As a business owner, it’s easy to think you have to have a solution for every problem or roadblock your business encounters. But what if you didn’t have to have all the answers?

Imagine if everyone on your team was as committed and focused on the success of the business as you were; if everyone was motivated to work together to build the best business possible – and everyone was contributing to coming up with solutions.

We recently worked with a client running a busy restaurant to do just that, to get everyone in their team at all levels of the business informed, involved and engaged in ensuring the business’s success for the following year and beyond.

To do so involved exploring and implementing a strategy around three key elements:

  • Everyone needs to understand “what’s important around here”;
  • Everyone needs to understand how they can help – and be able to follow the action and keep score;
  • There needs to be an intrinsic motivation – a “what’s in it for me” factor

What’s important around here?

In order to understand “what’s important around here” we undertook a strategic planning exercise across the entire business, diving deep into employee and management perspectives on critical business issues, looking at key trends and competitor information in the market place, and taking a good look under the bonnet at the financials to see what story the numbers were telling us.

With thought given to each of those areas – the business owners, managers, and the team collectively agreed that improving sales needed to became the key focus area for their business for the upcoming 12 months. Once that key focus (our “critical number”) was decided, we set about creating targets based on the information that came out of the strategic planning exercise.

How can we help?

We then worked together to connect the dots and help everyone understand how they could influence the critical number. Given overheads like rent and wages are fixed, the key was to identify areas the team were able to influence. For most of them, this meant understanding how they could contribute to increasing sales – specifically if they were to increase sales, they would be able to drive growth in profitability.

So we set about brain storming, as a team, the actions and activities everyone would need to undertake each day to support the achievement of those sales and profit goals we’d set. For this business, we focused on how we could increase sales during service on week days, as our weekends were already at capacity.

The list we came up with included daily posting on social media, creating specials around monthly events (for example Valentines day, mother’s day etc), and mapping out topics for training sessions to help the team execute the plan (for example sales training, product knowledge, making sure everyone was across the new point of sale system and so on). We created a team scorecard that tracked progress on these activities, as well as the key targets we were focusing on (revenue/sales growth and profitability).

Giving people a reason to care

The final element we worked on as a part of this process was to find a way to give everyone on the team a reason to care – and that comes by providing a stake in the success of the plan. So we worked with the client to design and implement a gain share program that aligned with the achievement of growth in sales and profitability. We set a monthly base target determined by what the business needed to achieve to remain sustainable, and then for every $2,500 added to the base target in the month, each team member would receive a bonus of a ½ day’s pay.

Rapid financial results, lasting cultural change

So – did this approach affect change? Well, within three months of implementing this system and creating a strong, consistent communication around it, everyone on the team received a bonus of 2 days’ pay. The bonus increased to 4 days the following month when the restaurant increased their revenue by 30% (compared to the same month the previous year), and they’ve continued to achieve their bonus payments each month since then.

A game plan for growth and success

This framework is an “Open Book Management” approach to running a business called The Great Game of Business. It’s based on a simple, yet powerful belief that the best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to educate everyone on how the business works, give them a voice in saying how the company is run and provide everyone with a stake in the financial outcome, good or bad.

Just like this restaurant has been able to, organisations that have fully implemented the practices of the Great Game of Business consistently experience remarkable growth, profitability and employee engagement.

Want to play? We’re here to help you get in the Game. Click here to download the Great Game of Business book summary, and register for a free 30-minute coaching session when you’re ready to take your business to another level.