Tag Archives: Customer Conversion

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.

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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.

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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)

4 Ways that you Block your Potential Customers from Buying

“Sales cures all ills.”

Most people have heard that saying before.   Now, it’s not ALWAYS true (since I have seen a lot of business owners who do not understand that they are selling at a loss  – many of my Restaurant clients sell a lot of things at a loss, until I help them see why their profit is almost zero).

That said, if you have SOME margin control, increasing Sales DOES help quite a bit, wouldn’t you agree?

So, here’s the strange part:  many business owners – Restaurants, retail, even B2B – put up giant obstacles to getting sales from eager prospects.

What are the Top 4 ways you Block your Customers from Buying?

1.  You make it hard for your best prospects to hear or see you:  When I was working on marketing campaigns for Joe’s Crab Shack; one time we were doing a coupon as part of a “Welcome to our Email Club” campaign.  When Tilman Fertitta, our CEO, was asked about the coupon, he responded with “Do you think I use coupons?”

Somewhat of a humorous note; but an excellent point for you:  unless you have actually defined SPECIFICALLY who your best prospects are, you will not be able to create marketing that actually talks directly to those prospects.   Your prospect WANTS your product; NEEDS your product; will PAY for your product; but you create such generic messages that they never can hear you above the 10,000 other messages they get every day.  Your message of how you “have the best product, service and prices” makes you just another black and white penguin on an icecap filled with penguins.

2.  You get your prospect excited, then Ignore him.   Many of you have prospects out there who have heard of you and actually like what you have to offer.  They are ready to buy,  But, you do not answer the phone when they call to find out your hours.  Or, they call and leave a message, but no one ever calls them back.  Or, worse, they call and you transfer them to another line that never answers.

Maybe you have called them when they are busy themselves; but you forget to call them back, so they buy your product from someone else.

Yes, you are busy.  Maybe your restaurant is having a busy lunch, or you have back-to-back sales appointments; but, without a strong SYSTEM to ensure prospect contacts get answered. your customer will feel ignored.  And, just to be clear, ignored prospects rarely buy.

3.   You speak German when your prospect speaks French – I am not really talking about languages in the literal sense.  I AM talking about all of the advertising out there that is based on the business owner’s perspective, instead of the customer’s perspective.  Your lunch menu says that you have $8 lunches; but your customer really wants 30 minute lunches.  Or, you talk about the beauty of your landscaping designs, when your customer wants to know if what you plant will last more than 6 months.

Do some research, talk to current customers as well as people who do not buy from you; and find out the language they want to hear.  You may be surprised to find out that just a few tweaks in HOW you talk to potential customers can have a massive impact on how MUCH they buy from you.

4.  You “bring him the check before he sees the Dessert Menu” – One of my rules when we go to a restaurant is that, if the server brings me the check before I see the Dessert Tray or Menu, we do not order dessert at the restaurant.  That’s a lost sale for the restaurant, and lower tip for the server.

But, even B2B businesses do this: you find something your customer wants and you are so excited to get a sale; that you do not ask follow-up questions to see if there are more ways for you to serve them.  In your mind, you are yelling “Hooray,” while your customer is thinking, “I sure wish they would do this also, because I wanted it.”  You DO have that extra product or service, but the prospects don’t find out until they have bought that from someone else (when it’s too late for you).

To wrap up, how many of you have said or thought that you wished you had more sales?   Before you just throw more money at marketing, or offer more discounts; see what you might be doing to block the sales that are already waiting to come to you.  You may find that just a few simple adjustments can make a massive difference in your sales growth!

I really would like your feedback on this.  Is there anything else that you have found “blocking” customers from buying from you?  

Comment below, or email me at Roger@CoachRogerBoneno.com.

Marketing Lessons from a Tried and True Hollywood Formula

How many of you have seen the Hollywood love story formula (even if it was just because your girlfriend or wife wanted to watch it):

       Boy feels lonely

       Boy meets girl of his dreams, but girl already has a “boyfriend”

       Boy starts “courting” girl by being her “friend”

       Girl starts to confide in boy, who is a great listener

       By being true to himself, Boy’s “authenticity”starts to attract girl

       Girl realizes her “boyfriend” is not so great after all (or a jerk)

       Girl falls in love with her “friend.”

Interestingly enough, this formula is filled with lessons for you as a business owner.

