tips for quality service
The Top 10 of the Last 10
by Carl Tompkins
What a great thing to be able to participate in the 10-year anniversary
edition of AGRR magazine! It has been a pleasure and great honor
to serve as a columnist for the magazine this entire span of time.
In honor of this occasion, I’ve reviewed each of the 64 articles I’ve
written over the past ten years and picked the ten most significant tips
in which to run a successful business and share them.
The Top Ten
Commandment 1 (March 2007 AGRR): The level of business success,
and the speed at which it is attained, is based upon the will to change
and the time dedicated to do so.
A reporter once asked me, “In all the years of your training experiences,
what have you found to be the most difficult subject to teach?”
My answer was that just about all subjects provide the same level of challenge.
However, the most difficult subject to see put into practice is “change.”
Most everyone understands and agrees to the importance of change, but
only a small minority ever creates and maintains the changes necessary
to grow a business in a profitable manner. One of my favorite slogans
is a particular definition of business insanity: “expecting different
results by doing everything the same way.” Change is a must.
Commandment 2 (March/April 2004 AGRR): Every company and
profession is in the field of sales and sells the same product to customers:
The key learning point from this article was to alert companies that customers
buy much more than just a core product; they buy an experience that covers
a multitude of topics that companies must manage and deliver in a manner
that exceeds customers’ expectations.
Commandment 3 (January/February 2003 AGRR): Managers, if
you’re not serving an outside customer, you had better be serving someone
This article emphasized that all companies are in the “people business”
and, while many employees’ jobs are to interface and serve outside customers,
management had better interface and serve its employees if it hopes to
be successful. Unfortunately, so much of management’s time is spent making
rules, policies, enforcing procedures and providing work environments
that make it difficult, if not nearly impossible, for employees to do
their jobs well.
Commandment 4 (January/February 2008 AGRR): To be successful
you must not only be goal-driven, but also great at reaching goals. Make
sure all goals are S.M.A.R.T.—Specific, Measurable, Agreeable, Realistic
Most will agree that goal-setting is a must. The problem is that most
companies are not very good at reaching their goals because they fail
to meet any one or all of the five rules of formation. Everyone involved
must understand the goal, find it measurable, and must agree on its value
and that it is attainable. Finally, there must be a time table for every
Commandment 5 (July/August 2005 AGRR): Establish, believe
in, and follow a zero-defect-policy .
It’s not okay to make mistakes, but the culture in many companies allows
for mistakes absent of effective corrective action and problem elimination.
Mistakes may happen, but should never happen more than once. The cost
of rework in U.S. businesses can be (and has been) the difference between
being profitable and going out of business.
Commandment 6 (November/December 2004 AGRR): You must see
and assess all situations from a balcony perspective. Such a distance
prevents over-engagement while allowing for view of the big picture.
This is one of the toughest lessons for any person to learn and perfect.
While in the midst of a difficult situation, it is very easy to become
over-engaged with people and move into the arena of argument and emotional
battle. Keep your mental distance and see each situation as it really
is in order to arrive at the best solution. You’ve heard the phrase, “being
so close to the forest you cannot see the trees.” Keeping a balcony perspective
prevents this form of blindness.
Commandment 7 (July/August 2004 AGRR): Avoid downsizing;
it is a lethal business cancer. Instead, resize.
When profits do not meet business objectives, the first reaction often
is to downsize the organization—meaning to let people go and close locations.
Experts agree that this is not an acceptable business strategy but a precursor
to a business exit. Instead, re-allocate assets into other business strategies
or opportunities that provide a more reasonable chance for success.
“Most everyone understands and agrees
to the importance of change, but only a small minority ever creates and
maintains the changes necessary to grow a business in a profitable manner.”
Commandment 8 (January/February 2005 AGRR): Allow money
to be the byproduct of the relentless effort to serve customers, employees
and community in the most reliable and responsive method possible.
When money becomes the driving focus of attention, failure is certain.
Successful businesses build their legends upon providing great products
and services that are reliable. Their style in doing business, with both
customers and employees, demonstrates responsiveness to people’s needs
and the assurance that they will be taken care of. The byproduct is profit!
Commandment 9 (November/December 2005 AGRR): Be funny and
We’ve lost the social fiber in American businesses. This is a horrific
and unfortunate situation. It is the leading cause for the loss of morale
in the workplace and morale is the fuel that runs the company. Why is
there no loyalty between management and employees? It’s just no fun working
together anymore. While this slogan may appear silly, think about it;
it really says it all. Let’s start putting some fun back into the workplace
and then watch the money flow!
Commandment 10 (May/June 2009 AGRR): Right is not always
easy, but right is always right. Never fail yourself, your company, or
those who count on you to make a difference. Do what is right. Lead with
your heart and allow your mind to follow.
Carl Tompkins is the Western states area manager for SIKA Corp.
in Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash.
Mr. Tompkins’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those
of this magazine.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.