December 2008


Better Business | by Neil Ducoff


Ten No-Compromise Resolutions

As we approach the end of the year, it’s a great time to re-evaluate where you’ve been for the past year and what you want your business to look like going forward.

To that end, I offer these 10 no-compromise New Year’s resolutions to help you lead your company and your team from the strongest position possible—the position of no-compromise leadership.

  1. Always put people before profit. Period. Do that, lead them with passion, trust them to do the right thing, give them the freedom to do it, help them have fun and the profit will come.
  2. Listen and really hear what employees have to say. They are the front line of your business—the people customers see—and hold the insights to make things better. Respond to their suggestions and make them feel valuable.
  3. Always clarify expectations. People need to know where they stand and where they are going. Paint a high-definition picture of your desired outcome, and then establish progress checkpoint dates and times. Start each day or shift with a huddle. Provide positive and constructive feedback at every turn. Share the information they need to do their jobs.
  4. Create equality and fairness by eliminating double standards. That means the same rules that apply to your team apply to you, and that all team members are treated the same. It also means you and all team members will roll up your sleeves and pitch in when needed and that you never talk about, gossip or degrade an employee to others.
  5. Tackle the tough stuff before it gets out of hand. Don’t wait for an issue to become huge before you address it. Always remember that small problems grow like weeds, so it’s best to nip them in the bud.
  6. Never put off a crucial conversation — even if it’s outside of your comfort zone. When you avoid or fail to act on an issue or problem, you are dealing with a leadership blockage. Acting from emotions can interfere with your ability to see and confront reality and lead to great frustration on both sides. Once you do, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.
  7. Raise the bar on customer service to the highest rung. Customer loyalty comes from delivering extraordinary service, quality and value with a no-compromise passion. No matter what business you’re in, customer loyalty drives the true leaders of growth. It starts by listening to your customers and your front-line team. Never accept inferior performance or poor quality service. Your customers will notice, even if they don’t tell you.
  8. Protect the financial integrity of the company. Accountability at all levels of the company to adhere to its financial control systems is the determining factor of your company’s profitability performance. You need to create a cash-flow projection, to live your plan, to pay attention to all your financial reports, to understand your financials, build cash reserves and manage debt. Unite no-compromise leadership with accountability and you will ensure balance in your profitability.
  9. Achieve maximum consistency through accountability to your systems. Systems give your business predictability. They reduce the chances of things going awry, spinning out of control or otherwise becoming more stressful than necessary.
  10. Create a no-compromise culture that is purely world class. Strengthen, nurture and protect your business culture from contamination at all costs. Great leaders aren’t great because they’re innovative, understand number or have good communication skills. They’re great because they design, build and fiercely protect the cultures they are empowered to lead.

Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the salon and spa industry. He has been a business trainer, coach, keynote speaker and author for 38 years and is expert in team-based compensation. Ducoff is the author of “Fast Forward,” a business resource book for salons and spas. His new book, “No-Compromise Leadership,” published by DC Press is available at book. For more information, visit