by Larry Galler

The performance difference between companies (and sports teams, educational organizations, non-profits, professional firms, etc.) with high standards compared to those with lower, or no standards, is amazing. It is visible to a casual observer and very obvious to customers and prospects.

The difference is apparent when seen in person – like walking into a store, office, warehouse, even the parking lot. It’s apparent in the way the telephone is answered, by a smiling, engaged voice or with a flat, dull attitude. I could use all the space on this page to continue to list differences between high and low standard companies but you undoubtedly can list them also.

The real question is, “How do “high standards” companies get that way and how do they maintain their standards?”

High standards start at the top. The leader sets those standards and communicates expectations to the key people who then communicate them throughout the organization, whether the whole organization consists of one person or thousands. They train people on the standards, create metrics and review procedures to insure the standards are maintained and enforced.

If, or when, it is found that standards are not being maintained, remedial action is activated. I know this sounds simple, but it isn’t. It takes a constant, never-ending effort to accomplish year-in and year-out. But the benefits are enormous.

In general, businesses ( with high standards enjoy higher customer satisfaction and greater customer loyalty, lower levels of staff turnover and a happier workforce, better reputations and more referrals, and higher profit margins which allows for greater investment in growth because customers are, typically, willing to pay a little more to get the results and benefits of those higher standards. The result is a more sustainable, more profitable and more enjoyable business for all concerned.

All that said, assuming leadership is able to create and articulate those higher standards, it has to be realized this isn’t a “snap-the-fingers-and-it-happens” project. It takes patience, fortitude and gumption to get higher standards in place and achieved but when it works very good things will happen.

Larry Galler works with business owners to create management and marketing breakthroughs. Sign up to subscribe to his weekly newsletter and newspaper column at