Round and Round the Circle of Growth

Rod Lorenz

Always improving is the way to keep on a circle of growth.

I’m a fan of the term “circle of growth.”

It essentially refers to the process of learning to do what you don’t yet know how to do, then using that knowledge to learn how to do other productive things, then using that knowledge to learn how to do even more, and so on—in a constant cycle of improvement.

The term can be used to refer to personal growth, but it’s also very applicable to organizational growth. It certainly describes how we’ve learned at Ralph’s to provide the highest-quality hardwood floors, better operate our business, and more-than-please our customers.

Much of our growth has been in technical knowledge related to hardwood floor installation and refurbishing. Over our 50-plus years, we’ve taken on our fair share of jobs we knew we could successfully complete after we learned how to do something we had never done before.

If  we know we can do it—but aren’t yet experts in that type of job—we figure out how to do it. And the more we learn, the more we can learn. It’s like studying math—we keep building upon skills we just learned.

The result of this approach is knowledge that compounds each time around the “circle of growth”—knowledge that helps us keep adding hardwood floor options, such as stair treads, trim, exotic woods, wide-width boards, and even luxury vinyl floors.

Another aspect of our growth is on the business side. We’ve learned how to negotiate with suppliers to reduce costs. We’ve learned how to reduce our internal costs while at the same time increasing the level of our performance. And we’ve figured out how to pass these savings along to the homeowners and contractors we’re fortunate enough to call our customers.

We’ve also moved ourselves “around the circle” by making investments that help us provide an ever-higher level of excellence and customer service. In the same sense as learning to do something new technically, it’s a progression when we make investments that increase quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. That’s why we’ve consistently budgeted for capital expenditures that keep the circle of growth going (e.g., the recent remodeling of our showroom).

Another way to describe what I’m talking about is the familiar business term, “continuous improvement.” Our long-term adherence to this concept benefits our customers, which benefits us, which benefits our customers even more … and the circle continues.

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