Doing the Basics, Better

Success in any endeavor is rooted in the fundamentals.


Steve Wynn' Secret to Success: Doing the Basics Better

The team that wins is the team that does the basics, better. (Click to Tweet)

Steve Wynn, the hotel and casino magnate, realized as they were about to break ground on the first hotel bearing his name that there wasn’t much “newness” that he could bring to the hotel business. So, he went back to the basics. He focused on the fundamentals of a great hotel.

Everything about the project from that point forward was, in Wynn’s words, about “doing the basics, better.”

The best quality sheets. Each room close to the elevators. Cleanliness. Good food readily available. Great service.

Those are the basics in the industry. And he set out to do them better than anyone else.

Fundamentals are not cool

Innovation such as the new $40,000 CRM and high-tech help desk software are a whole lot cooler than answering a call by the third ring and smiling at customers. They require special training that can only be taught by high-priced consultants, new lingo, and upgrades every 90 seconds. But without the basics, they are utterly useless.

Technology will never replace intention. Technology will never put a smile on a customer service rep’s face. It will never force a call to be answered quickly or help you handle a rude customer with grace. Only sound training in the basics will.

A lesson from sports

This focus on the basics is will successful sports coaches drill fundamentals so much, even late in the season.

Find a coach on the eve of a championship football game and what is their team working on? I assure you it is not the exciting new play they have never run. It’s blocking, tackling, holding on to the ball, and making sure everyone is in the right position on each play call.

They’ve been through preseason training and a 14-20 week season, but the they are still drilling the fundamentals.

Why? Because…

The team that wins is the team that does the basics, better.

Business world basics

  • Customer Service: Answering the phone quickly, smiling, the Golden Rule, asking the right questions, and so on. Your CRM or help desk program is irrelevant without the right hiring and basic training here.
  • Communication: Making sure your team is communicating with each other effectively. Yes, this must be taught. Here’s how.
  • Storytelling: Notice I didn’t say “marketing.” Telling your story to potential customers is a basic. The companies that do this better, like Apple, win.
  • Money Management: Spend less than you make. It doesn’t get much more basic than that. Successful companies spend less than they make, save for a rainy day, and reinvest wisely into infrastructure and people.

None of those shocked you. There were no revelations in that list. Nothing that would cause you to suddenly write a memo to the entire company announcing some grand new initiative. There is nothing to buy or read and no class to take.

If you want to mimic the most successful organizations, in business, sports, or anything, focus on doing the basics, better.

Learn them, drill them repeatedly, then find ways to tweak them to make them better. Then do them again. And again. And again.

What are the basics in your business, department, or organization that you need to do better?

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