Is It Time to Upgrade Your Standards?

Everything in your business is a direct reflection of your standards—which means that whatever your standards are, they’re driving your business. For good or for bad, whatever is happening in your business right now ultimately emanates from your standards.

Once you realize this, you’ll hopefully understand why I had to take the picture you can see attached to this post. My wife, Jacquie, and I were driving home from a week’s vacation down in Hilton Head Island the other day when we stopped to get some gas. As I was standing next to the pump, I noticed the name of the business across the street and couldn’t help but laugh, “O.K. Service.”

Now, I’ve seen a lot of bad company names over the years—and this one clearly ranks among one of the worst. Just think about the word, “O.K.” Is there anything positive in that word? O.K. doesn’t even communicate average service. It communicates below average service. Or just good enough to not get sued for malpractice kind of service.

But what kind of message is that to a potential customer? Wouldn’t you want to communicate, “Raving Fan Service” or “Fanatical Service” or “Extraordinary Service” or “Blow Your Socks Off Service” or “So Good You’re Gonna Call Your Mamma and Tell Her About It Service”?

Clearly the owner of that business has set a standard that, “Good enough to not get sued service,” is good enough around here. Now, I don’t know what the economics are for that specific business, but I think I can safely surmise that a better name and a better standard would definitely result in more business for that auto repair shop.

Truthfully, if given the choice, would you prefer to take your car (when it needs to be serviced) to a repair shop with a name like, “O.K. Service” or “So Good You’re Gonna Call Your Mamma and Tell Her About It Service”? The later will win all day long. In other words, if that business owner wants to grow his business faster, he needs to upgrade his service standards.

But enough about him, what about you? What are your service standards? And even more importantly, have you outgrown the standards you used to have?

For example, excellence is a moving target. What is excellent for a business with two employees is not the same as for a business with twenty employees (or two hundred employees)? For a two person company, a basic Quickbooks template invoice is fine. But for a twenty or two-hundred person company you and I would probably expect something more if the standard is excellence.

For a start-up company a 24-hour response time is reasonable. But for an established company with thirty or more employees, you and I would probably expect more.

For a solopreneur to send a proposal in a folder from Staples with an ink jet printed contract is acceptable, but for a 25- person consultancy to do the same, you and I would expect more.

In other words, as our businesses grow, we need to constantly go back and ask ourselves, “Are we at a point where we need to upgrade our standards?” Most businesses hold on to their old standards way too long (especially those where the owner bootstrapped the business).

On the other hand, if you’re a smaller business and you want to compete with the “big boys” maybe it’s time you upgraded your standards to compete with them. No where is it written that a small business needs to be small-minded.

If you want to grow your business faster, maybe it’s time to upgrade your standards. Why? Because the standards we set, drive everything in our businesses. And the good news about that is that when we work at a higher level we tend to get higher level work.

So what standards do you need to start upgrading today in order to get to the next level for your business?

To your accelerated success!

P.S. This is a great staff discussion as to what your current standards are (not the stated ones, but the actual ones). And what do we need to change to get to the next level.