James Q. Wilson died this week, but he left behind a legacy of getting it right from the beginning. A social scientist, he was a proponent of the “broken windows” theory of crime, which focuses on maintaining order, and calls for stopping minor infractions before they lead to major crimes. Acting on the theory, and using community policing, New York, Los Angeles and other cities improved their crime statistics and their quality of life.
How does this relate to you? By taking care of the little things, you’ll find the big things will fall into place. So if you want a bigger, more successful business, you’ve got to make sure that you pay attention to detail.
In a physical sense, if you’ve got a store, there’s no doubt that you’ll take care of an actual broken window. But are you as responsive to doing anything and everything to make it attractive and inviting?
For example, is the entranceway clean and clear, so that potential customers feel welcome? Are the aisles easy to navigate, and have you put forethought into making sure the merchandise display entices shoppers? How about the lighting? Is the restroom spotless?
Do you have staff? How do you behave to them? Do you trust them and give them the authority to make decisions? The more you show confidence in them, the more that confidence will be repaid. By treating them with courtesy and compassion, you’ll find they behave that way to your customers or clients. Again, it’s the broken windows theory. Get it right from the get-go, and everything will follow through in the same pattern.
Then there’s your website. Do you maintain it and update it regularly? Is it clear to anyone viewing it that it’s important to you, and that you value it? Because, frankly, if it’s not important to you, why should a buyer find it of interest?
How about your social media efforts? When was the last time you sent out a tweet or wrote something for your FB wall? If you’re not keeping up to date with social media, you’re missing opportunities to show potential buyers that you’re someone with whom they want to work.
Most importantly, do you tell the truth, or do you over promise and under deliver? Can your clients or customers rely on you? If you disappoint just one person, shrug it off and think no one else will know, you’ve underestimated the broken window theory. People do tell other people–they do it through word of mouth and media. One way or another, word gets around.
When you’re making decisions about how to go forward in your work, keep James Q. Wilson and his broken window theory in mind. Get the small things right, and you build a strong foundation for a big business.
If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.
You can also get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com. For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.
Copyright © 2014 Laurel Tielis