Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are You On The Right Path?


Are You On The Right Path?


There are a number of factors to take into consideration when prepping yourself and your company to approach the largest clients you’ll ever work with.
Today we’re going to start with a brief look at the three paths every business faces and show you which one is the path to success. Then we’ll talk about the mindset it takes to attract the big fish.
There are three major paths a business can take:
  • Snail Speed
  • Shooting Star
  • Catch the Whale
Snail Speed
Most business owners end up working themselves into the ground without much reward or success. This is what happens when you fool yourself into thinking you will find quick success. You may also find yourself following this path when you are afraid of change.
Shooting Star
This describes a business that shoots to the top so fast you are overwhelmed and don’t have the right resources in place to adapt. This can also happen from being overwhelmed by small clients and not taking the time to find large clients, which will sustain your business after the small client sales slow.
Catch the Whale
This is the path that allows you to build at a steady pace that you can manage by not allowing your customers to outpace you. You can do this by putting these tips to work:
  1. Attract, keep and lock in big clients.
  2. Integrate “big business” culture into your company and employees.
  3. Acquire the expertise you need to grow.
  4. Have the courage to make changes as you grow.
Now we are going to transition a bit and talk about the “whale” mindset. It may sound easy to just find and catch that big fish, but if you are stuck in the small business mindset, you may find it harder than you think.
Think of all the benefits of aiming at bigger clients:
  • Inexpensive
  • Highly Profitable
  • Longevity
  • Security
In order to catch a big fish, you need to believe your company can make a difference with theirs. It’s easy to get into the thought that a large company doesn’t need anything from a small business like yours, but this is entirely wrong!
Once you take a look at how big companies operate, it’s important to know which ones are the best fit with your company. One of the best ways to get in the door is by knowing someone on the inside who can put in a good word for you.
If you’re not sure where to start and feel a little intimidated about catching big fish, try our test drive to get help from our amazing business coaches.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Are You In The 1%



Are You In The 1%




The Rule of 1% is simply defined as adding to your customer service one percent at a time. Before you can do this you must have your consistency perfected or it will never work. This one percent may seem small, but if you approach the vision for your company with baby steps, you will find a huge increase over a solid chunk of time. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.
Avoid doing too much at one or you'll set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one percent each week. By the end of a year, you'll have improved more than 50%!
While, rules and standards are necessary for growth, always be flexible with your best customers. Most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it generally restricts the larger percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers and consistency is the key to how you deliver it.
The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly and you will fail.
Focus on your vision and baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into Raving Fans.
I hope you've learned a lot about good customer service and how it's essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps we've gone through over the last four lessons take our test drive and get access to some of the best resources, tools and coaches available.








Thursday, October 24, 2013

Deliver a +1 Experience


Deliver a +1 Experience


In the last post we talked about how to figure out what your customers want out of a positive shopping experience. Today we’ll talk about the concept of Deliver +1 and how this concept can take your customer service to the next level. I’ve decided to split up this post so the next one will cover the 1% Rule.
Consistency is the key to any great customer service experience. If you want to turn your satisfied customers to Raving Fan status, you have to go above and beyond the average customer service experience.
There are three ways to develop consistency:
Avoid offering too many customer service options.
We sometimes get so caught up in giving customers what they want we get away from our original vision. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition.
You need to fine tune the current systems you are using before you can add anything to the mix. There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old one.
Put solid systems into place.
Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlesslyevery time. This system needs to employ the right people in the right roles with the right responsibilities and the right technology so that it can guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.
Good training is the key.
Once you have your system in place you need to train people to use it properly and efficiently. This helps your people deliver the results your customers are looking for. While, training is essential for the system to work and for all your people to work together cohesively, appreciation will go a long way to shortening the learning curve.
I hope this has given you a look into what you need to do in order to have a quality customer service system in place. If you need help, take us for a test drive and gain access to a wealth of resources, tools and coaching.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Here's Another Secret


Here’s Another Secret


In the last post we talked about the first secret to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your vision is.
Today we’ll talk about the second secret in turning your satisfied customers to raving fans. You must know what your customers want. Know who your customers are and then you will know better how to serve them. Demographics are really important here. An upper-class woman in her 30′s is going to have completely different expectations than a working class man in his 50′s.
There are four main areas you need to consider and plan when figuring out what your customers want:
  • Listen to Your Customers
  • Ask Your Customers Sincerely
  • Offer More than Just a Product/Service
  • Know When to Ignore Them
These are all important when deciding what your customers want out of their shopping experience.
Listen to Your Customers
You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Customers may say they want one thing and really mean something else. For example, if you customers are begging for lower prices, you may find out their real priority is quick delivery.
Also, listen to your “silent” customers. These are the customers that don’t bother to complain because the service is so bad they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted and when a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.
Lastly, you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine”. These customers are similar to the “silent” customers in that they are so used to bad customer service they only give a monotone response.
Ask Your Customers Sincerely
If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they are going to see right through you. You may be thinking, “What about the customers who aren’t saying anything?” You need to ask them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care, and you should!
Offer More than Just a Product/Service
Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service, they are looking for an experience that makes them feel good. They gauge every step of the process with a value. When you take this into consideration and treat them like people, they will feel like they belong.
Know When to Ignore Them
You may think this goes beyond providing good customer service, but in reality you can’t give them everything and there are some people you will never make happy. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the needs of the customer, they will be best suited somewhere else.
These are the steps and tricks to figuring out what your customers want and how you can use them to work on your customer service vision and plan.
If you get stuck, try our test drive and let us help you through the process.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shhh... I Have A Secret


