Last week in my local paper there was a headline that grabbed my attention. Traffic on the roads in my home town were within 5% of total gridlock.
Oh happy days!
Now this was reported as being a major shock. It’s as if this situation has unexpectedly happened. Interestingly the article went on to state that the houses being built around the town will generate traffic that will exceed this small buffer.
Luckily, the article highlighted that the local politicians were now unveiling plans that will alleviate the problem. Unfortunately the proposed new roads are in fact old plans that have been bandied around for many years and regularly put on the back burner as soon as opposition became vocal.
In reality the plans are probably too little much too late. Every resident has experienced the creaking infrastructure for many years and expect it to get much worse before it gets better. (Rant over promise!)
Why am I raising this in a business blog I hear you ask?
Well, just like the local leaders of the council it is so easy for business owners to become fixated on growth and ignore the infrastructure that is needed to support that growth. Plans for growth are put in place and then shock horror when the growth starts to materialise there is a sudden realisation that things are rapidly going out of balance. The systems, team, space, finance etc. are not capable of supporting the growth.
A common business mantra is to “sweat the assets” (both physical and human) with investment deferred to the last moment. This practice often becomes counter productive and actually hampers growth, indeed incurring higher costs over the long term whilst generating short term gains.
Business owners are happy to invest in strategies that generate growth but delay investment in the infrastructure that supports growth.
In the long run, whenever possible plan to invest in the infrastructure before the growth. Now I understand that financial restrictions may put a hold on the investment but get it going as soon as possible.
If your intention is to grow and own the business over the long term, then surely the best option is to plan regular investment to maintain and improve the assets (both physical and human) that support that growth. Remember to plan resources to invest in your infrastructure.
Don’t wait for the wake up call, perhaps customers becoming disgruntled by poor service, before making the decision to invest. Leaving it to the last minute or after the event will in the end cost much more.
In the case of my home town the disruption as they scramble to upgrade the infrastructure will put additional pressure on the already creaking road system.
The residents will vote by the ballot box whereas your customers may vote with their feet!