right people in right place

What are your people telling your customers about you?

My refrigerator started leaking water all over the floor. So, I called to have someone come out and fix it. When he got here, he explained the design flaw that was causing the problem and indicated he could fix it, but it would happen again at some point. And the cost of the repair was pretty high. So, I asked him if he was really telling me it is time for a new fridge. He said yes.

Having people in your business that will give customers the full picture to make an informed decision is critically important. Those front line folks tell customers a lot about how you run the business, who you hire, how you incentivize them, and the values and behaviors you expect. What are your people telling your customers?

Poor substitutes aren't worth it

Poor substitutes just aren’t worth it

We all have products we love. And when they aren’t available, the search for a substitute is on. Like many, I’ve had that issue over the last year with Clorox wipes. And like many, I’ve been disappointed by the poor quality of the substitutes that have flooded the market. The contrast has highlighted why having a quality product is worth the money.

The same is true in businesses of all types. If your products or services are high quality, people will know that a poor substitute isn’t worth it. How are you positioning your products or services so people aren’t looking for a poor substitute?

risk solution

How do you get around problems?

During the winter, an ice patch forms in the same location. Water flows from one side of the street to the other and freezes in a patch wide enough to make stepping across not an option. Some people see it and turn around. Others try to walk across it and fall. And others see the way around by stepping on the curb, holding onto the light pole and getting to the other side.

When you see a problem, how do you get around it?

are you bold

Sometimes trying something new is a great way to get out of a rut

Over the weekend, I decided to try a few new things. The local cheesemonger made a few recommendations based on what I typically like, and he hit homeruns! It is easy to get into a rut of getting the same things over and over. Especially in these times. Getting out of a rut, lifting spirits and getting more creative takes doing new things and having new experiences. When was the last time you tried something new? If not recently, it’s time to give something new a try!

are you stopping things that no longer make sense?

Do you know what to stay away from?

Walking around the area, the fall berries provide a nice pop of color and contrast to the bare limbs and bushes in the winter. They are everywhere in many colors and sizes. After the birds ate my strawberries and cherries through the summer, I got to wondering why the birds eat the summer berries, but not the fall and winter berries. The answer wasn’t simple and straightforward. But clearly there is something that causes the birds to stay away.

Your business should have things you instinctively know to stay away from too. Whether projects that don’t move the organization forward or risks that shouldn’t be taken, every person in the organization should know instinctively to stay away.

making change sustainable

Are you keeping up with the times?

My vet is great! She knows how to handle rescue dogs that are a bit skittish and need a little extra attention. When she moved from one company to another, we followed her because she is great. The only downside is, the owner of the vet business does will not interact with the online pharmacy because of the number of issues they experienced a decade ago. The thing is, today, the online pharmacy is so much easier to deal with and has no issues versus going to a vet office for regular refills. But the issues from a decade ago now result in the vet sending a paper prescription to me by mail, then I have to send that prescription by mail to the online pharmacy, requiring a few weeks of time for issues that no longer exist.

It is a great example of issues that no longer exist driving business decisions. Every business has something that started years ago, but would not be handled that way if implemented today. Are you keeping up with the times?

well run business is worth exponentially more

When was the last time you looked at the dynamics in your market?

It’s easy to tell when open enrollment starts by the level of commercials for Medicare supplement plans. After all, depending on the source, there are somewhere between 63 and 68 million people in the US on Medicare plans. While not everyone buys supplemental insurance, the level of commercials indicate it is a pretty good market to be in.

Compare that with the individual market which has only 11 million people spread out across all the states, with many counties having only one provider as option because there isn’t enough demand to support more than one provider.  It is no surprise that there are no commercials or other ads. And given the small population, it has taken many years to figure out the pricing/profitability in the market.

The dynamics in a market can be pretty easy to spot if you just look for them. When was the last time you stood back and looked at the dynamics in your market?

expect the unexpected

The unexpected can happen

It was a sunny day when I was in the backyard a few weeks ago. Being fall, I don’t typically look at my strawberry patch. But while looking at a few things nearby, I glanced over and saw a beautiful red strawberry. In the fall. It was totally unexpected.

The unexpected happens all the time around us. It just takes keeping your eyes open to find it.

You can't fake normal

You can’t fake normal

A few weeks ago, a commercial caught my attention. There was no talking, just a catchy tune along with a group of people moving to the music. But something seemed off. Looking more closely, it was clear the people had been filmed separately and cut together to appear as if they were actually together. All the subtleties of human interaction weren’t there. And while the attempt to make the environment seem normal, it wasn’t.

Some businesses today are trying to artificially create what normal was 9 months ago rather than working with the conditions of today and creating a new experience. You can’t fake normal. People will notice.

sometimes automation gives you the wrong answer

Sometimes automation gives the wrong answer

The smoke has cleared and the sun is back! But for a while, everything went haywire. Including Amazon deliveries. My orders got to the area, but just sat there. I could see it through the tracking. The delivery dates were sliding out and finally were listed as potentially lost. There wasn’t any notice if the site was being impacted by smoke or fire and the people at the help desk didn’t know anything. After one order showed as being sent to Maryland from Portland a week later, I was finally able to reach a person live who told me everything was in Portland and would arrive that day!

When systems are completely automated and an unexpected event disrupts and intervenes, the system can give all sorts of bad information. How are you building checks into your systems to make sure you are getting the right information at the right time?