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Kiss of Death to Your Reputation

Kiss of Death to Your Reputation

August 28, 2014

What they say behind your back is more important than what they say in front of you. Does your name and reputation precede you… in a good way?

I once asked a good friend of mine, Jared, if he could recommend someone in the real estate field to me. Jared raved about his friend David, and gave me David's number. I called and left a message, but didn’t hear back. Shortly thereeafter, Jared told me that he didn’t stand by his recomendation of David anymore because he heard David doesn’t follow up with people.

Business is funny that way. You can do all sorts of promotions and run lots of ads. You can plan and brainstorm and strategize. But if you earn a bad reputation, it’s all for naught.

My Dad used to say that life comes down to a simple idea: “Do what you said you would do.

Come on, Dad, that’s it? Really? But it's true. The best gift you can give your family or your company is a good name. I was named for my grandfather, who gave my father a good name, and my father passed that along to me. Now I have to live up to their examples and pass my name along to my children. These are big shoes to step into.

It's a fundamental principle in your personal life and a rule of business: a good name starts with having integrity. Our number one core value at Brand Launcher is “be a mentch.” Mentch literally translates as man in Yiddish, but it means being an admirable person with fortitude and integrity. To be a mentch means doing what it takes to do the right thing.

It sounds easy… but why is it so hard?

In the short-term, being a mentch may have a downside. It means sometimes walking away from opportunities that just aren’t right. That’s hard when you're trying to make payroll or increase your revenues.

But long-term, being a mentch has tremendous value. A by-product of doing what’s right is building a positive reputation for yourself and for your company. People will want to do business with you -- and that translates into keeping customers, attracting referals, and realizing increased revenues. 

Follow-ups & Accountability

One way to maintain a positive reputation is to follow through. I always ask myself: Did I send the e-mail? Did I make the phone call? Did I set the next time we were going to speak? Establishing relationships is great, but it’s even more important to maintain and sustain them through follow-up.


Want to learn how to become more referable? Call 410-235-7070 or email us for a free Referability Training Session.



Many businesses, from large financial organizations to time share companies, have a reputation of bringing customers on board, then rarely - if ever - checking back in with them. At Brand Launcher, thankfully, we have some clients who stay with us for years. Why? Because we focus on continually adding more value than we are paid, following up, and keeping our promises. We actively measure longevity and client satisfaction. We work to maintain a good reputation.

I recently spoke with Andrew Field, who owns Montana-based PrintForLess.com. They get 40% of their new business from referrals! He’s a whiz at follow-up and building customer relationships. He not only tries to ship out most orders one or two days early, but he sends a message letting customers know. People get the email and send out thank you notes as soon as the shipment arrives. “I get as many as six or seven thank-you notes a week,” says Field, who also sends out things like Montana caramel, elk jerky (honest!), hats and mugs. It is these remarkable and creative small interactions that build trust and a business relationship. As a result, Field is eminently referable — and his customers do send referrals his way.

Accountability is the next significant step to building your name and becoming referable. Once you make a commitment to someone, you should be held accountable for keeping your end of the deal. And vice versa.

So when a repair person tells you he’ll be at your house between 9:00 and noon, you stay at home waiting (and being accountable) and expect to see him during those hours. That’s accountability. If he shows up at 2:30, are you going to refer him to other people? Not likely.

Making and Keeping Promises in Business

All businesses are comprised of two functions: promise-making and promise-keeping.

In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry walks up to an airport car rental booth to get his car. Sure enough, the reservation — the promise — was on file. The problem was, they simply didn’t have any cars to keep the promise. Ooops.


Jerry made a point of explaining that the people seemed to know how to take a reservation... and they were good at that. But those who were supposed to hold the reservation… not so good.  What was the point of taking the reservation if they couldn't hold a car?

Jerry Seinfeld was right. If you make a promise, you have to fulfill on it.

Becoming Referable

To have a good name and a referable reputation, you should have two key performance indicators (KPIs):

1. How many current customers you keep

2. How many referrals you get

If you track these KPIs you will have a good idea of how your name is being perceived by others. After all, if you have not followed-up, kept promises, or maintained a strong reputation, it will reflect in both of those numbers.


Click here to take our free 2-minute Business Assessment and learn about what you are doing right and wrong in your business. 


Jim McQuaig at Nation’s Home Funding, a client of ours, said the main focus should always be on making your service so amazing that you get referrals. Ashley Rombro, who is part of our team today, formerly served as COO of Medifast Weight Control Centers' East Coast Franchisee, where she not only focused on client acquisition but also on follow-up and client retention. Like McQuaiq, she was relentless about doing a job that would make people want to refer others to Medifast. She did just that and, as a result, she trounced her competitors.

Is a Good Name Harder to Maintain Today?

It takes a long time to establish a good name, but only a few minutes to destroy it. Just look at how many politicians and celebrities have destroyed their good names in a heartbeat when one horrible story hit the media. Businesses are a little harder to take down, but poor customer service and false promises are a good starting point.

Today, thanks to Angie’s List, Yelp, Facebook, and other social media sites, what they say behind your back can be read by a million people faster than you can react. (I have previously offered advice for how to keep a good reputation on those sites.)

As you work to build greater success for your business, what can you do for your reputation?

It’s simple. Don’t give them anything to talk about.

Follow these 4 immutable laws of being referable:

1. Always follow-up with people (creatively, if possible)

2. Be accountable at all times

3. Only make promises that you can (and will) keep

4. Be honest and transparent


People with these characteristics earn good names. The father of Adriana Steinberg (a Brand Launcher Development Manager) passed away this week. He had a great name. May his memory be a blessing.

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