Lesson #1: There are PLENTY of great customers out there to grow your business, even in a bad economy. When I talk to Restaurant Owners, for example, who say that the “economy”has hurt their businesses; what they are REALLY saying is that their customers have just made other choices.  Maybe the customer decided to stay home; or perhaps they just decided to go elsewhere.  You may need to change how you look; but your first job is to find out where your customers are.

Lesson #2:  If the boy had just walked up to the girl and said, “I’m a great guy.  Do you want to be my boyfriend?” he would most likely have gotten an awkward silence and then,“I already have a boyfriend.”  At that point, his chances of winning her over are tiny. But that’s what many businesses try every day.  They put ads out there that say (for example), “I have great food.  Come and be my customer.”  And your customer thinks, “I already have a restaurant I like to go to.”

Instead of just telling everyone that you are great; learn to listen to what customers are saying. You have to be careful here, because it is the subtext that is most important.  For example, your customer says they will try you out if you give them a “deal,” so you run big discount coupons; but they really just want to know WHY they should try you and how they could justify paying the price you charge.    When you run “deals,” you basically tell your customer that your product was not worth what you were charging; so they were right all along to go elsewhere when they are willing to pay “full price.”  This is why the data shows how so few “deal”customers ever become loyal “full price” customers (no matter how hard you want to believe that you can “convert” them; the fact is, once you set a “reference price,”customers fixate upon it).

Lesson #3: The girl who dates the boy because of his “social status” or other superficial reason, is never really happy; instead, she is just trying to avoid the perceived “pain” of being unpopular. And, even though she really would be much happier with someone else (like her “friend”), she won’t easily “break-up”with the boyfriend she is with now.    In the same way, many of your potential customers are absolutely “settling” for your competitors:  they are not really “thrilled” with their current choices; but they would rather stay there than risk changing because they fear the unknown experience.  So, your job is to help them understand why, if they come to you, they will not experience what they fear. 

Offer them a guarantee. Show them testimonials.  Create an active program to create “Raving Fans” who praise you online.  (This is why I include both Marketing and Operations improvement in all of my packages; because you do not want to bring in MORE people who will give you poor online reviews.)

Lesson #4:  It may not happen overnight; but maintain focus on what the CUSTOMER needs and they WILL learn to “love you.”  Listen to your customers, provide an outstanding product, great service, and a differentiated reason to come back; and your profits will grow exponentially.
Let me know your thoughts by adding a comment below.

4 Reasons to Ask Before Listening to “Joe”

My oldest child is a 15-year-old boy who is about to enter 10th grade.  Of course, his school assigned him 2 books for “Summer Reading”:  Inherit the Wind & 1984.  He has read Inherit the Wind; however, even though school starts this Wednesday (yes, THAT early), he has not yet finished 1984.

When I suggested to him today that he needs to finish this book now, his comment to me was that, “Joe (not his real name) says that his Honors English teacher last year did not even quiz them on the Summer Reading” (my son is also in Honors English).  I was talking to a friend of mine this morning about this (his son is the same age as mine), and he suggested that this would be a great BLOG subject.   And he is absolutely right – because too many business owners are listening to “Joe.”  And “Joe’s” advice is often very risky.

For a business owner, “Joe” is that brother, cousin, nephew, parent, fortune-teller, or anyone else who gives you opinions about how to run your business.  Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before following “Joe’s” advice.

– Does the advice apply to what worked in the past, but may not be applicable NOW?  Just as my son’s friend was talking about what happened last year, to him individually, one time; many times the advice others give you is based on what happened to them one time, individually.   So, it might apply to your situation, but it most likely will not.

Does the advice come from an individual’s opinion, or is it based on FACTS?  “Joe” is making an assumption, but most likely has not talked to others about THEIR experiences.  Find out if the person can give you not just what they did, but how it specifically helped them.   Get numbers, percentages, and names of those involved.   Also, have others followed the same path, and what where their results?

What are the consequences to your “advisor” if the advice is wrong?  If my son decides not to read the book, and the teacher gives him a test this week, Joe does not lose points.  How many people are willing to give you advice, but will not be impacted if the advice is bad.  This is one reason why I have incorporated performance based investments in all of my programs: if what we do works, then we BOTH win.

