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fansHas your utility company taken this route with your monthly bill? Whether electric, water, waste, whatever – they only read the meter every once in a while?

We recently fell into a situation where this happened to us – the water company had not read the bill for several months and so just charged us a minimum amount to keep service going. Then, one day, they decided to actually read the meter, decided we had a leak somewhere on the property, and sent us an enormous bill. When we looked into the reason why and had paid a local plumber to look into the “leak theory”, no leak was discovered and said water utility merely dismissed it as “it happens sometimes when we average you bill.”

“Well, stop that!” we demanded.

To which they replied – “not going to happen.”

Do you treat your customers this way? How about your friends? Or your fans? If you do, you will likely have fewer friends, fans, and customers in a short amount of time.

Why would anyone treat loyal customers this way? Because they can.

Don’t do it with those you serve. Instead, ask this question: “How can we better serve our friends, family, customers, fans, ______ (you fill in the blank) ?” If you ask that question and then act on it, you will have all the fans, customers, etc. you will ever need.

Don’t believe us? Try it.

 

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investingFirst, here’s the answer to yesterday’s trivia question. The answer is C, the roots of the yucca plant have been used for centuries as a type of soap. Congratulations to yesterday’s winner:

We’ve talked about this before on this blog, but it bears repeating at least once again. The only get-rich-quick plan I know of that really works is an inheritance. And that means for the newly rich to become rich someone else must have died. That’s no fun!

But if you invest a bit over time and do not withdraw it early, it will eventually add up to a nice sum. Do that in a good increment over a span of time and it could very well become your get-rich-quick plan. At first it won’t seem very fast, but when you’re out of debt entirely and you have your investments working for you it will seem as though you’re one of the richest people on the planet.

I’ve found it’s the same with recovery from a major surgery. You can’t come back too fast or you risk undoing the reason you had the surgery in the first place. But incremental steps done continually over time will bring back the use of whatever you had surgery on.

For those of us who are more impatient, it might seem like an eternity before you can use that arm or leg again and you might be tempted to hurry things along. Or you might think that your money and investments are doing so well, so you make an early withdrawal. Who’s going to know?

You will when you go to reach for that nest egg and it’s become just the nest!

So, easy for me to say, slow it down a bit. Put that extra dollar away rather than spend it. Do the exercises, push back from the table a little early and if you do that enough times over time you’ll be surprised at the result.

What is it you’re working on right now? What can you do today to ensure you continue?

 

 

What do You Love?

February 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

LoveIn the states we’ve just come through a weekend dedicated to love – or so they say. We call it Valentine’s Day, a day set aside to show those you really care for that you really care for them.

So let me ask you – what do you love? In your job, in your business, in your family, in your life – what is it that keeps you rolling out of bed each morning to do whatever it is that you do?

Some would refer to this as your passion. It might well could be, or it could just be the enjoyable aspects of what it is you do. Call it what you will, it has a powerful effect if it truly does help you get out of bed and on to the stuff you need to do.

For some it’s the “thrill of the chase”. For others it’s closing the deal. For still others it’s the joy they receive when turning a hostile customer into a fan.

What is it for you? If you’ve never asked that question of yourself, maybe it’s about time you did.

Share your passion below. It just may cause someone else to pursue the same cause.

Increase Your ROL

August 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

I’ve read several good articles on how to increase your ROI. I’ve also read some not so great articles on the subject. But today I’d like to discuss how to increase your ROL. Haven’t heard of that one? It’s a Jim Collins term referring to your Return on Luck! Yes, you heard that right, Your Return on Luck.

Luck

Now I can hear those of you out there in blog land laughing while you shake your heads and say, “Luck? Who makes business decisions based on luck?” And then, “Luck is luck, you can’t increase or decrease your effect on it.” Ah, but I beg to differ, and so would Mr. Collins, I believe.

First, we have to admit that there are two types of luck – both good and bad. Then we have to accept Mr. Collins’ definition of luck. Here’s what he says, my translation, luck involves three unique things: 1) you didn’t cause it; 2) it has potentially significant consequences; and 3) it involves some sense of surprise.

He reports that in most of the companies he studies that went from good to Great, the CEO’s would say it was good luck if their company really succeeded, and would take the blame if their company did worse than expected. He saw this as another form of humility among those “level 5 leaders.”

