The NBA & your Business – A lesson in talent

What the NBA and sports leagues can teach you about your businesses growth.

With the NBA trade deadline having passed (by the time I post this) there is a review of the league to see there are a few teams at the elite top. a group of teams that are very good, but just below that elite level and a group that are enjoying the revenue sharing in the middle to bottom. Its more about reviewing the competitive edge that drives us, to what extent and how we label success.  When it comes to sports championships rule, builds legacies and followings (fans). There comes a point when you have to remember professional sports are jobs and companies in it as a business, not just a trophy.

That being said when it comes to being in the group one step below elite how do you measure yourself? Are you competitive all season long, but the pundits and fans know that you don’t match up against the Cavaliers and Warriors of the league?  That’s ok, I know many people don’t want to hear it, but there are companies that will always be elite, a cut above the rest. This doesn’t mean that we don’t stop trying, but we have to make the right decisions at the right time to make that run, to grow your brand.  In the eyes of the NBA there are only a few ways of going from the middle of the road to championship status if you aren’t there already, and this is finding talent in the draft. But with the draft being in a particular fashion that rewards those that do the worst it puts teams and leaders into a predicament.

Do you tank, weaken your roster and look for the next great young talent (like the Philadelphia 76ers) or do you try and slowly build with middle of the road lottery picks (like the Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics etc)?  Do you try and build through free agency (which is very hard with the rules in place)?  The reason for bringing this ups is twofold, its topical for the time of year and it’s a great way to review how we grow talent, businesses and leadership.

When it comes to your business you don’t have to be the greatest business in the city (recognized) just the best for your customers. Same can be said for a sports team, even if you’re not winning championships but you are giving your fans something to be proud of you can be successful.  When it comes to growing your leadership, talent and company it’s about making timely decisions and growing your bench.  One must have foresight in where the company is headed and the staff you will need.  If you wait until you need a new CFO, you will be in dire need.  Just as the San Antonio spurs stash International players overseas to develop you must plan on your future.  You will often times watch some move on to other projects, companies or leave for poor performance but the constant state of coaching and promoting talent within is how your company continues to grow and finds the talent needed to raise your level of success.

There are times under the wrong management we can lose sight of the future and risk our future on the shoulders of tomorrow (similar to Brooklyn nets trading 2 draft pics away).  Planning for tomorrow and winning today follow similar paths, but we must be aware of what our goals are and ensure we have the right people growing with us. To think people will not falter, look for new challenges or have life issues is to be short sighted.  We must always be looking to our minor leagues, lower levels and coaching up.  It’s through this constant state of coaching, teaching and growing that we can keep our businesses growing and successful.

Utilizing our Range Solutions will help your company make the right decisions, build a growth based operation leading to a successful today and tomorrow.

Our Range Company Solutions.
Our Range Company Solutions.

How a Bonus leads to small business profits

Using a structured bonus system for your business allows you to maximize on the hard work and sacrifices you’ve put in to grow your company. How can you be certain they see the weight you have to carry, the struggles of owning a business. There are great things that can come, if your lucky enough to make it past the first three years of struggle, debt and sacrifice. Though it may seem hard to think that the best way to get others involved is to tie them into the profits that you’ve worked so hard to build along the way.

If your leaders are tied to the success and failure of the business they will carry some of the weight you as a business owner must bare. A structured bonus based off measurable metrics tied to the profitability (or lack their of) of the business keeps your managers/leaders driving towards the same goal of profitability that you seek.

How to structure a bonus for your warehouse?

When it comes to costs in your warehouse common variables start with loss of product (damage, theft etc), labor costs and safety. If you tie in acceptable, target and unacceptable ranges for each to hold your supervisors to it allows you to set terms to hitting a bonus, with different variables. These mixed with operational costs can allow you to develop a graded scale for bonus opportunities . The key is to develop a  system that is graded; not all or nothing.

