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Edition 184 – Assumptive Behaviour

Last Friday evening, Trish and I headed into Barangaroo, the newly redeveloped part of Sydney to take a look and indulge in some fine food and wine. The taking a look bit was pretty quick – the Antarctic blast that hovered around late last week meant standing beside Sydney Harbour was akin to being in the middle of the Canadian prairies in winter. We quickly headed for shelter.

As we wandered along, we stopped at two places that each had a bar. We asked the Maitre D at each restaurant their availability at the bar for a drink and their responses were astounding. They each turned around, spotted vacant stools at the bar, turned back and replied “sorry we’re full!” Not once, but twice. Sure, these places were busy. However, they weren’t anywhere near busting to capacity in the early evening where the wind was so strong that the flames from the outdoor heaters licked outside the metal surrounds.

We vowed to try once more and this time, we were welcomed warmly in out of the cold. A glass of wine turned into two, which turned into a variety of tasting plates as we opted out of a full blown meal. The service was good. The food superb. The wine delicious and at the end of the evening, the wallet was almost $200 lighter, all because the Maitre D did not assume that all we were there for was a drink.

My experience had me reflecting on the family businesses I’ve both observed and worked with over the years and the numerous times, and numerous ways, they’ve made assumptions about their suppliers, their competitors and, most importantly, their customers.

If you’re an owner or manager of a family business, take a moment to think about whether you have assumed:

  1. Your customers know all of the services you have to offer.
  2. Your customers understand the true value your product or service adds to their business.
  3. Your staff understand where you are taking your business and why.
  4. Your staff know exactly what it is that you expect of them and to what standard of completion.
  5. Your suppliers know what you need, when you need it and the urgency of your level of need.
  6. Your suppliers understand how they could tweak their product or service to make it all the more valuable for you and your customers.
  7. Your bankers understand where you’re taking your business and how they can assist you in progressing your journey.

Too often, assumptions are made merely out of laziness. As I’ve written previously, businesses don’t grow by having their owners and key management personnel sitting inside their office and workshops tinkering away at stuff. You need to get out there and communicate with your customers, staff, suppliers and bankers and find out what it is they want to know. That way, you’ll no longer assume – you’ll actually know!

Stop assuming. Start asking. Then you’ll know, which will speed up your progress and have you focus resources in the right areas, knowingly.