Come dine with me by Mark Blezard
I bought a failing business many years ago. I was aware of the problems it had but was confident I could turn it around.
My approach to all my businesses is to head up the sales efforts until I fully understood the ‘cookie cutter’. This is the template or formula for making sales in a repeatable way so that you can delegate the job to your sales force.
With the acquisition complete, I drew up a list of the top 50 past and present customers and booked meetings with the MDs. Most accepted, curious as to who was crazy enough to purchase this business that had repeatedly disappointed them.
I knew this so confronted it head-on with honesty. “Yes,” I proudly announced, “I’m the fool who took over control and I’m well aware we are like a bad restaurant”. Most looked puzzled and asked me to expand. “If you’ve had a bad meal at a restaurant, you certainly will not waste your precious evening there again until someone else tells you that it’s changed and it’s now okay ”, I would reply.
Of course, I did actually need them to ‘dine’ with me as soon as possible. However, this direct and honest start, and perhaps the restaurant simile, led most of my clients to open up to the discussion of how I was going to improve the ‘kitchen’. It also meant that the natural defence of ‘I’m never doing business with those guys’ crumbled very quickly allowing a quick level of trust and a belief that things would actually change for the better.
So, if you find yourself in a similar – somewhat defensive – position, take them out to dine at ‘Honest Joe’s Café’.