Want to try something a little different and fun with your church Board or leadership team? Get together and watch some episodes of a TV reality show called Million Dollar Intern.
Million Dollar Intern comes from Britain. It’s available on Netflix. The program features six hot shot young entrepreneurs in their mid-twenties who have all started successful companies, and who go in to help turn around struggling businesses – a garden centre, a family-owned department store, an independent pet shop, “Sadie the Bra Lady” who fits and sells, you guessed it, women’s undergarments.
Each of these businesses was once successful and growing, but has been in decline with sales slumping and profits flat-lining. Several are threatened with closure?
The “intern” operates “under cover” for the first few days. The boss knows who they are, but the staff are told that they are students. They watch and listen and then, after three days, their identity is then revealed to the employees. They present a plan for changing the way
I’m not a huge reality show fan, but a couple of things really fascinated me about Million Dollar Intern. One was how much the owners and employees sounded like church people when they described their business’s struggles. “The world has changed and there’s nothing we can do about it.” “If we don’t get some new people in here, we might have to close.” “People just aren’t interested in us anymore.” “We know we need to change – but this is how we’ve always done things.”
The second thing that struck me is how simple and practical the solutions were. The “interns” are billed as a “new generation of entrepreneur” but most of what they said was just plain common sense. “Welcome people.” “Give people a reason to want to come in here.” “Get to know your community.” “Think about tomorrow’s customers, not just yesterday’s.” “Don’t waste people’s time.” “Act like you care.” “Follow up on visitors.”
It’s not rocket science!
Sure, there are differences between a church and a family run business. For example, we’re not just looking for customers who will spend money, but for those who want to become part of a community of faith.
But there are enough similarities that we could learn a lot from watching Million Dollar Intern.