There’s something wholly disconcerting about going to the mechanics to get your car fixed, and finding out that his own car is in disarray.
You arrive nice and early to get that annoying rattling noise in your car attended to before work and, when the mechanic pulls in two minutes later, you hear that same annoying rattling noise coming from his bonnet!
It’s safe to say that in this moment, all credibility is gone, and you’re looking for a way out.
There’s nothing worse than being the mechanic with the broken car (or the marketing agency that’s not marketing themselves!) – yet we’re all guilty of it from time to time. It’s easy to prioritise customers and operations above attending to aspects of our own internal business, and all of a sudden, your car has an annoying rattle for all to see (and hear!)
Here’s how you can avoid falling into this trap:
Understand the why
Firstly, it’s critical that you and your team are completely on the same page about why it’s important to focus on certain aspects of your own business. The tricky thing is, this is not always clear, or pressing. It’s obvious why it’s important to attend to the needs of customers—they pay the bills, and if we don’t provide good service, they’ll leave, to the detriment of revenue.
Things like working on your own marketing and recruitment processes aren’t quite as clear cut. Usually, they are one or two steps removed from having an impact on your businesses success and they’re generally not tied to your driving KPIs (although they should be!) making them easy to sweep under the rug and relegate to the bottom of the list for a rainy day. Clarify with your team exactly why an activity like internal marketing is important.
For the mechanic, it may not seem incredibly important to fix his rattling car, because he’s still getting to and from work fine. However, the real reason why a well-kept car is crucial, is a matter of credibility. Customers want to do business with those who walk the talk—and there’s no faster way to undermine credibility than hypocrisy.
Once you’re all on the same page about why it’s important to walk the talk, draw up a list of non-negotiables. These are the things that get done regardless of whatever else might be happening in the day—they sit right up the top of the to-do list and have visibility and accountability assigned to them.
To draw on our mechanic friend again, a non-negotiable has to be having a car that is in impeccable working condition; if there are any issues with his car, they get attended to first. Your non-negotiables need to be reframed as potentially business-damaging, not as the ‘nice to haves’ or ‘if we get time’ that they were considered previously.
Treat yourself as a customer
One way of ensuring that your non-negotiables are always executed, is to treat your own business as a customer. Charge billable hours to yourself, create the same level of service agreement and roll-out plan as you would with an important customer, and execute accordingly. Often, this is all that’s needed for your internal staff to start taking working on your own business seriously, and have the freedom to prioritise walking the talk over attending to general operations.
Regardless of your industry, don’t be the mechanic with a broken car. For me, it’s the golden rule—to succeed in business, and life in general, you must walk the talk.