“We’re happy where we are at” they said…

It’s 2015, nearly 7 years since the country fell into recession, massive drops in sales and profits, ongoing battles for survival, struggles with rents, rates, materials costs, creditors, energy prices. Many firms did not survive but thousands did survive. And they continue to survive. And they continue to work very hard and they continue to pay themselves very little and they hope that one day they may be able to pay themselves a bit more.

I met a business owner last week and as they outline the above situation for me, they also said they were happy where they were and Fear Of Crisis With Businessman Like An Ostrichdid not want to make any changes to the business. I was intrigued. A team of 8 including 4 family members. None of them were earning more than a nominal wage, all the family members were working in excess of 50 hours per week. But they were happy.

They knew their breakeven figure (based on their own poor wages).

I also happen to work with an almost identical business in another part of the country. Their situation has been transformed over the past few years because they believed there was more business out there and they went after it. They re-positioned themselves in the market, they were pro-active in their marketing, they were pro-active in their professional sales approach and they focused on making a healthy profit rather than just settling for a simple breakeven.

There are some businesses where it can be difficult to build value, where you may have an opportunity to sell the business at a later stage and finally be rewarded for your hard work.

There are other business that I would define primarily as cashflow businesses, where you have to reward yourself as you go. There is no future payday.

Operating a cashflow business at a break even position and being happy about where you are at really is a road to nowhere.

The family in question were incapacitated by fear, all they wanted to do was hold on to what they had (which in effect was nothing apart from 4 low paying jobs). They needed to look at the real possibilities that existed for their business and go for them.

If your business is not generating sufficient profit for you and your family, call me immediately.

Find a way or make an excuse? your choice…

Very often I speak to clients who tell me that they want to grow the business, who understand why they might not have grown over Who-Wants-Changethe past few years, who understand what they need to do to make a change… But do nothing.

And I wonder if they really do want to grow and increase profits in the business. They assure me that they do.

So why this conundrum?

There are a number of reasons why people stay where they are as follows:

1. Fear: Over the past number of years, the era of AUSTERITY has really taken hold and many business owners are fearful of venturing out to new territories, grabbing opportunities that may present themselves or looking for better ways of running their business. What they have may be working, it may be providing them with a good living, and because of all the external factors that they have no control over, they are hesitant to rock the boat. Very understandable.

2. Lack of Know How: The environment is changing, the media is changing, people’s buying habits are changing and there is less loyalty. Coupled with that, the rate of change is increasing and it can be difficult to stay abreast of developments. Doing no learning is not an option. People are missing out on easy revenue and easy access to new customers by not educating themselves.

3. Too Busy: Again, the AUSTERITY environment meant that many businesses had to cut back on staff numbers which meant that many tasks that would have been done, were now being done by the business owner, sometimes taking much longer, had they been done by a more suitable and qualified person. Even as businesses grow, there is a reluctance to employ and therefore the owner is too busy concentrating on things that ideally should be delegated.

4. No Goals or Objectives: Without some goals and objectives for the business, where can it really get to? We all need some focus in our lives and this is what goals and objectives can do for your business. Imagine having a team that knew exactly what they needed to be doing every day and week. Imagine if you personally have a clear vision of what your business needed to look like in 1 year and imagine then if you knew they steps that you needed to take to achieve this. Would you be more confident taking the first step?

Give yourself a chance. Call me on 087 222 0720 if you need some help, guidance or inspiration.

It must be great… To Not Need Sales

Here are a couple of simple strategies that could really boost your turnover and profitability this year.

1. Answer your Voicemail Messages

I passed on a referral to a supplier that I know because a client of mine Opportunity Concept.wanted the service that he offered. I left one message on his phone for him to call me, explaining the size of the opportunity and its immediacy. No Response. Not exactly true, I did get a response from his voice mail system telling me that his mailbox was full and could no longer take new messages.

It must be great when your business is that good, that you can ignore INCOMING, WARM REFERRALS from a TRUSTED SOURCE, with a potential of MASSIVE repeat business.

The strange thing here is that I know that this supplier need the business. He is just too “busy” making no money. Wrong priorities.

I am not suggesting that you become addicted to answering the phone. I am suggesting that you return calls regularly and that you ensure that people can leave messages for you.

