building and changing directions

Building and changing directions

The county has started developing a community park. The plot of land had a house and a barn. To my surprise, it only took a day to completely demolish the house and another day to remove the slab and haul away the debris. In contrast, right next to what will be the park, a house is being built. Based on the pace, it will probably be at least two months to complete.

Two months to build. Two days to remove.

There is nothing like physically watching things being built and torn down to remind us of how long it takes to create something new. And how fast a decision to change direction can happen.

are your competitors more clever than you?

You have to want it more

It’s strawberry season once again. Which means a fight with the birds to see who gets the berries first. The birds win more often than not, even with measures to keep them out. They want it more. And they don’t stop until they get what they want.

The same is true in business. The people and businesses that gain the advantage keep working all the angles until they get what they want. They want it more.

right people in right place

Experience makes all the difference

The home improvement store was fantastic when it first started. People that worked there knew all of the projects people work on and could help you with all of the tools and tips you’d need. Then eventually, those experienced people left and were replaced with people who knew where stock was located, but that’s it. So, I was delighted on a recent visit when an employee walked up and asked me if he could help. I explained what I was doing and he gave me several tips I hadn’t even considered. Then grabbed another product for me that I needed. I walked away delighted. And with everything I needed.

Experience in any business makes a huge difference in how well problems get solved. And it makes a big difference in customer service when people come with problems they are looking for the business to solve.

How are you thinking about experience when you hire?

the power of guidelines

The power of guidelines

At the local hiking spot, the parking lot is a large gravel area. The area that accommodates three cars always has three, because it is obvious how cars should be parked. In another larger area, somedays people park in a way seven cars can fit. Other days, people space out and only four cars fit. Human nature often leads to having less capacity than if lines were in place that guided people to the most optimal fit.

The same is true at work. Having guidelines helps people achieve the optimal work. The point isn’t to micromanage or have no rules and let people flounder. It is to have the boundaries set so people know where to go.

How are you doing at setting guidelines?

do you really need to tell people what to do with avocados?

Do you really need to tell people what to do with an avocado?

When the local grocery store was purchased, their ads changed. Historically, pictures of the product and the sale price were listed. Just the facts. Now, the use or medicinal properties are shared. Oranges are touted as being a good source of vitamin C.  Avocados are great for spreading on toast. But most shoppers already know that.

People look for unique perspectives or the specific information they are looking for. They don’t want to hear what they already know. And that’s the challenge for businesses. Providing useful or thought provoking information.

what is your customer experience?

Amazing customer service at the local high school

One of the local high schools recently held a plant sale. The kids learned how to grow plants from seed and sold the starts as a fundraiser. Upon arriving, I was greeted by one of the students who escorted me through the greenhouse. He showed me where each item I was looking for was located, put my selections in a box, escorted me to the check out, then put the plants in my car. The service was fantastic! I was so impressed, I shared the experience with family and friends.

Creating raving fans is easy to do. And it starts with amazing customer service.

How are you creating amazing customer service in your business?

change isn't always good

Are businesses ceding customers to third parties?

A lot has changed through the pandemic. And as a result, many implemented new systems to serve the customer better.  In some cases, those systems introduced a third party between the business and the customer, who now controls a significant portion of the experience. And doesn’t allow for purchasing or making reservations a guest, without a profile being completed.

At some point, “you may like this” recommendations may be made to the customer. Will that lead them elsewhere? Is having a third party controlling the experience (and collecting their data across a range of companies) better for the business or the third party? And does that system make life better or worse for the customer?

where do you adjust when obstacles pop up

How well do you know where to adjust when obstacles pop up?

A few weeks ago, several inches of heavy, wet snow fell. It was April, so leaves had sprouted, giving the snow more places to accumulate. And the combination of the two resulted in trees and major limbs falling all over the trails. Many were so large, they were impassible. Because I know the trails so well, I was able to quickly adjust to alternate trails. When one option is closed off, there are always others to keep going.

The same is true in business. Periodically, obstacles pop up requiring a course change. When time is spent in advance to understand the market dynamics, adjusting course can happen quickly. And that speed allows you to outperform competitors.

what surprises are lurking in your business

How are you helping others avoid missing the obvious?

I love playing Wordle. It’s simple and fun. And sometimes frustrating when I miss the obvious and end up with too many guesses.

Missing the obvious happens for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we are too far into the weeds to see the big picture. Other times, it could be overthinking. Or maybe just not paying attention.

As leaders, helping people see the obvious is part of the job. And it just takes keeping that topic front of mind so it isn’t missed. How are you helping your people avoid missing the obvious?