Improve Your Business Process by Watching Realty TV
by Steve Smith
We can learn from a recent and growing genre of reality TV shows how to improve the processes of a business and turn it around before it falls on hard times. If you don't want your business problems viewed by millions on TV, follow these steps and orchestrate your own turn around away from everyone who watched national TV?
Just when I thought the reality show genre offered little more than people making fools of themselves on national TV, along come a series that genuinely provides valuable insights on improving business processes. I’m not talking about the latest craze of rural, backwoods folks as they go about their daily lives; I’m talking about ‘Business Rescues’!
First it was ‘Bar Rescue’, a fast paced SWAT team lead by bar turnaround specialist John Taffer who shows up to failing bars (at the owner’s request) and systematically turns around everything necessary for the establishment to be profitable again.
This type of reality show series has been duplicated to include ‘Restaurant Rescue’, ‘Restaurant Impossible’, ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ and ‘Restaurant Stakeout’. Each touts the star’s ability to improve the business process by sizing up the problems, tuning up the staff and redesigning the facility before a horde of patrons descend on the place frequently described as a stress test. This version of reality TV has become so popular, there is now a show called ‘Tattoo Rescue’!
Even with all the over-the-top drama baked into every show that includes employees being fired on camera, owners crying and work crews rebuilding entire restaurants in 60 minutes, there are some very valuable and predictable lessons being played out.
Business improvement processes are just like reality TV shows. They are based on a recipe that delivers a predictable outcome. They provide a winning combination of problem solving, planning, skills training and testing, thereby working wonders on a variety of business problems.
In my business coaching practice, I rely heavily on processes to help my clients get to the root of the problem and then follow a particular set of steps customized to achieve the business owner’s desired outcome. Based on the formula used for these ‘Rescue type’ reality shows, here’s what to look for if you need to make significant changes in order to return your business to profitability.
Business Improvement Process #1: The Signs May Be Obvious
Depending on your business, if revenue and client traffic have been going down, don’t wait for a Hail Mary from the economy.
Step one in any business improvement process means taking an objective look at the condition of your business. As the owner, you need to be the first to do this. As time goes on, customers and employees will lose interest and cease caring if they believe management is blind to what they see right in front of them. It’s hard to fess up to any form of deterioration in your operation but waiting won’t make it go away.
Business Improvement Process #2: The Evaluation Begins in the Mirror
John Taffer of ‘Bar Rescue’ and Robert Irvine of ‘Restaurant Impossible’ waste no time dealing with owners who have disengaged from their businesses believing that everything is fine in their absence. As a business owner, you cannot phone in responsibility for running things or accountability for doing the job.
Step #2 of your business improvement process is to look in the mirror and be honest with your role in the situation you find your business in. These problems tend to start at the top. So should the solution.
Business Improvement Process #3: Reintroduce standards into your business
If your restaurant is serving questionable food from outdated menus and the condition of the kitchen would gag maggots, figure out why your standards have fallen and what level they need to return to. If you run other types of businesses like home improvement services or jewelry stores, check the condition of the products and services and the way they are being serviced up to the customer.
Step #3 in your business improvement process is to introduce new standards of performance throughout your business. They should be clear and relevant to your staff and important enough to you to see they get followed.
Business Improvement Process #4: Provide training and coaching to the staff
Employees bring all kinds of abilities, experience and personal quirks with them to the job. What they may not always bring is the right combination of skills to meet your standards of performance. If you want them to meet your expectations, train them. Good employees will return the favor by working harder to deliver the results you want and stay with you longer.
Step #4 in your business improvement process should be to make training a regular part of your company’s culture. Your employees are your most expensive resource. Invest in them if you want superior returns.
Business Improvement Process #5: Upgrade your facility and your operating practices
There’s nothing worse than working in a place that hasn’t changed since Reagan took office. Your employees have little choice in the matter as they must show up to keep their jobs. Your customers, on the other hand, can and will go elsewhere. Loyalty only goes so far if your business’s environment detracts from the experience of doing business with you. Also look at your operating practices. Are you stuck in pre-technology mode? If so, you’re sacrificing huge opportunities for efficiency and cost containment.
Step #5 of your business improvement process should focus on bringing your place of business and your business practices in line with what today’s consumers expect. Thinking you can stay in business by avoiding upgrades that the marketplace demands is penny wise and pound foolish.
Business Improvement Process #6: Implement systems that support measuring and monitoring
If you can’t measure the outcome, you will never improve. Everything from operating costs, employee performance, customer satisfaction, marketing and operating efficiencies should be monitored by you and measured for effectiveness. Getting your business turned around is one thing, keeping it there requires strict oversight.
Step #6 of your business improvement process should include adopting operating processes that deliver your desired outcomes first time, every time. Pay particular attention to costs, employee performance, your marketing and the customer’s experience of doing business with you. How much would you patronize Starbucks if it took their baristas several tries to get your favorite latte right?
Business owners who reach superior levels of success rely on their business improvement processes like breathing air to stay alive. No one has more invested and stands to lose it than the owner of the business. Stay in tune with these vital areas and you should never fall far off the mark. If you already have, don’t wait until you’ve racked up huge amounts of debt. Bring someone in from the outside to help you fix things.
If you need a business professional to help you tune up your business, this is a service I provide. And what makes me more attractive than John Taffer or Robert Irvine is that I don’t do it on national TV!
About the Author
Steve Smith is a successful business coach who works with business owners, entrepreneurs and executives to improve their results by aligning their focus, time and resources with the results they want. He is an expert in several vital areas of business development like management, marketing, sales, operations and mindset. He has coached over 400 owners and executives around the world and strives to deliver high quality guidance, insight and strategies that deliver profitable outcomes.
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