- Mike Prongue
Running your LED sign company is similar to participating in any relationship- a marriage, a team or being part of a church. The habits and the rules for success are very similar.
To make a business “great” instead of just “good” try to maximize each relationship- employees, customers, and supporting services that you utilize. I’m not suggesting that you become a smiling “Johnny Appleseed” tossing jokes and good cheer around the way Johnny used to throw his apple seeds. But slight changes in behavior in the work place can translate into better morale and better customer relationships.
Many of these business relationship suggestions you probably do anyway. Just review these time-tested ideals for communication and consistency and see if you can enhance your LED sign business as a result. Worst case is that you’ll probably improve your customer service potential.
The Top 10 business relationship suggestions:
- Clear and transparent communication- Employees and customers do not want to be subject to surprises or inconsistencies. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Words are like bullets and once they leave your mouth they have been “fired” and can’t be stuffed back in. Ask others to repeat back to you, the message you are attempting to communicate. Written communication can be even more insidious. Emails are cut and pasted and sent to others and what you thought was “privileged” communication winds up on Facebook. Don’t write or say anything you are not prepared to see in the newspaper.
- Promote others success- Andrew Carnegie was just one of the great industrialists that shaped American industry. He recognized that making others successful, making them rich, bonded them in many ways to his own cause. Pulling people up and making them proud to be part of the team with a vested interest in the success of the cause goes a long way. You can’t grow a business without people being as involved and committed as yourself.
- Behave consistently- Remember Dr. Jekyll and the evil Edward Hyde? Which one are you today? Do you think an employee will confide in you and then when the “going gets tough” you throw his confidential comment back in his face? What do you expect from people? Okay then, present that behavior to them.
- Communicate respectfully- Always find a way to say “yes”. Use words of courtesy- thank you, please, kindly, “if I may”, “if you don’t mind”, and “when you get time”. Some people think assertive communication means being a true jerk. Soft power is the more effective power.
- Apologize quickly- Some say apologizing is a sign of weakness. I think that was Ziva on the popular NCIS hit TV show. But a life lesson is that “it’s not the weak who apologize” it’s the strong who can admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
- Under promise and over deliver- My father started every Summer when my brother and I were growing up with “let’s get a boat” but at the end of the Summer we never saw a boat. Many years later I use this annual “sucker punch” as an example of Over Promise and Under Deliver. All he had to say was “I wish we had enough money to get a boat, and we’ll try to find a good used one, but no promises.”
- Be truthful- See the previous paragraph. Know your own truth and stick to it. It’s easy to lie accidentally and you have to manage the collective message coming from your company. Don’t twist the truth, lying by omission is still a lie- “You did not ask about installation and I did not tell you….” Just does not work in 2013 when there are other business choices for customer.
- Ask for participation and feedback- You may be a genius but you are not the only genius. Get your people involved, give them some responsibility and grow them into the next you. I like to surround myself with people smarter than myself. It makes life much easier.
- Publicly praise and privately coach- How many times have you had someone “call you out” in a group? Nothing destroys morale and encourages a homicide more than being embarrassed in public. Coach behind closed doors but present awards and great accomplishments in the group.
- Take Responsibility- Where does the buck stop in your organization. Notice how Presidents of the USA take ownership and responsibility for…. Everything. It’s your company, and the buck stops with you. Don’t pinch a nickel to create 6 pennies and destroy a customer relationship. If you mess up, just confess and get past it.
Many of these suggestions are self-evident. Most of them circle back to the subject of Ethics.
No one ever faulted a company for being too ethical and treating customers too well! Remember the Golden Rule- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is sage advice that we sometimes forget in the heat of business battle.