Like it or not, we are immersed in the age of mergers and acquisitions. The business pages are full of them. Locally, look at the recent attempt by Bank of New York to bring Mellon Bank into its fold. On a grander scale, consider the Daimler-Benz merger with Chrysler Corp.

But all of this M&A activity isn't confined to just large, global companies. Small, profitable companies are quite attractive acquisition bait to medium- to large-sized businesses that want to attain critical mass or a capability that would fill a vacuum in their own product or service offerings.

Whether your company is looking to acquire or be acquired, a strong and effective public relations program can greatly improve your efforts. In fact, according to a report by Opinion Research Corp. and some of the country's leading merger advisers, corporate image can play a major part in what sells a company and its products-and at what price.

PR and the bottom line

First, an effective public relations plan will help your bottom line. Public relations will create more awareness among your customers and prospects. It will generate leads and inquiries. And, PR can position your company as being progressive, knowledgeable and a leader in your field.

These efforts will increase sales and hopefully build more customer loyalty and a higher customer-retention rate.

PR and corporate image

While most public relations plans focus on generating leads and sales-immediate gratification-implementing a plan to enhance your corporate image is more of a long-term investment, but one that can definitely pay off.

"Goodwill" is more than an abstract concept to describe how others perceive your company. It is an important factor in valuing your company. Your reputation and credibility in your industry-and potential for growth-can be worth a lot of dollars and cents when you sell.

Speaking to your people

A comprehensive corporate-image program will first take a look at the positive and negative images of your company. The next step is to identify the image that you want to project for your company, such as fast-growing, well-managed or positioned for the future. Think in terms of specific ways in which your company is different from the competition and focus on these competitive advantages.

Then identify your audiences and the specific messages to be communicated to each. For example:

  • Customers and prospects: Use your internal resources and outside research to identify direct and indirect customers.

    Employees-Communicating to this important group can build a sense of teamwork and togetherness, increase employee retention and help recruit talented and skilled workers. As the saying goes, "A company is only as good as its people."

  • Investors: Communicate regularly with shareholders about the happenings within your company. Plus, keeping analysts, brokers and the rest of the investment world well informed can help you gain new investors and, quite possibly, suitors for your firm.

  • Suppliers: This group can be the lifeline of your firm and needs to be strongly considered when developing your plan.

    Industry trade organizations-Become more involved in professional and/or trade organizations to increase awareness of your company and your key managers.

  • The media: As with any public relations initiative, it's critical to establish and maintain relationships with local news and business media, as well as regional and national industry and trade media contacts.

The bottom line: Any investment you make in strengthening your organization's reputation and standing in the industry will help you to attract potential buyers and can actually help you increase the perceived value of your company. Or, if you are looking to acquire, a positive corporate image will make you more attractive to the companies looking to sell.

Jeff Krakoff is president of Krakoff Communications Inc., a Pittsburgh-based marketing communications consulting firm. Comments and questions can be sent via e-mail to

Published in Pittsburgh
Sunday, 21 July 2002 20:00

Communicating a Sense of Urgency

Whether your challenge is starting a new company, jump-starting a downsized organization, or nudging a proven performer up to the next level, creating an atmosphere for change is a necessary first step.

Anytime you are faced with leading people when some form of change is necessary, you will recognize some resistance. The magnitude of the resistance may vary, but it seems like it is always present.

In his book, Leading Change, John Kotter says, "In an organization with 100 employees, at least two dozen must go beyond the normal call of duty to produce a significant change." As the size of the organization increases, the number of people necessary to produce the change grows geometrically.

The enemy is often complacency. No matter what the circumstances, when people become comfortable, it's often difficult to get their attention and motivate them to commit to change. Sir Isaac Newton must have been thinking about these folks when he said, "A body at rest tends to remain at rest." Without a sense of urgency, it's difficult to build sufficient momentum to move your mountains. As Kotter says, "Never underestimate the magnitude of the forces that reinforce complacency and that help maintain the status quo."

The best way to overcome complacency is to communicate a sense of urgency. However, this isn't always as easy as it appears. If it's overused, or misused, the people may become cynical to the point where your credibility suffers. One way to avoid this problem is to be straightforward with your people. It makes little sense for management to maintain a lot of "happy talk" when the people know there are problems.

