The pillars of a successful business

By Keith Lee

Today I’m going to start a series with guest writer Keith Lee. If you don’t know, Keith is my father and co-founded 3D Mail with me in 2007.

His passion is to educate and provide strategies to small business owners about the importance of providing exceptional Customer Service to each and every client they serve, each and every time.  He does this with his one-of-kind “Make You Happy Management System.”

Why is it call the “Make You Happy” system? Because when utilized it will make YOU, the business owner, a happy and more productive business owner.

Make sure you read to the bottom of this email to see how you can get a copy of Keith’s book for just $2.97. Here’s Keith…

When we were named The Best Small Businesses to Work for in Washington State, by Washington CEO Magazine many local business newspaper interviewed me for an article.

Here are some insights from that article that lend insight into The Make-You-Happy Management System that is now available for any business owner who has employees.

Question: Tell me your thoughts on being named The Best Small Business to Work For in Washington State. Was it something that you set out to win, or create, or was it more of happenstance that your company is seen as a fun and friendly place to work by its employees?

Answer: I’m proud to be named the Best Business to Work For, but it was not anything we set out to win. Someone nominated us – I still don’t know who – and Washington CEO Magazine told us we would get the results and see how we did.

I thought it would be good to see what they thought, so I filled out the paperwork, they interviewed people on our team and, very unexpectedly, we were given the award.

With that said, being the best business to work for is anything but happenstance. It doesn’t just happen. To truly understand our business you need to go back to our Company Values which have remained constant since 1981:

  • Take Care of Team Members.
  • Take Care of Customers.
  • Be an Honorable Member of our Community.

Most company value statements start with the customer, and we certainly believe the customer is our most important asset. We simply don’t exist without the customer.  But we also believe that the best way to take care of our customers is to start by taking care of our team members.

It is very simple and as basic as, “what goes around comes around.” If we take care of our team members, our team members will take care of our customers!

I believe that providing exceptional customer service is critical to business success, and happy team members are critical to providing exceptional customer service. When your team members understand that you truly care about them, they in turn, take care of customers.

Our management system, which I developed in 1991, is called The Make-You-Happy Management System. It is designed to make clients happy, make team members happy, make business owners happy and even make suppliers and vendors happy.

At the heart of the Make-You-Happy Management System are two policies. We have lots of procedures, and ways to do things in our company, but we only have two policies:

  1. Do nothing illegal or unethical.
  2. Use your best judgment to take care of internal and external customers.

External customers are the people most businesses call customers and our first job is to make them happy so that they want to come back and tell their friends about us. But we also have internal customers. We consider all co-workers and suppliers to be internal customers.

If we don’t do our job right, our co-workers and our suppliers can’t do their job right. In the end, that negatively affects our external customers.  Three more important aspects of our Make-You-Happy Management System that lead to team members who are happy.

  1. Our commitment to Z theory management. A management system that understands that nobody comes to work saying, “How can I mess up today?” Our management system understands that the people doing the jobs are the experts. It relies on our front line people to provide ideas, tactics and strategies so that our business improves every day. This leads to team members who understand that they are critical to our success, take pride in their jobs, and are happy.
  1. Our Make-You-Happy Action Teams. These teams are at the heart of problem solving and taking advantages of opportunities at American Retail Supply. We form Make-You-Happy Action Teams, made up of representatives of the departments affected by decisions, when:

We’re working on one of those big issues that will get a better answer when we get the group of stake holders involved.  We have an issue that is causing conflict or problems in our business.   How to improve a situation or take advantage of an opportunity can better be answered by a group.  When the results will significantly affect another group.

  1. Our Make-You-Happy Job Requirements (MJRs). MJRs are the step-by-step instructions on how to do all of the jobs and tasks in our business. Everything we do has a written procedure. At first glance, this may seem very restrictive, but it is in fact the opposite of restrictive because every MJR includes this statement:

“This Make-You-Happy Job Requirement is designed to insure we meet or internal and external customer expectations. Perform exactly like the requirement unless you find it does not meet or exceed customer expectations. If you find it no longer meets or exceeds expectations, take care of the client or customer. Then, you are responsible for helping to change it to what we and our clients and customers need.”

Question: Some businesses fear “employee friendly” means a lack of standards or expectations. How does your company keep expectations high while being employee friendly — how are those two factors linked?

Answer: I don’t believe employee-friendly means a lack of standards or expectations at all. In fact, I believe the opposite. Everyone in our company understands that our standards, and expectations, are to be the company providing the absolute best customer service. Not the best in our industry. The best.

Question: What sort of discussions went into what employee friendly programs and policies to have and which ones to not?

Answer: Again, while we have team member friendly programs and policies, the respect for team members and the reliance on them to create an exceptional business is not a matter of programs and policies, it is the basis of our management system and our company vision.

It’s not a matter of a program here, or a policy there, it is the heart of the company.

A critical part of the Make-You-Happy Management System is empowering your front line. Every system (a system is simply the written way to do something) we create includes this statement:

“This Make-You-Happy Job Requirement is designed to insure we meet or internal and external customer expectations. Perform exactly like the requirement unless you find it does not meet or exceed customer expectations. If you find it no longer meets or exceeds expectations, take care of the client or customer. Then, you are responsible for helping to change it to what we and our clients and customers need.”

I’m big in to fly-fishing. In fact, I own a vacation home in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana, with some of the best fly fishing in the world. Management is a lot like fly-fishing (stay with me here) …

You try and get the best information you can, from the local fly shop, your own notes and memory, and when you get to the river use what you’ve learned – but if that doesn’t work to make the fish happy – to get them to bite your fly – do what you need to do.

In this case, you might run across another fisherman who tells you he’s been killing it with a size 14 parachute adams. Its time put aside “the rules” and switch to the adams.

Blog Readers Only Special

“Do what you do so well that people can’t help telling others about you.” That’s what Walt Disney said and that’s what The Happy Customer Handbook is about.

It’s all about making sure that you do what you do so well that your customers come back time and time again and enthusiastically tell others about you.

Get a copy of Keith’s book, The Happy Customer Handbook, delivered to your front door for just $2.97, including postage. Simply visit: www.TheHappyCustomerHandbook.com

Looking to take your Customer Service to the next level? Then you should check out Keith’s Out-Nordstrom Nordstrom Customer Service System.   Keith Lee’s Customer Service System is the road map to creating Happy Customers who come back time and time again and enthusiastically tell others about YOU!

Check it out here:

http://keithlee.com/customerservicesystem

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