Life Lessons From The Vineyard

April 7, 2015 1:23 am

A visit to Adrian Tobin’s Ballandean Winery on the weekend reminded me of the old adage less is more. As Adrian passionately spoke of his quest to create world class wines he mentioned the importance of cutting off the excess bunches to reduce the yield in order to enhance quality.

As I was tasting the wine I reflected on how we, like a vine, end up with excess in our lives -how thinly we spread ourselves in the business of life. We have a plethora of life bunches to attend to, from family demands, work demands, social events, entrepreneurial initiatives and the like. And then, if that’s not enough we fill our remaining time with that ubiquitous technology that is meant to make life easier.

What are the bunches you need to cut off your life vine in order to promote quality – in your work, relationships, goals and ambitions? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? Identify what you want then reduce or discard everything that doesn’t contribute. That way, you stand a great chance of being world class.

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The Soft Sands of Procrastination

April 1, 2015 2:51 am

Procrastination means simply to defer action. Some actions are good to defer, some are not.  The actions that are not good to defer are those that have a potential negative impact and which continually resurface in our minds, gradually affecting our emotional state. Having that hard conversation with your significant other, completing the tax returns, returning a call from an unsatisfied customer, conducting a much needed performance review of a senior manager who has screwed up and so forth.

The interesting thing about deferring these kind of actions is the weight they generate in our psyche. “I’ll do it later” then causes the action to frequently resurface in our minds. Not dealt with we continue to use the words, “should,” “one day,” “I’ll get to it.” These words and phrases begin to create an emotional drag, a success drag as I like to call it. The drag prevents us from hundred percent focus on the truly important things and while ever we continue to procrastinate our journey is akin to walking in soft sand. It’s hard work, saps our energy and stops us moving at a fast rate of knots. Here is a sequence for countering procrastination:

Step 1. Do it early and do it now
Step 2. Refer to point 1

I like to do the challenging actions first thing in the day. If that’s not possible for some reason I schedule it in my diary. I will also have someone hold me accountable for that action if I think I am going to defer it.

Do it early, do it now. That way, you won’t be walking in the soft sands of procrastination but running on the solid sands of success  whilst enjoying the ocean lapping at your feet.

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Perfect Stagnation

March 26, 2015 10:45 pm

Attending my second ever Salsa dance lesson last night I got caught up in wanting to perfect the dance. Instead of taking the basics and getting straight out on the floor to practise, I was unsure, slightly afraid and ….stagnate on the sidelines. My dance instructor last year repeatedly told me “you think too much.” I was caught in the perfection trap. So, last night after a bit of deliberation I made the decision to get out there, make lots of mistakes (which I did) but slowly started to get the steps and …. I had fun.

Someone said “80% out the door is better than 100% in the draw.” My mentor from the US  Alan Weiss often says “It’s about success not perfection.”

What I have found in business as well as in other pursuits is that practice does indeed make perfect. If you say “I am hopeless at marketing” then guess what, you will be. But if on the other hand you know you can at least talk to people then start by opening your mouth, communicate how great your team is, your products and services are, your work quality and so forth. Then, perfect along the way.

Starting with what you’ve got, which might be as simple as a few sentences  in the marketing example above, or in my case a few basic steps – is enough to get anyone going. Take what you know out onto the floor and practice.  That way you won’t be standing at the bar stagnating in your quest for perfection whilst watching everyone else have fun and succeeding.

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“I Will Just Grab Him”

March 19, 2015 10:09 pm

I called the office of a business owner who I know well. Upon my request for the owner the receptionist (male) said “I’ll just go grab him.” Now, being the visual person that I am,  my mind started up its visions of  the grabbing. When the owner picked up the call the brief conversation went as follows…

Owner: “Hi Ray.”
Me: “How did that feel?”
Owner: “What do you mean?”
Me : “Your receptionist said they were going to grab you.”
Owner: (not much to say but laughed sheepishly)

Language is important. Whether it might be the ever recurring “not a problem” by a well meaning assistant; addressing a table of diners as “yous”; the professional services receptionist dropping the ‘f’ bomb or the very visual “I’ll grab him” (all of which I’ve heard) – training our staff and ourselves the art of language etiquette is essential, both in personal and corporate life. People tend to respect more highly those who are well spoken and versed in language correctness while also saving them unnecessary mind replays of grabbing.

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High Workplace Engagement

March 10, 2015 1:33 am

I have finished an article on Workplace engagement and thought I’d share some thoughts here for business owners and managers on how to create a culture where engagement can thrive.

  • Make the environment a fun and enjoyable place to be
  • Recognise and reward staff achievement
  • Set the performance bar high and work with your people for the achievement of such
  • Create an advancement path providing training opportunities, stretch targets, small project responsibility – assisting them to be all that they can be
  • Listen to your employees asking for their improvement suggestions and actioning as appropriate
  • Take an active interest in your people seeking to understand their internal drivers and motivators and working with them accordingly
  • Express how much you value their contribution
  • Conduct performance reviews on a regular basis. I would suggest quarterly. These need to be mutually involved discussions and even held over lunch for key people
  • If you incentivise, try to tailor it to the individuals internal motivators or to team performance
  • Get consistency in team meetings sharing your vision, company values and goals
  • Lead with transparency, openness and honesty
  • Eat together. This is both one of my observations in my consulting work and also one of the factors in the Australian Workplace Awards. Those who engage in social activities particularly around food tend to demonstrate higher engagement than those who don’t.
  • Provide some level of autonomy for workers with other benefits beside financial considerations. These might be the opportunity to work from home a couple of days a week, moving toward performance based work practices as opposed to purely time based, flexible hours etc.
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The Work Of Dreaming

March 6, 2015 3:37 am

Think back to when you were a child. What were the things you dreamed about? As we’ve grown up the dreams tend to get knocked out of us. Who do you think you are? You’re hopeless at doing that? You won’t amount to anything? Combine that with repeated failures and setbacks, financial and relational difficulties with the general challenges life brings and thus our dreams and aspirations often wither. We give up, stop trying and die young.

We all have the opportunity to create a great life. Ask yourself…

  • What do I want to do?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What do I want to be remembered for?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • What new skills do I want to learn?
  • If I could do anything, become anyone what would it be?
  • In order to pursue the above, what do I need to start implementing from today?

As Ashley Montagu wisely said, “Die young as late as possible.” Go back to the art of dreaming. It might just work for you.

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What Song Are You Playing?

February 25, 2015 9:42 pm

I happened to be staying in a hotel a few weeks back near the parade start for the Giants Street Theatre performance in Perth. As they moved from the park to the street an accompanying band was playing a tune on the following flat bed truck. Ever since that day, the tune comes back into my head two to three times a week, reminding me of the event. The melodic hook in the song, hooked me.

What song is your business playing? What is the tune that lodges in the head of your customers and prospects? Is it one that evokes pleasant memories of customer service, quality products, workmanship and service – so much so that they will return for future business and tell their friends? Or is it simply a banal tune with no distinction, no hook?

Front of mind is better than out of mind. Which song are you playing?

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Habit from Discipline

February 15, 2015 11:35 pm

Disciplined actions practised consistently over time become habits.

  • Don’t try and change your life or business all at once.
  • Implement one thing at a time. A friend of mine has implemented reading and journalling 30 minutes a day. She hasn’t changed anything else in her life. The discipline is becoming consistent and now almost a habit
  • If you fall off the wagon, jump back on the earliest you can
  • Don’t beat the crap out of yourself if you fail. You will only bruise yourself and make it harder to get back on track
  • Be aware that if you are failing it means you are trying something new and even if slowly, you are moving forward
  • Take each month to implement something new – that gives you 30 days for discipline to become habit

Create Your Future – Business Strategy and Planning Workshop (now with teleconference option) – Tuesday Feb 24th, 2015. Click here for details

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When to Initiate Change

February 4, 2015 1:46 am

If the return on investment is strong enough, thought should be given to the implementation of change initiatives as soon as possible. Every day you delay is another day of missed benefits. Whether that be $500 per day or $1,000,000 per day; of increased customer satisfaction or the current decline; of promoting your new product or allowing your competition the time to get ahead of you; of allowing toxic personnel to drag the organisation down or creating a great work place culture.  Choice is yours but if the value is demonstrated, the sooner you act the better off you will be.

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Monday Morning Fog

February 1, 2015 1:45 am

Arriving at your desk on Monday morning you check your calendar for the weeks agenda. You look at the accruing paperwork spread across your desk and decide very quickly its coffee time. A few ‘quick chats’ to work colleagues (who are very happy to chat by the way), a wander through the days paper, you then attempt to settle in at your desk. Emails to respond to, a back up of phone messages to return, the customer complaint you procrastinated on last week and so it goes. A foggy Monday morning. Little clarity, a slow start, pessimistic gloominess.