Are you taking advice because it is good for you, or because it is self-serving?  Obviously, my son is not thrilled to be reading a book that he considers “boring.”  So, the advice to not read works for him; but only in the short run.   Is this you?  Are you spending time doing activities that you know are not highly profitable, but ARE easy?  Are you avoiding making an investment that requires a little risk, but has a big potential reward (like hiring a coach, or having a professionally designed website); because you have a fear of spending the money?

The reality is: we are constantly surrounded by people who want to give us great “advice.”   However, as I have heard it said, be sure you are getting COUNSEL and not OPINIONS.  So, before you listen to all of those people who want to tell you how to run your business, just ask yourself these few simple questions.

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Schedule a free 15 minute call with me today – Marketing Guru, Financial Wizard, and Team Motivation Expert – and we’ll talk about how to build a strong Brand targeting your Ideal Customers.     https://my.timedriver.com/191CR   We work together based on a performance program, so you your investment is based on RESULTS.

5 Reasons why Groupon is a Losing Con-Game

Here you go, kid.  It’s free.  Just try it!

And so begins the addictive use of…….

Groupons and LivingSocial Deals.

Do consumers love them..yes.  Are they good for most businesses?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  They are a Con-Game that appeals to business owners who do not know how to sell their products or services for what they are worth.

Why are they a Con-Game?   To quote the great Sales Trainer Tom Hopkins, “If you are selling someone something that is NOT good for THEM, then you should be locked-up; because, when you do that, you are nothing more than a Con-Man.”

So, let’s list the reasons Groupons and LivingSocial “deals” are very poor business-building strategies:

1.  They appeal to “deal-seekers,” and not your IDEAL customers.  Statistically, deal-seekers are not looking to become loyal customers of a product; rather, they are loyal to whoever offers them the best deal.

2,  By a focus on price, and not value; they tell your CURRENT customers that the full-price they have been paying was too much.   When people think they have paid too much, they feel “ripped-off” and you easily lose them.  So, even when you gain a few “tryers” who come back later; you risk losing regular customers who WERE paying full price.

3.  Because they reduce your margins, they encourage (or force) you to cut corners on value delivery.  In a Groupon, if you offer a coupon of $5 for $10 of product; you only get to keep $2.50 (Groupon gets $2.50 – sweet deal for them.  Why do you think they sold it for so much money?).    Think about it…you are getting $2.50 for $10 of product!  I have run into several business owners who tell me that, because they get so many Groupon customers; they had to reduce the quality of their product to stay afloat.  That is a death spiral.

4.  They create an addictive reliance on the “Groupon” check.    The fact is, Groupons bring in people; so the business owner begins to think that they “work.”  Never mind that these are not loyal customers, that your margins are taking a beating, and that you have traded out your IDEAL customers for deal-seekers; the initial transaction increase sure looks good.  However, the longer you do them, the more of your customer mix becomes the deal-seekers.  So, just like a drug addict; you cross a threshold where you CAN’T quit.  I know of a Steakhouse in which 90% of his customers are Groupon or LivingSocial Deals.  His annual revenues are $1m, but he is losing money hand over fist; so he does not pay himself anything and his waiters get paid salaries because the Groupon deal-seekers do not tip well.   Every month, the check he gets from Groupon pays for the next month’s expenses (like a mini Ponzi scheme); when, as most coupons do, the Groupons lose their effectiveness, he will be in desperate trouble.

5.  The money you “pay” Groupon could be spent far more effectively building you as a BRAND, and not as a DEAL.  Just like any Con-Game, Groupon looks low-risk.  After all, they collect the money and then pay you half of what they collect.  If you sell 100 $10 for $20 Groupons, for example; you collect $500.  But, Groupon keeps $500.  Because that looks like a good deal, you may do it for a few more months.  Unfortunately, for the reasons above, you are not BUILDING a business; you are becoming a “deal-house.”  If you just took that $500/month for 3 or 4 months and put it into a good BRAND-building marketing campaign; you would be MUCH better off in the long-term. Unfortunately, once you start crushing your margins; eventually you have no money to spend on a well-targeted marketing campaign.

Am I passionate about getting people to stop using these deeply discounted deals?  Absolutely!  Just like a Cardiologist might not want to watch some eat fried foods every day (even though it tastes good); I don’t like watching business owners get taken in by the Groupon and LivingSocial Con-Games!

