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Competition Customer service Leadership Management Positioning Small Business Strategy

Money loves speed

Need for Speed
Creative Commons License photo credit: Amnemona

Dan Kennedy is one of the many well-known business experts who can often be found saying “Money loves speed”. What they mean is speed of implementation. IE: How fast do you take information and take action on it? The faster, the better, as far as your wallet is concerned.

For example, we talked yesterday about pet peeves.

A few hours later, Bruce Johnson was in the middle of his client base’s online community asking what their pet peeves were with his company.

Some business owners would have printed out the post, tossed it on a pile of todo notes and gotten around to it “someday”. That isn’t what Bruce did.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, someone emailed me and said that the blog looked like crap on Internet Explorer 6 under Windows XP. That long awaited move to WordPress 2.5 simply had to get done, so last night, Business is Personal moved to 2.5 and to a new look and feel (which isn’t quite where I want it…yet).

Every time you look closely at a very successful entrepreneur, you’ll find someone who takes action on information as quickly as possible.

It doesn’t mean they’re always in a hurry (though they might be), it means that they take action. Now. Today.

Not “someday” or “soon”.

Categories
Competition Management Marketing Positioning Small Business systems The Slight Edge

Pet peeves and your business’ addiction to crack

Plumber James #2
photo credit: MoToMo

Who hasn’t either had a plumber hanging out of their sink, or heard about one? You know the stereotype.

Some guy’s rear end is hanging out from under your sink, his pants are not quite the right size, and “too much information” is pointed right at you. It’s like looking at a car wreck on the highway. You know you shouldn’t look. You don’t want to see that. But, you look anyway. My eyes, my eyes!

That’s probably one of the most commonly-known consumer pet peeves with the plumbing business.

In your business, no matter what you do or sell, people have pet peeves with your business.

If you’re a builder, the common ones are: communication is poor, workmanship, management of sub-contractors is troubling, rarely on budget, rarely on time, cheap materials that weren’t what was spec’d out.

Note: If you’re a builder, you may not do these things, but I’ll bet you know some builders in your market that DO have these problems. Likewise for the plumbers.

In every single market, there is a common list of pet peeves that consumers have about your business.

We’ve all had that lovely waste of time the “our service person will be there <27 days from now> between noon and 7pm.” That’s what many businesses call a service appointment. I call it a good waste of a day.

What pet peeves does your business inflict on your clients?

Not sure? Ask your clients. Ask friends what ticks them off or annoys them about doing business with businesses like yours. Once you have a list, take steps to eliminate them and put processes in place to prevent their return.

Then take it a step further. Make note of the contrast between you and your competition as it relates to these pet peeves.

For example: “Our service appointments don’t last all afternoon. We’ll be there when we say we will, or we’ll give you $50 and buy you dinner.”

These are easy things to fix, and being the only plumber in town who isn’t putting on a show will make an impact.

Categories
Competition Management Small Business systems Technology

Keeping score is important for your business

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you’ll have read a few posts about the value of measurement.

Measuring marketing response is the primary thing you’ll find, but as a CFO friend of mine says, “That which is measured will be managed”.

Seth starts off talking about the green marketing but ends up making a very good point about why those things we measure are better-managed.

Bottom line: They’ve got a number.

Got something that’s important to your business? Keep score. It matters.

Categories
Competition Management Marketing Positioning Small Business

If your business disappeared, would anyone notice?

Pleck Road Transformation

photo credit: Lee Jordan

On last Friday’s radio show, I asked my listeners the rhetorical question: “If your business disappeared, would anyone notice?”

Perhaps a more realistic question: If a “Closed” sign was in the window tomorrow, without warning…would anyone really care?

Or would they simply drive down the street to the next business that does what you do, and go on with their lives?

The ideal answer is that there would be rioting in the streets, but let’s be realistic:)

Would they notice? If they noticed, would they care?

If you can’t answer ‘Yes!’, what do you think makes them stop at your business now, instead of driving a little bit further to someone else’s place?

If the road in front of your business is torn up for the next 3 months due to state road work, would people be determined enough to do business with you that they would deal with the detours and hassles of driving in a construction zone?

This sort of thing happens to restaurants, retail and service businesses all the time. Many close because they aren’t doing enough to make their business a habit for their clients. Or they aren’t being imaginative enough to find a way to deal with the construction.

If the state started working on the road in front of your building and continued to do so for 3 months – what would you do to get prospects to deal with the construction hassles and dust, solely to do business with you?

Categories
Competition Customer service ECommerce Management Marketing Small Business Strategy systems

Making it easier – isn’t that what your clients really want?

Easy Cheese photo credit: xiaming

Yesterday, we talked about making it easier for your clients to do – whatever it is that you make them do, hopefully not making them do it at all.

But what about making it easier to do the things that you can’t eliminate? One example is making it easier to reorder from you. You already know what your clients buy, right?

What do you do to remind them it’s time to refill, replenish and reorder? Since you know what they ordered, it should be easy for you to do this.

How do you know? It’s in your order database, point of sale (POS) system or online store order history.

You know how long it has been since they’ve visited your store or ordered online.

Is that number of days getting close? Shouldn’t you send them something (or call) to make it easy to order?

Has that number of days already passed? Shouldn’t you be contacting them to make sure all is well and that they haven’t run out of whatever they buy from you?

Do you have a system in place to get regular reorders pre-authorized by your clients? Makes life easier for them and more fruitful for you.

