Society in general has seen a trend away from ethical and honest behaviour, and modern business practices are no exception. Good work is overlooked and those who have a slicker approach are rewarded.
Remember the “good ‘ol days” when a handshake was a firmer deal closer than most modern day written contracts? When a successful business traded on reputation rather than advertising budget?
So what has caused this trend away from honest and fair business transaction to the sly and “dodgy”?
Technology is one of the biggest contributing factors. The world has shrunk with easier and more accessible forms of communication and potential consumer markets have grown exponentially. It is no longer necessary for business survival or viability to have a good reputation within their local area of operation.
In fact many successful and highly profitable businesses are well-known within their particular industry for unethical practices and yet continue to prosper. This is because the average consumer suffers blissful ignorance until they are stung.
“But I’m a good guy how I do show this to customers?”
Frank and honest communication.
If a customer is asking for something that cannot be achieved by your business or within their expected timeframe, tell them exactly that. Offer alternatives and solutions, this in itself should be your basis of quality customer service, and can do nothing but add to your reputation as a fair business to deal with.
Do not take advantage.
To err is human, and it’s easy to make a mistake. Sometimes a mistake may be to your financial advantage. Eg. An inadvertent discrepancy in a Quote. Inform your customer immediately and refund any overpayment. Or if on the other hand you inadvertently undercharge – again tell your client immediately, but simply cop it sweet. This will clearly demonstrate your honest approach to business.
Transparency in pricing policies.
How many times have you been caught getting what you thought was a great deal, only to be hit with hidden costs? Put yourself in the place of your customer, tell them what they need to know, and this means everything.
Encourage ethics in your employees/representatives.
Lead by example. Your behaviour is where employees get their cues. Be clear on your expectations, principles and standards. It matters not a jot how “good” you are, if these principles and practices are not adopted and adhered to by those who represent your business.
Treat your suppliers like clients.
Application of the above principles in all dealings with suppliers or subcontractors will again serve to demonstrate your ethics and standards.
Yes it’s a cliché but be mindful of the Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have done unto you”
The big players may be able to survive and prosper within the limitations of a bad reputation, but to a small business an exemplary reputation is everything, you will not survive without it.