I was reminded of the alternative definition of “assume” during a recent visit to the hospital with my mother. That definition offers us a Lesson Found on the importance to business owners of looking beyond their assumptions.

My 86-year-old mother recently had minor eye surgery. (Everything went smoothly and she is well on her way to recovery.) Prior to the surgery, the anesthesiologist ran through her routine questions which ended with: “Do you have any mouth piercings?” After my mother and I finished laughing, the doctor explained her reason for always asking this question. The doctor once assumed a 90-year-old patient could never have a mouth piercing so she skipped this question. It was only in the OR that they discovered this patient’s tongue piercing.

The doctor’s assumption reminded me of a scene from the 1970s sitcom The Odd Couple. To explain how an “assumption” caused a misunderstanding, the character Felix Unger explains the alternative definition of “assume” by writing the following on a chalk board: “Ass-U-Me”. (It’s a classic well-worth watching.)

The perils of acting on quick assumptions are unlikely to be a new Lesson Found for any business owner. However, profits are lost when the assumption results from owners being too comfortable with their situation. Consider a company that established operational processes 5 or more years ago. Everything might be running smoothly, lulling the owner into assuming operations are running at maximum efficiency. With technology advancing on a daily basis, there is a good chance that is a false assumption. In order to maximize efficiency and thus profits, owners should conduct regular, in-depth reviews of their processes.

Many owners also assume no improvements are needed if they do not hear any customer complaints. In reality, owners and staff should constantly be asking customers how the company is doing. Here are a few suggested questions to ask: How do our products or services make your life easier or better?   What are the reasons you choose us over our competitors? What two things can we do differently to improve your experience? The answers will likely provide surprising opportunities for improvement. More importantly, just asking shows concern for the customer, thus reinforcing their bond with the company. This, in turn, translates into higher sales and more referrals.

Interested in learning more about conducting regular operational reviews or what questions to ask your customers? Email us or call (717-439-6254) to setup your free, no obligations consultation.

Life brings us lessons every day.  Sometimes from expected sources.  And sometimes from sources and situations we never would have thought possible.  Either way, they are a gift found. I am fortunate to find these types of lessons regularly and wanted to share them with you with this weekly series of “Lessons Found”.
Did you recently receive the gift of a Lesson Found that has helped you with management, marketing or another aspect in business? I would love to hear about it. Comment below or send me an email to let me know.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:  Image of chalkboard by Barbara A Lane from Pixabay.