Every week when I make the grocery list, I ask my kids if there’s anything they’d like to have around the house. There’s the inevitable list of snack foods, and the 20 questions designed to make sure that their favorite meals are on the list. But without fail, my anti-vegetable, doesn’t like fruit unless it’s smothered in peanut butter or chocolate, son also asks for bananas.
This is an easy yes. Of course you can have bananas kid.
The thing is, he doesn’t really want the bananas. What he wants is the result of bananas that sat on the counter for a week and got overripe. In our house that meant he was getting banana pancakes for breakfast on Sunday morning, and would have a steady supply of banana bread to start off the week. I have to hand it to him. It took me far longer than it should have to catch onto his scheme.
What my devious little lover of banana flavored baked goods caught onto was not just an enviable ability to plan ahead, but a results driven strategy that ultimately got him where he wanted to be. Every time I said “No, I can’t make banana pancakes because we don’t have bananas” he started to learn that all he needed for his weekend breakfast dreams to come true was a single ingredient. And guess what’s been on the counter in one state of ripeness or another ever since?
While understanding the way that my Kindergartner’s brain works is next to impossible, I imagine that if I were to define the process he went through it would boil down to a few simple questions. And while the problems we face in every day life and business are more complicated than pancakes, the same questions can get you closer to your desired results.
What do I want? Reasonable things only of course. We’d all like a winning lottery ticket, but no amount of planning will guarantee that. It might be a metric you’d like to improve, like more customers in your loyalty program. Or you could want to see higher profit margins in the coming year. Maybe you want to offer a home delivery program. There’s probably more than one thing, but break each desire down to keep it simple.
Why don’t I have what I want? A little more complicated. And there may be some other questions you have to ask to really understand. But the answer here is pretty critical. Knowing what barriers are in play can often give you the missing piece or pieces of the puzzle. If we use the example of looking for higher profit margins mentioned above, one answer could be that not enough high margin OTC products are being sold, or that your overall target margin is out of sorts.
What can I do to get what I want? If you’re a kid, this is probably where it’s fun. My son’s list probably included things like “take advantage of mom’s dislike of wasting food, make sure there are always bananas in the house, make sure I make the irresistible sad face every time she says ‘no’. ” If you’re still zeroed in on improving margins however, this is where the hard work really comes into play. For higher profit margins in your pharmacy, you could use your point-of-sale to better manage target margins on your OTC products and make sure your costs are accurate with regular price updates. You can also add nutrient depletion notifications to aid in the sale of supplements. It may not be a one ingredient solution, but you’ll end up with a solid list to work from.
Is it working? Luckily for my little one, the cabinets are always stocked with the other essentials for banana pancakes. But if that weren’t the case, he’d have to reassess. Ask the questions again to identify new barriers. This holds true for any result you’re trying to attain. Did you address those blocking items? Where you able to find solutions to, or ways around them? Once you put your plan into action, did you get what you wanted? Constantly evaluating and reassessing is important for continued success.
If you ever wonder what I’m doing on a Sunday morning, there’s a good chance I’m making banana pancakes, thanks to planning of a kid with a favorite breakfast food. Hopefully these four questions can get you even better results.