Profit is in the DETAIL!

The Profit is in the Detail – The Cornerstones of a profitable Restaurant

Well too often we will see owners and managers look at the numbers in their restaurant with rose colored glasses. Not paying attention to the true value of their food cost and labor; instead they are looking at variations of that information.  There are large differences between food usage and purchases and the gap between the two. What is an acceptable variance and how can you trouble shoot costly issues?

Food Usage and Units per 1K in sales (UPK)

Do you know how much of each of your products you are using per $1000.00 in sales? If you don’t it’s not hard to figure out, but depending on the system you have for your point of sale (register if old school) you might have some work to do. But in the long run it will pay off dramatically.  I highly suggest reach out to us at our website if the information below on UPKs seems foreign to you.

How to calculate your UPK?

(Inventory Usage / by sales) x $1000

Inventory Usage is Starting Inventory + Purchases – Ending Inventory

The UPK is a great tool to help you audit inventory from week to week as well as placing truck orders. If you are aware of how much you use per $1000 in sales, you can adjust for slower or busier weeks that will be affected by holidays and large events.  The main reason to utilize UPKs is to ensure when auditing inventory usage, it gives you a way to compare apples to apples regardless of sales.  For example, if your usage per thousand of fries is 15-16lbs then regardless of overall sales you can see where your inventory should be. If you have a week where your usage increased to 25lbs and there are no large orders or specials to account for it you can audit and be certain either you were shorted from your truck, there was a theft issue or there is a large waste issue.

Being aware of what your usage counts are per thousand dollars allows you to better understand trends and better trouble shoot cost issues.  If you go through and have the UPKs for your entire inventory (at least your top 50% cost items) you can adjust based on projected sales.  Are you going into a slower week that usually sees a 20% dip in sales or an event that increases sales by 20%?  Having your UPKs allows you to control the inventory ordered in either direction with information and not an educated guess.

Food Purchases versus Usage

Now that you know what your usage is you can calculate the total dollar amount of what you are ordering by item, category and total.  Its great if your usage cost is controlled, but too often we see locations with high purchase costs that don’t match the usage.  What good is running a 25% usage cost for four weeks straight if your purchase cost is 30%? That means you are wasting 5% of your product each week at the cost of your bottom line/profits.

That is why knowing what your UPKs are allows you to compare what you are spending versus what you are using and trouble shoot.  Knowing that you have a discrepancy in beef patties (burgers) versus “you are spending too much” allows you to audit and coach the issue at hand.  Knowing where to look, helps us manage the situation and find the root cause of the issue, minimizing the overall headache of the food cost issue.

By calculating usage, you can compare like items; what are your beverage costs versus your beverage usages? If you are spending $1,500 in beverages a week and only using $1,000 where is the extra $500 going each week?  If you simply know or feel that you are spending too much without the data at hand it becomes hard to trouble shoot the issue.

Labor – Where are you wasting it, and where do you need it?

One of the hardest parts of labor in the service industry is that fact that you need to invest your labor into your business effectively.  We understand that you cannot run extremely high labor hoping to increase sales through operations because labor needs to be controlled. But you can take the time to increase the labor on strategic shifts that have the most potential to grow and work from there as you invest labor.   Finding an effective way to invest labor in your business until it takes affect and then reinvesting it into a different area is how you can control costs, increase operations and increase profits in a controlled manner.

If you are inconsistently getting hit on Thursdays for lunch and Fridays for dinner, taking the time to carry extra labor on those shifts until it becomes consistent is a great way to invest back into your company.  Blindly increasing your labor on all shifts may be a good idea (in fantasy), but it will lead to frustration and profit declines very quickly.  Controlling the investment to the two shifts that have the most promise allows you to maximize your investment.  Once the investment starts to level off and the labor lowers (from you increasing it) you can reinvest it into the next two shifts that show promise.

