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Edition 256 – Take Pride

Last week, my wife and I took advantage of the Christmas/New Year break and ventured into regional New South Wales. A week of wine tasting, enjoying local produce, driving though gorgeous countryside and catching up with relatives was the perfect way to start 2021.

During our trip, we ventured to places we’d never been to before and what struck me was the vivid contrast between various towns and communities in terms of their presentation. Some towns simply blew us away with how well they were presented. Civic pride was evident everywhere – from the main streets, to community gardens, to people’s homes and to the various food, wine and retail establishments. Mudgee, in the Central Tablelands, for example, had us asking ourselves, how come we’ve never been here before?

Yet there were other towns, some of which were within half an hour of these impressive destinations, were quite the opposite. Drab, unkempt main streets; local businesses that looked unappealing; whole neighbourhoods where there was seemingly a contest for who had the untidiest home. There was no irony in the fact that the best looking places also looked the most successful – as did the businesses.

In my opinion, the same applies in family business. I’ve walked into many businesses over the past 30 plus years and there is a definite correlation between the pride taken in presentation vs. the success of the business. Here’s what I’ve seen amongst the most successful and profitable businesses that I’ve engaged with throughout my career:

  1. When you walk in the door, or drive in the driveway, it looks neat and tidy. Reception is a pleasant environment, the gardens are well kept and the facade looks appealling.
  2. When you walk into the office, there is order. There’s minimal piles on people’s desks and the hard copy files are labelled professionally.
  3. Equipment and vehicles are maintained to a very high standard. Often, it’s the first impression for your team when they venture out on site.
  4. Where corporate wardrobes are enforced, there is consistency in the dress standard amongst all employees. Where there’s no corporate wardrobe policy, it still looks professional and neat.
  5. Communication amongst individuals, both verbally and electronically, is professional and respectful.
  6. Processes are documented, simple to follow and are delivered consistently by everyone in the business.

Much like civic pride comes from our community leaders and the messages they espouse, the same applies in family business. The owners and the managers are the ones that should show the leadership to tidy up the place, both in what can be seen and in what can’t.

There’s no time like the start of a brand new year to stop and cast an eye over your business. Better still, ask someone you know and trust to walk in the door and pass judgement. Sometimes, when it’s our own, we don’t see the missing fence paling or the dents in the door of the van, for we see them everyday and they morph into the background. Except, over time, the missing paling becomes a missing fence, or the dents in the door turn into a mobile wreck.

“A place for everything…..everything in it’s place” – Maud Fry