  • Hit labor = 30%
  • Hit operational target = 30%
  • Must hit both to make you eligible for next group
    • Safety hazards = 15%
    • Shrinkage target = 15%
    • Hit all get remaining 10%

Tie them to a percentage of the profits (5-15%) depending on the operation and that is the total max they can accrue. The percentages is the amount that they become eligible for (max). The goal is to target it with short 4 week periods to keep them focused, if the range is too long people can get behind and give up on targets costing money and operational slow down.

 

How to structure a bonus for your restaurant?

Similar to the above structure you tie your leaders to the labor, food cost and other metrics involved. If you are a franchise you are probably tracking complaints, audit scores and regional rankings, all that can be used to hold your team accountable, reward them for great work and keep your business growing (you can find information all over explaining how this works). Managers quickly learn how to grow profits when their pay is on the line, short cuts will be found out quickly if done on a quick and efficient 4 week period.

When auditing from week to week (and period) the numbers if faked will catch up in purchasing and payroll. If they hit food and labor costs but faked the numbers profits wouldn’t be there on the PnL because money spent to pay for purchases would pull from their. This keeps people honest and pushing towards the same goals of success.

 

How to structure a bonus for your Web development company?

Unlike the above examples when a service based system you have to tie more people into total project time, hours used, profitability of projects and maintenance. Breaking down the bonus structure into 50% breaks when the first 50% is paid out after project is finished and the other 60 days later after total review of revisions and after project adjustments.

 

This is just one of many ways to manage the human element of your company and keeping people tied into the big picture and overall success of your company.  Utilizing the tools in our Blue Rock Library  and our Range Solutions can maximize your costs, growth and overall profits.

Capital Investment & your Restaurant

Is a capital investment (like Credibly.com) enough to help your restaurant or small business grow, survive a rough patch or simply solidify your company?  Ensuring you utilize the right company for a great rate is just the beginning, what you do with the capital and how you ensure its maximized for your growth potential is paramount (When and where to invest your capital investment).  In this instance we will utilize the restaurant industry to solidify the uses of a capital injection into your company and how to maximize it.  What are the three most effective ways to maximize the capital you need in your restaurant?

 

Consolidating debt / Strengthening cash holdings

This may be the most practical use of an equity investment, working if supported with proper operations, systems and a well-kept building.  If your business is losing revenue from poor operations and repairing out dated equipment, then you will waste the capital inestment over time fixing the issues that got you there in the first place.  Imagine putting water into a cup with a small hole, eventually the water is going to escape no matter how much you put in there or how often; you must fix the hole first.

Lowering operational costs, increasing profitability and paying down debt works in your favor short and long term. If you pay down debt with poor operations your debt will repeat causing your equity investment to be merely a delay, not a solution.

Replacing/upgrading old equipment

When utilizing a capital investment, restructuring debt or taking a loan to reinvest you must ensure that you have the right variables taken care of to ensure your investment is protected. For example if you remodel your kitchen and all the equipment but not the old and outdated hood system designed to remove the heat, smoke and grease you will not operate properly. Knowing the chain of events and how your equipment works together and affects your operations is key to understanding the equity injection and where you wish to use it.

Remodeling your restaurants environment

Though a remodel may be needed, understanding the return on investment and the threshold to which your investment to return ratio diminishes needs to be evaluated.  Understanding the value of a remodled dining area, new TVs (sports bar) or outside image all play a role.  If your kitchen and operations cannot keep up with the new customers your remodle will bring in then you will spend time, energy and money creating a negative reputation instead of growing sales.  There is a point of diminished returns when remodeling versus new build that has to be taken into account.

Where does this leave you?

With traditional loans available, alternative financing (Flexibility in Alternative Financing is key) and your own current state of affairs to be considered it takes the proper evaluation to ensure the course to be set, organized and laid out for your company’s success.  Before you look to utilize a capital investment to bolster your restaurant or small business take the time to evaluate the costs involved, the state of your company and the threshold to maximize your rate of return.  Utilizing Blue Rock’s Range (Company) programs works alongside your company to maximize profitability and longevity.

