Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Friday, January 14, 2011

Your company's name and its reputation!

   I was talking with a business owner the other day that was very, very frustrated.  He was coming from his architect's office, after reviewing a set of plans for a building that he was having constructed.  His contractor, a firm that he had used for the past 35 years had changed owners 3 times in the past 35 years.
   The original owner had his name on the firm and the firm still operates with that same name.  After the firm was originally sold to the second owner, the original owner stayed and helped through the ownership transition.  After the owner retired and subsequently died, the second owner sold the business to yet a third owner who did not know the original owner.
    The challenge arose when the business owner I talked with told me he was used to asking for something and the work was completed.  He was used to having the "owner's word as his bond"-- if he said he was going to take care of it, the matter was handled in a professional and timely manner.
    Sadly, the problem today is that the third owner is not aware of the reputation of the original business and as such, has begun to alienate his many original clients.  As I listened to the business owner tell this story, I began to think about the many consequences that occur.
    If you are the owner of a business that has a long time family name associated with it, most people probably remember the ethos of the orginal owner, good or bad.  We hope good!!  If you have bought a business that has a long time family name, there is probably some goodwill associated with the name.  You paid for that goodwill when you bought the business, you sure don't want to loose it now.
    In the above mentiond case, the 3rd business owner still maintains the original family name, however, it seems that he has gone away from some of the customer care attributes that were characteristic of the original owner.
    Think about your business.  Did you buy an original family business?  If yes, I suspect that you probably bought some "blue sky", good will and reputation of the firm.  If this is the case, you certainly don't want to ruin any of that.  If you do, you are wasting money.
     If you have recently lost several orders, we suggest that you spend some time exploring how that occurred.  Price may be one factor, material selection may be one factor, however, a factor that you may not have considered is that your professional reputation has been damaged and you don't know it.  This is tricky and not surprisingly, may be more common than you might imagine.
     In the case of the business owner that I visited with, I suspect that he will not use this contractor again, once his building is complete.  I might be wrong, however, if this happens in your business, you may wish to find out why.  You will have to ask some hard questions, the answers you receive may be painful, however, if you have answers, you now know what you need to do to turn around a negative reputation.  Food for thought in today's competitive business climate!


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