Recently, while I was out enjoying a Sunday on the Central Coast with my partner, Steve, and our friend, Stephan, the odometer on my car hit 200,000 miles. It was a picture-worthy moment, and one I will always remember—we laughed and shared stories of “where this car has been.” It really got me thinking about the past twelve-and-a-half years, of the trips and experiences I’ve had with this car—including driving all over the United States and even Canada. I moved twice, and had many days of joy, stress, sadness, and dreaming while driving this car.
This made me reflect on the maintenance and upkeep that’s allowed me to drive 200,000+ miles in one vehicle, and it dawned on me that it’s a lot like owning a business… Some constantly break down or just sputter out. Is it because of the ‘make’ and business model the owners chose? Did they need to upgrade, but couldn’t? Then there are others that are constantly fine tuning their engines. They add new parts and accessories as needed, and they maintain the insides and outsides of their businesses.
Now, I must admit I don’t have a perfect record when it comes to my maintenance routines, but I did have the required tune-ups and major work consistently performed to ensure I could keep my car running and operating well. So when I come across businesses that are not doing their necessary tune-ups and required maintenance, it doesn’t surprise me to discover they’re struggling. They want to get their engine going faster or smoother, but their leaders haven’t improved how they’re leading or managing their teams. It might be time for a ‘tune-up’…
When was the last time you really looked at your team and their roles? I just met with a business owner this week who acknowledged her business has changed so drastically these last two years she doesn’t think her employees truly understand her expectations and the new roles she needs them performing. Have you developed new skills on your team? Is it time for some training and education?
One business leader I know had worked with the same vendors for years because they had long term relationships, but I encouraged him to shop around and compare quotes from other resources. Sure enough, he was able to shave over $25,000 in expenses just by reevaluating what they were paying for their services and products.
When was the last time you ‘washed and waxed’ your marketing and brand? In today’s digital marketing world, updating your content and image is critical. You have to be on a regular schedule of ‘washes’ and ‘waxes’ in order to truly stay competitive. Look at any major brand over the years and you will see their image has been consistently updated and fine-tuned.
When was the last time you invested in research and development for your firm? Have you updated your computers or systems like you would change the battery or air filter on your car? Often businesses wait until something breaks down before replacing or updating it— what does this actually cost you in terms of down time and lost productivity? A regularly scheduled preventive maintenance routine and equipment upgrade could add years to your business.
So, when was the last time your business received a ‘tune-up’? I suggest you take some time to do it. Look at your people, processes, financials, and marketing. Are you and your team really prepared to hit 200,000 miles and be a reliable, high performance machine?
This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career.