Get back (to basics) with Jack

Departments - Marty!

February 10, 2016

© Jerry Coli | Dreamstime

On a daily basis, I run into a business that has the hard parts of its endeavor figured out. There’s a beautiful, new restaurant by my office that has great food, cool ambiance and a wonderful location. I admire what the owner and employees do. Except don’t bother trying to call to order carry out because they hardly ever answer the phone.

Recently, I had a meeting in Dallas at a wonderful hotel full of cheerful, attentive employees. My room was very nice and I was impressed until I ate the chicken in their restaurant. It was so bad I couldn’t eat it. Even I can make a good piece of chicken, folks.

While on a trip with my family, I pulled into the gas station I like to frequent to get gas and some snacks for the family.

Their stores are very nice and clean and are always well stocked. While inside, the tanker truck pulled in to deliver gas and blocked our car in, forcing us to wait while he filled up the tanks. The driver didn’t care. He even laughed at what he had done to us.

In each case above, there’s a disconnect. The companies do the “hard parts” well, but they struggle with simpler things.

Not everyone at those companies understands or sees the big picture. There can be no one to blame but leadership for the poor performance and lack of attention to details.

The restaurant by me needs to make sure their phones are answered by a professional who can help and please customers, not alienate them.

The hotel in Dallas needs to pay attention to the food they serve. If they can’t make a decent piece of chicken, maybe they need to fix that basic menu item and fix it now.

Take action.

My client, John Richter, from Birmingham, Alabama, recently shared with me the story of Jack Nicklaus, the legendary golfer, and what he would do to start off every year.

John told me that Jack had a golf coach named Jack Grout. He was the only coach Nicklaus ever had. The relationship started in 1950 and continued in the same format for the Golden Bear’s entire career.

They met at the start of each new season to review the fundamentals of playing golf from the ground up. Nicklaus would ask Grout for help throughout the season. Coach Grout did attend the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship, but rarely worked with Nicklaus at major tournament sites.

Grout felt that a golfer had to be in charge of his own swing and didn’t need to be second guessing everything.

Grout said, “The golfer who must fall back on a teacher every time any little thing sours in his game cannot but have a limited future.” I find that fascinating, folks.

Even a great player like Nicklaus focused on the basics each year and learned how to do things for himself. It worked pretty well for him, didn’t it? What about you and your team? I think some lessons on the basics are in order.

This year, lay out your training and education calendar and make sure that you are talking about and teaching all of the important items that affect your business. Don’t assume anything.

Each year, I think it’s smart to talk about the basics again. It’s important to talk about the things that matter the most.

Don’t worry about insulting your team’s intelligence. Instead, worry about making sure your team continues to focus on what you deem as important to your company’s success.

Training and education are investments, not expenses. Think back on the years gone by. Where have you had issues? What have you done or not done to upset a client? Which jobs have cost you a fortune due to mistakes?

Get together with your leadership team and lay out the things you want to get better on and start teaching them.

Don’t forget the basics: driving a truck and trailer, checking the oil in equipment, how to greet a client, how to critique a subordinate, how to handle a conflict on the job and so on.

The world’s greatest golfer focused on the basics and you should too. If we can’t do the basics well, how in the world are we ever going to do the hard parts well?