Teens in Restaurants & Small Businesses

How is it that we forget so quickly what it is like to be young?  To be a teen with minimal vision, over confidence and a sense of self-worth disproportionate from our reality?  How quickly we forget the lack of vision we had, gravitas we often walked with and issues we missed in the world around us.  When working in industries such as the service industry (restaurants) companies have to deal with the ever-growing teen population, the difference between what most of us (thirty or older) and the teens of today deal with is a perception and ability to question things we never could.  We used to have to accept what was told to us or do a lot of work to question it; before the internet looking for the answer took a lot of extra leg work (literally).  Even with the information one often had discussions with others on the findings because of the medium they gathered the information from (a book 4 to 40 years old).

Today’s youth has grown up with the ability to search for answers in the palm of their hands and know no other way.  This leads them to question everything, sometimes they can put a little bit too much faith in the internet, but as technology becomes more ingrained in our culture people are learning how to vet the internet and the sources they use.  Though there are still issues, misinformation and misdirection will always be a part of our everyday life.  With an ever growing youth work force (Department of Labor statistics), capitalizing and utilizing the right tools can be the difference in the profits of your business.

How do we relate these issues of our culture with that of coaching up our youth in school, sports and restaurants/retail?

Having to go a little further in explaining, giving out information or solidifying what you are asking of someone is the difference; when your employee questions more you need more answers.  Simply stating that it needs to be done, (just because) doesn’t work.  It’s about connecting the dots from the company that pays them, to the solutions that the brand utilizes and the expectations you as a manager have for them.  When you get them to understand the motivation needed, regardless of the job it will carry them further, then the simplistic approach of demanding it.

What are the best ways to communicate and coach up teens in your restaurant or small business?

Don’t be afraid to reach them on their level when communicating; utilizing text messaging more than calls leads to better communication with your staff.  When trying to interview often times you can get a heads up on other employers who aren’t willing to text someone for an interview. In our surveys we have found that employers that text their applicants (for minimum wage jobs) received a much higher return rate than those who didn’t (this was true and well surveyed throughout the restaurant and retail industry).

When utilizing text messaging to communicate scheduling changes and other items help to hold accountability because a manager can save the messages for recall later if needed.  This also opens the door of communication between staff and supervisors because of the informal nature of text messaging.  A generation of people spend more time communicating through a keyboard than in person or on the phone, if you don’t work to meet them in this medium you can lose out on great employees that want to learn, work and succeed.

Sometime dealing with Teens means revisiting the same issues multiple times.

Though we always want to hold people accountable when we are training up inexperienced young adults in the workplace often times we have to repeat ourselves and deal with their defensive nature.  This is why utilizing formal write ups for coaching come into place; if I they are done regularly and used for coaching (not just when you want to terminate someone) your staff will understand and learn from them.  Lack of communication, detail in direction and coaching are often issues we run into regularly when working with retail and service industry businesses.  When working with a younger, inexperienced work force feedback (good and bad) is needed.

Though we were all teens, many of us misguided, ill-tempered or short-sighted we often forget (quickly) that it takes time and experience (aka failure) for many of us to learn properly. All we can hope as we grow older is that the mistakes we make are small enough and correctable as to not derail our future.

Remember what it is like to be a young adult, pair it with the issues of today’s youth that we may have not grown up with (depending on age) find a common ground and form an expectation of their success. Knowing someone will fail from the moment you hire them, make a poor decision and may be hard to work with gives you a starting point to grow them.  I often tell new hires of any job and industry you will make mistakes, you will fail and it will be your fault.  From those failures we ask you to learn, improve and not repeat them, that is what it’s about.  If there are no failures, no issues and no problems there is usually someone doing a great job hiding it (problems keep us all employed, if everything was perfect there would be no need for teachers, coaches, etc.).

