In the private or public sector, in big business or small, we observe that there are only two ways to create and sustain superior performance over the long haul. First, take exceptional care of your customers … via superior service and superior quality. Second, constantly innovate. That’s it.” — Tom Peters
While Tom Peters is right on both accounts….there are also other ways necessary to sustain a business in the long term.
- Exceptional care of employees
- Recognizable presence in the community
- Knowledgeable market expertise
- Understand business financials
- Develop long-term customer relationship
Home Depot > Lowes
When a business lowers its standards….customers can tell the difference. A new CEO at Lowe’s has made significant changes to the organization. This is certainly reflected at the store level.
The issue: short term results versus long term position in the marketplace. The real test is the customer experience (assistance and purchase).
Bean Bags were a popular item in the 70’s….and from time to time we would run a truck-load promotion…. at less than $20 a piece.
The reason: to generate traffic.
Being on the north end of town, we had to create an incentive to get people to visit us. “Drive out a ways and see how it pays” was a nice brand identity….however we still from time to time needed to reach potential customers by offering an unique item to encourage folks to actually “drive out a ways.”
Recently our Toyota Camry had a makeover….an automobile detailing**
After two hours, the Camry looked almost new….inside and out. An excellent job by the owner of the company. He arrived on time was pleasant….proficient and professional. A good choice.
When the final tasks were completed….the gentlemen indicated he was done and would be on his way. From a business perspective the sale was made and service rendered. Yet, there is one more step.
I had to ask for a business card. While some businesses are very good at what they do….they sometimes lack real business instincts. In this case, a business card….a referral card….an invitation for another detailing, would be strong marketing tools for future business.
** Auto detailing is the act of performing a thorough cleaning, restoration, and finishing of a motor vehicle, to produce a show-quality cleanliness and polish. Detailing can be performed on a vehicle’s exterior and/or interior.
From the Doctor
How often does a patient get a hand written Thank You note from a medical practice (the physician)?
A recent encounter with a specialty practice went well….professional and accommodating.
The procedure went well….the Thank You note….a strong business and professional followup.
Customer > Choice > Sale
From Seth Godin:
That mattress company didn’t make the mattress.
And Amazon doesn’t make light bulbs.
There are countless factories vying to sell generic products to the companies that own the customer relationship. Perhaps 90% (sometimes 100%) of the profit goes to companies that make the sale, not the ones who actually made the product.
That’s because while they make the thing, they don’t do the work. The hard part is earning attention and trust. The hard part is helping someone make the choice. (There’s a difference between the hard part and the important part. Without the factory, there’s nothing to sell. Making it is important. But increasingly, it’s not the hard part.)
The Broadway producer makes a profit, the chorus member ekes out a living. Fair pay is related to the scarce work of engaging with the customer.
Either you’re doing the hard part or you’re left out of the transaction.
Nothing happens without the sale….whether home furnishings….scout cookies or passenger aircraft….the bakeries or factories could not be sustainable without the ultimate sale.
There is pride and satisfaction in helping someone make the choice….while the customer makes the final choice….it was our job to guide them to make that decision.
In some respects….it was which one do you like: A or B….and when would you like that delivered: today or tomorrow!
These are all excellent business books….whether the best is certainly subjective.
My best business authors: Tom Peters….Jim Collins….Oren Harari….Seth Godin. Of course, Tom Peter’s and Bob Waterman’s….In Search of Excellence is the classic business book.
Best Leadership author: John Maxwell