In most sports, winning is about being a just little bit better than your opponent at the basics of the game. It’s about being a millisecond faster, being just a little bit stronger and a little bit more committed to an extraordinary outcome. Winning is a game of inches!

And so it is in business. Generating a healthy bottom line is about being just a little bit better than your competitors at a few key things. It’s about serving customers just a little bit better and selling just a little bit more. Increasing sales by just 5% could grow your bottom line by 20% to 40%, depending on your gross margin. Turning your inventory just one more time each year could increase your profit by 25%.

In some industries, reducing energy or fuel costs is a key profitability factor. Papa Johns, the world’s third largest pizza chain, worked with an oven manufacturer to develop a more efficient oven that bakes a pizza just two minutes faster but will save 25% on energy costs.

Cathay Pacific, one of the world’s best airlines, stripped the paint off all their freight-only aircraft, except for the tails. The 200 Kg weight reduction saved them $190,000 per plane, per year in fuel costs. Then, they cleverly renamed their fleet of freight aircraft ‘The Silver Bullets’ to put a positive marketing spin on their penny-pinching innovation.

In other businesses, reducing waste just a little bit can have a major impact on profitability. An independent pizza restaurant owner got tired of seeing carelessly spilled grated cheese on the floor near the ‘make line’ (the area of the kitchen where the pizzas are assembled for baking) where the crew scoops big handfuls of loose cheese out of a bin and spread it on the pizzas…and, apparently, on the floor.

Cheese is the biggest expense in the pizza business and even a little waste will impact the bottom line severely. So, my restaurant owner friend simply bought a few three-foot square plastic tubs and three sizes of zip-lock bags (the ones with the actual slider for efficiency) from the dollar store and created a little portion control program where just the right amount of cheese for each size of pizza fits into the appropriate sized bag. The bags are filled while being held over the large tub of grated cheese and any that falls, falls back into the tub. Filled and zipped bags of cheese are placed in plastic tubs on the ‘make line’ where they’re quickly unzipped and the cheese neatly dispensed. Simple? Yes, but it immediately increased her bottom line by 25%!

So, are you winning the ‘game of inches’ in every part of your business…or are a lot of little things, not done well, eroding your profitability? The solution is simple. Start a list of all the things that you can do just a little bit better to amaze your customers, grow the business and increase your bottom line.

Get your staff involved. They know stuff! Schedule a 2-hour “Winning is a game of inches” rally (call it anything but a ‘meeting’). Use part or all of this article to create an invitation to the rally and to explain its purpose. Make it fun! Go to the dollar store and get a bunch of little ‘prizes’ for each idea that’s generated. Then, do something, improve something, fix what needs fixing. Get the group’s commitment and assign specific responsibility to specific people. Ultimately, it’s about ‘what will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, with what outcome, measured how and rewarded how. Then, follow up. Remember, businesses do not die from a single shot to the head. They die, slowly but surely, from a thousand uncompleted tasks. Finally, celebrate and reward success and deal firmly with non-performance.

Source: Donald Cooper