While listening to the radio the other morning, an ad came on that caught my attention.
It was a car dealer offering to pick up and return anyone’s car for service work.
You didn’t need to have purchased a car from them, nor did your vehicle need to be the same brand they sold, which happened to be Hyundai.
I reflected on the stark contrast between this dealer’s offer and a letter I had noticed recently at another dealership. The letter suggested that any customer who hadn’t purchased their car at that dealership, should take it elsewhere for service.
Two very opposing approaches to serving customers.
The first dealer is taking a proactive approach to serving customers and growing his business. The second dealer is reacting to a lack of talent.
This contrast in approaches was still on my mind when I made a presentation to an association of business owners. I suggested that we are all very good at “reacting” to the world around us.
Most of us responded to the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns and restrictions out of necessity. There was little time to sit back and reflect on what to do next. Our survival and that of our business and employees’ wellbeing were at stake.
Being Proactive versus Reactive
As we emerge during the next 6 to 9 months, returning to some level of normality, we have time to consider our next move.
Returning to serving the same way you did in the past may make sense, or it may not. The key is to consider questions that force us to think more proactively, rather than react to what may happen.
Let me give you a quick example.
Consider one of the most hard-hit sectors: restaurants.
When my local area had a short period of time where restaurants could open again without restriction, they were packed. The problem was that finding staff who wanted to wait on tables was challenging.
Knowing the owner of a local restaurant, I asked how relieved he was about being able to reopen fully again.
Although business was up, he couldn’t find or retain enough wait staff to handle the surge of customers.
For him, reflecting on question #2 suggested that limiting seating capacity and continuing to focus on takeout made sense. Doing so wouldn’t hurt his business all that much as customers had become accustomed to more takeout options (question #1), and it supported his continued profitability (question #3).
Here are some common questions I ask my clients, to get them thinking more proactively:
These may seem like broad questions, and for good reason.
What Should You Stop, Start, or Continue?
This trilogy of questions can provide a filter that clearly identifies what we should stop, start, and keep doing in our business.
Think of it like strategic planning in a matter of minutes, rather than days.
You can use these questions at any time, and therefore provide yourself with a means of thinking more proactively about the future of your business, rather than always responding to the environment around you.
What changes or shifts should you intentionally make that will be proactive, capitalizing on the changes in employee and customer behaviour?
Shawn Casemore is a consultant, speaker, and author of two books. He helps business owners and executives accelerate their sales results. To learn more visit www.shawncasemore.com.