BUSINESS MARKETING: Exceptions create exceptional businesses

2014-05-10T15:29:00Z BUSINESS MARKETING: Exceptions create exceptional businessesLarry Galler Times Business Columnist
May 10, 2014 3:29 pm  • 

Many if not most business activities are repetitive. No matter the industry or what you do within your industry, your company produces something, gets stuff from vendors, has a bookkeeping function and deals with customers and prospects.

Most of the time things probably go smoothly. But even in the best managed businesses sometimes things go awry. A vendor ships you the wrong thing or is late in a delivery, someone doesn’t proofread an invoice and a decimal point is misplaced or a delivery is dispatched to the east side of town instead of the west side. Or a needed component is misplaced or a consumable supply wasn’t reordered when needed causing a mad scramble to obtain it quickly, an employee forgets to notify a supervisor they have a dentist appointment leaving the company short-staffed. In other words, there are exceptions to the way things should be operating.

When something like this happens at your place of business, as it inevitably does, what happens? Neck-vein-popping screaming? Finger pointing? Disciplinary action? Or maybe just saying “Stuff happens and let’s see it doesn’t happen again.” None of these remedies cause permanent, or even temporary elimination of the exception.

These possible results happen in most businesses but not exceptional ones, which have a process for dealing with the exceptions that occur and treat them as an opportunity to become better. They quantify the exception then work to eliminate them.

The process starts with one important question: “Is this something that will happen often enough that we need to invest time and energy to eliminate or is it either so infrequent or so minimal that it is not worth the effort?

Assuming the exception is either frequent enough or expensive enough to work at eliminating it, the exception is studied to discover root causes and an elimination strategy is launched. New systems or processes are designed and implemented and then carefully monitored over time to ensure the exception is, in fact, eliminated. The end result is an exceptional company because they take care of their exceptions.

If you look at exceptions as opportunities instead of problems your business will become exceptional also.


Opinions are solely the writer's. Larry Galler, of Larry Galler & Associates, is a marketing and management consultant for small and mid-size companies. Discover whether your company has created a Culture of Excellence by taking a free, two-minute self assessment. Send an email to and put “Assessment” in the subject line.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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