When high quality is the way you get and keep your customers, Scott Hallman reasons, you'd better find a system to maintain it -- even if you have to sacrifice growth temporarily. Hallman is CEO of Hospital Correspondence Copiers Inc., a $16-million San Jose, Calif., company that provides medical record-copying services to hospitals nationwide. And key to his sales spiel is the quality of his service -- no incorrect records copied, no late delivery. So when monthly customer checks indicate that quality is dropping -- usually toward the end of the year -- salespeople can take no more new customers for six to eight weeks.
"Our service is offered on a month-to-month basis," Hallman says, "so customers aren't locked into anything. We have to be vigilantes about quality." The reprieve gives the company the opportunity to hire and train new staff without the added pressure of servicing new clients. And the marketing staff has time to update market analyses, develop new campaigns, and call on prospects without having to close the sale. Does Hallman lose customers? He says maybe 10% of those he turns away look elsewhere. But compared with his chief competitor, he does much better at keeping the accounts he has.