Leadership

Have YOU had Your Customers for a Sleepover Yet?

But, it’s good customer service!

Getting and keeping customers today is harder than ever. When opportunities arise to WOW! the customer, you need to jump on it immediately.
Take a look at this story of an opportunity that presented itself in what could have been a dire situation for both the customers and the employees. But the lead manager of the John Lewis department store in London made lemonade.
This inspiring story is delivered in this fun Prezi as you follow the adventure of an open-minded, risk-taking manager (Deborah), who did what was right for the customers, all 100+ of them.
Ask yourself, would you stick your neck out to do this? The last few slides say it the best: “It shows that great service isn’t a set of rules, it’s a mindset.”

Use right and left arrows at the bottom to view presentation at your pace. Some slides have sound, not all.

Listen carefully to Deborah as she describes the experience. Find the key culture characteristics that drive this behavior and how as a manager, she was totally comfortable in doing this at a cost. How does that culture become not only unquestioned, but supported by senior managers? And note the enabling, not constraining nature of the effort.

“Sharing your customers’ problem and doing all you can to help solve them.”

Share your customer service hero experience here.                          

5 Strategies to Get Through Election Week

CS_Dist_Sales

And Beyond

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here. Have you been saying, “If we can get through this election, we’ll be able to __________.” Fill in the blanks.

This is not a forecast of things to come, but rather a thoughtful look at the controls you can prepare for as a result of things not in your control.

Wait no more…

  1. Strategy – stop waiting to see what will happen. You have more control over your business’ success and direction than you think you have. Successful companies are just that because they develop strategies around current climates. Take the time to look at a high elevation view of your company. What are its strengths? Weaknesses? List them, study them and engage your managers and other employees to help resolve the profit eating bugs.
  2. Strategy – Research potential outcomes. Read trusted news sources that are least bias about election outcomes. Listen to candidates, most are pretty transparent when it comes to honesty. Find a source that delivers facts. That is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you have to read multiple sources from opposing viewpoints and deduce your own conclusions. The key is to take the time to digest such information and align it with your own goals, beliefs and moral compass. Then take action.
  3. Strategy – Spend some time with trusted advisors about what potential strategies you could take basedhappy-customer-dog-licking-face on different scenarios. Prepare your company around possible “if…then” scenarios. If you have managers, get their input. Throw some ‘what ifs’ at them. Write down the responses for your review later. ‘If, then’ scenarios force you to look at potential outcomes of elections and will drive recoveries for your business should they be needed.
  4. Strategy – Reduce the “what if’s to “thens”. Draw your worst case scenarios and what you would need to do to keep your business thriving, or at least surviving. (I recommend thriving). If the anticipated outcome is for an increase in business, then develop your best case scenarios and write your strategies for growth. In the case of an election, you may end up with multiples of one or the other. Start with the worst case and work your way down the list. Don’t leave any possibilities. No one likes to lay people off because of a downturn in business. But the potential outcome of not doing could eventually lay everyone off. Better a few than all.
  5. Strategy – After the election, pay attention to the business climate. Watch your production, billings and financials daily, weekly at the most. Talk with other business owners and leaders and get a feel for the general mood. Avoid knee jerk reactions but rather try to temper your actions over time. Be flexible and enlist your employees help in making things happen for the benefit of the company. Chances are, if you’re scared, they are too. If you’re positive, they’ll follow. Stay the part of the leader. Show your ability to keep things moving in the right direction.

While the mood after an election can be good or bad, your ability to stay ahead of the curve will greatly enhance the success of your business. Your main goal after the election is to stay positive, hopeful and communicate with your staff to give them confidence.

You may not be able to control the general economy, but you can be ready to make course corrections along the way because you thought about it ahead of time.

What is your chief strategy for the post-election economy?

 

Leading Edge Business Strategies, LLC is a consulting firm for small business. Paul Beaudette is the President and has over 30 years of successful business experience managing companies to sustainable profits and leading employees to greater productivity.

