How Being Honest in Three Simple Ways helps the Bottom Line
A small business owner is responsible for a lot of departments, and that leaves a lot of room for feeling vulnerable. Always exposed to some risk of being caught with your eye on another area. In some cases that can lead to feeling like you need to bluff, to share little, and to outright lie to protect yourself from the unknown danger that lurks ready to take advantage of your business. I am writing to tell you that I practice the opposite, and have to continually prod myself to avoid the defense mechanism that manifests itself by creating a lack of clarity, a void of sharing information, or an shroud of mystery around my activities and what I am aware of at all times. I do that by focusing on three areas of honesty in my business.
Be Honest With Yourself
Did that complaint have a valid point? Am I dismissing it out of pride or embarrassment? Being honest with yourself takes those types of questions, it is so easy to say that the customer doesn’t know what they are talking about, and sometimes they don’t… but they are always the customer. ‘You can’t sell cream-puffs to pigs’ is a line from my friend Michael Tarshi and it has some merit here. If the honest answer to a question about what your business sells, how it sells it, or how it is being operated seems to indicate that you should change something. YOU SHOULD CHANGE SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter if your customer thinks creme brule should be served piping hot and you think they are ridiculous. Maybe if it happens too many times you are selling creme brule in the wrong place.
It is easy to dismiss things like that, and say that person has no clue. By being honest with yourself you can determine the outlying complaints from the ones you need to pay attention to. Even if it is just with yourself take these words into consideration:
Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth. – Mahatma Gandhi
Be Honest With Your Employees
Your employees know your business and in some cases they know your customers better than you. They depend on the health of your business for their income in much the same way as you and they ask questions about it both for their personal benefit and for the business’ benefit as well. If you do not feel like you can honestly answer the questions you employees ask you about the bsuiness you have a trust issue in your organization, they should be able to get honest answers about the business as it relates to their responsibilities and customer interactions and if you can’t do that you have one of two problems to deal with immediately. The first: You need to change your behavior and trust the people you have put in position to do their job, by empowering with the information and knowledge that enables them. The Second: You have to trust your instincts and make changes to your staff that fills these jobs with people you can share the truth with.
So many times I have worked with small business owners who kept nearly all the important information so close to the vest that nothing could happen at the business without them present. Often times this results in your employees wasting their time and killing their efficiency, sluggish and poor customer service, loss of employees accustomed to producing, and generally poor company performance.
Be Honest With Your Customers
Its funny business people tend to forget how much their best customers get to know their company, its operations, employees, good points, and not so good points. The one thing that makes a great customer relationship is trust. A customer trusts you to deliver a product that is very close to what you promise, when you promise it, for a fair price. They know you are making money on the transaction but they are satisfied with the product and its delivery and feel that it is competitive with other options. Those other options may be just as good, but you have the trust.
Treat that trust with care, be honest with them always. When times are good and they are extremely pleased that is easy, when things go awry, be honest and tell them why it happened and why its not going to continue. If you screw up an order in any way you can take action to admit the order is not what they wanted and still retain the trust. When you lie, and look for technicalities, and loopholes to get out of the responsibilities your trust is likely to be lost and then you are not even on the same plane as your competitors, you are below it.
Be honest with your customers and they will likely forgive an error, and value the relationship with you even more.