“Enhance the appliance service industry through technician development”
That’s the Technical Training Associates mission statement. The article below explains why our mission statement is what it is, and how we decided what it would be.
Why You Need A Mission Statement For Your Business
By Jim Johnson
There are many things that contribute to the success of a business. When it comes to the appliance repair business, things like being dedicated to professionalism, creating a culture of customer service, leading as a service manger rather than just supervising, being a coach and mentor, implementing an in-house training program, and employing a flat rate pricing system in order to ensure a fair profit for your company are are all components of your success. And one way to not only implement all of the things, but make them part of your business philosophy, is to invest the time, money and effort into developing a mission statement, which is simply a clear, concise description of the main goal of your business.
Often, when people are asked what they think the main goal of their business is, their answer is something on the order of….”Well, that’s simple. Make money.” or, “Make a profit”, or “Charge enough money so you can stay in business.”
No, that’s not what I mean.
When you establish a mission statement for your business, the idea behind it is that the things mentioned above, all of which have to do with money, aren’t the company mission, they are a by-product of accomplishing the company mission. Certainly, paying salaries and suppliers, keeping service vehicles operating, and other money issues related to keeping your business in business are important, but they’re not the mission of the business.
Here is an example of a mission statement that can work for a service organization:
“To provide our customers with the best possible service when taking care of their repair needs.”
At first blush, you may think that a mission statement such as this one may sound too simple, too short, or even too obvious, but there is, as they say, a method to my madness here. And I’ll cover that later, but for now I want to discuss a direct approach to understanding how to develop a mission statement for your business…the MVS Method.
First, you need to decide that you want and need a mission statement and that you want to get it down on paper. And, once it’s in writing, take the necessary steps to make sure it becomes the underpinning of your business philosophy. You can post it in your business, not only so employees see it on a regular basis, but also your customers who visit your store or shop. You can also make it available to your technicians on an information sheet that is left with a customer when a service call is completed. It can be on the back of your company business cards, added to your invoices, or implemented into your on-hold telephone system.
Your mission statement helps you stay focused on your business and your customers. When dealing with an irate customer, keeping your mission statement in mind can help you stay cool, laying the groundwork for solving the situation. If anyone in your business is ever tempted to take a short cut on a repair, or rig something up in hopes that it will work so they can get on to their next call, remembering the company mission statement will determine whether or not they go ahead. If the thought they had doesn’t fit into the mission statement, then it shouldn’t be done. They’ll have to find another way, even if it means mustering an extra measure of courage and laying out all the unpleasant details for your customer.
Staying focused on your mission statement provides vision for your company or department. And, since human beings are, by nature, goal-seeking mechanisms, having a mission statement reminds everyone in the business of “What it’s all about” and lets everyone know where the organization they work for is headed on a regular basis. The end result of a mission statement is that everyone can feel more content with their employment, and be more productive in their job as a result of that feeling of belonging.
Values are what you believe in…. the right thing to do, morals, or whatever you want to call your basic principles of honesty. In any successful service organization, everyone, including the technicians and office personnel, management and supervision, custodial staff, installation crew…..everyone, should have a clear understanding of the established values of the business they work for. And when you take this approach, it not only puts things in perspective for those already working for the company, it helps in the hiring process. You and a prospective employee can decide if you are in total agreement on the company’s mission statement and values, and if the agreement isn’t there, you can avoid the headache of inappropriate hiring and all its associated problems.
There are two things to consider about strategy and your mission statement. The first is how to develop the mission statement in the first place. That’s simple: Everyone in the organization should be involved in the development of the company mission statement. It simply won’t be the same if a mission statement is decided upon by upper management, and then handed down with the direction for the staff to live by it. The intent of a mission statement is to have everyone in the company have ownership of it, not have it thrust upon them.
The simplest approach to getting this accomplished is to have an initial meeting with everyone and let them know your intent on developing a mission statement. And that’s all you’ll get accomplished at the initial meeting….letting everyone know that you want them to be involved in developing a mission statement.
At your second mission statement meeting, at which you make more progress (no, you’re not going to get it finished in this meeting either) by letting all those involved in developing the company mission statement that the best way for them to help in getting it done is to understand what their individual purpose is within the operation of the company.
