The Secret to Entrepreneurial Success

January 5, 2007

It’s no news that companies that “go the extra mile” are more successful than those who do the minimum, but I love to hear different ideas or stories on how that concept can be put into action.

Here’s one from Jeff Burrows at The Trump Blog. In it Burrows talks about not just fulfilling your promise to a customer, but doing the extra one percent that your competitors do not:

Let me return to the example of a company that installs swimming pools. If that is your business, you know that deciding to have a swimming pool installed is a very big moment in your customers’ lives. But it is also a dangerous moment for you, because your customers are so focused on the idea of having a pool, they will forget that you are going to have to dig a big ditch first. They will forget that your trucks are going to back up and make a mess of the yard. They never stop to think that they are going to be scared silly because their kids are going to want to run around in the work area.

If you can identify and manage that extra one percent of issues, you are going to stand out as a company and make profits.

You can add that extra one percent of value by explaining the whole construction process to your customers, so they will know what to expect. You can introduce all your workers to your customers, so they will not be alarmed to see strangers on their property. You can take extra measures to ensure their kids’ safety. And you can complete your work in a way so that when your pools are installed, your customers will say, “Wow, my yard and landscaping look even nicer now than when the pool company came!”

Yes, obviously we’re not all installing pools. No example works for everyone. But this example stuck with me because I can remember hiring people to do things at my home who have technically done what I paid for, but made me never want to use them again.

In each of the last two homes I’ve owned, we’ve had fairly large earth-moving equipment have to come in, once to remove a retaining wall, once to take a large rotting tree down. In both cases, the weight of the equipment smashed the sidewalk, so that afterward when it rained, large pools of water would collect where the sidewalk squares had gone from level to a serious slant. No one from either company ever mentioned the problem, no one offered to do anything about it. And each time it took us a little while to realize the problem, so we couldn’t really pin it on the companies, even though it was obvious they’d done it.

A better company would have said to us, “We’re bringing in heavy equipment and sometimes it can cause some damage to your walks. We’ll do our best to avoid it, but I have to tell you in advance that we’re not responsible for that type of damage.” Or of course they could offer to pay for/fix any damage. But even if they wouldn’t fix it, being told in advance would’ve kept me from crossing them off my list if further work had been needed.

I don’t know if there’s something we can all take from the swimming pool example or not, but it’s a reminder to always be thinking from the customer’s perspective instead from your own profit-and-loss perspective.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.


One comment

  1. Adam,
    This is a great example of service that I will try and pass on to those who can try and make a difference.

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