Yesterday morning I met with the president of a wholesale plumbing distribution company. The firm was established in 1928. They have 16 branches in the northwestern United States, including Hawaii. She is the granddaughter of the founder. Her father died suddenly at 56 just a few of years ago. As the fourth generation president, her firm has achieved the status of being among 4% of the company who survive to the fourth generation.
I was so impressed with her understanding that the only path to sustained competitive advantage is the creation of a learning organization that consistently delivers superior customer service. Their business has been growing over the past few years at 12, 13, 14, 15% annually. When you grow at 15%, compounded annually, you are doubling every 4.8 years. Doubling! Can you imagine doubling the size of your business every five years?
It would be very easy with this kind of growth to get puffed up and rest on your laurels. My experience with some executives is that they want to take all the credit for this kind of success. A firm is often making more money under these circumstances and they want to take credit for the success, failing to recognize the market conditions that are driving their growth. I appreciated her honest insight. She said, "We're not growing people at nearly the rate our business is growing. I'm afraid our business is outgrowing our people. We need to grow our people. In response to the need for training, we've made a commitment to provide every single associate with 62 hours of training this coming year." Sixty two hours per employee – WOW!
For many years Turbo has said to our clients, "You need to be providing a minimum of 40 hours of
training annually to upper and middle management." Very few companies are doing this. This client is serious, so serious in fact, that they recognize the reality that this training is never going to happen unless they add staff. They have added one extra person per branch just to cover so other people can be made available for training in the year ahead. This is the commitment that is required if you are going to grow people and take care of your customers.
The company has also developed a 5 point program to guarantee satisfaction to their builder and plumber contractor customers. If they don't meet all of their customer service "guarantees", they give their customer a $25 check for each promise missed. What a commitment! Talk about putting your money where your mouth is!
1. Never Out of Stock Products
We will never be out of stock on our published Service Guarantee Products.
2. Will Call Orders
Will call orders are ready for pickup at the mutually agreed upon time.
3. Return Goods Instant Credit
When you return normal quantities of stock goods purchased from us and in sellable condition, your account is credited by the close of the next business day.
4. Order Accuracy
You get exactly what you order.
5. Timeliness of Delivery
We will deliver your order to you at the mutually agreed upon time.
Where could you increase your commitment to customer service? Where could you up your commitment to associate training? Your future depends on what you do today to develop team members and build client loyalty.