The company that acquired my logistics company in 2000 had also completed the acquisitons of a few of our competitors in the months before and after our deal was done. They thought it would be a good idea to bring us, now former business owners, all together to talk about ways we could integrate, create synergies and a variety of other corporate buzz words. As we “geniuses” sat around the table talking about slick new ideas to link our computer systems, marketing ideas and the like, someone finally piped in and said “That all sounds great gang, but when clients call me the only thing they ever ask me is: Where’s my stuff?“
He was right and I was wrong. In the cargo/shipping business, “Where’s my stuff?” Is what clients cared the most about and probably the only thing they cared about as it related to us. Everything else did not matter if you could not answer that question at all times (Or, better yet, answer it before it was asked). And if you did the best job keeping your clients in the know about the whereabouts of their “stuff” you would be alone at the top of the industry.
It was the core of what our clients cared about.
I speak and write a lot about the need for a company to have a plain and simple purpose and to focus on their basics. And most people decide that they must go away can come up with something fancy and impossible for their competitors to duplicate. They feel that if it is too simple then their business is not sexy or unique enough. They are wrong.
Restaurants need to create food that tastes amazing – It does not matter how nice the place looks or how great the service is if the food stinks.
Airlines need to get you safely from point A to point B on time and at the lowest cost – TV’s, Wi-Fi and fancy airport terminals matter little if they faill on this basic.
And I could go on and on (and often do). Every business in every industry has their basic. The ones that dominate their industry know what it is and stay relentlessly focused on doing everything they can to prove it. It fuels their innovation, marketing and the reason their company exists. It stops them from having meetings to talk about anything that does not help them deliver that basic with perfection.
Where’s my stuff? Simple, clear and basic. And what our clients valued the most.
Why would you want the one thing that everyone in your organization needs to deliver to be anything else?