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Build a BRAND, not a deal-house.   Schedule a 15 minute call with meMarketing Guru, Financial Wizard, and Team Motivation Expert – and we’ll talk about how to build a strong Brand targeting your Ideal Customers:    https://my.timedriver.com/191CR   (PS.  even if you have not done a Groupon, call me.  🙂 ) 

How to Implement Stevie Wonder’s Best Business Building Tip

No April rain

No flowers bloom

No wedding Saturday within the month of June

(If you are feeling a little romantic, or WANT to feel that way 🙂 , watch here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwOU3bnuU0k)

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I am probably revealing how old I am, but this was a very popular song when I was in High School.  So, why am I bringing this up in a Business Blog?

Because, while many business owners believe that “word of mouth” is a great way to build their businesses with less  effort; very often they believe that just having a great product and service is how to get referrals.    But, realistically, how many of you have received great service from someone, and MEANT to tell everyone about it, but never did?   You get busy, so you never do.   Or, maybe there was just this one thing…

This is where Stevie Wonder comes in.  His advice?  “Just [Call] to say I love you…just [call] to say how much I care.”   And Stevie says to do it not because of an occasion, but “just because.”   Here are some ways for you to do that:

1.  Send physical (NOT email) Thank You notes;

2.  Send them a little gift (or, if it is a BIG contract, a BIG gift…assuming you are not in a regulated field);

3.  Actually CALL them, and say how much you appreciate their business;

4.  Actively seek out a referral for them, or make a strategic connection that might help THEM;

5.  Provide a little unexpected bonus service.

Again…don’t just do these right after they give you money or because of a holiday; but do it when they might not expect it.  Perhaps you send them something midway through the contract period.  Or maybe a month after they bought something.  You CAN schedule it on your calendar, but just do not do it around any specific event.

And do NOT..I repeat..do NOT ask for more business or try to sell them something else at the same time that you do one of these.  Otherwise, it does not really feel like love.

The fact is, loving your customers and telling them (in words or unexpected actions) is a fantastic way to get more referrals AND more business.     Plus, when there is love, they will overlook minor faults,  forgive errors, and are loyal based on more than price.

PS.   This assumes that you really DO love your customers.  If you do not, then you are just a “Con Man” and need to be in a different business (or jail).

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 Schedule a 15 minute call with me – Marketing Guru, Financial Wizard, and Team Motivation Expert – and we’ll make you Love what your business can do for you:    https://my.timedriver.com/191CR  The Call is free, unless you don’t schedule it…then, your opportunity cost is expensive!

Which Little Pig is YOUR Business Like?

Which Pig are you?

No, I am not asking you how much you eat.  Or what you weigh.  That is your personal business. 🙂

However, based on my experience with many business owners; every business is similar to one of the houses in “The Three Little Pigs.”  How do you know which one of these you are?

1.  You have built your business from “Straw” – This business has minimal start-up costs and begins easily.  You have some skill, and perhaps people who love your work; and so you decide to be your own boss.  However, it lacks a strong strategic foundation, structure, or any clearly defined goals.

Interestingly enough, this is one that can “trap” a business owner the easiest, because it seems to start quickly.   If the economy is doing well, or you get a few early customers, it looks like you are “done.”  Unfortunately, because it seems to be doing “OK” so quickly, you do not solidify its structure; and do not have a plan to deal with challenges like:  losing a major customer or an important strategic partner.  Then, when the “Wolf” comes along in the guise of a challenge or setback, your lack of a solid foundation or clearly defined goals makes your business easy to “blow away.”

And, by the way, the ORIGINAL story does not have this pig escaping.  No.  He gets eaten (which is what challenges do to many of these business owners).

2.  You have built your business out of “sticks” – You are a little more advanced than the “straw business owner.”  Maybe you have “Free” business plan help from SCORE, or the Small Business Development Center at the University.  Or, perhaps your Uncle, Cousin, Nephew, Sister-in-Law, or other friend has given you some advice.  So, clearly, you are smart enough to know that your business needs some foundation and structure.  These are good things.

That said, these businesses FEEL solid; but lack the fortitude to withstand issues like marketplace shifts, or new competitors.   This is because the “plan” was based on what “once worked,” the marketplace at a point in time, or a generic “one size fits all” system.    The worst part about this is that your “Plan” may actually have been successful for a while.  So, when sales start to fall suddenly or you find yourself working more for the same profits, you have what the Organizational Behavior theorists call “Escalation of Commitment.”  You try harder; you work longer; but you refuse to change even when the “sticks” all around you are falling down.    This can not only be exhausting; but your hard work and persistence alone are not enough to keep you from getting “gobbled up” when the rest of the building caves in.