Increasing profits

Increasing your profits is about maximizing operations overall while efficiently investing back into your business for the best return on investment.  Throwing money at the problem will only get you so far; controlling costs and challenging your team to improve will allow you to grow your brand, profits and operations.  A great tool (to be revisited later) is tying your managers to the bottom line with a bonus program.  If your managers have metrics they have to meet (labor, food cost issues, etc.) and are tied to the profitability of the store it challenges them to maximize the stores profits.  It becomes more than a job and a way of life that can improve their income on a daily basis with immediate pay off and not a hope for a raise down the road.

Remember when you are looking to grow your brand/restaurant you need to make sure you are inspecting what you expect.  If you aren’t measuring it, how can you expect to audit it and control it?  Being able to have the proper information to audit and control allows you to manage the bottom line of your company more effectively.

If all of these items give you a headache, or you don’t know where to start, reach out to our team today at our website and set up a phone consultation to see where and how we can help you master the art of restaurant cost control.

Solutions for your Restaurant - Maximizing your investments
Solutions for your Restaurant – Maximizing your investments

What My Mothers Funeral Taught me about Legacy!

I’ll never forget my mother’s funeral, not for the reason you might think.  It was quite the opposite of a somber and sad day.  Before you get all confused, my mother fought cancer as well as other debilitating issues that made accepting the finality more accepted.  What I mean in that is the doctors didn’t think she would see me graduate high school and she survived another decade.  Her perseverance and complete positive outlook through the darkest moments in her life made me the person I am today with the drive I have.

“It’s hard to call off of work or skip school when your under the weather if your mother doesn’t complain while fighting cancer and enduring chemo with the utmost grace and positivity.”

So how did her funeral have such a profound effect on my life? As we were going through usual emotions and family greetings throughout the day the more I noticed people staying around all day to talk and visit. I didn’t think anything of it at the time but as we grew closer to the prayer service the funeral home kept filling up with more and more people. Former students (she was a teacher before she became too sick) from almost ten years earlier. Old friends, fellow teachers and childhood friends. I was beyond moved at the where volume and array of people coming out to pay they’re respects and speak of her.

I always knew she was thought highly of from the way she interacted and was always there for her students, friends and family. But witnessing decades of friends, family and students speaking to how she impacted their lives was the turning point. It showed me the power of giving to those around you and the impact one person can have on so many people.

It’s through this evening that I started to hear my mother’s teachings internally every day. No longer was I trying to embrace her teachings, I was living them daily. I truly hope through the hard work and devotion to those I call friends, family, coworkers and clients will look to me as so many have my mother. To me that would be the ultimate compliment.

To see how she affected so many lives beyond the basic lesson plan, beyond the shoulder to lean on.  She had her faults as we all do, but didn’t judge the faults in others but work to help those around her to see through there own issues.  If we work hard to build something we can be proud, but imagine if you helped inspire others to do the same. Instead of the one building you helped erect, there would be a city to surround and support it.

How far are you willing to go? Almost 4K miles in 90hrs?

Almost 4K miles later – What have we learned

I sit hear flying back from a 90hr trip that took me over 2,300 miles in the air and 1,500 miles driving.  What could cause someone to take such an over the top trip; life and the pursuit of success, that’s what.  The question you have to ask is what are you willing to do to ensure your dream comes true? Are you willing to adjust your dream, maybe not the ultimate goal, but the terms of that goal?  If you are leading a company and you want to be the CEO someday, is it a failure if you become the CEO of a different company and lead them to success?

Goals in life adjust, adapt and take us on journeys we may never otherwise expect. It is up to us to see the opportunity in front of us, work hard and adjust where it is needed.  Back to the reason for this most recent trip to review a market that has potential to be purchased (existing businesses) and the growth potential behind it.  Someone without the right experience isn’t going to see the same things that someone with a keen eye would see.  If you’re an inexperience fisherman trying to catch fish on a lake with the wrong lure; an experienced fisherman would know right away what you are doing wrong.

That is why you have to trust people who know more than you in certain areas, do the research to better understand their knowledge and put in the overall work needed to grasp the totality of the project ahead.  When looking at businesses for purchase (take restaurants for example) there are several items you need to review.

