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Jul 31

Guaranteed Results?

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

From time to time I encounter a client who wants me to guarantee results. Given the large number of variables that exist, I cannot guarantee results every time. No one can.

Recently I had a client, “Sally,” who wanted my assistance in closing her business. She had another six months   on her lease. However, when I read the document I saw a clause that called for a 60 day notice for early termination. I advised Sally to write the landlord immediately and exercise the 60 day notice. Sally wanted me to guarantee that she would not have to pay rent due at end of the year. I explained to Sally that the language was cloudy. While the lease stated the term was one year, there was also a 60-day early termination clause. I argued that early termination would not be in the lease unless it was an option. I could also see how the landlord might still claim rent to be paid for the rest of the year. 


While I believed the argument for leaving early was very strong, I could not guarantee that the landlord would not sue for the balance of the rent. If she ended up in front of a judge, there was no way of knowing what the ruling would be. I’ve encountered rulings that in my view were wrong. 

Another issue was that Sally did not have a copy of the signed lease in her possession, only an unsigned copy.  I was concerned that Sally may have signed a different document, and told her so. In short, I gave Sally my best advice and suggested what I saw as the best path forward. However, I couldn’t guarantee results. In a legal dispute, a lawyer cannot guarantee results either. An attorney will use the words “litigation risk,” meaning things happen in court rooms that are positive and negative. As King Solomon wrote, “The first to speak in court sounds right--until the cross-examination begins.” (Proverbs 18:17, NLT)

In my consulting work what I will guarantee is that my client will be satisfied with my work or I wave my fee.

In your business providing a guarantee may be wise. For example, if you make a new car purchase; you receive the warranty or guarantee that the car will perform satisfactorily. Before the car warranty expires, you will undoubtedly need to repair something at the expense of the automaker. Given the complexity of car mechanics and engineering, the automaker cannot absolutely guarantee you’ll never encounter problems.  However, the car manufacturer will stand behind the product by guaranteeing the repair at no charge to the customer.

 Marketing is another challenging business component.  You may create what you believe are good ads. Even though targeted and focused, they may not work. This requires constant adjusting. King Solomon advised, “But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.” (Ecclesiastes 11:2, NLT) I usually advise a client that some initiatives will not be successful which is why you need to try multiple efforts the gain new business.

One time “Mike” pressed me because he wanted me to guarantee that a marketing idea would bring results. I asked Mike if he was planning to make customer calls next week. He said yes. I asked Mike if he could guarantee that his first call would bring in new business. Mike said he couldn’t. “Correct,” I replied. I went on to explain that if he made 20 calls, he was more likely to land a customer. While no one can guarantee that a specific call will bring results, consistent calls done correctly will bring in new business.

Always be clear where you are able to guarantee a specific result and where you cannot. In business we call this “managing customer expectations.” 

Be clear about what you can and cannot accomplish. Communicate this to your customers. Stand behind your work appropriately. Then, allow your results to speak for themselves.

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