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David FullerA client of mine was buying a new business. The company they were purchasing had been successful, but the pandemic had caused it to fail and the value was only in the equipment.

When I asked why they thought the business failed, they told me they believed the owner hadn’t been consistent through the pandemic. She had been open on some days and closed on others. Her clientele couldn’t depend on her and moved on.

Two things will cause a business or a career to fail faster than a nightclub startup during a pandemic lockdown: lack of consistency and lack of congruency.

When businesses aren’t consistent, they can’t be relied on. When business owners are constantly changing the brand, products or services, messing with opening and closing hours, have staff turnover so customers are greeted with a new face every time they make a purchase, there are problems.

Customers want you to be consistent. They want to know they can trust you to have the same quality of products and service every time they deal with you.

You need to build this trust by delivering to their expectations every time they reach out to you. When you’re unable to deliver consistency as an individual or company, lack of trust will result in your failure.

Early in my career, if we didn’t have a product on our store shelf, I would tell customers I would order it and ask them to come back in two weeks. Because I didn’t have a very good system for tracking these special orders and buying the products from my suppliers, customers would come back in two weeks and be disappointed. I was unable to satisfy their needs and so they weren’t sure they could believe me when I told them I would order the product.

I started to question my honesty in telling customers to come back in a couple weeks. I realized something needed to change. I needed to be more congruent, so my words and actions had a similar outcome.

Companies need to have and build on core values as a foundation for their businesses. Our core values at Pivotleader are honesty, passion, accountability, proactivity, visionary and fun. We want to espouse those values every day in our offices and our work. We look for clients who have those values and we’re building a business that will grow or flounder based on how those values resonate with our customers.

We need to be congruent in the fact that if we say we want to build the business on the value of honesty, we will truly be honest in our transactions – with our customers, suppliers, partners, staff and the public.

Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t congruent. They say one thing and do another. They might say they’re honest, but they try to cheat the government or trim a little off what they promised a customer.

When customers, employees or stakeholders hear or see things that don’t jive with what the business or the leader has said they believe in, or promised, they begin to question whether anything the company has said is true.

When this doubt sets in, it’s difficult to rectify this in the minds of the doubtful. When trust has been broken, it’s difficult to mend.

Businesses and their leaders need to keep in mind that their success in life and business is dependent on consistency and congruency. People want to depend on us and need to know we will keep our word. They want to know that we will be there for them when they need us.

This is why it takes time for businesses to grow and flourish. It takes time to build trust. But we can burn that bridge quickly if we’re not consistent and congruent in our actions.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Question for Dave? He consistently answers emails sent to [email protected]. For interview requests, click here

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