Weekly Business Idea

May 11, 2018 – Are You Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Clouseau?

Posted on | May 11, 2018 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Are you a curious person?  Do you get answers to things and then move on?  What do you do when you lose a customer or a key employee?  Is your first instinct to figure out how to replace them?  Do you pay careful attention to details?

Expansion of the Idea:

I lost a client this week.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t a client since they never paid me.  And no, we had not done a significant amount of work.  However, I still feel I lost something valuable.  This client had hired us in December to convert his accounting record into a more streamlined system and then to provide accounting and tax services.  The problem with the client started when they deferred the start date.  Then they did it again. Subconsciously, I think they knew a month ago that they weren’t going to have us do the conversion.  They didn’t want to face the time commitment that they knew was needed during the conversion.  They didn’t see the long-term benefits.

When these situations occur, I try to digest the event, and then evaluate our systems and performance.  The goal is to figure out if we could have done something better.  On the front end, I probably could have spent more time understanding the client to get a better feel for his concerns and, most importantly, his commitment.  In this particular situation, I think that there was only one way I could have achieved a successful situation.  I could have asked the client for money in advance to make sure that he was committed to the process.  That might not have guaranteed success, but it would have improved the odds.

All of us have these types of situations in our businesses.  We have situations that look normal on the surface.  An employee leaves and gives a reasonable explanation of why they are leaving.  Two years later you find out that there was more to the story.  (And you are stuck with the wrong employee that stayed.)  Sometimes this can be figured out by asking more questions and being more observant.  We have to look for clues that tell us whether we have the whole story.

Digging into the story behind the story is critical in all aspects of our businesses.  To get started, here are some questions to consider:

  • Why do customers really buy from us?
  • Why do customers quit buying from us?
  • Will our products or services continue to attract customers in the future?
  • Why do employees work here?
  • What can I do to ensure that good employees stay?
  •  How do I know if an employee is doing their job well?
  • Are my systems working properly?
  • Can my systems be improved?
  • Is my business as profitable as it should be?
  • What are the key levers to improve the profitability of the business?
  • Is my business prepared for an emergency?

Curiosity may have killed the cat.  But, for small businesses, curiosity and observation will help you thrive.


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  • About

    These weekly ideas are brought to you by FitzGerald & FitzGerald P.C. For more information about how to use these ideas with your small business contact Tim FitzGerald at trfitz@fitz-net.com.