Several suggestions for increasing the sense of urgency include:

  • Eliminate organizational excesses-One of my clients once wanted to communicate the importance his company was placing on training as a means of improving performance to gain a competitive advantage. The employees got the message when the executive dining room was converted into classrooms.

  • Set higher standards-This means higher expectations for all levels of the organization in such areas as income, productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, product development, etc. At the same time increase personal accountability for results. The responsibility for improved performance is shared throughout the organization.

  • Increase management visibility-Spend more time in the trenches during difficult times to lend support (but don't disappear as soon as the crisis passes).

  • Increase feedback-When the situation is urgent, increase both the quantity and the quality of the feedback. When the frequency of feedback is increased, the employees begin to recognize improvement is a priority. Several of my clients have gone from weekly to daily performance updates during a crisis to communicate its significance.

An honest, justifiable sense of urgency can bring out the best of any organization. It can build self-esteem and increase the sense of esprit de corps. But using it as a gimmick for a short-term gain will always backfire in the end.

William Armstrong has been a management consultant for nearly 30 years. He is president of Armstrong/Associates and the author of Catalytic Management: Success by design (McGraw-Hill). He is a member of the Pennsylvania Speakers Association, a chapter of the National Speakers Association.

Published in Pittsburgh
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 20:00

Doom and gloom?

L ike it or not, the results from this month’s election — with the exception, perhaps, of the radical change of county government in Cuyahoga County — will not have much direct impact on the direction that this region, state or nation is headed.

Admittedly, it’s been an interesting election season. And if you listened to the pundits, the armchair critics or the squeaky wheels on both sides of the political aisle, you may have blindly believed the very future of American capitalism, freedom, liberty and seemingly everything else important to anyone and everyone hung in the balance.

Reality, however, isn’t so simple.

The American economy, like the global economy, is cyclical. Governmental policies change. Often. And legislation, whether minor or sweeping, takes years to reveal its true nature.

Significant (read: real) change more often than not arises from the business world, and what we should really count on our government to do is lay down a few markers that, depending on the policy, either speed up or slow down our ability to move as quickly and efficiently as we’d like.

All the hullaballoo can easily become distracting. It’s easy to miss good tidings all around us. So let’s take a momentary timeout to recognize three such positive signs that surround us every day.

First, congratulations to Case Western Reserve University. The Weatherhead School and its yearlong elective course, the Institute in Sustainable Value and Social Entrepreneurship, was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the 10 Most Innovative Business School Courses in America.

The course, in which students learn through project work that you can turn a profit in the real world without ravaging resources in the process, reflects a business approach that’s quickly gaining momentum among CEOs and business owners: Do good while doing well.

Among the same lines, Shearer’s Foods’ new Millennium Manufacturing Facility received the world’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum designation for a food manufacturing plant.

And finally, JumpStart, the regional nonprofit that provides a host of resources to entrepreneurs leading early-stage companies, including making direct investments through its investment arm, JumpStart Ventures, reached a significant milestone.

JumpStart, which has impacted Northeast Ohio’s regional economy to the tune of $267 million and more than 800 jobs created, added a 50th company to its portfolio of investments.

You don’t have to look far to see good things. You just have to open your eyes.

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 19:00

Sweetening the deal

I was shopping with my family at a national retailer recently when I noticed numerous posters and hanging banners throughout the store promoting dozens of new sale items.

Normally, I don’t pay attention to sale signs because every retailer always has something on sale. This, however, seemed different. The verbiage was appealing enough that I dragged my family toward the signs to see if there were, indeed, serious bargains to be had.

Moments later, after piling more items into our already overflowing cart, I turned to my wife and proclaimed that I’d had an epiphany: 2010 was going to be the year of “value.”

Everywhere I look these days — on television, in newspapers and magazines, and on the Internet — retailers, restaurants and other merchants are pounding out a consistent message: “Buy from us. We offer more value.”

This really shouldn’t be a surprise. The economy is still limping along. Consumers are still wary about spending their hard-earned cash. Because of this, businesses have come to realize that in order to survive they must adapt to the new economic realities. They are doing so through a combination of lower prices and increased value.

While this seems like a common-sense approach to combating lagging sales, due, in part, to a decrease in liquidity from one’s existing customer base, the approach somehow feels new. Or maybe it’s just better marketing that’s finally caught my attention.

