Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Run the Race with Endurance, Then Push for Excellence at the End

FinishLately, it seems like I’m surrounded by races. Earlier this week, I told you about my Indy Grand Prix of Alabama experience at Barber Motorsports Park. A NASCAR race happened just down the road last weekend at the Talladega Superspeedway. This Saturday, the Kentucky Derby will be run for the 136th time.

To me, business is a lot like racing sports. It takes teamwork and efficiency to win, but you can’t be hasty. Dedication and precision are just as important to finishing as raw speed. In fact, there’s probably room for a new business beatitude: “Blessed are those who put in an extra push before the finish line, for they are committed to excellence.”

I find myself grateful for those folks who really take their time before declaring a job done. Those who go back, double-check, then triple-check before considering something finished. Their tenacity for excellence makes all the difference.

The other day I was watching some landscape guys finish up a long day of clearing brush and mulching an area. It was definitely “quitting time” and they could have all left and declared themselves over the “finish line,” but one of them stopped, looked over the job with a critical eye and went back to the far side of the property. He saw it still looked ragged and a bit mangy.

Although he must have been tired, the fellow worked another 30 minutes to fix what he’d seen wasn’t just right. His decision to put in the extra time gave the value of each team member’s work and the job as a whole extra value. He made not only his colleagues and company look good, but also saved them from potential customer disappointment and criticism.

You may read this and think that it’s pretty standard stuff. That’s not always the case. That’s why it becomes important to honor the people in the habit of excellence. Do we identify this trait of going back until it is right and then reward it?

I’ve found that the “critical eye” combined with the willingness to resolve any shortcomings before crossing the finish line is an invaluable approach in business and life. Such passionate people with this disciplined approach help us avoid disappointment, assure real triumphs and gain good habits in the process.

Blessed are those who push for excellence before the finish line! I for one am so thankful for your efforts on our team. May your lingering vigilance always be contagious.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.