What is business reputation?
Merriam-Webster defines reputation as “the overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general, recognition by other people of some characteristic or ability, and a place in public esteem or regard.”
Many times in Business Reputation, the art of building and maintaining a relationship built on reputation is lost as people become comfortable in routines that bring about poor habits. The adage “it takes time to build trust and no time to lose it” resonates well when discussing the topic of reputation. Quite simply, business reputation is established in two ways: 1) through individual experts “within the” company and 2) experience and collective business quality and responsiveness “of the” company.
Leading a Business Reputation is hard work that takes continuous energy, and building a “good name” while maintaining a sound reputation must be at the forefront of a leader’s mind. Reputation is not ambiguous or lofty; it is an absolute known that—if nurtured, sustained and inculcated into the business culture—will provide never-ending advantages. But if the opposite is true, the business could be in a mode of constant damage control that takes away limited time, resources, momentum and has an impact on the bottom line. A poor reputation can kill a business quickly.
Many factors go into building and/or destroying a reputation. Lots of times, the simplest way to ensure the business reputation is healthy is to simply look at the financials and the number of repeat clients the Business Reputation maintains. These two factors are a good way to gauge a positive reputation, and they are sound indicators the business is doing something right.
Conversely, if those indicators are not positive, it might be a way for business leaders to quickly assess the heart of the issue without wasting a lot of time. Another important aspect surrounding reputation is the quality of work the company provides. In a competitive environment, our clients have many choices for service providers.
The quality of the work produced/delivered and the cultural mentality of a client-centric business model will have a lasting effect. This is something only leaders can instill inside a business and should be a key tenet of every strategic business vision. It is also clear that a Business Reputation leader who creates a company culture that places its internal team as a priority (think taking care of people) while focusing on client satisfaction can and will build a reputation positively.
Lastly, it is simply not realistic to think that mistakes won’t happen. The idea of a “zero-defect” environment is something the U.S. military struggled with during the mid-1990s and was a detriment to individual morale and, more importantly, organizational esprit de corps. Fortunately, leaders saw the issue and made quick adjustments to recognize that people make mistakes and leaders should underwrite those mistakes when it creates a situation of learning and growth.
So how does this relate to reputation? As a leader, it is important to stay in touch and remain involved in all aspects as it pertains to the details of the business. This includes project work, product deliverables and client interface. Leaders need to be the first in when services are provided that don’t meet the standard the company considers acceptable or is being disputed by a client. Personal attention that is swiftly acted upon will be seen as a positive step and will clearly indicate and represent outwardly the business culture and standards of service.
In the military, it is often said that “perception is 90% of reality.” This couldn’t be truer for private business as well. Regardless of how an issue evolves, taking it head-on and working closely to ensure it is resolved will maintain a positive relationship and sustain the company’s hard-earned reputation. Conversely, absent “leadership” can quickly turn to a negative reputation. Just keep in mind that everything up to this point starts and ends with the idea that reputation is “leader Business Reputation.”
Lastly, it is prudent in Business Reputation to have a personal level of engagement with the internal company team and outwardly to the client base. Doing the heavy work of making connections and solving issues at a personal level will surely benefit all parties and instill a reputation of standards and accountability. In the military, we call this solving the problem at the lowest level.
Now, what are some ways leaders can build, nurture and maintain reputation internally in the company and externally with the client base?
• Produce good quality work. Formalize a high-standard quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) program and ensure that standards are met.
• Emphasize the importance of relationship building. This will help to encourage a long-term business association and support your staff’s professional development.
• Make this part of your strategic leadership vision. Talk about its importance. Repetition is key.
• Clearly articulate the importance of relationships built on trust and follow-through. Embed this in the core principles of the business.
• Teach, coach and mentor company employees on how to interact with the firm’s clients and what the company position is regarding project work, deliverables and timeliness.
• Continuously express the importance of building and maintaining personal and business reputation. Be a good storyteller. Experience matters here.
• Aggressively brand and market your business. Tell potential clients who you are and what you believe in. Showcase your employees. Social media is a great way to expand exposure with very little cost.
• Stay on course.
In the end, reputations make or break a Business Reputation. All too often, reputation is not addressed internally to the company and externally to the client. Both parties should know where leadership stands and how it affects the strategic vision and company goals. Companies with strong reputations have spent time building and nurturing them. Look no further than some of the most well-known brands in the United States. It is no coincidence that those companies remain in the public mind and continue to operate as the icons of business.