Ralphie breaks into Richie’s office and learns 4 Pricing Secrets

One Christmas season, twin brothers Richie and Ralph each opened competing businesses selling (physically) exactly the same products and services.   Each of them spent the same money on advertising, attended the same networking events, and advertised in the same places.

But, in their first year in business, Richie made money while Ralph had growing cash flow issues.   So, over the following Christmas holiday, while Richie was with his family on a Disney Cruise; Ralph snuck into Richie’s store one night to see why this was the case.    Ralph shuffled through a lot of papers until he came upon a fairly thick binder called “Pricing Secrets to make more money than your twin brother in business.”  Besides being very perturbed, Ralph was curious and opened the book.  This is what he saw:

Secret #1: Never set prices purely based on costs

The customer does not really care what the costs of running my business are.  What my customer cares about is the VALUE that we provide to their lives.    If it costs $10, but our customer thinks the value is $1,000; then we will sell it for $900 and look like a hero.

That said, Secret 1a is that we must always understand our margins, gross and net:  where they are now, where they have been, and where they are going.  If we do not like dealing with “the numbers,” pay someone to do this for us.  Understanding our books can make the difference between THINKING we are making money; to KNOWING it.

Secret #2:  Since we CHOOSE what we sell, decide to sell only what improves the lifestyle of the customer enough for them to pay us a premium price

The companies that are able to command the highest margins understand not just the utility of their products; but also how their products improve the lives of their customers.     As a smart company, we realize that what we sell is OUR choice.    Everyone says you must “sell the sizzle, not the steak”; but this advice is useless if our product has no sizzle.

If our product IS seen as a commodity, and we find that we cannot make enough money in the business to sustain/improve our lifestyle,  we will sell something else.  If the new product costs more than our current customer can pay; then we will find new customers.  After all, we are not helping anyone if we go out of business because we sold low-priced products to poor-paying customers.

Secret #3:  The easiest way to improve the margin on our products is to increase the price above the “commodity-level” offered by our competitors,  add an additional value, AND also offer at least 2 premium options well above the price of our primary offering.

These MUST be done together.  If we just try to increase the price and add onto what we offer; the customer will see this as a tactic and buy a lower value product from Ralph.  But, by offering the two premium offerings; prospects will view us as a premium provider.  And, when they compare the revised offering to the higher level offering, two very good things can happen:

– They buy the premium offerings, and are glad that we offered this option;

– They buy the lower priced offering from us, getting more value for themselves while we get more margins and cash flow.

Secret #4:  Have a Documented Marketing and Sales Process to take prospects from never having heard of us to the purchase – and Execute it every day.

The reason we can price ourselves above Ralph’s shop across the street is because when customers walk into his shop, their salespeople say “Can I help you”; and people are always “just looking.”  When they come into my shop, I have a process to get the customer to discover what they want, why they want it, and then qualify themselves as a serious buyer.    Our process does not allow people to “browse”; it asks them to decide whether or not they want a purchase.  And, because we let them know that we are OK with “No,” they say “Yes” a lot more.


There were several more Secrets, and Ralph decided that he might need to come back in a few days to read the rest of it.    But, for now, he knew what his next steps were; because he could no longer continue to keep funding his business while his brother Richie made big profits.

Why Pilot Pete and Entrepreneur Ed Don’t Make Enough Money

Pete had been an airline pilot for 20 years.

One day Pete was talking to his friend, Ed the Entrepreneur, and noticed that Ed’s business was doing pretty well.   Apparently, Ed had all of the things necessary to “hit it big”:

– A product customers loved, with great “word of mouth” advertising;

– Years of experience “in the industry”;

– An incredible work ethic;

– and a lot of people who really “liked” him.

In fact, Ed was SO busy working in and growing his business; that he never sat down and wrote a “Business Plan” or a developed “Strategy.”  As long as he kept working persistently, Ed told Pete, one day he would achieve everything he dreamed about.

Pete felt this made perfect sense.  After all, when you know what you are doing technically, and people are coming “on board”; if you stop and take the time to Plan, it will just slow down your momentum and cut down on the “freedom” that comes from being your own boss.

So, the day before Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, Pete and several of his pilot friends talked about this and decided that since they knew how to fly, their planes were full of fuel, and people were getting on board the airplanes; it would be a waste of time to file flight plans or listen to the Air Traffic Controllers.    After all, most had been flying for a LONG time; so their Plans were “in their heads.”  What could go wrong?

So they took off together…….

