(As published in the Sunday Star Times, November 26, 2014)
I am naturally competitive and like to check out how my business coaching client’s competition are going. Today one of my client’s competitors – a restaurant – got reviewed in the press and it was a positive review. I thought I would do a drive-by to check out how much impact the positive review had on their business that very night. I was very surprised to see that absolutely nobody was there, on what I would have expected to be a busy night for them and yet when I drove by my client (who had not been reviewed), their restaurant was pumping. It got me thinking: why is one business doing so well and another, on a day when they should be really busy, not?
My first (obvious) assumption as to why was that, is you need to offer what the public (your customers) actually want. It is amazing how many businesses forget to critique themselves and ask: am I actually offering what potential customers want? It’s a question you should ask yourself when looking for reasons as to why you might be going through a quiet patch. I see it all the time with new clients I work with – business is creakingly quiet and I have to say, “Have you actually looked at what you offer? It might really be off the mark as to what your potential customers are looking for”. I suggest you have a good review of what you offer in your product or service and take off the blinkers. There will be aspects of what you offer that does nothing to enhance the success of your business, yet you put a lot of focus on them. There will be aspects of what you offer that you don’t even realize really connects with your customers. When we do surveys or market research for clients, this sort of feedback is often the most powerful part.
My second assumption as to why businesses that should do well (in theory), but don’t, is to do with what I call the “oomph factor”. People want to deal with people who have a bit of oomph, a bit of passion. You can be too over the top of course but most of us would rather deal (as a “business to business” or a “business to consumer” business) with people who have some passion for what they are doing. How good are you at finding passionate people to come and work for you? How good are you at increasing the passion factor that your team have for your business – their pride in your business or product offering? Passion can even make up for a few other deficiencies that your business might have. Who in your team gets an A grade for passion and who would you determine was a C grade or worse? You might have something you need to address here (move the C player up a grade or two). Do you know how to do this?
I only have enough word count left for a third assumption, which is a case of potential customers thinking they are going to get a different experience to what the business owner is trying to offer. Perception is reality. If you are trying to be a Rolls Royce but look like a Lada, there is a serious misconnect. A reasonable amount of any business’ potential customers are impacted on how a business or offering looks. We do not want to admit to being superficial but who we deal with is often a case of going with who we think looks the best from our perception of value / quality / experience and physical look. So my question to you: does the look and feel of your business actually match your product and the experience in your head you are trying to give?
So why did this restaurant review well but not look to be doing well commercially? I would suggest it is because the exact product reviewed was relatively good for what it is but that the product offering does not appeal to the wider public. As Henry Ford said, if you offer what potential customers want, your main problem will be what to do with all the profits…