What’s your core business?

imagesI continue to be amazed by the number of business executives who do not know what their core business is.

ServiceMASTER has several divisions/brands: Terminix, American Home Shield, ServiceMASTER Restore, ServiceMASTER Clean, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic, and AmeriSpec. Years ago, its management team (including the C-level executives and two board members) flew out to California to spend a day with Peter Drucker.

After the usual greetings and introductions, everyone sat around a large conference table and Drucker asked each person to answer this question: “What’s your core business?”

Here is the sequence of responses:

“We eliminate problems with bugs, especially termites and mosquitoes.”

“We provide home warranties to save people money on repairs.”

“We provide residential and commercial restoration services resulting from damage caused by catastrophic events.”

“We provide a range of residential and commercial services including cleaning, janitorial services, commercial carpet cleaning, hard surface floor care, and residential carpet and upholstery cleaning.”

“We provide individualized cleaning services for residences.”

“Our people provide furniture repair and wood restoration services. You can depend on our expert technicians, their dedication to quality workmanship and attention to detail.”

“Our quality inspectors are trained to meet and exceed the highest standards in the home inspection industry.”

The CEO was the last to respond. “All that’s quite true, of course, but I think it’s even more important that our units also function as leader generators for each other. Cross-selling is also a core business, if you will.”

Drucker thanked everyone for their responses, then observed, “Apparently none of you knows what ServiceMASTER’s core business is.”

Long pause.

The CEO cleared his throat and then said, “What is it, then, Dr. Drucker?”

“Your core business is to hire and train people to do what other people don’t want to do.”

What’s your core business?

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