– 2 ran into each other before they left the runway – because they were going so fast that, by the time they saw each other, it was too late;

– 5 got lost and crashed into mountains that were higher than the clouds below the flight path of the planes;

– 7 had to make so many “course corrections” that the fuel they started with was not enough and they ended up crashing;

– 4 had mid-air collisions with other planes that seemed to “come out of nowhere”;

– 5 landed at the wrong airports;

– 2 DID make it to their correct destinations, but it took them twice as long as expected.

Pete was one that made it to the right airport, several hours late; and he was fired.  AND he lost his Pilot’s license; so now he’s a cashier at McDonald’s (pays less than a job as a commercial airline pilot).

What about you?  Are you so convinced in your own abilities, your “experience,” and current “busy-ness” that you don’t think that you need a Plan (or maybe you will get one when things “slow down”)? 

Just because you are moving fast, does not mean that you are going to be successful in the long run:

– The Planes that run into each other on the runway are those businesses that do not do their market research, and run into a competitor to their “unique” offering that they never knew existed;

– The Planes that hit the mountains are those businesses that believe that they have “made it,” but never plan far enough ahead to anticipate surprise obstacles like shifting markets, loss of a big customer, or changing customer requirements;

– The Planes that run out of fuel are the businesses who, because they lack a clear plan, run out of cash before they hit their “tipping point” (happens a LOT);

– The Planes that have mid-air collisions are the businesses who do not plan and forecast continuously and so never see new competitors until it is too late;

– The Planes that land at the wrong airports are those businesses who, while they eventually get “somewhere,” do not achieve what they had hoped for;

– The Planes that DO make it to the right airport are those businesses who eventually succeed, but after a LOT more pain, stress, and time than they should have needed.

Ignore Pete.  This is your ideal time RIGHT NOW to sit down and create a comprehensive plan, WITH accountability; so that your business will take off quickly,  fly with less stress, and land at your goals in the time frame that YOU want.

By the way, Ed’s not doing so well in his business because his “word of mouth” customers do not come frequently enough to support Ed and his family.


– Roger Boneno, Roger@CoachRogerBoneno.com

Jackie and her Ladder – A Business Story

Once upon a time there was a very nice lady named Jackie.  Jackie sold cupcakes and cookies from her cozy little home in the suburbs that she built herself.

Now, Jackie made great cupcakes…and cookies.   And Jackie was even pretty skilled at building houses. 

But..she was missing one small skill:  she did not know how to cut out and put in a door.

So, Jackie bought a ladder and put it up her Chimney. 

Every day, Jackie climbed up the Chimney with her cupcakes and cookies, sold them in the marketplace, and went back home through the Chimney.  It was an OK life.  And, since she was pretty good at going up and down the Chimney every day, Jackie lived a nice life.

That is, until Louise moved into the neighborhood.

Louise DID know how to build a door.  And she could fit not just cupcakes and cookies through the door, but Cakes and Coolers of Ice Cream.

And, if Louise did not have a specific item, she could go back easily into her house and get it.    As fast as Jackie was able to climb up and down the ladder; Louise’s door was still faster.

So, Jackie HAD gotten better at what she was doing.  But, because she was missing a crucial skill, her sales started falling. 

Everyone still agreed that Jackie had great cupcakes and cookies; but Jackie eventually went out of business. 

All because Jackie was convinced that her 20 years of ladder-climbing and cupcake/cookie selling experience were going to continue to sustain her.  She never saw Louise and her door coming until it was too late.

How many of you out there keep saying that you DON’T need help; because what you do has been working?

Well, THIS is what I help you do with a PLAN.  We’ll not just determine how you get from where you are now to where you want to be; but we’ll find out:

– Do you need a Door (a different marketing approach, new team members or better recruiting/hiring/team motivation plans)?

– How do you even ANTICIPATE a potential door-building competitor (there are simple financial indicators that will reveal problems long before they become catastrophes)?

– How do you build the door, or get the bank to lend you money to purchase one (having helped companies obtain millions of dollars in funding, I’ll teach you how you can get the bank to loan you more money at a lower rate)?

– Do you need to have Cakes and Ice Cream (new products or services)?

– How could you get your Cakes and Ice-Cream to market quickly and profitably?

It’s time, RIGHT NOW, for you to get that Plan. 

A Strategic Plan helps you now AND will provide you a way to see the signals if something is going wrong.  Plus, you learn how to be agile enough to respond to changing markets and customer desires.  AND MAKE MORE PROFIT. 

