Predictability has been in the news lately. Unpredictability may be useful to certain people, but it can be deadly for a business from many points of view.
The idea of predictability as it relates to you and your business has been around for a long time. Predictability is defined as “consistent repetition of a state, course of action, behavior, or the like, making it possible to know in advance what to expect.” In this definition, there are a couple of very important concepts: consistency and the possibility of knowing what to expect being most important.
Predictability has much to do with avoiding risk. Predictability is the grease that makes business work. Customers must know that you will predictably deliver. You must do all you can to predict the market, meaning forecasting customer needs and spending habits.
Howard H. Stevenson and Mihnea C. Moldoveanu, wrote 22 years ago for the Harvard Business Review, “What is happening to predictability in an intensely competitive, rapidly changing global economy? It is being destroyed. The practices that leaders are adopting to make their organizations more competitive are ignoring the human need for predictability.” So much for big business.
What About You as A Small Business?
Customers are fickle. Loyalty is dead. Good marketing and consistently high-quality help customers know what to expect from a company. If customers come to trust a company, they are likely to turn to it often to solve their problems and to learn about new products and services.
A similar logic applies to suppliers. Managers might be tempted to spend a lot of time searching for the cheapest supplier, but what will the company get out of such arrangements? Unpredictable service, most likely. Cultivating relationships with a stable set of suppliers helps each side know what to expect from the other. Moreover, solid relations with suppliers also make life more predictable for the company’s employees, who can then focus on delivering the best products and services to their customers. (Harvard Business Review again!)
Building a reputation for predictability can go beyond simply delivering on your promises. It can also mean a reputation for honesty. My dad, who owned a surveying firm for 50 years, once sent back a gift of a case of Chivas Regal when he was named the city engineer for a small community. His reputation for honesty could not be purchased by a box of expensive whiskey, and he made his point. Call it old school, but because I’ve made it my model, in 30 years of business, most of my deals have been sealed with a handshake.
In the small business world, there is much angst over review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google My Business. Step back and understand that what is happening there are customers attempting to lower risk and make a more predictable choice. Your job is to enhance your predictability on those sites.
A modern, well designed and intelligently written website as well as testimonials signal to prospects that you will predictably deliver on your promises. Conversely, crappy website = crappy service. Another case of “perception is reality.”
I strongly recommend you Google “Reputation Management,” once a public relations term, has now become a term of art in determining your digital status. I recently learned the meaning of “astroturfing” on Wikipedia.com. Look it up.
Vicki Garcia is the Co-Founder of Veteran Entrepreneurs Today & President of Marketing Impressions. She wants to hear from you, and can guide you through your business decisions for free! Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for trusted advisors, or apply to be a B2B vendor for veteran entrepreneurs at www.veteranentrepreneurstoday.org.