Momentum Podcast: 520
A Culture of Accommodation Will Kill You
by Alex Charfen
As a business owner, you feel like you should accommodate your clients in order to keep them happy. You feel like you should make exceptions in order for them to stay working with you.
In fact, even in the sales process, sometimes, we adjust what we're doing, lower our prices, accommodate things so that people will even take the first step and join us.
A lot of business owners feel like they should accommodate their clients. I’m here to tell you that you no longer need to. The more you accommodate, the more you create a business with no process, system, and everything is customized. There’s no way to create a consistent delivery with your clients if you keep making exceptions for them. It will kill you, exhaust your team, and hold your business back.
Decreasing accommodation in delivery increases your value. When you stop making exceptions, you will create a system, process, and structure that runs the business for you. A culture of accommodation will kill you, but when you don’t allow it, your momentum will go through the roof. Drive accommodation out of your business, and you will see your success in delivery go through the roof.
Full Audio Transcript
Alex Charfen: As a business owner, you feel like you should accommodate your clients in order to keep them happy. You feel like you should make exceptions in order for them to stay working with you. In fact, even in the sales process, sometimes, we adjust what we're doing, lower our prices, accommodate things so that people will even take the first step and join us.
Here's the challenge. The more you accommodate as an entrepreneur, the more you create a business where there is no process, no systems, and everything is custom. A culture of accommodation will kill you, exhaust your team, and hold your business back. I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy, and make our greatest contribution.
Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly, the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.
This is such an important topic for entrepreneurs. I think that instinctively, as business people, we want to accommodate the people around us. We want to help people around us to help them work with us, and so what we want to do is make exceptions and change things, and make it easier for people to work with us, but here's what I want you to know about running a successful business. A culture of accommodation will kill you.
Let me share just a couple of examples with you that I have of this from my life and from the clients we've coached, so I'll just share one. In, I think it was 2011 or '12, Cadey and I made an acquisition of a company called Star Power. We bought it from Howard Brinton. We felt like it was going to be an amazing purchase because we called on the same avatar, real estate agents. We did the same business. We were training companies. We had a lot of things in common. We had events. We had the same avatars. We had a lot of the same clients, so we bought Howard's company, and we expected it to be successful, but here's what happened.
In fact, I'll take you back to the day we made the announcement that we bought Howard's company. We were in a room with a lot of the clients from Star Power, the business we were buying and with some of the elite clients in the room, and Howard got up, and this was a pretty somber occasion. He was actually in the process of going through bone cancer, and he had terminal stage four bone cancer, and he shared with the entire room that he was selling the business to Cadey and I, that we were going to be the new owners. Within about 30 seconds of walking off of the stage, I had one of the people in his group walk up to me and say, "Hey, when are you going to start paying us for being involved in the events, and when are you going to start paying for our travel and doing more? In other words, when are you going to start accommodating at a greater level?"
Here's what happened. That was the first accommodation interaction I had. Throughout that day where we announced we were going to buy Star Power, I had person after person come up to me and tell me the custom thing that they wanted, the accommodation that they wanted, the thing that they were promised. What I realized and what Cadey and I realized over the course of the next year or two was that Star Power's entire culture had been built around accommodation. Their entire culture had been built around whatever somebody wants, give it to them. Just accommodate the clients.
I think one of the challenges Howard had is he never realized just how incredible of a service he was providing to people, so he always felt like he owed everyone. There was literally a culture of give it away, make it easier, make it better, give the clients whatever they want. Here's the challenge with that. When Cadey and I took over the business, we couldn't run it. There was no way to have clear processes. There was no way to have clear structure. There was no way to even have clear deliverables because almost every client was getting a custom deliverable because they had been accommodated.
This will crush you. It crushed us. We ended up running Star Power for a couple of years. We tried to make it work. Unfortunately, Howard ended up passing away, and then we had to close down Star Power because we can never get it to the point where we wanted to run it. There was so much accommodation, so much customs, so many one-offs, and so many people who felt like Star Power owed them because they had been accommodated for so long. We decided to shut the business, and walk away from it.