While I’m not Bob Villa with a tool chest building a house; I AM like a Bob Villa of Business Plan building.  Check out this LinkedIn Profile (at last check, 29 Strategic Planning endorsements and 35 Written Recommendations).

When we are finished you will have, IN WRITING, a LIVING DOCUMENT FOR YOU!

Engage Now for a Very Special Year-end rate.  CLICK HERE and reserve your spot!  On Saturday night,  November 17, 2012,  the $997 rate becomes the regular, $2,500 rate.

Remember:    It is OK for you to say “No” and keep going up and down your ladder without a Professional plan.  Just make sure that you DECIDED to do that; instead of letting it happen to you like it did to Jackie..by default.

Jim and Diane’s Trip to Chicago – Based on a True Story

Today I wanted to share a little story with you about a couple, Jim and Diane (based on a true story, so enjoy…).

One day, Jim and Diane decide to take a vacation.  They had both been working very hard, and would leave their comfortable house in the suburbs of Houston and visit Chicago.

So, one slightly misty morning, they packed up their new car and headed out.   They were excited, and knew that they could get there really fast if they took turns driving.  After all, the sooner they got to Chicago, the sooner they would be able to check into their hotel room.

They were going to LOVE Chicago.  They planned to stay at the Westin right on Michigan Avenue.   Across the street would be the “Magnificent Mile” of shops.  A quick elevated train ride would get them to the ballpark.  Fantastic food choices..the Navy Pier, the beautiful lakefront.  They had their whole visit scheduled perfectly.

So they backed out of the driveway and started driving.   Jim told Diane to get on the freeway, and she did.  They drove for a day.  Chicago, here we come!

They drove for another day.  They were getting closer..they just KNEW it.   They had a great car, and knew that Chicago would be fun!

But the third day passed, and Jim was getting perturbed.  So, he told Diane to drive faster.  And they drove for a fourth day.  Still, no Chicago.

Now it was Diane’s turn to tell Jim to drive faster.  And turn NORTH.  They stopped at a gas station, bought a compass, and turned North.

Day five….Day six…Day seven.  They now both wondered why, even though they were CRYSTAL CLEAR about their goal of going to Chicago, were driving a great car,  and were certain about what they would do once they got to Chicago; they never arrived there.

Finally, they looked at each other, and exclaimed, “We probably should have followed a map.”

Sound crazy?  Who would try to get anywhere that far away without a roadmap?

Well?  How many can honestly tell me that YOU have a CLEAR, step-by-step Plan to get from where you are NOW in your business to where you want to be?


Every day that you spend without one is time you will NOT spend enjoying your goals.  

It’s time, RIGHT NOW, for you to get that Map.  

This is my specialty:  helping you create that map.  It’s a crystal clear, what do you do today, next month, next year, to get to where you want to go. 

To enjoy your Goals….

To stop driving around aimlessly…

I have built these with billion $ and million $businesses, with start-ups, with businesses that have been around for 4 generations (even THEY need better roadmaps sometimes), and even with MLM’s.

Engage Now for a Very Special Year-end rate.  CLICK HERE  and reserve your spot!  As soon as my calendar fills up –  which may be today, and may be by Friday –  the year-end offer is over. 

PS.  It is OK for you to say “No” and keep driving around without a professional plan.  Just make sure that you DECIDED to do that; instead of letting it happen to you like it did to Jim & Diane..by default.

5 Financial Metrics Every Business Owner MUST Know and Pay Attention to (and Why)

It’s Halloween, so I wanted to pick what is a SCARY topic for many business owners: FINANCIALS.

Apparently, for most business owners (even solopreneurs), this is such a scary topic that they choose to ignore it.  The thinking goes that, as long as there is money in the bank after bills are paid, the business is doing well.  Leave it to the accountants.

Unfortunately, this is like saying that as long as you can still walk, you are “healthy.”  In reality, there may be growing problems that, unless you know how to look for them, will catch you by surprise.  After all, how many times have you heard someone mention a business closing and say, “I thought they were doing OK”?

Just like you need to pay attention to your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and many other levels; it is essential that you as a business owner keep track of these:

1.  Revenue:  Current vs prior year, vs last 12 month average, vs. last 3 month average.    Revenue is, obviously, a measure of your businesses’ ability to get people to PAY for what you deliver.  That said, it is essential to understand what revenue is doing.

