Seeking Value, Giving Value

One of the core principles of my work and SYMBIOTIK as a business is based around the value that I, and my vendors, provide to my clients. The word value is thrown around a lot and is vague at best. For the purposes of this entry I will define value as the way in which a product or service provides a positive impact that is commensurate with or outweighs the cost to the purchaser.

Most people...consumers, business owners, etc. are deeply driven to seek value on a psychological level. This explains the gravitational pull of a “good deal” on a buyer. Sales, clearance items and package deals are often irresistible to the consumer. 4th of July sales….Going out of business sales….Back to school sales....Everything Must Go pitches get us running to our favorite stores to buy things at a discounted price, even when we don’t need them.

The concept of getting value, or getting the most for what our money can buy, is a powerful one that influences most buying decisions. And while it is not the primary objective of a business to give away its talents, products and resources at the lowest possible price, it is certainly incredibly important that a business deliver both psychological and tangible value to its customers and clients if it wants to thrive and last.

I am alarmed at the high percentage of businesses that are more driven by the pursuit of money or the maintaining of a status quo than they are by the quest to consistently provide the greatest value to their customers. If one is to be an entrepreneur or a business owner, that position comes with the responsibility of taking a leadership role from the perspective of maintaining high ethical and professional standards. In order to deliver value, there must be a standard starting from the top down that is driven to consistently excel, innovate and improve upon the product or service being offered.

The constant threat of new competition, the evolution of technologies and the ever changing needs of customers require that businesses create a healthy balance between stability and progress at all times. Being conscious of where your company stands relative to the competition as well as staying ahead of the curve on new developments in any industry create the foundational pillars upon which a solid and consistently successful business are supported.

Even in the most simplistic businesses there are always ways to improve. Setting and living up to improved standards of honesty, customer service, proper communication, consistency and timeliness have a huge impact on the perceived value that your business has to your customers. Making investments in new equipment, technology, great personnel and training become huge differentiators between the weaker and stronger players in any market.

Most importantly, at the end of the day, you need to be going out of your way as a business owner to be absolutely sure that your customers feel that the product or service that you are providing is worth the cost and that it is more beneficial for them to continue coming back to you than to seek out other options. This is the standard that you as a consumer certainly are looking for when you shop for yourself, your family, your home or business. Why would you not set the same standard for your own business?

Are you retaining your customers or losing them? If you are losing them, do you really know why? Are you getting positive, mixed or mostly negative feedback? Are you providing an equivalent or superior product to your competitors? Is your pricing fair and reasonable relative to the value of your product? Are you consistently accessible to your customers and is your customer service excellent? Do you get ahead of problems when you see them coming or do you hope there won’t be fallout and then find yourself reacting when customers complain?

It’s probably not necessary to spell out what the right and wrong answers to these questions are or should be, so I won’t. They do, however, provide a litmus test for any business against which to measure itself. Give your business an honest evaluation and ask yourself if you are delivering the value that you would hope to receive from your vendors and service providers. No business is perfect and there are always areas to improve. But becoming comfortable or settling for mediocrity is the kiss of death for any business and a sure recipe for eventual failure.

The Takeaway: Identify those areas that are the weakest for your business, figure out how to make measured improvements in them, and continue to work on them over time until you can move on to other aspects of your business that require change, improvement or evolution. This process will never stop, so get used to it and figure out how to embrace the challenge. Isn’t that the deal you signed up for when you got into business for yourself anyway?

If you would like assistance in evaluating and improving areas of your business today, please do not hesitate to contact SYMBIOTIK for a no cost consultation.

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