Do You Deliver on Your Promise?

Just do what you say.  It seems like a simple request, but we all know in business and in life that is much easier to say than consistently do.  There’s a KC area business, Grandma’s Catering currently running a radio spot that speaks to this idea of delivery on your promise.  Their promise is “100 hot meals in 3 hours”.  The latest commercial has Grandma stating that it doesn’t matter if you’re a caterer, a plumber, in a medical field, or a politician all anyone really wants you to do is deliver on your promise.   How hard can that be?

This idea of having a promise and making your word mean something has deep roots.   There are all kinds of stories about promises in Bible and as a kid you probably made at least one pinky promise by the time you were in Kindergarten.   It’s not like the thought of stamping a promise on your goods or services is something that should come as a surprise to you.  You’ve been conditioned for it your whole life.

Why are there so many companies that struggle with a promise? 

Maybe it’s because we have also been conditioned that not all promises are kept?   Breaking promises has deep roots as well.  Every kid has some event a parent missed when they promised they were going to be there.  No one ever wants to intentionally break a promise with someone important to you, especially a spouse or trusted friend, but it happens.  Maybe that’s why election campaigns have shifted from making personal promises if elected, to mostly attacking the other candidates?   It is easier for a politician to attack someone else than make a promise and have to actually keep it.

Should we be surprised breaking promises spills over into business?

What’s a Business to do?  

The first thing you need to do is get clear on the challenges you are hoping to solve with your promise.   In his book Traction, Gino Wickman calls it “Your Guarantee”.     The more direct you can be with the message in your promise, the more likely you will attract more customers that fit your ideal customer base.   They will get the significance of the promise because it will speak to them.

A promise should drive more business.  If it doesn’t drive more business it is a waste of time.  A great source for inspiration for any promise is a key customer or company that you already work with.   Once you get a list of potential promises you want to make about your product or service, get some feedback from these trusted individuals who already are drinking your Kool-Aid.    The valuable promises will rise to the top and others will fall off the list.  Remember you can’t be all things to all people.  You want your promise(s) to speak to your ideal clientele.

Some companies will have hard time coming up with one overreaching promise.  If that is the case, you may need to make some smaller promises around specific segments of the business or divisions in the company.   But it should be the exception that a company has no opportunities for making any kind of promise that adds value to the business.

One additional aspect of and worthy promise is that it needs to have a tangible penalty when it is broken.   There is no value in having a promise, if you can break the promise and not have any level of accountability tied to it.   Although a promise is something everyone in your company should feel is realistic and attainable, there will be times that you fall short.  Having a tangible penalty lets the customer know there is integrity in your promises and when it negatively impacts your bottom line, it provides additional incentive to make the necessary changes to reduce the chances of it happening again.  The companies that really get this part right will typically over compensate on the rare occasion that they fall short.

What about you?  Does your company have a promise?  Does it add value to your business?  Do you consistently deliver on it?  When you fall short, does your compensation exceed your customer’s expectations?

As always any comments are welcome in the space below.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach

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