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.”  -General Norman Schwarzkokpf

 

The Power of a Mentor

Every business owner/president/general manager should have a mentor. If you think that as an owner you know it all, you’re wrong. You may be successful up to this point, but you will get to the point where you’re faced with decisions that could take you either way.

Here are 4 reasons to find a mentor:

  1. You need someone to tell it to you like it is. As an entrepreneur, mentor1you live in a bubble of your own thoughts. Your thoughts are a result of what you read, the conversations you have with others, things you may have seen on TV, etc. Someone in the past has influenced you into the way you think today. With a mentor, you need to find someone that will tell it to you straight, someone who does not have a vested interest in your business or your anticipated reaction.
  2. You need someone who thinks differently than you do. If you’re in the tire sales and service business, you may have been doing newspaper or print advertising, perhaps even TV advertising. Find someone who can deliver new ideas to you from outside the tire service business. Perhaps another entrepreneur or a business coach who can deliver new ideas on promotion, dealing with customers, scheduling customers or whatever.
  3. You’re not looking for a friend. A friend has a vested interest in your feelings. That doesn’t mean you’re looking for someone who is rude or heartless. You just need someone who doesn’t mind disagreeing with you and telling you why. Someone you’ve never known before but knows something about business, usually works out better.
  4. Confidant – if you have confidential matters to talk over with someone outside your business or executive team, find a mentor whom you can talk to on a confidential basis. Business owners don’t always have someone to share their inner most thoughts and feelings with. Finding a confidant can be extremely stress relieving.

Vivek Wadhwa quote

Developing a relationship with a mentor is a sign of strength in an entrepreneur. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Mental alertness, comfort and acuity is key to operating a business. Whether you pay for a business coach who works in confidentiality or find someone you trust, make the move to ensure your success.

Paul Beaudette is an independent business coach with Leading Edge Business Strategies. His focus is on growing small businesses to better compete against national and global corporations.

Don’t just Survive, THRIVE !

Leadership from Gratitude

Not Management by Ego

by Paul Beaudette

The presidential candidates, Republican or Democrat, have all demonstrated one thing in common. An oversized ego is prevalent when you run for president.

After all, what are you selling? YOU! You are selling yourself to the people of the United States. How you go about it determines how much of a narcissist you are. We have seen extreme levels of narcissism, ego-centricity, pomposity and vanity, and these came from one candidate.

In business, managers, leaders and office holders often have the ego-driven need to attain such a position and then bask in the glory of “I’m in charge”. To a new manager, what may have formerly been co-workers, are now employees and the responsibility of this new manager. The transition has to be handled carefully and responsibly to maintain a working relationship, yet achieve the level of respect and allegiance that the manager seeks from the employee and vice versa.

egomaniac

Strong manager egos often displace the actual message being transmitted. Your title isn’t your role, your role is your title.

If the manager’s ego takes over, the relationship becomes one of title, not role. Too often, you’ll see people promoted to positions that they are not trained for because they are family, or a friend of the big boss and feel they are ‘owed’ that position. The damage potential that this has to the workers will begin to trickle down to customers and diminish customer loyalty. Employees begin feeling used, threatened and hurt. Turnover increases and the constant flow of new people begins to affect the bottom line. Morale is destroyed and theft and misuse of company property appears. Customers vanish.

How do you keep this from happening? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Hire right. Don’t take your hiring process for granted. It’s not filling in vacant positions with bodies. Look at it from a standpoint of the customer. The customer wants a friendly personality, someone who can answer product/service/process questions and someone who can be expedient and accurate.
    1. When there is no direct contact with the customer, use the same scenario as in #1, but change the customer to a co-worker, team leader or anyone else within the company.
    2. Depending on the position being filled, you may choose to have a personality survey performed. These give you the traits of the applicant against the traits you are looking for. They provide a good indicator if a match is possible. They are also useful after hire to coach the employee to success.
  2. For Pete’s sake, don’t promote people just because they are related or a friend. Promote them because they are leaders or have the potential to become leaders. Whenever you want to fill a leadership position, interview the candidates (including internal candidates) and ask them the tough questions. Find out how they have handled stress in the past, what examples they have of conflict they have encountered in the past and what they did about it. Those experiential answers will go a long way in your decision.
  3. When the candidate’s questions revolve only around pay, company car, benefits and such; question whether they are only looking at status versus the interests of your business. Ask why the position is important to them. Question how they would change an unproductive behavior in an employee. How would they handle an irate customer with a legitimate complaint?
  4. Get a fellow team member to interview the candidate. They know what it takes to do the job and can ask pertinent questions.
  5. The ideal candidate will be someone who will do the job because he/she wants to be a part of a better business. This person will want the customers to better themselves through the interaction with your company. They will be happier, feel good and be personally productive within their own business. The manager (leader) you are looking for is someone who is personally grateful for having improved the lives of employees or customers. Their primary goal is not make themselves look better and boost their ego. It is to serve others.

