The two blokes below me looked like they were statues in some frozen tableau - frozen in the squat position, arms thrust out in from of them and only inches from where a screaming, roaring monster was going materialise.

We were in the corporate box of a supplier at the V8 Supercars and directly over the pits.

For the benefit of non-Australian readers I should explain that the V8 Supercars is the main automotive racing circuit in Australia.  The cars, in theory at least, are based upon standard sedans, but heavily modified for racing.  The heavy modifications replace just about everything apart from the name badge, but you can still see the family resemblance.  The circuit includes most Australian capital cities and, for the first time this year, they will also be racing in Shanghai.

I guess you have to be a bit of a petrol head to be able to take the noise, but there are compensations, like the hospitality we were offered, and the networking opportunities.  But that is not what I want to talk about.  Rather both my wife and I were struck by the performance of the pit crew in the bit directly below our box.

Most of the pit crews dashed to their car as soon as it came into the pit, wielding their tools and changing a tyre in unbelievable speed.  I said "most of the teams" and ‘dashed".

The team below us were in a minority of one, and didn't dash anywhere.  Instead, they were already in position, crouched at wheel height and ready to move.  One held the tyre off the ground (you try that even with a standard auto tyre) ready to thrust it on the wheel, the other also crouched down, with his pneumatic tool ready to get the wheel off.  So they didn't need to move.

The car would come in, one step forward by the tool holder and the wheel was off, one step forward by the wheel holder and the tyre was on, another by the tool holder and the wheel was secured.  And the car was off.  It was very impressive. 

But what really struck me was that they had a system, their system was far superior to the competition, they worked as a team and they had obviously had practised until they had the whole thing down pat.

Many of us have played sport, particularly team sports and will remember well the endless drills to make sure we knew our moves and could carry out the team plan perfectly when we get on the field or court.  So why don't we practise our moves and teamwork in our business to deliver speedy, great results?

Good businesses do.  That pit crew reminded me of a client we worked with a few years ago.  They were fabricators, making products for the housing industry and we were asked to help them do a business plan which would transform their business.  In preparing the plan we did a customer survey, and that was when the ‘ah hah' moment occurred.

One question we asked related to the importance of ‘on-time delivery'.  We had defined this in terms of a specific time e.g. ‘10.00 on Tuesday morning', and not just ‘Tuesday morning'.  That turned out to be the critical question.  You see, the company didn't think it particularly important.  In fact they ranked it about 10 in a 1 - 10 list of service criteria.  The customers however, ranked it 1.  So what chance did the customers have of getting on-time deliveries in that situation?

Let me tell you that the system they designed as a result in their business plan was designed to give customers on-time delivery, every time.  They really worked at it.

And, like the pit crew below us, they consistently beat the competition.

It may be a presentation, carrying out a service or doing an installation.   Develop the system, and practice it.  Practice makes perfect as the old saying goes.  Improve that presentation, practice closing a sale - they all prevent profit leaks.

r& i ag2AdamG

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