Editorial: The relentless pursuit of...?

Oct 08, 2014

Find out what you should be really pursuing and go for it. Mark Zweig predicts success.

Some years ago, Toyota’s Lexus brand promoted itself through the slogan, “Lexus: The relentless pursuit of perfection.” That decision catapulted the already upmarket brand to the stratosphere with its association to quality, luxury, and performance. Anyone who has owned a Lexus can tell you that they truly are almost perfect vehicles (some real car geeks may say that they are so perfect that their lack of flaws makes them devoid of personality!). This singular focus for the brand – and for the “company” – can be used to create an image and influence behavior of both employees and clients/customers, is a pretty cool idea. And it is one that has many potential benefits for you, if your embrace it. So what is your firm’s relentless pursuit? Is it something meaningful that you can use to motivate your employees and clients to do better/buy more/pay more for what you’re selling? If not, why not? Every so often I see AEC firms make various public proclamations about what their defining characteristics as a company are. What’s most typical is usually some sort of a focus on quality. After all, “quality” sounds good. Who wouldn’t want to be a high quality service provider? The problem is that the term has become so commonplace that it doesn’t usually mean a lot or significantly differentiate the firm from the thousands of others just like it claiming to provide “high quality services.” A similar empty claim may revolve around the word innovation. Yet, the bulk of what most firms do isn’t really even innovative, so these become little more than empty words. Engineers usually have little use for this type of discussion. “Not substantive,” many of them think. But let me give you an example of how meaningful it can be. One of our clients belongs to a CEO group where various CEOs of unrelated businesses get together and talk. He was telling me the other day that he got to know the founder of Jimmy John’s (the sub shop company) through his group. The guy is apparently quite an entrepreneur. After he started his company – ostensibly to serve “gourmet subs” and met with success – they decided to do some research on what their customers thought they did best. The founder was sure they’d overwhelmingly state it was JJ’s food quality. But what came back instead was praise for their speedy delivery. He didn’t believe it and did more studies. They came back the same. So they adopted a new motto of “freaky fast” and shrunk the delivery areas around each of their stores to make sure that was a reality. The business grew. The moral: Know what your “relentless pursuit” is. And then, like Lexus and Jimmy John’s, make it a reality. I predict success for those who do. Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of Zweig Group. Contact him with questions or comments atmzweig@zweiggroup.com.
This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310), issue #1075, originally published 10/13/2014. Copyright© 2014, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.