There have been plenty of them through the years. Some have come and gone, some are sticking around, and new ones continue to pop up. They all have the same premise, just a different theme. It may be Chef Rob in Restaurant Impossible revamping menu with a gourmet twist, or Jon Taffer in Bar Rescue training bar staff how to create a new signature cocktail. Most recently I watched a few episodes of Garage Rehab where Rich Rawlings completely overhauls a struggling automotive repair shop. It makes for great TV: the combination of “Helping the little guy”, some inflated drama, and the feel good conclusion at the end.
Each show follows the same general formula each episode: Celebrity host that has made a career of successful business flips gets the call for help from a struggling independent business. Celebrity host can’t believe how falling apart the business is, but claims that they can help IF the owners are willing to listen to them. Drama and shenanigans ensue, and in the end the business has successfully flipped and there are tears of joy. Predictable at times, but still entertaining.
After watching these shows off and on for over a decade now, I have noticed that there are certain business practices that can be pulled from these shows that can be helpful for nearly any entrepreneur. Even a podcast host or blogger! Here’s what I’ve learned:
1 – If You are Struggling, Do a BRUTAL Self Check
Look, if you were a great business person you wouldn’t be struggling to begin with. At the very least, you should continuously be growing your audience, even if slowly. If you’re not growing or your audience is actually shrinking you should take a good hard look at yourself and how you are handling your business.
What happens most commonly in these shows is that the business owner is holding on to some old beliefs or ideas that seemed to work in the early days but did not scale up as the business grew. There may be other aspects of the business that are held on to for sentimental reasons, such as the desire to keep all the original fixtures, original recipes, or perhaps keep certain people on the staff because they are either friends or family. If things are not working, be honest with yourself and assess what needs to be changed or removed.
At the very least, you should continuously be growing your audience, even if slowly.
Or, it may just be that they are not business minded or do not know how to formally run a business. There’s no shame in admitting that you do not know something if you are genuinely interested in learning. Be honest, accept your deficiencies, and make commitments to improve. In the case of blogging, you may be an excellent writer but have no idea how to properly promote. Just because you can work magic under the hood of anything with four wheels does not mean you do not need and competent invoicing system. If you need to learn how to do something better, or perhaps just do something properly, just admit it and follow through. Results may actually come faster than you expect!
2 – Clear the Clutter
This is something that is more pronounced in Garage Rehab as some owners just keep piles and PILES of spare parts “just in case”. Sure, it will be convenient to have an item on hand to suit the customer’s need immediately, but if everything is stored in mounting piles across your lot with no organization or written inventory you may be losing track of what you do have and spending money on something for a new version of what you kept on hand.
Clearing out the clutter will help with general organization and overall efficiency. Even if you were able to find exactly what you are looking for, how long did it take for you to find it? If your piles are growing and growing to extreme levels, keep in mind that there is only one way this happens: more items are being added to the pile than are being removed or used. Therefore, the proof is right in front of you that you do not need to keep all that extra inventory on hand. If you can, clear out what is not necessary and organize what is left.
Clearing out the clutter will help with general organization and overall efficiency as well.
This can be applied to your digital content as well. Sure, I have a folder of sound effects and other sound clips that I hold on to “just in case”, but those are stored in a specific folder in a specific location. Additionally I keep my regularly used ones in a template folder for repeated use, and all raw audio recordings are kept in separate episode specific folders as well. I know exactly where to go for what I need If I use an extra sound effect or other file for a particular episode I keep that file as a one-off within the episode folder, not in the general repository.
3 – Properly Invest in Yourself
This concept can take on many forms. While the nuances will differ the focus remains the same; Keep up to date with equipment, infrastructure, and training. There are few, if any, instances where staying behind in any of these areas are actually beneficial.
You know what is more expensive than buying new equipment? Constantly repairing faulty equipment. Depending on cost and your personal financial situation, it may actually cost LESS in the longer term to purchase new(er) equipment to replace the old. Not only will the new equipment be more reliable, you will have a better product in the end and perhaps more efficiently. When I was able to upgrade the audio editing software I was using, I was able to produce both a better sounding podcast AND I was able to produce it FASTER by utilizing the new tools and features.
Depending on cost and your personal financial situation, it may actually cost LESS in the longer term to purchase new(er) equipment to replace the old.
It’s not just investment in physical resources that can be beneficial. In order to create some of the effects heard on the podcast an in creating some of the artwork, I paid for an online training course in audio editing and watched hours of How-To videos on YouTube. Sure, watching the YouTube videos did not have a monetary cost associated with them, but they still cost me my time and energy when I could be doing something else. But after taking the course and sitting through the videos, I was able to create and produce exactly what I wanted. Once again by investing in myself I was able to produce a BETTER product in LESS time. Or, if you can afford it, you may be able to contract or commission some work to be done for you. That way it is done right the first time and you can focus on other aspects of your business that you are more versed in.
4 – You are Judged by Your Appearance
Deal with it.
While this may not be your personal appearance, like what you do with your hair or if you have perfect bone structure, your business and your product will first be judged by someone’s first impression of it which will most likely be what they see. If they do not like what they see, they will look else where for what they need.
You appearance is also more than just cleanliness. It is also your brand.
This may also be a by-product of Points 2 and 3. If you walk into a place of business and everything is a mess, you will not be instilled with a sense of confidence that the business will be able to complete your request in a timely manner. If they allow their shop to be filled with broken or inoperable machinery, how are they going to treat your vehicle? If you see filth in the lobby of a restaurant, how clean do you think their dishes are, let alone their pans or other cooking surfaces? If your website is a confusing mess, it will take too much effort for a visitor to find what they are looking for and will most likely give up and leave.
You appearance is also more than just cleanliness. It is also your brand. Does the style and menu options of your restaurant reflect the clientele that you are looking to attract? Do you even know what your target demographic is? Perhaps that should be a starting point, but that’s for another blog post by someone more fluent in business than I!
5 – Network and Cross Promote
This is one that I saw expertly done in Garage Rehab. In the show, Rich Rawlings commonly sought out complimentary businesses such as Car Washes and Gas Stations, and attempted to work out cross promotional deals where the owners would suggest the new Auto Garage as a place for customers to go for repairs while the Garage would return the favor. These are complimentary businesses and each are benefiting from the arrangement at no monetary cost. Additionally it built up professional relationships for both owners that could pay future benefits.
In that way, you become a kind of network yourself, and that has it’s own kind of value.
From the multiple endeavors that I have been a part of, I cannot stress the importance of networking enough. There have been many times where my value was found not in being able to provide the service that a customer or another professional required, but knowing of and putting that person in contact with another professional who could provide the service. The expectation would be that they would return the favor in kind later on, but that should not be assumed. Appreciated, of course, but do not assume that an unsolicited favor be reciprocated.
In doing so, you become the person that if you do not know how to handle a situation then you know someone who can. In that way, you become a kind of network yourself, and that has it’s own kind of value.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any other tips that you would be willing to share? Drop them in the comments below!