I had another experience like this, very similar to this just recently. One of our clients had a event where she had her whole team come into town, and I went and spoke to her team. Instead of coming in with a prepared presentation, what I do often when I'm speaking to a client's team is I just go in, and ask what they need, and find out where they are, and see how that I can help them. When I started asking around the room what was going on, I said, "What's the biggest issue you're dealing with?" and here's some of the things I heard. "I'm overwhelmed. I can't get everything done every day. I feel like I'm being punished every day. We feel like we all feel frustrated. We feel like we can't deliver."
I started writing these things down on a sheet of paper in front of the room like punished, overwhelmed, can't deliver, too many different things, frustrated, starting to not like clients, feeling negative about the position. This is what I heard. This is what I heard from a team of about 40 people in the room. At the end, when I wrote down all of these problems and when they expressed problems in the business, what they were clearly expressing was overwhelm and not able to deliver, and all of these symptoms of accommodation.
When I was done writing down everything, I turned around, and I said to everybody, "Here's what I read on this sheet of paper. You all the problems you're experiencing. I see how much you're accommodating your clients." I remember somebody in the audience said, "What do you mean accommodating the clients?" I said, "Here's what I can tell just by the way that you guys have expressed where you're feeling pain and just by where you've expressed that you're feeling challenges in the business. All of these things, being overwhelmed, not being able to deliver, feeling frustrated every day, not having a clear process, not knowing what to do next, not knowing what to tell a client, all of those are symptoms of a company who has a culture of accommodation."
I told them all, "I think you guys are saying yes way too often to clients." One of the girls in the audience said, "Wait a second. Do you mean we're allowed to say no?" I said, "Absolutely, because the more you all accommodate your clients, the more you train them to expect special treatment from you. The more you accommodate your clients, the more you teach them that's how you do business, and the more you accommodate your clients, the more accommodation they will ask for."
Here's the epiphany bridge. Here's the switch. Here's the reversal that I need you to understand, is we feel like we must accommodate our clients in order to get them to work with us. However, when we accommodate clients, we expose ourselves and our team. Let me tell you why this is so important. So, number one, entrepreneurs are going to test you constantly if you're selling entrepreneurs, whoever your clients are, but if you're selling anybody in the business world, if you're selling anyone and really, it's not just entrepreneurs, but any group of clients is going to test you constantly.
They're going to test to see what they can get. They're going to test to see how much you'll accommodate. They're going to test to see what you'll give them. The more you do, guess what, the more they will request. The more you accommodate, the more they start to understand that that's the culture of your company. When you accommodate a request, even a single request, you teach your client that this is a culture of accommodation.
Let's go back to that client I was just talking about when I was training her team. I asked like, "What type of accommodations are you guys doing?" Well, one of the women said, "Well, I have all of my client calls on Tuesdays, but I always have clients who want me to do them different days of the week, so my weeks end up crazy because I do some on Tuesdays, some on Wednesdays, some on Friday."
I said, "Okay, well, that's easy. Just tell everybody they need to do it on Tuesday." She said, "Wait, can I do that?" I said, "Well, in your business, here's what you guys are doing. You are providing your clients ..." This is an agency, so they're providing their clients with leads, with business, with sales, with growth, with momentum, with everything that an entrepreneur wants. That's what an entrepreneur wants out of their business. They want your product like crazy, and if you accommodate them, they'll take it, but if you say no, they'll turn around and say, "Okay, well, I guess I have to live with this."
The more you accommodate someone even for changing the time of a meeting that you would normally have scheduled, the more that they start to think, "Hey, I run this place. I'm managing this. I've got this. I'm going to take care of where we need to do what."
Another reason why this is so important, accommodation does not allow for process or structure to be built because you can't build a process or structure around a constant culture of accommodation. When you have a process, when you have a structure, when you have a delivery system, when you know exactly how you deliver something, it can happen the same way every time. Your clients get a consistent result. They have a consistent experience, and they will be successful. When you start accommodating, you literally break down the process.
So, let me give you a simple example. I get this request all the time. I'll have people reach out to me and say, "Hey, Alex, will you jump on a sales call with me? I think I want to work with your company." I'll say, "Hey, I'm happy to answer a few questions here in chat. However, if you want to work with our company, you have to go through one of our sales specialists." They'll say, "But we know each other, and I'd rather talk to you." I tell them like, "Hey, if I get involved, I break the process. We have a system and a structure for bringing people into the company. I want you to get the same experience as all of our successful clients. I'd much rather connect you with one of our sales specialists."