When we take the time and invest knowledge and experience into someone we can get great things from them.  Once in my career I trained up a 19-year-old delivery driver (of a restaurant) into a shift manager, later a General manager of a quick service restaurant doing over 1 million a year in revenue.  Before their 22nd birthday they took the store to the highest sales of any store we had owned at the time. He later became an area manager and has since moved on to other leadership positions in his career. The point of that story is that the company would have never had that amazing talented employee for almost a decade had we not invested time and knowledge into them.  Building up a constant bench of training to invest and grow your team, even if they move on to other things as they grow is how you keep your company and business relevant, operating and profitable.

If managers are afraid to coach up talent and teach others, it often comes from a place of fear in losing their job.  It’s up to you as an employer and business owner to ensure that you empower that make your team better, even if they out train their own position.  A great manager that coaches up future leaders for your company can get paid properly, even if you don’t have a different position for them.  There will be people who fail to the point of no return with whom one hopes they learn from the lessons taught, the failure and grow moving forward.  We cannot forget that it starts with our young adults, taking time to coach them up and allowing them to fail along the way.  If we strictly promote the people who have a good record, minimal issues and show up all the time without looking at leadership qualities, failures they have overcome and character traits we are doomed to repeat issues and minimize our operational ability.

Coaching up employees (young adults) is about patience and cultivating talent.  It’s expensive to one’s costs in refusing to train up than it is to have someone fail along the way.  When you hire someone with “experience” for a job, what are you getting and how do you know they are experienced and don’t come with external issues that can affect your company? Chances are they failed before they got you (which is fine), that is why they need a job (which is ok).  That point alone should remind us to train up our staff, teach anyone who will listen every day to ensure we understand who are leaders are and can become.  When a farmer plants crops they don’t plant just enough for what they will need, they plan on a failure rate and hope that they did enough work along the way to have the proper yield.  You should treat your company and employees the same way; constantly training up and cultivating talent knowing some you will lose; some will fail but the finished product gives you a great return on your investment.

The most expensive is the best, Right?

This need to have the best, be the best and utilize the best is in our nature and drives us to succeed but it can also be our worst enemy.  It is in these moments that we must work hard to ask ourselves if it is needed, is it excess and can we operate at a peak performance with it?  This idea that having the most expensive, means it is the best can consume all of us at any point in our careers.  When we (Blue Rock) come into a business we often times see these issues where people will push the limits of their budget to have things they perceive to need; when in all actuality the cost of the items is far outperformed with one or two more employees with knowledge that can critically think.

For example, we most recently worked with a small business HVAC/refrideration company that does around 100K of business a week.  They recently upgraded their technology to have the latest software and inventory access they need; but by choosing the best one out there, at the highest cost, they were missing something.  They were missing someone with the proper experience or education to implement the software and roll over from their old software to their new.  Had they hired someone with experience first (or hired someone to consult on the project) they would have utilized a simpler software with another employee to run it at a lower cost and higher operations turnout.  Its decisions like these that are more common than one might imagine.  We don’t have the time or energy to look into all aspects of something, we end up making an educated guess on the information we have but chances are that information is limited.

What is needed to make an informed decision? How much time do you think you should spend looking into this?  If you are talking a service contract (software) that is going to lock you into a deal for a year (or longer) we suggest taking the 5-10% rule. If you were to spend 5% of the time that the decision will affect how long should you spend? This is not to say that it’s expected to spend 18 (432 hours) days looking into a 1 year software agreement; but we do suggest you take that into account and at least take the time to research look into and find people that have worked with the item you are looking to utilize. For larger companies one little trick is finding people in your organization or in the job search pool and utilize their hands on experience with the software or item you are looking into.

When you are talking long term commitments for your company the wrong decision can affect your operations, your profits and ability to grow.  Don’t take them lightly, it is better to take your time and work with multiple companies to get the best prices, solution and operational capability. Often times the more you ask upfront (training, ect and demos) you can get a sales person out to your company to test it for you and ensure you get the right tool for your company.

One of the worst feelings is needing a hammer only to find out you just purchased a screw driver. You might be able to get the nail in with some effort, but it would have been much easier if you had the right tool for the job.  It may seem obvious but we do it more times than we should at work and at home, we get fixated on the new “thing” the next “best” and forget about what we need and what’s the most important thing for our growth, our ability to operate and most importantly our budget.

