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The Danger Of Being Unteachable

After researching opportunities, “Bob” and “Mary” bought a franchise business in the quick serve restaurant (QSR) industry. The franchise was proven and, having been in existence for more than 25 years, was well established as a profitable business model for its franchisees.

In two short years, Bob and Mary closed their doors. To talk with them, it was all the franchise company’s fault. “Not enough corporate support” was what they said.

Upon closure of their store, the franchise agreement dictated that all proprietary information be returned to the company, including something called “The Playbook”.

When the Director of Franchising opened up the box of returned by Bob and Mary, he noticed something peculiar.

The Playbook was in the same pristine condition it was when he gave it to them two years earlier. It hadn’t been highlighted, marked, or otherwise notated. All the detachable checklists were still in there.

The Playbook had never been opened. Inside was a detailed, custom “how to” list for every month of the year. Everything from marketing strategy to staff management to operations.

Everything they needed for success was in that book. The book they paid for. But never read.

Says the Franchise Director, “Everything they needed for success is in here. It’s what they paid for with their franchise fee. To buy it and not use it? It never makes sense. Yet in the stores in our system that have closed for events other than acts of God or crisis like serious illness, they all have one thing in common. The Playbook comes back to us unread and unused.”

In any area of life, there is danger in thinking (or insisting) we are the smartest person in the room. When we think there’s nothing we can learn, we are saying we have no need to grow. When we aren’t teachable, we’re well on our way to failure.

What about you? Your business? Are you insisting on being the smartest person in the room? Are you dismissing the experience of others because you think your way is better? Or have you put your pride in your pocket long enough to glean from the lessons others have learned?

Bob and Mary went out of business because they weren’t teachable. They thought their way was better. The irony is within a 50 mile radius exist some of the franchise’s most profitable stores. When you ask them the secret to their success, their answer is simple and the same, “We just follow The Playbook.”

In our businesses, we have a choice. We can be prideful. Or we can be profitable. It’s our choice.