Tag Archives: Sales Growth

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Do This One Thing and You WILL Get More Sales Next Month

After reading hundreds of books.

Getting an MBA in Marketing

Working on a lot of Marketing Campaigns that have made millions and millions of dollars for both small and large companies.

After all of that, I realize that there is just ONE THING that you need to do to get more sales, whether you sell Real Estate or own a Restaurant.

Here it is:     SEE MORE PEOPLE

What, you say?  That’s so obvious, you say?

Then why don’t you have more sales?  And you cannot tell me it is because of the economy or that people “just aren’t buying.”  I would agree with you 100% if you were the only person in the world who had a company that sells your product.

But you are not, are you?

So here are 4 things you must do to SEE MORE PEOPLE

1.  Stop Advertising and start Marketing.  

What’s the difference?

– Advertising is the sporadic promotions that you throw out there hoping to catch anyone who might want your product.

– Marketing is having a plan to address a specific targeted market in the right place, with the right promotion, the right price; with time-based sales & profit objectives and a process for analysis and adjustment, if necessary.

Having a coordinated and targeted PLAN will absolutely help you SEE MORE PEOPLE

2.  Let your prospects speak for themselves.

How many salespeople and business owners consider a prospect and, instead of actually calling or approaching, think of all the reasons the prospect might say “No”?  So, they talk themselves out of making the actual approach.    Perhaps you even convince yourself that following up when they have not called you back is being “pushy.”

Or, you worry about “bothering” someone, so you give yourself the excuse that you need to get an introduction.  Meanwhile, the prospect uses another service provider, goes to another restaurant for their catering order, or just misses out on the benefits you could provide.

Do yourself a huge favor, and let the prospect tell you “no” if the answer is “no.”  But, you MAY find some of them will tell you “yes,” and you will SEE MORE PEOPLE.

3.  Give yourself annual, monthly, weekly, and daily goals IN WRITING.  Be specific not only about the numbers; but also about what it will MEAN to you when you accomplish those goals.

Everyone knows this, you say?  But how many people reading this are actually doing it?  Most are just running as fast as they can to get “more customers.”  The problem here is that, without defining how many is “More,” you will never get there.

Consider this:  If one day I tell you to run up a hill, you might run pretty fast.  If the next day I say that, if you get up the hill in 2/3 of yesterday’s time you and your family get to live for free in the mansion at the top and you can SEE the mansion; most of you will find it in you to run a lot faster today than yesterday.

Your mind is a great resource; but you waste it if you do not tell it specifically what you want it to help you do and why you want it to do it for you.  I can guarantee you that, if you have a specific goal tied to an emotional benefit, you will find a way to SEE MORE PEOPLE!

4.  Schedule your time and determine if you can hold yourself to it, or if you must get someone else to hold you to it. 

Some people are very good about being efficient with their time.  They do not waste the day watching “funny cat videos” on YouTube, or reading about their favorite sports team or actors, or reposting “motivational” quotes on Facebook for hours on end.  On the other hand, many people get distracted.  Yes, every morning they wake up with the DESIRE to be focused; but every night they realize how the day got away from them.

If you are one to get distracted; get your ego out of the way and have someone there to hold you accountable.  There is no shame in that.  It is much better to have the temporary annoyance of someone “calling you out” if you do not follow your plan; than the long-term struggle of not having customers.

Whether you can do it for yourself, or you need someone else to do it for you; become accountable so that you will SEE MORE PEOPLE.

You get my point: if you change nothing else in your business this month vs. last month;  you will sell more if you SEE MORE PEOPLE.  It’s as simple as that.

If you have any other ideas or suggestions; or just want to provide a little feedback, post your comment below.

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.

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.  🙂 )