– Versus Prior Year:  How are you doing right now, versus the same time last year?  This is just a basic measure

– Versus Prior 3 Months:  This is particularly important in fast growing businesses.  So, if your average sales from June – August were $40,000, and September is $50,000; then you have the appearance of rapid growth.  That said, do the same analysis on last year (prior year September versus prior year June – August) to understand if the growth is just a seasonal “bump”

– Versus prior 12 months:  This helps you understand your current results versus what the average sales were over the last year.  Think of the prior 12 months as a “water level” for your business.  Is the current month’s revenue above, at, or below that “water level”

Once you know these numbers, do the analysis.   What was the reason for the change this month vs. the comparison periods?  Any new Marketing initiatives?  Different team members?  New products?  Product mix changes?  New Team members or lost team members?  New customer service initiatives?

2.  Transactions:  Do all of the same analysis that you did on Revenue.  If you are building your business well, then you should see steady increases in transaction counts.  Even more telling is if you can define whether your “mix” of transactions is coming from new customers, repeat customers on a regular buying cycle, or maybe repeat customers attracted because of a new marketing campaign or improvements in service.

3. Revenue per Customer:  What is each customer giving you for each purchase?  If this changes, is it because your prices went up; or are people buying different products?  Perhaps you trained your team on “trade-up” strategies, and they worked.

4.  Margins:  You must know your Margins, both:

Gross Margin:  For ever dollar you sell, there is a DIRECT cost of the product.  For example, a restaurant sells a meal for $10, but its cost of food, paper goods, garnishes, etc is $30; while it’s cost of labor directly attributable to the sale, both the cook and servers, is 20%: so, your Gross margin is 50% (100% less 30% less 20%)

Net margin:  Besides the costs directly attributable to the individual sale, you have your fixed costs like rent, management salaries, utilities, repairs and maintenance, training, office supplies, etc..etc…  Net Margin is what is left over after ALL costs have been subtracted from revenue.

WATCH CAREFULLLY the movement of Gross Margin and Net Margin, both  on an individual basis as well as compared to each other.  This analysis is a great way to “catch” waste and potential issues in your expenses that often are never looked at until they become huge problems

5.  Net Working Capital.  The “official” definition is current assets minus current liabilities.  What I tell my clients is to pay attention to this number as “how much money could I spend RIGHT NOW, if all of the bills due in 30 days had to be paid RIGHT NOW.”  I know it’s not the formal definition that the Accounting Board would approve; but it lets you have a real sense of what you have.

IF this number is negative, you had better know exactly why this is the case and have a specific path to make it positive soon (not “hope,” but a specific plan).  For example, you may invest in a new marketing campaign today that makes your Net Working Capital fall into the negative; but the expected return from the campaign will make your business a profit to make Net Working Capital positive in 60 days.

The fact is, TRULY successful businesspeople “know their numbers” because those are indicators of the health of the business.  Thinking that these are just “for the accountants” is a sure way for you to make poor decisions about the future of your business.

I’m going to be blunt and loud:  STOP WORKING SO DOGGONE HARD IN YOUR BUSINESS AND START UNDERSTANDING WHAT’S HAPPENING TO IT.  Understand and analyze your numbers, or you WILL struggle more than you have to.  If your sales are up, know why.  Maybe there is something you should be doing more of.  If sales are down, don’t throw “the economy” excuse at it; know why.  Is it seasonal?  Did your product mix change?  Is your team not providing great service.  etc., etc, etc.  Knowing your numbers will catch a brushfire before it burns down the forest.


If you do not really understand how to do this, then make an investment in your future and invest in a coach who gets it (not just a “marketing coach”).   Get out of the “scarcity” mindset (I do not have the money to invest now..maybe later), and into an “abundance” and belief mindset (I have potential that can be maximized and I believe in myself and my business enough to start maximizing it now).  Every day you spend in scarcity just guarantees more scarcity.

Why a Short-Term View and poor Math Skills are Bad for your Business

OK, I might have frightened many of you.


Well, the good news is that we’re not going to do any regressions or differential equations today.  So…breathe slowly into the bag; and let’s talk.  I am going to do the math FOR you.

Many of you own a business that is very stressful for you.  You constantly worry about cash flow.  You feel pain because your team does not seem to care about anything but their paychecks.  And, you sometimes wish that you could wave a magic wand, so people could “Get it” about the value you provide. You might even have to discount your prices, which drives you crazy (after all, you are worth more, aren’t you?).

To make matters worse:  you keep thinking things will “get better”; but, six months go by, and it’s just as tight and stressful as it was six months ago.  One year passes, and you wonder why things seem to be just as bad, or worse, than they were at the same time last year.

So, let’s do a little math (I’ll walk you through it🙂 ).

