One of the things I love about working at HindSite is that, though we’re a laid-back company for the most part, we do occasionally get after it in our management meetings.
This recently happened in a meeting where we discussed the roll-out and support process for our upcoming service business marketing solution, HindSite Connect. We had differing opinions on what we should do. And we were all passionate about our position.
And that’s why it was so important that we had a series of value statements that defined who we were as a field service software business. We weighed each position against our values. One of our values is to treat our customers the way we want to be treated. Another is to be a member of a team – both ours and our customers. When weighed against those two values, we found our answer.
And that’s why creating value statements for your snow removal business are so, well, valuable. If you’ve written your value statements correctly, they should help you analyze various positions when making tough decisions.
Say, for example, that you had a two inch trigger for a customer. You aren’t supposed to plow their property unless there is at least two inches of snow. The day of the snow event, you plowed their property. A day later, the customer calls you up and complains because there wasn’t two inches, and they refuse to pay for your “mistake.” Yet, your measurement shows there were 1.95 inches of snow. It’s close enough, right?
What do you do?
If you had a value statement like ours – to treat the customer the way you’d want to be treated – you may decide to apologize and give them a freebie. Sure, there was about as close to two inches of snow as you can get, but by the letter of your contract, it didn’t technically meet the requirements. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If there had been a little more snow, you would have been justified in plowing. Sure, it was negligibly close, but if you were in the customer’s shoes, would you want to pay for a service that technically shouldn’t have been performed? The answer is that you owe it to the customer to treat them the way you’d want to be treated.
Need some helping crafting value statements of your own? Here are three tips:
- Make it simple and concise – At HindSite, we have five value statements. None of them are more than a sentence. If you have a long, wordy paragraph as a value statement, no one is going to remember it, which makes it harder to put into practice.
One of my favorite value statements is Google’s simple “Don’t be evil.” It’s short, concise, and memorable. As is Zappos’ “deliver happiness.” They help define who those businesses are and shape a lot of the decisions they make.
- Be realistic – Let’s face it, your snow removal business isn’t going to change the world. What you are going to do is make sure that inclement weather doesn’t stop your customers from opening their business or going to work. You’re going to be prompt. You’re going to be efficient. You’re going to be proactive. So make sure your value statements don’t get too pie in the sky. Keep them grounded in what you do and how you want to be perceived.
- Revisit them often – Your values don’t have to be set in stone. Your business is going to evolve over time. We have quarterly and annual goal setting meetings where we set goals for the following year and review our value statements. Do they still make sense given our goals? Are there any examples where we didn’t live up to our values? Can we wordsmith them and make them better?
Running a business is full of tough decisions. By having a clear set of value statements, you can help make those decisions a little easier. And settle arguments that may arise in heated management meetings.