Next time you have to make a decision ask yourself how much time you’ve given thought to it and research? Then divide that by the time you hope to have that item, or utilize that tool and ask if you’ve truly looked into it enough.  This is not to say we need to spend a month in deep thought on every purchase, but it does allow us to pay attention to the issue at hand that we jump into many things and get distracted by the marketing used to grab our attention.

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Year in Review, our Solutions

Year in Review

Looking back on 2015 and the people we have been able to work with, the foundation we have been able to build and the prospects of 2016 made me want to share how our programs have helped our clients and how they can help yours.  I also wanted to take a moment to share our goals for 2016 and how we are looking to grow and affect change with our clients and the industries we serve.  Our goal in 2016 is to bring a collection of information, help and solutions for those who cannot afford the help but have the will to fix their companies and careers.

What are the top issues we saw this past year?

Daily Operations

The biggest issues that we have continued to run into start with the lack of operations that are systemized.  We often run into similar issues where owners/supervisors have a set routine that they believe to be used daily but it is not set (In writing, where it can be checked off, followed up on ect).  Even the places we work with that have set systems, often times don’t follow up properly leaving people to do “what they believe” to be correct.  When it comes to daily, weekly and monthly operations we must have a baseline/an expectation that can be measured against to ensure the operations are working consistently.

This does not mean that everything has to be extremely rigid to minimize creativity but it does mean that in situations where an expectation is to be met it needs to be written down and enforceable somewhere in the company.  If you can measure it, you need to have an expectation that can be repeated, held responsible and audited.

“If you want to buy a new car someday, versus buying a car in 30 days you will approach it much differently.”

Give your company, your employees goals and deadlines, we work better with than without them.  When we have a systemized rules and guides it removes the personal from coaching in many instances making the process of improving your team more positive and effective.

Sales Team to Project Management Issues

This is a big issue we see in companies where the sales team is pulling in the customer and passing them off to project managers (anyone servicing the client).  The issue here lies in lack of consistency with information required to transfer from sales to operations.  Whether it’s a set form, CRM software (that is audited for completion) or any internal system you have the level of incompleteness from the sales person to the operations department is lacking (even in some of the biggest companies around).  This is a big issue with technology and software accelerating at a fast pace, some people can’t keep up, or worse aren’t given the tools they need to maximize the CRM software that their company is utilizing.

Having standards for your teams, with someone following up and holding them accountable creates a level playing field for all involved and ensures that people can do their job properly.  If you don’t have this in place you can be paying out commissions and bonus to sales people that are actually costing you money with incomplete intakes and be losing great talented people do to frustration and poor work performance from the environment they are placed in.  The only thing worse than keeping someone on that is causing harm to your company is losing someone that can do great things for you and your team.

I say this because we often times work around the weak link in the work place because they are a necessary evil. We can’t have the position vacant (so we think, not always true) and then we work around it, never really solving the problem. The other side of the issue is losing someone with great potential that could bring great things to your team.  Losing a team member that has the ability to coach and grow talent while operating at a high level affects you in multiple places, whereas that one bad employee may not cause as much damage.

Software/Services Audits

When’s the last time, if ever that you audited your company’s software/services you pay for?  You may be paying for a service you only use quarterly; the simple answer is your losing money.  How did you get the software or solution you are using; was the decision made by someone high up, but lacking the proper knowledge? This happens, often, and pride can cause a lot of issues in a business when people are afraid to ask for help, or admit fault.

Taking time to survey your staff on how much they are using their software, to what extent they even understand it can be an issue.  We must first accept that often times people are afraid to admit when they need help, when they are not as fluent in something as they say and from that we need to be vigilant in the way we support and audit our employees.  If we can’t find the specialists in a company for a position that needs support, we have to find a way to grow them internally through education and coaching.  Developing employees creates buy in, whether you’re a small restaurant looking to grow your leadership or a full scale company you need to make sure that the tools you are paying for are being used.  Sometimes renting something the few times you need it is better than paying for it year round.