  1. What if you invested $15,000 over six months to learn some proven tactics to get new customers and build a more motivated team?  Or, you invested that $15,000 to train 3 or 4 of your managers with a Management Training program; so they could  close some of their skill gaps?
  2. What if, based on extensive data, that investment were proven to get a 5-1 return (so, exchange $15,000 for $75,000 in one year)?  BUT, to be conservative, you won’t believe anything more than a 2.5-1 return (so, you invest $15,000 and get $37,500 back in 6 months – Net profit is $37,500 – $15,000:  $22,500).
  3. Then, you were able to take that $22,500 and grow it just 3% per year for 10 years.

Over 10 years, with a conservative view, your $15,000 investment would be worth $257,937. 

If you took the full 5:1 return, and grew it at 5%/year; you would have $15,000 become $754,674That’s a quarter of a million dollars extra in your pocket, for a $15,000 investment.

This is why the short-term view of fearfully holding onto money limits the greatness of so many business owners.  The simple math is that, holding onto the $15,000, with no change in how you do things in your business, will just result in more of the same stress and a return of $0, won’t it?

The fact is, whether you are talking about investing in a coach/consultant or a management training program; your long-term benefits are huge.   Here is a personal case study:  I invested in my own coach even when I could not afford one; because I realized the value of having someone to get me to think outside my personal experiences and make decisions even when I was not sure of the potential results.   It’s why, when I owned a business coaching franchise, my business was 3 times as big as the average coach in that system (which made me the top Franchisee).       All franchisees had the same “system,” but my coach made me prospect when I did not want to; he gave me strategies that I had not considered; he helped me focus when I was looking at “shiny objects”; and he even helped me realize why a strategy that HAD been working suddenly lost effectiveness.   Even a coach needs a coach.

There is a reason that an elite athlete invests in coaches, even though he has an enormous amount of talent.  The one-tenth of a second that his coach helps him cut from his 40-yard dash time could be worth millions of dollars.

For a business owner, there might be one thing you or your managers are not doing that, with the right training, you could discover can make you millions of dollars, or remove 90% of the stress you experience every day.

Am I the right coach/consultant for you?  Most likely not:  unless you are in the restaurant or hospitality business (private coaching/consulting), or have a management team helping run your business (our classroom-based training program).   But, I promise you that there IS someone out there who is a great fit for you.   And, doing the math, thinking that you are saving money by not making the investment in closing your skill gaps is absolutely bad for your business.

Take Action Today, and start your path to investing in your future success.

I am connected to a lot of coaches/consultants; so feel free to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin; read what they write and post, then contact those who might be the best fit for you.

5 Questions You MUST Answer about Your Social Media (or you will hurt your business)

OK, since some of you are reading this as a result of Social Media sites; obviously, I believe there is value in Social Media. 

But, for many business owners, Social Media is a direct cause of their struggles to make money.    The biggest reason for this is what I would call “Intellectually Lazy Marketing.”   “Intellectually Lazy Marketing” occurs when you have no defined “ideal customer,” no targeted message, no integrated online/offline marketing Strategy; but you just post onto Social Media in the hope that people will find you interesting enough to try you.  Sadly, companies who are lazy marketers become companies with falling sales who complain that “the economy” is bad.

Can you answer these 5 questions:

1.  Of your Facebook Page Fans, Twitter Followers, LinkedIn Connections, etc…; how many of them are your Ideal Customers?  How many are people who would never buy from you?

2.  What is your Strategy to increase the number of Ideal Customers who “Like” your page and “Follow” you on Twitter?  Given that many of you spend precious time posting and tweeting (or pay someone else to do so); how many Ideal Customers do you expect to gain from that work in the next week? next month?     After all, you should NEVER spend time or money on marketing without a specific “Success Criteria,”  should you?   

3.  Exactly how many Paying Customers do you expect to get from your Social Media in the next week? month? year?   Think about it.   Have you ever said that the Yellow Pages “don’t work because people do not use them anymore,” but you spend time and money on Social Media without a clear idea if you are getting any quantifiable benefit?  And, if you are saying it’s just about “awareness,”  STOP.   That’s just “Hope”; and we all know that Hope is not a Strategy.

