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Choosing the color scheme on the postcards for your direct-mail campaign. Chatting with customers after you've answered their questions. Updating your Web site copy. While it's often said that the devil is in the details, paying attention to the little things can also be the saving grace for your business. "Businesses are successful because of details," says Larry Kesslin, president of New York City-based business consulting firm Let's Talk Business Network Inc.. "You have to execute on the little things to be effective."
Of course, "the little things" differ for every business. For casting companies like Portland, Oregon-based Extras Only and its sister company, Danny Stoltz Casting, attention to detail means making sure all the extras come dressed appropriately, which is challenging when you're dealing with 2,000 people. "If my client wants them to wear all white, I make sure they wear all white," says founder Danny Stoltz (email@example.com), 23. "I'll go buy them a white shirt if I need to because I won't let the little things slip through the cracks."
Stoltz's attention to detail impresses clients so much, he turned Extras Only (founded in 1994) and Danny Stoltz Casting (founded in 1997) into the primary extras casting resource in Oregon. While Stoltz won't release his sales figures, his resume includes such films as Foxfire, The Hunted and Zero Effect. But he never would have landed big titles without being "very meticulous," says Stoltz. "Our casting sessions are better than what my clients are used to seeing, even in L.A., because I use better cameras, massive backdrops, lighting and microphone systems. I've done things from the beginning that were above and beyond what most casting companies would do."
While Stoltz pays close attention to the clothes his extras wear, Kevin Plank, 28, focuses on apparel for athletes. His company, Baltimore-based Under Armour Performance Apparel, which designs fabrics that minimize the sweat on an athlete's body, projects sales of $25 million for 2001, and the company is now an official supplier to Major League Baseball and most NFL teams. Like Stoltz, Plank says it's his hands-on attitude and dedication to detail that drive his company. Whenever a shipment comes in, Plank works out in one of the items to make sure the seams are right and its material absorbs sweat. "You have to have an attention-to-detail mentality in everything you do," says Plank. "We manufacture anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 articles of clothing per week. With that kind of production, you need a lot of quality-control processes."
Now, you can't keep track of every single system within your company-if you did, you wouldn't have time to be an effective leader. But you can train yourself and your employees to make sure you go above and beyond your clients' expectations.