Friday, February 11, 2011

Build Momentum

Running a great company is a lot like paddling a canoe upstream: when you stop paddling, you don’t just stay right where you are.  You are quickly washed back downstream where you were.  The best way to keep from losing ground is to constantly paddle hard and fast against the currents of mediocrity.

Remarkable companies never stop improving. They never stop pushing forward. Regardless of what achievement or milestone they just obtained, they never consider themselves “there” or rest on their laurels.  Keep the momentum going by constantly raising standards. As you achieve your goals, set new, even higher ones.

Remember that the challenge only means something if it is a tough one.  No one would be impressed if the top NFL football team beat a high school junior varsity squad.  When you are lining up challenges for your people, look for ones that you are not sure you can attain.  The best challenges seem to be just out of reach of our fingertips.  You want ones that make you stretch and reach and strive.  This stretching is where your staff gains strength and confidence. 

As you gain victories, take the time to celebrate them with your people.  This is an important step because winning is extremely fun and will motivate your people to work even harder at the next challenge set before them.  Winning against tough odds is rewarding even in the most difficult of times.   It’s hard to get tired of winning.  That is, it’s hard to get tired of winning as long as the challenge was tough!  Finding the challenge that will keep people motivated is the key challenge for managers today. 

Row, row, row your company to a GREAT future!   

Eliminate the Competition

One of the hardest problems to tackle in business is what to do when you sell products you can’t change in any way. It’s a difficult problem, yes…but it has a simple, highly effective and low cost solution.
You see this all the time.  You prefer eating at one certain Burger King over others even though the Whopper must be served identically at every franchise.  There are two different pharmacies across the street from one another yet you find you shop only at one of them…even though your insurance coverage makes the price the same at either one.  You stop at the same gas station every week even though the other three stations on the corner sell gas at the same price.
Why?   Most likely, it’s because the managers of these stores have changed the one part of their product that they absolutely can affect:  the customer’s service.
We all have competition, even in public sector agencies such as city  government or utility companies. Rising prices in typical household expenses (insurance, food, fuel, etc.) compete with us for each dollar we charge our customers for our services.  To maintain your fiscal health, every company must eventually raise their prices in response to various pressures such as inflation, regulatory requirements, etc.   We must constantly communicate our value to the customer to prove that we have earned this additional funding.   
Regardless of your business, you can “eliminate the competition” by making every interaction with your customer a remarkable one!  In this light, outstanding customer service is the best investment you can possibly make.  Think about it this way, a water utility company could spend a million dollars improving water quality and there is a very good chance that not a single customer would even notice.  Teaching your employees to smile at customers and treat them with personal care and concern doesn’t have to cost you a dime! 
Remember:  The product you sell is more than just the product.  It’s also interaction between your staff and the customer.  Create bright lines of distinction between yourselves and your competition by delivering superior customer service every day!  It’s highly effective and the price (free) is right for the times!