People who do volunteer work in neighborhood associations, churches, and nonprofit organizations frequently run out of ideas for fundraising, service projects, and public relations efforts. Likewise, businesses stagnate if their managers, supervisors, and directors have lost the creative edge in problem solving and innovative thinking. By using a technique I developed called “The Re-Create Eight,” new ideas can be triggered. Here is a quick summary of the different aspects of this procedure:
#1 Reshape It. When the Chrysler Corporation molded a station wagon into a pick-up truck and came up with the mini-van, it revolutionized modern transportation. Perhaps two of the items or procedures you now have in front of you could be “married” to form a more functional product or service.
#2 Re-Energize It. If what you have been doing for the past decade or more has become “old hat,” it may be time to put some new pizzazz into your operation. The florist industry still sells bouquets of flowers, but those flowers are now set inside coffee mugs and are delivered by someone in a clown suit with a large floating bunch of Mylar balloons. It’s more fun and exciting, so it increases sales.
#3 Reduce It. Maybe it is time to think micro for your business. Can you downsize for efficiency in any areas? When huge banks developed the “branch bank” concept for neighborhoods it made banking convenient, easy and fast. As such, it attracted more customers. Small can sometimes be more functional than big.
#4 Expand It. Sometimes businesses think too small. Are there spin-off functions you could be involved in? Gas stations now sell gas, oil, and wiper blades, but they also sell coffee, newspapers, lottery tickets, soda pop and snacks, bags of ice, sandwiches, car washes, bread, milk, candy, and numerous other products. They are maximizing their sales opportunities.
#5 Combine It. Sometimes by running two operations in tandem, synergy can be created. Seminars on cruise ships benefit the teacher (a job), the students (a vacation that is a tax write-off), and the cruise line (more customers).
#6 Rearrange It. By reconfiguring a procedure or product new effectiveness can be attained. When women in the 1970s suggested altering the work day with “flex time” so that they could come in early or stay later, depending on their obligations to tend to the needs of their families, it increased the number of available workers and made them happier employees in the process.
#7 Reverse It. Surprisingly, you sometimes can gain greater profits and save time by doing the opposite of what you are now doing. When “service” stations quit pumping gas for clients, quit checking for oil, and quit wiping windshields or putting air in tires, their employee overhead costs greatly fell and profits rose. When restaurants went to fast food in which customers set their own tables, refilled their own drinks, and cleaned up their own messes before going, it changed formal dining radically but made greater profits for the café and restaurant owners.
#8 Replace It. If your current services, procedures, or products are too dated, pitch them entirely. You may make the finest buggy whips in the country, but if everyone is driving automobiles, it’s time to move on to a different application of your business.
Dr. Dennis E. Hensley is the author of 52 books on such topics as time management, public relations, motivation, investments and money management, and communication skills. He is director of the Taylor University Department of Professional Writing, where he holds the rank of full professor. DNHensley@hotmail.com
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