So can we increase our Return on Luck by adapting our strategies for both good luck and bad? I think we not only can, but need to – just so we are prepared. For instance, what do we do if the widget we’re selling catches on, production ramps up and we are now multi-gazillionaires? We need to have a plan in place before that happens that helps us deal with that level of success.

In the other extreme, what do we do if the non-profit we’ve formed to end hunger in one generation just doesn’t get the funding it needs to get off the ground – and that great idea is pushed to the back of the shelf to gather more dust? We need to have a contingency plan in place also before that situation occurs.

So, the question becomes, how do we deal with it when we get hit with it? Either good or bad, how are we going to deal with it? We’ve heard stories of people who win a lottery or some other windfall lands in their lap and they have nothing in their system that will allow them to cope with a new way of living. I know, many of us say, “We’d really like to see what that’s like!” But if we don’t have something in place to help us deal with wealth, it might lead to our undoing.

And as you head up your organization, or your part of your organization, or let’s just get to the bottom line since we all are responsible for the organization of You, Inc. – what plans do you have in place to handle either good luck or bad luck as CEO of You, Inc.?

Does your good fortune lead you to being more humble or do you take all the credit and the limelight? Do your negative circumstances cause you to search for new and better ways of doing what you do, or do they cause you to become cynical and give up?

Here’s the rub: the choice is yours when it comes to how you react to either good or bad luck.

So you tell me – how will you respond luck shows up?

Run, Hide, Fight

August 14, 2012 — 1 Comment

The City of Houston has released a video designed to teach people how to react during a workplace shooting by emphasizing a three-word mantra: run, hide, fight. The video was funded with $200,000 in federal grants and was released following last month’s movie theater shooting in Colorado. We hope that you will find this video instructive and helpful in both your work environment and your everyday life. Please feel free to forward this around as you see fit to inform others in your company or those close to you.

Video link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0

From the editors of Success Magazine:

Four Things Anyone Can Learn from the AvengersEvery projection about this summer’s blockbuster The Avengers severely underestimated its earning potential. As the No. 3 top-grossing movie of all time, only behind Avatar and Titanic, The Avengers has currently grossed over $1.4 billion worldwide—a number that continues to grow more than a month after its release.

So what made a seemingly normal comic book movie into the year’s biggest hit? And how can you apply that to your business? Here are four takeaways we gathered from The Avengers’ success:

1. Reward your true fans. Let’s face it. The geeky comic book fan is a small and special subset of the movie-going population. Many Batman or Spiderman fans grew up watching the TV shows, might have flipped through a comic book or two, but they couldn’t tell you what Superman’s birth name is (for the curious, it’s Kal-El). You would think this translates to a tuned-down version when creating a movie for the masses, but instead, they didn’t shy away from pleasing the fanatics. The dialogue is filled with nerd-speak and insider references to things like Chitauri or the Tesseract. It excited hardcore fans and leisure fans didn’t mind. If anything, the geeky terms were less of a turn-off and more of an appealing touch to the comic book flick. While it sometimes seems necessary to cut time with old and trusty clients in an attempt to attract new ones, never forget your loyal fans. Consistently reward your devoted fan base, and the new ones might be motivated to join in on the insider fun.

2. Think big picture. Five years ago, Marvel Studios planned to package, develop and market four of their superheroes so that they could eventually create a “super movie” featuring all of them. Marvel’s President of Consumer Products Paul Gitter explains: “We took the superheroes — Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk — that we felt were the most relatable, relevant and aspirational to build into one package. Every Marvel movie since 2008 was created with the full intention of this super franchise.” What about your business? Are you thinking of the big picture or are you just focusing on the sales you can make for the week? Marvel Studios was willing to wait five years to create six different movies with various cliffhangers and lead-ins to essentially put all of their eggs in one basket for The Avengers. And it worked. Which also leads us to…

3. Take risks. Believe in someone unlikely. Having come from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fame, director Joss Whedon was a risk. Sure, he had directed cult classic TV and sci-fi, but he wasn’t an industry staple in the world of action movies, and he certainly wasn’t someone who first comes to mind when heading up a movie worth five years of work. Joss Whedon turned out to be a fantastic risk; the dialogue and directing was praised by critics. Having achieved cult-level status in the world of geekdom definitely didn’t hurt, either. (Another example of Reason No. 1 of this list; San Diego Comic Con fans rejoiced when Mr. Stan Lee himself announced Whedon as The Avengers director.) Having indie art house film actors Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) instead of seasoned action stars was a risk that was also well-rewarded; they ended up being two of the most memorable characters. Everybody has to start somewhere. When was the last time you took a chance with someone?

