The Best Businesses Have the Best Customers
We are in our 34th year of business. Throughout the decades we have seen wars, economic turmoil, political firefights, horrific terror and worldwide duress. Throughout it all we stayed in business. We maintained profits; we took and paid back loans. We employed many and watched them as individuals grow from single young men to family men, buying homes, having kids, sending them off to college, and finally beginning to get ready for an easier quieter time.
I have felt so good to be called a capitalist monster. Motivated by profits and growing a more efficient business. On that journey everyone at LMS has also enjoyed the trip. With some employees with me nearly 3 decades, and others for nearly 25 years, I have seen what many others in business don’t normally enjoy. To see their lives move through stages and the happiness they have made for themselves. Many people have asked me over the years to try to give them the secret to our longevity, and to our financial wellbeing. How they ask? What magic? What could I impart on them that the thousands of books on business have not already stated?
Being that I have some time to think and ponder now, I sat and pondered. What is it? I then went out and asked others, they all answered with the same “great management” “great people” “great leadership.” The list of great things went on but they sounded like everything I ever read, what really was driving it?
GREAT CUSTOMERS. It was so simple, so plain that I could never really come up with it. I knew we had really good clients, and that over the years our ability to find them, and stay attached to them had increased. It was now clear that they were beyond good, they were great.
I would often tell everyone you just need to go out of your way to do something really great for others. To make yourself known, trusted as the person they can count on. It seemed to be the real answer to living well and being respected. Somehow the statement did not always seem to ring true. I wondered in business how many times we seemed to do so much for someone, yet not seem to ever move to the next relationship level. Something else needed to be added to the mix to make a statement so true, so solid that I could scream it from the mountain tops and know that it would work for anyone who could actually hear it and believe in it. So here it is, in the 100% pure form, tested and ready for consumption.
“Go out there and do something great for others” – the personal statement
“Go out there and do something great for others that will appreciate it” – the business version
That’s it. So what is so hard about that? We’ll its finding those that you can reliably provide something for and making sure they fit the “code.” For those that watch Dexter, please don’t read too deep into my use of the word code. Finding the fit seemed to be much like looking into a mirror for me. I looked at every business I dealt with as a consumer and found that everyone that seemed to be on my “best” list were ones that did a good to great job on services and wanted nothing more than to keep me happy forever. I in turn began doing the same. Making sure that our delivery process took into account what really mattered to our customers and made it the central theme of our business. We were no longer in the computer business or the solution business, we were in the “make people feel so good and secure business.” I could not find a SIC code to describe LMS that way on my tax returns so I still mention to most that we are in the service business, but I know that I left that world a long time ago. So when I see a person who can’t quite understand what we might do on a technical level I kind of suggest we are just a bunch of clowns that make people feel good.
Everyone (almost everyone) likes a clown, seems simple enough. For the rest of our clients and potential clients I hope they see us forever as the company they do business with that makes them feel safe and secure, and is always there for them every minute of the day, every day of the year.
I am grateful for the clients that we have connected to, and to those we will bring into our business world into the future. I am proud of a staff that understands that it is their role, and why we can exist as a business. In some ways it is good that I have left LMS for the most part, since those that have taken over the management and leadership are far superior in communicating our purpose.
It is the time of year to look back and be thankful for what good has come our way. We have been plagued by wasteful politics, horrific national events, and an economy that does not look like a fast recovery is on its way. On the other hand we are here, and part of a great nation with spirit and strength to do what is necessary to grow. I am so thankful for all the great clients I serve, my co-workers who keep our small business alive, and most importantly for my family and friends who make up my foundation for which I launch most of my life’s activities. They are always reminded that we have succeeded by the important relationships that make up LMS, and my personal world. They join with me in thanking everyone who has been part of our lives for so many years.
I hope that some of my ramblings strike a nerve, even hurt a bit. Please always feel welcomed to beat me up, debate a point or simply ask for help on how you might add value to your business. Please have a happy and loving holiday, and enjoy the wonderful company of your family and friends as we enter our new year.