I went down to the basement this Sunday to turn on some lights and make sure it was presentable for a house showing in three hours. It wasn’t. At the bottom of the stairs I encountered a huge puddle of water and a steady drip, drip, drip from the floorboards above. There were only two things that could have put water in that area – the dishwasher and the refrigerator. I turned off the water to both of them and grabbed a mop.
The carpet remnant laying in the area was soaked. All ten by eleven feet had sucked up a fair amount of water. I rolled that carpet up and out of the way and started mopping. I figured if I could get the area clean and dry, I could worry about the source of the leak (which had stopped) later.
It wasn’t until Monday night that I found it. I fixed it with a .40 part from the local hardware store.
A small leak in the supply line to our refrigerator ice maker had dumped an entire bucket of water into our basement and almost derailed a house showing.
Isn’t that the same with business? A little leak can cost you a ton of business.
An employee who isn’t trained and ready for the floor gets shoved out there because of a shortage of staff and through no fault of his own angers the first two customers he faces.
A common problem grows into a huge hassle with Yelp reviews and threats of lawsuits because someone didn’t listen closely enough to the unhappy customer.
A mis-tagged price change upsets a regular customer who quietly becomes an un-regular customer.
A rarely-updated website gives out wrong information that causes a customer to search elsewhere for a product you have.
A Facebook page gives out the wrong hours and a customer stays home even though you were open.
An employee cluster discussing last night’s show misses a customer needing help who doesn’t want to bother the group discussion.
A missed note about being out of copy paper keeps you from printing off the directions to your customer’s favorite game and being her hero.
These are all small leaks, but they can fill a lot of buckets with the missed sales and missing cash. Some say you need to work on the big leaks first. But those are obvious and already get your attention. Keep an eye out for the small leaks, too. Although harder to find, those are easier and quicker to fix and will pay off dividends.
PS Fortunately, the refrigerator was a cheap and easy fix. Better yet, not knowing if it was the dishwasher or the refrigerator, I found an even smaller leak in the dishwasher that my buddy, Alan, was able to fix before it became a bigger problem. Sometimes it pays to go looking for little leaks and fixing them now before they become big leaks.
PPS When you find a small leak, your first reaction is to do a temporary fix, figuring you’ll get back to it later. Pro tip: you never get back to it later. Fix it right the first time.