What I've Learnt: Auto Windscreens' Chris Thornton
Share your goals and dream big
To really develop a business in a meaningful way, develop a clear vision and a strategy to get there, most importantly, then go public with it. If you share your passions and what you want to achieve with your employees, this will not only motivate them, it will allow them to feel part of the project. It will also help them to see and celebrate in the successes of the smaller steps that bring you closer to your goal. Staff can’t accompany you on your journey or help you deliver it unless you tell them where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
Never stop listening
I find that customers and staff are always a great source of information and learning – and the key to continuous improvement. Taking time to listen to customers and staff is always time well spent, whether in ‘back to the floor’ sessions to gain insight into challenges experienced on the frontline or always having an ‘open door’ – you never know what you might find out from taking the time to lend an ear. It is also important to be able to solicit and take on board feedback from others, as an individual and as a senior team. No one is perfect, and I am the first to welcome opportunities for people to voice their opinions, good or bad, so I as well as the organisation can learn and become stronger.
If a problem arises, act quickly to fix it. Social media and online review sites leave no room today for error and companies delivering poor service or workmanship cannot hide from the consequences of the service they deliver – good or bad. I actually think this increased level of transparency is a very positive thing for businesses as it provides more information than ever before with which to review strengths and shortcomings. At Auto Windscreens we want to exceed expectations at every turn and put total customer satisfaction at the heart of everything we do. So we listen to all sources of feedback and constantly review our operational procedures to ensure that we provide a superb service every time.
Reach for the stars
As Michelangelo said, the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. You must take calculated risks in order to make significant change and leave some kind of legacy. Our parent company Markerstudy actually has a mantra, which is ‘Fortes Fortuna Juvat: Fortune Favours the Bold’ – that encapsulates this well. Never be afraid to be different or think outside the box. Be creative, be daring – and have some fun while you do it.
Honesty is always the best policy
Perhaps an overused cliché but in my experience the truth will always come out so it’s best to be upfront with people from the start, whether that’s customers, suppliers, staff or shareholders. Be open and give people facts; if you are truthful from the beginning, you can be absolutely certain that everyone is on the same page. I find that behaving with integrity and transparency in all dealings with stakeholders helps unite the business in its wider sense as a team.
People respond to others who are genuine so let your true personality shine through. This will cement your relationships for years to come.