5 Lessons in Business YOUR Team Can Learn from Football

by Tim English - VP Superior Business Solutions on August 20, 2019

5 Lessons in Business YOUR Team Can Learn from Football

Pigskin Proverbs Can Be Profitable for You

I’m a sports fan and the proud father of a college athlete. With football season coming up, I started thinking about what high school, college and pro football teams are hearing from their coaches right now. And it occurred to me that many of the things they’re hearing could also be great advice for the players in your company.

I’m not talking about obvious things like teamwork and “giving 110%”—those are good things, of course. But let’s dig a little deeper and look at some commonly taught football wisdom that can inspire your team to push a little harder to succeed. 

  1. “Defense Wins Games”

Fans love touchdowns and flashy plays. But successful coaches put just as much emphasis on stopping the other team. In other words, playing defense.

I think in business, playing defense means protecting your current customers. New business is exciting and necessary, but never forget to take care of your loyal customers first. If you get new customers but lose old ones, you’re merely treading water.

It also pays in increased, “repeat” business. There have been many studies that show it is far more costly to acquire a new customer than to sell more to a current one. So you’re not only preventing a rival from intercepting your customers. You’re also gaining ground and moving your own business toward its goal line.

  1. “Next Man Up Philosophy”

There’s a reason pro football teams have a “depth chart” with multiple players for each position. When the starter at any position is lost due to an injury or other mishap, his ‘back-up” (substitute) must to be ready to jump in instantly and contribute. If that replacement player is prepared and ready, the negative impact of the injury is minimized.

The most successful businesses also follow the “next person up” principle. A client or customer hires a company, not a specific individual. If that person is on vacation or otherwise unavailable, another person must be ready and able to continue the customer service flawlessly.

I think this also applies to the behind-the-scenes people who are critical in meeting customer needs even if that customer never knows them by name. In a recent post, I mentioned how a sales rep in our company quickly jumped in to assist another in providing a fast, high-quality answer to a client request.

  1. “Focus on the Fundamentals”

In football, this means successfully mastering and executing the basic skills needed on most every play. Flashy, big-gain plays look exciting, but they won’t happen without blocking, tackling, effort, and consistency. It’s true in most industries. World-famous chefs wouldn’t be famous for long if they stopped paying careful attention to measurements, cooking times, etc.

What is it in your business? It might be making phone calls, keeping customers in the loop, or delivering products when you say you will. Perhaps your fundamentals include documenting orders accurately or following up with vendors to make sure orders will be received on time, (instead of having to find out after the fact why they weren’t).

In football, creativity and innovation are great things, as long as they’re built on a solid foundation of fundamentals. Your business will score plenty of points with customers if you take a similar approach.

  1. “Call an Audible”

Having a solid game plan is invaluable. Football teams put a great deal of time and thought into looking at the next opponent. The plan is built around what your team does best, and how best to exploit what you see as an opponents’ weakness. So far, so good.

But at any given time, the play sent in by the coach just doesn’t look promising, due to the way the defense is arranged. Or maybe the quarterback sees some unexpected flaw or opening in the defense that a different play could take full advantage of. At that point, the quarterback needs the freedom and flexibility to change the play.

Your company, too, needs to be agile and flexible when necessary. The marketplace is always changing, the competition is always advancing, and technologies are always emerging. If you too rigid, you will be stuck in one spot and be passed by. Efficiency and productivity are obviously important. But so is a certain amount of creativity and innovation—and the willingness to use it when the time is right.

  1. “Monday Morning Quarterback”

You won’t hear many football coaches talking up this one. It’s different. This term is most often used to describe fans (or sportswriters) that sit back and pass judgement on players, coaches and plays after the fact. They do so with the benefit of hindsight that was not available to those competing on Sunday afternoon. It’s easy to criticize when you weren’t the one facing the heat of battle.

There’s no question that it’s important (even necessary) to review procedures and analyze what went right and what went wrong on any given project. But learn what you can and move on. When those not directly involved start pointing fingers and assessing blame, the damage to employee relationships and camaraderie can be lasting. Try to keep everyone positive, and use the experience to help next time.

Let’s Huddle Up

With the season approaching, I thought these football “lessons” might help your company have a little fun and be more successful and efficient this fall.

Quite honestly, we can certainly help in that department, as well. We’ve been doing just that for businesses of all sizes for nearly 100 years.  Our  ISO certification means you will get proven, first-rate customer service. And our third consecutive Best of Print and Digital award shows what that customer service can accomplish.

Contact Superior today. We’ll help you put together a playbook that will lead to more business wins.

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