Overall reliability is a simple, but accurate indicator of how well (or badly) managed a business is.
Everyone knows what it means to be reliable, right? Wrong.
For last 12 years I’ve been asking participants of my business courses, what makes someone reliable. The fast, intuitive answer always tends to be keeping one’s word and honoring agreements. But this is only half-true, because your clients definitely rely on you doing so much more than just keeping promises.
They expect a professional, or any other solid business, to be honest, discreet, flexible, diligent, without serious conflicts of interests, law-abiding, communicative and so on. They rely on all this automatically, at least with solid businesses.
So there are two levels of reliability:
Failing to meet what was promised or what was expected of you as a given sends a strong signal to the client. It functions as a composite indicator that you don’t manage yourself or your business well, and simply can’t be fully trusted.
I won’t go into details here about how to boost one’s levels of reliability. I would rather present you with a simple scale for self-evaluation that I give to new clients before starting to work on their processes.
Where do you think you rank on the following scale from 1 to 5:
Long-term reliability is the best indicator of how well you manage your business, whether you are its master, or whether it bosses you around.
Anything below the level 3 on the scale therefore means that you have a serious problem — clients are likely to stop recommending you and won’t be willing to pay higher than average, if they are not already angry enough to be looking for a replacement (level 5).
And let me just hint, that according to my experience most professionals and businesses rank themselves a level higher than where they actually belong, from the perspective of their clients. I usually ask both the entrepreneurs and their clients and rarely are the two grades the same. Where businesses tend to think they’re reliable enough, clients agree it’s not enough. Think about it.