It's one thing to adopt a strategy calling for better customer service. It's another to devise a mechanism that forces employees to pay attention when your company isn't meeting the standards that customers expect. Granite Rock, a heavy-engineering contractor and concrete, asphalt, and gravel producer based in Watsonville, California, underscores its ambitious mission statement with gutsy practices like its dramatic "short pay" policy. Printed on the back of every Granite Rock invoice is the following: "If you're not satisfied with something, don't pay us for it. Simply scratch out the related line item and send your check for the remaining balance."

Inviting dissatisfied customers to pay less than the amount on the invoice is certain to make people take notice. It's concrete. It's measurable. And pretty soon, the entire company--from sales staff to mixer-truck drivers--is trying to perform so well that it won't happen.

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing