Every employee is either helping your organization succeed or fail. Every employee can either produce, making the company grow or thrive or simply survive and eventually die. Without advancing forward you are merely in a waiting game until someone bigger and better begins to steal your thunder. Someone else will make the same product or service better and cheaper or they will provide something you don’t. Maybe something, that had you been paying close attention and your staff been in tune would have seen coming and maybe implemented before your competitor did. You cannot mandate High Performance. You must inspire and foster it daily. We have often heard the phrase “We must Do More With Less”. This is very true, and will always be the case no matter what the economic climate. But the doing more is not simply quantity it is in fact also quality. You must always be making better widgets. If you don’t someone else will and where will your company be then.
I remember an incident I encountered in a dry cleaners. I had taken my dry cleaning home and put them in the closet. Like most of us I did not inspect the cleaning and a week past before I took one of my shirts out of the plastic and noticed a new stain. I drove back to the cleaners to talk with the lady at the counter. I told her I had a new stain that occurred during the cleaning. What do you think her response was? Before I tell you how she responded I will tell you that I posited this questioned to some business owners in one of my classes. I asked them how they would have handled this situation if they owned the cleaners.
What would you imagine they said? If you said they might have cleaned the shirt again or even provided cash to replace the shirt or something similar you would all be correct. I praised them for their creative ideas for taking care of the problem. Then I hit them right between the eyes with how this situation is likely handled in the real world, because they as the owner are unlikely to be working the front counter and as a result may have to rely on their employees to make the right decisions. I would like to lay some more ground work before I give you the final answer. I had been spending sixty to eighty dollars a month at this location. So if the situation were handled inappropriately I could likely take nearly a thousand dollars of business away from them. Now, you may be thinking, big deal. But multiply this by more customers because this type incident will repeat. You should be delighted to know the lady at the front counter handled it splendidly and I continue to take my cleaning there.
She apologized, clean the shirt for free and was cheerful about it. One reason this sticks in my head is related to another dry cleaners. I had been taking items to another dry cleaners for over 10 years and one day I found a tear from cleaning a $30.00 dollar shirt. The shirt was not wearable any longer. When I took it to the cleaners. They told me they had no way of knowing where the tear occurred insulting me for bringing it in. Finally under complaint the man at the counter agreed to pay for the shirt. He brought out a $10.00 check. He made me feel embarrassed. I then told him very politely that it was obvious he needed the money more than I did. I tore up the check and placed it on the counter. How much money did he lose? I haven’t been back.
Oh, and by the way it just so happens you can’t blame this on a bad employee; the man working the counter was the owner. One point I would like to bring up now is that it does not matter what the owner would do. The message of how to handle these incidence must be conveyed and reinforced time and again to make sure you don’t loose long time customers. It costs a great deal more to find a new customer than to maintain existing customers. Keep spreading the right policies and philosophies to your staff before you lose any more customers.
Originally appeared in Ezine Articles