Not being able to manage your diary or your phone messages may suggest to a potential that you may not be able to handle their account on a daily basis either.

2. Follow up on any Quotes

Every business that I see and work with offer a FREE QUOTATION or FREE MEASURING or FREE ASSESSMENT service. This is one of their lead generating strategies. And they generally work.

The only problem – and it is a massive problem – is that once the prospect makes contact and asks you to quote, measure or estimate for them, YOU DROP THE BALL.

When someone invites you to offer your service, they are assessing your company for more than just the price that you can do the work for. They are assessing your thoroughness, you professionalism, you responsiveness, your presentation, your manner and your follow up.

Very very few people follow up properly – mainly because they are either too lazy, don’t know who to follow up properly or are afraid of the outcome.

Follow up until you speak to someone and establish if you are in the running for the business. That simple act will put you ahead of your competition.

Call me on 087 222 0720 if you need assistance

The above strategies cost nothing to implement but will have a far greater effect on your bottom line than the advertising you are paying for this week. Think hard about it. Don’t do nothing.

 

HELP! I own the business but I’m poor at managing people

Recently, I met a frustrated business owner who felt that her business would be so much more successful if she was not in charge.

She cried “I could not work for me, I’m a perfectionist, I’m never happy with anyone’s Leaderless Teamwork, I’m never happy with my own work, all my team are afraid of me and I’m afraid they will leave. I know I need to change but can’t seem to let go of what I know. And our customers think we are great!

And this was part of the problem, from the outside looking in, all was rosy. The whole team did deliver an excellent service but it was out of fear rather than love. There was muted respect for the owner but more for her skill and not her personality.

This is more common that you think.

Many people who start out in business have no experience of managing people and then suddenly find themselves with 5 or 10 staff.

Many people who find that they need 5 or 10 staff, hire without any knowledge of hiring, delegate without any knowledge of delegating and then wonder why they are so busy with so little cash.

They were making more money when they were on their own!

Having a team gives you the opportunity to get leverage in your business. It allows you to grow and offer your service or product to a wider group of people. It allows you to increase sales and profits. It can allow you to have a life.

So how can you ensure that you become a good manager and leader. there are a few things that you can do, starting today.

1. Study Business – Give up the TV and Radio and become a student of what you do.

2. Study yourself and other people – the better you understand yourself, the easier it is to understand others. When you have the ability to understand, your ability to being understood grows exponentially.

3. Get out of the “busy” zone and get into the “Important” zone. The important zone includes learning, planning, managing, forecasting implementing systems & recreation.

4. Surround yourself with other people that have achieved what you are striving for. they are out there.

5. Get a coach. A coach will help you find a path and will help you on the journey.

6. Get yourself Profiled using DISC – Email me and I will introduce you to the system. Also superb if you are recruiting.

To get from frustrated business owner to successful business owner takes a few small changes that can be implemented daily. Most changes are simple but are not necessarily easy.

 

 

Setting Expectations for New Team Members

We are entering a time in Ireland where it is getting trickier to find the right people. The Welcome Aboard Handwritten With Chalk On A Blackboardentry level jobs are harder to fill. Correction – they are easy to fill, but not so easy to fill with a candidate that is right for the role.

Employers are fearful that if they take on new team members, they will leave as soon as the going gets tough or the first minute they have a challenge in their role.

Employers are reluctant to invest time and money into new starters for this very reason.

From an SME business standpoint, this is easy to understand. Taking on an extra team member when you have less than 10 or 15 staff is a big job. There is massive disruption to the team, the dynamic in the business changes, time is invested in ensuring that the new team member settles in well gets on in the business.

What many SME business owners fail to to is to clearly articulate their expectations to their new team members.

Even when they do, they do not check the level of understanding of those expectations.

We have experienced, time and again that the best way to induct a new employee into an SME business is as follows:

1. Slow down the recruitment process and meet more than 5 potential candidates for the role. Meet the prospective ones more than 2 or 3 times and get other members of the team to meet them as well. Remember you will be paying them from the minute they accept the job. At this point it is only costing you time.

If you feel that a candidate is not suitable for a position that you have, do them a favour and do not hire them.

2. Use profiling tools like DISC to help assess character dynamics and skills.

3. When the successful candidate starts, take the time to position the role correctly in the following ways:

  • What your expectations of them will be in one month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year
  • What level of training they can expect to receive
  • How they will be managed throughout the year and how the feedback will be given to them
  • What they need to do if they have a problem of if they need help
  • Establish what their career aspirations are and agree how, if at all, the role can help them on their journey.
  • Agree with them that you will give them constructive feedback
  • Clarify the culture of the business, what we always do, what we never do.

4. Meet with them on a regular basis and review progress.

5. Over-communicate with them.

The investment in a new team member is an investment of time and money. Investing using only one element is a recipe for disaster.

If you would like help in selecting excellent team members for your business, contact me today.

 

The difference between value and price…

Business owners continue to be challenged to reduce their prices and in many cases reduce their margin. When the product you are selling is not a commodity, it is your responsibility

So actually what is this value, how would you define this concept?

The Value Formula: Value = Benefits – Cost

Please note this down somewhere prominent and when a member of your team asks you if they can discount – point this out to them.

As a business owner, it is important for you to add VALUE for your customers.

You can achieve this by reducing the cost or you rcan do it even more by increasing the benefits that they will get. Either way, the value for the customer increases.

Reducing the Price is the QUICK Fix and you will find yourself repeating it time and again.

Increasing the Benefits needs to be learned, taught and understood but once it happens it will actually benefit your for ever because your team will understand.

The price is what your customer will pay, the value is the benefit that they derive from the product. There are benefits associated with the buying process, the peace of mind associated with doing business with you, the follow up or after sales. there are a number of ways that you can add value.

When you reduce the price for the customer, you do improve the value they get in the immediate short term, BUT you greatly reduce your own ability to build value into that customer in the long term. Coupled with the fact that the customer is of less value to you. You reduce your ability to nurture and look after them as well because you have less profit in your business. DO you really think they want that – especially if there was an opportunity for you to add real value.

People remember the value and experience the benefits of a product long after they forget how much they have paid for an item.

If you would like to find out more about improving the margins in your business, hit reply and request a free assessment.

 

thanks

 

 

I would be quicker doing it myself…

If you, as a manager or as a business owner ever find yourself say, “I would be quicker "  A Chain Is No Stronger Than Its Weakest Link " Written On A Bdoing it myself”, you have a problem on your hands.

Either you are not good at delegating, you are not prepared to take the time to train your team, you do not trust your team or you simply have the wrong team.

While “doing it yourself” may be the only option available to you in the moment, the problem will remain with you forever, unless you decide to resolve the problem.

Thinking that “you would be quicker doing it yourself” will lead to the following:

1. You being caught up endlessly in the “busyness” of business.

2. An ineffective team that get no satisfaction from working in your business.

3. Sluggish business growth restricted by your “busyness”

4. Poor customer service – Good while you are there but disengaged when you are not there.

5. Burnout for you.

So whats the answer?

It’s simple. If you want to grow and develop a business that can work without you, you will need to invest some of your time and some of your effort creating systems within your business.

Once the systems are created, you will need to train the team on how to use the system

If the system works properly, there should not be any reason why 80% of the tasks in the business can be completed by people other than you.

Most business owners will not take the time to create a systemised business. This is a shame as the business cannot grow beyond their own capability and the number of hours in the day.

The word SYSTEM is an Acronym for:

Saving You, Stress, Time, Energy and Money

In theory, all business owners want all of the above.

I have a list of systems required by every business. I have examples of systems that work in businesses that I have coached over the past 12 years.

If you would like a copy of the list or to see some examples, email me and I will rush them to you.

 

 

Quitting on change is not an option…

As a general rule, people do not like change. Even if the outcomes of change will mean improved job satisfaction, better quality of life and in some instances, more money.

It’s like world peace – everybody is in favour of it but very few want to start the journey to make it a reality.

Coaching is about helping people through the change process. It is about helping people to define “world peace” in their business and then identifying the steps that are needed to achieve it.

Often, the journey starts with fire fighting, addressing daily and weekly challenges and helping clients to deal with them in a different way, so that they do not repeat.

