Have you noticed that some companies manage to remain viable and competitive for generations while others are more like shooting stars busting on the scene with a flash and quickly fade away?
Some studies show that 7 out of 10 businesses will likely fold within five years. How has Macy’s managed to stay around for 160 years (since 1858)? Consider; Sears since 1893 and J.C. Penny since 1902. These businesses have been serving the public for more than a century, and Macy’s before the Civil War!
“Just Say When”
I like reading about Southwest Airlines, although in its infancy compared to the three companies I mentioned, yet, Southwest demonstrates a winning formula and has done so for decades.
“Just say when” was the tagline of Southwest Airlines in 1985. When the major airlines were advertising an upscale flight experience, Southwest had the wherewithal to stand out from their very good competitors by delivering on a promise to get passengers where they needed to be “on time.”
Many business passengers prefer the luxury of flying first class. Southwest catered to the majority who just wanted to depart and arrive on time. Did Southwest’s ideas work? Yes, they did!
Southwest also utilized secondary airports when convenient for their passengers, slashed ground time between flights enhancing on time schedules, and instituted peak/off-peak pricing. All these innovations gave passengers what they wanted.
Like Macy’s, Sears, and J.C Penny, Southwest and many other companies outlasted many of their very good competitors by placing customers first.
Companies that enjoy longevity typically have:
Clear vision and strategies
Business models that reflect their values
Effective marketing strategies
Excellent Customer service
Learned where and when to change with the times
Clear Vision and Strategies You’ve got to “know” before you can “grow.” What are your expectations? Where do you want to be in five, ten, twenty-five years? Will your strategy get you there?
Business Models that Reflect Values Examine your business model, is it aligned with your purpose and values? Does it take into consideration your company’s strengths and weaknesses? Does it provide you and your customers/clients what you want? It must be a win/win over the long haul to give you a chance at longevity.
Is your model flexible? Flexibility implies more than listening to advisors and customers, it’s learning to take this information, and apply it to your current context.
Effective Marketing Strategies Stay Current! What worked last year may not work this year. Is your website up to date? Are you regularly providing new product, services, content? Who are your customers? Have their needs changed? When the market changes, do you change with it?
High-Quality Control Consistency is key here. Companies that have staying power know how important it is to provide customers/clients with high-quality service or goods. Examine what you’re regularly providing. Is the quality consistent? “If you always give your customers more than they pay for, they’ll always pay you to give them more” -JSP
Learn Where and When to Change with the Times Lifelong Learning leads to longevity. Many leadership teams have earned an impressive array of degrees from some of the top Universities; There are also many Leadership teams that have earned impressive degrees in experience.
Education is important, yet, successful leaders possessing degrees in experience provide more value than those possessing a theory. People learn more from experienced leaders because acing the tests in the boardroom is different from acing the tests in the classroom. Leadership is an acquired skill.
Longevity also provides the advantage of seeing many beginnings and endings, experienced leadership values the wisdom inherent in that type of education. Companies that stand the test of time have the experience to know where and when to change with the times.
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***