The Simple Solution? Fix What's Broken
Chicago hockey fans are going nuts right now. The Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup, the first time since 1961. Although I enjoy watching the Hawks, I’m really a Chicago Bears fan. And that team hasn’t done so well the past several years. At the end of the season, General Manager Jerry Angelo said in order for the Bears to return to a winning season, the team needs to fix what is broken first. He added that the organization—himself included—hadn’t done enough self evaluation. When you put together those the two thoughts—fixing what’s broken and honest self evaluation—you have a playbook for success.
The Blackhawks have learned to fix what is broken. In 2007, when Rocky Wirtz took over ownership of the team from his father, Bill Wirtz, who died of cancer, the younger Wirtz changed many of the policies his father had kept in place for so long. Rocky Wirtz had done some honest evaluation of the team and fixed what was broken. He allowed Hawks games to be televised, which increased the fab base. He brought in young players such as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, replaced the head coach with Joel Quenneville and at the end of this season made Antti Niemi the starting goaltender As a result, the Hawks are celebrating in Chicago right now.
If your business is not performing as you’d like, step back and honestly evaluate it; look at how it is currently being run, how it has changed through the years, what works well and what doesn’t, and ask why. Ask others for their honest opinions as well. Set up a spot on your website where employees or customers can leave anonymous suggestions (people are more apt to be honest if they don’t have to worry about being called out), or scan the online reviews of your company on such websites as Yelp or Yahoo Local. You’d be amazed at what people might be saying about your company on these sites. Reviewing your business from both your perspective and from others will help you identify specifically what is broken. Once you can pinpoint what is broken, you can determine how to fix it. With only a vague idea of the problem, or a general notion that “times are just bad,” you’ll never be able to take the concrete action that will result in improved business. Circuit City went under partially because the economy was rough, but mostly because they had poor operations in place and were struggling with some basic problems that came to the forefront when times got tight.
When determining what is broken, keep an open mind. It may be something as simple as carrying the wrong type of merchandise for your area, or not being open the right days or hours. Perhaps your area has changed and what appealed to customers 10 years ago doesn’t appeal to your new audience. Or it may go beyond that. Maybe what’s broken is the type of business itself. If you live in an urban area, there’s likely little call for a tractor repair company. If today’s customers are all using cell phones, can a telephone repairman expect to do the same business he did 20 years ago? I know those examples aren’t the same as a retail business, but it should get you thinking. Maybe the problem is how your business connects with customers. How are today’s consumers different than yesterday’s? What do they want, and what are they willing to pay for that their mothers wouldn’t? Today’s customers are tech-savvy and want to find the best deals. Maybe you should ramp up your digital advertising, run e-mail specials, or send text messages about new products to top customers. I once received a special offer from Domino’s Pizza by text message on my cell phone. It came at the right time, and I ended up ordering pizza for dinner that night. Maybe you need to throw the playbook out altogether and start from scratch; what has worked in the past no longer works in the present. Today’s customers want unique stylish products, info at their fingertips and an easy buying process. Give that to them and you’ll be on your way to a winning season.