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Rethinking: 12 Ways To Breakthrough a Challenging Era

Now is a time for us to rethink virtually everything.

We have entered a challenging era, one in which previous assumptions about what was safe and what would work are no longer reliable.  We must increase the scrutiny of our businesses and our lives before some government agency does it for/to us.


Here are 10 areas worth re-examining:

  1. The value we deliver to our customers. What do they really get by doing business with us? Is the cost worth the outlay or can we make it more valuable to them without unduly increasing our cost of delivery? How can we increase their satisfaction right now?  I call this “Up-Serving”, looking for ways to be of more service without more cost.
  2. The customers and markets we are pursuing. Is there another group or subgroup that could benefit from and afford our offerings? Are we seeking the optimum consumers of our services? Can we offer more or different products/services to our existing customers? Should we be pursuing customers who were never on our radar before?
  3. The safety of working here. Is this a place where workers can relax in the assurance that we are looking out for them as well as our owners? Do we seek ways to show our people how much we value them? Do they truly know that they are appreciated? Do we listen to them, really? Do we protect them?
  4. The margin of profit from each of our endeavors. Are we truly spending $100 time on $100 activities or do we often expend prime time on low payoffs? Let’s become more efficient and more effective simultaneously.
  5. The attitude we show day to day. People who work with us and buy from us are acutely aware of our own fear or confidence. We need to be intentionally and consciously building optimism and inspiring innovation. The only posture to operate in during challenges is Proactive & Positive. We need to be watching for ideas and opportunities on every front, especially from our own workforce.
  6. Sales efforts from every level. Nobody is exempt from sales efforts unless they plan to leave the organization. At times like this we need every clerk, assistant, technician, accountant, machine operator, driver, courier and cook to be “Thinking Sales.” How and where can we see an opportunity to help someone else at a profit? All of us circulate in the world and become de facto ambassadors for the company. That means we are walking sales reps even though we may never make a sales presentation, nor ask anyone to buy. Let’s train everyone to recognize sales opportunities and show them how to pass along the leads for our best responses. Incentives will help too.
  7. Our own work patterns. What worked last year may not work next year. We may have to begin doing some things we thought we had outgrown. It may be that we will need to re-ignite some old practices in order to generate new business. What time each day does your truly productive work begin? What do you regularly spend time on that has a low payoff value? Where is the highest and best use of your time?
  8. In what ways are we “spoiled”? Have you grown accustomed to certain luxuries or freedoms on the job that no longer make sense? What items that were once goals & dreams have you lately come to consider as entitlements? Lean and mean is the need right now. Roll up your sleeves more often and do what must be done.
  9. Our primary relationships. Everything we do is done through others on some level. When we change the nature or mix of whom we spend our time with, we also change our results. Give some strong consideration to who you’d benefit from associating with and who might be holding you back. Cut back on the limiting relationships and increase the high payoff ones. (See my other posts about Relationship Intelligence).
  10. Our expenditures. This is where most organizations begin their reactions to challenges. But most organizations don’t do very well. Those who thrive in tough times are the ones who realize that nobody ever saved their way to more income. You don’t increase sales by cutting expenses, you do it by increasing the payoff from each expenditure. Look for ways to increase high payoff expenses and eliminate low payoff expenses. Ask what items and efforts could be re-purposed toward sales.
The biggest challenge in meeting tough times is MINDSET. As FDR said, “the greatest thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Mindset is the beginning point for all behavior. We must cultivate an abundance mentality: there is opportunity out there and we will find it. We don’t have to fear our competition, we simply need to value and serve our customers. We needn’t worry about customers being loyal to us, we will begin by being more loyal to them.

The second challenge is SKILLSETS. We must assure that everyone obtains the skills they need in order to:
  • increase sales,
  • improve service,
  • identify opportunities,
  • generate innovative solutions and
  • sustain optimism.
You don’t just become better by deciding to. You must have the training, information and inspiration to do so.
The third challenge is SYSTEMS. We must systematize processes and set standards that cultivate the right habits for success.
When we do these things, challenge will be our friend. Let me know how we can help you communicate these messages, train people in these skills and refine the systems needed to make success a habit, even in tough times.