4.  How do your updates speak directly to your target market that: grabs their attention, makes them interested, creates desire, and stirs them to Action?  Sorry, but posting a picture of your Quail Egg Pizza or Line of Desserts do not count.  After all, you are just one of thousands of people trying to get attention.   Consider if I told you that the best way to sell your product would be to drive 30 miles from your restaurant, stand in the middle of a busy street with a big picture, and yell “Desserts!  Look at our Desserts!”  Wouldn’t you think I was crazy, given that people will be “whizzing by” and, even if they hear you, will be unlikely to stop and find out more?  And, for the few who stop, you now have the extra hurdle of making them choose you over all their other choices?  And, then they need to work to drive  across town to try you out?

But, that is what so many of you are doing on Social Media; yelling “Buy my product! Buy my product!” to a generic audience; as you expect THEM to work to discover why they should be your customer.    How much more effective would you be if you had a focused message targeted to your ideal customers?  (this DOES assume you have done the work to identify your ideal customer and the unique message that they will listen to).. 

5.   Are you ignoring other, potentially FAR more effective marketing tactics, because you think Social Media is “cheap”?  FIrst of all, unless you have figured out a way to Stop Time; Social Media is NOT FREE.  Perhaps the time you spend on posting or taking pictures SHOULD be spent on creating motivating compensation plans for your team;  better customer service procedures; or more efficient processes for product delivery.  Secondly, as months go by with an ineffective Social Media system; are you creating a risk that your cash flow will eventually be too low for you to afford what DOES work?   Or, you get to the point where you have no money to invest in a consultant/coach who could have made a massive difference for your business.   Unfortunately, all you can do then is struggle and hope.

Have these questioned changed your view of your Social Media activity?  What is YOUR Strategy for answering these questions?  Please comment below and share this.

Are You an Acorn on Concrete?

Here is a simple question:

Are you an Acorn on Concrete?

What do I mean?

This morning, as I came back from dropping my daughter at school, I saw an Acorn on my porch.  Hmmm.  How successful will that Acorn be at becoming an Oak Tree if it stays on the concrete?  It’s only about 6 inches from the soil; but it may as well be a mile away.

Maybe that’s you: do you have potential, but are struggling to grow because you are just in the wrong place?   Ask yourself these questions:

1.  WHY are you in your particular business?     Just because you CAN do it, does not mean that you SHOULD do it.  I once coached a bookkeeper who was good at the numbers; but who LOVED Real Estate.   I discovered this because, every time I gave her an assignment around marketing her bookkeeping business; she always had some “obstacle” keeping her from doing it.    So, being a successful bookkeeper will most likely be an incredible challenge for her; since that’s not really her passion.

2. Have you examined the REAL potential of your business methodology?   I did not say your business might have little potential; but your methodology.  If you spend all of your time doing business TASKS; but little time strategizing or marketing, success will elude you.  This is one reason most “coaches” and “consultants” struggle to make money:  their methodology requires too much of THEM.  So, every time they get a new client, their pipeline to get new customers shrinks.  They cycle up and down; but never have any real “Freedom.”

3.  Does your business “Get you up in the morning”?   Do you get up every day, excited about how your business is bringing a benefit to others; and is allowing you to live the best life you can?  Or, do you say, “here we go again”; or “I can’t wait until Friday [the idea that you would spend 4.5/7 of your life (the week) looking forward to 2.5/7 (the weekend) is just..dare I say it..crazy!] .   If you do not LOVE what you do, then you WILL subconsciously derail yourself from increasing demand for it.

4.  Are you open to getting help?  It MIGHT be that you ARE in the right business, and you LOVE what you do; but you are doing just a couple of things (or NOT doing a few things) that make the difference between success and struggling.   Maybe, like the Acorn,  all you need to do is to have someone who will find the right place to “plant” your business, and it will grow exponentially.    All the “experience” in the world will not help you; if you continue doing the wrong things.  And, since you should never confuse effort with results; a struggling business means that there is a gap between what you are doing and what you should be doing.

All I am saying in this post is that, it does not matter if you are the smartest person in the world with the POTENTIAL to be a multi-millionaire.  If you are not in the right place, you will struggle.  Even if you are “close,” the wrong place is still the wrong place.

Make a decision RIGHT NOW (not later today, or tomorrow) whether you are truly in the right place and, if not, take action to change.

5 Fibs Business Owners Tell Themselves

Yes, I said it.  Many business owners are completely deceiving themselves.  Maybe not intentionally.  But, read this with an open mind and ask yourself, “Have I ever said this?”

Fib #1 – My Customers LOVE my Restaurant/Store/product/service.

This is what I call THE BIG ONE.  Why?  Because you know it is not true if your sales are not consistently going up by at least 15% to 20% (or more).    The simplest way that I discover this with potential clients is to ask them how many customers rave about their food and/or service; but do not come back for 6 months.  That means they only LIKE you; because, if they REALLY LOVED you, they would buy from you a lot more often.

