THE CONTINUING SAGA OF GRASSHOPPER
AND THE ZEN MASTER, AND A QUEST FOR NIRVANA
[dropcap]“O[/dropcap]h Zen Master, thanks to your patient advice and my long-term personal commitment, I have achieved the Blue Business Belt distinguishing me as an expert in the middle levels of business management. I now see my business from a higher position. However, the problems in running Kung Fu Cycles have not gotten any easier since achieving this higher level – only harder.” Thus begins the next episode of the continuing saga of KFC dealership GM Grasshopper and his quest for motorcycle dealership nirvana… or at least keeping the doors open and the lights on.
[pullquote]“Ah, Grasshopper… Problems do not get harder or easier, they simply ‘are.’ They can be solved instantly with a balanced disposition and vast experience,” says the Guru of the Bottom Line and Zen Master of Business. “A good decision only takes the time of a hummingbird’s wing flap – assuming you have the necessary information with which to make it. Do you not have the information, or are you lacking the confidence?”[/pullquote]
Jumping to a foregone conclusion and answering with his “testy” New Jersey accent, Grasshopper retorts, “Hey Zen-dada, you calling me gutless? You just don’t get it, do you? Your cryptic teachings got me a bigger business, better profits and a larger store, but the weight of problems has now become much greater – so much so, it may not all be worth it.”
Our dealer, Grasshopper, is now experiencing life and business in a broader perspective, albeit a little clouded by an emotional outburst due to daily stresses and doses of business reality. The more one grows, the more one becomes responsible for. If Grasshopper can’t run with the big dogs, then he better get out of the way, right? Grasshopper has become enormously successful in reaching his goal to become General Manager of Kung Fu Cycles, but human nature already has him focused on the next level of success – making him unsatisfied with his current position and situation.
The mind always wants MORE!
Zen Masters, however, are typically satisfied with an orange robe, a place to meditate and a few grains of rice each day. It is Grasshopper who wants to conquer the world and achieve the highest level of business prowess on the planet: the coveted “Black & Blue” Business Belt. Only then will he seemingly become satisfied because there is no greater goal in his mind – yet.
The dynamic duo continues their diatribe, bouncing between their respective macro and micro points of view. Our young super-dealer will either move forward or backward – there is no standing still in life or business. As a business grows, it can be interpreted by the newcomer as becoming more complicated and painful. Growth in any sense of the word,
at any level, is by nature uncomfortable. Change is the only thing guaranteed.
With Zen Business 101 and a middle-management Blue Belt behind him, Grasshopper feels comfortable while being uncomfortable – at the same time. This is not a contradiction. Successful businesspeople and Zen Masters do not distinguish between comfort and discomfort, they only perform what needs to be done to grow without the stigma of an emotion (like fear or discomfort) attached. This is achieved with focus and formulas.
[pullquote]Problems do not get harder or easier, they simply ‘are,’ says
the Guru of the Bottom Line and Zen Master of Business.[/pullquote]
One HUGE issue we have in the powersports industry is not having reference points for improvement. The Top 20 Group Book of Commandments call these formulas “retail metrics.” As Zen Master explains to Grasshopper, “If it is not being measured, then it cannot be improved. You used to be able to grasp and hold three flies in a single swing of your arm and sell three motorcycles a day, yourself. Now you can only grasp one fly and watch your staff sell for you. Have you forgotten the focus it requires to be constantly improving and growing?”
[pullquote](New Jersey accent again) “OK Big Z, now you’re really insulting me,” says Grasshopper. “I have grown this gig to six franchises, 50 people and $7 million in annual sales. Now you’re telling me I need to go back to fly-catching and selling? No way! I have other people to do that. It’s called delegation. I have my Blue Belt and the respect that goes along with it. The Black & Blue bruiser belt will come when I hit nine franchises and $10 million. I am sure of it.”[/pullquote]
Zen Master pauses before his dramatic and softly delivered response to the fledgling GM. “With your growth has come dilution of your fundamental teachings. Yes, you are successful to this level, but are you ready to grow to the next one? You claim running a larger business is harder. It is NOT harder – you simply need better tools and more of them. Look to the Book of Commandments for more metrics and formulas needed for larger tasks, then come back to me when you can.”
Perhaps a racing analogy would more clearly paint the picture. A racer is like a business if we consider faster lap times like making more money in the metaphorical business. Racers want to move faster around the track… Being comfortable is not an option when you need to beat the stopwatch. Get on the throttle sooner. Brake later. Lean in harder. A racer needs to tweak something to break that PR (personal record). That “something” could be internal or external – his body/mind or his bike/mechanicals (probably a combination of both). It’s the same for your business. Change your internal focus and find the right external formula to make your business race faster, smoother, better. Then, and only then, will you be ready for the next (un)comfortable move to the next level.
[pullquote](10 years later) “Ah Grasshopper, you have aged well.”
“Thanks Gramps. You look pretty good yourself except for that same old orange robe you’ve still got on. How do you like my new ‘Black & Blue’ Business Belt? This monster bling, diamond-studded buckle with my name on it is pretty cool, huh?”
“Grasshopper, you know I am not impressed by such material things. How are you personally growing? Have you achieved success inside yourself… and outside in your business?”
“Big Daddy Z I have even more focus and formulas than before,
but have now hit another wall. I became the owner 7 years ago and
now want to either acquire more businesses like this one… or sell this one and start over again. The next level is here again.”[/pullquote]
Stay tuned for the next episode…
Confessions of a Customer™ is one of columnist Eric Anderson’s commitments to the industry, which includes his retail sales training efforts and service to the MIC Board of Directors. He has built several well-known aftermarket brands and is the founder of Vroom Network, an industry-specific consulting company specializing in marketing, training and brand development.