Sunday, September 25, 2011

Special Forces Biz Secrets

We've all heard about the Special Forces teams that confront the most important missions our country faces for the ultimate safety and security of our citizens. General William H. McRaven recently outlined the six keys to success of those critical teams when the highest stakes are on the line. They are just as relevant for YOUR business operation.

Simplicity - Complicated rules and regulations only create confusion. Complicated doesn't get implemented consistently and isn't sustainable. Do the difficult work up front to distill your goals, roles, and responsibilities down to their essence.

Security - Teams that are insecure focus on "not losing". They become risk averse. When employees feel safe and secure they open up and begin to develop and grow - becoming more cohesive and stretching their innovation efforts.

Repetition - There's a common saying "practice makes perfect" - this is a lie. The truth is that "practice makes permanent". Not only must you make time to practice (so your efforts become automatic) but you should practice in as realistic a way as possible. Sloppy practice creates sloppy habits - and ultimately, sloppy results.

Surprise - Telegraphing your intent to the competition only allows them to prepare for you - making your efforts more difficult and your results less effective. Consistently aim to change the game. Break new ground and amaze your industry (and your customers) in the process.

Speed - Being first to market is a huge competitive edge. Making the first (well-timed) move allows you to set the terms for engagement. You're then competing on your terms.

Purpose - Having a reason why creates a reason to try (harder, smarter, etc.) A compelling Vision based on worthwhile Values makes the difference between a team going through the motions or passionately driving for world-class excellence. Everyone wants to dedicate their lives for a purpose.

Discuss how your team measures up regarding these issues and consider how you can improve for better results. Create your own elite "Special Forces" team and make a real difference!

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Harley-Davidson Service Standards

Their brand is as distinctive as the rumbling sound from their mufflers. Harley-Davidson has successfully generated a brand that is so strong that even non-motorcycle riding people want their merchandise. And loyalty? Their fans are among the most fanatic of any brand out there. You know you've arrived when customers start tattooing your logo on their bodies.

What kind of tools do they provide their employees to deliver a Harley-Davidson experience that matches their brand? Well, I recently worked with them and among their many tools, I have the 6 simple (though not always easy) service standards from their orientation:

Hello - Greet everyone with a warm welcome - like a valued member of your club.
Approach - Initiate contact to help break the ice.
Recognize - Engage them in a personalized way that treats them as a valued individual.
Look it up - Go the extra mile when helping the customer. Get the answers they need.
Enthusiasm - will spark that of your customers. Share the Harley passion.
You - are the one that brings Harley-Davidson to life for the customer.

(Yes, it spells "Harley"), but more importantly, it guides each person to focus on the things that matter most when earning loyalty. Even a "rough and tumble" brand like Harley-Davidson understands that genuinely connecting with their customers (and their shared passions) is what sets their brand apart from others.

What kind of experiences can your team create that inspires customers to tattoo YOUR logo on their bodies?

Think about it. But more importantly, do something about!