3.  You build your business with Bricks – You are the one who does not get “eaten.”  Your business is made of:

– “Bricks” that include solid strategies around your Time Management; your Team Development; your Marketing Strategy & Tactics; and your Financial Strategies, Performance Metrics; and Success Indicators;

– The “Mortar” of good people who will help you execute that strategy; including your staff, your leadership team, as well as your advisors and coaches (who may be paid by you, but do NOT work for your company directly).

– Plus, you have the advance consideration to know how to build the “fire” of ACTION that will keep you one step ahead of the “wolves” of business challenges.  So, when you find that you have new competitors who are underpricing you, or offering better service; you respond quickly and powerfully (and NOT by lowering prices).

So, it is YOUR choice:

1. Have a Business that gets “blown over” easily (or WILL get blown over easily);

2.  Build a solid Business plumped up with fat profits, happy customers, amazing cash flow, and an incredible future.

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Learn how to build a SOLID business that both makes you comfortable AND protects you from the “Wolves” trying to knock your business down.  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR

Sales Lessons You Can Learn From Scooby-Doo

How many of you would like a 100% “Capture Rate” in turning prospects into customers?

Well, Scooby-Doo and the “meddling kids” DID capture 100% of “prospects.”

Yes, I know it was a cartoon.  But, if you watched closely, you could take away some lessons that might just increase YOUR ability to convert prospects to customers.

Lesson #1:  Have a Strategy to bring the prospect to YOU, even if you feel a little intimidated.    The kids never really caught these “scary monsters” by chasing them.  Instead, the team created a strategy to get the creature to fall into a trap they had set.  Now, I am not saying that you need to “trap” your customers.  But, I am telling you that you are far more likely to get a sale if you LEAD them to you based on a defined plan.  Will it work perfectly every time?  No.  However, you have a much greater chance of success if you have a strategy for them to want to chase YOU.

Make yourself interesting; ask a lot of questions; and create more compelling marketing than “we have provided great service at reasonable prices for thousands of years” (see Why Most Marketing Copy is Terrible).

Lesson #2:    Your prospect is not a Monster; they are just a person.  You do not have to be afraid to prospect.    Interestingly enough, even though EVERY time the “monster” turned out to be some crook in a costume; these kids acted like it was real the next time it happened.    The kids in the “Mystery Machine” never seemed to connect the dots.  But…YOU CAN.  Many of YOU will not prospect because you have mentally put your prospect into a monster costume.   You are afraid of the terrible consequence if they say “No.”  But, as a former VP I worked with once said, “They can’t eat you.”

Lesson #3:   Find out what your “Scooby Snack” is; then use it.  I do not know what was in those things, but they must have been amazing for a dog AND a person to be willing to face mortal danger in exchange for a couple of bites.   Of course, most of you are not facing mortal danger; but, you DO face the unknown.  So, maybe you need to listen to a favorite song, a motivational CD, speak some affirmations to yourself; read some previous customer testimonials, or get someone to “pump you up” before making your sales calls.  Whatever you need to do, it it perfectly OK, and even recommended (although, I cannot recommend that you eat dog treats for strength..unless it works for you 🙂 ).

Lesson #4:   Watch for clues, and then be open to information and inspiration from those clues.    If you watched Scooby-Doo, there was always some point at which Velma would say “Jinkies”; because, suddenly the clues added up.  Not only would she have an idea of the “who,” but also the “why.”  For many of you, if you do your research, your customer will leave you clues as to whether they are the ideal candidate for you.   Also, with the proliferation of Social Media, websites, and online reviews, and the expertise of companies who can do research for you; you can discover specific factors that will help you create more targeted marketing, as well as be far better prepared when you are prospecting and presenting.

Many companies spend very little time researching their markets’ and their customers’ specific needs; then wonder why their marketing is ineffective and their prospects are “shopping” them and then negotiating on price.

As a side note, CONTINUOUS research is essential.  Just because your product/menu/service were the perfect solution 6 months ago does not mean they are still appropriate. 

Lesson 4.5:  Relax and watch some Scooby-Doo this week.  Give your brain a break. 🙂

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Are the “Monsters” of the Economy, unmotivated team members, and/or cash flow stresses chasing you and your business?   Take the Mystery out of having a business that makes you more money with less stress.    Contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR