#150-Remove The Bottleneck
John (Intro): I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I am John Laurito, your host today and tomorrow and the day after. So recently this weekend, I was out with my son Nick and my dad, dad, as I call him, or John. He is also John. And we were out hitting some golf balls. Now, I had this crazy back injury. I don’t know where it came from. I’m fine now. So I sat there and I basically watched them hit golf balls as I was really dying to get out there and hit golf balls. The next day I got out there and I actually played and worked out.
John: But that morning watching them and we decided afterward was a great morning. We decided afterward to get some breakfast. My dad knew this place. That was a bagel place. And I love bagels. I don’t eat them much, but I love bagels. Wow. They’re so good. So he mentioned this place and like, fantastic, let’s go. So we went to this place and it was packed, really packed. It was a Saturday morning and it just smelled so good. I walked in. I’m like, nice. And we waited in line and it was, you know, one of these where you go up and you order from the counter and then you sit down, they call your name, and then you come out and, you know, they get your food. So we go up to the counter. They’ve got this unbelievable menu. Food looks great. The bagels look so good. I just totally over-ordered because the food looked absolutely fantastic. I ordered this big scramble of like scrambled eggs and peppers and onions and sausage and bacon and cheese. And then I also got a bagel on everything, bagel toasted with cream cheese.
John: And it was fantastic. It was absolutely fantastic. So the food was fantastic. The environment was pretty cool, too. It had kind of this New York bagel type of atmosphere. But there was one problem with this place, and that was when you went up to the cash register. So there was a long line, but things were moving kind of slower than they should have moved. And when you went up to this line, when you went up to the counter, they had a register that was really outdated. And by outdated, I mean that it didn’t have a button for all the things on the menu. So this poor lady was out at the cash register there when she was taking our order, which was a lot because three hungry guys and drinks and all that stuff taking the order she had to type in like you would in a keyboard like type in the words.
John: So my dad was like, you know, I don’t want cheese. I want tomatoes on my omelet instead. OK, no cheese. Hold the cheese. Add tomatoes. You know, she’s typing in a word-for-word and it’s like and then I’m going through the rest of the audience is like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You know, and I had to go back and go through the order a few times and I’m thinking to myself, she’s going to miss something. I mean, I don’t know why it’s taking her so long. I’m sitting at the counter. I couldn’t understand it. Then my dad told me afterward yeah, here’s the reason it’s like this super outdated system.
John: And so anyways, we got done, it was a long process to place our order. She’s a real nice person. But our order in which we sat down and I’m thinking of myself. I know there’s going to be a mistake and I can’t imagine she got everything. We had to go back a couple of times. Hey, did you get the blueberry muffin? Did you get this blah, blah, blah? No. Oh, jeez, no, I didn’t. So sure enough, my dad got his omelet and he did not have tomatoes as he had asked.
John: So a couple of things with this couple of A-HA’s really, really basic easy things. Here’s a place that had great food, great atmosphere, great location, great prices, and friendly people. I mean, everything was there. I mean, it was everything that was there. They had everything for a really successful business, but their bottleneck, which not only slowed the place down. So it was a lot slower than it needed to be, but it also led to bad service because they got orders wrong. My guess is probably fifty percent of the orders had something wrong was this stupid, outdated register.
John: And I’m thinking, OK, granted, that’s an investment a business makes. So you’re looking at hard money you gotta throw in to get one or two new registers or updated software. I don’t know. Maybe it’s that. And for whatever reason, they didn’t do it now either. They didn’t recognize that that was the bottleneck. But I think if they scratch their head enough, they could have figured it out or they recognized that and they decided to just, hey, you know what? We’re going to keep going. We’re not going to worry about it, but I guarantee it cost them money. I guarantee it because I guarantee it will cost them turnover.
John: They weren’t turning over, turning orders around. Fast enough and you multiply that in one morning, not that big of a deal, you do that every morning for a year, that’s a lot of lost business. I guarantee it left a little bit of a negative mark on people because they’re thinking, OK, it’s going to take longer, it’s going to be slower. I got a mistake now. We left there feeling positive about the place. But here I am doing a podcast about, you know, what wasn’t a positive part of it.
