Having committed to undertaking a pricey kitchen renovation that
may cost upwards of $50,000, imagine walking into a kitchen
showroom and being greeted by a floor-to-ceiling photo of a smiling
dozen, professional-looking people with an over-sized caption that
reads: “You First. Your needs come first. We believe in being good
listeners, respecting the demands on your time, protecting your
home, and providing exceptional service. Welcome to Peterson
Kitchen & Bath.”
“Wow, this place must be special,” you might think to yourself.
“I haven’t seen a customer-friendly approach like this before. This
feels like the right kind of company to do our kitchen
In the Popcorn Report, market research guru Faith Popcorn
identifies “The Vigilante Consumer” as one of her 10 key consumer
trends. She stresses that people want to know up front what a
company stands for, how it will conduct business and what will
happen if something goes wrong with its products or services. The
marketer who does the best job in communicating this message of
value to his/her potential customers will gain significant market
Has your company ever adopted a code of values? Following
Popcorn’s logic, it would make good business sense to identify and
publish the values that consumers would find desirable in their
kitchen remodeling source. But, to be effective, you need to look
at this assignment totally from the consumer’s perspective. For
example, following are five important corporate values that embrace
such a marketing strategy:
- Research. We believe that using both yours and ours is the
foundation for receiving the greatest satisfaction from your time
and dollar investment.
- Partnership. We believe each project is a team effort. An open
exchange of information and ideas is paramount. Personalities need
to mesh for a successful project.
- Selection. There are literally thousands of products on the
market. It can be very confusing. While offering a good variety, we
represent only those products with the best quality for the dollar
within their respective quality grades. We are members in a
national buying group to assure you of the best value in kitchen
and bath products.
- Staff People. We are committed to having only the most
qualified professionals work on your project from start to finish.
We know from experience that their division of labor, and the
quality of services they furnish, will ultimately have the greatest
impact on the look and function of and satisfaction with the
- Trust. We believe in delivering what we promise no surprises
and treating your home as if it was our own.
To have substance, this code of values must be written, signed
off on by all staff members and be visible to your prospective
clients. Frame it and hang it in a prominent place in your
showroom. In addition, insert it as a sheet in your prospect
information portfolio or as a page in your dealer capability
brochure. That it bears the signatures of your entire staff will
resonate well with prospects.
After all, every one of your competitors promises “good
service.” But how many are willing and able to supply the proof? A
written code of values represents convincing evidence that your
firm does more than just vocalize “good service.” Yours has a staff
committed to shared corporate values. As a result, your firm will
be perceived as head-and-shoulders above the competition, making it
easier for prospects to want you as their kitchen remodeler.
The next step is to synthesize the code of values into practical
operating business standards to be published as part of your
operations manual and followed on a daily basis. The purpose is to
present a consistent, common professional identity to prospects and
clients from one staff person to another or one store to the
The following represent seven key areas of operation where the
code of values needs to be converted into everyday business
standards that your staff will follow:
1. Office Procedures business hours, showroom duty assignments,
2. Business Meetings frequency and content of staff meetings,
training programs, etc.
3. Salutations on the telephone and in the showroom.
4. Appearance what’s expected with personal dress, vehicles,
showroom, work stations, etc.
5. Business Conduct with respect to general decorum, disparaging
remarks, referrals, etc.
6. Business Presentation as reflected with consistency in logo,
corporate identification program, business cards, signage,
advertising, slogan, stationery, etc.
7. Business Performance with respect to lead follow-up, designs,
contracts, deposit/orders, client communications during job,
complaints, market research, quality control, etc.
As an example, what might your business standards say about
proper decorum? How about: “Since proper decorum can enhance the
impression of professionalism and responsibility in the minds of
our clients, staff personnel should not make disparaging remarks
about company personnel and subcontractors, or as to the competency
of other firms engaged in similar kitchen remodeling activities,
whether they are immediate competitors or not.”
It is critically important to establish written business
standards for your staff. How else are they going to know what you
expect of them? How else are you going to be able to effectively
manage and develop them? How else are you going to be assured that
they are treating your customers properly?
The combination of a written code of values and set of business
standards becomes the foundation of a strong corporate culture with
a positive work environment. It has been my experience that firms
that achieve this level of development retain highly skilled,
productive employees for many years, rarely suffer slumps in
business, and enjoy gross profit margins much higher than the
industry norm. Simply put, setting business standards is good