You have to give more than you get if you want to succeed...
From my first job as a dishwasher, to my career on Wall Street, as an eye surgeon, and now writing these daily briefs... I've applied this rule. I strive to treat everyone as my customer.
But it's increasingly rare to find this attitude in today's age of entitlement.
Instead, people of all ages demand things for nothing. Employees on the job for just a few months expect the same perks and privileges of those who've been working there for years.
For example, I was just talking to a friend in the biotech deal-making space who was dealing with managing a young associate... During a conference-call negotiation the youngster suddenly spoke up and said that he'd really appreciate it if his boss could take over for him on the call because he wanted to leave early for the day to pack for a ski trip that weekend.
(Guess who didn't have a job when he got back from his ski trip?)
But this kind of mind-set extends all the way up the corporate ladder... If a business cannot deliver an experience that meets the customers' expectations and creates loyalty, it's bound to fail. The customer will take his or her money elsewhere.
That's why for more than a decade, I've used a simple quiz to guide my investments.
This quiz has helped my Retirement Trader subscribers close 267 out of 288 series of trades with a profit... And it's allowed my Retirement Millionaire subscribers to safely make consistent, annual double-digit gains in regular stocks.
This quiz takes less than 30 seconds to complete. And if you start using it, you could drastically improve your investing results.
All you have to do to take the quiz is ask, "Does the company I'm investing in enjoy tremendous customer loyalty?"
If the answer is no, chances are good that you should pass on the stock.
But if the answer is yes, chances are good that you've found a safe, long-term stock investment... one you can hold for years and compound wealth at 10%-15% per year.
Take Coca-Cola (KO), for example. Coke enjoys customer loyalty because its products taste good. They are consistent. They are everywhere. And for less than a dollar, a customer can enjoy a brief bit of pleasure. Since 1995, Coke's shareholders are up more than 250%, including dividends.
Other great consumer brands like chocolate-maker Hershey (HSY) and fast-food juggernaut McDonald's (MCD) enjoy this loyalty as well.
These are familiar examples of "retail" loyalty. But there's another little-known type of loyalty... This form of loyalty comes down to "switching costs" for larger companies.
You see, when a company is considering moving its business from one service provider to another, it must consider the costs.
Take Microsoft (MSFT), for example. If your 500-employee office is used to using Windows and Office software, it's going to be difficult for your company to ever switch to new software.
If your company is going to switch 401(k) providers or payroll managers, there's going to be a big cost. If it's going to switch the phone system it uses on thousands of phones, there's a big cost. A company might think another service provider would be better, but it won't ever switch from its current provider because the "switching costs" are too high.
This means consistent sales and insulation from competition.
No matter what form it comes in, loyalty ensures a constant and unrelenting demand for products. That keeps profit margins high and sales growth strong. It also helps insulate a company from competition – a crucial attribute for a long-term investment.
Remember... in the "survival of the fittest" world of capitalism, a business must get every possible bit of insulation from upstart competitors. Otherwise, it will eventually fail and leave its shareholders empty-handed.
Owning great dividend-paying businesses is the key to long-term stock market success. These companies get you on the road to compounding... turning a 5% dividend into a 9% or even a 30%-plus yield on cost.
These businesses are almost always identified by their extreme customer loyalty. And this loyalty ensures big profit margins, steady sales growth, and extreme resistance to competition. Plus, these businesses allow you to sleep well at night. These are the sorts of companies I look for in my investment advisory services.
And all it takes to recognize them is a 30-second quiz.
What We're Reading...
- The enduring lesson of New Coke on the Coca-Cola brand.
- Kraft just changed its mac and cheese... and nobody noticed.
- Something different: An employee of armored-car company Brink's stole nearly five tons of quarters – about $200,000 – by replacing bags of coins with bags of beads.