Setting clear standards for your business
Your standards define how your company works, which in turn builds trust in your brand. These can be guidelines that describe quality, performance, safety, terminology, testing, or management systems, to name a few.
The question here is, what are your business standards for your employees’ performance? Do you know the expectations of your customers? What is the standard for your product or service? Do your employees know what your customers expect and what you expect from them? These are all questions that every small business owner and company should ask themselves on a regular basis.
Here are some good tips for you.
- Get to know your customer and the competition – Understand what the competition is offering and which areas you want to align and which other areas you want to overcome. You may even be able to set lower ones depending on your customers’ needs. In low-margin commodity deals, price maybe a little more important than excellent service. Remember, “good” service is always needed, but it may not be “great” in this area. Find out what your competitor is offering in terms of new customers and hope to lay the groundwork for that.
- Train Your Team – Once you’ve set the standards for your product or service, train your team. Activate and train them to do the right thing when a mistake is made. Quick response and a solution that gets close to the situation, sets you apart from the competition. If it’s something that needs to be escalated, make sure your team understands the process and can explain the resolution steps to your client along with a schedule. Clear communication is key.
- Measurements – In order for a standard to be met, it must be measured. Know what the customer’s standard is and set your goal to be above. A general rule of thumb that I recommend is to exceed customer expectations. If you set the standard at the customer expectation level for normal variances in service or product, you will miss more than you would like. Raising the bar a little higher and making an effort to meet them, will minimize the likelihood that expectations will not be met due to normal variations.
As a business owner, you may already have some expectations in your head for how things should be, but the question is, have you ever taken the time to write them down and share them with your team? That expectation is another thing people know. Regardless of whether you have a team of 2, 10, or 50 players, it is crucial that your team play some standards.
It is important that you align your team with your expectations and standards. The game plan here is etc. When you are frustrated that someone is not meeting your expectations, it is usually because they broke a standard that you have on your mind. Once you have established a clear standard to follow, you will likely get more out of them as it will remove confusion and uncertainty. They understand and know how to serve your customers the way you expect them to. Think about it like this. If business was a game, you would need to know the rules. The standards in your company are like rules. What are the rules for playing your business game? Which standards should the employees in your company meet?
Here’s a little challenge for you this week: think about all of the expectations you have, write them down, and then share them with the people who work for you so that everyone works by the same clear standards.