One of my secret enjoyments is watching Bar Rescue on television. Since the script seems to run about the same on every show I don’t know how much of it is real and how much of it is staged for television, but it is still interesting to watch. A bar is in financial trouble, the rescuer is called in who find all kinds of unbelievable problems from dead rats in the kitchen to employees who steal. There is usually a confrontation between the bar owner and the rescuer that ends up with them shouting at each other. There is another confrontation between the rescuer and the staff. Experts are brought in to provide training, the bar gets a make-over, and suddenly everyone is smiling and the bar is making tons of money. One of the things the rescuer says in nearly every episode is that until the owner cares about the business no one else will, and at least that part of the show is absolutely true.
Most small business owners begin their companies with great enthusiasm and pride, but over time the mundane demands of business, the endless details that must be addressed, the times of disappointing sales, employees that don’t work out, and the challenges of trying to run a profitable business can suck the enthusiasm out of nearly everyone. Little things begin to be ignored. The floor isn’t swept one evening which soon becomes a week. Past due collections are ignored because too many other things are demanding the owner’s time. Phone calls are not returned promptly. The owner starts coming in later in the morning or leaving in the middle afternoon to play golf without having resolved a potentially major issue. Team members are watching and soon determine that the owner really doesn’t care any more, and if he or she doesn’t care why should they?
It’s not long before they begin slacking off, violating company policies, and providing less than quality service to your customers. You can reprimand them all you want, but this problem is really on you, the owner. You created a climate in your business that convinced your employees you no longer cared about the company. They were just following your example.
Small business owners must consistently demonstrate to their employees and customers how much they care about their business. This is done by addressing even the smallest details in a timely fashion. It’s done by arriving early and leaving after everyone else does. You show how much you care by demanding that every thing that is done in your company is done with excellence, and that excellence begins with you. You take pride in the way you dress, the way you go about your job, and the way you relate to both your customers and employees. You exhibit respect to everyone you meet and you treat others as you would want to be treated. When you consistently do these things your team members will know how much you care about your company, and they will care too.
I’m afraid this is a lesson I learned the hard way. You can read more about my own failure to show my employees how much I cared about our company in my book Mistakes: Avoiding the Wrong Decisions That Will Close Your Small Business.