Whatever the reason, this strategy of adapting to economic pressures by providing a stronger value proposition for clients is something at which this year’s Evolution of Manufacturing Award honorees have proven themselves highly adept.

The 2010 honorees all came to the same realization that other business leaders have: It is no longer enough just to streamline operations and tighten the supply chain. Instead, more drastic measures are necessary to ensure survival as well as position your company to better compete.

There’s a simple lesson to be learned in all of this. If you are not providing your customers with more value on each sale you make, you will quickly find your product or service commoditized.

When that happens, rather than being able to focus on providing quality products and services to clients, you’ll enter a bidding war to become the low-cost provider. At that point, value gets sacrificed and your long-term ability to compete is essentially over.

See previous columns from Dustin S. Klein.

Published in Akron/Canton
Saturday, 25 April 2009 20:00

Less of the same

The older I get, the more set in my ways I become. I have my morning ritual, evening ritual and daily commute. I like my coffee black and my french fries with a side of barbecue sauce.

But I am also a study in contrast, as I suppose many of us are.

Once you get past my predilections, I like change. I enjoy finding new ways to do old things. I embrace innovation and relish brainstorms in the shower that let me view things differently. I love the rush of adrenaline that hits when I analyze existing features, events or conferences and discover a new approach.

Change is good.

However, I was not surprised to learn that the greatest challenge facing Patricia Kennedy-Scott, this month’s cover story subject, is effectively leading her organization through change.

“Human beings are comfortable where they are,” says Kennedy-Scott, regional president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio. “You have to give people motivation to change.”

And when you’re talking about 2,000 employees, as Kennedy-Scott is, that’s a lot of motivating.

Kennedy-Scott does it by constantly identifying new problems, finding viable solutions and then communicating those solutions to her entire team so they can work together to implement them. She also works hard to get employees to understand that their roles change as the organization changes.

For many employers, convincing hardworking team members to accept that the role they’ve earned no longer is the one you need them to do may be the hardest part of change.

But by using a combination of deft salesmanship and heartfelt empathy to quickly secure the necessary buy-in, you’ll find that you do not need to force role changes on your staff and then face discord and the prospect of large-scale employee turnover.

Adaptability has become a necessary trait in today’s workplace. Employers who have teams of people who are adaptable are better prepared for the challenges that face them in today’s economy.

If you’re not one of them, don’t hesitate to take a hard look at your hiring practices to ensure you’re weeding out applicants that won’t be willing to gladly do whatever it takes to help your organization succeed. Otherwise, you could find yourself doomed to spend more time selling change than implementing it.

Contact executive editor Dustin S. Klein at

Published in Cleveland
Saturday, 25 April 2009 20:00

Eyes wide open

Leave no stone unturned.

That four-word phrase has been used for thousands of years by scholars, poets and religious leaders to describe man’s insatiable quest for knowledge.

Leaving no stone unturned means seeking out good ideas and innovative solutions wherever you can find them. It means soliciting vendors, employees and customers for feedback. It entails reading trade publications, general periodicals, newspapers and books. It includes attending industry conferences, trade shows and networking receptions. And, most important, it means keeping an open mind.

That’s the mantra of this month’s cover subject, Steve Schmid, president of Smith Dairy Products. Schmid believes the key to Smith Dairy’s success is finding better ways to serve customers, no matter the source.

“Don’t think that you can do it all by yourself,” he says. “You might be a star, but you’re a better star if you’ve got your team working with you.”

In Schmid’s universe, that team extends outside the walls of Smith Dairy and even beyond trade and industry events to include a group of noncompeting dairy executives, with whom Schmid meets once a year. That group banters around ideas and talks about what’s worked and what hasn’t.

But Schmid’s main source of fresh ideas lies with Smith Dairy’s 400 employees.

“Make your trips into their space and have conversations,” he suggests. “Ask some questions, and always ask, ‘How can I help you?’”

Involving employees in the inner workings of your business can never hurt and always provides a different viewpoint than the one you hold.

As a leader, you’re often absorbed in such tasks as driving the vision-setting process, ensuring your company’s products or services remain relevant and making sure that your client base is happy. But taking time to pick employees’ brains for good ideas ensures you’re able to step outside yourself and see your organization from another perspective.

