Sometimes the small things are what really cause problems in your business. Here’s a great example of what I mean.
Did you happen to watch the first stage of this year’s Tour de France over the weekend? This year they started the tour on the island of Corsica – a beautiful island off the southern coast of France. Stage 1 was to be a long, fast, uneventful stage. A flat course along the coast with beautiful views. A perfect stage to get your race legs and enjoy being a part of the greatest cycling race in the world.
The race organizers had done a nice job with the course layout. The roads were in great shape. Lots of spectators and fans lining the roads – all well behaved. It was a picture-perfect scene.
Until the team buses reached the finish line.
The team buses typically get to the finish line well in advance of the riders. No big deal. They simply follow the course and get set up so that when the exhausted riders arrive, they are ready for them.
But someone missed one small detail. They built the finish line banner too low. And when one of the larger buses tried to pass under it they got stuck!
Not such a big deal, other than the riders were racing hard towards the finish and were only 15 minutes from the finish when the bus got stuck. As you can imagine, panic set in. Everyone was scrambling trying to figure out how to move the bus in time and if they could not, what was plan B.
For 10 minutes, it was chaos. As the riders raced closer and closer, you could see the panic in the faces of the event staff. No time to find the guilty party – just find a way to clear the road so the race could finish as planned!
Finally, with about 5 minutes to spare, they cleared the finish line and the riders came flying to the finish. But I am sure there are some heads spinning in the aftermath.
So what does this have to do with you – with your business?
Well, it is often the small things that cause us the biggest amount of grief in business. Normally it is not the wrong strategy, but the execution of the strategy that trips us up. You think you have things all set for a good season of selling, then you realize something went wrong with your ad or your marketing materials, or your sales staff. It is often something unexpected, unplanned, unexplainable.
You may have done a great job selling your product or service, but then stumbled on the delivery or production end. A machine malfunctions, a critical team members is out sick, your vehicle breaks down. You’ve been there – we all have.
So how do you prevent these kinds of disasters from happening? here are a few tips:
1) Document EVERYTHING! Make a checklist for what needs to get done and assign each task to someone on your team.
2) Do a “pre-race check”. Don’t wait until showtime to make sure everything works as planned. Do a dry run. Walk through each step with a very critical eye – act as if you were the customer – and don’t accept just OK – make sure it is excellent!
3) Have a backup plan. Take time to meet with your key team members and think through 5 scenarios of what could possibly go wrong. Then outline what you would do if it happened. Come up with 2 or 3 alternative solutions.
4) Cross-train your team. Often times things get screwed up when one of your team members is unexpectedly missing – vacation, sick, quits, etc. You should expect it to happen and make sure that each team members documents their primary tasks and trains someone else in the business to be their backup.
5) Inspect what you Expect. If you want your business to run like clockwork, you MUST be willing to inspect, check, confirm, test and critique each moving part. If you take it for granted, you’re running the risk that someone did not check the small details.
Hope this has been helpful. Here’s to your business running smoothly without any unexpected issues. Sweat the small stuff. It is worth it and your customers will thank you for it with their loyalty!