Employing the 'Winning Edge Theory'

Have you ever heard of the "Winning Edge Theory" and what it can do for you in your professional life? Simply stated, the difference between being really good even great at how you perform your job is very small compared to being only okay or fair. Doing a lot of "little things" just a bit better is what helps you to succeed.

Kitchen and bath dealerships are usually small businesses with less than 10 employees, and the job descriptions in these businesses are wide and varied. Employees need to be cross-trained to perform a lot of different activities everything from designing and selling to carrying out the trash and cleaning the showroom.

In my visits to showrooms around the country, I have seen very few dealers practicing the "Winning Edge Theory." They've gotten away from doing the little things to the very best of their abilities. Today, it's more important than ever that you get back to basics, to doing everything at the highest level possible.

Getting the edge

Following is a review of several very obvious, but in too many cases overlooked and forgotten, good business practices.

Timeliness: Do you get to work on time every day? Do you only take the time allotted for breaks and lunch? Do you work right up to quitting time? Do your quotes and designs get done in a timely manner, or do they take longer than they should? Being on time and completing tasks in a timely manner is part of your professional responsibility.

Dress and Appearance: Has the trend toward "casual Fridays" turned into "casual every day" for you? Remember, if you're representing higher-end products and working in a higher-end showroom, you have an obligation to dress, walk, talk and look higher-end!

A Simple Smile and Good Manners: Have you gotten so busy or unhappy with your job that you've forgotten these two "little" things? If you're turning on the smile and manners just for your clients, it isn't enough. Fellow employees, vendors and everyone you come in contact with deserve the common courtesies of a sincere smile and good manners.

Professional Talk: You need to be talking professionally at all times in the workplace. That means no cursing, as well as no "talking down" to your clients, other employees or your competition. Practice good language skills.

Clean, Neat Work Areas: If you don't maintain a clean, neat workspace, how in the world can you deliver clean, neat designs, quotes and projects?

Clean Showrooms: Do you feel a responsibility to keep your showroom neat and clean at all times or is it someone else's responsibility? If your showroom is dirty, the client will judge you, your products and servicesand it won't be a positive judgment. Don't wait for the weekly cleaning service or someone else to clean up. Make it part of your responsibility, too.

Personal Phone Calls, E-mails and Conversations: These communications interfere with your work productivity and allow costly mistakes to happen. They're not fair to other team members, and they certainly aren't fair to the business owners, who are paying you a fair wage for a full eight hours of work.

Follow Up and Follow Through: Do you respond promptly to phone messages,'

e-mails and faxes? Do you do what you say you'll do? Each follow-up item may be a little thing, but collectively they add up to a big thing in a hurry.

Organization and Time Management: These "little things" aren't really so little. In fact, they're very important. If, at the end of every day, you're further behind and your clients and boss are frustrated, it might be time to learn how to become better organized and how to manage your time better. These are learned skills. Find out what the techniques are and put them to practice for you.

Teamwork: Every business is a team a group of people working together and helping each other toward a goal of winning and succeeding. Individual members of teams can't win or succeed alone they need each other. Are you the individual doing your own thing, or an honest to goodness team member helping others while helping yourself?

Attitude: Are you a positive or negative person? Are you mostly "up" or mostly "down"? Are you able to leave personal problems at home or do they come to work with you? All of these and more make up your attitude, and only you are in charge of it. It's a state of mind. Attitudes, both good and not so good, are contagious they rub off on those you come in contact with. You have an obligation to be sure that your attitude is a good one, and to help others be the same way.

Telephone etiquette

You need to make your telephone usage customer friendly. If you have a receptionist or staff members who answers the phone, try a system I call Fast Phone Magic.

F ast 3 rings or less
A nswer with a friendly greeting "Good Morning"
S tate the name of your business
T his is _______. How may I help you?

P lease offer assistance
H andle all calls quickly and accurately
O n hold for no more than 45 seconds
N o screening of calls talk to anyone
E xcitement never sound'indifferent

M essages given out quickly and returned quickly
A nnounce your location in and out of the building
G et calls handled promptly
I dentify customers by name as often as possible
C ourtesy extend it in your voice

It is your obligation and responsibility to pay attention to all of these "little things." While these areas are very obvious, they are too often forgotten, overlooked or allowed to slip. If everyone would step back, do an honest personal evaluation of their approach to these things and make a commitment to do better, their work lives and personal lives would improve dramatically. Little things do, in fact, mean a lot a whole lot!

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