real pros. Instead, you continue to give us a bah humbug and say, "Why don't you spend more time boning up on sales, marketing, after sale follow-up/service, installation - the list goes on - instead of looking for a magic pill?"

3. We ask you every year what you're really suggesting when you say bone up? You just smile and say, "How much time have you spent on training programs?" Well and good for you to throw out such bromides, but there has to be an easier way. There are only so many hours in a day and you can't expect us to send our people to educational programs that take time and often money. You must have quick fix solutions in your loaded bag of tricks.

4. I have repeatedly asked you about solving the problem of sales that don't get closed, that slip through the cracks. Your answer is off the wall. You ask, "How thorough are the presentations to prospective customers? How aggressive are the follow-ups? Do you know what customers really need and do you have the answers that satisfy those needs?" That's pure bull, Santa. If the customers don't know what they want, how can we come up with the answers? Give us a break this year and open the magic door.

5. Jobs that go sour, total failures, costly callbacks, time estimates that are woefully under what's projected all of them drive us crazy. When I ask you about them your answer is a wishy/washy, "Are you using qualified installers who know what they are doing? Are you using quality installation products? Do you plan intelligently?"

Do you know what Santa; I think you've been brushing me off all these years. I have the feeling you're saying there is no free lunch, there are no magic pills. Yes, I think you are telling me that we should all get down to the basics of running our businesses.