Kevin Cundiff | Crain's Orlando

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Kevin Cundiff

Background:  

The Orlando-based retail chain uBreakiFix specializes in the repair of small electronics – from smart phones and game consoles to tablets and computers. With 17 years of experience in the wireless and warranty industries, Kevin Cundiff now focuses on client relationships, data-driven analysis, team-member growth, sales execution and overall development. UBreakiFix has more than 325 stores located across the U.S. and Canada, with 400 projected by year-end, and is the official walk-in repair partner for Google's Pixel phone.

The Mistake:

Early in my career, I was too focused on moving bottom performers in the business. I’d always rationalized that approach with the assumption that my top performers would take care of themselves and I could keep results consistent with them. And each month, I would power-rank my stores by gross profit, and I would spend my time trying to move the needle.

And often I would get a lift in those stores that were not performing well when I was in the store and for a short time thereafter. But there was never a sustained increase in performance. Over time and through trial and error, I realized there was far more to be gained by evaluating the opportunities in a store versus the results.

As a leader, I try to be a good steward of my and the company’s resources, and after you’ve done the same thing two or three times at the same spot, I realized there had to be a better way to do it. I was never getting around to those higher-volume locations. Most managers or business leaders always say to themselves, “Well I’m going to focus on my bottom performers, and I know eventually I’ll get to go spend time at the top of the spectrum." But I never got that time. So that for me was the point where I said, “I’ve got to do something different.”

Specifically, I had [to develop] a system where I had the most opportunities to convert into results, regardless of whether it was at the top or the bottom of the performance spectrum. I could empirically prove that there was more to be gained, for example, by getting 5 percent in conversion from high-opportunity locations than by getting a 25 percent increase from lower-performing locations. There was no correlation between opportunities and results. They were scattered across the spectrum.

There was no correlation between opportunities and results.

The Lesson:

It completely shifted my effectiveness and accelerated my career by focusing on top-opportunity locations versus. bottom-results locations. It took 30 days [to see results]. It’s all about return on effort.

I power-ranked my locations by opportunity and asked, “Where’s the most opportunity?” For example, let’s say a store had an 80 percent conversion rate on 10,000 customers. Most become customers but you have another couple thousand there to play with, right?

If the opportunity was moving those guys just 1 or 2 or 3 percentage points versus going to a really low-opportunity location and getting them to move 10 percent [of customers], I’d rather put less effort in to get more results. I’d rather get a higher return on my effort for the good of the business.

I would use a hub-and-spoke system – a lot like an airline would – to invite other stores to receive the same coaching. I would say, “I’ll be at this location. I would love to have anyone who’s available come over and sit down and work with me at this location on the following items.” Because there were more opportunities within the location, the lower-opportunity stores had more opportunity to see it done again and again.

I won’t necessarily be able to create more opportunities for those locations or more volume. However, I can help them increase the effectiveness of the performance and results by being able to coach them on those opportunities. Most managers want to focus on results in terms of where they put their time.

I would rather put my time into opportunities because the goal is to move as much of the business forward as possible. So how do we get maximum bang for the buck as leaders? It’s through effective coaching and using the opportunities in front of you.

Follow uBreakiFix on Twitter at @uBreakiFix.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Cundiff

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