How often do you hear this,
“Look, you guys are all the same, you all have the same quality and delivery, there is no difference between you and the other guy, so I’m just going on price. You’re all building the same product anyway so what does it matter?”
“I can get my boards anywhere I want; it doesn’t matter if it’s here or five thousand miles away, I’ll get them sooner or later anyway.”
You hear this more often than you would like to, right?
Okay let me ask you this, how often do you and your team sit down and figure out how to improve your product? How to make it so good that people are only going to want to buy from you?
How about this? Do you ever ask yourself, what is your product? What exactly is your product? Is it the board itself? Is it the packaging? Is it the service? Is it the way you answer the phone? Is it the way you are flexible and easy to work with? Is it the way you strive to accommodate your customers no matter what their needs are?
How often do you and your team sit around blue-skying about how you could make your product better?
From my own experience I would have to say it is next to never. Most companies are so busy just trying to meet their customers’ requirements that they seldom spend any time improving their products and services so that they will be so outstanding…so awesomely great that people are going to want to buy from them only. Customers loving them so much they will act as ambassadors, telling everyone because they feel it reflects on them that they are smart enough to work with that one special supplier? Doesn’t happen that often, does it?
In fact, in most instances, we are on pins and needles because our customer relationships are so fragile that they can be taken away in an instant with just the slash of a price from a competitor. Most of the time companies are running scared knowing that one false move, one lower price from a competitor, and they are out on their butt.
That ladies and gentlemen is the price of mediocrity. In the words of Henry Ford, “ Mediocrity is the enemy of prosperity,” Or Bishop Sheen who said, “Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.”
Are you mediocre? Do you feel that good enough is good enough? Maybe that’s the reason you are just holding on by your fingernails.
Isn’t it time you ask yourself, ‘is this all there is? Is this all that I can expect to lead this life of desperation hoping that no one comes along and steals my customers?” Isn’t it time you took a stand and stopped that insanity?
Steve Jobs and his team sat around for hours figuring out how to produce the best products the world has ever seen. He and his chief designer would spend hours on the boxes that their products came in. The boxes! They would study and experiment with the way the cover slid down onto the box, and it worked! I am surrounded by empty Apple product boxes that I cannot bear to throw away. Compare that to the feeling you get opening an HP cartridge. If you’re like me, you find that it’s aggravating as heck to have to destroy the package to get to the cartridge.
Okay that’s one small thing. But it’s the small things that make big differences. It’s’ those small things that make Apple practically a cult, with people standing in line to get their next new thing. How would you like to be like that? Wouldn’t you love to have your customers so blinded by your magnificence that they cannot even name your competitor, never mind be tempted to go to her for your products?
Okay here you go…I can hear you now whining, “But I’m a job shop, I build someone else’s products. What Apple does, does not apply to me or any of my competitors.”
Really? Are you serious? Why don’t you ask yourself this, “What would Steve Jobs do if he owned your company?” Do you think he would be happy to “thrive in mediocrity? Do you think he would be happy to live in fear because the product was so blah that anyone could step into your space and walk away with your customer base? Be honest with yourself, you know in your heart of hearts he would find a way to make your product better, so much better that customers would want to work with you, customers would stand in line to work with you.
Don’t kid yourself…you know I’m right. Next week we’ll talk about how you can think like the Steve Jobs of your industry, how you can build products that will put a dent in the world. Stay tuned. It’s only common sense.