The Profit

The Profit season 8, episode 5: What we learned from Sonoma Coast Spirits

The latest The Profit season 8 installment was Marcus Lemonis’ first attempt at investing in the alcohol world, and based on how it ended, it might be a little while before he tries again.

In “Who’s The Boss?” the CNBC series featured Sonoma Coast Spirits, a company based in Petaluma, California that had outgrown its small workspace. What it really needed to outgrow was its organizational structure as the co-founder, Jill Olson, had trouble leaving any part of the business to her children. Unsurprisingly, that meant she also had difficulty interacting with Marcus.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers from Tuesday’s latest The Profit season 8 episode.

Here are the business lessons we learned from this week’s installment of The Profit:

001. One is the loneliest number.

“Who’s the Boss?” is another example of something TV viewers have seen before on this and other shows: one person who has to control everything and can’t get out of their own way. Jill would passively agree with ideas to people’s faces and then take over the situation or do what she wanted anyway. She put herself on an island and ultimately drove Marcus to decide they couldn’t do business together.

In some ways Jill is particularly frustrating. It’s one thing to have a controlling and opinionated owner; Marcus has dealt with a lot of those over the years. But Jill wasn’t forthcoming with Marcus or anyone else and that double act is even harder to swallow. It’s fine to disagree about changing the label; it’s another thing entirely to have someone spend their time and resources on designing a new one when you have no real intention of making the change. It comes off as essentially leading people on.

She kept saying she understood and that she was agreeable to certain things, but her behavior made all those words seem inauthentic. When she referred to herself as a “people pleaser” and Marcus agreed with her it was a bit of a head-scratcher just because none of her actions backed that up. It was as if the consequences of her actions only hit her after the fact. No one person can do everything in a business and certainly not one who only sees things their way. This episode ended without any kind of postscript, though, so maybe Jill has or will open up more in the future.

002. Communication is the bottom line.

This is one of those basic tenets of business (and really, life) that get pounded into people’s heads, but somehow it doesn’t always stick. You have to communicate with those around you—whether it’s business partners, family members, colleagues, whoever—if you want to succeed. When you don’t, that lack of information then creates a conflict that undermines any potential success.

We never saw clearly established lines of communication between anyone in this The Profit episode. Jill was supposed to delegate re-designing Sonoma Coast Spirits’ bottles and labels to daughter Caroline, and Caroline was in contact with Marcus about that, but “with my approval.” And in the end, it wasn’t Caroline but Jill who was in the design agency’s office giving final feedback. Caroline’s brother Carter also expressed frustration with the lack of information, telling the camera that he had no idea how the bottle situation had turned out until Marcus made a frustrated phone call to Jill.

Conversely, we saw a moment where Carter struggled to communicate, too. Needing to pitch his mom on why the business should rent a larger workspace, he came up with one sentence. There wasn’t any discussion about specifics like square footage, rental cost, or where things might go. That was his chance to communicate an idea and he didn’t do that either (although it turned out not to matter because Jill agreed with him anyway).

Communication is not just about passing along information; it also displays trust, generates important feedback, and can create a sense of teamwork and security among the group. By not having any real dialogue in this episode, this deal was clearly doomed.

003. Marcus is getting some bad breaks this season.

Let’s hope The Profit season 8 starts being kinder to Marcus Lemonis. The season has felt different in a few ways and “Who’s The Boss?” is an example of the most prominent one: that the level of businesses Marcus works with is not the same as previous cycles. Though he blamed himself for the failure of this deal, what viewers saw on screen says otherwise. He can take responsibility for not being able to get through to people, but he can’t take responsibility for those people.

We’re five episodes into this season and two of the deals Marcus has made—this and Grey Block Pizza—have ended with him walking away. A third one, James’ Gourmet Pies, wasn’t really great either because owner James Edwards never seemed fully committed to the process. In earlier seasons it was truly shocking if we saw Marcus walk out on a company; this season it’s happened 40 percent of the time (so far).

Why is this happening? It could be any number of reasons. The show can only go to businesses that apply for Marcus’ help, and maybe he’s getting different kinds of applicants than he used to. Maybe production is looking for something different when they screen applications. But the end result is Marcus is dealing with more drama than before and it would be fantastic to see less of that in the rest of season 8.

Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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