Success is in the details

February 15, 2011 | By Bruce Hourigan | No Comments

We’ve all heard the saying, “Worry about the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.” While no one would necessarily advocate skipping the mortgage payment because you’re making sure there’s plenty of soap in the dispenser, there’s quite a bit of wisdom in the adage.

Too often, we get wrapped up in the big issues that frequently are out of our control. We truly can’t personally jumpstart the economy, stop a competitor from setting up shop nearby or keep that storm from hitting just on our busiest day.

What we can do is take control of the myriad details that customers notice every time they’re in your business, the type of details that might be easy to let slip through the cracks, especially when crises arise.

Start by adopting these practices:

  1. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Whether you’re speaking to a client or an employee, choose your words carefully. Don’t speak in the heat of anger or make promises you can’t keep. Your words are a tool. As someone in charge, you can be certain that what you say will be remembered and dissected. Choose words wisely.
  2. Make sure every hair is in place. There’s a reason that became a phrase to describe someone who is “put together.” Your client’s experience is more than one facet of your business. Don’t think that a great service is going to make up for a difficult front-desk encounter, a messy bathroom or being out-of-stock on a favorite product. Every detail needs to be in place – every time.
  3. Getting by isn’t good enough. Sometimes it seems as though no one is going to notice if you cut corners, just this once. The trouble is that someone might take note of that missing detail and not come back. Plus, it’s really easy to let “good enough” become the new standard. Insist on excellence. Show your staff how it’s done.
  4. Put the systems in place. It’s much easier to excel when there are systems to help you get there. Don’t make your staff reinvent the wheel every day. Systems save a lot of unnecessary questions, a lot of unnecessary guesswork and a lot of unnecessary mistakes. Get the details down once and train the employees who need to know. More things will get done right, every time. The result? Smoother operations and less wasted time.
  5. Don’t use the details as an excuse. The “little things” are important, for sure. Don’t confuse “busy work” with taking care of the details of running your business. When you find yourself color-coding your filing system for the fourth time or changing your Facebook status again or alphabetizing the herbal teas, you must ask yourself if you’re just putting off a bigger task. Chances are that you are. And don’t chalk it up to being a “perfectionist.” Some details are worth fussing over; others aren’t.

Paying attention to the details is what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary. True, the major issues won’t just take care of themselves; however, the small day-to-day details certainly won’t, either. And those could be the make-it-or-break-it details for your business.

Categories: Business Builders

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