  • The state of the equipment
    • How do you know for certain?
    • Working with the local equipment companies that have been working on them. They know them already, and aren’t tied to one company or another.
  • The state of the staffing/management ect
    • Going into the units staying and making small talk with the staff/managers to feel them out.
    • Are they happy or disgruntled?
  • Need to be inside the four walls
    • You can’t be certain until you’ve walked in, felt the air in the building, the culture (or lack thereof) and state of the economy around it.
    • What do the neighboring businesses say about it, what do their competitors say about it?
  • Where are your future customers coming from, and are they coming quickly enough?
    • If your demographic information is 18-24 or 18-34 for your average customer base, then you want to take advantage of growing a relationship with the schools.
    • How do they feel about the brand in the market?
      • If you have a strong presence with your high schools, then you get a tapped future customer base for 10+ years to come.

What does any of this have to do about travel, time spent and success?  Simply stated even if you have to push the limits of your day, week or month for the chance at greater success remember the memory of it all is always a bit rosier.  Even the most stressful things in our lives we have a tendency to sweeten them up.


Share the Credit, Own the Blame

When someone introduces me as a superior, boss or supervisor I always correct them immediately, and explain it’s my job to get the best out of people, to never do more than share credit and always take the blame. They usually laugh and look at me like a confused puppy, but it’s true. If you look at those you lead/supervise as people you need to elevate and if they fail it’s your fault just as much you’ll get much more out of your team and them from you.

Many will tell you taking the credit is the majority of what they strive for, to be recognized and be promoted.  My theory is simple it is better to have the world giving you credit than yourself asking for it and screaming for attention.  But in all honesty I am not driven by credit, rather helping the companies I work with grow from the ground up, building a strong foundation and the people to carry it on well past my departure. Its more than quick fixes and illusions; instead hard work and dropping pillars ten feet into the ground that may never be seen but always be needed.

Why “share” the credit versus taking it? It’s extremely simple, in that I believe people are smarter than we give them credit for, and if your name is constantly being associated with shared credit people will see the pattern.  The amazing thing about coaching and growing others is the affect it has exponentially.  If you are building a network, a team of people that trust you, grow with you and challenge each other your ability to affect change grows at an exponential rate versus that of one person.  If your goal is ultimate success you need to work with those around you to build a strong

Imagine if you are one person who has the credit for building one great product at one business; it is great to have that distinction, feather in your cap.  Now imagine your name is associated in conjunction with the success of five different companies, not as the sole person, but an integral part. What do you think will carry more weight long term?  The lasting effect one can have on an organization by allowing others to share in the success and credit is the trust others will see in them.  This confidence is paramount when rebuilding structures and companies regardless of size and industry.

Confidence drives markets, drives investors and drives our economy.  If you are the sole person to gain credit that confidence leaves with you. If you share that credit, that confidence there is a lasting impact as you leave and continue to grow.  The next step is about being accountable for your team, your company and those around you.  If you want your team to be leaders, you need to take blame when their actions affect your company.  When leading, we are responsible for the actions of those below us, this is not a new idea, but one that has lasted centuries through military and social constructs.

Leaders were held accountable for those in their command from the times of Romans and present day.  Being a leader, a supervisor or “boss” is about putting your hand up and taking the blame and sharing the credit is how you build a culture of the same.  If your staff, employees and company work collectively towards a common goal you achieve much more than a group of individuals working in parallel towards common goals.

The difference lies in the communication, the buy in and overall movement towards the goal you are trying to reach.


Quit Repeating Mistakes

Last summer I wrote a piece on LinkedIn about the problems we often see in bars/full scale restaurants.  Over the past couple of months we have seen the same problems coming up over and over regardless of size, location or experience.  When looking into owning a restaurant, of if you currently do and you are trying to figure out where the issues are, start with these four items.

