What Comes First? Your Priorities Say A Lot!

Chris SmithsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

A Fly On The Wall

I sat in a group discussion of integrators; it was interesting to be a fly on that wall. As various owner/operators shared about their business it struck me how often the priorities that were stated were conflicting and what it said about their company culture (even if they didn’t realize it).

While it often takes a combination of factors to create success, the order of those priorities and what comes at the expense of something else is ultimately incredibly telling when it comes to clients, employees, and the future of a given company. Further, it goes well beyond the words we say or what is written on company letterhead. Simply take a look at the actions of an owner/operator, along with their management team, and you’ll know exactly where the priorities are – and where they are not.

Client First?

Imagine for a moment that a given integrator states: “We are client first!”

In this example we are likely to see some or all of the following:

  1. Employee’s personal lives after hours are not respected (in favor of client needs)

  2. Management time of employees over-written by client meetings and sales opportunities

  3. Nightmare clients (those that treat our teams poorly) stay as clients to the dismay of our people

  4. Projects are taken that shouldn’t be (causing our teams stress and frustration)

Employee First!

On the other hand, if a given integrator states “We are employee first!”

In this example we are likely to see some or all of the following:

  1. Employee’s personal lives after hours are respected. Systems and processes are created that allow for this. Expectations with clients are clearly set to follow proper channels. Employee’s personal cell phone numbers are not given to clients.

  2. Regular meetings with employees are kept by managers. That management time is truly important to the wellbeing of each employee and the company as a whole. Client meetings and sales opportunities are scheduled around existing employee commitments. The regular employee meetings are not interrupted because a cell phone rings and on the other end is a client, architect, or general contractor. You wouldn’t be in an existing client meeting and have another client or contractor call you causing you to get up and walk out, would you?

  3. Nightmare clients, those that treat our teams poorly, don’t follow our process or procedures, or are generally unreasonable, are washed out of the system at the start. Should they manage to make it into our sales pipeline or an active project they are given the opportunity to correct behavior. If that fails, we part ways with (read: “fire”) the client for the greater good of our team and company.

  4. We take projects that follow our chosen products, categories, timelines, and methods. We know what we are good at what we are not. We know that taking on scope beyond this leads to frustrated employees AND frustrated clients. We know how to say “no” nicely.

Your Business?

Take some time to observe your business practices. Ask your team if you do more of the Client First or Employee First behavior. It isn’t about what we say, it’s about what we do that will tell us our priorities.


About the Author

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is the Principal and Founder of TheCoTeam. Bringing 20 years of industry experience to the custom installation space, they Coach | Consult | Collaborate with integrators and manufacturers to solve problems and run a more efficient business.

Website:   http://thecoteam.com