Changing your team starts with changing yourself…

The single biggest challenge that business owners have is getting the most from the team. Its also the area that they avoid the most. Its also the area that they spend the least amount of time learning about and developing. Its also the single biggest expense they have in their business each week. It’s baffling.

for many business owners, it’s like they have a really expensive audience. The business owner is flat out and the team are working away but not necessarily lightening the load for the business owner. This is not their fault – More often than not, the business owner has not take the time to explain what he expects of them and taken the time to instruct them correctly.

Helping business owners to change from being the “reactive, “busy”, “up the Walls” type of person, to the one that is leveraged, forward thinking, decisive and people orientated takes discipline. The results are that you have leveraged results. Your entire team working on a common goal. This can only be good for the business.

Further leverage can be achieved by giving them supportive feedback and recognising their efforts. Again – this is not easy to do if you have never done it before.

The best place to start is to analyse how you actually spend you time every day. Being busy or productive?

Contact me if you want to effectively measure how effective you really are….

In a sales slump? Look back at your activity.

If you own or run a business or sales team, you will be familiar with the daily requirement to generate new leads, create new business opportunities and start new relationships.

An important determinant to your success will be your level of consistent prospecting Moving Through the Sales Funnel words on gears with customers waactivity. Don’t measure your productivity (your sales success), measure your activity on a daily basis and every day, the number of quality activities that you do will determine you success.

With the development of online tools such as email and online tools such as Linkedin it is much easier to get a message to your prospects. Having said that, its much easier for your competition to do it as well, and they will, incessantly.

To be successful in sales, irrespective of your product, your prospecting habits must stand up to the scrutiny they will receive on a weekly and monthly basis.

Word of mouth and referral based lead generation usually gives the highest quality leads with an above average conversion rate and in many cases an above average sale value.

If you are not getting referrals from existing clients or if your word of mouth business is not good, this is a good place to start. Are you adding enough value to your client. Do you deliver consistently.

Past customers and even existing customers are also worth considering, they have already purchased from you so if you have delivered for them, they will more than likely purchase from your again.

What businesses do from here can vary, from networking to telemarketing, to bold calling, to email list and email marketing.

The most important things for any business owner is to do everything on a consistent basis and ensure that you are looking for ways to leverage yourself in the process so that you are there to deal with the warm prospects.

Business owners and sales people can get caught in the nitty gritty of the process and sometimes relax on the follow up and relationship building which is where the real money is.

Marketing, Sales and business development is the most important part of any business. Would yours pass the consistency and sustained effort test.

Stop costing your business money – contact me today on 087 222 0720 and we can carry out the test and identify improvement potential immediately.

Cash Strapped Business? 6 Tips…

Being in business can be frustrating. You seem to be making good sales, you seem to have the right margins and you seem to be growing but you are broke and the business is in danger of imploding. Equally, your business may be going through a little bit of a lull and you are short of cash. 5 tips on improving your cashflow…

1. Do an immediate stock take and identify any stock that simply is not selling. It is fastcashimportant to turn this back to cash as quickly as possible, even if you have to sell at cost or below. Buy in product that will sell and use the money to repeat the process. People tend to hold on to underperforming stock as if they were emotionally attached. Cut the cord and realise the cash…

2. Do a price review – there may be some items where you can achieve a higher margin – Higher margin means more cash available to run the business. many people are afraid of this tactic but just because you buy well, should not mean that all the benefit is passed on.

3. Brief analysis of costs – some cost items tend to fluctuate in price or are negotiable – do a quick calculation on where costs can be saved. Recently we did this with a client whose monthly costs were 32000. Within 20 minutes we had identified savings of 2500, without touching wages or impacting on customer service. This can be the difference between profit and loss, survival or failure.

4. Settlement deals. Some suppliers may be prepared to do settlement deal if you can get the money together. Discounts can be achieved if you ask. They may need the cash injection as well so approach them. You have nothing to lose.

5. Review your opening hours – it may be that business is passing you by or it may be that you are opening when there is no business to be had. Again, small savings or small increases can be achieved – worth a quick review.

6. Most importantly – train your team on sales – so many businesses are leaving business behind because they do not help the customer when they enter the business. There are many strategies that can be taught in this area. start today.

for more cash strategies and quick wins in you business, cal me on 087 222 0720