Is Bigger Better?
October 1, 2002
I have often made the statement that all too often, bigger is not only not better, but more often than not, it's the end of personal relationships with those very customers who help in the growth of the company. Remember back when good old Joe and Jack started their business. It was very small, and was in a very small building. Every time a customer came in, either Joe or Jack was there to greet them. They were always ready to help solve a problem or take care of the customer's needs. They did so with honesty and integrity. When the transaction was complete, they expressed their appreciation for your business. The result was that the customer would refer new potential customers to Joe and Jack in the future. But, alas, this personalized treatment invariably causes a business to grow and prosper. This in turn results in all too many cases of good old Joe and Jack getting further and further away from the day to day customers. Eventually, they have little if any contact with the secret of their success: the customer. Recently we have seen some of the largest corporations in this country fall on difficult times. Why? As Allen Greenspan, chief of the Federal Reserve Board, said, "Greed." Being a successful, well managed and profitable company was not enough. They had to get bigger, to the point they would cheat, steal, cook the books or anything else it took. Who really loses in these instances? The employees, who are left out of a job, the shareholders that lose their investments, and the customers who lose their source. Who is to blame? The people at the top, who let greed take away their integrity, who let greed rob them of their honesty, who forgot their responsibilities to their employees, their shareholders, and their customers. Let's never forget the lesson this all should teach us. Bigger may be more glamorous, but if it's not achieved with honesty, integrity and loyalty, is it worth it? I for one would rather keep those virtues intact and run a smaller business that everyone can depend on, that's going to be around for years. In our own industry, we must be careful; the temptations are there. Everyone likes to talk about how much business they do. However, the real test of your company's success is how much return on investment is made. I have written numerous articles in recent years covering honesty, loyalty, integrity, the human factor, managing your company's growth for the future, technology, and your need to be deeply involved. All of these in my opinion are extremely important to your company's health, whether you are an independent professional floor covering installer, or part of a large contract installation firm. Both have to be properly managed to be successful. Take on all you can handle without sacrificing any of your virtues. Those that do will have a long and satisfying future. We at FIANA have built our association based on these virtues. We are working hard to keep these virtues in place in our segment of the flooring industry. At times we all slip in maintaining our character as an industry. But, let's catch ourselves quickly and get back to the strengths we all respect. In September, FIANA will hold its 8th Annual Convention & Trade Show. Your local FIANA distributor will be there, as well as the manufacturers of all the products you use for the installation of flooring. It's a time for us to reflect and correct, a time to reinforce our commitment to "Professionalism Through Education." We will be joined by Jim and Jane Walker and other members of CFI (Certified Floorcoverings Installers Association), and Chris Davis, CEO of WFCA (World Floor Covering Association).