“Fluff the pillows.” 

During my last two years of college, I worked for Estee Lauder Companies. In the afternoons, I worked “in-house” in the showroom as a roving admin for all of the properties. (At the time Clinique, Prescriptives, and Aramis were part of Estee Lauder.) On the weekends, I worked behind the Clinique counter at Bloomingdale’s.  

“Fluff the pillows” is what we were told anytime Mrs. Lauder was visiting the showroom. Back then, I thought this was a ridiculous task.

Before working for Estee Lauder Companies, I worked in Salvatore Ferragamo’s showroom in the afternoons when I didn’t have classes. The administrative tasks I initially found “cool and exciting” became tedious after about nine months.  

As a teenager, I really didn’t appreciate the importance of these seemingly tedious tasks I was asked to perform – especially, “fluffing the pillows.” 

Yet, as a business owner, I now get the value of a variety of tasks. And as a consumer, I really understand the importance of the details and end-results these tasks represent. Because they play a key role in creating an experience where my clients say, “This is the best damn money I’ve spent!”

Operations: The Heartbeat?

You don’t need to be Six Sigma certified to appreciate just how much operations are the foundation of your business

To me, operations are akin to the manufacturing widget that brings everything together and keeps it running smoothly. 

Like the widget, the operations side of your business often isn’t sexy. But it is essential to your success.  

It’s why I’ve come to view operations as the heartbeat of every business. It is what harmonizes all the moving parts – especially since it touches every aspect of a business. For example, your operations should:

  • Support your goals;
  • Organize how the different aspects of your business “touch” each other;
  • Drive how you produce what you offer (services, products, or both), and influence how the same are experienced by your prospects, clients, and customers;
  • Align your internal and external team and technology with your goals.

Attributes Anyone?

So, my friend, what is YOUR answer to the title of this piece? 

What do you remember about the experience or the product behind your answer? 

I ask because, while you want to be careful to not project your buying behavior onto others, understanding the attributes you found attractive can help you… 

pay attention to the attributes that make your prospects, clients, and customers choose you and your offers.

For my coaching clients, the attributes I know they find attractive is that my coaching is 1:1 and integrates business & personal financial coaching.

For my speaking clients, they find my approach appealing because I don’t just deliver talks. I deliver a multi-touch point and interactive experience that is designed to enhance both the “in the room” learning and “outside the room” application. 

What are the attributes of your offers that make your folks choose you?

These attributes reflect the needs and desires of your folks through the design of your offers. This is one thing, though. 

The strategy behind it is another. 

Typically, we define strategy through the lens of the plan to reach a particular goal or outcome. 

However, I am loving the perspective that shifts the focus from what to do to what not to do! The latter is hard as heck!!

Because it requires being intentional about what you will not do or choose not to be good at. 

Here’s an example from a Harvard Business Review article about Walmart’s strategy: It points out that the attributes Walmart’s customers value are “low prices and wide selection.” According to this same article, “ambiance and sales help” are not a priority. Therefore, Walmart’s strategy is designed around what their customers value most – not what their competitors offer.

Are you making decisions about your strategy – or what not to do or be good at – based on the attributes your prospects, clients, and customers value most?

Now, what about your team

Whether it is a team of consultants and contractors, employees, or a hybrid, your team plays a critical role in how you align your offers to what your folks need and desire. Your team includes the technology you use. 

What’s your approach to recruiting, selecting, and training? What does your feedback loop look like – for assessing people and your technology? And how do the various elements of your team align with the attributes your folks need and desire?

Yet, Again… 

Back to the title of this piece, isn’t it pretty awesome when you feel this way? 

Isn’t this how you want the people* who buy from you to feel when they spend their money with you? I mean, not only is it a reflection of their satisfaction, it can also lead to repeat business and referrals. #winwin (*By the way, even if, like me, you also sell to institutions, you’re still selling to a person.)

Sometimes, creating an experiential outcome that leads to a deeply emotional reaction in the form of, “Damn, that’s the best money I’ve spent!” is accidental. 

But, it can be intentional. 

For that, though, you must pay attention to the seemingly small details (like fluffing the pillows). As a teenager, I thought this was a ridiculous act of kowtowing to a wealthy person. As an adult and entrepreneur, I realize this was more about creating an environment of excellence and a feeling of prestige for the visitors to the showroom. Even its namesake.

While it is true the operations side of your business is essential to your success, it can sometimes be hard to zoom out beyond the day-to-day tasks that keep your business running smoothly and earning money. 

However, by keeping the sentiment expressed in the title of this piece top of mind, it can help you create and deliver exceptional experiences…based on what your folks value most.

And by the way this is possible whether the money spent is $1, $1000, $10,000, $100,000, or more.   

p.s. ICYMI:  This summer I am offering Half-Day VIP Business & Financial Coaching Sessions. Doing an investing analysis (aka: assessing your operations) is part of how we will spend our half-day together. Looking particularly at your offers, strategy, team and technology to ensure they are delivering the attributes your clients & customers value. Click here to book your session.  

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