Watching all of the football during this past kick-off weekend for what looks to be an interesting season got me thinking. Actually it got me rethinking about business and the elements in business that draw parallels to the game of football. This may be a good time to take a few lessons from the gridiron and consider using them to score some points with your customers.
Using sports terms and concepts in business is something that people have been doing for as long as I can remember.
Below are a touchdown and a field goal (that’s 10 points) worth of ideas, concepts and plays to consider that could help your business run smoother and increase your profitability.
• Game plan: Every coach knows without a game plan, you are not properly prepared to win. You have to plan for what you hope will go right as well as what can go wrong. Just as that plan needs to be flexible, your business plan needs to be a flexible document that allows for changes and adjustments based on what challenges or conditions you face.
• Player development and team building: Every team or business has star players and standout employees. However, a great coach or business owner develops both the individual and team skills. Time and again in sports, we see marquee players never reach their full potential. That’s often because they are missing the key ingredient — teamwork.
• Practice, practice and more practice: Make sure both you and your team members have a comfort level and experience in the tasks and roles they are asked to fulfill. They also need to have an understanding of expectations. That is a key to delivering what is needed to succeed. There are few substitutes for experience, so practice — lots of practice — can help increase the likelihood of making smart moves.
• Playing field: In football, you not only want a playing field in good condition, you also want it to look good. Keep your business location or retail space clean and well maintained. Focus on areas that tend to get dirty more quickly than other areas. When you invite people to come to your location, the field you play on reflects on you and your business.
• Play calling and calling an audible: Along with game plan development, knowing what plays to call and when is pivotal. It is usually the difference between winning a game and losing. Not only do you need to have a variety of plays available to either progress forward or defend against a competitor, but you need to be able to switch up the plays. This sometimes occurs right before the ball is snapped. In business it refers to deciding what to do at the last second after seeing all possible options and obstacles that come up. Sometimes in business, as in football, you have to make snap decisions and call an audible or two.
• Fans and hometown support: Almost every business person will tell you they have people they consider their favorite customers. As a business it is much better to identify customers and clients who consider your business their favorite. Are you their number one business? You want fans — diehard fans and supporters who not only patronize your business but encourage others to do the same. If you find these customers tailgating in your business parking lot before your store opens on a regular basis, it may mean you want to open up a little earlier.
• Clock management: As the head coach of your business, you need to watch the clock. Time is ticking and so is the play clock. Managing your time and that of your staff or team is critical. Don’t waste time. It is an important part of sports, business and life.
• Big money players and plays: Once you have a solid plan and a comfort level with the experienced group of people on your team, big money players will emerge as well as big plays. While you never can be totally sure when situations will occur, you can help to increase the odds of them happening by creating conditions that are favorable to big plays taking place. For example, encourage team members to step out of their comfort zone once in a while and try something new. A new sales technique or a change of merchandise display is a good way to try something different with little risk. Taking some chances can pay off and lead to more points and ultimately a win.
• Media coverage: It is so important to let people know what you are doing and when. More attention in football as well as business is usually a good thing. More promotion and stories about a team can lead to more interest in a team or in your case your business. Make sure you keep the media abreast of all important events that have value to those media audiences. This can be accomplished by working with media outlets that produce stories as well as offer options for advertisement. Combining these two purposes of media will help get the word out about your business or offerings.
• The BIG Game: Most people know of the biggest game in football. That is why people refer to it as “the big game.” It is the show, the big time and the national stage for the players, coaches and teams. The question for you and your business: What is your big game? And what does winning the big game represent to you and your company? That is an individual choice that may require some work on your part to identify.
Hopefully, you can use these football-inspired tips to run your business, pass along some key tips and techniques to your employees and kick your competition as well as the kick the ball right through the uprights. Touchdown and extra point!