Institutional Sludge

As most of you know, we travel a great deal for our business endeavors with StartupNation. There’s no denying it, air travel is just undeniably stressful at times.

However, we recently traveled on one of those “no frills” airlines and found to our surprise that the experience was less stressful than it tends to be with the “frills included” airline that is our regular carrier.

During our recent trip on the “no frills” carrier, we departed on time arrived at our destination on time, sat in comfortable seats with more leg room than we’re used to, were attended to by people with a true sense of congeniality and concern for the customer, our bags arrived on time, and we headed off to our meeting at our destination feeling much “lighter” than we’re used to feeling.

But wait….how can that be?? The “frills included” airline’s ticket price was almost double that of the “no frills” carrier”. Shouldn’t the classic “you get more when you pay more” be in play here? Now to be fair…we did get a sandwich served to us on the “frills included” airline that we would rate as fair to good in quality, although it did have a fancy pesto sauce on it…(cost for sandwich = $240.00).

What’s going on? Well what’s going on is that big companies tend to lose contact with their customer base, tend to get stuck in routines and paradigms, tend to be too big and bureaucratic to have the company values permeate through the ranks of the employees and make it their way to the frontlines where the employees and customers come together.Even worse, when an employee feels like he/she maintains a "job", pride in the company is lost, and there goes the little extras that make for a great customer experience.

And so the big institutional companies, heavy with bureacracy plod along, while the young upstart “no frills” airlines are able to be more nimble and responsive to market conditions and competitive threats, are more in tune with what customers really want….and don’t want, are more efficient as an organization and therefore able to charge less for their service and yet still be more profitable than their big corporate brethren.

The lesson? Small businesses have the opportunity to take fresh approaches to business; to attend to the customer’s true wants and desires, and to create an employee base that takes pride in their positions and in the company itself. In today’s competitive world, yesterday’s routine does not equal success any longer. To succeed in business, one must do better than that. So if you operate a small business, stay lean and mean. Otherwise, your dream company, and your dream of receiving profits from it must just end up as being nothing more than institutional sludge.

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