Tag Archives: Pricing

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.

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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.

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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)

Why Your Marketing is like the Eagles’ Song Desperado (A Musical BLOG)

When I was in High School, it took me an hour via City Bus to get across New Orleans to school.  Pretty much every morning, I would put an album on the record player (some of my readers may remember those) when I woke up at 5am.   One of my favorite albums was The Eagles’ Greatest Hits.

This was truly a great album, chock full of songs that, sadly, describe the marketing done by most small business owners (although that MAY not have been intentional).  The most applicable was “Desperado.”  Read below and see why the Eagles had a lot to teach you (song lyrics are in BOLD, BLOG in parentheses).

Open a new tab and play this while reading, for maximum enjoyment:  DESPERADO

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?  

You been out ridin’ fences for so long now (You have no clearly defined target market, so you try to market to everyone.)

Oh, you’re a hard one (You insist on doing everything YOUR way.)
I know that you got your reasons (Although your marketing is not very clear;)
These things that are pleasin’ you (since you market with tools you LIKE, not what will work.)
(All of these things) Can hurt you somehow.

Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able (Too much of your Marketing is all about the money and Price;)
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet  (when your marketing should be about CONNECTING to people.)

Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table (Many of you have great God-given talents;)
But you only want the ones that you can’t get (but you market to the wrong people.)

Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger (You procrastinate while time passes;)
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home (while your desire to “get rich” keeps increasing.)
And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’ (You cannot believe others make money with less effort;)
Your prison is walking through this world all alone (since you’re trapped in a “do it yourself” mentaility).

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time? (Your cash flow is tight, so you get cold feet about spending anything on marketing.)
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine (But, without any marketing, your business struggles more and more.)
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day (Eventually, your business stagnates)
You’re losin’ all your highs and lows (as you are going nowhere.)
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away? (Until, one day, that PASSION that you once had for having your own business and “being your own boss” fades away).

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses? (It’s time to break free from the Fear that has been holding you back.)
Come down from your fences, open the gate (Get off the fence and find YOUR right target niche.)
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you (When you find your niche, go for it; even if the times are tough.)
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late (Make your marketing about creating a BOND with your prospects so that they LOVE you; before it IS too late to save your business).

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Yes, you can play it again and sing along.  But after that, 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

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.  🙂 ) 

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

5 Crucial Lessons the Marines Taught me about Business

Someone asked me the other day to help him with his thesis for graduate school.  His question was centered on what I learned in the Marine Corps that has helped me in my business life.

What a great question!  When I reflect on it, the Marines teach amazing business skills:

1.  Even when the challenges seem insurmountable; if you have the right motivation, you will find a way to overcome whatever you are facing.  Anyone who has experienced a USMC Drill Instructor in his ear when you’re tired and think you cannot go on, knows that you CAN find a way to go on with the right motivation.   It is the same for your business.  If you find yourself not doing enough to grow your business, it is usually because you have not given yourself the right motivation in terms of a goal.   It does not HAVE to be money.  In fact, if you’ve written down a dollar figure time and time again; but STILL find yourself not doing enough, then it is probably time to re-examine your goals.

2.  A good leader knows how to help people do what they sometimes do not want to do, by helping them see the bigger goal.   Contrary to what some people say, Marines do not all have a “death wish.”  In reality, they do understand how important their roles are in achieving victory.  This is essential whether you are leading people into battle; or leading a team in the corporate world.  As a consultant and coach, I see business owners constantly complaining about how their team is “lazy” or “unmotivated.”     However, usually this is because the team does not understand the vision for the company as well as how each team member’s tasks contribute to achievement of that vision.   Or, it is because you have hired the wrong person.  It is YOUR ROLE as the leader hire the right people, and then help them make that connection.

3.  Chaos and lack of success are YOUR fault; because you should have had a clear plan and done the scenario analysis in advance.  Great battles may look like chaos from the outside, and almost never go perfectly according to plan.  However, they are usually won or lost by the strength of the strategy, clearly defined goals and leadership set in place beforehand.  We had a simple saying we called the 6 “P’s:  Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance (yes that is 5, because the 6th was censored 🙂 )

4.  Don’t wait for the “other guy” to do it; be willing to be first.  The Marines have a saying:  “First to Fight.”      As the first ones in, the Marines believe that their training, preparation, and leadership will allow them to overcome the uncertainty factor of not knowing EXACTLY what might happen.  In business, the roadside is littered with people who had big dreams; but did not have the confidence to move forward without perfect certainty.   To be clear: if you feel this fear, it actually may be well-founded if you have not taken the steps to train and prepare.  So, perhaps you do not hire people because you are afraid of the challenges of managing them.  Or, you do not invest in marketing because you do not understand how to write good copy, test, and measure results to maximize Return on Investment.   But, all of this can be learned.