It also helps you identify future leaders who have the ability to contribute to your organization beyond current job responsibilities and who deserve extra attention in leadership development.

A good friend and mentor often says that leaders are at their best when they are developing other leaders. Schmid’s initiatives allow him to do both successfully — leave no stone unturned and develop future leaders. It’s a tasty combination — one akin to a cookie and a nice, warm glass of milk.

Contact executive editor Dustin S. Klein at

Published in Akron/Canton
Monday, 23 February 2009 19:00

Creating an above-and-beyond culture

World-class service organizations create an awareness of the most common opportunities where employees can deliver heroic service for the customer, creating an above-and-beyond culture.

Are your employees empowered and inspired to exceed customer expectations? Do you have mechanisms in place to collect and redistribute above-and-beyond stories to constantly remind your employees of that vision?

The truth of the matter is that everyone gets the same number of above-and-beyond opportunities. The only difference is some employees see the opportunity and act on it, while others fail to see it.

Here are five steps to creating an above-and-beyond culture:

  1. Empower employees with the confidence that they can aggressively go above and beyond without being second-guessed by management.
  2. Train employees to consistently recognize opportunities that occur.
  3. Inspire them to think outside the box for the customer.
  4. Acquire and document all above-and-beyond stories in your organization.
  5. Advertise and recognize those stories and employees throughout your entire organization.

The answer’s yes. ... What’s the question?
I hate the word no. I can’t believe how many people in a vast number of companies use it. It should be stricken from use in any company that is focused on customer service.

While staying in a prominent hotel in Las Vegas, I ordered room service. When asked if I wanted fries or coleslaw as my side, I asked if I could have fruit. The person’s response was a quick and unfriendly, “No. Do you want fries or coleslaw?” I said, “What do you mean, no? I see a fruit dish on your menu.” She responded, “Well, I would have to charge you.” I wasn’t asking for it for free. How easy would it be to say, “Certainly, while you cannot substitute the fruit for your side dish, I can add it to your order.”

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants not only removed the word “no” from the vocabulary of its 2,000 associates, it also has a great service brand promise: Yes is the answer. ... What’s the question?

Cameron Mitchell himself created a brilliant metaphor on which the company’s service philosophy is founded. It is known as the “Milkshake.” Legend has it that several years ago, Mitchell and his family were at a restaurant, and his son asked if he could have a milkshake. The server said no. Mitchell knew the restaurant had ice cream, milk and a blender, so he couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t accommodate such a simple thing. So the milkshake became an icon to remind everyone at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants about finding a way to say yes. Having three young boys myself, I know we’ve been in a restaurant where one of my sons didn’t like the kid’s menu and asked if he could have a grilled cheese. Again, nearly every time the answer was no. Once, I asked the waiter, “Do you mean to tell me that your restaurant doesn’t have bread and cheese that someone could throw on a stove?” The waiter responded, “Yeah, but I wouldn’t know how to ring it up.” I responded, “I don’t care if you charge me the price of a steak. You don’t want my kid upset because he can empty this restaurant faster than a fire.”

The milkshake has grown into a life of its own at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. They start every company meeting with a “milkshake toast,” and they give a Milkshake Award to the associates who best demonstrate the spirit of their service brand promise.

The point of this philosophy is that too many employees and companies say no way too quickly without thinking how easy it would be to grant the customer’s wish. Many times it is blamed on company policy. Many times it’s just laziness on the part of the front-line employee.

Find your milkshake metaphor
I help many companies come up with their icon and metaphor, similar to the milkshake, specific to their culture. The first thing a company has to do is find its best above-and-beyond stories and then choose the most significant one that will serve as the example. Once a company has this story, the next thing it does is create the symbol, logo or picture that represents the best story. Eventually, words will be unnecessary. When employees see that picture, they will be instantly reminded of the culture they work in and the legacy they have to uphold.

JOHN R. DIJULIUS is the best-selling author of “What’s The Secret? To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience.” (Wiley, May 2008). He is also president of The DiJulius Group, a firm specializing in giving companies a superior competitive advantage by helping them differentiate on delivering an experience and making price irrelevant. Reach him at

Published in Cleveland
Monday, 26 January 2009 19:00

Go for the green

I was standing in line at a local paint store when the gentleman in front of me started ranting about the futility of green initiatives.

