Little Things that Cost a Business, Big Time

I love football. I’ve been an avid fan since I was young, mostly of college ball, but now that I’m married to a bona fide ‘cheese head’ – a native of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin – I’m watching a lot of pro ball too. And as a resident of the Seattle area, the only team I like even more are the Seattle Seahawks. (Don’t judge me!)

During one of the games I watched today, a team (thankfully neither of my teams) made several very fundamental mistakes which resulted in yards and yards of lost ground for their team, on offense and defense. I told my husband that if I were their coach, those guys would be running basic drills and running lines all next week. They’d be going through the basics until they had them down to the point that they occurred automatically, without mistakes, each and every time.

Football is hard enough—what with 300 pound linemen trying to kill you, wily, veteran linebackers looking to pick one off, tacklers coming in trying to strip the ball and the like. With so many “big” things to worry about (like those linemen) it’s critical that your team doesn’t make things that much harder for themselves by missing small details or making little mistakes like jumping ahead of the snap count, lining up wrong or failing to get extra people off the field before the next play starts.

It’s the same when it comes to your business: The competition wants to crush you; in this sluggish economy, you have to make every ‘play’ count. 

You can’t afford to screw up on the basics—things that should be pretty much automatic because they’ve already been drilled in to your employee culture to the point that individual team members don’t have to think about them to get them right.

These are exactly the kind of little things that cost a business, big time.

Things like friendly greetings and good attitudes. Things like a culture where employees are encouraged and empowered to go out of their way to accommodate customers, to solve problems and make sure people get connected with exactly what they need and want.

Things like making sure that your building’s exterior and signage, entry, waiting area, lobby and rest rooms make people feel welcome, comfortable and clean.  Things like arriving on time, opening on time, keeping appointments running on time and being convenient for your customers.

Things like scripts for prescriptive products clients should be using at home and add-on products and services.  Things like preventing traffic jams or long waits during the appointment-making, check in or check out processes, or on the phones.

The last thing you want to do is beat yourself.

Take some time to think about things that you take for granted will be part of your customer’s experience, each and every time they do business with you or interact with your business. Do all your team members agree, and do they fully understand and know what these are? Double check to be sure that your team members don’t need a refresher on the basics and to determine whether it’s time to craft some new basic ‘plays’ to add to your business’s playbook.


Elizabeth Kraus, author of 365 Days of Marketing and the 2012 Small Business Marketing Calendar: Little White Marketing Lies.

Dispel all the little white marketing lies that might be holding your business back – check out the 2012 Small Business Marketing Calendar: Little White Marketing Lies on  With hundreds of marketing ideas, you’ll get into a marketing groove and build a bigger role for your business in the lives of your clients!

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