 5.  Finally, know your information, your history and the lessons they hold.  On the first day of Marine Corps boot camp, we got a book we called our “Knowledge.”  It contained rules, regulations, and a lot of history about great battles and leaders.  Were they expecting us to learn the ENTIRE contents?  Actually…yes.     I am NOT saying that you should do everything like it has been done in the past.  I AM saying that, unless you understand history and the “rules of engagement,” you will tend to make far more mistakes.   MANY businesses fail because the owner has bought into the myth that the best teacher is the “school of hard knocks.”  Yes, that is the MOST EXPENSIVE school, but it is not the best.   If you want to grow a big business that makes money and does not require you to work 16 hours/day; then learn from someone who has been there and knows what it takes to help grow a big business (Yes, that IS me 🙂 ).

BONUS LESSON

These days, everyone sees someone in a Military uniform and is happy to say “thank you for your service.”   When you enter the military, you are essentially telling the world that you will do whatever it takes, to the point of possible giving your LIFE, so that others can enjoy the freedoms so many take for granted.  But, you must understand that, because the stakes are so high (especially for the Marines, who are going first), we do not leave success to “the School of Hard Knocks” or “Chance” or “Hope” or “Persistence.”  The Marines do not wait until they are in the war to invest in formal training.

Don’t do this with your business either.  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

Proof that Most of You REALLY Do Not Believe in Your Business

I know what you are thinking. “What is Roger saying?  Of COURSE I believe in my business.  After all, why else would I be doing it?”

Well, to be honest, I really don’t know why you are doing your business, either.   Because, very plainly, the facts speak for themselves.

Here are four very clear signals that you just do not truly believe in your business (and NONE of these are that old-fashioned notion that you “would do it for free”):

1.  Your “pipeline” is not full of potential customers, and STILL you do not prospect enough.   Ask yourself this:  If you saw a burning building, and had a hose in your hand that would be guaranteed to put out the fire, wouldn’t you point the hose at the fire and turn it on?  So, if you are not prospecting, that’s pretty good evidence that you are not a real believer that your offering is a real benefit to others.   If you really thought it was amazing, you would do whatever it takes to find more people who need it.

2.  You discount your prices.   Let’s say the test results come back, and you need to have your knee replaced.  You go to the hospital, and they ask you who you want to have operate on you:  Dr. Joe, for $3,000; or his fishing buddy Mike, an accountant who has seen “House” a few times, and will do it for $2000.   That’s $1,000 cheaper!   Do you think Dr. Joe is going to buy your argument that, because Mike is $1,000 cheaper, Dr. Joe should lower his rate?  I doubt it.  Because he knows it takes skill, experience, and knowledge to do what he does.  If you REALLY believed that you have strong skills, experience, and knowledge in your business; you would not discount either.

3.  You insist on “staying small.”     Again, back to the burning building.  You have the hose, the building is on fire; now would you just put out the fire on one part of it, or would you try to put out the WHOLE fire?  I’m hoping that most of you would put out the whole fire.   If you REALLY believed in your business and its ability to benefit others, you would try to build your business so that it could serve more people.  Or, is your talk about wanting to “help others” just a cliché’?

4.  You do not invest in a Coach/Consultant because it seems “expensive.”  This is a LOT of you, isn’t it?  So you are working 12 – 14 hour days; your sales are not as strong as you had hoped; but, you think you can “figure it out on your own,” “it is not the right time to make the investment,” or you “want to wait until you can ‘afford’ it.”   Given that independent research has shown that, if you really implement what you are taught, you get $5 for every $1 you invest in someone like me;  if you REALLY believed in the long-term potential of your business, you would figure out any way possible to make that investment.   Even the BEST investors rarely return $5 for $1.   So, your delay in getting help is just your belief that your business is not really a long-term solution.  In fact, waiting to invest is telling your subconscious that you want to “see if this business works out.”

Interestingly enough, if you do #4, I’ll show you exactly HOW to avoid 1-3.

I always welcome comments.  🙂

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A Homeless Mom learns how to convey Value..

As many of you know, I volunteer every Thursday morning at The Star of Hope Homeless Mission; teaching job search, resume-writing, and interview skills to the residents there.  This particular mission is an emergency shelter for women & families; and we have been packed (www.sohmission.org) .

This week, I had a wonderful conversation with a woman who was getting ready for a couple of interviews.    I cannot go into detail, but let’s just say that she has really turned her life around.    The great news is that her husband just landed a temporary job working with computers.  The tough news is that her high-school senior daughter is living with grandma while they are at the homeless mission (not enough room at grandma’s for everyone).

