So, you want to start a company? At first it all seems so easy. Identify a need, design and manufacture a product to fill that need, sell it, and pocket the cash. What could go wrong with that? Plenty!
Often, what makes a company isn’t what it makes; instead, it’s how the company responds when the things that it makes break. Today, in our instant-notification world, news spreads in every direction at the speed of light. Somehow though, it seems that bad news spreads thousands of times faster than good news. With everyone knowing how quickly bad news spreads, it amazes me that time and time again we hear of a company getting caught trying to avoid responsibility. Weeks later, and after a huge uproar, the company ultimately gives in and does the right thing. I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it have been easier, better, and cheaper to simply have done the right thing to start with?” You’d think so, yet this pattern plays out over and over again.
My parents were not college educated. My dad worked for General Motors and my mom stayed at home with us kids. However, they had wisdom that surpassed the teachings of most every college and university. They taught me, through their words and actions, what I consider to be the fundamentals of business integrity:
- To be honest
- To treat people the way you would want to be treated
- To pay your obligations on time
- If you mess up, do not hide and hope that your mistake won’t be noticed. Instead, deal with the issue head-on, right then and there, no matter the cost or embarrassment.
Certainly, I don’t think of myself as a saint. Like any company, we have had our share of mess-ups. I have had the unpleasant experience of sitting down with a customer, looking them in the eyes, and telling them we made a mistake. Amazingly, the times I have had to do this my admission was met with thanks and praise instead of anger and threats. The point at which you try to hide your mistakes is a hidden fork in the road that defines your future with a customer.
Integrity doesn’t stop at holding yourself accountable for mistakes; it also includes setting your customers up for success before and after their purchase. I see companies charging for support and I understand it. It costs money and time to staff a support team. However, we want all of our customers to be successful with our products so we have made the investment to create the industry’s best support team and we don’t charge our general product customers a dime for this service. Our customers get free phone support, free email support, and free web support. When they purchase one of our products they demonstrate trust in our company and as a result, we feel it’s necessary to provide them with the support they need to be successful.
Some of our customers learn better on their own. For them, we have compiled numerous resources on our support site including manuals, how to videos, and diagrams. This site is free when you register any of your LEIGHTRONIX products and the resources available continue to grow as we learn more from our customers on what resources they would like to have.
I am proud of how we treat our customers. Over the 30-plus years we have been in business I never grow tired of hearing people tell me how much they appreciate our support, both before and after becoming a LEIGHTRONIX customer. Their comments serve as proof that consumers, even in our world of instant gratification, are looking for more in a company than the products they make. Of course the idea of conducting yourself with integrity wasn’t my idea; I owe that notion to my parents.