With the ever changing technological world around us it is easy to get lost in the latest and greatest. For example, having parallel parking assist on your car is great, if you actually use it.  If you live in the suburbs and never parallel park it’s a waste of money.

What are some new items coming in 2016?

We have been and are continuing to build our new website, (looking to launch first quarter of 2016).  We are building a library with our partners to bring accessible information for your business and career to support those who are looking for self help as well as teaching potential clients about what we do and how we support our clients.  What had started out as a small idea for a group of individuals to support each other and the companies we work with and interact with has turned into a growing network and team of professionals serving companies and careers alike.

Continuing to push our “Happy Hour” window three days a week to maximize exposure but more importantly work with companies, small businesses and careers looking for the edge they need to succeed.  When you are serving a purpose, a greater good to multiple people you allow yourself and your network to grow.  The more people we have a lasting impact on the better off our clients and our brand will be.

Continuing to expand our community support with more speaking engagements at local schools and community events is a growing trend heading into 2016.  Last year we were able to work with local high schools and other community organizations to empower the next generation of leaders.  Working and speaking with groups such as the YMLA (Young Mens Leadership Academy) we worked to empower and coach up young men for their next steps in life with college and careers.

 

What are Blue Rock’s Solutions?

 

Blue Rock Consultants

Blue Rock was founded by Charles D’Amico to maximize a company’s efficiency, growth and ultimately profits.  With an approach based in project (not hourly) and aggressive contingent based pay structures (we don’t get paid unless we produce) the solution to help you maximize your margins is just a phone call away.  When people ask, “who is Blue Rock” we answer, Solutions that profit.  It may seem simplistic, but we focus on the margins, operations and people needed to keep your business profitable for years to come.  There are plenty of apps and software solutions, but who is ensuring you are maximizing those efforts? Who is ensuring that the tools you use are being utilized, employees are being maximized and operations are fluid?  That is who Blue Rock is, that is what we do, we are bringing back the human element to solutions.

Blue Rock has worked within the service industry for nearly two decades.  Helping companies maximize their ability to profit with simple, real world solutions and support. It’s about leaving a lasting impression that carries on long after we’re gone.  What good is a system, if you don’t have the proper people operating it?

Blue Rock Specializes in

We specialize in supporting your company in the solutions you need.  We know this can sound vague; between our team and the network we work within, we have the ability to solve all of your problems.  The most common enemy of a companies growth is “time” and utilizing it properly.  Not having enough time to operate their company, research what is needed and develop the systems needed to grow in a competitive market leads to the failure of many.

What had started out as a venture to support small businesses and restaurants had grown to serve companies of all sizes, careers of all levels and an overall support structure consistent with the human element of our days.  When evaluating a company the most common issues we see lie in the human element of operations, communication and systems development.  Through these variables we find the holes that need to be filled, systems that need to be adjusted and operations to be evolved.

What Industries have we worked with?

Restaurants (Fine Dining, Sports bars, QSR and Catering)

Maintenance (Heating/Cooling, Refrigeration, Kitchen equipment… Etc)

Financial Industry (alternative lenders, loan underwriters & Loan companies)

Tech Industry (Security Companies, Point of Sale…Etc)

What Services do we Provide?

Created customer Intake forms

Design Systems for better Daily Operations

Design Inventory Systems

Human Resources Analytics

Custom Bonus Systems

Partnership Building (bridging two strong companies)

Margin Maximizing (across all industries)

Problem Solving Workshops

Leadership workshops

Leadership Development Programs

What is the Blue Rock Happy Hour?

Being founded in the restaurant and service industry we work to end every day with free services to new and potential clients.  Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4p-5p we give free consultation.  We do this because we understand not every customer has the money to pay someone to help them out (especially when they are in need).  That is why we work with them, donate our time and allow them to make some necessary changes where they can succeed.  The founder understands there are plenty of clients out there, and the more people we help the better it is long-term for everyone.

Blue Rock Happy Hour
Blue Rocks Continued effort to help all size businesses and Careers.