The 4 Rs of Managing a Successful Business

by Tom Lamendola

Updated: November 23, 2022, at 3:52 PM

After nearly 20 years of recruiting experience—half of which have been spent in a business management function—I’ve learned a lot about what drives a successful business.

Of course, there’s been a lot of learning along my journey, but what I’ve come to believe is that to be successful, we all need effective programs for recruiting, recognition, retention, and referrals.

The “4 Rs” if you will.

I believe this concept is relevant to any function within any company. Over time, marketing and communications teams have worked tirelessly to develop channels designed to maximize each of the “4 Rs” mentioned above. With the help of these channels, this philosophy could even be considered your complete business process map.

I’ve been fortunate to support many different job requirements, as well as the personalities responsible for making selection decisions. It’s made me develop an appreciation for the philosophy, “Your people are your most valuable asset.” Regardless if “your people” are employees, suppliers, prospects, or clients; they require you to develop programs for each “R” to effectively fuel your business.

1. Recruiting

Recruiting is mandatory for both internal and external business management. Creating and mastering an effective recruiting program will have immediate and long-lasting impacts on your business. People today have instant access to more information than any other time before. As a result, it’s your responsibility as a business manager to make sure your recruiting message is clear, concise, and accessible.

When you’re looking for your next hire, first identify the audience you’re trying to attract. Then, craft a personal and relatable message your candidates can find and engage with. The same strategy applies when attempting to recruit new clients or customers. Remember to use the same channels and media, and make sure your messaging remains consistent.

Related: 6 Things to Look for in a Resume as an Employer (And 1 You Shouldn’t)

Too often, people look at recruiting talent different than recruiting clients.

It’s not.

Your employees should be the biggest fans and most active advocates. In the same breath, your clients (and their networks) can be the number one source of new talent.

You may be conditioned to ask clients for business referrals, and rightfully so. But, how often do you ask the same group for names for who might fit well within our organization? As a business manager, you should always be recruiting. Each person or contact is a lead in one way or another.

Related: 8 Effective Lead Conversion Tips for Financial Professionals

2. Recognition

By now you’ve heard of the fear of missing out, or “FOMO.” But, this isn’t a new concept in business management and certainly not in employee performance or client acquisition. The application of FOMO is as old as marketing itself, and I would argue one of the most successful motivational campaigns for those who consistently recognize their people.

Regardless of which end of the motivational spectrum you reside (intrinsic or extrinsic), effective recognition programs can be very appealing. You can use similar programs with slight adjustments for employees, as well as external stakeholders to highlight your relationship with them.

Some of the best recognition campaigns are designed with FOMO as the leading characteristic. For those stakeholders who are intrinsically motivated, social recognition is often the best tool to use.

With the expansive reach of technology, you can create broad or narrow recognition campaigns (depending on your objective) for employees highlighting service time, exceptional service, or demonstration of your company values. Similar programs can be created for your clients or prospects by using age-old campaigns such as, “We only have [X amount of] spots left,” or “[Client name] has just reached our platinum level.”

While the latter will likely have some extrinsic motivation attached, those who aren’t “platinum level” yet won’t want to miss out on the benefits. Neither will their peers, who are now aware they’ve reached a distinguished honor with your business.

Extrinsic or “carrot and stick” recognition programs typically include compensation or performance-based reinvestment and can be used interchangeably. One popular extrinsic motivator today are rewards or loyalty programs constructed on the foundation of giving back or reinvesting in people.

Related: Incentivize to Secure Top Talent For Your Business [Infographic]

3. Retention

Perhaps the most important “R” of our successful business management model, retention is your key to longevity. Successful retention ratios fuel the other three “Rs” by providing the foundation for opportunities that others will come to you for.

Successful business managers implement and drive communication to their current employee and client bases; providing transparent content to sustain retention rates.

One of the most common reasons for an employee to leave a company or team is the lack of communication without having clear expectations. Remember, we have instant access to more information than ever before. If you don’t anticipate your stakeholder’s need for information, you inadvertently leave the door open for the competition to fill that need.

However, you need to be careful you’re not over-communicating or becoming white noise in somebody’s inbox. Although providing information is key to retention, your audience prefers current, relevant, and concise information as it relates to their individual needs. Don’t make the mistake of marketing only to your external populations to increase your talent pool or client base.

4. Referrals

The “four Rs” of business management can also be used as your business process map. Your request for referrals is your last stop. You must perform the first three “Rs” better than your competition before you’ll realize the power of the referral process.

Throughout the courtship (recruiting) of a new relationship, your prospect must have a positive experience from the first time they hear about your opportunity until the time they decide to join your business. Likewise, how well has their service to you (or your firm) been recognized? Do they feel appreciated? Have they been rewarded for their loyalty? Basically, we’re asking “What will make them want to project FOMO to their peers?”

Lastly, how long have they been with your business? Long enough where they feel like they know as much about it as there is to know? Favorable answers to these questions will increase the likelihood of a referral from those you ask (and hopefully some you don’t).


Managing a successful business is difficult. It requires a strong vision, sound strategy, and effective execution. Be sure to use “The 4 Rs” philosophy to help you correctly align time, money, technology, and people in all aspects of your firm.

Keep Reading: 4 Tips for Getting More Referrals at Your Social Events


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