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Regular readers know that I like to make analogies between sports and business. As it’s football season let’s discuss how football fans can really get into it. They follow their team, the NFL, the draft, play fantasy football, play Madden Football and more. They study it, critique their teams, especially the coaching staffs, and wonder why the coaches do the things they do (as they, the fans, know what would have worked). They also tend to ignore the fact there’s another team trying just as hard and another coaching staff making adjustments during the game.

Every diehard fan knows in the deepest part of their heart that if their team’s coach would only call the schemes (aka the player formations and plays) they (the fan) would have called then the game would have gone better. A huge reason for this attitude is that fans play the Madden Football video game where each player calls a play and if your defensive scheme stops the play, well, you’re a football genius. So, they think, why don’t my coaches call the right schemes?

Fans and reporters have become vocal about this. If you read the sports page (paper and screen) you know this. I hear it’s huge on sports talk radio, which I don’t listen to.

On September 21, 2014 Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, “Scheme is not a crutch.” In other words, no scheme will work if you don’t block and tackle better, hit harder, run faster and do all the other things that determine the outcome of the game.

A few days after I heard this I was in a semi-public area, the guy next to me was on a business call and he said, “We need to block and tackle better.” That’s really what it comes down to, isn’t. Last year the Seahawks exceled at the basics. They blocked better, tackled better, hit harder and won the Super Bowl.

When companies do the basics better they will also excel and it doesn’t matter if your company is just you, a handful or hundreds of employees. Do the basics better and thrive. Here are a few examples:

  • Want to raise revenues? You have to get the word out (marketing). You have to have competent sales people who can build relationships, show value, make calls, stay in touch and do everything it takes to make the customer happy. In today’s world one of the things that gets overlooked too often is the personal touch. A business owner told me recently that he asked his sales staff where they were on keeping in touch with customers and potential orders. One person told him they had sent out emails recently, to which he told them to pick up the phone, call the customer and show some interest in doing business with them.
  • Is it necessary to decrease costs? If done right you won’t be doing this more than once, plus some review, but it can be a worthy exercise. I remember sitting at the computer with a client as we went down their chart of expense accounts. I pressed her on what it was, why it was there, etc. We were about 20% of the way through when she told me she knew what to do and would do it. Their expenses were out of control and she figured out quickly that the big reason was her partner was a spendthrift. As the business grew she ignored costs and they had grown exponentially.
  • Is your process inefficient (this could be manufacturing, distribution, service or restaurant)? Maybe it’s time to bring in a process expert to improve efficiencies. Perhaps your equipment is outdated and not productive enough. If you’re not the expert in this area, as I’m not, get help.

Business is like football; block and tackle better and you’ll do better. Hit harder (figuratively in business) and you’ll win. People have written books on improving the above areas and on a lot more aspects of a business (supply chain management, culture, finance, etc.) so this is just a sample of what you can do. Football is a collision sport and business is a contact sport. The more contacts you have the better you’ll do and that’s not just in sales but having people who can guide you in all aspects of the business.

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