Often, when people are asked to name the first company that comes to mind, they will typically offer one of two answers:
They will name a large corporation, such as Starbucks, Wal-Mart or Target, simply as a result of their brand recognition and power in the marketplace.
- Or -
They will name a company that they have had a positive experience with, or heard others say they have had a positive experience with, regardless if it is a large corporation or small business.
For business owners, being top of mind to customers, both existing and potential, is crucial. As the President and CEO of Conditioned Air, I am very familiar with this concept. But just as important as brand familiarity is delivering on your promise by performance.
Recently, I was interviewed by Spencer Campbell from Gulfshore Business Magazine, on five of our most important guiding principles that we use every day at Conditioned Air:
1. We are absolutely customer focused. We serve internal and external customers. Internal customers are our teammates and team members who work for the company. Their job is to serve our real employers, which are our customers. Our management is tasked with serving the needs of all the people who are out in the field. And my job is to serve our managers and to make sure they have all the tools they need to do their jobs.
When you establish raving fans of Conditioned Air, that breeds customer loyalty. That leads to referrals and people speaking about us in the community to their friends, and it leads to more business. The culture in our company is to do the right thing at all times, in all cases. And while we’re not perfect, we’ll bend over backward to get there.
2. Hire smarter people than yourself. I always hire to my weaknesses. If you don’t, you risk duplicating people just like you. After that, your next two best hires are “Pete” and “Repeat.” You cannot just say something and walk away. You have to talk it, walk it and keep it out front. People say there’s no “I” in team, but there is; it’s “implementation.”
3. Practice open-book management. We always put our employees in the game of business. We show them how their performance affects the performance of the entire company. Then they share in all the success, so they feel like owners. Openness fosters discussion, new ideas and innovation. Plus, it tears down walls because one department can’t be successful without the next.
4. Be open to new technology. New technology can help efficiency and the customer experience. A few years ago we gave mobile laptops to our service techs. They helped with scheduling, customer history, and it helps with accessing complicated schematics. It speeds the process by which they perform their work.
However, if it was just for show it wouldn’t be good. When you call us, you will always talk to a person. Expensive phone technology won’t work for us, because our clientele wants to speak to a person. It’s a demand-based business. And people resist inefficiency.
5. Be open to peer reviews. I’m a member of two peer reviews. One of them is industry specific, and we meet around the country at each member’s office. We tour the place and then give criticism. It really peels back the onion and we don’t sugarcoat things. It teaches you the value of outside eyes. If you are too close to a company, you can become jaded to both your strengths and weaknesses.
The bottom line: The culture in our company built on the philosophy of doing the right thing at all times, in all cases. And while we’re not perfect, we’ll bend over backward to get there. By embracing this mindset and the above best practices, I’m confident that your company can achieve the success that you have worked so hard to achieve – you may even become that company that is top of mind to the customers in your community.