Here are five questions you propose to them so they can consider what their personal purpose would be relative to the company mission statement:
1. Do you start most of your workdays with a sense of enthusiasm?
______Yes _____ Not Sure ____No
2. Do you have a firm understanding of what you are really good at, and what you enjoy doing?
______Yes ______Not Sure _____No
3. At the end of most days, do you feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment?
______Yes ______Not Sure _____No
4. Do you think that the work you do makes a difference in other people’s lives or benefits them in some way?
______Yes ______Not Sure _____No
5. Do you feel that your life has a sense of meaning and purpose?
______Yes ______Not Sure _____No
Heavy questions, no doubt. And, there’s also no doubt that when you propose these questions, most technicians will be uncomfortable answering them in a public environment. That’s OK. When you propose these questions at a meeting by either listing them on a flip chart (yes, I still use flip charts because they still work!) or handing them out in a printed form, let everybody know that you don’t expect this information to be shared unless they make the choice to do so.
The goal of this meeting and the questions you propose is to give them something to think about relative to what a mission statement means and how they would be involved, not only in the development of the mission statement, but the implementation of it and the sustaining of it in the day-to-day operation of the business.
By the way, some technicians may be beyond uncomfortable with these questions, even to the point of considering them to be “stupid” or a “waste of time”. In the event that you get that kind of feedback from a technician, consider that it could be one of two things: Either the technician is really uncomfortable about answering them, or you’ve pinpointed a negative influence that you’ll need to deal with via counseling, coaching and mentoring.
Here are some realities you can point out if confusion, concerns or discomfort (or negativity) comes up when you propose these questions:
Reality #1: Almost everybody has bills to pay.
Reality #2: In order to pay those bills, you have to show up at work and do some work in exchange for the money you need to pay those bills.
Reality #3: Every task you perform at work may not be pleasant, personally fulfilling, enlightening, and bring you joy.
Reality #4: When you are at work, some of the things you do should be pleasant, personally fulfilling, and bring you joy.
Your point in presenting these realities is that you know things aren’t always perfect, but you want your organization to be able to do the best job possible in taking care of its customers. And the way to do that is by implementing a mission statement, one that everyone in the organization contributes and has input in developing it.
The second factor to consider relative to the strategy of your mission statement is how the company is going to accomplish the mission statement in accordance with the established values. Things like open communication when somebody needs help in deciding what to do in a given situation, allowing everyone in the organization to “fail forward” without repercussions, and meeting regularly to review the mission statement and whether or not it needs revising, are key factors to accomplish the goals of the mission statement.
The final point to keep in mind about your company mission statement is that it needs to be as brief as possible so that at any given point, when somebody in the organization is asked what the company mission statement is, they’ll be able to recite it from memory…..remember the method to my madness? If a mission statement is a long, drawn-out, three-sentence (or more) statement, it will wind up where mission statements of this type always wind up: Filed away in a drawer somewhere or posted on a wall in the form of a nice-looking poster that nobody in the organization really “sees” anymore.
A mission statement could be a simple as three words…”Exceed customer’s expectations”…or it can have more detail. Generally, though, a mission statement that is more than ten words is going to be difficult to remember. So, keep it short. In as many subsequent meetings as it takes to get your mission statement developed, get a draft down on paper, then go back for revision, and repeat the process until you and everyone involved in the development of it is satisfied it’s a real fit for the organization. And, trust me on this one….when the moment comes at that final meeting when the mission statement comes to life, everyone in the room will know, feel, and understand what just happened. I’ve been involved in my share of meetings when this has occurred, and it is an amazing feeling for everybody who participated in the process. To put it simply, it’s worth every bit of the effort it takes to get to this point.
Following through with the development and implementation of a mission statement will be the foundation of achieving prosperity in your business. And when your business prospers, the people who work with you in your business will be happier and more content to be there. And one reason they’ll be happier and more content is because of focus. Everybody needs focus in order to perform as well as they can. Have you ever noticed what happens in the final two minutes of a football game when the score is close? You’ll see the team that has possession of the ball suddenly seeming to line up faster and do everything they do at a higher level of intensity.
The reason….? Focus. And that’s what deciding on and living by your company mission statement will create for you….focus. Focus for you and focus for your people. Focus on the customer. Focus on doing the best thing for yourself and the customer. Focus on achieving excellence.