Why you should never confuse activity for productivity or profitability…

About a week ago, I decided to stop at a ‘well known’ coffee shop (I won’t mention the name but it begins with an ‘S’ and they have some interesting ideas when in comes to paying tax) you may be familiar with it, it’s a particularly ‘fine’ establishment on the A3 just before you get to the M25 and as I pulled up I saw the place was quite full – and assumed they must be doing a roaring trade.

On closer inspection, this was not to be the case at all. The place may have been nearly full, but over half of the customers were not sat enjoying their double shotted, half fat, frothy cup of whatever, but were in fact either still waiting to order or collect their coffee. 

We were, it seems, waiting for one of the ‘dynamic duo’ behind the counter (you probably know the type, they tend to be wearing a name badge declaring that they are ‘happy to help’ or something similar but have an expression on their faces that indicates the exact opposite) to get round to us as they toiled away at a coffee machine that was either being operated inexpertly or at truly glacial speed. 

Matters then took a turn for the worse as the female half of the ‘dynamic duo’ declared, perhaps rather too loudly that she was off to the toilet and left her compatriot to deal with the ever increasing queue on his own. 

I got chatting to a man who apparently endures this regularly and often waits over 20 minutes for his coffee. He observed, quite correctly, that they would only need half the space (as less than half of the people actually sitting drinking their coffee, remember) if they invested a faster machine or in staff training (they actually had two machines but only seemed to be able use one between them).

As I mentioned above, to the passer by, this place looked really busy and they would assume it was making money hand over fist. In reality, however, as it was only churning out one cup every few minutes the actual result was unhappy customers, unhappy staff and I’m guessing – nothing like the profit the place could be making.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the frustrations involved with seeing lots activity bearing very little or even nothing in the way of results.It’s often the case if we start on anything without, like the ‘dynamic duo’ above, the right resources or training.

By contrast, investing in the correct resources and the right training, especially in our industry will often result in very little effort bearing quite spectacular results – but only with the addition of one very important factor…

There is always a key element in any of the ‘success stories’ we see and (depending on how we view the world) either aspire to, envy or disbelieve. This key element is quite simply that they actually used what they had invested in.

It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but I know I’m not alone in having something I’ve invested in gathering dust on the shelf, either unfinished or not even started at all. 

So, you could spend time this week looking for the next ‘big thing’ … or instead you could simply revisit something you’ve already made that all important investment in and unlock the potential you saw when you first decided to get involved…

Until next time, 

Tim Lowe
Publisher, Tim’s Business Lowe Down

Tim Lowe