Steve Marr Blog

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Oct 09

Different Standards

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I was cleaning my garage the other day, not one of my favorite tasks. I was reflecting on what represented a reasonable standard for cleaning the garage. I attacked the floor with my shop vacuum and cleaned up the dead bugs by the window as well as reorganized a number of things.  The result was more order and a cleaner space. From time to time I must undertake this effort.


I was thinking about the difference between my garage and the kitchen. The kitchen is cleaned to a different standard for good reason. The standard for cleaning the garage is not good enough for the kitchen.

I don’t cook in my garage nor do I eat there. I park the car, keep some tools and store other items in the garage to keep out of the way. While I clean my tools before I store them, I don’t clean them like I would a fry pan. The standards are different.

In business we need to think through appropriate standards for each task and delivery system to customers. Quality is always important; however, we need to keep in mind that we must deliver the quality that the customer expects. Different customers will have different expectations, and we need to market to them in different ways. We may not even target the same customers. McDonald’s target customers are different from a steakhouse with $40 dinners.

When I was much younger I cut grass to earn money. I didn’t charge a lot, and I’m sure my work wasn’t top-of-the-line every day.  However; my customers thought it was good enough and a good value for their money.  Mr. Michaelson also did lawn work, but he was top end and expensive.  He was very good, though.  His work was much better than my work. He had a backlog of customer requests. If you wanted to hire Mr. Michaelson you wouldn’t hire me, but if you wanted to hire me you wouldn’t pay Mr. Michaelson’s prices.

Considering what quality to present in each instance is challenging.  However, it is not a license for short-changing customers with sloppy work. I could make my garage equally as clean as my kitchen, but clearly it is not worth the excessive time and effort to achieve that result. If I hired myself to clean someone’s garage, they wouldn’t want to pay for that level of cleanliness and neither would I.

Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23, NIV) That is always an appropriate standard.  Use it to influence your business standards.

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