OK, so I had about a month of shows to watch on my DVR of the A & E “business makeover” show We Mean Business. I won’t go into too much detail but felt I should weigh in a few critical issues for the business owners who regularly read this blog. ( If you missed my detailed posts on two earlier episodes they appear below.)
Brownstone Pizzeria- Owners Bertha and Gunther Donoso really missed it. During this episode the team did the usual store makeover with reveal. All went well until the team, (Bill Ransic, Katie Linenendoll, Peter Gurski,) came back just one week later to see how it was going.
Practically everything they’d put in place was gone – the new counter, the new digital camera that took regulars’ pictures and displayed them on a flat screen, the new menu, the tablecloths, the remote printers and the uniforms. Gunther proudly told the camera he took it out within three days. It was “too different” for him and “took away too much dining space.” This makes for great TV but lousy business advice.
In the follow-up that you can view online we find out business is the same as before. Yet this guy Gunther says he was thinking of opening a second store or expanding. Are you kidding?!
The crucial lesson We Mean Business needs to point out is the hard stuff – changing a business mindset. All the Dell computers in the world won’t make a business profitable and if you can’t make the owner understand that then it is your fault Mr. Apprentice Bill Rensic . Tactics that make an owner feel stupid or incompetent can only get you so far and often backfire. Missed opportunity: reality check.
Wagville – Owner Julie Shine loved playing with the dogs more than working on the business. In the follow-up we hear her say she’s now more focused on trying to run the business than making sure the dogs in her doggie day spa have a good time. The team did get the crew excited to begin selling the merchandise in the store but that appears to have disappeared. All the big bins of dog food were moved back up front because, “it was too difficult to go in the back and get them.”
One of the opportunities the team mentioned was the long check-in time. Katie created a one-stop checkin but it was not functional during the follow up. We also saw Julie, the owner, ordering one or two products from a catalogue in blase fashion. She seems like an average employee, not an owner fighting to save her business.
The owner must see exactly what working on their business is – aggressively promoting services to every customer who walks in, finding partner businesses to cross-promote with, having employees brainstorm new ideas. Missed opportunity: change.
Both of these episodes pointed back to people saying how “difficult” something was. It’s only difficult if that’s the way you approach it. A buddy of mine used to work pouring concrete. One day a load of forms arrived and he said, “Damn that’s a lot of work ahead of us.” His brother replied, “Look, we’re just going to be doing forms all day. What’s the big deal? Change your attitude about it – it is a job.” Exactly, what’s the big deal? Did you want to grow your business or have the opportunity to proudly not change?
The Sensitive Baker – Sandee Hier got it. Business has gone up so she must have taken some of the advice to heart. She got the branding, she got the need to market to more than just the gluten-free crowd and she’s now got her husband monitoring her on a regular basis and has lowered her ongoing losses. She’s not out of the woods, but I think she just might make it.
In sum? We Mean Business is still essentially an HGTV store design program with heavy Dell product placement. Concentrating on how the facility looks is a good beginning.
In my book, You Can Compete: Double Sales Without Discounting, I always start a business makeover with the facility. Those four walls both inside and out are the first things your customers see. The second stage I work on is the people in the store; the crew and the owner. If they can’t sell the items inside, no amount of paint and mirrors will help. Finally after all of that work is done I tackle the marketing. You don’t invite people to a show that’s no good.
It’s a formula that has helped thousands of stores compete from some of the biggest to the smallest – whether economic news was good or bad. It might help you too.