“It’s just a waste of time,” the guy pined. “It’s not as if any of this stuff is going to make a difference.”

I noticed an advertisement on the counter promoting a new, sustainable product the company was selling and realized the guy was offering up his two cents.

The store manager ringing up his purchase nodded her head and politely offered a few brief comments before handing the man his receipt and bag and turning her attention to me. Negative Ned lingered another moment, ranting, while I fought my instincts to prolong the conversation and debate him on the merits of sustainability.

Finally, he left.

Once he was gone, the manager apologized and began explaining how her company was very much committed to sustainability.

It’s become trendy these days to promote your organization’s green initiatives, but that doesn’t lessen either the impact or the importance of these programs and policies.

This month, Smart Business presents its annual Evolution of Manufacturing Awards and Conference. Our 2009 theme is “going green,” and the honorees who will receive awards represent a diverse group of manufacturers that contribute to the green revolution.

You can learn more about what these organizations are doing as well as read a special interview with Dallas billionaire T. Boone Pickens in our cover story package that begins on page 30. In the meantime, here are two initiatives from our 2009 honorees that grabbed my attention:

  • Ben Venue Laboratories offers desk-side, no-sort recycling and sends all its shredded paper to a local animal shelter to be used as bedding. The company also recycles drug products that contain platinum, and in 2007, it recovered 60 troy ounces of platinum for a financial return of more than $100,000.

  • Magnus International Group/Hardy Industrial Technologies runs its recycling and treatment plant’s four boilers and two heaters on landfill gas generated by the Lake County Landfill. It transports the gas from the landfill to the facility through an underground pipeline, and each month, it uses an amount of recycled fuel equivalent to the nonrenewable energy needed to heat approximately 500 homes.

    Contact Editor Dustin Klein at

  • Published in Akron/Canton
    Tuesday, 25 November 2008 19:00

    From paper to consistent concept

    Without execution, systems in manuals are nothing more than ideas on paper. This is where most companies fail — the execution of these systems.

    The two most important words in the success of implementing systems are consistency and continuity. Nearly every company has more ideas than it knows what to do with. Here’s a scenario familiar in every company: Some executives attend a fantastic seminar, get dozens of great ideas, and return to work all fired up to start executing. A month later, not one idea is being executed even 10 percent of the time. The managers are either preoccupied with a crisis or have moved on to a new focus. Managers are not short on ideas; they are short on strategy that will result in successful implementation.

    Select a path and stick with it

    I can’t tell you how often I hear the same thing from the companies I consult: “A few years ago, our theme was ‘fish,’ last year our theme was ‘raving fans,’ and this year our theme is your book.”

    It’s no wonder nothing sticks. There’s no continuity from one generation of employees to the next because they joined under a different theme.

    There is nothing wrong with using any of those books and concepts as themes. What I am saying is pick a path. The world-class customer service companies focus on one concept and build their training program around it. Over the years, every new employee goes through the same training, learns the same underlying concept and theme, reads the same book, and hears the same message.

    That doesn’t mean the training doesn’t evolve. But you have a consistent foundation on which everyone has been trained. And it can’t just be new employees who go through intensive training; existing employees need to be retrained and re-energized on at least an annual basis. Beyond that training, world-class customer service companies advertise superior customer service to their employees on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.

    Implement slowly and properly

    Let’s assume you have just successfully completed the Customer Experience Cycle Workshop with your entire organization. You should now have the buzz.

    Stop right there. This is when the train wreck so often happens. The workshop was easy; the hard part is implementation. Yes, you are excited about the buy-in to being world-class. Yes, you want to maintain the enthusiasm and the momentum. But now you must crawl before you can walk.

    A worst practice is to allow managers to roll out the implementation on their own or to introduce many new concepts every week. If you do either, in about 45 days, all of those great ideas will be a distant memory because not one of them will stick. The only result will be a loss of credibility. Employees will feel that all their work was just a bunch of rah-rah and hot air because nothing ever came of it. Customers will be disappointed by the inconsistency between your promises and their experiences.

    Both your front-line managers and employees already have too much on their plate to digest and manage the execution of more than a few things at once. You need to create a roll-out calendar of new customer service systems. Never introduce more than two or three things per 120 days to any one department. This may sound like a slow process, but wouldn’t you be doing cartwheels if I told you that a year from now, you will have introduced 10 new initiatives that are all being executed consistently?