  1. Lack of Inventory Control
  2. Not tracking Tabs for Owner or Friends
  3. Under paying staff (Low labor rarely reaps rewards)
  4. Lack of systematic Operations (written down procedures)

For today’s exercise we will focus on the simple items above and how they can be fixed at an affordable cost.  When it comes to Lack of Inventory Control, it can be as simple as weighing bottles every night/shift of premiums and all inventory weekly and tracking food items.  Many times I see restaurants not following simple inventory control because they feel they can “trust” their employees or they don’t realize how much they can be losing.  Another big issue we see with smaller businesses (even franchises) is not following recipes, or even having them.


How many ounces of cheese goes on a salad, how many ounce of chicken?  Often times they’ll say 1 breast or a half; the problem lies in the lack of consistency in the product used and cooked.  Yes it takes time to work through these items the first time around, but they can save a company thousands of dollars a year (sometimes a month depending on the volume).

Not tracking tabs for owners/friends is an easy one that we see everywhere.  The reason this is important is to understand what you are taking out of the business and what its costing you to do so.  If you think your bartender is over pouring because of inventory issues but your allowing your friends to drink for free it sends the wrong message.  Not to mention, you wouldn’t allow them to come into your kitchen every day and eat for free, so why is it ok at your business?


Very rarely when we enact these simple tracking items do owners not slow down on their own intake as well as what they give away.  We teach them to exchange services with their friends.  If they want that free beer, have them bring in a work meeting or friends for dinner to help grow your sales.  If your friend gets mad they can’t stay on the free ride train, they aren’t your real friend anyways.

One of the largest and most common issue I see is underpaying staff (even wait staff).  If you want to keep your best servers we have programs that we implement to ensure the best stay working for you and happy (reach out to us).  Remember a happy staff is a motivated staff (this doesn’t mean we don’t coach, write up and fire).  If you are supporting your staff and creating incentives for them they are tied to the business and your success; this drives sales and bottom line profit.


“If doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, then how do you expect to succeed doing the same items everyone else is doing – With minimal to Zero success.”

No real System in place is seen everywhere I look, even some of the best franchises lack in a complete system to hold staff, managers and owners accountable.  This is one of our specialties; if you’re looking for the edge to maximize your success it’s time to reach out!  If you don’t have a schedule for cleaning your equipment, auditing your paperwork or a handbook to hold staff accountable you are adding work and losing time to your day.  When you have to come up with things on the fly, fix problems because there is no guideline you waste energy, time and ultimately money.  When you lack systemized operations you ultimately diminish the profits your ability to be successful.

Don’t let these four things limit your ability to succeed.  Though they may take time and energy to put in place long term they will save you time, energy and money. When a manager has to make and enforce decisions without the backing of rules and system in personalizes the decision to the employees they are managing. This leads to issues that add to a manager’s ability to operate properly; the company should set up its leaders to succeed by removing obstacles, not adding them to the daily routine.


Listening Speaks Volumes at Work and in Life

To “say nothing” was the hardest skill I’ve had to learn in my career.  Though self confidence, experience and title have helped to minimize the need to be heard, learning how to affectively listen is a skill greatly needed.  I’ve learned that getting people you are trying to coach or impress upon to finish the thought on their own leads to greater psychological buy in. Getting people to work through the smaller problems towards a greater collective goal is great leadership, merely telling them what to do is not.  Though I have lead and learned from failure, one of my favorite practices is approaching the problem with follow up questions.

Utilizing follow up to direct the person you are coaching to notice the issue on their own and ask for help, or find the solution on their own creates a different emotional tag to the problem.  The idea to allow someone to have a say (even if only an illusion) in something will cause them to care more about the issue at hand.  We have all been in meetings with minimal to no interactions at all and take almost nothing from it; even if the information given was needed, it’s the way it was communicated.

If you care about it, have some form of buy in, you’ll pay that much more attention to it. Make sure you give time for those you interact with the time to share, converse and respond.


