The effort to inspire confidence in your team is often quite affordable

No matter how high you climb the totem pole of life or business, there is never a substitute for hard work. My favorite saying is, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” It’s been my experience that the quicker you make money, the quicker you lose it.

Good results take time, energy and commitment, as well as a lot of patience. When you build a solid foundation upon which to get things done and you demonstrate a strong work ethic and a willingness to go above and beyond to serve each other and your customers, you create an environment where good things can happen.

This type of culture does not come about from an email blast or your mere presence on social media. You need face-to-face relationships. Make an effort to get to know your people, beyond the tasks they perform each and every day.

My operations team will often meet our customers through golf outings, lunches and sporting events. Putting a face to a name is paramount when dealing with the variety of issues that come up when you’re running a business.

One of the ways in which I set the tone for a more enthusiastic culture at our company is through my eagerness to make just a few more sales call when my day is nearly done. It’s something that I love to do.

When something comes up that slows other businesses down such as the weather or some other unexpected problem, I gain ground on the competition because I take the time to make those extra calls. Pure hard work can overcome a lot.

It’s an added bonus when you’re in business and you develop tight relationships with some of your customers, being careful not to get too close. Of course, there will also be some people who don’t like you. Not everyone can have good taste in friends. In any case, you should treat all customers the same and NEVER burn a bridge.

Another valuable asset is my ability to keep up with our industry by learning from our customers. Most of them are way smarter than me anyway. When you’re making a deal, it’s not about who wins, but rather who feels the best after the deal. You can give in and let the customer win, but still feel great about expanding your business.

Remember most of the things you need to build a business are free. Loyalty, compassion, integrity, sincerity and the discipline to do what you say cost you nothing. Make time for everyone and be sure to appreciate all those who help you along the way.

I have learned so much more from people who free their time to talk to me as opposed to those who talk to me in their free time. Create an environment that allows this kind of important communication to take place. Finally, take the time to reward people for the hard work that leads to great results.

Chris Haas is president and CEO at All Pro Freight Systems Inc.