Whether it is us who is doing the driving or an employee that is driving one of our vehicles, we must be diligent about keeping our emotions in check when we get in the driver’s seat.
We spend a lot of time and money on promoting ourselves and establishing a good reputation. It takes years of marketing through advertising, blogging, social media posts, videos, website design, search engine optimization, and generating leads and referrals to build a business. It takes years of trustworthy service, along with personal integrity and customer respect, to sustain that business and keep it going. Yet, all of this can be seriously derailed through thoughtless or careless actions that have nothing to do with promoting or running our business in a positive way.
Sometimes, little actions have a way derailing all of our positive goodwill. Take for instance driving in town or on the freeway – in our company’s branded car or with a vanity license plate that is branded. Every time we cut someone off, shake our fist, make a hand gesture, yell at someone (even if they can’t hear us), blow our horn out of disgust or frustration, weave in and out of traffic, tailgate, cut in front of another driver, or seriously exceed the speed limit, it’s not just us doing it – it’s our company. At least that’s how it could be interpreted by people observing our behavior.
In town, if we run through a red light (or stretch the yellow), roll through a stop sign, drive too fast through a neighborhood, throw something out of our window, or race to beat someone out of a parking spot, people around us could see that as our company doing this rather than just any other individual because that’s the name they see on our vehicle or license plate.
We don’t have to change our behavior necessarily to be extra sensitive to what others around us might be thinking about us, but we do need to be careful enough that people aren’t using our actions as an excuse for not doing business with our company or in spreading the word that we are not a nice company because of something they witnessed us or one of our employees doing.
This is not just about during work hours either. We are under watchful eyes of the public on the way to the office, at lunch or stopping for coffee or a soda, on the way home, and other places we might be where we are driving a company vehicle or wearing a company shirt or uniform. Yelling at a clerk, trying to gain preferential treatment by not waiting our turn in line, making or leaving a mess in a client’s home or in a store where we are shopping or eating, and generally not being respectful of people around us are not great ways to impress anyone who witnesses our actions.
Remember, it doesn’t take much to destroy or seriously dent our reputation. We just need to remember that people are watching us all the time. Even if they aren’t in a position to use our product or services, they may know someone who does or might in the future. Even months from now, they may remember some behavior that causes them to recommend that someone not engage our services because of what they see or hear from us now.
Reputation management, similar to loss-prevention for retailers because we are concerned about the accidental loss or theft of our good name and reputation, is something we need to take seriously and focus upon. It’s not going to happen by itself. It takes a concerted effort to keep it strong.
It only takes one or two careless or stupid acts to blow a whole lot of positive advertising, intentional branding, and customer service.
We don’t need to be looking over our shoulder constantly to see who is watching. We just need to be on good behavior all the time, and then it won’t matter who sees us. They’ll be seeing what we want to project to the marketplace and respect us for it.