As she was talking, you could clearly see how much this lady wanted a job; so, it was a great opportunity for me to help her with a few lessons:

1.  Consider what your value is; then, believe it.  When she was talking about her interview,  her first thought was to say, “I hope they will pay me $10-12/hour.”    My question to her was: what do you think your skills are WORTH.  For her, as well as many individuals and business owners, you must know exactly what value you can bring to others.   Whatever that number is, believe it!

2.  Once you believe it, then focus on how well you will COMMUNICATE your value.  For this homeless mom; after I asked her what her skills were worth, we worked on how those would be clearly communicated to the interviewer.  One of the biggest things I help both the homeless residents AND business owners with is that your value is not WHAT they can do; it is the benefit others feel they will get from you.  So, instead of saying on your resume’, “I answer phones”; write, “You will find that my Customer Service skills and positive attitude will provide your callers a friendly, helpful voice to serve their needs.” (secret..this also helps with automated screeners and search engines).

3.  PRACTICE with visualization how you will communicate your value.   What I helped this lady understand is that your brain cannot differentiate between vividly imagined experiences and actual experiences (this was a big “a-ha” to her).  And, aren’t we often better when we do something the 5th time versus the first?  So, if you are going into an interview, a sales presentation, or just a networking event; spend some time visualizing the best possible outcome.  Do this when there are no distractions around; and you will be amazed at the power of your mind (and your increased success) when the “real” thing happens.

The fact is: if you are an employee or a business owner, and are not receiving what you believe you are worth; then your next step is to find a way to better define and communicate your value to others.

So, do this simple exercise:

  • Sit down and just start writing down everything you do that has value.
  • When you have done that, then ask yourself how you could communicate each item so that others will see the value in your offering.
  • Finally, spend time visualizing how you will communicate that with those who could benefit from what you offer.

Comment below if you find any “aha’s” between what you have BEEN doing (and perhaps not been getting the results you want); and what you will change going forward.

If You Love Your Business, Let It Go

How many of you are working INCREDIBLY hard, keeping all the pieces of your business together?  Sure, you have a team; but you find it essential that the important decisions are made by you.  After all, your business is your baby!  No one else cares as much about your business as you do. And, if you do not steer the ship, the economy will catch up to you.  Right?

The challenge is…you are not running your business.  Your business is running YOU!  And  it seems like there is no end in sight to this chaos.

So how do you stop this?  You need to “let your business go.”

No, not sell it.  But enlist and/or hire a team to take over  the day-to-day aspects of running the business so that YOU can focus on the Vision and Strategy.

Will your team make mistakes?  Certainly.  But, you can minimize them by using a structured Apprenticeship Program along with a well-developed Operations and Training Manual (including job descriptions and workflow documentation).

Will it take time to write manuals and train the team?  Absolutely.  However, the time that you spend documenting what needs to be done,  and training someone, will be MORE than made up for once you hand off that  task.  Even if the job, for example, takes you 2 hours per week; you could spend 20 hours writing a manual and training someone, and you would be “time positive” in less than 90 days.

And what could you do in your business if you had an extra 104 hours, or 2 ½ weeks every year to work ON your business instead of IN your business?  How happy will your family be (or will YOU be?) if you can get home at a reasonable time in the evening?

So, if you really do love your business, let it go!

Why your Success is Holding You Back

A few months ago, I read a terrific book by Rebel Brown, called Defy Gravity.  In the book, Rebel very eloquently lays out the case that sometimes the way that you achieved success in the past is exactly what is holding you back from future success.    (I recommend that you read the book, as it is full of great insights).

This week, a business owner told me that “the Economy” has really hurt his retail store.  I asked him what he was doing differently now that could help change the tide; that perhaps we could sit down and see what opportunities existed.   After all, I saw that you cannot order products directly from his website (it says “Contact us”).

His response, “I have 30 years of Retail Experience.  You could not teach me anything I do not already know.  The Economy is just bad.”

Uh-oh.  That is a sure sign of the “Gravity” that afflicts so many business owners.  In his mind, he knew what needed to be done; but it was some unchangeable external things which were the problem.  If only those would change….

As a Business Coach, the biggest obstacle I find in clients and prospects is NOT that they do not WANT success.   It is that they do not want to CHANGE THEMSELVES.

And I get it…many of you have built your business to maybe $100k or $500k or $1 Million dollars in revenue; often by pure force of your knowledge, your will and tremendous effort.   However, the business climate is changing; so you must be willing to change your approach to your business.    Try new approaches, even those completely against what you may have done in the past.  Get help from DIFFERENT people, even if they go against everything you think you know.

The best analogy I can give is that many business owners have been standing in sunshine for years.  But, now that it is raining, too many are just assuming that they MUST get wet.   Maybe it is time to get out the Umbrella!