Are you hibernating for the Summer?

By now, you will have experienced the all too regular response from prospective customers… “Call me back after the summer holidays”. With this response you are effectively being told not to call back until September. That’s 3 months away.

Are you pushing back deals until after the summer or have you decided yourself that no business is conducted during the summer so you have given up marketing?

Yes, it can be more difficult to connect with business owners in the summer, and yes, sometime decisions are deferred to a later date. But this is not true for everyone.

Here are a few tips to avoid complete hibernation for your business:

1. Plan your summer sales and marketing activity. Focus on the results that you need to get and then establish the level of activity required to achieve this. On the basis that some people may be on 1 week or 2 weeks holiday, your own activity levels may need to increase slightly to combat this. Communicate this to your team.

2. Target customers who are not as tied to the summer holidays. Most parents of school going age children will take their holidays between July and August. Many other people avoid these times because they can, and because they can get better deals outside peak times.

3. Spend more time if you have it testing and measuring marketing. The world of marketing for new customers is changing all the time. There are new strategies that really work. How is your marketing working right now and how much are you spending per lead.

4. Ensure that all prospective leads are being followed up. They already know of your existence. Having the deadline of a holiday can be a good time to get a decision. Whether the decision is a yes or a no – at least you know and you are not deluding yourself.

The three months of summer can be very profitable for you and your business, if used correctly – start planning today and reap the results in the Autumn.

 

 

Your business RESULTS reflect your MINDSET

I meet a lot of business owners. Many of them are from very similar businesses, operating in the same markets, in the same business environment. But their results vary wildly.

When we question the results, we get a vast array of reasons and excuses.

The business that are struggling generally focus on external factors or factors that do not involve the business owner. Things like the economy, the weather, the competition, the products, the price, the team that they have working (or not working) for them. Its is never about activity and results.

The business that are successful generally focus on understanding their business, planning for success, understanding leverage, understanding how to differentiate, understanding how to make tough decisions about team, about customers and about products. They understand and act on what is good for the business in the short medium and long term, they have a plan and they stick to the plan. They understand about ownership and accountability and most importantly, they understand about leverage and leadership. They also take massive action.

So if this is so obvious, why does everyone not do the same?

Is it because we are conditioned for instant gratification, for immediate results. Do we not understand about growing a business, how it needs structure and a plan. Do we not understand about how to hire and manage the best people.

Being in business is a long term play, it is very difficult to work a long term play when everything you do is based on immediacy and short term results. It is very difficult to build a long term business when there is no foundation in place. It is even harder to sell a business that has survived for a long time with no structure – it has no value.

Business Success starts in your mind, it needs to be developed and it needs time to develop. Are you working on this?

As a business coach, I work with client who want to build their business properly.

If you have a business that works, but only with enormous effort from you, we probably need to talk.

My direct line is 087 222 0270

 

 

Employers – Protect Yourself Today

No Contract of Employment – No Defence

No Employee Handbook – No Defence

No Job Description – No Defence

When there is harmony in the workplace and everyone is working towards a common objective, no one ever thinks of contracts, job descriptions and employee handbooks. There is no need to because everyone is properly aligned.

But things can and do change. External circumstances/influences can cause employees to becomes less satisfied at work, or less focused on their work. Changes internally in the organisation can lead employees to feel less valued and may cause them to questions their position.

Sometimes you get employees who are competent in their roles but simply not committed to the company or their fellow team members. When a conversation about poor performance does not seem to work and the situation seems to be deteriorating with no party willing to find a resolution, you have to look at all your options.

You have very few options when you do not have the infrastructure in place that will allow clarification of role, clarification of rules and clarity on the process that can and must take place to rectify the situation.

What percentage of your team are working below par?

Do you have team members whose performance you need to question?

Have you been avoiding addressing team issues because you have no infrastructure?

What is this costing you and your business?

What do your other employees think about you when they see you not addressing poor performance?

Do you think this may have an impact on their performance?

Time to take action. Call me today to schedule a review on your employment infrastructure.

You had me at hello!

People will judge you within a few seconds of meeting you. It’s primarily a subconscious thing.

If you are in business, it is very important that you make a good first impression because it increases your chances of doing business, it increase your chances of a profitable transaction, it rewards your marketing activity and it makes it easier for the customer to recommend you to someone else.

“you never have to recover from a good first impression”

While first impressions are created when you meet someone, they are also created:

  1. When one of your team meets a prospective customer on your behalf
  2. When one of your prospective customer reads something about you in a newspaper
  3. When you post something on social media
  4. When a customer walks into your premises and takes a look around
  5. When a customer calls your business on the phone or takes a look at your website.
  6. How you respond to an enquiry from a customer and how quickly you respond.

You have a huge amount of control over all these experiences. Each of these experiences really costs very little to be perfect, to give you a head start and to give you the edge in business.

So why is it then, that people do not take enough care when creating the good first impression?

Sometimes you may need an independent assessment of your first impression. Be open to the feedback, be open to the fact that you may need to make changes and you may need to also look in the mirror and make some changes there.

If you have a team and you receive feedback that your first impression (or whole service) may not be up to speed, then collectively you can work on this.

We work with clients every day on how to define and implement a customer experience that they can be proud of, a customer experience that will help them make more sales, a customer experience that will drive down your customer acquisition cost and greatly improve the return you get for your marketing spend.

Contact me today to discuss your first impression – or contact me with some feedback on mine..

What happens when a customer walks in…

Believe it or not, we are creatures of habit who dislike change, love consistency and crave security.

Knowing this, why do we not focus on delivering these things to our customers. If you asked the same customer to contact each team member you have and conduct a transaction with them, the results would shock you.

Some team members would be very good, others great, other brilliant, others not so good. And sometimes, this is where the problem lies. It’s not that any team member wants to deliver a poor service, its that the service being delivered by different team members is in-consistent and because of this, customers become fearful – to the point that they elsewhere for consistency.

I often meet business owners who believe that everyone of their customers needs to see them. Its not because they are btter, its not because they are liked any more than any of the team members, it is because, the customer knows that the consistency will be there.

As a business owner, you must spend sometime developing and improving the consistency that you can deliver on a continuous basis, irrespective of whether you are there or not.

It’s a straightforward exercise and it is one that can be conducted with the entire team.

We call it the Ideal Customer Experience.

We simply establish the following:

1. What should we always do and say when a customer contacts our business.

2. What should we never do or say when a customer contacts our business.

3. What do we always and never do when something goes wrong in our business

4. How to we keep the level of service consistent between the team members.

If your team understand the importance of consistency and they understand that they can play a major role in developing it, they will contribute to its success.

 

“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.

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.

 

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.