It shouldn’t be hard to determine what killed him.

Linda LaitalaBusinessLeave a Comment

It shouldn’t be hard to determine what killed him.  Not with that knife sticking out of his chest!   

I’ve gotten hooked on old radio shows; The Avenger, Sherlock Holmes and Fibber McGee & Molly.  I grew up with television, but I remember my grandparents talking about how they enjoyed listening to the radio.  Now I know why.

Radio shows were all about being subtly obvious.  A comment is made and someone explains it.  A new person comes into the room and someone explains it.

Sometimes being in business can be like that; subtly obvious situations arise: •A good-natured employee suddenly becomes cranky.
•Our best customer doesn’t return phone calls.
•Our banker makes an unexpected visit.
•Orders don’t come in like they used to
Unlike the old radio shows, there’s no one to explain what’s happening.  We’re so busy running a business and taking care of the day-to-day details that we totally miss obvious and uncharacteristic behaviors until it’s too late.  Then we’re stuck trying to figure out and fix the problem.

If you’ve ever been broadsided by a situation you didn’t see coming, join the club.  They’re usually not fun to deal with.  Take heart and have hope; there are some things you can do to avoid missing the obvious.

Be present in the moment.
When you talk to an employee, focus on what that person is saying; watch her body language.  Ask about hobbies, kids and pets.  If something is bothering the person she may open up and feel better knowing you care.

Stay close to your customers
Don’t assume just because the orders keep coming in and you get paid on time that everything is fine; things can change in a heartbeat.  Maybe a new vice president is hired who wants to use her favorite suppliers.  Maybe a buyer gets sick and your orders are pushed off to an over-busy clerk who may not know you exist.

On that note, it’s a good idea is to get to know people in different departments at each of your customers.  If one should leave, there’s always someone who knows you and your capabilities.

Communicate with your banker regularly
Let me explain the obvious here, sending the quarterly statements required in your covenants does NOT constitute communication – that’s basic compliance.  The world of finance is becoming more complex and more regulated; what used to be done by a handshake now requires two inches of paperwork.  Help your banker help you by giving her a tour or getting together a couple times a year and explaining where your company is today and where you expect to be in the future.

Continually cultivate new customer relationships
It doesn’t matter how new work comes in your door; the important thing is that new work does come in your door.  Don’t get over-comfortable with existing relationships and stop looking for new customers.  Even if your desk is over flowing with quotes, keep looking for that next new customer.

Leave a Reply