picture this!

Picture this!

Have you ever walked around and seen a lawn crew servicing a yard with poor results? Or painters painting a house, resulting in a less than ideal paint job. Or a crew fencing a yard with spectacular results. Or a landscaper transforming the entire look of a house.

If you put a picture of each of these results on the front of a brochure, which would you want to work with? If you put a picture of the results you generate on the front of a brochure, would they attract customers?

Risk can be an advantage

What is your backup plan?

A few weeks ago, during the snow storm in the Pacific Northwest, I lost the internet connection for a few hours. Luckily, it was a short period of time and I still had power. I also had a radio, so I was able to listen to the radio to hear updates.

The situation was a good reminder of the power of backup plans. There are always a variety of issues that can crop up in business. And having backup plans that are not reliant on the same platforms are important to keep going. What are your backup plans?

cross the finish line or stop?

Cross the finish line or stop?

The snow just started to accumulate and along with it came the cancelation of weekly trash pickup. The snow wasn’t supposed to cause an issue until the following day, but out of an abundance of caution, the service was canceled with pickup to occur one week later. And just then, the mail truck drove by on its normal route, causing me to think about the USPS motto:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Setting aside the very real issues snow storms cause, the contrast in services that day got me thinking about approaches to business. Whether providing services, completing projects or everyday activities, some approach getting across the finish line as a given. It will happen. Others look for reasons to stop. Which is yours?

your emergency is not the same as my emergency

Your definition of an emergency is not the same as my definition of an emergency

The leak under my kitchen sink was not gushing, but did create a puddle on the floor when I used the sink. After checking with my neighbors for a plumber to no avail, I found one online that was well rated. And they offered same day service! So I called for an appointment, the first available time was two days later. Apparently same day was only available for emergencies.

That’s the thing. One person’s definition of an emergency is another person’s definition of the ordinary course of business. Understanding how each side views the situation helps to find a solution that works for all parties.

are you delivering what was promised?

That is not what you promised!

My dog knows each type of treat by name and where they are kept. So when I pulled a bait and switch on her, she called me out on it. She happily took the treat that was not what was promised. When she finished, she stood and stared at the cabinet where the promised treat was kept.

People don’t always advocate so strongly that what was delivered was not what was promised. Sometimes not living up to promises results in lost customers or lost employees. What are you doing to make sure you are living up to your promises?

it is all about perspective

How are you getting a fresh perspective of your business?

The power went out for a few hours mid-day. Without the normal lighting, I was left to using the natural lighting streaming through the blinds. Without the overhead lighting, the natural lighting revealed finger prints on the cabinets. I had no idea they needed to be cleaned that much. Those fingerprints were not normally noticeable.

That’s the thing about business. Sometimes you don’t see what is going on from your current perspective. It takes a fresh perspective from a different angle to see where focus is needed. How are you getting a fresh perspective of your business?

are you establishing trust

Where do you land on the BS detector?

Recently, I stumbled into a spot on a website that said “we value your privacy,” then only allowed you to opt out by email if you lived in California. The option was not available to everyone else. That would be following the law in California, not valuing privacy.

People have a good sense of sniffing out whether what leaders or companies say is true or if they are repeating a narrative. Building trust and credibility requires consistently being straightforward and honest.  Where are you landing the BS detector?


Risk can be an advantage

What risks are you willing to take?

There is a steep hill by my house. Steep enough that cars can easily accelerate beyond 40 mph without pressing the gas peddle, causing homeowners to post signs along the road to slow down. Apparently the attraction of the hill was too great for a teenage boy to resist. He went flying down the hill, with cars behind him, without a helmet. Hitting a twig or rock, which are common along the road, could have resulted in serious injury or worse. But he was lucky and ended his ride safely.

Sometimes reckless risks payoff. But the payoff is a function of luck, not skill. Taking calculated risks, understanding what could go wrong and having a plan to address them, makes a lot of sense. But in taking the risk, you should be willing to lose whatever is being placed on the line if going big. What risks are you willing to take?

right people in right place

What are your people telling your customers about you?

My refrigerator started leaking water all over the floor. So, I called to have someone come out and fix it. When he got here, he explained the design flaw that was causing the problem and indicated he could fix it, but it would happen again at some point. And the cost of the repair was pretty high. So, I asked him if he was really telling me it is time for a new fridge. He said yes.

Having people in your business that will give customers the full picture to make an informed decision is critically important. Those front line folks tell customers a lot about how you run the business, who you hire, how you incentivize them, and the values and behaviors you expect. What are your people telling your customers?

you'll love this!

You’re going to love this!

A service provider recently sent an email outlining some upcoming changes. And with gusto, they signed off by stating that I’d love the changes. The move was clearly for cost savings. And would require more work on my end every month. I don’t love it.

That’s the thing with driving change. For it to stick, everyone has to be better off. And they have to know how they will be better off to get excited about it. So, as you think about your change initiatives, take time to get people involved to see how they will be impacted. You’ll be glad you did!