Go to any diner in New Jersey and order a salad. Odds are the salad will come with olives. Odds are those olives will have pits.

Olives with pits are not a bad thing. In fact, I enjoy them. The issue is more of a social one.

To eat the delicious olive, I must first attempt to spear it with a fork. If I am successful, I have to chew the little bugger with care so as to not break a tooth. Then I have to reach into my mouth, recover the masticated pit and place it in a discreet location to avoid offending any nearby non-olive eaters. This is lot of work. And the potential for a faux pas is staggering.

So why not serve the more socially acceptable pitted olives? The answer is probably not cost, but more likely, “because we have always done it that way.”

This got me thinking. What are the “pits” in my business? What pitfalls have I failed to avoid? What little things do we do (or not do) that irritate our clients?

More importantly, how can we can identify these habits, and how do we eradicate them?

I see this issue all the time with real estate operators. Handwritten rent rolls. Boilerplate leases from Staples. Commingled expenses. Unaudited taxes. Poorly defined unit areas. Undefined tenant rights and responsibilities. Below market rents. Uncollected reimbursements. Weedy flowerbeds. Faded paint. Outdated signage.

I think we all could use another pair of eyes, and the best businesses seek out professionals to help them improve their systems, upgrade their technology, and polish their customer service. Periodically we all need to reexamine, redefine and reboot.

What have you done to go beyond habit? Are you constantly seeking to grow, upgrade and improve the things you do?

Or are you still serving olives with pits?