By Jason Thompson, CPA/ABV, ASA, CFE, CFF
Partner and Director of Valuation and Litigation Services
We take ethics seriously here at Sponsel CPA Group. In fact, we regularly undergo ethics training and must pass an ethics exam before obtaining a CPA license. But the fact of the matter is that every company should conduct their business in a transparent, ethical manner. Younger professionals and consumers especially like to see businesses wearing their social values on their sleeves. And in the end, ethical business practices pay off bigger than greedy methods.
Take the clothing company Patagonia, for example. In a move that seemed counterproductive to marketing and sales, Patagonia launched the “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign. But it ended up only helping — and not just the company. The campaign promoted the durability of Patagonia’s products, increased sales and raised awareness of consumerism’s negative impact on the environment — thus also revealing the company’s values. Patagonia took a big financial risk in telling people not to buy excess clothing, but it was the right thing to do for the sake of protecting the environment.
Business ethics are really no different than the ethics you employ in your personal life. Always ask yourself, “Am I doing the right thing?” You should do the right thing regardless of pecuniary consequences. If a customer returns a faulty product or expresses disappointment with a service, making it right with them is the only solution. If that means giving out refunds, you may find yourself worrying about your short-term financial results. Start thinking about the long-term benefits instead. You’re establishing your business as one with integrity, one that cares about its customers and stands behind their product or service. Those are the businesses that stick around for the long haul.
Your employee group will also rally around this honorable practice. They will be proud to work with a company that values the customer experience and, more importantly, its relationship with customers. In many cases, these same companies have an above average relationship with their team of employees, as people like to work in environments with which they can take pride in being associated.
If you operate with best practices, employees and customers will respect you and pledge their loyalty. Think of the regulars at mom-and-pop coffee shops. They would probably prefer the convenience of a drive-thru Starbucks, but they keep going to the family-owned store because it has a sense of history and character. They like the people pouring their coffee. That personal touch. They value the trusted relationship.
A business can’t run effectively for its employees or customers without a strong sense of ethics. If you’re not doing what’s right for your customers, employees and other stakeholders … what are you doing exactly? Stay focused on what’s right, and your business will keep booming.