RH Rosen Insights

You need systems, not smiles.

To make your company truly easy to do business with, you can’t rely on good intentions. You’ve got to develop systems that work.

Smiles aren’t enough

Carl Sewell is a legendary car dealer and an insightful management observer. In his extraordinary book “Customers for Life,” he points out that good intentions and friendly attitudes are very welcome, but they’re only the icing on the cake, not the cake.

Sewell coined the phrase “systems, not smiles,” pointing out that smiles are welcome, but they’re not enough by themselves.

You need to find fast and easy ways to do normal things — systems that allow you to do the job quickly and well. You need to make it easy for customers to do business with you. That’s the cake.

Sewell points out that being nice is only a small part of making customers happy. Hard work and friendly attitudes only go so far. You’ve got to create systems that work well for your customers — and for your company as well.


Friendly attitudes only go so far

Being nice is a small part of making customers happy.

You need systems that allow you to do the job quickly and well.


Making your company easy to do business with feels good, and customers really like it. Getting things right is also faster, cheaper and easier. Costs go down because things are going right, and you’ll be making your customers happier at the same time.

No surprises, no drama

As the CEO, avoiding surprises is an important part of your job, because customers want suppliers who do what they say they’re going to do. They want responsiveness, they want good quality and they want competitive pricing. But above all they want reliability. No drama, no surprises and no apologies.

Drama can be exciting, but it’s a very expensive habit. Does your company suffer from too much everyday drama in doing your normal work?

In many cases, the drama will arise because you don’t have routine ways of handling routine things — the things your people are facing every day. The chances are that too many people are coping by making things up as they go along. It’s exciting, but not very efficient.

One of your key objectives should be to minimize the unnecessary drama. It’s exhausting and wasteful.

Normal systems for normal things

If you’re aiming to improve your clients’ experiences in dealing with you, you’re going to need better organization and more efficient use of resources —especially people’s time, energy and creativity. So you’ll have to organize your company’s activities to make it easy to do normal things.


Trying harder isn’t the answer

Trying harder won’t make you easy to do business with by.

The secret lies in organizing your company to do things more easily.


Improvisation is expensive

Improvisation always looks helpful, but it’s actually a tremendous diversion of energy. Think of it this way: if you’re going to do a good job of handling special things specially, then you have to do an even better job of handling normal things normally.

As you look more closely at making your company’s processes work better, you’ll come to see that success starts with talented people who have the right way of thinking, backed up with good systems and support.

Invoking Carl Sewell’s advice once more: “You need systems, not smiles.

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