Fundamental of the Week: #4 – ATTEND TO DETAILS. Accuracy is everything in our business. Be in the habit of proofreading all letters, e-mails, spreadsheets and proposals for accuracy and correctness. The goal is to get things “right,” not simply to get things “done.” Being obsessively careful about the details is a demonstration of how much we care.

This Fundamental is closely related to Fundamental #2—Make Quality Personal. Is it possible to make quality personal when there are frequent inaccuracies in e-mails, proposals, applications, etc.? Obviously, the answer is a resounding “no.”

I remember completing a proposal for a prospective client earlier in my career. We clicked on all levels. They were nice people. They liked our services and approach to investing. And I knew we would be able to add a lot of value. And since their proposal was not all that much different than a proposal I had recently completed for another investor who became a client, I retrieved the old proposal and started making the appropriate modifications. I reviewed the proposal before printing it and was happy with it. However, there was one little detail I missed. I had failed to open the header of the Word file to modify the name. Needless to say, I was embarrassed by this oversight. Every other detail and every calculation was correct, but the names in the header on a 3-page letter were incorrect. They did not become a client and did not return my subsequent calls. To this day, I am convinced that my failure to pay attention to those details cost me a client. And then I wonder how much it cost them because they did not benefit from our services like our clients did. That is something I have to live with for the rest of my life.

Most of the time the difference between accurate work and work that contains errors is as simple as proofreading at least once. If I had not just proofread the proposal and letter on my screen but proofread a printed document, I would have caught my error. So slow down and take the extra time to double check our work product. Proofread your letters and e-mails.

None of us are going to be perfect. But we can reduce or eliminate most errors simply by proofreading or double-checking our work. Let’s give attention to our work and get the details right.

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