Little things mean a lot. Consider Usain Bolt, the incredible 6-foot, 5-inch Jamaican sprinter. Bolt, as many of you sports fans probably recall, earned world records in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In the 2012 London Olympics, he again won the 100-meter and the 200-meter races, this time beating fellow countryman Johan Blake by a mere one-tenth of a second (a blink of an eye) in the 100 meters.

You do recognize the name Usain Bolt, right? How about Johan Blake? Or Churandy Martina, the competitor that came in second to Bolt at the 2008 Olympics?

My guess is, like me, you forgot their names soon after the races had been run. Instead, you focused on Bolt, the Jamaican flag draped across his shoulders, taking his celebratory trot around the track. In my mind’s eye, I can still see him turning to the wildly cheering fans in the stands and making his signature lightning bolt gesture.

Yes, little things mean a lot when it comes to winning and being memorable and appreciated.

And that goes as much for the services you provide as it does for athletics where a made free throw in the final seconds of a basketball game determines a championship. Or a sacrifice bunt, dribbled just 5 or 6 feet down a baseline and moving a runner into scoring position, can set up the winning run in a World Series game.

You don’t have to be a lot better than the toughest competition in your market; being even just a little bit better can return huge benefits to you.

How can you be a little bit better than competitors in your market?

It means looking a little bit better than your competition. Think like a property owner or property manager. Would you rather your neighbors see your eye-catching, branded and clean service vehicle parked in the street in front of your property or a battered, dirty pickup? Would you want your neighbors to see workers wearing khaki pants and shirts identifying the company they work for rather than a couple of guys attired in raggedy jeans and nondescript, dirty muscle shirts?

It means having employees, at least at the crew leader level, that speak English well and can intelligently respond to clients’ questions. It also means training supervisors and crew leaders to recognize the difference between poor, acceptable and great service.

It means picking up the kids’ toys and neatly stacking them out of the way when you mow, and never leaving clippings on driveways, sidewalks and city streets.

It means using common sense when using leaf blowers and other noisy equipment, such as chain saws, power washers, etc. – not too early in the morning or into the evening.

It means being alert to small problems that may eventually develop into large headaches on clients’ properties. If they’re small enough, perhaps you or your employees can correct them immediately. Some, however, will require a bigger fix. In both cases, keep your clients informed.

OK, so maybe my suggestions seem to be asking you to be a lot better rather than a little bit better than your competitors. Now that I look over them again, that does appear to be the case.

In that light, please consider another analogy to put a finer touch on what I’m sharing with you.

Suppose you and your competitors are being chased by an angry bear. Obviously, being a lot faster than the others would be a very good thing. However, it’s almost certain they’ll be running as furiously as you are.

That being the case, even Usain Bolt beating the rest of the pack by even a little bit will probably get the job done, too.