Extra Points: Think Your Business Can’t Be Turned Around? Take a Look at the St. Louis Blues (and Play ‘Gloria’)


Jessica Massey
Marketing & Sales Operations Analyst
June 14, 2019
minutes to read

Pointman’s Extra Points series highlights lessons in leadership inspired by today’s headlines.

TAKEAWAY: The St. Louis Blues went from “worst-to-first,” and the team’s success offers some useful lessons for business owners who are struggling.

There is no greater inspirational story than the unexpected rise from “worst-to-first.” Think the Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn-led Cleveland Indians in “Major League” (NOT my favorite movie) or the 2018 Chicago Bears. Or, look at Wednesday’s Stanley Cup victory by the St. Louis Blues.

“Math says a team in the NHL’s cellar halfway through the season shouldn’t be playing in June, and superstition says the Blues are never allowed to compete this long,” wrote Sports Illustrated following the team’s game seven win over Boston. “This year’s team was very bad, on pace to be one of the worst in franchise history, and instead of coasting into the postseason as so many past iterations have, it clawed.”

From late January until season’s end, the Blues posted a stunning 24-6-4 record, stomped into the playoffs, and plowed through Winnipeg, Dallas, San Jose and, finally, the Bruins.

So … if a hockey team can do it, how about a business? It happens, and often. As Fast Company reported in 2015, sometimes these comebacks are large — Apple, CBS. But they can also be smaller-scale triumphs, in your own community.

If you’re running a home services business that is struggling and don’t see a way you can become the envy of your competitors, think again. Here’s how the Blues did it — and how the team’s success can inspire your own business plan.

Ryan O'Reilly helped the St. Louis Blues move from dead last in January to a Stanley Cup victory in June. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Strong Leadership — Even When It Hurts

Buffalo, NY, is my home but I’m a Capitals fan, so I have no problem saying that the Blues' Stanley Cup victory would not have happened without former Sabre Ryan O’Reilly. The winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP did not just tie for the postseason scoring lead and net clutch goal after clutch goal — he did so with a cracked rib.

“It really has rubbed off on our team in a lot of ways to see his work ethic,” coach Craig Berube said after the Blues’ 4-2 win Monday. “He’s been maybe our best consistent player all year.”

O’Reilly famously spoke of losing his love of the game during his time in Buffalo. But his perseverance as a member of the Blues was downright inspiring. As his teammates stated, his leadership even during the team’s darkest regular season moments helped keep them on track.

When your business is at its lowest point, your employees are watching you for your reactions. Show them you are confident — even when it’s hard to feel that way — and they’ll follow your lead.  

Finding Ways to Move Beyond Failure

The Blues failed to win a Cup over the course of 51 seasons. Berube — who is still being called the “interim coach” for some reason — failed as head coach of the Flyers. O’Reilly was coming off a soul-crushing year as a Sabre. And goalie Jordan Binnington failed to even crack the team’s roster in training camp.

But the franchise, the coach, and its players were motivated to move beyond those failures. If you can’t accept failure and move forward, long-term success will always be out of reach. It’s not easy to do, but the results can be extraordinary.

You Gotta Believe

After game seven, Binnington was asked for the “moral of the story” regarding his Cinderella-story season: “Believe in yourself. That's all I can say, right?”

Believing in oneself, and in one’s team, during the toughest moments requires positive thinking and emotional intelligence. And for the Blues, the tough moments did not end after making the playoffs: “The Blues travelled arguably the most difficult path in the playoffs, erasing three consecutive series deficits before shelving the disappointment of surrendering the chance to win the franchise’s maiden Stanley Cup in front of their own fans to beat the Bruins in Game 7.”

Belief is contagious. If you stop believing in your vision when at your lowest point, how will your team feel?

Last but not least ...

Play “Gloria.”

Seriously. Playing Laura Branigan’s early 80s hit worked for the Blues. OK, your team might get a tad sick of hearing “Gloria” on an endless loop during their morning routines, but you go with what works, right?

Figuring out what works is what Pointman is all about. Our success coaches work with members to streamline processes, offer advice, and connect with owners and techs on a personal level. We know from first-hand experience that turning a business around is always possible. With the right leadership and proper self-belief, you can become the envy of your competitors. Just like Ryan O’Reilly and the Blues.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Caps highlights from 2018 ...

Look at Pricing

The start of the year is a great time to look at pricing. Usually, you have an idea of how your company fared the year prior, and you want to ensure you will continue to grow in the months to come. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with respect to spending or saving in our personal lives, and it’s no different for business owners. Making sure your pricing is in line with where it should be is one of the strongest ways to start the year the right way.

Part of looking at your price book is finding where the issues are, and that can take time. An HVAC company in January is going to be very busy, so it’s a difficult time for a close look. However, a plumbing company might not be as busy. Whenever you tackle this job, your best bet is to look at what your labor rates are. Start there, and let it trickle down across the board. Ask yourself, “Are my labor rates helping my business stay profitable?”

Remember, there are many different services out there and many different groups or communities that you can engage. Never hesitate to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner in Florida. What should my labor rates be?” You can build your price from there. There are also some great billable hour calculators available.

Set Goals

There is no better time of year for looking inward than January. Set your personal goals and company goals for the following 12 months. If you can break those down into departmental goals, even better! Perhaps that means a CSR booking closing rates a little better, or a truck doing 250,000 a year rather than 200,000.

Many companies have found that using an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) goal-setting system pays off. Looking for a guidebook when it comes to OKRs? Check out Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. 

One key question is the best way to handle setting goals: Is it smarter for business owners to handle this solo, together with staff, or to delegate completely? 

The best approach is to set goals at the department level. As an owner, you need to take the time to understand what the goals are in each department, and make sure they are in line with your goals for the company. No one likes to set unattainable goals for themselves, so make sure you push your departments to set goals that are lofty, rather than simple ones to feel good about hitting. Entrust your staff to aim higher, and watch how they respond.

Pass Along these Points

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