Monday, March 7, 2011

Success, Breaking Rules, and How To Behave......

"We don't need a 500 page manual on how to behave.  Just treat people the way you want to be treated." -Bill Crutchfield

I love real-life success stories and this morning I read an article about Bill Crutchfield, a man who started his own catalog ordering business.  He was a fork-lift operator, with a dream of launching a venture that would incorporate his latest hobby, restoring classic sports cars.  The dream was birthed from his own frustration of trying in vain to find a do-it-yourself stereo for an old Porsche 356 he was hoping to restore and sell for profit.  He started out as a one man operation from the basement of his mother's home, and eventually built an empire.

He created a catalog filled with photos he took himself and in faith, mailed them out.  He would leave his fork lifting job at 5:00PM, race down to the post office to pick up a few orders that were in his P.O. box, race home, pack them up, write a personal thank you letter, pack them in his car, and drive down to UPS to make sure they got out the same day.  To Crutchfield, personal, exceptional service was essential.

Despite all these personal touches, Crutchfield was $20,000 in debt within seven months.  Rather than liquidate his business and accept failure, he sent questionnaires to everyone who had ever requested a catalog from him, customers and non-customers alike. 

The feedback from that questionnaire, he believes, is what saved his company.  Customers didn't have a problem with Crutchfield's pricing.  The product selection was more than adequate.  They were simply intimidated with the prospect of installing their own car stereo systems. 

With that in mind, Crutchfield got to work on producing a more polished and user-friendly catalog that included an easy-to-follow article on car-stereo installation techniques, helpful photographs, and a few customer testimonials from the survey. The following month, sales rose to $22,000. 

That survey, Crutchfield says, taught him the importance of listening and responding to clients. It was that simple, and it worked. 

With annual sales of about $250 million and 500 employees, Crutchfield has been in business for over 37 years and has never had to lay off one employee. The company has a five-star rating from YELP and is the only online retailer to win the Circle of Excellence for 11 consecutive years from BizRate.  Not bad for a young man who started a business from his mom's basement with nothing more than a thousand dollars and a dream. Companies like Crutchfield's are folding and dying daily, but his business remains strong, profitable and completely debt free. It appears that Crutchfield is breaking all the rules....except one.

When I was a small girl my father taught me about rules.  He said there was only one rule I needed to follow in life.  He called it the Golden Rule.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". 

Obviously, Bill Crutchfield was taught the same rule and applied it to his life and his business. It is the secret of his success.

Life is full of rules. They keep us safe, secure, and from making devastating mistakes that could cost us everything.  However, we will never get anywhere if we don't ignore, disregard, or break some of those rules.  That sounds nice but which ones are supposed to be broken?

 The rules are different for each of us so I really don't know.  I do know there is one rule that should never, ever be broken.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.......
..... and  then you will know exactly which rules to break.

And this is my Daily Cyn......

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