If someone asked you what sets your company apart from the rest of your competition, what would your answer be? What would you say it is that your company does better than everybody else?
Here’s a hint: It can’t be the product that you produce.
Everybody produces a product, and for the most part, everybody produces a good product. BMW and Mercedes both make incredible cars, and while you may prefer one to another, the fact is that a product isn’t what sets them apart.
Which brings us back to the question: What sets you apart?
Larry Griffith, CEO & Owner of Alpha Resources, joined me on the podcast recently and told his story about what led him to start his company, what service looks like for them, and what it is that sets Alpha apart from the rest of the commodity companies.
Stay Old School
It’s been said that 80% of sales is just showing up. While this may seem like a cliche, a recent study found that over 50% of leads that come from a “contact us” site or a web form are never followed up on.
So what does this mean for Larry?
It means not hiding behind technology. It means making phone calls or showing up in person instead of sending an email. In one instance, it meant driving across the state to West Palm Beach because a customer needed something and Larry knew that he could provide the answer to the question.
If you knew that showing up in person or picking up the phone could get you more customers, wouldn’t you do it? You’d be crazy not to.
Refuse to Be a Commodity
When he hired his son over ten years ago, he sat him down and told him the most important thing he could.
“I told my son...anybody can buy a product. What’s going to set our company apart from the rest is service. We’re going to show up and do what we say we’re going to do.” Larry Griffith
Like was mentioned before, anybody can buy a product. And the inverse is also true. Anybody can MAKE a product. Making a product doesn’t make you special.
What makes you special, what sets you apart from the other commodity companies is simply doing what you say you’re going to do. Shipping on time and in completion. And if you can’t ship on time, or you can't do what the customer is asking, you have to explain why in a way that they can understand.
Often times, being a commodity business can feel like a thankless profession. You make a product, someone buys it, and the cycle continues. But Larry and his team at Alpha have a different point of view.
“Understand this: Any time somebody sends you a purchase order, that’s a thank-you note.” Larry Griffith
So What Does Service Look Like?
It’s easy to say, “our service is what sets us apart.”
But when the rubber meets the road, what does that service actually look like? How do you put it into practice?
Larry told a story about a large scale project that his company just completed. The lead project manager had been in the industry for decades, and actually had a Ph.D. in project management.
He told Larry, “What I love about working with Alpha is that I know that if I call Larry, he will either pick up the phone or call me back right away. 100% of the time.”
It really is that simple. When someone needs you, you’re there. Not in an email, or a text message. You’re there for your customers.
So what’s next for Alpha? What are they scheming towards and dreaming about? Larry put it very simply:
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re going to keep showing up for our customers when they need us, where they need us, and how they need us.”
It sounds like he may be on to something.
This post is based on a podcast Larry Griffith. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Industrial Executive.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen here.