In building a new house, one has the opportunity to interact with a lot of contracting businesses. Most of these are small and locally owned. Usually, the business owner wins over the customer by being knowledgeable and friendly, and by making promises about his firm’s reliable, punctual and detail-oriented culture.
Once the project begins, however, the customer may not see the owner again. You're dealing with a project manager and a series of vendors (heating, electrical, plumbing, paint, interior design, etc.) who may not fully understand how the owner’s business is supposed to operate, or the customer’s expectations.
This is when things start to fall apart. The owner built a terrific business based on an appealing culture, but that culture isn’t translating in everyday customer interactions. The individual employees and vendors have their own ways of doing things. The right hand on the project doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Chaos and misunderstandings ensue. The customer is disappointed and does not recommend the business again.
When any small business starts to grow and additional people must be engaged, owners must be strategic about their process. Here are five tips to move in the right direction.
1. Consider cultural fit. Small-business owners tend to hire people purely based on expertise and whether they are experienced in a particular industry. But just because someone is a talented carpenter, for instance, does not mean she prides herself on solving a problem without being asked or taking that extra step to ensure the best quality. If you want your business to be perceived as doing these things, you must screen for them during the interview process.
2. Develop an onboarding program. Whether it’s personally training everyone who works on your behalf or developing standard materials for all new people to review, make sure that all new full-time and contracted hires receive the same message about your culture, philosophy and processes. If a partner refuses to comply with your values, find another who will.
For more suggestions, head over to the full article at the AMEX Open Forum.