They refuse to adapt to change.
Once again, I’d like to use a personal experience to bring this point across.
Exhibit A: The Brick Oven – a 25 year-old ‘pastry shop’ known by many Jamaicans for their delicious gourmet patties. They once resided in Devon House, a traditional historical site in the heart of Kingston commercialized with small shops serving mostly take-out products such as the 4th best ice cream in the world, confectionaries and pastries. After being unceremoniously kicked out of Devon House last August, they had temporarily relocated to Suthermere Road near Half Way Tree. In October, they opened at their new home – 49A Hope Road. Prime uptown location with an extremely beautiful venue – not your typical patty shop for sure. With three rooms offering various style seating and lighting, free wifi and power outlets for patrons and food options ranging from full meals to snacks, pastries, ice cream and coffee – it was obvious this was no longer meant to be a take-out restaurant.
So how is it with all these changes, they still kept the same business model? They still want to offer the same pay when you order and pick-up-at-the-counter service. Even if I sit in their restaurant for 5 hours per day sucking their power and wifi – it’s no big deal, as long as I order the first time, I can take all the time I want. Now while I appreciate the fact that they may be catering to the struggling entrepreneur who may not be able to afford more than the first meal, shouldn’t they be making every effort to maximize their revenue anyway. Maybe you don’t want to hastily remove the hangers-on like a particular coffeehouse that’s quite famous for it but shouldn’t you at least check to see if your customers need anything? And shouldn’t there be at least flexibility in payment to accommodate those who may want to order things throughout the day and pay for everything with a debit/credit card before leaving?
Here’s the thing, Brick Oven. I feel very passionate about this matter (obviously, I’ve gone through several channels to get you guys to adjust your policy to no avail). That’s the service my colleagues and I have come to expect from a set-up like yours and when you don’t offer it, we both lose – but you lose more significantly than I do. Sure I may still patronize you and sit in a corner all day upset that I get no service or I may choose to go to another establishment that cares more about me and checks on me every once in a while. But you, on the other hand – will not only lose clientele like myself who want this service and are willing to go elsewhere to get it, but you will also be paying hefty light bills and losing valuable restaurant space to those individuals who do want to leech off your augmented benefits and you will, in turn, get nothing. And just because you don’t hear the complaints, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Most people can’t bother to make the effort to get you to change, they just take their business to someone who will.
The most important factor in all of this is that when I recommended these suggestions to the top people there, they were adamant that this is not their policy and they were not willing to change. They were unwilling to look at the potential of the change and instead thought of the costs to change. And that, my friends, is where Jamaican businesses fall flat.
Growth will never come from sticking to the same script all your life. Every individual is born, goes to school, then college, takes on a job – there are several stages in his life. Businesses should also go through stages. A constant observation of the industry-at-large and competitors’ behaviours must be made and you must adapt in order to grow. But many are stuck thinking, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ so as long as their business is bringing in some level of revenue/profit in the short-term, they care very little about future prospects. The businesses who will succeed and grow are not just the businesses that can adapt to change – but the ones who cause change. The ones who get up and say ‘I’m gonna do something different.’ Those are the ones that get noticed.
So businesses, stop being that lazy bum on your parent’s couch who flunked out of school and can’t get a job and start making changes! Jamaica needs change!
*starts chanting* Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
(Oh, and Brick Oven, it may do you well to note that your website info still says Suthermere Road and several pages are still giving out your fax number. Even if you’re not into change, at least change that.)
(And to all the people who want a business to leech off of while you save power at our own yard and don’t want to pay for Internet – Brick Oven is like Food for the Poor for you guys! Thank me later.)