Frank Meeks, one of the more successful Domino's Pizza franchisees, spoke at one of our sales conferences. I was struck by the simplicity and effectiveness of his philosophy.
Here are six major points that apply to any retail business, including banking:
Never say "no" to the customer.
This is not about always giving the benefit of the doubt and waiving insufficient-funds fees, or transferring wealth from shareholders to customers.
Rather, it means empowering employees to say "yes" to customers. At Mr. Meeks' stores, employees must consult a manager only when they want to say "no" to a customer.
The calculation is that a good customer visits Domino's twice a week and spends $10 each time. That adds up to about $1,000 a year. If that customer were dissatisfied and told two other people about it, that could cost the franchise another $2,000.
With customer loyalty averaging 10 years, you are talking about a $30,000 opportunity.
That means marketing to one customer at a time, treating them as you would want to be treated. Mr. Meeks' employees can do anything that is fair, ethical, and legal without having to ask anyone. And he rewards them for it.
Treat your team the way you want to be treated.
Employers have to exceed their employees' expectations. Mr. Meeks is very picky about whom he hires.
"Be choosy and get great people," he says-which seems to contrast with branch bankers' desperation to find and hire tellers.
The people with customer contact are those who work closest to the ultimate source of business success. Treat them special and they will treat you and each other, accordingly.
Watch sales, profitability, and customer-service rankings.
These are the three most important indicators. Spend marketing dollars on people and recognize achievement immediately.
Mr. Meeks told a story about how he challenged an immigrant worker to sell a huge number of pizzas, and in return get the owner's personal car. "Guess who is driving that car now?" Mr. Meeks asked.
Notepads in his stores proclaim, "I like this store because ...." He finishes the sentence when he visits. Recognition is a major ingredient for success and a huge motivator for the salespeople.
Lead with enthusiasm.
The team needs a head cheerleader. Managers should not forget this - even when passing on bad news.
Share your confidence with them, as well as pride and commitment.
This will pay off in the end, even if it is a case where things will get worse before they get better.
Have clear goals and communicate them. People can't realize their potential unless it is unleashed; they often put more limits on themselves than they truly have.
By expecting more, leaders can help team members realize their potential, achieve personal gratification and pride, and contribute to the success of the business.
Do at least one thing better than anyone else in the market.
Being great at something is easier when you expect to be great at one major thing. This is especially important advice in full-service financial institutions, where it is easy to lack focus and not identify clearly where it is we have a true competitive advantage.
Selling financial services is not quite the same as selling pizza. But there are parallels, fundamental truths that apply to leadership in any and every line of business.
Select one that applies best and act on it. Ms. Bird, an executive vice president at Wells Fargo Bank, is based in Sacramento, Calif.