Is everyone on the same page?

That's a question I want you to ask everyone who works in your business--your partners, executives, sales team, operations staff, everyone.

The issue can be stated in one word: consistency.

Regardless of what products or services your company provides, your customers and clients should be able to count on enjoying a consistent experience.

That's how you build repeat business--the lifeblood of success.

Delivering consistency requires substantial effort even if your business operates from one location. And it doesn't matter what your company does. If you manufacture a product, you need quality controls to ensure that every unit shipped meets your standards. If you sell products, customers need confidence that you always have in stock the items they want. And if you offer a service, everyone providing it should be giving customers and clients the same information. And the challenge rises when you operate in more than one location.

This is why consistency is a key focus of my firm's business model, and has been from our start in 1986. Customers and clients like predictability; it explains why so many Americans traveling to Spain eat at McDonald's--they know what they're going to get. And the only way you can be predictable is to be consistent. Starbucks is so successful because everyone knows what their experience will be when they enter one of their stores--regardless of its location.

With 125 financial planners operating in 42 offices across the country, consistency is vital for our firm. No matter which advisor any of our thousands of clients talk to, each client receives advice based on the same philosophy, and it's delivered with the same methodology and supported by an identical fee schedule. Clients love it--and it motivates them to give referrals. After all, no one can refer a friend to a business where their experience might vary sharply from your own. And that means we can't allow one client's experience to be dependent on an individual financial planner; every planner has to perform with a high degree of similarity. (And, there's no easy way to achieve this. It requires careful recruitment supported by rigorous and ongoing training.)

Delivering consistency offers your business two huge benefits: First, it can set you apart from your competition. I don't know about your industry, but there's little consistency in mine. Big-box brokerage firms have thousands of advisors delivering wildly inconsistent advice. On any given day, one of the firm's brokers is telling a client to buy IBM--while another is telling someone to sell it. Some broker in one office is pitching an annuity while a colleague across town promotes a non-traded REIT. Others push municipal bonds while the guy in the next cubicle is touting mutual funds.

The lack of consistency--revealed at dinner parties, kids' soccer games and the golf course--leaves every customer confused and all of them wondering if any of the advice emanating from that firm is reliable. Compared to that, it's hard for us not to look good.

The second benefit of consistency: It makes your operation scalable. When you're consistent, you discover that when you do something for one customer or client, you can do the same for hundreds, thousands or millions. As my staff knows, anything we do must always be able to be done repeatedly. Being scalable means creating consistency.

If you want to grow via repeat business, make sure you focus on delivering consistency.