The fifth concept is not common in business. In fact, it’s rare. But the end product is a person who is rewarded for having created an outstanding team of employees and extremely satisfied customers. Steven Covey would always say, “Start with then end in mind”. Well, here it is. The customer is the end and if you work your way backwards from there, you’ll find that this personality type creates the environment and attitude you need to succeed.

Paul Beaudette is a business coach and consultant. With over 30 years of ‘boots on the ground’ experience, he has made businesses successful through his leadership, controlled management style and financial acumen. “Don’t just survive, Thrive”

Leading Edge Business Strategies

7 Ways to Change Your World and Prosper

7 Ways to Change Your World and Prosper

It’s not unusual for a business owner to fall into a rut and find that things are moving along okay, but just not great. What is it that needs to change? What moves or risks need to be taken? Here are six things you can do to enter your brave new world.

It’s not a bad thing to get into the same old, same old and feel comfortable. After all, you’ve worked hard to get to where you are and now it’s comfortable, less stressful and you’ve worked out the kinks. It’s time to sail smoothly. But, as anyone knows in business, if you stay there too long, your competitors are busy dreaming up ways to beat you at your game. So, don’t hang around too long.

If you’re in a technological field, you’ll also find that you have to deal with innovation on an almost daily basis. Depending on your company structure and size, you may need one person to keep an eye on technology.

What do you do? Here’s how to change your world.

  1. Change your environment. We have a tendency to gravitate to routines as a normal practice. It helps us feel secure, keep on time and generally give us peace of mind. So, change it. If you always read the morning paper with your coffee, try reading a business magazine or a hobby blog. Reading is a necessary part of being in business, but by reading the same publications every day, you’re thinking becomes linear and you start thinking like the people you read. It is extremely important to see fresh ideas and new thoughts as often as you can.
  2. If you’re a runner, change your route. If you wear ear buds when you run, change your music, your audiobook or whatever you listen to.
  3. If you go for coffee to the same place each day, find a new location with different people. I used to stop at a coffee shop with the same customers each morning. The talk became very negative when one loud character coming in each day. He dominated the conversation and complained and mocked about other people, some were my customers. Others began joining in. I finally stopped going there and found a new place with a much more pleasant atmosphere.
  4. Re-examine your employees and see if you can switch some around to initiate some creativity with manufacturing processes, customer interactions or cost savings. Get them engaged in changing things up.
  5. Start calling on your competitors. There’s no better way to find out what they are doing then to stop in and say hi. I worked in a business where we repaired our competitors’ products. We were constantly at their locations picking up parts as they were at ours. There’s no better time to be inquisitive and find out what they are doing, sometimes just by walking in and observing.
  6. If you take the highway to work each day, try taking the secondary roads to work. There’s a lot more to see and at a lower speed, a lot more to take in. It stimulates the brain.
  7. Make new friends. Whether they be client friends or personal friends finding someone new will change the conversations and that is where differing thoughts come from.

Making changes will stimulate you into new thoughts, new ways and will enhance your prosperity in the long run. Plus it makes every day seem new and exciting! For your customers, they will see the changes they wished for. Don’t discount them, they’re looking for improvements.

Paul Beaudette is president of Leading Edge Business Strategies, a business consulting firm that assists companies in developing new sources of revenues, improving profitability and becoming financially sustainable.