If you’re a business owner, no matter what, you’re also in the business of putting out fires. It’s just the nature of the beast! Even so, having to constantly solve problems can take its toll. So how do you keep your wits about you while working to extinguish the flames? The first step is to acknowledge that problems are always going to come up. That said, the next step is to be proactive and develop a formula that you can rely on to help you calmly and systematically solve them, especially when stress and anxiety levels are at their highest.
I always counsel my clients to come up with a series of questions that they can pull out when those inevitable sparks ignite. While every business is different, the following is an example of some questions that can get you started down the path to a viable solution:
- What is at the root of the problem?
- Is this a repeat of a past problem? Why does it keep repeating and what can be done differently so it stops happening?
- What human resources are available to me? Who within my organization, and/or outside, can I go to for help, support, input and advice?
Recently, a client called, frantic that his biggest customer was threatening to take his business elsewhere. We immediately convened his team to review why this was happening. It turns out the customer’s orders weren’t being delivered on time. And it wasn’t the first time this had happened. After carefully retracing their steps, the team realized there was a communications breakdown between the Sales and Accounting departments which led to a backup in Fulfillment.
Once we discovered the problem, I was able to work with management to implement a new, more efficient system which enabled a better communication flow and, ultimately, on time delivery. Lastly, we came up with a way to make things right with the customer by showing them the new protocols and offering a deep discount for the late deliveries, and a sincere apology and pledge that it would never happen again. But why stop there? We decided to communicate with all their customers, making them aware of the new and improved change and customer service pledge. This gave my client the opportunity to send the message that their customers are their top priority and they are always striving to come up with better ways of doing business.
Nearly a year has gone by and this new system is working like a charm. The customer is happy, and the client is happier still. In fact, most of their customers have commented on the quicker turnaround times. In the end, not only did the client put out a roaring fire, they found a solution that made a noticeable difference in the way they operate their overall business.
Bottom line, “$*!#” happens! But if you’re able to take a step back and take a clear-headed look at the situation, you’ll have a much better shot at solving any problem that comes your way…
and maybe even improving some other things along the way!
For two decades, our clients have been looking to New Growth Advisors for expert advice and counsel to assist them with their business challenges. We can help you too.