In Praise of Fussiness

Posted on: Apr 24, 2014

Categories: Change Management

What does it look like when one of a company’s core values is being “fussy”?

It looks like Vera Bradley.

Launched over 30 years ago by two women with $500 and a dream of building a women’s luggage and handbag company, Vera Bradley is known for its high-quality, beautifully patterned, and carefully-quilted bags.

Having spoken to Vera Bradley on three different occasions and having toured the world headquarters and factory, I’ve come to appreciate what incorporating “fussiness” really means.

It means that when my wife and I arrived at our hotel, there was a giant care package filled with Vera Bradley products—from handbags for my wife, to a backpack for my daughter, to a tie for myself.

When we arrived at Vera Bradley’s world headquarters, there was a sign on the door, personally welcoming us, and a red carpet spread out for us to walk on as we entered. The red carpet was not only so we felt like honored guests: it was intended to notify every employee that VIPs were arriving and to be prepared to treat them with great hospitality.

When we were seated for a meal at their headquarters, we dined off the finest china and silver.

When we met a group of Vera Bradley ladies at a conference, they were all dressed in professional dress that a designer had selected prior to the event to ensure that their outfits coordinated with their Vera Bradley purses.

When we toured the factory, we observed that as every new shift of seamstresses entered the workroom to begin sewing, they first circled up for 10 minutes to stretch and warm-up their hands and shoulders to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

From the way Vera Bradley treats its guests to the way it treats its factory workers, it exhibits fussiness—making sure that all people have an experience that has been carefully thought-over and planned out.

Fussiness can also be seen in every bag that Vera Bradley produces. Every team member, no matter their experience level, is encouraged to speak up whenever anything appears not to be up to standard.  If there is one stitch out of place or one small patch where the color dyes have bled, the bag is not set out for sale.

The days of making a million “decent” products and hoping they sell are over. Customers are pickier, noticing more details, and expecting more from the products they buy. If they know the product they’re purchasing has been endlessly “fussed over” before making it to the shelf, they know they are purchasing a superior product.

Are you fussy about your products and services? Are you careful with the small details—the welcome signs and red carpets—that take your brand from a decent one to an exceptional one?

Be fussy, and your customers will notice. Every detail matters in the long run.

Embrace fussiness today and watch how your customers and peers react.

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