5 Consequences to Business Growth When Performance Dives

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Have you heard the good news? California is getting rain!

In preparation for El Nino, I recently engaged a local painting firm. Sounds almost as exciting as watching paint dry, doesn't it? What makes this story valuable is what is to be learned to make sure business growth doesn't inadvertently suffer when performance wanes.

The Paint Whisperer

We all play the role of customer in sales meetings from time to time.

Some companies are disorganized in their presentation. Uncertain of their process. Materials lack any brand identity. They leave you scratching your head--wondering how these companies stay in business.

Other companies sparkle. Their presentation is polished and professional, yet casual enough to ebb and flow easily with questions and concerns. Their materials are well-branded. Their process is standardized (which generally produces a better end product, by the way.) Most importantly, they understand their reputation is at stake with every stroke of the pen. These are trust and credibility builders.

This was that sort of meeting. This company was different. This company set the standard. This company does what it claims--provide a superior end-product. This company is concerned enough about their Yelp reviews to make sure performance is high. This company's price is higher.

Price + Performance + Value = Sale

Have you heard the saying, "When value outweighs the price, seldom is price an objection?"

This company did an exceptional job of building value--and backing it up with evidence. I was willing to pay the price for the outcome promised--a superior product.

No chocolate Easter bunnies here! The value built. The expectation set. The price paid. I made the decision to trust.

The performance? Well, it didn't match the value + price expectation.

No Time to Do Things Right the First Time?

That's what my Dad, a small business owner, imparted to his children. He believed that if you don't take the time to do things right the first time, it requires more time--and money--to do them over.

Unfortunately, when a business--yours or mine--doesn't get the job right the first time, the domino effect is set in motion. It looks like this...

  1. Trust is broken. Clients make assumptions when expectations and assurances are preset by an organization. Trust evaporates when promises are broken.
  2. Work dries up. Change orders, or opportunities for additional work, vanish. The pipeline for future business from a particular source is capped off.
  3. Referrals disappear. Consumers are more likely to share a bad experience (54%) with five or more friends than they are a good experience (33%). (The Impact of Customer Service)
  4. Reputation is tainted. News, good or bad, travels fast. In fact, 58% of consumers are likely to share their experience with others. (The Impact of Customer Service)
  5. Profit margins are reduced. Profit margins are squeezed, or evaporate completely, when corrections need to be made in order for a business to keep its promise.

So, yes. When performance is not up to the promise, it definitely hits where it hurts most--business growth.

The Fix for Broken Performance

Make sure your business growth stays on its upward trajectory by diligently applying the following principles:

  1. Make promises you can routinely, and easily, keep. Today's consumers count on a consistent experience.
  2. Manage expectations--yours and the clients. Use the tools at your disposal (i.e., blog, email, text, phone) to communicate and inform clients.
  3. Get it right the first time. Fine tune your process to prevent costly re-work. And, when things do go a bit off the rails...
  4. Take responsibility. The customer is always right--even when they're not.

Even so, you may not be able to undo the damage done to your business (78% of high income households are liked to be permanently soured by one bad experience).

And, if that's the case, go back and adopt what my Dad taught me: Do it right the first time so you don't have to do it over.

This article first appeared on Synnovatia's small business growth blog.

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