Ace Hardware was recently awarded with their 12th straight J.D. Power award for best in customer service, which explains why Ace Hardware has grown dramatically where today they have over 5,000 stores. The secret: all stores use the exact same brilliant customer model.

When I asked John about the secret to the Ace model, he replied, “We call great customer service our weapon in the world. We reduce the amount of non-customer facing time, so we can increase the amount of customer facing time. We align store talent with our projections for customer visits, and our most important bucket we call, ‘operationalizing helpful.’”

I witness this every time I go to an Ace Hardware. For example, I bet they will ask this type of question, which is different than you’re used to: “What can I help you find today?” Those last two words are the key. And they follow up by informing other staff members via earphones that you are coming, so the staff is ready to help.

To all CEOs who want to elevate their service the lesson is clear: Operationalize service so it becomes consistently excellent.