So, if you are not getting as many repeat customers as you would like:  do some research, study your customers, and then create a little Love-Connection with your customers by targeting what they REALLY want.

Fib #2 – I’m as Profitable as I can be, given my sales

EVERY SINGLE P&L I have ever seen (hundreds of them) has, upon analysis with a well-trained eye, thousands of dollars of poorly spent cash.   Perhaps it is in poorly spent marketing dollars; or just “accepting” that your Cost of Goods Sold is a certain percentage because “that’s what it has always been.”     Maybe it is because you are not negotiating or bidding out supplies (are you still buying your office coffee from Office Max?).   Meanwhile, you could have spent that money on employee incentives, bonuses, or (be wild) paying YOURSELF.

This is why one of the first things I like to do with new clients is ask to see their P&L, and then understand how much they control their margins.  While you will never “save yourself to prosperity,” you should have tight control of your expenses.

Fib #3 – I Care about my Employees

If you say, “That’s not a lie, I really DO care!”; then you will be able to say “yes” to all of the following:

– Your employees get paid a base, plus a variable bonus (Tips do NOT count); so that they can tie their effort to the overall success of the business;

– You ALWAYS get rid of employees who have bad attitudes if they continue it after you have coached them to change; so that the rest of the team does not have morale problems knowing that you have a “double standard.”

– You hold regular weekly/monthly/annual meetings, and encourage feedback and ideas on how to improve the experience for the customer; since it is your customers’ purchased that keep your team members employed.

– You have a SYSTEM to encourage teamwork and cooperation among your employees; so that they enjoy working together and feel like part of a TEAM.

– You have clear Training Manuals and Processes; so that employees do not feel “thrown to the wolves” when they start a new job.

For those of you for whom all of the above are true, we’ll change this to “4 Fibs….”

Fib #4 –   I believe in my Offering

If this were REALLY the case, then you would be doing everything you could to get it in the hands of as many people as possible.    And, for THAT to be true, you would need to be as creative as possible in your marketing and promotions; instead of relying on Word of Mouth, or Groupons, or pictures of your food on Facebook.     There are usually dozens of ways to promote Restaurants, for example; but most owners are spending far less than they should to grow their businesses, and doing far too much discounting.

If you TRULY believed in your product, you would spend more because you knew that would help more people know about you, and discount less because you believe in the value of your offering.

Yes, I know that you may not have time to learn about unique and creative marketing tactics; but that’s why there are people like me, who have experience and constantly study it.

Fib #5 – These challenges are a “temporary problem” that will “go away when _____ happens”

If you have owned a business for more than 6 months, you know that while you are waiting for the smoke to clear from one challenge, another one always pops up.   I was talking to a Restaurant Owner the other day who gave me this exact story; but I could see in her eyes that this was nothing more than a “wish.”   The only way things will get better is taking MASSIVE, EDUCATED, GOAL ORIENTED ACTION.   Taking action is good; but not understanding why you should do one thing vs another, while lacking a clear definition of success is like trying to play Quarterback in the NFL by just throwing the ball blindfolded:  the odds are very slim that you will throw it in the right place, even if you put an enormous amount of effort into it.

I would love to hear your feedback on this.  What other prevarications do business owners tell themselves?

5 Things Most Business Owners Rarely Do…But Should

How many of you as Entrepreneurs/business owners recognize this as your typical day (having worked with a LOT of you, this is what I hear quite a bit)

Basically, most business owners are moving as fast as they can trying to get customers so they can stay afloat.  The idea of having excess working capital is a wish…a dream.  You tell yourself that, “when things get better,” you will be able to create the systems and processes that you know are important (but you are too busy to work on right now).  This may surprise you, but I even get THIS as an objection:

“When things get better, I’ll be able to work with you, Roger.”  As if a world-class athlete would say, “When I get into the Olympics, I’ll work with a trainer.”  What do you think the odds are that they will get INTO the Olympics? (hint:  pretty close to Zero).

So, I am going to break it to you gently (or, not so gently):  THAT DAY WILL NEVER COME AS LONG AS YOU KEEP DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER!

It’s time for you to draw a line in the sand and at least do these 5 things. 

1.  Forecast Sales

Be specific.  Start with what you want to sell in a year, both in dollars and number of customers; break it down to quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily (and even hourly for some of you) targets.   But make this more than a numbers exercise.  Who is buying?  When are they buying?  Why are they buying what they buy, with the frequency they buy it?  ETC. ETC.

