Steve Klein: Is Your Business Really Different?
Steve Klein of The Klein Companies wrote one of three forewords for Contractors: Doing it Right Not Just Getting it Done. Here is his . . . Enjoy!When author Mel DePaoli decided to write this book her timing could not have been better. Her company Omicle continues to focus on Brand or Culture in American business and whether Brand or Culture is the driving force behind why some companies continue to be successful over time and others just exist or eventually fail?
Midway through writing this book, all of America became challenged with the worst economic cycle since October 1929. Contractors were among those industries first and hardest hit. By the time this book publishes we will all have personally dealt with these most difficult times. There were extremely hard decisions that tested ourselves, our relationships, and whether we could actually survive the unknown that lay ahead. Owners and managers could no longer instinctively and strategically look 1-3 years ahead, and had to deal with day to day realities. I think we could all agree that what we have learned from our recent experiences emerging from this cycle and what we do as a result will lay the foundation for our futures, those of our customers, our team members, their families and all future generations in America who should rely on us to do what is right long-term and not what is best right now for our pocketbook. The fact that you have this book is testament to your intentions.
America is still the greatest country in the world. Yes America is being tested right now. Certainly our elected officials, Wall Street corporations, banking, investment and other systems are under huge public and international scrutiny at present for their past decisions. I would submit however, that a large part of what has always made America great is that entrepreneurial individuals have always started and ran businesses, held fast to their dreams, worked hard, remained honest, accepted the risks, met their payrolls, provided quality products and services, and paid close attention to who they were, who their customers were and how they should be treated.
All too often “Big Corporation” makes decisions at the highest uninvolved corporate level, based on numbers, what the definition of their relationship with their customers and employees are and then expect their employees to accept this definition and deal with it whether they like it or not.
Unlike “Big Corporation,” team members in our companies are not viewed as expendable commodities; they are an asset that we can continue to invest in and the reason our companies can and continue to achieve consistent, measurable success over time. The timing of Mel’s newest book gave us an opportunity to re-verify where we came from, where we are at, who we are, what we believe, what we do, and what we can do better. If our companies do not have future value then they will not continue to be here.
All products and services can be designed, engineered, built, marketed and delivered to either rise up to a certain quality or expectation level or to drop down to a certain price point. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” seems appropriate here.
Whether you are an independent business owner or a corporate owned business manager this fundamental decision must be made. Yes the experience and product received can be augmented by exciting marketing, attractive finance terms or smart packaging, but in the end the product gets used by the customer and they make a real life decision whether to purchase it again or recommend others to purchase it, based on their experiences, value received and what the company that sold it to them really represents to them.
Residential development and home building are still among the highest failure rate businesses in America and after almost 27 years of continued daily hands on involvement in this industry, I will submit that our companies Mission Statement and Customer Philosophy are not simply words on a website. They truly are what we believe in and what we guide ourselves by each and every day with each customer.
Perhaps customer expectations have been dumped down in America in substitution for ever lower prices and faster delivery cycles. If so then should we not endeavor to deliver higher customer focus to exceed these current day lowered expectations? Will this effort ultimately equate to higher customer satisfaction ratings, more new customers who enthusiastically produce more referrals and increase the value of your relationships with them and your companies resultant increased brand value? Our experience says yes but we will let Mel tell you more about that.
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