BUSINESS MANAGEMENT -
BUSINESS IMAGE and REPUTATION

This is the seventh of a series of newsletters published on Business Management and Management Skills. Not all topics discussed will apply to your business, but each section will be beneficial to establish company goals and objectives. By reading and studying these newsletter articles, you’re taking the first step in achieving your goals.

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The definition of the word “image” as it relates to management is the process of managing the desired visual image communicated to others. “Visual” is a key and defining word for us. It’s a mental impression or record made in the short term and perhaps long-term memory of others. When we use the word “process,” we need to ask ourselves what type of control system should be used?

If it’s a managed process that employs an open-loop control system, we’re saying, in effect, that management knows about the company’s image, wants to communicate a good one, but never checks to see how the image is currently. Good intentions are what some of us have lots and lots of.

If the company’s image is controlled by a closed-loop control system, we’re saying that management wants to have a good reputation, checks on the current condition of the image, and is making adjustments to that image (after events occur), and after they have had an impact on the company’s image.

If the company’s management uses a feed-forward image control system, that management wants a good image, checks up on that image, makes corrections (not after an event occurs but sees the event coming), and begins to know to make adjustments as the events begin to impact the company’s image.

Clearly, good intentions will not do. The best condition is when management looks at the coming events and begins to trim the sail just in time to weather the storm without being blown off course, or having the ship swamped and potentially sunk.

Now that we have some idea of how to best manage image, let’s look at various business image-conveying things:

The location of the company building within the city.
The company facilities.
The building(s), trucks, uniforms.
Print media, billboards, newspapers, flyers, magazines, stationary, business cards, bid documents, etc.
Electronic media, TV, radio, the WEB.
Events, county fairs, team support groups, trade shows, welcome wagons, plant openings, expansions, etc.

We’re talking about opportunities to create a mental impression under conditions and in places where we want our company to be associated with. Our impressions should be made in areas where we have a vested (or want to have a vested) interest, and opportunities to communicate what we are.

Don’t expect everyone in the company to think about the positive presentation of the company’s image. We used the word managed - not runs on autopilot! The point is, an image will be created. Will it be a managed positive one, or an unmanaged lost-at-sea one?

Having considered that, let’s go back up to the second half of the title, the part about “reputation.” Reputation is the current sum total of the specific traits attributed to a company by people. A company’s reputation is produced by the memory impressions of its perceived actions over time.

Generally, how would you describe the reputation that your firm has with the people who are now and will soon be listed in one of the groups titled “past,” as in employees, suppliers, and customers? What would you expect it to be - good, fair, or bad? What may cause (or has caused) your firm to have a less than desirable reputation with each of these groups?

What are the causes of the things that go into the building of a good reputation with anyone over time? Your integrity is the foundation of your reputation. This doesn’t mean you need to be squeaky clean and have no enemies. What this does mean is you need to move, from this point forward, to keep your integrity as strong as possible.

Planning, organizing, directing and evaluating the management functions must be applied not only to monetary considerations but images and reputations as well. You cannot do it all, and you cannot do it alone. You must have help - the best that you can get! Remember, your goal is to maximize the profit from the sum of your projects, and a bad reputation will prevent you from doing that.

Seek out, entice, obtain, fully utilize and keep the best people you can. You must, if you are to have any hope of succeeding as a manager.

Mike Holt’s Comment: This newsletter article was extracted from Mike Holt’s Business Management and Management Skills’ Workbook. Watch for our next newsletter and, as always, we invite your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences and examples. This will help us to improve our newsletters in the future. Please respond to Barbara at bjparks@atlantic.net.

Copyright © 2002 Mike Holt Enterprises,Inc.
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