When I think about running business the “old-fashioned” way, a few ideologies come to mind: the customer is always right, clean cut presentation, simplicity, reliability, and a consistent experience. Things are “done right” instead of just “done.”
When I think about the common thread between some of the best local businesses today, they share these same characteristics.
Isn’t it funny how the more things change the more things stay the same?
Take for example the story of a successful advertiser that provides a service in people’s homes. He and his employees follow a strict and surprisingly simple regimen: show up bright and early to a daily meeting before making service calls. Arrive well-groomed, with a uniform shirt tucked in and vehicles pristine. The priority for the day is to deliver a positive and consistent customer experience. For a business dealing with consumers, mastering the basics is essential, and it’s even more critical for a business that provides services in a person’s home. Much of his long-term success can be credited to his commitment to the fundamentals.
With this in mind, here are a few principles I’ve observed on how any business can master the basics:
- Stick to the process. Respect the process. Walt Disney is an iconic example of a company that has the basics down pat, largely due to their “magical” behavioral concepts.
- Be consistent. Think about Starbucks. You will get the same warm (literally) experience and product in any store you walk into, anywhere.
- Presentation is everything. First impressions matter. Pay attention to the details. Be obsessed over a clean store, well-maintained vehicles and well-groomed employees.
- Treat employees well and send out happy front-line employees. To the customer, they are your company. Know how to find and keep your rock star employees.
- Values are engrained in the company from the top down. It starts with you. I know, it can be hard but remind yourself that you are setting the example for others to follow.
- Treat every customer like they are your most important customer. This means looking after the customers’ interests first. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so.”
- Follow the golden rule with employees and customers. Is there ever a time when this doesn’t apply?
- When you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize. As I talked about in a previous post on how to handle negative customer reviews, customers are more forgiving when a business responds in an honest and personable way. It shows that you are paying attention and care about their needs.
These things seem obvious, but as business owners, it is easy to be overcome by passion and lose focus of the core basics. But from what I’ve seen, those that doing business “the old-fashioned way” often have the best customer retention rates. If can do the basics well, you have a much better chance of long-term success.
Don’t you agree? What do you think of when it comes to the “old-fashioned” way?