Shhh… I Have a Secret


Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.
If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!
There are three secrets to good customer service, the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.
You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that includes customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:
  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website and other technology based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting a good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.
  3. Change your mind set and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keeping happy customers.
With these thoughts in mind you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.
  • Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.
Now, that you know what you want you can starting thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.
If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources and coaches in our test drive can help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Add Some Compost


Add Some Compost


In the last post we talked about the first three of the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:
  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy
These 7 areas will fine turn your plan for the ultimate level of success. Today we are going to cover the last four.
Think of constructing your business model like planting a tree. At first, it’s so small and weak you wonder if it will even make it through the night. But, you keep watering, fertilizing and nurturing it. Your ideas will grow the trunk and each of these strategies will extend out as the branches of your now strong tree. Finding the perfect support staff, employees, vendors/suppliers and other relationships will make your tree flourish with leaves and flowers.
Management Strategy
The way you structure your management team is not only essential to your growth, but the happiness of your employees and, ultimately, your customers/clients. This strategy is results-oriented and doesn’t depend on the people, but the actual system that’s in place.
A management strategy is, in short, a set of standards that include goals, rules, a mission statement and other concrete things that tell your employees how to act, your management how to grow your business and your customers/clients what to expect.
These should all be in perfect alignment with your business goals.
Employee Appreciation
You need to put together a people strategy that shows your employees how you feel about their job performance and dedication to your business. They also need to understand “why” they are doing specific tasks. This helps them to personally connect to their job which in turn leads to better production and a happier workplace.
There are a number of strategies you can use to keep it interesting at “the office”:
  • Performance Incentive Programs
  • Contests that reward high performance
  • Employee of the Month
  • Performance/Holiday Bonuses
These are just a few of the ideas you can use. One of the best ways to appreciate your employees is by calling a meeting and asking them how they would like to be rewarded. Think about it for awhile and put the best strategy into play. Keep it fresh and change up the strategy you use from time to time to keep your employees guessing. Once they get used to the prize, it’s time for a whole new approach.
You need to build a community within your company. There needs to be support, appreciation and respect. The more “at home” an employee feels, the better they will perform and the higher their level of loyalty.
Marketing Strategy
Marketing is, of course, essential to the success of any business, but it also must work cohesively with the other strategies you’re using. There are two major pillars of a successful marketing strategy-the demographic and psychographic profiles of your customers.
The psychographic tells you what your customers are the most likely to buy and the demographic tells you who they are, which can help you learn why they buy specific items. Without this information it simply doesn’t matter how good your business prototype is.
Systems Strategy
There are three types of systems in every business:
  • Hard Systems
  • Soft Systems
  • Information Systems
Hard systems refer to inanimate system or systems that have no “life”. Soft systems are those that could be living. Information systems which are, of course, everything else, including customer data, product information, financials…anything with data and numbers.
The most important of all three systems is the soft systems because it includes the sales systems your business uses. In your sales system the two keys to success are: structure and substance. Structure being what you sell and substance being how you sell it.
All three systems are essential to the success of your business and while they all have their own very specific roles, they all must work together to get the job done. This also goes for your entire business development program.
I want to take a moment to recap on the ideas we went over through the business development lessons.
An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with:
  • Desire
  • Some capital
  • Projecting a targeted profit
There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:
  • The Technician
  • The Manager
  • The Entrepreneur
The four different stages of a business life cycle are:
  • Infancy
  • Adolescence
  • Growing Pains
  • Maturity
There are a few things we are going to talk about:
  • Business Format Franchise
  • The Franchise Prototype
  • Franchise Prototype Standards
There are three main areas of business development:
  • Innovation
  • Quantification
  • Orchestration
7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:
  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy
We can help you work through all of these areas and give your business a jumpstart that puts you ahead of your competition right from the start. Use our test drive and work with one of our coaches, plus gain access to a wealth of tools and resources.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Corporate Puzzle


The Corporate Puzzle



The 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process:
  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy
These 7 areas will fine turn your plan for the ultimate level of success. In this lesson we are going to cover the first three.
Primary Aim
It’s essential in business development to set goals and see a vision for the future. This needs to go beyond the business and you need to think about what you want out of life. What do you dream about? How do you see your success unfolding? Knowing and understanding these things will give you the momentum to get started and the stamina to see it through. Even take a minute to write them down and tape them to your desk for a constant reminder of what you’re aiming for.
Strategic Objectives
These are essential in taking your business from surviving to thriving. All of these objectives should offer solutions for how to get to your primary aim. There are many things you can use to set strategic objectives, but here are a couple of the most popular:
  1. Money: Setting monetary goals is a great, simple way to see how you are doing at any point in the game. It’s easy to measure and easy to find adjustments to help meet this goal.
  2. Worthy Opportunities: When considering partnerships and other business opportunities you need to think about whether or not they will help you reach your primary aim. Those that will are the best opportunities to seriously consider.
The key in setting standards and goals is not to limit you or stress yourself out. You need to find some quantifiable things you can use to measure your progress towards your primary aim. These are just two suggestions, but make sure no matter what standards you set you are paying attention to the details, as this is one of the biggest keys to your success.
Organizational Strategy
The strength of your organizational structure can make or break your business, so it’s important to take the time to put together a solid structure for your business to grow from. Generally a company is organized around the roles and responsibilities that need to be taken care of on a daily basis and the personalities that need to fulfill those roles.
No matter what roles and responsibilities you’ve defined for your employees, you must always keep your personal primary aim separate from your company’s primary aim or mission statement. Once you’ve identified the primary aim for your company it will be easy to set up a position structure that will work.
Don’t forget to put together position contracts. Your employees should sign a statement of their roles and responsibilities. This helps keep them clear for you, the employee and other employees/vendors or other individuals.
You can see how these areas all work together to build a solid structure on which to build your business. If you need help defining any of these areas, you can check out the resources, tools and speak with one of our fantastic coaches during your test drive.