So, even when it comes to getting a deal, I will not accommodate our process because it breaks. If I jump on a sales call, then the entire process is broken. Believe me. I am not good at all the details in the systems and the structure needed to not only have a sales call but to close the deal and set somebody up. We're much better going through the process that we have in our company.
Then, here's another reason why this is so important. Accommodation and building a culture of accommodation where you do what the clients request constantly will break down your team. It will break them down. It will exhaust them. When I wrote down all the challenges that that team was experiencing on the board, it was a list of things that you would never want somebody to use to describe your business, to describe your company.
What we realized was it was self-inflicted because there was so much accommodation in that business that there was no way that the team was going to be able to succeed. When you have to have all your client calls on Tuesday and then you spread them out over three days and then you're trying to fill in in between, and you're trying to use your own effort to fix the accommodation you made, you will always feel behind, and it will stay broken.
So, here's what you need to know, and this is a paradigm shift that I think is so crucial for you to understand. Here it comes. If you're writing stuff down, write this down. Decreasing accommodation in delivery increases your value. Decreasing accommodation in delivery increases your value. When you tell someone, "This is how it's going to be. This is how we deliver. This is what you can expect. This is how you're going to experience it," and then they do, it increases the value of your delivery.
Clients want to know that there is a well thought out process that has been looked at, that has been thought through, that is successful. They can anticipate what's going to come next. When they can, it actually makes you look better. The less you accommodate, the more value you have. Decreasing accommodation also improves delivery and consistency. Every accommodation you have is an exception. Every time you make an exception, you create a place where something can break, where a process can break down, where a system can fall apart, where continuity falls apart. So, when you decrease accommodation, you improve your ability to deliver consistently as a company.
Then, here's a big one. As time goes on, accommodation of any kind should decrease even more. You should push out as much accommodation as you possibly can from your business because here's what will happen. When you stop accommodating, when you stop making exceptions, when you stop letting your clients run the business, you will create a system and a process and a structure that runs the business for you. The more you accommodate, the more you break down your team, the more you break down your structure, the more you break down your systems within the business.
So, here's what I want you to understand. A culture of accommodation will kill you. However, when you decrease accommodation, when you stop the exceptions, when you don't allow them, momentum will go through the roof. In fact, here's a personal share from me that exemplifies this. One of the biggest challenges I've had recently is not jumping on those sales calls, not being the guy who jumps in and makes it happen. I've actually had some really close friends of mine reach out in the past couple of months and say, "Hey, I want to jump on a call and join the program." What I've said is and what I've told them honestly is, "Hey, you know, I have a process for this now. I throw everything off if I jump on a call. Let me send you over to one of our scale specialists."
What happens every single time or what's happened every time is that even my friends have gotten on a call. They've gone through the process, and I get messages back like, "Wow, your process is amazing. It was so great talking to Jeremy," or whoever they talked to. "You know, I appreciate how you guys have thought everything out, and it felt so straightforward and easy to understand, and I'm really excited to be involved."
You know why that happens? That happens because I didn't accommodate because even with my close friends, I had them go through the process that every other client does, so they have a consistent experience, so they have the consistent setup, so that I don't accommodate, don't break down the team, don't break down the process, and they actually experienced what they should by working with our business. A culture of accommodation will kill you. Drive accommodation out of your business, and you'll see momentum and success and your success and delivery go through the roof.
If you're ready to start changing your business, and you are ready to grow in a way that maybe you didn't even think possible, let us help you. You don't have to do this all on your own. In fact, go to billionairecode.com. Fill out a few questions for my team, and then you'll have an opportunity to schedule a call with a member of my team, so you can go through the process I was just talking about. Here's what I want you to know. From our team, there will never be high pressure sales, we will always meet you where you are, and then when you're ready, we're here for you.
So, don't wait to understand how we can help you. When you know now, you can anticipate when you're ready to work with us, and you'll know that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Go to billionairecode.com. Set up a call with a member of my team, and let us show you how we can help you grow your business, create momentum, make a massive impact, and stop accommodating so that you can have a clear and consistent delivery process.
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