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What it takes to succeed in the service industry

Everyone loves to debate how exactly one skins a cat, but the method matters not, it is the result that professionals must focus on.



Having been raised OldSchool to the nth degree, including my business upbringing, I can testify there’s very little debate about what generates success, especially when the business in question is based largely or wholly on providing a service. As a second generation service provider, I’ve been blessed with the privilege of learning both from the dinosaurs and what I’ve come to call the SmartKids.

Getting from the starting blocks to the finish line — first — over the long haul — is about two things.

  • Getting the desired RESULT of the client/customer
  • Producing said result with INTEGRITY 
It’s so easy to say, isn’t it? But we must acknowledge the reality that we can produce results without integrity, and have integrity without the ability to produce results.
Far too many of the so-called healthy debates are currently about the techniques, skill sets, and technology businesses should be developing. Truth is, most of the participants wouldn’t know a skinned cat from an ice cream cone if they had a cheat sheet. I know, because I used to be one of those. Once we’ve assumed integrity as the foundation of our business, we then get down to the one thing that matters: Skinned Cats. 

Most of us love talking about different ways to skin the cat. Our way, their way, some other way, or simply that there are many ways to skin a cat. But the #1 question asked by any business’s ultimate consumer? Did the cat get skinned? With few exceptions, they usually don’t care how, assuming the given of integrity. They just want results. They’re not impressed with our awards or our claims of world domination.

The common denominator for any successful service business is the consistent production of superior results, delivered in a timely fashion.
Ask to see their office walls
In my industry, whether it’s traditional home sales or investment, the use of social media is and has been an ongoing topic of sometimes heated debate. Yet, when we look at the, you know, actual results generated, one truth becomes readily apparent: There are precious few cat skins on the social media wall. Don’t get me wrong, as there are millions of dollars flowing to both social media providers and those claiming expertise in social media marketing. But the result they generally produce is the transfer of cash from their customers’ Levis to their own, and not much else.
Put more succinctly, as service providers we’ve successfully skinned the cat when our clients/customers get the results for which hired us to produce.
If as a business we can’t point to those narrowly defined results, the public will go elsewhere. Those in need of our service are hungering to find a business they can trust implicitly who’ll get them what they want, and in a timely manner.
You’d think that would be too obvious to put in writing, right? Yet look around us. We all use service providers. Some we use relatively regularly, some from time to time, and some only a few occasions in a lifetime. In most cases we have a huge list of firms from which to select.

Take auto maintenance and repair. What’s your experience with that service? Yeah, me to. Furthermore, once we find one who consistently maintains/repairs our vehicles at a fair price, with integrity, we tend to stick with ’em like glue, don’t we? You bet we do.

Over the years I’ve had dozens of service business owners tell me that their best marketing is free. My experience lines up with theirs. It’s ongoing or former customers braggin’ about how the business has been skinnin’ their cats for years.

  • I needed the transmission rebuilt and it’s been runnin’ perfectly ever since.
  • She’s sold two homes for me, and sold me three, all of ’em flawlessly.
  • Yep, due to their marketing, my business doubled in five years.

Nobody cares about how results are obtained until they find out IF results were produced. The public wants results, as THEY define them, produced quickly and with integrity. With rare exceptions they generally don’t care how it’s done.

People just want results, honestly produced. All service providers need to do is skin the right cats. Why is that so hard to understand? Why are there so few in each industry who concentrate on producing real life results? The public is pretty dang smart when it comes to finding those who get the job done.

To them it’s simple as pie — it’s about skinnin’ cats.

Jeff Brown specializes in real estate investment for retirement, has practiced real estate for over 40 years and is a veteran of over 200 tax deferred exchanges, many multi-state. Brown is a second generation broker and works daily with the third generation. With CCIM training and decades of hands on experience, Brown's expertise is highly sought after, some of which he shares on his real estate investing blog.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Roland Estrada

    June 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. Particularly with this quote, “But the result they generally produce is the transfer of cash from their customers’ Levis to their own”. I’ve ranted about that more than people want to hear I’m sure.
    Providing buyers and sellers with some good old fashioned service and integrity on top of the flash and dazzle goes al long way towards a keeping your business thriving.   

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Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.



A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?



Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.



Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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