If you have automated reorders in place, isn’t it that much harder for a competitor to steal your clients from you? And aren’t your clients that much happier with the way you’ve added a little non-stick Teflon to their day to day lives?

Categories
Customer service Management Productivity

Your clients have better things to do

While I never met Bruce Barrington, one of the reasons I really admire him is something he said long ago about the things that programming tools make you do when building a program.

Bruce said:

Anything you have to do every time shouldn’t have to be done at all.

Mozambique n4
photo credit: babasteve

Frankly, I think you can apply this to a lot of things in business – at least systems and processes-wise.

Here’s an example: Last Friday, I’m logging into Aweber to add a new message to my email newsletter. At the bottom of the list, I notice that my last message had a SpamAssassin score of 0.4.

Call me anal-retentive (or fastidious, whatever) but I don’t like seeing those scores on my emails.

Not. Even. Zero. Point. One.

So I click the SpamAssassin score link, which is supposed to show me which parts of the message caused the score to result. When I click the link, Aweber’s system tells me this:

There was an error in processing your SpamAssassin score. This is usually due to the message having lines that are greater than 80 characters long. If you still get this error message, then please contact customer support.

Tell me this.

Why in the world do I need to contact customer support? If you’re aweber (whose service I really like), wouldn’t you want to know *every single time* that this problem occurs?

Assuming that’s true, they already know who they are and how to contact themselves<g> and they already know who I am, since I’m logged into Aweber and working on my emails. So why don’t they have their system automatically open a support case on this issue?

I simply shouldn’t have to do this manually.
What do you make your clients do every day, every time they do business with you, every time they use your product, service, software or what not…that they shouldn’t have to do?

Fix it. Get started today.

It’ll make your clients appreciate you more because you’re saving their time.

It’ll make your business stronger and more productive because your stuff will have that much more value, and it’ll be easier to use.

Categories
Competition Leadership Management Small Business Strategy

86 percent have no plan. Are you wandering in the desert with them?

img_0145
photo credit: cdibona

Prior to teaching an online internet business course, Jack Humphrey recently surveyed his class of almost 200 students from across the globe. He reported on the results a few days ago.

One of the things he asked his class is “Do you have a plan for your business?”

EIGHTY SIX percent said “No.”  14 percent said “Yes”.

I’m guessing that 12 percent might have stretched the truth a little bit. I’d be surprised if 2 percent had a plan, but that really isn’t the point.

Are you one of the 86 percent who doesn’t have a plan for your business?

A strategic, financial, marketing business growth plan?

If you are, spend some time this weekend putting one together. Don’t make your success an accident. Build a roadmap and then start following it.

Tempted to blow it off? Consider the likelihood that your competition is in the 14% who has a plan. Part of their plan is to put you out of business.

Categories
coaching Competition Leadership Motivation Strategy

Fundamental excuses for Memphis and your business

air time
photo credit: *sean

Runner up Memphis Tigers lost last night’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game to Kansas, 75-68 in overtime.

Because of a single free throw.

All season long, Memphis head coach John Calipari has been making excuses about his team’s poor free throw shooting. All season long, Calipari appeared to discount, if not blow off, the importance of the fundamental flaw in the Tigers’ basketball weaponry, saying things like “We find other ways to win” and “We would always come through when the stakes were highest.”

But they didn’t.

Memphis’ performance in shooting free throws – what anyone would consider a fundamental basketball achievement of a good team, much less a championship team, ranked them 339th out of 341 NCAA teams by making only 59% of their free throws.

In that category they aren’t second in the nation. They are SECOND TO LAST in the nation.

And that’s why Kansas coach Bill Self had them foul the crud out of Memphis in the final two minutes – because he knew that their fundamental weakness was the ability to make free throws. Any coach in the same position would have done what Self did. Force the opponent to their weakest position.

After the loss in the championship final, Memphis’ star freshman guard Derrick Rose echoed his coach’s excuse, saying that if they had done other things prior to the end of the game, they would have won anyhow. Yet Rose’s team had done those things already – they had a 9 point lead with 2 minutes remaining.

Noting of course, that Rose’s missed free throw at the end of the game allowed Kansas’ Mario Chalmers to tie the game with 2 seconds left on a dramatic 3-pointer. Rose’s spectacular 2nd half performance is what had them up by 9 in the second half, but he clearly is drinking the coach’s Kool-Aid about the theory that free throw shooting isn’t important to them. He still doesn’t get it.

Free throws are one of those “other things” that champions do to win. Part of being in the top 2% of any group is doing the things that no one else does.

Fundamentals.

“It will probably hit me like a ton of bricks tomorrow, that we had it in our grasp,” Calipari said after the game.

What would hit your business like a ton of bricks?

What fundamentals do you discount? Where does your strongest competitor lack excellence in fundamentals? What fundamental skill can you pay more attention to and raise the performance of yourself and your company?

Categories
Competition Entrepreneurs Personal development Small Business

What are the obstacles to making your small business more successful?

I meet all different types of business owners. Some new, some experienced and most somewhere in the middle.

They all have their challenges and their triumphs. They all indicate their success is held up by different things, and they all remark about different things that were obstacles in their past – things that they conquered to get where they are today.

I’m curious – what’s the one thing that you think is the biggest obstacle to making your business more successful?

If your obstacle isn’t on the list and you prefer to keep it private, use the comment form. Of course, you can comment anonymously below.

[survey_fly]

Survey Fly doesn’t display the results publicly, but I will publish them once I see the votes tailing off. Then we’ll talk about what the results revealed and get to work on them.