    Manage the experience

    It is imperative that every manager is uncompromising about the execution of your standards. Your employees have to know that they cannot pick and choose. That is why it is very important NOT to have too many standards for every stage of interaction. Less is more, so keep it realistic to achieve.

    As soon as employees start to think no one is really paying attention or cares, the standards go from nonnegotiable to optional. To avoid this, managers have to routinely do audits of the standards and recognize when they are being executed and immediately coach when they aren’t. You can have the greatest customer experience on paper, but it is the leadership’s responsibility to make sure every employee is well aware of the importance of consistent, continuous execution.

    JOHN R. DIJULIUS is the best-selling author of “What’s The Secret? To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience.” (Wiley, May 2008). He is also president of The DiJulius Group, a firm specializing in giving companies a superior competitive advantage by helping them differentiate on delivering an experience and making price irrelevant. Reach him at

    Published in Cleveland
    Thursday, 25 September 2008 20:00

    World-class training

    Acommon misconception is that the only way to get better people is to pay more than everyone else. There are many great examples of world-class companies who do not necessarily pay better than their competitors. In fact, employees at Disney, Starbucks and Nordstrom are hired from the same labor pool every other organization uses and are paid the going rates. The real reason why the customer service is so good at a company like Disney is how well they are transformed into Walt Disney cast members during training.

    Remember: In most cases, the most recently hired, least-trained, lowest-paid employee deals with the customers the most. What determines the consistency of delivering the experience is the quality of the systems and training that every new and existing employee goes through.

    Inadequate training is definitely the biggest underlying reason for the inconsistency and scarcity of great customer service. Companies skimp on training because it costs money. But companies that invest in customer service by training their employees reap great financial benefits.

    Why are you trusting a $100,000 client with $100 worth of training?

    There are two types of training when it comes to training new employees: hard and soft. Hard training focuses on the basic functions of the daily job while soft training focuses on customer-specific issues, such as dealing with an upset client or acquiring customer intelligence. Stop and examine your own training for new employees and notice the percentage of your hard versus soft training.

    More than 90 percent of businesses spend less than 10 percent of their training on soft methods. It is the soft training that allows front-line employees to deliver personalized service, which creates a memorable experience, emotional brand capital and, ultimately, repeat business. If you do the math on your own training and find that your business dedicates just 10 hours of new employee training to soft skills, then that means you are trusting that a $10 an hour front-line employee can consistently satisfy one of your $100,000 customers with a mere $100 worth of true customer service preparation.

    To be a world-class customer service organization, your training should include the following:

    • A company orientation that covers company policy and the company’s history

    • The functional components of the specific job

    • The operational procedures of the job

    • All technical training, including product knowledge, use of equipment/tools, software and other technology, and scope of services

    • Experiential training on soft skills, especially how to create relationships and personalize encounters, how to prevent customers from feeling like transactions, and customer recovery techniques

    • On-the-job shadowing

    • Testing and certification, including extensive testing on experiential skills

    Map the customer’s experience journey

    Identify all the significant points of interaction — called stages — that your customers may have with your company and get your employees involved in helping create what those stages should look like. You then break each stage down into four individual components:

    1. Service defects: all the things that can ruin the customer’s experience at this stage

    2. Operational standards: all the tasks or jobs for each stage

    3. Experiential standards: the actions that will create an exceptional experience

    4. Above-and-beyond opportunities: common situations that front-line employees should recognize and prepare for in order to make a customer’s day.

    Once you have your final version of service defects, standards and above-and-beyond opportunities, you can create a training manual that all new employees get trained and tested on during their first two weeks with your company.

    Action plan

    It is imperative for companies to ensure that every employee truly understands what the organization’s customer experience promise is. The customer experience promise is what the organization is supposed to deliver to customers, consistently, at every stage of their interaction.

    Organizations need to make sure their customer experience promise is structured in such a way that all employees learn, understand and execute it.

    JOHN R. DIJULIUS is the best-selling author of “What’s The Secret? To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience.” (Wiley, May 2008). He is also president of The DiJulius Group, a firm specializing in giving companies a superior competitive advantage by helping them differentiate on delivering an experience and making price irrelevant. Reach him at

    Published in Cleveland