For Example:

A few years ago while in the process of turning around a restaurant franchise they had recently purchased an existing company to double their size.  They had been doing things a certain way (which we perceived wrong) for many years and needed to be coached to change.  If we put our foot down saying change this way today with no buy in it would take quite a long time to get them to turn things around.  If we lead with asking them what they feel is wrong, then lead them to our solutions with questions and coaching it allows for a greater buy in of the same information.

You can tell someone to turn left because it’s the right way to go, but you can also point out a landmark to the right that you both know is the wrong direction allowing them the perception of choosing to turn left.  This allows them a feeling of buying in, feeling apart of the solution and growth towards the ultimate goal you are trying to achieve.

Habitually we talk too much and leave little time to listen and understand what is being communicated; this same approach has taught me to listen and repeat back even if it’s merely to acknowledge they understand. This is important because we (myself included) waste breath over explaining instead of giving what’s needed, asking follow up questions and listening to ensure proper direction was given and received.  I’ve had issues with this in the past where I speak up when it isn’t needed, instead of pointing to someone who understands and leading them to direct the group.

When you are in charge of multiple units and groups it is just as much about the ripple effect that you cause to ensure communication. Simply stating the information and hoping it is heard is not effective; ensuring people who are there every day in that unit are bought in and will echo the cause greats the ripples you need.

Have you ever been certain you told someone or emailed something to find out you never did? Taking moments to listen, ask and let things simmer give your brain time to process and store information more effectively than a fleeting event. If you put the same amount of attention into communicating your drink order as you do work items your probably missing things.  Listening and leading go hand in hand, it’s not just about giving the orders; it’s about setting up others for maximized retention.


The 5am Sunday Meeting & Self Awareness

This is not to say that you need to have a meeting at 5am on a Sunday; this is about conforming to your team to help them when it’s convenient for them; not you.  You can gain much more from the direction you are giving if you are sacrificing on your end just to give the message.  Through this small sacrifice we gain the undivided attention of those we are working with and coaching.

There was a location having operational issues, overall mismanagement and consistent profitability issues; We took the time to meet with the managers at their 5am crossover.  We could have easily made them come to us mid week in the afternoon but that would change the sentiment of the meeting.  By going to them on a Sunday at 5am to talk to them it showed that this is more than a blip on our radar but something that affects our daily life and we am treating it as such.  If you always make others conform to your schedule, your ideals and your structure you won’t be nearly as effective as you can be.

The message at 5am is received with proper purpose, as opposed to defensive kick back by making them come at an inconvenient time for their routine.  By showing up at that time and date, where the problem is happening, though inconvenient you gain the respect and attention immediately of those whom you are giving your message to.  Instead it hits home at a time that is quiet (early Sunday) and allows for undivided attention.  By putting their schedule first (almost to an extreme) you are working to remove obstacles for the message to be perceived and acted on properly.

“What do you think is more effective, a meeting at 5am on a Sunday to correct issues with Sundays shift, or a meeting on Wednesday afternoon to address it?” 

We had their attention before we even opened our mouth; seeing us walk in at 5am got their undivided attention to the problem they were already aware of and not properly addressing.  The human condition has the ability to help and hurt us in how we manage situation, react to variables around us and allow emotion to control our motivations. The common practice for a meeting is to set a time, sit down and review at my discretion (leader of the meeting); it changes the attention and importance of the information when it’s given to them in this fashion.

Next time you need to get someone’s attention at work, show a little humility, sacrifice and show it’s a team effort and see how the results and overall effort needed is changed.  Rarely when operating, coaching or interacting do many of us pay attention to how ever detail can affect the way we are perceived; leading to diminished returns on our work relationships and ability to lead.  Self awareness takes time (some never truly achieve it), but it is key to leading those around us properly. Without being aware of whom we are how we are perceived and our actions affect on those around us we will never lead to our full potential.

The ability to be aware of who we are and how we affect others can sometimes be of greater importance in our ability to lead than the knowledge we have in our field.  Though it may seem to be farfetched, think of those you’ve worked with in the past that have great knowledge but fail to work well with others, lack common sense or have minimal social skills and can’t truly help the team.  Whether you are looking for support for your career, solutions for your company or to rescue your company from ultimate demise we at Blue Rock have the tools to help you succeed.


