How should your business work?

Successful businesses do not just happen! True, we all know of those businesses that enjoyed early (over night) or short-term success but then they, for some reason, faltered, disappeared (bankruptcy) or were quietly absorbed by another competitor well below their expected value. Why does this happen?

While there are a variety of answers to this question the common denominator in many of these instances was that the leadership did not know or agree on how their business should work. Yes, they did provide reasonably priced product or service, recorded revenue, marketed existing and new products, added new customers, etc. – but as a team they did not agree on how the business should work.

Businesses that enjoy long term success heavily invest in how their businesses should work or adjust them proactively due to changes in the marketplace as a result of shifting customer demand or by introducing new products or services that established new markets.  They are believers in perfecting the business process that they have adopted.  The business model is predictable and works consistently and is not left up to arbitrary decisions or personal preferences to define it.

How Should Your Business Work?
You should view your business as a product.  While the customer is buying your product or service they are really buying the total sum of your business operations and practices from the time they come into contact with you, through the purchase and delivery of your product and services and on into after-market support.

You put new products through intense and rigorous design reviews and make sure that all aspects of the product were properly documented, load tested, and deliverable with high quality.  The same care and attention to detail must be applied to every element of your business.  Your business as an entity is as much a product as what goes on the data sheet or in the box on the shelf.

Your business should be designed to achieve an objective – meet or exceed the customer need.  The business not only needs properly documented business procedures and policies but they collectively must be performed in a way that the end product more than satisfies the customer – each and every time.

The focus should be on how the customer views your business and how it remains differentiated from other providers in the market.  While your business produces a product or service does the customer view your company as a solution?

Who Knows How their Business Works?
The success of McDonald’s was not just locating a store on the right street corner but carefully engineering every step in the delivery process of each meal to the hungry customer.  The time the patties were on the grill, when to turn them, how long the buns should be steamed, how to add the pickles so that they would not fall into the customer’s lap are just a few of the many steps that were carefully designed into the business to make sure that business produced a consistently tasty meal and dining experience for the customer. 

The end result: a loyal customer base that knows where to go to get a great burger at a reasonable cost – fast – each and every time.

Disneyland is a master of moving crowds.  Even though it still takes 30 to 60 minutes (or more) to get into a Disney ride you are still moving and pass other attractions that serve to interest you and distract you from how long you are in line.

Imagine just standing in a non-moving line on a hot day.  Would you be excited to go back?

Disney shows that they care how you enjoy yourself – it is not just the ride but creating a memorable experience.

When Fedex started up in ’71 they had a hard time getting customers to believe they could live up to their promise of overnight delivery using, at the time, a hub in Memphis, TN.  Every operation was focused on the objective of delivering packages by the time promised in a quality condition.

Every step in their process was carefully defined from scheduling a pickup, travel time to the next step, automated processing through the hub, and transacting it thought their local offices to make sure it the package is delivered within the promised delivery time.

Despite seasonable demands on their services they have created a brand where you can rely upon their promise to have it there overnight.

Knowing how your business should work is not just for the big guys because it was their daily commitment to know their business when they were small that propelled them into large businesses.

Step back and remove yourself from the daily crises and ask yourself what you can do to know how your business works and make sure that you are diligently working on your business and not just working in it.

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