It was a Friday night in one of the busiest parts of Sydney; we had an amazing pizza, outstanding service, a comparatively inexpensive bill and the restaurant nearly to ourselves.
As we sat waiting for our food we started wondering why such a great place was nearly empty knowing there were worse establishments filled to capacity all around it.
In the 15 minutes we sat waiting for our food, two more sets of customers happened upon the restaurant the same way we did. They were a bit more inquisitive than the others walking by and purposed themselves to look into the window of the pizzeria. As you got closer to the window you could see — written on a small blackboard — a sign reading “ Large pizza of your choice, salad, bread sticks and a soft drink or house wine for 17.99." The offer coupled with the unique and inviting interior was enough to bring us and the other two sets of hungry souls in as customers.
The problem was, unless you got quite close to the window, you couldn’t see the white on black sign nor was there any other significant signage to let you know what the establishment was or did.
Curiously, sitting on a shelf in the far back corner of an unused bar, was a plaque reading “Voted Darling Harbour’s best pizza for 2014". The award was from a well recognized source but whoever the owner was seemed none too proud of their accomplishment.
The lost opportunity was glaring. Make the 17.99 offering visible to passersby and pad the value by ensuring the reader knows its not only a great price but its also currently the best freaking pizza in Darling Harbour.
It was clear from the high volume of traffic passing by and the fact that over 70% of people who read the sign — during the time we sat there — came in for dinner that the owner could’ve had a full restaurant by just making signs and accolades prominent.
So why did this owner miss such an obvious and game changing opportunity when there were so many other things he/she had gotten right about the business?
We suspect it has to do with a chronic but curable ailment that faces many small business. — an aliment that drives many entrepreneurs out of business despite them having a great product or offering.
We refer to it as Busy Owners Syndrome ( BOS ).
Symptoms of BOS include but are not limited to:
- Dirty bathrooms
- Broken links on your website
- Cluttered reception areas
- Outdated prospectus materials
- Substandard recruitment
BOS is caused by owners or managers who become so overwhelmed with operations that they do not take time to just quietly reflect on their business and customers.
When you stop reflecting, you miss simple details which equates to missed opportunities & lost revenue.
The great news, however, is BOS has a cure that won’t cost much to implement and will eventually pay you back more time than what you spend doing it.
The cure is broken down into two, once-weekly, 15 minute blocks that consist of a reflection period and an action period.
15 Minutes to Reflect
The reflection period seems the most difficult for those suffering from BOS to commit to. However, once you start, the value of doing so quickly becomes evident.
During the reflection period try to block out all of the things screaming out to you from around the office to “finish me” to “answer me” or to “clean me”. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t write that SMS. Don’t tidy your desk.
The point of the reflection period is to calm yourself into just being the casual observer and to allow your mind to wonder onto the things you normally don’t see or choose to overlook.
If you are a brick and mortar establishment then walk around your entrance, watch your customers walking by and in, watch their behaviors and interactions with your staff or product. Take time to behave and think like they do.
How does that dust in the corner make you feel about your company’s attention to detail? How would a clearer sign impact your visibility from further down the street? Are your employees’ uniforms starting to look dingy or out of date?
If you are online then try to find your product or service the same way you would search for a company you know nothing about. Follow the same process you anticipate your customers will follow to interact with your site and complete the various actions they would perform. Ask random questions about your product and service and see how easily you can find the answers to those questions. Visit the pages you don’t often go to and re-read through the copy.
The point is to observe from different eyes than what you usually use to look at your business. If you follow the process earnestly, you will spot easy to fix issues that will allow you to improve your offering or accessibility to it.
Take a moment in the last minute of your reflection period to write down a list of your discoveries and then choose one item to improve. Do not try to change your business in one setting. Select that one important item and set it aside for the “Action Period”.
Its important that you do not assign actions that take more than your allotted time to complete. The purpose is to discover small problems or solutions and then take quick action where you normally would not. You don’t want to action painting your building’s exterior but you could action pricing a painting company. You wouldn't action redesigning your website but you could action fixing a bit of copy.
Once you've developed trust in the process then get other staff to do the same. — not only management. Compare notes and learn which points they viewed as most important to take action on. — the insights you can gain from this can be game changing and you will begin to see your company differently.
15 Minutes to Action
You can fulfill the Action period on the same day or on a different day of the same week but do ensure that you fulfill the action. Whether it is or isn’t, you should view that action as mission critical because developing the habit of following through on the small details is in fact so.
Fulfilling the small actions not only have a positive and immediate affect on your business it will also change how eager you and your team are to solve future detail oriented problems. (Hear more about the compounding effect of Dopamine released by crossing things off your to do list)
Curing BOS can be an enjoyable process, especially when you start seeing what an amazing effect such a short period of dedicated time can have on your overall operation.
The cure isn't dependent on the exact amount of time you spend on reflection and action but it is important that you make it a regular habit of spending at least 15 minutes on each block.
Allow yourself the 30 minutes per week and you may find that game changing fix you would've never seen or have willingly overlooked in the hustle of the daily grind.
Photos altered by Cinderhouse Creative.
Article written by Joshua Maddox