What does honesty look like? Can you help Ms. Homeowner to see honesty demonstrated by your employees?

Yes. Yes, you can. You can help her to see all of your values, recognize them, and share that recognition with other prospective customers.

– Chuck McKay

Your Company’s Reputation

Reputations take years to build through traditional “one transaction at a time” word of mouth.  

A solid reputation can be built in only months through consistent advertising. And it can happen while we solicit business.  

But sharing our values with the marketplace is a difficult task.  

Ask a contractor about the values he (or she) embraces, and we’ll get responses like “success,” “honesty,” “compassion,” “adventure,” or “integrity.” No matter how sincere the owner is, those terms are just too generic to mean anything.  

What does honesty look like?  

How do we express reliability?  

What’s the best representation of justice?  

Without a tangible expression of the value in action, these are just words, and they provoke only vague impressions.  

But if we translate our values into action, any observer can witness what we believe. Start by asking “What has to happen for me to feel __(value)__?  

What has to happen for me to feel “success?” 

What has to happen for me to feel “honest?”  To feel “compassion,” “adventure,” or “integrity?”  

Take that feeling and describe it as an action. Does the action clearly illustrate the value? Excellent! Now we can simply suggest people look for those actions when they compare our values with those of our competitors.  

The best way to describe those actions through the use of We Believe statements.  

We Believe

Look at the specificity in these statements for Goettl Air Conditioning and Plumbing.  

  • We believe in showing up on time. 
  • We believe every customer deserves our very best work.  
  • We believe in doing what’s right, not what’s easy. 
  • We believe in eliminating every squeak, rattle and hum, because if we don’t, bigger problems will come.  
  • We believe in replacing every screw, even the ones other people left out, so that we can tighten the unit up like new.
  • We believe in super-sealing the air ducts because no one needs to air condition their attic.
  • We install everything level, plumb and square because this is the signature of a superior technician. 

You’ll notice nothing was said about “success,” “honesty,” “compassion,” “adventure,” or “integrity.” For that matter there was nothing said about the number of years Goettl has been in business or that they’re locally owned. Not a single mention of friendly and knowledgeable staff. Nobody said anything about “all your plumbing and air conditioning needs.” There’s no list of all the services Goettl offers.  

Just simple, direct statements of what the company stands for. Statements easily confirmed by the average homeowner observing Goettl technicians at work.  

Can a homeowner tell when every squeak, rattle, and hum is eliminated? Of course she can. Just as she can tell if an installation is level, plumb, and square.  

We Believe statements can’t be what we wish people would say about us. They must be what we deliver. In every customer contact.  

Ken Goodrich is Goettl’s CEO.  Care to guess his most important personal value?  

It’s integrity.  

Go through Goettl’s We Believe statements one by one. Each demonstrates integrity as practiced by Goettl Plumbing and Air Conditioning. And taken together, they paint a vivid picture of who these people are, what they believe, and how they conduct business.  

WAIT A MINUTE! Didn’t I just say Goettl didn’t talk about integrity?  


I said they never proclaimed their integrity. Instead, through observable actions, they demonstrate it. Show, don’t tell. That’s how to make Core Values tangible. It’s how we create reputations in record time.  

What to Do with We Believe Statements

Use them as standards for employee reviews, promotions, demotions, bonuses, and instructional opportunities.  

Your We Believe statements become the standard against which you’ll determine every aspect of your company’s operation. They become the foundation of your company culture.  

  • Post this document on your website in place of “About Us.”  
  • Give this document to human resources.  It’s a hiring instrument.
  • Give it to employees.  It’s a procedure manual.
  • Give it to your merchandisers.  It’s guidance for signage, architecture, and décor.
  • Give it to your sales department.  It’s a training manual.  
  • Give it to your marketing department.  It’s an advertising overview.
  • Give it to your customer relations staff.  It’s a policy manual. 
  • Give it to your customers.  It’s a customer acquisition tool. 
  • Give it to your board of directors.  It’s a long-term business plan.

By keeping the statements simple and action-oriented there is no room for (or need for) employee interpretation.

This single page may be the most important business tool you possess.  

In Part 9 you’ll learn how to leverage your company culture to promote positive word of mouth for your company, and how to empower employees to make the right decisions at the point of customer contact.


The content for this series of posts was taken from Chuck McKay’s The Personality Prescription for Contractors, available on Amazon.  

Links to previous posts in this series: 

Part 1 – Stalled Growth

Part 2 – Never Cut Price

Part 3 – You’re Choosing Cheap Ones

Part 4 – Other Homeowners’ Motivations

Part 5 – Let’s Sell Something

Part 6 – Uniqueness

Part 7 – Company Culture