The Words of Our Past – To Contribute a Verse

“That you are Here-that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” – Walt Whitman

The words of the past prove that the human spirit has been and is still alive. We strive to be a part of something bigger than ourselves; to do something great. The hard part is realizing to do something great we must complete many small tasks. Greatness isn’t one single event, it isn’t one moment in our lives. Greatness may be noticed in one event, but it’s the culmination of the events, obstacles and challenges you have overcome to get to that moment.

In the age we live in today we have access to so much information, access to so many people we become paralyzed by what we can do and forget to do anything. We get distracted by all the information coming our way we don’t take the time to listen to the words we are being fed. We just take it at face value; we forget that in life we are here, we exist and we have an identity. What is your identity, what to you portray to the world and those around you.

What is your verse, what are you leaving behind and what are you yet to accomplish? Many of us hold on to our inner feelings, inner thoughts and dreams and fail to act on them. When we were child we saw the world as endless possibilities because we didn’t understand failure, we didn’t understand the word no. We couldn’t walk and we would work at it every day for years until we perfected it. We couldn’t talk and we worked at it, learned from others, from pure observation to gain the skills we need to survive.

Our goals, our dreams need to be addressed in this same manner. We need to look to them for survival; survival of self. At what point in our lives do we accept failure? Failure is the exact definition of progress; when learning to walk each time we took a step and fell, we learned from it and made sure to correct it next time. As we grow we take those failures and allow fear to come in and prevent us from taking another step.

What makes some of stand outside of the herd, the median and see things from a different perspective? Are we any different than the rest or are we the culmination of our events? Were we given a choice in our lives to follow the path or to look to the path less traveled?

“I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

There are words written and spoken through the generations that show the human spirit stepping outside of the norm. Why do so many of us stick to the median, fall in line, follow the cadence of life? I recently was watching “The Dead Poets Society” and it brought these thoughts up inside me once more. As you watch Keating explain the beauty in free thinking and the harshness of life pushing back to drive one to suicide. Why are so many afraid to push for their dream, we are just as likely to fail in one facet as we are another. The well traveled path has less chance for victory; we are competing against the masses.

What is the point of all of these questions, these thoughts? It is to ask ourselves why so many of us are willing to contribute a verse but in its most simplistic and social form. We leave comments on social media, comment on news sites but we don’t truly contribute a verse. Where are our great writers of today’s age? Are we losing the beauty of verse, to inspire to grow to challenge? We need to really look at the way we communicate in comments, not true thoughts. Many of us try to reach the masses with well thought out and inspired words but is drowned out by the superficial in mass quantities. Take a moment and look at what you are spreading when you talk, are you truly aware of the words that you use in conviction.

I shall contribute a verse

I shall raise my voice amongst the masses

To teach and inspire others to find truth without hate

To leave disdain at the door and truly converse

To leave hatred and defensiveness at the threshold

I shall contribute a verse

To come together in the beauty that is the collective

To rekindle the drive once born with

To overcome the fears as one and not individual in many

I shall contribute a verse

To teach others to do the same – To Inspire

To truly reach for my goals, regardless of the heights

I shall contribute a verse

To stare into the void of darkness and be the light

We shall contribute our verse!

The Architecture of Ones Success

When I was growing up I had a passion for architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright via; the bases in building something great in life follow similar routes to a great piece of architecture. It’s through those similarities to which I have tried to calculate and build a life and career following the tenants I learned while studying and admiring the architecture in my life. From the planning, building of a foundation adjusting and proper problem solving we can build something spectacular in our lives.

