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09.23.2014 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Why Details Matter in Business

Details matter in business. They matter because they are important to how your brand is perceived and experienced.  The details surrounding your type of business should be consistent with the message you’re trying to send to your customers because in the mind of your customer, details are the difference between excellence and mediocrity.

Obviously, the details of your business depend on the business you’re in.  If you’re a plumber, it would be foolish to show up at a customer’s home in a tuxedo.  However, it would be equally unwise to come unprepared without the proper diagnostic or necessary tools for repair.

While all of this might seem obvious to most business owners, I’m surprised at how often even the largest organizations miss the opportunity to offer up details of excellence.  This is particularly true when a company is in transition and shifting to new ownership or leadership.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

I’m staying at a resort this weekend on the Gulf of Mexico.  My husband and I have been coming to this resort for a great many years and through those years we have witnessed many changes in ownership and management. 

One thing that has always been consistent is that the brand has remained the same. It’s a Five Star resort with all the amenities one would expect:  beautiful beaches, great service, spa amenities, golf, tennis, and amazing food.   

But, the resort, as of last summer, is now under new ownership, and things are beginning to change.  Oh, the amenities are still in place, but the Wow Factor is slowly disappearing.  Changes are showing up in details that matter to us as a guest, and, frankly, it’s disappointing. 

I suspect the new owners don’t think that guests will notice, but, unfortunately, people always notice when things shift from excellence to mediocrity.  In our opinion, the changes being made deviate from Five Star quality.  The resort seems to be on its way to being just another hotel. 

Here are just a few examples of how these smaller changes reflect what feels like an owner’s plan to reduce costs at the expense of the customer’s experience.  Yes, I’m nick picking here because, again, the Wow Factor your customer experiences is often in just these types of details.

Large plush bath towels replaced by small, rough ones.

Consistent staff replaced by lesser trained staff for lower wages resulting in fragmented and slower service.

Beautiful beach umbrellas and lounge chairs pool and beachside now replaced by tacky, cheap chairs and lounges that look like they were bought at a bulk warehouse sale. 

Carefully manicured and pristine beach now cluttered with old and new beach chairs and lounges presumably because there is no longer the staff to clear and declutter each evening. 

Sophisticated resort entrance that is now housing a low end “snack” bar. 

Smaller golf pro shop moved to an inconvenient location with lesser stock. 

I could go on. 

Call me crazy, but if I’m the new owner of a world renowned property such as this, I think I’d want to come in and make changes that indicate an intention to add value to the property and the experience—not diminish it. 

Fact or rumor, one never knows. The book on the new owners, dare I say, their personal brand, is that this is how they do business.  Obviously, it works for their bottom-line, and that’s what business is all about, right? 

Dare I suggest, however, that for you and I, as independent entrepreneurs, it pays to go the extra mile, no matter what the nature of your business, to determine how to differentiate yourself from everyone else—in a positive way. 

Yesterday, as we were lounging on one of the tacky burgundy chairs from China, we met a guy who was visiting from the Ocala area.  A painter by trade.  Most of his work is in a large community area known as the Villages.  He reminded me of what we all know to be true when he shared that he can’t keep up with the amount of business he has. 

“You know how it goes,” he said.  “When they like you’re work, they tell two people.  When they don’t like you’re work, they tell a hundred.  Guess I’ve just been lucky.” 

I’d like to add that it’s doubtful that luck has anything to do with it.  My guess is that this young painter has branded himself as a man of excellence who tends to the details of his business.

In the end, that’s what increases your future opportunities and your bottom-line.  Whenever we cut costs at the expense of the customer experience, we risk losing raving fans; we risk losing business. 

Here’s my challenge to you as a business owner:

Examine the details of your business and ask yourself how they reflect the message you want to send to your customer?  What changes can you make such that you create a Wow Factor?  What do you want your customers to experience?  If your customers are writing or talking about you, what do you want them to say? 

I’d highly recommend, then, that you attend to those details immediately and see how your business begins to change. 

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. September 23, 2014