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Black Monday


On Sunday, my beloved New York Jets football team ended their dismal season in grandly-disappointing fashion by being blown out by their division’s last-place team.

I’ve been a loyal and rabid Jets fan all my life, and of course I would never root for them to lose.

But — I can’t say I’ve been too disappointed over the past two weeks when they looked terrible in defeat… because if they had won, there was a chance that their owner wouldn’t have realized what kind of serious trouble the franchise was in.

(The 2012 Jets have been described as a “circus,” a “disaster” and a “laughingstock,” among other things. Experts and fans have called for drastic changes to be made both on and off the field, including dumping their General Manager, Head Coach and Quarterback.)

Sure enough, the day after the 2012 season ended has been dubbed “Black Monday” because of the no-less-than 11 NFL GM’s and Head Coaches (including the Bears’ Lovie Smith) who lost their jobs.

Even though the Jets inexplicably made what Adam Schein called their “worst move of 2012” (and that’s saying an awful lot) by foolishly deciding to keep their Head Coach for another season, they did have the sense to fire their bumbling GM (with their sub-standard QB to follow, no doubt).

When he made the move, at least Jets owner Woody Johnson showed that he has the most basic understanding of proper public relations for a company in turmoil, admitting the team’s recent failure in his statement:

“Like all Jets fans, I am disappointed with this year’s results. However, I am confident that this change will best position our team for greater success going forward.”

This is simply “Public Relations 101.”

Hopefully, YOU never make such a mess of YOUR company that you need to make drastic management changes and face a flood of customer complaints. But if you ever do, you must pay attention to the most basic PR principle:

Step 1: Admit your shortcomings.

All too often, we see companies trying to fool themselves and everyone else during their times of trouble by acting as if (or worse, actually stating that) “it’s business as usual.”

As a result, those companies often suffer unnecessarily because of that denial, as their customers lose trust in them and eventually flee. Business expert Jim Collins explained this and much more in “How The Mighty Fall.”

As for me, I know about denial, because I suffered from it in my personal life for years…

Although I had refused to smoke or drink or do drugs all through my high school days, I gave in to “peer pressure” and drank my first beer as a freshman in college. Unfortunately, I then spent the rest of my college and law school days, along with the next several years, sowing my wild oats… living with the youthful craziness I had denied myself all through high school.

All that time, even though it was painfully obvious to everyone around me (AND they let me know it), I actually denied that I had a drinking problem.

Now YOU may never have had a serious problem with alcohol or drugs – or even your business. But you are probably still aware that the first step towards beating any problem is:

Admit you have one.

At this time of year, with 2012 ending and 2013 just starting, it’s a logical time to review where you are now, as compared to where you wanted to be when you made your 2012 plans a year ago.

If your 2012 results fell short of what you wanted, then now is a perfect time to assess the situation and make the adjustments necessary to fix your business for 2013.

And remember: The first step is to admit – to yourself AND your customers, clients, patients or members – that things are not as great as you want them to be in your business.

So… How do you know if your business is “sick”?

Other than the obvious benchmarks of revenue, profits and number of clients, customers, patients or members, here are just a few possible warning signs…

  • Customers are complaining
  • Employees, strategic partners and/or vendors are unhappy
  • Quality issues keep cropping up
  • Your product and/or service deliveries are delayed

Now here’s the good news…

Even if you’re having any or all of these issues in your business, you can still right your ship and come out stronger than ever.

Just remember…

The best thing you can do is to recognize and admit that you have problems, apologize to people, offer to make it up to them and ask them to hang in with you – especially your “champion” customers and ones who have been loyal to you the longest.

The worst thing you can do is to ignore your problems, not communicate honestly or quickly about them with your customers, clients, patients or members, and act like everything is just “business as usual.”

Here’s to a great 2013 for you, your business and your family!

Are you anywhere near the Chicago area?

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One Response to Black Monday

  1. Dan Piva Reply

    January 3, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Steve- great article. Thanks for sharing…

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