Beware What Lurks in Your Blind Spot
The four biggest business dangers that we miss.
“Check your blind spot.”
It’s a phrase ingrained so deeply into our brains that by the time we got behind the wheel of a car as brand-new inexperienced drivers, we were hyper-aware. Hitting the open road those first few times, we inevitably found ourselves overcompensating every check and course correction.
As we gained confidence in our abilities, checking our blind spots and making decisions became an almost subconscious maneuver. But wait. Did we actually look?
This type of shift from overly diligent to automatic happens all the time in business. You’re so focused on moving your company forward that when it comes to checking around you and seeing what hazards are in the tough to see spots, you overlook them. Fortunately, all it takes is a short – but conscious – peripheral glance to spot these potential business hazards. Here are the four big ones you need to look out for.
1. The Customer’s Voice
Blind spots are inherently areas outside your direct line of sight, which means we have to make an effort to look in that direction. Hearing what your customers are saying about you means you have to go where your customers are. This means you have to get into stores, salons and on e-commerce platforms where your customers are shopping. You need to engage with them directly. Ask them questions. Specific, to the point questions about what they know about your brand, what they like about your brand and what they don’t like. If you are upfront and authentic with them, customers will be truthful with you. They want to be heard (especially the loyalists), so LISTEN. Do not hand them surveys or put them in a focus group, anything that will allow you to influence their answers. Catch them in the purchasing opportunity and speak to them.
As stewards of our brands, it’s easy to block out the noise and only hear our own – often inflated – voices when it comes to our products and services. Many times we will get the bulk of our input from our internal teams. This is a blind spot. It creates tunnel vision for you and your team. Get into the market, ask opinion-based questions of your customers and then assess if what they are saying about your brand is what you want them to be saying. In most cases, you will be surprised by what is touted as your brands positive and negative attributes.
Once you are really listening to customers, then you need to adjust. Put more resources and messaging around the positive (even if it's not what you expected) and get to work on cleaning up the weak points or negative perceptions.
2. Competitors Gaining Speed
We don’t need to tell you that your competitors are out there, but how close are they getting to you? So, while you are out in your salon or retail space, you need to also be collecting your competitor data. Ask probing questions of salespeople and beauty professionals to find out what they like or dislike about your competition. How do they compare your brand to others? You can introduce yourself as an employee of the brand or you can remain an anonymous, curious shopper, whichever technique you prefer.
When it comes to competitors it is very easy to put the blinders on. You must always be looking at them critically and listening to why they are winning or losing in the market. It is easy to get defensive or arrogant when looking at the competition. This is a blind spot. If you do not take an honest look and get to why customers buy them or what needs they are answering, you will not be able to formulate a strategy to win against them. The goal is to see how your competitors are meeting (or, better yet, not meeting) customer needs. Maybe you’re still the frontrunner, but if you never bothered to check whether someone is speeding up behind you, you run the risk of being overtaken.
3. Scanning the Horizon
Focusing on the road directly in front of us keeps our eyes down. While that helps us avoid immediate obstacles and potholes, it does not allow us to see what is way out in front of us. Which means, if we cannot see it, we cannot plan for it. Find the time to look way out into the distance. See what trends or shifts are coming. By paying attention to the far-off future you can start working on how to capitalize on the opportunity now. Do you see a trend of consumers shifting to DIY beauty? Are customers starting to shop for more cost-effective, at-home solutions? Do you see red flags that you are losing business to your own manufacturers? Do you have a sufficient e-commerce platform and, if so, are you properly building to serve tomorrow’s digital consumer?
4. Taking Your Foot Off the Gas
If you’ve made the same commute to the same job every day for the last 20 years, you know how easy it is to go into autopilot. You cannot hit cruise control, ever.
Even when the numbers show that business is great, that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to increase efficiency and improve your bottom line. Are you maximizing the skillsets of your employees (i.e., do you have the right people in the right seats)? Are you running at peak productivity, using the right tools, systems, and technologies to drive your beauty business toward sustainable growth and profit?
Don’t Turn a Blind Eye
To the person who said, “If you don’t know what to do, do nothing”: how’d that turn out? Burying your head in the sand when something potentially problematic arises can amplify the issue to irreversible proportions. Notice a slight dip in sales? Rarely is that going to fix itself? Radio silence from your top-tier clients? Not good. Bottom line, if you see a red flag, raise it – your brand depends on it.
We’re not saying it’ll be easy. In fact, it’ll probably be scary. As both entrepreneurs and consultants, Buzz Beauté understands the tendency to neglect a seemingly mundane safety check, whether it be out of fear or running the day to day of the business. But we also realize how doing so can obstruct your vision. When it comes to your business, you’re no student driver, and checking your blind spot isn’t something you need to add to your to-do list. It should be an effortless act – one that eventually comes as second nature.
Ready to switch lanes but not entirely sure you remembered to check your blind spot? An outside perspective can help. Drop us a line – we know what to look for, and how to make sure you’re not missing any major obstacles that could slow you down or run you off course.