we've always done it that way means it is time to change

Are you making it harder than it should be to do business with you?

It should have been a very simple process of buying my exercise gear. I knew exactly what I wanted, put it in the online cart and hit the checkout button like I had done many times before.  All of my information was already there, so it should have processed and sent me a receipt.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, I was taken to a screen asking me to set up Apple pay. After spending time with the person at the other end of the online chat, I was told that for all Apple devices, customers are routed to set up Apple pay. The only way around it is to download another browser, and use that browser to complete the transaction. You know this brand and probably have it in your closet. They don’t need to make it that hard to buy from them.

It is a good lesson in how a likely partnership with another company has made it harder to do business with customers. Have you unintentionally set up processes that make it harder to do business with you?  It is a good time to look at your end to end customer experience and get rid of anything that makes it harder to do business with you. You’ll be glad you did!

time, money or quality. pick 2

Time, Money or Quality. Pick Two

A friend recently shared the experience of building a house. The house was designed by an architect and was everything they wanted. The only thing was, the architect designed it to be beautiful, but not easy to build. My friend shared how excited they were at the final outcome, but lamented the time and money it took to complete the house.

This sort of situation happens all the time in business. Leaders want a project fast, but want it at a low cost with high quality. That combination doesn’t work. If you want it fast and high quality, it typically costs more.

As you think about your overall goals, it is important to think through the outcomes you are looking for and adjust expectations accordingly.

are you investing?

Are you investing right now?

Last week, the county put a slurry coat on all the streets in the area where I live. The county knows that the cost of the slurry coat is minimal compared to replacing the roads if routine maintenance does not occur. And they chose to invest in maintenance even in the midst of a pandemic.

That got me to thinking about how I’ve seen businesses taking very different approaches to investing over the last four months. Many are investing and reaping the rewards. Some aren’t but need to. Are you investing in your business?

what is your crumbs strategy?

The Crumbs Strategy

My dog has a strategy when it comes to crumbs. She only goes for the big stuff and will leave many crumbs that drop from a food prep mishap. Being a rescue dog with lots of anxiety, she has figured out how to get what she wants by giving me a look. She doesn’t need to chase crumbs.

In business, knowing whether you are going to chase crumbs or work for the big stuff is important. There are lots of crumbs around and they are easy to capture. But it takes more work and you sometimes get other stuff with them. Working for the big stuff takes a different kind of work, but the payoff is better.

Which crumbs strategy do you use?


we've always done it that way means it is time to change

What will you do when conditions change?

Before COVID, the grocery store encouraged customers to bring their reusable bags. With the current conditions, not wanting to spread germs, the store now prohibits reusable bags to protect everyone. They put all the items back in the cart after checkout and have a bagging station outside so people can use their reusable bags. Otherwise items are bagged in a paper bag. And that’s changed too….the paper bag is now plain and does not have its prior branded printing.

This move is temporary. And businesses of all types are making the same temporary changes. The trick is to make the shift to the most effective approach from a cost and availability perspective. How are you adjusting when conditions change?

Are you confusing people?

The department of transportation is reconfiguring the freeway to add a bus lane to avoid traffic during rush hour. The project basically takes the left shoulder, narrows the three existing lanes and takes a portion of the right shoulder.

The first step taken was marking where the new lanes will be with white dashed lines about 2 feet from the existing lane markers. As a result of the new lines, people were confused where to drive. Some were driving in the existing lanes while others were driving in what will be the lanes in the future.

I’m sure there were lots of good reasons for marking the lane in preparation for work that would happen a few weeks down the road. But it created a lot of confusion for those using the road, not working on the project.

These sorts of situations happen all the time in business. People take actions that will help their work. In the meantime, it confuses customers and co-workers operating in the same space. How are you making sure you aren’t confusing people?

hidden gems

Hidden Gems

A friend gave me a beautiful plant basket years ago. The plants now live individually in pots on the window sill with the blinds just over the height of the plants to give them light.  It wasn’t until I raised the blinds, that I found one of the plants grew a flower. The plant hadn’t bloomed in years, so it was a lovely surprise to find the bloom hiding behind the blinds.

Hidden gems are all over the place in business and in life. It just takes a little poking around to find them. When was the last time you went looking for hidden gems?

are you magnifying the right things?

Did you really intend to magnify that?

All the screens for the windows on my house were pulled down to be cleaned. To keep mud and grass off them, I laid a piece of plastic on top of my grass in the shade. Then mid way through the project, someone stopped by my house and then a call came through. By that time, the sun shifted and the spot was in the sun, so I quickly finished, pulled up the plastic and moved on.

It wasn’t until the next day that I noticed burned spots on my grass. Apparently, the little water pockets magnified the sun and burned the grass. The damage wasn’t permanent, but it did last a few weeks.

That’s the thing about magnifying. Sometimes it is necessary to make progress. Other times, when done incorrectly or unintentionally, it can make things worse. Are you paying attention to what you magnify?

what is building up that you need to get rid of?

What is building up that you don’t notice?

The rain seemed to finally be tapering off, so it was time to get the windows on my house cleaned. It had been a while. And while they didn’t look that bad, it was time. What a difference once they were done! The clear, brilliant view was amazing. The colors outside were so bright and sharp.

It’s funny how things build up over time that obscure your view. When it is gradual, you might not even notice it. That’s why it is important to periodically go through and clean off the things that build up. You’ll be glad you did!

do you know your customers interests?

Do you have insight into your customer interests?

I’ve noticed a curious trend over the time through the stay at home orders—I’m listening to podcasts less, but the number of podcasts being released has increased. About a month ago, one of the podcasts even noted the trend of reduced listening is happening. But as it turns out, while total listening is down, it is up in some categories and down in others. And the categories I listen to are up.

The trends demonstrate why it is important to understand your specific customers and their interests. When you do, you know when to ramp up and when to pull back.