Proper Planning – The Blue Print

FlWrights-HDWhether you are growing and planning for your future from high school to college or planning the next step in your career it takes proper planning and organization to get it done efficiently. You can try to build a shelter or a home of sorts without direction and it may work for a bit, but long term the more effort and planning you put into it, the longer it will last. It’s through proper design and introspection upon that design that can and will lead to a greater chance of success. It is not about the first idea we have, or the firs design; it’s about the constant attention and adjustment to that plan until its perfect (or its closest version of the unattainable perfection).

In one’s life there will come time to ask ourselves if we are where we want to be. If we aren’t in the place we want to be then it is up to ourselves to be self aware and review the plan we have drawn for ourselves.

Foundation Building

Before you can be the best at something you have to master the basics. If you want to be the greatest soccer (futbol) player one must focus on mastering the basics to an extreme level. The foundation of learning those basics through thousands of hours of practice lays the foundation for the excellence for a great career like those such as Andrea Pirlo, Pele and Lionel Messi. In similar fashion to a musician needing to master individual cords before they can write or perform a masterpiece so must one master the foundations of life, before one can truly succeed.

The hardest thing to accept at a young age, any for that matter, is that it often takes repetitions for all things in life to master them. This is true for all things from social interaction all the way to knowledge and self awareness. We need to practice and not run away and hide from the skills and life lessons that we need to learn.

When I was younger my grandmother would always ask me what I was accomplishing.

If I was playing a game, running around or watching TV, she would ask me that question. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized what she was asking me, what am I doing with the time that I have? Am I wasting it or utilizing it to better myself and the future that I might have?

When working on our foundations we have to be aware of the choices we make and be patient on the pay off. This is the hardest part of building a proper foundation, we often times want to take short cuts in hopes of a quicker resolution. The problem lies in the fact that our growth will eventually pay for the shortcuts we made when building our foundation and crumble under its own pressure. Taking the time and putting in the effort to achieve what is needed is the way to ensure our R.O.I. is peak.

Adjusting – Problem Solving Correctly

When building a business both physically and financially there will be plenty of tough decisions along the way. There will come a time when you realize you missed something and have to figure out an adjustment to the plans, go back and fix it properly or try to ignore it and hope for the best. These defining moments as we build our lives that can lead to the greatest accomplishments of our lives or the moments we look back on with regret. That moment when you decided not to go to the party where some people got arrested, the decision to take the summer classes or the dinner party you went to despite being exhausted because you knew the networking could lead to great things.

There are moments in our lives that can take us one way or another as our live culminates within those decisions one after the other. We can make up for the worst of moments if we stand tall, accept them be accountable and move forward. Ignoring the problem at hand will not fix it long term; imagine the plumber that decides to use the wrong strength of solder when welding a joint that would be fine at inspection but under the right conditions could lead to immense damage. Fast forward five years and a company that is working to close a big project shuts the lights off late one night thinking they have everything securely backed up and ready for tomorrows sales pitch, only to come in the office the next day flooded and their servers destroyed.

That one decision to take the short cut can have immense unintended consequences; when doing the right thing would have taken a few minutes or hours longer to do it right. The adjustments and problems we have to fix will have a great impact on who we are, where we end up and the ability we have to succeed. I often times take accountability for any and all issue within my purview to ensure we as a team focus on moving forward with the proper solution. I then coach the issue and person (people) who need to be taught to ensure it isn’t repeated. Those decisions lead us to the proper place we are seeking and often times to a place we never thought possible.

The psychological ripple effect at work

Having a great system with highly educated and experience employees doesn’t guarantee you will maximize the true potential of your company or the people within.  Taking time to think through communications, ensuring the coaching you are giving is not only important but also timely can make all the difference.  Whether you are coaching someone on being aware of a common issue that leads to failure or explaining to them how they missed a common issue that led to their failure ones tact, the way the communicate and when they coach all affect the equation.  If you are not timely or respectful when dealing with your employees what are the chances your employees will treat your customers properly when it matters most?

