3 Questions You Should Be Asking Right Now

Here are the 3 questions that you should be asking right now:

  1. Do we have the right people working here?
  2. Are we doing the right things to be successful?
  3. Do we do those things right?

It doesn’t matter what type of business you are in, who your customers are, or how long you have been in business. These are the three things that you should be getting right on a consistent basis.

Let’s break it down.

Do We Have The Right People Working Here?

How would you describe your staff? 100% rockstars? Maybe, maybe not.

Do yourself a favor. Before the end of the year, assess every employee in your company with the following quiz. Ten questions. Ten points each.

Just like in school, 100-90 is an “A”, 89-80 is a “B”, 79-70 is a “C”, 69-60 is a “D”, and 59 or below is an “F.”

Click here and grab it on a convenient form.

Review Your Employees!

Dependability – please rate the employee on their dependability. Do they show up on time and ready to work? Do they complete their assignments on time?

Work Ethic – please rate the employee on their work ethic. Do they work hard at their job, or are they inconsistent with their effort?

Self-Motivated – please rate the employee on their degree of self-motivation. Do they continually need following up to complete assigned tasks? Are they organized and ahead of the game?

Team Player – please rate the employee on their teamwork. Do they help others achieve their goals? Do they make it easier for the next person?

Positivity – please rate the employee on their positivity. Are they nice to be around and make working here enjoyable? Do they contribute to a great working culture in our business?

Communication – please rate the employee on their level of communication. Do they practice active listening? Do they follow up and ask good questions?

Skill at Job – please rate the employee on their skill with what we’ve hired them to do. Do they make a lot of mistakes? 

Customer Service – please rate the employee on the level of providing customer service both internally to other team members or departments and/or also with our customers.

Flexibility – please rate the employee on their flexibility. Can the employee adjust to new information or circumstances well? Can they solve problems by doing or working on something different?

Intangibles – please rate the employee on any intangibles. Some people you just want on your team because they bring so much more to the table. Does this employee add an extra flair to working here?

What Were The Results?

So, what were the results? Does it look like you have the right people as part of your crew?

If not, what are you going to do about it?

Are We Doing The Right Things To Be Successful?

Ask around. Take a minute and actually talk to your employees. Not about that order that has to go out, but about their opinions on working for you.

What’s broken? Does something need attention?

Let’s say a genie suddenly appeared and granted each employee “One Wish” to improve something at your shop to make their work easier or lives better, what would your employees spend their wish on? (Hint: ask them this question)

The magic resides in determining what you should be doing that you are not. What are the right things? I don’t know. That’s for you to figure out. You know your business better than I do.

However, I can tell you that in order to have different results, you have to do things differently. Nobody ever made significant change doing anything the same way.

Think about these “Right Things”

  • Marketing – are you generating leads that align with the right customers with your most profitable solution?
  • Sales – are you selling to the right customer for the highest margin?
  • Information – is information being collected and communicated correctly?
  • Scheduling – are you proactive in scheduling production so everything is completed on time?
  • Purchasing – are you using the right suppliers that offer the best price and service?
  • Receiving – are you counting and organizing everything?
  • Creative – are you designing ideas that sell?
  • Production – is our production in line with customer expectations?
  • Shipping – are you offering the right type of service?
  • Accounting – are we getting paid upfront and in full?
  • Measuring – you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  • Profit – which concerns us more – top-line sales or bottom-line sales?

Of course, there are probably thousands of “Right Things” that you should be doing. You know this. Yet, how much time do you really spend thinking about them?

How do you know that you are actually doing the right things? In my experience, a lot of shop owners live in a bubble. Only about 10%-15% ever go to a trade show or industry event. Are you really basing your business decisions on what the Facebook crowd says?

Best practices live beyond your shop walls. Usually the only time anyone discovers something new is when they start to struggle doing it the old way.

Do you think you are doing the right things to be successful? How do you know? What is validating that opinion?

Do We Do Those Things Right?

This third idea is all about processes. Do you think you are doing things right?

Here’s a magic trick.

Pick any task or workflow item in your shop. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Jot that down on a slip of paper.

Next to that, can you assign a number for what you think is “right”?

For example, if you are printing or embroidering something, how many should be completed in an hour?

Maybe you were thinking sales. If it was that, what are the total sales goal for today and the associated profit percentage goal that goes with that?

These are just examples. Pick your own adventure, but you need to be able to jot down the task and what you feel is a good number associated with that item.

Fold that piece of paper in half, so your answers are not visible.

Next Step – Ask Other People

The next step in the magic trick is to ask other people that work in your shop about the task or workflow item. What is their answer on the number?

Have them write it down on a slip of paper and fold it in half. In fact, you might ask all of your staff. Your suppliers and colleagues in the industry too. Get their ideas on what is “Right.”

Then, unfold the slips of paper. Jot down the answers on a whiteboard or spreadsheet.

Do the answers for your team match? They should. If this is the expectation for what can be accomplished, how come everyone has different answers?

How about all of your shop’s answers to what other people in the industry say? Where do you fit in with that? Are you above or below those numbers? Do their numbers even make sense when compared to yours? They don’t have to.

The Goal

The goal here isn’t to embarrass anyone, but rather to highlight the fact that maybe your team isn’t all on the same page.

There could be a reason why sales and customer service thinks about production differently than actual reality. The answers in everyone’s heads don’t line up with the actual math. What problems do you think stem from that disconnect?

When your company outlines the “Right” way of doing something, what is that process based on? How can you get everyone in alignment with the same answer?

What impact do you think that might have on accountability and your shop’s culture?

Do yourself a favor. Define what “Right” means.


“Start with what is right, rather than what is acceptable.” – Franz Kafka

“Life is always waiting for the right moment to act.” – Paulo Coelho

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden


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Marshall