For years, Jet Stores operated in the South African retail space as a lower- to mid-income clothing and footwear retail company. The chain was part of the largest and most sophisticated retail group in the country. Jet was seen as the cash cow for the group, and was an important strategic asset for the organization.
As the chain evolved over the years, I was involved in leading the development of the first cash retail loyalty program ever created (The Jet Fashion Club). This loyalty program became the testing ground when the chain introduced its third party credit facility in the early 90s, which was ultimately expanded across the entire chain in the mid-90s.
The impact of this credit launch was staggering, leading to the chain growing their revenue by over 30% in the first year of its operation. And that’s when the trouble began. For the following year, the expectations for growth were pegged at a similar level, despite the fact that their existing customers were still paying off the previous year’s credit card debt.
The chain purchased merchandise at an unprecedented level (almost every store had so much merchandise that they had to have a container behind their store to house this level of inventory); however, their sales (despite still showing very acceptable double digit growth) were well short of budgeted levels.
As a result, with their cash tied up in unsold merchandise, the chain effectively imploded. Heads rolled, people were fired, and what used to be a very healthy, self-sufficient chain, became a shadow of its former self – simply because of greed and an unrealistic reading of the situation at the time. One decision at that level almost brought the company to its knees.
While the chain is still in business today, those poor decisions caused much pain to a large number of people that surrounded the company at the time. The chain was ultimately saved by the strengths that the group had via the other assets it held, and is now thriving once more. For most business owners, a second chance like this is most unlikely.
Are you really sabotaging your own business?
As a consultant, I often get called into companies to help to re-invigorate their marketing and revitalize their organization to achieve the growth that will set them on a new course or correct some of the challenges that they may have. Very often it becomes fairly clear to me that the business owner, because he is caught up in operating the business on a day-to-day basis, ends up not being able to see the wood for the trees. In other words he gets caught up so much in working inside his business that he often doesn’t have sufficient perspective of the business from the outside.
We describe this as business people sabotaging their own businesses. Most people do not even know that they are doing it. It is something that they do instinctively, and unfortunately some of the decisions that they make cause more harm than good in their business. This is where the true value lies in bringing a third party in to help redefine what you need to do on a day-to-day basis in order to create a new and successful outcome.
Quick decisions sometimes lead to sabotaging your own business
One of the biggest challenges these business owners have is at a marketing level where they jump into making decisions without asking the right questions. The reason they do that is because they are action oriented and that action orientation makes them want to get their marketing done quickly and get those decisions made and that action happening. However, if a decision that is made is not the correct decision, the outcome of that action may in fact be quite quick, and the speed of the outcome could hurt them much quicker than they realize. So it is critical that the questions are asked before the answers are looked for.
Very often when I get a call from a person wanting me to help them, the call goes something like this: “I need branding, can you help me re-brand my company?” In other words they are saying that they think they know the answer. My normal response to that question is: “What is the problem and why do you believe that branding is necessary?” More often than not the business person finds that this question is incredibly hard to answer, simply because they have jumped to the answer as their conclusion. They believe that branding is the right answer to their quandary, but they haven’t asked why.
By jumping to a quick conclusion, this person is inadvertently sabotaging their own business, by not following the right process of asking more questions and letting the solutions appear naturally. While this is a typical day-to-day occurrence in business decision-making, it is important to realize that it has its inevitable drawbacks.
So, ask more questions. This will lead you to more choices which will ultimately empower you to make better decisions. And you can do this all quickly so that you still meet your need for speed.
“Don’t simply do what others do. Don’t do what others tell you to do. Take it all in and decide for yourself. Then get it done.” – Neville Pokroy
By Neville Pokroy
Neville Pokroy has over 30 years of experience in all aspects of business growth, strategy and marketing, from big business to sole proprietorships. His hands-on experience spans the most basic to the most strategic, and everything in between. This has provided him with tremendous insight at all levels of the marketing discipline, and in particular, how it impacts on the ability of businesses to leverage marketing as a prerequisite for growth in a changing world. Call me today 905-886-2235
Mastermind Solutions is a multi-disciplined consulting firm comprising of highly experienced professionals. We are committed to attaining the highest customer satisfaction by providing accelerated solutions to your business challenges.
We specialize in Business Growth. We deliver to clients' a sustainable future by helping them define where and how they wish to grow. And then we make that happen, together with you.