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What’s the plan, Stan?

Every day, almost without fail, I wake up with every intention of enacting a plan that
I masterminded as I was falling asleep the night before. But even if you belong to the
Best Planners Club (of which I am not a member), “The best-laid plans of mice and
men often go awry.” In other words, no matter how big or how small you are or how
carefully you plan, something can (and, according to Murphy’s Law, will) go wrong.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t put some effort into planning, especially if you’re in
the food service world. Don’t offer $3.99 subs to celebrate your anniversary if you
don’t know whether you can get enough buns, meat, fixings and employees to
handle the rush you hope to have. The flipside of that is if you’re too rigid about
following plans, you’re likely to miss out on some great opportunities. If your
supplier offers an amazing price on a product you weren’t expecting to offer because
of THE PLAN, you could miss out on an unexpected but rewarding new revenue

It’s also possible that your rigidity could make a chaotic situation worse. Sometimes
you just have to go with the flow. That’s especially true as we head into the holidays.
Your supply of the item on everybody’s gift list didn’t arrive in time for Black Friday
(that may very well be on Tuesday if you like to get a jump on everybody else). You
paid for ads, you hired a social media specialist to build hype, you scheduled extra
staff and… you feel like the surprise guest popping out of a cake in an empty room:
confused and a little frightened.

Your doors open in 10 minutes. What to do, what to do? You know with absolute
certainty that your supply will arrive by Saturday (Small Business Saturday, by the
way). If you want hype, then pre-sell at an even lower than advertised price. Yes,
your profit margin will take a hit, but your reputation won’t. In this example going
with the flow means keeping the cash flowing by selling – if not the actual item, then
the promise of the item that will be available and in the customers’ hands well ahead
of the holidays.

There’s no denying plans are good. If you want to keep on a straight path to business
success, a strategic plan is your map. Show me the bank that will lend money to a
business without a business plan. Almost every day I vow that I will create a genius
plan to get through the day and I will stick to it. But then business happens and I’m
not going to be the guy who gets in the way of progress. If the plan works, then I’ll
work the plan. But if good things are happening without a plan I’m going to thank
my lucky stars and jump into the chaos that is frequently my world and enjoy the