The Importance of Setting Clear Expectations
Over the last several months I have noticed a persistent pattern of the same issue cropping up in several of the companies I work with. I have also noticed that this problem causes a lot of pain and loss of profit, so it's something worth taking a look at for the sake of helping the many franchise opportunities and business opportunities out there today. The issue I am talking about is as follows: The failure to set very clear expectations with both customers and employees.
I frequently see companies shooting themselves in the foot in a few different ways. They do not take the time to set very clear expectations with their customers about what they will deliver, the quality the customer can expect, when specifically it will be delivered and exactly what it will cost. When these expectations are not clearly stated, the customer often has unrealistic expectations, and no matter how much work the business puts in, it is not able to meet those unrealistic expectations and therefore ends up with unhappy customers. All of this could've been solved if, at the beginning of the process, a representative of the business took the time to carefully and clearly explain to the customer exactly what to expect. The truth is, the company should actually set the expectations just a little bit lower than it knows it can consistently deliver. This is because it's always a good idea to under-promise and over-deliver -- not vice versa.
The other area in which unclear expectations can cause a lot of trouble and cost a lot of money is where a business does a poor job of setting very clear and specific performance expectations for its employees. The business manager feels like (s)he has done a great job of explaining exactly what is expected; the attitude, effort, proactivity, focus, professionalism and discipline that is to be expected from employees. Yet the employees have a completely different idea about what is expected of them. When there is a disconnect like this it can lead to ill feelings, anger, frustration and unhappy employees. And as I've said many, many times before: The number one factor in creating highly satisfied, loyal and engaged customers… is highly satisfied, loyal and engaged employees. To me one of the key factors in making sure that both of those groups are very, very happy is setting very clear expectations and then exceeding those expectations regularly.
So my recommendation is as follows: As early in the relationship as possible, invest the time necessary to clearly describe the shared expectations for how you will work with your customers and, and how you will work with your employees. If you do this well, everyone will be on the same page and when you deliver something a little bit better than they expect, the will see you as someone they trust, like and want to be loyal to – a strong driver of success for any business.
John Spence is the author of “Awesomely Simple – Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas into Action.” He is an award-wining professional speaker and corporate trainer, and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Business Thought Leaders in America.
Strategic and Structural Alternatives to Franchising
These are difficult decisions. The solutions are not clear cut from a business or from a legal perspective. It is critical that a company in this position work with qualified counsel to identify an alternative that will have a reasonable basis for an exemption and still make sense from a strategic perspective. The balance of this chapter will look at the many alternatives currently being tested by many U.S. and oversees companies. As you can see, the lines of demarcation are not always clear. The differences between many of these alternatives may in fact be in name only. Some of these concepts are truly innovative and have not been truly tested by the courts or the regulators. In these borderline cases, a regulatory “no-action” letter procedure is strongly recommended. Other concepts are not very innovative at all and merely borrow from long-recognized and analogous legal relationships such as chapter affiliation agreements in the non-profit arena or network affiliation agreements in radio and television broadcasting.
What Tax Reform Should Really be Focused On
Discussions of tax reform today often include the need to reduce the deficit. However, if tax reform is focused solely on that purpose, we are unlikely to see real change. Tax reform should address structural and operational weaknesses in the tax system and ensure that the system supports rather than works against our economic and societal goals.
Why Doesn't Chipotle Franchise?
I’m a huge Chipotle fan and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I love a big fat carnitas burrito with every possible topping (is that even the right word for what you put on a burrito?) on it, especially guac. But every time I’m outside of New York I wonder why there aren’t more Chipotles out there. Sure there are a bunch (at the end of 2014 there were more than 1,700) but their numbers pale in comparison to other “fast food” giants like McDonald’s or Subway (they have more than 36,000 and 43,500 restaurants respectively). So why hasn’t Chipotle followed suit and gone the obviously successful franchising route?