Growing Your Business; Good or Bad?

A long time ago I was visiting a larger customer by way of a company I owned. As we waited in the lobby my business partner pointed to an aerial view of this customer's current location and facilities. It was a huge manufacturing facility sitting on about 5 acres of land. My business partner said, "one day we will be this big".

Uh, I don't want to grow that big! Why? Many reasons but at the time I knew our business suffered from one major flaw. Note your business or leadership flaws - it will help you understand your business better.

Our major flaw had to do with processes; hence our customers suffered. In other words, we needed to get better at what we were doing now not get better at dreaming the future. Rather, we had a serious production problem that created fire after fire to put out. We needed to fix that before we go buying new buildings. The poor processes within the organization created a phenomenal failure at delivering our product on time and within customer budgets. Our poor process also included accounting process issues, marketing process issues, and HR processes (the way we hire and train employees).

Over the last 30 days I have been working on a construction project for one of my retail businesses. With that I have had to visit my local Lowe's to buy over thirteen thousand dollars worth of building materials, tools, and services. In those 30 days I have visited this Lowe's location 17 times and each time, Lowe's employees truly could care less that I was in there each time. Their dismissive glares and their non-urgent attention to detail make me feel as if I am a nothing surround by superior humans. Of course that is not the case by for someone of my position to "feel" out of place truly makes me wish I never took on this project.

I truly believe Lowe's has order process issues which create other issues that are apparant to the average person if we simply take the time to observe operations. Next time you are in a Lowe's or a place that relies on you as a customer, take a moment to observe how things are.

My point here is that although Lowe's is over 35 years old; is it too big for itself? Does Lowe's leadership really know what is going on at the line-level. I always imagine walking through any Lowe's location with their leadership executives as if we were working on a construction project so they can see how the everyday customer is treated. Is there an alternative to shopping at Lowe's? Yes. There are many alternatives to shopping at Lowe's but as most business 101 course will teach; there is strength in volume; rather Lowe's has many locations which makes it easy to shop there. It's the 7-Eleven model of the '70's. There were so many 7-Eleven's around you could not-not go into one for at least a Slur-pee.

My point in this blog is that growing your business can actually be difficult if your processes and your response to customer needs are not in sync with growth targets, marketing efforts, sales efforts, accounting processes, and of course, your wanting to lead respectfully. It's that old saying; the customer is always right. This may not be true in organizations that are simply to large to manage/lead.

For more about Luis Luarca PhD and Allectus LLC click here.

Categories: Leadership

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