A client of mine was buying a new business. The company they were purchasing had been successful, however as a result of the effects of the pandemic, had failed or was close to failing and the value was only in the equipment. When I asked why they thought the business had failed, they told me that they believed that the owner hadn’t been consistent through the pandemic. She had been open on some days and closed on others. Her clientele couldn’t depend on her and moved on.
There are two things that will cause a business or a career to fail faster than a nightclub startup during a pandemic lockdown. Those two things are lack of consistency and lack of congruency.
When businesses aren’t consistent, they cannot be relied on. When business owners are constantly changing the brand, the products or services, messing with opening and closing hours, have staff turnover so that customers are greeted with a new face every time they make a purchase, there is a problem. Customers want you to be consistent. They want to know that they can trust you to have the same quality of products and service every time they deal with you. In order to succeed you need to build this trust by delivering to their expectations each and every time they reach out to you. When you are unable to deliver consistency as an individual or a company, the lack of trust in you will result in your demise.
Early on in my business career I had customers coming into my store to buy products. If we didn’t have the product on the shelf, I would tell them that I would order it and ask them to come back in two weeks. Because I didn’t have a very good system in place for tracking these special orders and buying the products from my suppliers, customers would come back in two weeks and be disappointed. I was unable to satisfy their needs and as a result they weren’t sure they could believe me when I told them that I would order the product. I started to question my honesty in telling customers to come back in a couple weeks and at that point I realized that something needed to change. Congruency happens when our words and our actions have a similar outcome.
Companies need to have and build on core values as a foundation for their businesses. Our core values at Pivotleader are Honesty, Passion, Accountability, Proactivity, Visionary, and Fun. We want to espouse those values every day in our offices and in our work. We look for clients who have those values and we are building a business that will grow or flounder based on how those values resonate with our customers. We need to be congruent in the fact that if we say we want to build the business on the value of honesty we will truly be honest in our transactions, not only with our customers, but with suppliers, partners, staff and the public.
Unfortunately for many businesses they are not congruent. They say one thing and do another. They might say they are honest but try to cheat the government, or trim a little off of what they promised a customer. The problem is that when customers, employees or any stakeholder hear or see things that don’t jive with what the business or the leader has said they believe in, or promised, they begin to question whether anything that the company has said is true. When this doubt sets in, it is difficult to rectify in the minds of the doubtful. When trust has been broken it is hard to mend.
Businesses and their leaders need to keep in mind that their success in life and business is dependent on consistency and congruency. People want to depend on us and know that we keep our word. They want to know that we will be there for them when they need us. This is why it takes time for businesses to grow and flourish. It takes time to build trust, but we can burn that bridge quickly if we are not consistent and not congruent in our actions.
Dave Fuller is an Award Winning Business Coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Question for Dave? He consistently answers emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org