(Time to read this Blog is about 3.5 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My Quote of the week:

“Before you promote your Brand Promise and Values to your target customers, you must first ‘sell’ them to your staff, because they’re the ones who will actually deliver them…or not.”

…Donald Cooper.

  1. Quick Biz Tip: Is a culture of ‘us and them’ hurting your business?

A culture of ‘us and them’ is corrosive in any business.  Healthy, friendly and respectful competition between Team members and departments can be an energizer and motivator …but ‘us and them’ is a killer and management needs to deal with it before it tears the business apart.  But, instead, management often ignores the situation or, even worse, fans the flames of ‘us and them’.

I recently interviewed a gentleman who had been a very successful Parts Manager at a big car dealership.  He quit that job because of ‘us and them’.  The sales team at the dealership was praised, rewarded and pampered by management while both the Parts and Service Departments, who actually generated more profit for the business, were treated like 2nd class citizens…and it hurt. 

‘Us and them’ can be between departments, divisions or functions within the business.  The sales team may put down the production department by saying, “If we didn’t make the sales, you’d have nothing to produce!”  And production folks may razz the sales team by replying, “If we didn’t produce the product, you’d have nothing to sell!”  The truth is we’re all in the same boat and we should all row in the same direction…together. 

‘Us and them’ can also be between different ethnic groups within the business, or between folks who are different for some other reason.  This is a real killer and must not be tolerated.  Understanding, tolerance, respect, kindness and inclusion must (and can) prevail.     

Is an attitude of ‘us and them’ hurting any part of your business?  If so, who will fix that by creating a culture that honours everyone’s contribution to your growth and success?

  1. Fun Fact. One in every 8 Americans has worked at McDonald’s at some point in their life. 
  2. When’s the last time you cooked lunch for your Team?  Three or four times each Summer, one of our Biz Coaching Clients BBQ’s lunch for his Team as part of his commitment to create a culture of celebration and appreciation.
  3. What little things are you doing to say “Thank You”  to your Team?  I’d love to hear from you about what special  things you do to make your Team feel appreciated and special.  Email me at donald@donaldcooper,com.

Now, to this week’s important topic:

Why you need to create world-class operating efficiency…now!   

In the reality of today’s job-market, you’re going to be paying more to attract less qualified people.  And you’re going to be paying your existing staff more to keep them.

It’s also likely that you’re going to be to be permanently understaffed, because you can’t find enough staff at any reasonable price.  You probably have difficulty just getting people to show up for job interviews.

Then, you’ll pay more for parts and raw materials…and you’ll wait longer to receive them. If you’re a retailer, you’ll pay more for finished product…and also wait longer to receive it. So, your operating expenses are increasing dramatically.

But your customers still demand that you ‘deliver’…on time…no excuses.  And they’ll fight your price increases.  So, how do you still make a decent profit, or any profit, in this situation?   

  1. First off, if you’ve done the work to create compelling customer value and experiences that ‘grab’ your target customers, clearly differentiate you from your competitors and make you ‘famous’, you probably have some ‘pricing power’ that allows you to increase prices when your costs increase.  For years I’ve been flogging the importance of clearly differentiating yourself by creating and delivering compelling value.   Mediocrity is no longer an option!  So, what is your clear and compelling value that really matters to your target customers?
  2. The 2nd  way to deal with rising costs and still make a decent profit is by creating world-class operating efficiency in every part of your business.  Along with all your other roles, you need to become the ‘Chief Efficiency Officer’ in your business or department, starting immediately.  Look for ways to work smarter with more clarity and a greater sense of urgency.  Eliminate wasted time and materials and make better decisions.  
  3. Reallocate your time.  Stop working ‘IN’ the business and spend more time working ‘ON’ it.  Do the important work that you’re paid to do, not the easy work that you’re comfortable doing.  I just had a conversation with a biz owner who has 25 people reporting directly to him.  That’s not efficient.  It simply cannot work…and it isn’t working.  He can’t effectively coach, challenge, direct, support and follow up with 25 people. 
  4. Create a culture of clarity, commitment, urgency and accountability.  Efficiency starts with ‘clarity’. To download my updated Biz Tool #A-4, ‘Your 1st Job Is Clarity’ and calculate a ‘Clarity Score’ for your business, Click Here.
    After ‘clarity’ comes commitment, urgency and accountability.  Stop talking about ‘goals, targets, aims and objectives’ and talk about ‘commitments’. Then, every time you assign a task or project, ask the magic 10-word question that changes everything, “By when can agree that this will be completed?”  Negotiate a commitment, document it and follow up. The world is run by those who follow up.  I’ve been flogging this ‘culture of commitment’ insight for years too, but only because it’s so important and most business aren’t doing it yet.  Those that do are transformed.
  5. Get rid of toxic, lazy or stupid people, no matter how short-staffed you are.  They’re poison.  Your Team will love and respect you for it. 
  6. Get your entire Team looking for ways to operate more efficiently. Create 3 ‘Idea Fests’ each year where every Team member must bring at least one idea on how to operate more efficiently. Your front-line people know stuff and they hate it when you don’t ask.  After everyone states their idea, the Team votes on who gets the $50 prize…or restaurant Gift Certificate…or whatever prize you’ve chosen.
    You’ll be amazed at what your people come up with. Below are a few examples:
    – Costco switched from round jars to square jars for their Kirkland Brand cashew nuts. This simple change allowed them to pack 50% more jars per pallet, saving them the cost of 600 tractor trailer loads of shipping cost.

    – Marriott Hotels saved $2 million per year by switching to bacon of uneven lengths.

    – An independent Pizza shop spent $40 on plastic bins and zip-lock bags to control cheese waste…and increased profits by 24%, while delivering a more consistent product.

  7. Implement the systems and processes and install the equipment required to make world-class operating efficiency happen.  What does that look like in your business?
  8. Constantly train, coach and encourage…and then empower.
  9. Effectively onboard new staff so that they understand as quickly as possible the company, its history, purpose, values, culture and commitments. Explain why what you do as a company matters and why the job they’ll be doing matters.
  10. ‘Thank’, reward and celebrate successes. Create a culture of celebration!

A big part of ‘efficiency’ comes through Staff Engagement. Engaged Team members are committed to making a difference in the business.  

A recent global survey by research company Gallup shows that, on average, only 36% of employees are truly engaged, 51% are not engaged and 13% are ‘actively disengaged’ which means they’re trying to sabotage the company for which they work.

This was the featured topic of my June 8th Blog. To download our new Biz Tool #A-21, ’10 Keys To Staff Engagement’,  Click Here. 

So, there are 11 insights on how to increase operating efficiency in your business or department, starting now.  Which of these can you start implementing immediately?   If you’d like to chat about how I can help make your business more efficient, effective and profitable, I’m easy to find at donald@donaldcooper.com.


That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

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