4. Place Strategy. As featured in the June issue of SUCCESS, marketing expert Dan Kennedy explains place strategy—the idea that an increase in clients and sales comes from where you are. Redefining a target market and physical or medium relocation are all ways that a business can find better opportunities than before. Probably without even knowing it, The Avengers employed great use of place strategy. Their release came at the perfect time, with no other rivals at the box office, either before or after their box office debut. The only other competing action movie out on opening weekend was the dystopian flick The Hunger Games, which, at the time, was going on its 7th week at the movies. It’s notable that The Avengers was released right before the start of summer, crushing Battleship on its debut weekend, and well before the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spiderman releases could threaten its earning potential.

And if all else fails, here’s what comic book legend Stan Lee said about the success of The Avengers at Dallas Comic Con: “Want to know why The Avengers was so successful?… I have a small cameo role in every movie. But they’re kept very short! So if you turn away for even a second, you’ll walk away from the movie thinking, ‘Hey! I didn’t see Stan Lee! I guess I have to go see The Avengers again.’… And that’s why it was such a hit.”

When I was first out of the Navy, a long time ago, I worked for a company in their service department. Shortly after starting with the company I moved and was assigned to cover a four-state area. My direct supervisor was the Regional Sales Director for the southern region of the states. He taught me a lot about both sales and service. In fact, his region was the #1 region in sales and service for several years.

What follows are four of the steps necessary for someone to make the buy. I’m sure there are more, but these four were taught and re-taught to us – even in the service area. It doesn’t matter if you are a salesperson selling highly sophisticated software for a mega corporation or a minister teaching someone about Jesus, the same four steps are involved. If you skip one or go out of order, you might as well call it a day, because the only thing you’ll be offering is frustration. The four steps include:

1. Qualification
If there is any step that should have a complex, it’s qualification. It’s the most overlooked, underrated of the four. When you don’t pay attention to qualification, it can lead to exasperation for everyone involved. Many of the companies we sold to had already been researched, initially contacted, and either qualified or moved to the non-qualified list. It helped that we had the latest and greatest item to hit that market and that competitors’ designs were based on our product, but not every company would stand up to the qualifying process.  A qualified prospect must have:

    • Money
    • Time
    • Need/Want
    • Power to purchase

2.  Rapport
Once the prospect had become a qualified prospect then the sales people would begin to build rapport with the right people in said company. In other words, they met on common ground. And we were taught to do the same as service reps. In fact, there were times that I went to lunch with previously disgruntled customers because I took the time to connect with them.

To make a sale, you have to find a way to connect to your customer. Do the research to find out who you’re talking to and look for that common ground. When you do, it allows the buyer to trust you, your company and your product. In a retail situation, there’s no time for research, but you can still connect. It can be as simple as asking where someone is from. Boston? I have a friend who lives in Framingham. Boom! In five seconds, you’ve made that connection.

3.  Education & Information
Want to instantly annoy someone? Try selling them a product you know nothing about. Nothing bugs me more than the salesperson who gets to my phone and when I ask a simple question – they have no clue about the answer! To me, that’s just dumb.

Before attempting to sell anything, you have to know every little detail. And that’s just the beginning. You also must love and believe in your product too. If you don’t, it shows.

4.  Close
If you followed the three steps above, closing the deal is almost gravy—a natural part of the process. The big thing to remember here is: don’t try to close too early. You’ll come off as pushy and lose the sale.

By using the steps above, developing a “sub-step”or two, and serving your customers instead of selling them, you’ll gain clients for life. My Regional Sales guy taught me that if he could get the first machine in the door it would be my job, as the service guy, to get the second and third machine in the same door by offering world-class customer service. That way, everyone is happy, and business is fun again. As I said, those days were a long time ago, but I’ve never forgotten the lessons learned during that time.