By Robert Craven, MD of The Directors' Centre
The 25-person accounting firm, we’ll call it ABC, had an unremarkable track record.
Predictable. Grey. Uninspiring.
The offices were spookily quiet: no laughter, none!
One meeting lasting one hour in the boardroom changed the business forever.
It was agreed that everyone was bored and not working to the best of their potential.
The business had become a dowdy factory, knocking out the same old tired and jaded service with little excitement or challenge.
So, what did they decide to do on that fateful morning?
- Decision #1: Only do challenging, interesting work with interesting people.
- Decision #2: Put the customer experience at the forefront of the business.
- Decision #3: Become a business: create a marketing machine that focuses on customer wants and needs and responds with a compelling and exciting offer.
As soon as these three decisions were made, the wall of doubt and self-loathing came crumbling down.
It became obvious to stop charging by the hour and charge fixed price agreements, and to offer money-back guarantees.
‘Fun’ and ‘energy’ had become taboo and everyone had had enough of the dull, boring mediocrity this had created.
It was not all plain sailing. Two of the original four partners became hostile to the New World. They demanded a “financial reward” for their past service; the New World team offered to walk out and take the whole of the ‘A’ team with them.
The Old Guard left quietly to enter the dreary greyness of an accountant’s early retirement. 18 months on and ABC is in a happy place - highly profitable.
The business has sacked customers (the dull and unprofitable ones), put prices up (which means it can offer more value and return on investment to its clients), removed under-performing staff and created a positive, exciting business. It now gets an open flow of referrals from clients. Symbolically, ABC redecorated.
And all it took was one morning to make the tough decisions required to make it happen.
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