I’ve just finished reading Gordon Bethune’s book , “From Worst to First”, behind the scenes of Continental’s remarkable comeback. The book was written in 1998 and the principles are still considered best practices in the industry. The book is still interesting and more than interesting, the principles are timely and useful for any business.
Yesterday I was in Columbia County meeting with my real estate agent. We stopped in front of a local business, Love Apple Farm which is adjacent to my property. It was also just sold so we were hoping the new owner would show up. (Maybe I would get lucky and he would want my property also.)
While looking at the farm, I noticed a Love Apple Farm truck in front of me. I’ve included the photo at the top. Notice the sign is worn and dirty; certainly not the look of an old farm with a new owner. It still looks shabby like the old owner.
One of the first things that Bethune did after taking over Continental was paint the planes. Of course the planes were shabby, Continental was as Bethune put it, “Going nowhere like we had an appointment.” Morale was low and everyone was mad, including the custmers. If you’re planning on moving forward, you had better look like it. The minute the planes were painted, morale improved. (This is the simple version but it told the employees Bethune meant business.)
What does this mean for your business? It means the way things look can make a difference. Cleaning up your building and adding a few coats of paint to the interior and your trucks will give your place a fresh, new look. It may also be enough to change some attitudes. I remember when I rehabbed my present house 15 years ago the last thing I did was paint the exterior. Painting a three story brownstown with 3 colors and lots of fancey trim is a project. I fixed the mechanicals before anything which took alot of my cash. Ten years later I finally painted the house. Painting the house made all the difference in the world! Why didn’t I do that first? At least everytime I walked up the steps I would have experienced some excitement.
This may seem simplistic but little things make a difference and sometimes you need the little things to keep everyone on track. Maybe you can’t buy 3 new trucks, or spend a ton on advertising right now and your employees have heard rumors that business is ‘soft.’ Putting a new Spring look on your building or your interior will perk everyone up.
Here’s some thoughts about the little things:
Plant some flower–what’s nicer to welcome the beautiful weather?
Patch up the parking lot, put in some new signage and pull the weeds!
Cut the bushes around your signs so they can be seen from the highway. You’ve probably been thinking about that for awhile anyway.
Do you have fencing that needs repair, parking lots that need racking or repaired?
What about your bathrooms? Could they use a makeover?
How about some new furniture for your showroom or some desks?
It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something to welcome in the Spring. You can take some photos of your Spring makeover and post them on your Facebook page. This will give your employees something to brag about.
Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through customer service training and social media managment. If you need a speaker, she can be reached at [email protected].