Imagine your team (staff) as a room full of eight-year-old children and realize that not every child is going to learn the information you are trying to give them the exact way.  This does not mean that the kids who learn it the quickest will be the brightest in the long run or most successful, merely that they caught on quick.  Often times from a motivation standpoint the child that has to work the hardest and pushes themselves because of outlying factors will create a greater work ethic through the obstacles they face where those whom it comes easy might shine short term but lack substance as they progress and stressors arise.  When coaching/training employees giving someone the goal or information needed is the beginning, follow up is key to proper growth and success.

The psychology of the workplace comes in to play daily; in the ways we communicate with each other.  I have written piece before that speak to the affect we have on each other’s daily lives more than we realize (How you effect your team).  Even our superiors in the workplace can be affected by the way we interact with them, it’s called the mirror effect in the work place.  The way we present our self to others will be reflected back to us and others as the person we have imprinted moves on to the next interaction in their day.

Think of the times where you ended up talking about the negativity someone brought into your meeting and time wasted that could have been used being more effective?  Though we like to think we aren’t that easily distracted or affected in our daily routine the opposite is quite true.  The average person will be distracted, slowed down or completely thrown off their routine for the day through negativity.  That is why it is important to have the right culture, communication and overall atmosphere at your workplace. It starts with

The complete “mirror effect” as it pertains to the daily interaction with our staff as a leader.  If you staff comes to you and ask you to look into something and you deny it time and time again they will look into your requests (the average person) less and less.  You are showing them that their input or ideas do not matter; even if you have the knowledge showing it doesn’t work.  It’s the speed and way to which you respond that can make the difference in keeping them motivated and bought in to the critical thinking needed to be an integral part of your team’s success.  Instead of responding to them immediately, tell them you will take it under advisement (look into) and then either wait for them to follow up or respond later explaining to them the decision.  This delay from time of request to response can stage the perception that you spent time thinking about it.  They understand you probably did not spend the whole time, but the mere fact you didn’t shoot it down immediately reinforces the importance of taking your time on decisions.

How does this affect our customers; the interactions we have with our teams? 

Some people refer to it as the “ripple effect” where as you start a chain reaction with the way you handle your employees.  They will in turn treat their employees and their customers in a similar fashion. Though we like to think of ourselves as completely independent from suggestion and outside factors the reality is that we are affected by so many different variables in a given day and can let it derail our day and the people we interact with.

When we prop up our staff with confidence and positive attitudes they will handle a negative customer much better than if we met them with negativity and aggression.  We have a lasting impact on ourselves, our teams and our customer daily.  How we carry ourselves, communicate and operate carry more weight in today’s mobile and social world than ever before.  The ability to react to and communicate to others is at an all time high, this leaves little room for error and negativity.

Don’t misunderstand steering clear from negativity as never holding people accountable and coaching them on their weaknesses or mistakes.  That is what strong systems and procedures allow us to do; hold people accountable without making it personal. If they failed a procedural step and not you as a leader the conversation is completely different and so it the turnaround time on the coaching. This is why we work tirelessly to help businesses of all sizes work on and develop proper systems and procedures to maximize team effectiveness and company growth.

How do we take this and run with it?

We have to show the traits we want to instill in others, often times at a greater pronouncement that otherwise noted.  This over the top approach (10% more than normal) to ensure they see the action helps to mirror the positive qualities we are trying to instill. It is very hard to lead a team to have qualities you do not retain yourself.  That is why we must be patient, support and also hold people accountable to the expectations we seek to empower consistently.  There is no short cut to raising a child, coaching up future leaders or building a company.

In our daily lives we must be aware of the negativity we spread, how we affect others and the effect we are trying to instill.  There are books, classes and degrees dealing with psychology in the work place and how to structure your routines and systems.  This is just one insight across many spectrums that we can affect change in a positive and negative light.  Its up to us to set the standard on a consistent basis; what affect will you have on your staff, on your company and your goals?


These are just some of the items we help coach and support in our 1 on 1 support services.  Teaching leaders to maximize the potential of their teams (daily, weekly or monthly support) with the proper sound board to learn and coach with makes all the difference.   Follow us on twitter for more daily information @bluerockcon.