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What a trip to Ikea can teach you about business

by Alison Bradford

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We recently decided to decorate our youngest daughter’s bedroom and get her some new furniture, now that she’s officially a ‘big’ girl of 4!.

You know I love to outsource when I can, so we did have a decorator come in for a couple of day to do the decorating.

But when it came to choosing her new bedroom furniture, that came under my remit and, after spending many hours browsing various sites on the internet, and visiting some local furniture stores, I decided a trip to Ikea was in order.

Now, if you have young children, you’ll know that a trip to Ikea is not the easiest thing in the world with them in tow – and if you don’t have kids, take my word for it!

So off we set last Friday afternoon, and now 5 days later, her bedroom is all finished, well ahead of her birthday on the 16th!

But it wasn’t all plain sailing, and there were some lessons learnt that most definitely will apply to running your business too.

1. Set a deadline

We decided the best way to be able to browse the furniture and decide what we wanted, would be without the kids in tow. So, we checked them in to the free play area Ikea run. This meant we had 45 minutes to go and make the decisions.

Now that 45 minutes went quickly, but we did it. A task that could have easily taken us 2 hours, we managed to get done in 45 minutes by having a deadline.

2. Always have something extra to up-sell

We knew we wouldn’t fit everything in our car, so this would have meant my husband going back to Ikea the next day in his van.

We didn’t realise Ikea delivered – they do! We paid extra for it, but well worth saving another journey for.

PLUS they will even go and pick your items for you from the warehouse for an additional charge. (Yes please!)

Two extra charges for services we wanted, happily paid for 🙂

3. Never over-promise and under-deliver

On ordering and paying, we were told to expect delivery the next day between 7am and 1pm. We weren’t expecting delivery to be so soon, especially as the next day was Saturday, but none the less, we were delighted at this point.

By 1pm the next day, nothing had arrived, so we called the customer services number only to hear an automated message telling us the call waiting time was approx 20 minutes.

See how quickly you can go from being delighted to being unhappy?

The delivery was eventually made at 2.30pm – an hour and a half late!

If we had been told delivery would be between 7 and 5 originally, we would still have been happy customers.

Aim for under-promising and over-delivering to delight your customers.

4. Work to your strengths

My role was to choose the furniture, the colour schemes and the soft furnishings.

I clearly said to my husband that he would need to put up anything we buy – this is not my strength! If he wasn’t prepared to do this, I would have found furniture already assembled.

5. Read the bl**dy instructions!

Can you sense that the tension was building in the Bradford house now?

So, although my strengths do not lie in assembling flat pack furniture, common sense tells me to start with the instructions.

When my husband called me to have a look at the wardrobe he was assembling (after 2 hours!) as it wasn’t fitting together properly, my first thought was to look at the instructions.

Apparently. my husband didn’t think this was necessary. But, a few more hours into it, he started to concede that maybe it would be quicker overall if he spent some time looking at the instructions properly in the first place!

So, although it’s unlikely you have a set of instructions on how to run your business, make sure you have an outline of what you need to do to achieve your objectives.

Don’t jump straight into ‘doing’ without first ‘planning’.

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

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