Sometimes slow, incremental improvements aren’t the best way.

By | May 28, 2007

Within much of our consulting work and our book and cafe profits course we extensively teach taking every area of your business and just making it better. Much of the process involves breaking it all down and putting it back together in a more profitable way. It’s a great system and we have yet to find any coffee business that doesn’t respond well to it in a more profitable way.

But it isn’t the only way to grow your business. Sometimes you need to look at it from an entirely different angle. Sometimes it pays to look at the business in the same way that Howard Schultz did with Starbucks and Tom Monahan did with Dominos pizza. They helped to totally reinvent an industry and created huge businesses off the back of their bravery.

The world was hardly short of places to buy coffee back in the eighties and yet Schultz created and popularised a model that meant charging up to three times what other people were for coffee and in a totally different format. As ever we all have our different views on Starbucks as a supplier of quality coffee but that isn’t the issue. The issue is that he took a different coffee culture (Italian coffee) transformed it into a global brand making himself a cool billion along the way.

cup_coffee-stabucks.jpg“You want how much for that cup of coffee?!”

Likewise the world wasn’t exactly short of places to buy pizza when Tom Monaghan created Dominos but he just looked at it the industry differently. He created a system to get hot pizza delivered in thirty minutes or less. He didn’t talk about taste – he just talked about speed and convenience. And since he located the early stores near colleges and military bases he knew his market well. These days there are more than 5000 Dominos branches worldwide.

Once more you certainly have your own opinion about the quality of their product but again that isn’t the point. The point is about looking at an established industry a little differently and then taking a huge leap of faith to create a radically different product.

It isn’t always easy. Monahan for example worked 100 hour weeks for 13 years. But sometimes, for the really big rewards, you have to work very hard. And, as Monahan says:

“No matter what an individual decides to become, hard work and determination is very important in today‚Äôs competitive world. You may also encounter hardships along the way, but you must not get discouraged and you push on in order to fulfill your goals.” It may not be for everyone but coupled with incremental improvements in your business sometimes it is worthwhile to sit back and really look at how you could create a radically better or different business. What could you do to really transform it? To create something that might conceivably become a global brand.


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