I am an entrepreneur, a long-time business owner, so I can tell you (I used to hear it a lot)…
BUSINESS OWNERS ARE BIG FAT LIARS!
…About delivery dates
…And to cover up mistakes!
Now that I’ve got the hair standing up on the back of your neck…
Let Me Tell You A Story
Many years ago, when I was a very young apprentice, I worked for a printing company in the bayou country of Louisiana. Small shop, about ten employees, and one of the last letterpress shops in our town.
The owner was basically a good man, and one of the hardest working business owners I ever met. It seemed, however, that we were always late printing and delivering orders. When jobs ran way behind schedule, customers called to find out if their job was ready. Of course, my boss would give them every excuse in the book. Everything, but the truth!
Many times he would come to me in a panic, saying, “Philip, get off that HOT job, and get onto this HOT HOT job!”
One day he called me into his office and asked me to get on the phone with an irate customer. He wanted me to stall him somehow about his job being delayed again, and I was just young and dumb enough to go along with it. So, I concocted some elaborate (actually, lame) excuse to the customer, while smiling at my boss like a Cheshire cat. After I hung up the phone, my boss was also grinning, “Philip, you’re a better liar than me!”
Business Owners and Good Business
Now, I’m not saying my boss didn’t care. In fact, I guess he tried harder than anybody to do his best for his family, his employees and his customers. He just didn’t know anything about the power of good business systems that could keep things on track in his business. Neither was he trained in anything like Total Quality Management (continual improvement in every area of a business). My boss was just a hard-working man who had worked his way up to owning his own shop, through much sacrifice. But, he was still putting in 12-hour days, six days a week and sometimes Sundays. Sound familiar?
TRUTH IS… printing is a complicated process, with an almost infinite amount of variables. One misspelled word, or one graphic out of place, and the whole job is bad. The list of what CAN go wrong is also infinite.
TRUTH IS… ALL businesses have complexities, and without good systems there WILL be chaos. Without good systems, you CANNOT promise consistent quality or service, so some owners find themselves bending the facts to calm a situation! Not saying there’s a good excuse for lying; however…
TRUTH IS… you often catch vendors and other people you do business with telling you BIG FAT LIES!
Are All Business Owners “Big Fat Liars?”
Not really! But, as an owner myself, and hearing feedback from customer/prospects over the years, it’s easy to see how some people might come to that conclusion.
By the time I opened the doors to my own company in 1988, I had acquired some pretty worthy skills. I had also learned all the “shortcuts” (bad habits) that people like my old boss had demonstrated. Like him, I didn’t know a thing about how to systemize a business, to guarantee quality and service. As a result, many times I dropped the ball. Jobs were late or printed wrong, along with other problems. And it wasn’t because I didn’t care, either!
The decision to change the way I did business came in 1993. Prompted by chaos, I began reading and studying everything I could put my hands on about Quality and Service Systems. I was determined to build a company that could actually GUARANTEE quality and service.
And I didn’t want to end up thinking of myself as a BIG FAT LIAR!
Making a Serious Commitment
I finally made a decision to TELL THE TRUTH, no matter what the cost—to myself, my employees, OR my customers. We would not only CORRECT our mistakes, but put in a system to ENSURE a mistake didn’t happen again and again.
TRUTH IS… it took ten years to systemize my printing/manufacturing company. Today we’re helping other companies of all types to do the same, and in only a matter of months. I wrote a BOOK about that!
Our own company’s waste ratio dropped from about 10% then, down to less than 1.5%, using good systems. We continue to ship 99.99% of our jobs on time, every time, and with no need to lie to anybody!
TRUTH IS, however… although I can truly say I never lied to a customer after I opened my own business, I sure said “I’m SORRY” a lot! Until I SYSTEMIZED!
Did I mention? Great Systems Work!