Change isn’t easy, nor is it comfortable. But it is a fact of life ‘ and a requirement of business.
The expansion of Binny’s Beverage Depot outside greater Chicago offers a good opportunity to talk about why businesses need to change once in a while ‘ and how they can do it. If you’ve been more focused in recent times on simply staying afloat, maybe it’s time to think about reinventing your company.
I did that. Almost five years ago, I sold Sam’s Wines & Spirits to a private equity firm. They later sold the business to my former arch-competitor ‘ Binny’s Beverage Depot. Now I handle the training at Binny’s as one of my consulting engagements.
I never thought I’d find myself back in my old office, a place that used to be my second home. Gone were the desk and credenza and even a few of the walls. My Cubs photos were nowhere in sight. Instead, I was smack dab in the middle of a beautiful wine tasting room. If I had walked in here blindfolded, I’d have no idea I had been here before.
And that’s the point. Smart, profit-seeking businesses change. Those that stay the same will stagnate. Binny’s Beverage Depot is making a host of changes. The chain is taking a close look how they treat customers and expanding outside of the Chicago area.
I changed and they’re changing. Are you considering making a few changes? These tips will help you change successfully.
Look in the real mirror
Do you look through the imaginary mirror or the real mirror? A business owner should consider surveying employees, customers and vendors. Ask the hard questions and listen to the answers. What are we doing well and what can we do better? This isn’t the time for ‘we’re the greatest and everyone else stinks!’ Dig deep with your questions and analysis. Garbage in, garbage out applies here.
Involve your associates from Day 1
Bring your team into the fold and you’ll have more cooperation. Enlist the team’s help to create lasting change. With their help, develop a profile of where you want to go, where you’re falling short, and how to conquer your biggest obstacles. Make it convenient for others to share their opinions. Don’t downplay the role of logistics in this equation. The easier you make it for them, the more communication you’ll get.
Don’t douse ideas with a fire hose
Give all ideas a chance. The purpose of brainstorming is idea generation. There is always time for evaluation and analysis after the fact. Keep the scope specific and encourage as many suggestions as possible that fit your subject. If you include details about the desired outcome, the ideas will be more targeted and more relevant. Foster an environment where everyone’s ideas are accepted and everyone actively participates.
Enlist the help of a few ‘change’ promoters
Key to every change initiative is getting a few of the company’s professionals on your side from the beginning. Buy-in is essential if the finished product is to impress customers. There are plenty of talented professionals inside the company who have dedicated their careers to promoting your products and services. Having these professionals helping to point the company in the right direction is essential.
Create a plan for tracking your success and measuring and monitoring progress. Unfortunately, all you have to do is pick up the business pages to see how quickly companies abandon change efforts for one reason or another. Don’t go there. Create a brand promise and clear principles for determining how close your associates’ behavior is to your goals. As you move forward, hold regular discussions to educate (and question) your professionals on how to make the effort last.
Change is good! Try it.