How Can You Easily Tell a PROSPERING Business from a STRUGGLING One?
What distinguishes a prosperous small business from a struggling one? We’re talking about two completely different ends of the spectrum here, not about the people in the middle.
One simple thing to look for – is the grass mowed, are the letters on the sign straight, is there broken glass, or pieces of roofing material coming off? If the place is neat, and orderly, and well lit, and it looks like somebody cares, then that implies at least some level of success. If, on the other hand, you go into a place and it’s dark, and light bulbs are out, and it’s got Jones Automotive on the outside and the J in the Jones is falling halfway off, and the grass is up to your knees, then it shows the business owner doesn’t care, and the business is probably struggling.
Often, you find out that the state of their minds are also cluttered, dirty, and unkempt in much the same way. There are dysfunctional relationships between the people at the business. They might be perfectly nice to strangers/customers, but have vicious talk among themselves, no trust, no common ground rules for how they interact with each other. That’s not going to be the sort of business that can succeed.
A successful business will have a certain energy. There’s a vitality about it, people are moving around, there’s some noise, the phones are ringing, and people are doing things, people are trying to make a difference in their customer’s lives. On the other hand, when you walk into a business that’s not so successful, it’s quiet, the phones aren’t ringing, there’s a solemnity to it.
When you walk into a good business, there’s a welcoming spirit, and people smile, and look you in the eye, and shake your hand, and give you a big greeting. But when you go into an unsuccessful business, it feels like there’s almost grudging. Okay, you’re here, well now what? What the heck are you going to do for me now? It’s a really different sense, in terms of how they greet and welcome visitors.
The pace of a successful business is fast. It’s hey, we’re moving, we’re doing things, we’re getting things done. But in a struggling business, it’s more sluggish – if we get around to it today it’ll be fine, if not, we’ll do it tomorrow – a much more laissez faire attitude, and a lack of a sense of urgency.
There’s youth in a successful business. I’m not talking about the business owners or even management, but there’s an element of youth in the organization – maybe the service advisors, or the administrative team, or even techs. There’s a few young people in there that keep things going and add a little bit of pizazz and life to the place.
Look at your business
Do a quick audit in your lobby. If you have a flower arrangement that looks like it was made in some factory in China in 1958, and it’s got two layers of dust on it, throw it out. You’re better off not having anything in there, and making it kind of cold, than having 15-year-old magazines and dying plants, and all that kind of stuff. How long does it take to size that up? Go in the front door sometimes, don’t always let yourself in the back door.
And as I said before, people are smiling in a successful business. They hold their heads high, they look at each other. That’s the number one indicator. Successful businesses have good communication, and good harmony, so they look each other in the eye. They trust each other, so they’re going to make good eye contact and work together productively. Even if they disagree sometimes, they’re still going to have high civility, and high engagement with each other.
Where there’s a lack of trust, and there’s a lot of tension, the eye contact is awful. When you see people in a business not making good eye contact with each other, that is a bad sign.
So do a self-audit on the eye contact, the situation out front in your reception lobby, the outside of your business, etc – take a look around. Make sure you’re projecting the air of a successful business. If your sign is falling off, and nobody’s mowed the grass in six weeks, and there’s no lighting in the parking lot at night, that tells you something too. You have a choice at that point. You can keep the status quo, circling the drain, maybe a death spiral. Or, grab yourself by the bootstraps and do something about it. Make some necessary changes and get back to being a successful business again.