John: So I see businesses all the time where they have something in the business that’s slowing their business down. And sometimes it’s small and they either turn a blind eye to it or make a decision that, hey, we’re not going to do anything about it. Now, sometimes this has to be a piece of equipment and it’s an easy fix guarantee. It’s an easy fix. Now, if your business is that important to you and you’re not just doing it for the short term, which 99% of business owners are saying, hey, I want that this is long term, if you’re doing it for the long term, you’ve got to make those short term investments that pay off long term dividends. This is one of them. It removes a bottleneck. It makes your business go faster and smoother. It’s more professional. It’s a better service. People feel better, all that kind of stuff. And it was just this was a little piece of equipment.
John: Now, sometimes the bottleneck is a person. I’ll contrast this with another. There was a Panera that I used to go to when I lived up in Boston, and I love Panera. And I’d go in there. Sometimes I do some work. I get my coffee. I think I went there every single morning. I did every single morning for a period of time and get my coffee and love their food, love their coffee, loved everything about the experience except for this one lady at the front. She just had one of these sour expressions every morning, and she just was, you know, those people
that wreak negativity, she wreaked negativity and everybody else in there, all the other employees were great. The manager was great to come out and say hello.
John: But here was this person who is basically the face of their organization, who was miserable. She never smiled, barely grunted, and responds to you. And she just looked angry and sad and mean. She looked mean, so scary. She scared me. And that was not a good way to start your day. And I remember. Wow. I just remember thinking if I was the manager, then my attitude is everything. She could have been great and competent, skilled. But if you don’t have the attitude that makes people feel welcome, I literally felt like I was an intrusion every morning coming there like I was a bother to her and I was almost like, you know, she just absolutely sent this message without saying anything that she hated people like. That’s how I took this. And I’m like, OK, if I were the manager, easy decision. She’s gone. Bring somebody in who’s got a bright, cheery disposition who’s somebody is going to smile, make eye contact, welcome you and problem solved. That’s the bottleneck. Sometimes it’s a person.
John: So you think about your organization, you know, it’s like a car. It’s like, you know, a car that has, you know, 700 horsepower, but it’s got a governor on it and it’s not going you can’t get it past 70 to 70 miles an hour or it’s got really cheap, thin tires on it or it’s got, you know, another problem with it. It doesn’t matter how much horsepower you got on it, it doesn’t matter how great your food is. It doesn’t matter how great your product is. If you’ve got a bottleneck like one person or people that are preventing your business from doing as well as it could or in the first case, a cash register, piece of equipment technology that’s ultimately not the best experience for people, you’ve got to make a change.
John: Ultimately, you’re swallowing profits, you’re losing profits, you’re throwing them out the window, down the toilet. And you have to recognize that as a leader of your organization. The small changes, small, small changes, relatives, everything else sometimes are very small, can make all the difference in the world. Just open your eyes. You’ve got to pay attention and in some cases ask people for feedback. They’re honest feedback. They’ll actually tell you. Had the Panera manager asked me, hey, is there anything we can do better? I would have actually told them if this bagel place said, hey, you know what? Is there anything we can do to do better? I would have told them. And sometimes they do. But I just, you know, for whatever reason we go on with our day.
John: But if they asked, I would have given them feedback. I would have told them, hey, you know what? You can probably make a lot of money. I don’t know anything about cash registers. I don’t know anything about software systems. But if you did a little research, my guess is you can get something that allows your cashier, your person at the front to to ring people’s up, people’s order up better, faster, more accurately. And all of a sudden you’re going to see things turn over faster, more revenue, more profits. They asked. They would have told them that too. Sometimes it’s as easy as that to ask people their opinion. All right. Do what you want with that. My job is to throw out these ideas, let you run with them. I want to make these actionable. I want you to be able to do something with it. This is hopefully an actionable episode. So do something with it or maybe, you know, a business that has a bottleneck. Tell them maybe they don’t know it. Tell them that’s your mission.
John: All right. I hope you enjoyed today, as always, like subscribe, share, add comments. Go down below. Give a five-star review as a reminder. Get my book. Tomorrow’s Leader coming out in two months. I will keep you posted on that. Very soon you will be able to preorder it. I’m very, very excited about it. Full of all kinds of great stories and leadership principles. And my TED talk is coming out very, very soon. So that will hit social media. As soon as I have it in its final form and able to be distributed, I will do so. I know many, many people have been asking about it. I appreciate it. I’ll get it out to you shortly. So in the meantime, have a great day. Thanks for everything. See you next time. Bye.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Once again, that’s email@example.com. Thanks! Lead on!