Are you rebalancing?

Are you looking at your organization for balance and adjusting when necessary?

I recently took a flower arranging class. It was a lot of fun creating something where nothing existed before. As the class worked to create the arrangement step by step, the instructor cautioned us that the tulips would continue to grow. And the lilies would open up and take lots of space. Both instructions were giving us advice to choose the height and placement for what was to come.

She wasn’t kidding! The tulips grew four or five inches, while I thought they might grow two. And the lilies opened up, covering half the arrangement. As a result, the arrangement ended up out of balance after a few days with the tulips out running the rest of the arrangement and the lilies covering many of the other flowers.

The same thing happens in building out organizations. Some people and departments start outpacing the rest of the organization. And other departments and people take over, not allowing others to be seen and reach their potential. Even if you know it is coming, the best laid plans don’t always work. That means it is imperative to watch for it and continually rebalance so the organization and people operate in harmony. When was the last time you rebalanced?

are you making it easy to do business?

Are you making it easy to do business with you?

It was a beautiful weekend, temperatures reaching 80 degrees. And that meant people flocked to the big box home improvement store to get items for their outdoor projects. The line stretched from the two checkout counters to nearly the back wall.

I just had a few items and wondered whether the lines were shorter inside. And they were. Actually, there weren’t any lines at all. I walked right up and was checked out instantly. I mentioned my surprise to the person checking me out and she said on nice days, the lines are always long in the garden center and short inside.

The situation made me wonder how companies help customers navigate their business. Are people available to help customers navigate their experience efficiently? How are roadblocks removed to make doing business easy? Do you look at where customers experience bottlenecks and reduce them? What can you do to make doing business with you easier for your customers?

how are you delighting customers?

How are you delighting your customers?

Over the weekend, I went to the local nursery. It is just up the street from where I live, but in a direction I don’t usually go, so I had never been there before. I pulled in and the owner came out and greeted me, helped me find what I needed and gave me tips for success in growing my new plants.

As we talked about the bare root plants and dirt, it became clear to me I’d end up with a huge mess in my car. As I live just a few minutes from the nursery, she volunteered to bring my purchase to my house at no charge. It was such a great experience, I’ll definitely be back.

Opportunities to delight customers come around regularly if you listen for them. And by adding the small touches you can guarantee they come to you next time first. How are you delighting your customers?

are you adding unnecessary steps?

Are you adding unnecessary steps?

The other day I decided to make chicken stock. The WSJ had a recipe several weeks ago and it looked really easy. And a great way to use the whole chicken while creating another ingredient I often use—chicken stock.

So, I pulled out the pot, took the strainer part out and dumped all of the ingredients in the pot and let it go for a few hours. At the end, while looking at the built in strainer sitting on the counter that I removed, I kicked myself for taking that portion of the pot out that would have made it easier to strain at the end. Instead, I ended up with a much more manual process that took longer.

These sorts of situations happen in business all the time. We end up taking out parts of the process that would have made the process smoother in the long run. Or we add things in that end up slowing the entire process down. How often are you adding unnecessary steps into your business?

What conditions are you creating in your business?

What conditions are you creating in your business?

The motorcycle first caught my eye on a winding road. It was behind me and following a little too closely. But it wasn’t until we got to the main road and were stopped that I saw a dog pop its head up from behind the driver. As the motorcycle passed, the dog was clearly visible. It was in a backpack with its head and front legs on the shoulders of the driver flying down the road at 60 mph.

Many miles down the road, we stopped at a light. The motorcycle, a car in front of me, then me. And that’s when it happened. The dog started to shimmy out of the backpack. Panic set in that the light would turn green, the motorcycle would move and the dog would pop out of the backpack and land on the road. Luckily, the dog popped out of the bag and started running down the road before the light turned green. It ran up to a parking lot and was caught by its person before being hit by the oncoming cars in the next lane. Crisis averted.

There are a whole bunch of points I can make with this experience. But I’ll keep it to just one. When people don’t feel safe or are highly uncomfortable, they will bolt. What conditions are you creating in your business?

how do you adapt to extreme situations

How do you adapt in extreme situations?

About a month ago, a big snow storm hit the area, leaving snow in many places for a week. And for a few days, the snow was so high, leaving the house was nearly impossible. And while only a few ventured out bundled up, the birds were out in force. They were flying around and chirping away. It was too cold for people to go outside, but tiny birds were quite happy out in the freezing temperatures. How did they not freeze? Apparently, they have several mechanisms to survive the cold.

There are extreme situations that can test businesses every year. Just like birds have built in capabilities to make it through, businesses can build in capabilities too. What are the extreme situations you experience in your business? How are you building in capabilities to make it through them?

picture this!

Picture this!

Have you ever walked around and seen a lawn crew servicing a yard with poor results? Or painters painting a house, resulting in a less than ideal paint job. Or a crew fencing a yard with spectacular results. Or a landscaper transforming the entire look of a house.

If you put a picture of each of these results on the front of a brochure, which would you want to work with? If you put a picture of the results you generate on the front of a brochure, would they attract customers?

Risk can be an advantage

What is your backup plan?

A few weeks ago, during the snow storm in the Pacific Northwest, I lost the internet connection for a few hours. Luckily, it was a short period of time and I still had power. I also had a radio, so I was able to listen to the radio to hear updates.

The situation was a good reminder of the power of backup plans. There are always a variety of issues that can crop up in business. And having backup plans that are not reliant on the same platforms are important to keep going. What are your backup plans?

cross the finish line or stop?

Cross the finish line or stop?

The snow just started to accumulate and along with it came the cancelation of weekly trash pickup. The snow wasn’t supposed to cause an issue until the following day, but out of an abundance of caution, the service was canceled with pickup to occur one week later. And just then, the mail truck drove by on its normal route, causing me to think about the USPS motto:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Setting aside the very real issues snow storms cause, the contrast in services that day got me thinking about approaches to business. Whether providing services, completing projects or everyday activities, some approach getting across the finish line as a given. It will happen. Others look for reasons to stop. Which is yours?

your emergency is not the same as my emergency

Your definition of an emergency is not the same as my definition of an emergency

The leak under my kitchen sink was not gushing, but did create a puddle on the floor when I used the sink. After checking with my neighbors for a plumber to no avail, I found one online that was well rated. And they offered same day service! So I called for an appointment, the first available time was two days later. Apparently same day was only available for emergencies.

That’s the thing. One person’s definition of an emergency is another person’s definition of the ordinary course of business. Understanding how each side views the situation helps to find a solution that works for all parties.