I love a quote I heard from Bob Burg (from one of HIS mentors) that said “If you miss the target, it’s not the target’s fault.”  But, if you don’t even know where the target is; you don’t even have a CHANCE of hitting it.

2.  Spend enough on targeted Marketing.

When you learn to forecast sales well; you will realize that you need to be more methodical in your marketing; instead of the blind chase most of your competitors (and maybe you) are doing.

Consider any great athlete.  If they want to be a champion, how likely is that to happen if they were just randomly running around every day for 20 or 30 minutes; hoping that…somehow..their excercise will be enough to help them be better than their competition?

Yet, I was sitting with a Restaurant Owner the other day who was complaining that “marketing never works.”  When I asked what he did, and who he was targeting; he said he had bought newspaper ads (yikes..for a restaurant?) and said he wanted to target people who wanted “great food and great service.”  (for my regular readers, you know how I feel about THAT one).

Even worse, most business owners not only do not have enough process around their marketing; they underspend.   Just to MAINTAIN your business, you should be spending AT LEAST 5% of your revenue on marketing.  To grow, you might invest 10% or even 15%.  Yes, if you do the math, that may seem like a LOT.   But, the 8, 10, or 12 hours of training by a champion athlete also seems like a lot to the 3rd place finisher.   As long as you underspend and lack focus, you WILL be the one in 3rd place; struggling to get ahead, and often wondering why your competitor gets “the lucky breaks.”

By the way, I would 100% recommend that, before you increase your spending or try targeting; do your research and learn what works, what does not, and how to test for maximum effectiveness (or, find someone who specializes in marketing, so that your learning curve is not so steep).

3. Analyze and ACTIVELY MANAGE your Costs, especially Cost of Goods Sold and Labor

This is much more than just knowing your product costs and “beating up” on your vendors to get the lowest price; while paying your team members as little as possible.  It involves incorporating your marketing, product sales strategy, and operations strategy into a cohesive plan to ensure that you are making money.  Since I work with Restaurants, my experience is that most of them throw their menu together with no strategy or understanding to how it affects either their food cost or labor expense.  So, when they are not making any money; they THINK it is just because “sales need to be higher.”

Even if you are selling mufflers, though, the concept of this integration is the same.  Sales cures a lot of ills..but it won’t fix anything if your cost to deliver more product is more than the revenue.     Or, if your marketing gets more customers, but they all come when you are at capacity already; so you cannot serve them well when they DO come (which can be bad).

4.  Recognize Positive Actions by at least half your Team – EVERY DAY

If I had a Dime for every business owner who wonders where all of the “hard workers” have gone….I’d have a lot of dimes.

Seriously, maybe the problem is not in their motivation, but in the fact that many business owners have the attitude that their “employees are lucky to have a job.”  Well, maybe they are; but what are you doing to make sure they are motivated to care as much about the business as you would like?

If all you do is continue to point out their errors and faults; eventually you build it into their heads that they need to work on “avoiding errors.”  Can you see what they are now focused on?  Errors.

Now, I am not saying you should celebrate mediocrity; but set a goal every day to find positive actions by your team and recognize them.  Guess what you do then?  You will create in them a focus on doing positive actions.  Then, even when you need to point out opportunities for improvement, your team is going to be more accepting.

5.  Get  HELP!

If things are not working as well as you had hoped, get help.  Stop doing your own website, creating coupons and offering deals when you do not understand how these impact your business and your brand, hiring people without a profiling system, etc. etc.

I talk to restaurant owners every day who, with very little experience in the business, have put down half of a million dollars of their savings in a building and equipment (because someone said they were great cooks); yet have let their nephew do their website, have designed their own menus, and let the Groupon people talk them into money-losing online deals.    Then, they cannot afford to get help because by the time they realize that they should get help; they have burned through all of their working capital and are funding a burning building out of their own pockets.  It’s painful to watch.

If you do these 5 things, I can guarantee that, in the very near future,  your business will be 100% better than it is now.  You will have more sales, more cash flow, a more motivated team, and a business that you feel GREAT about.


Please comment below: are you doing all 5 of these?  If not, which ARE you doing, and how will you begin doing the others (PS.  if #5 is on your “to do” list, email me at Roger@RestaurantSuccessGuru.com for some ideas.  If I’m not the right one to help you, because of my Restaurant owner focus; I have an extensive list of contacts to find just the right person for you)