The owner and managers of the business next door, arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Each had a brief weekend catch up as they got coffee and headed straight to their desks. All that was waiting for them was the first action item on their days agenda – the first of many purely focused on making this months performance goals. For this company it is mandatory that everyone spend the last couple of hours on Friday planning the week ahead, returning all calls and emails and clearing their desks. For them, Monday morning is all about activity that counts, optimistic clarity, jumping quickly onto last weeks momentum and starting the week fast.

Welcome to Monday. Foggy or clear skies? The forecast was written on Friday afternoon.

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Guilty Afternoons

January 28, 2015 11:03 pm

Many business owners struggle with the guilt associated with finishing their work by early afternoon and feel they have to plough on till sundown to massage away their shame. Those whose energy is at its peak in the morning often run flat after lunch. Or those who fire up in the afternoon feel guilty in the morning.

Two things that may help…

1. Manage your energy not your time.
Living in a strong 9-5 employee dominated culture we have grown up with the expectation that these should be the hours of business owners. We run to the minutes of time rather than the rhythm of our energy. Focus on energy management not time management. If you hit your peak in the afternoon then start the day a little later. The inverse also applies.

2. Become outcomes oriented rather than time oriented.
Instead of scheduling the day in its entirety, list the outcomes you want to achieve for that day. If you finish at 2pm, create another list of things that are more in the fun and energy giving category. This might be going to the gym, working on your hobby, meeting with friends. It could also be a piece of business development that you are tinkering with.

These can serve also as rewards. Often I will stop around 2pm when my energy is dwindling or I’ve met my goals for the day. My life giver is heading to a favourite cafe to read the financial papers and have coffee. This simple activity recharges me.

Manage your energy around the daily outcomes you want to achieve. Replace the guilty afternoons with a rewarded afternoon. After all, who says that 9-5 should be adhered to by everyone. Maybe its just those who feel guilty!!!

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Stripping Down

January 27, 2015 12:16 am

If you want significant results in your business, strip down. What are the essentials that will drive results? Then, what are the things that will impede these results?

An athlete doesn’t wear long pants and a jacket when competing.
A race car is stripped down to the bare essentials to allow it maximum speed.

Business is no different.

What results do you want to achieve? What are the potential obstacles and hindrances? Deal with the impediments and you will drive faster, the outcomes will be greater.

Identify the bare essentials. Then, strip down – foot down – go hard!

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A Dog Of A Receptionist

January 19, 2015 9:41 pm

After posting a blog last week about the importance of having the right people in roles that interface with the customer I paid a visit to a local business. I received one of the best greetings from the receptionist I’ve experienced in recent times.And she was a real dog…a Labrador to be precise. As soon as I walked in the door she came up to me, welcomed me, expressed gratitude and excitement at my presence. Given that the person I was waiting for was on the phone she kept me engaged, continued expressed interest and of course expected my full attention and nothing less.

If I had the choice between the ‘welcome’ from a grumpy, disinterested, half hearted receptionist or a friendly expressive Labrador I think I would choose the latter.

 

 

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Hospitality Front Lines

January 15, 2015 11:48 pm

I am constantly amazed by the number of people – whether that be waiters, attendants, check in personnel, concierge, customer services representatives, sales people, account managers etc. that are not good with people. That is, they are more focused on the task at hand than the person. They take the order, retrieve the bags, park the car and deliver ones drinks in a mechanical fashion devoid of personality. The challenges in hospitality are great enough without the addition of those who don’t know how or dislike interacting with their customers. Owners and managers of these establishments would do well in learning how to hire appropriately. Customers return when they are engaged with and cared for in a personal way. Those without great people skills are often fantastic in operational areas and those great with people should be on the front line.

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Thin Air Marketing

January 12, 2015 11:32 pm

There was a company that approached their marketing endeavours in an ad hoc fashion. They spent tens of thousands of dollars every year getting their message out, with one of their strategies being radio advertising. I am not picking on this form of advertising here but merely pointing out some issues…

  • Two of the ads promoted an area of their business that they were long known for in their town but…they disliked doing  that type of work and it made the least amount of profit
  • The other two ads were probably 50% near the mark of their core business
  • The radio company had never bothered to get a true understanding of their business and what they really wanted to promote
  • The radio company wrote ads more from a historical perspective of the company than its current direction
  • Because they weren’t analysing the response rate, weeks had gone by without a single call from the advertisements

The disconnect here, between the core business and its profit drivers,  and the corresponding advertising is strikingly apparent. When a company doesn’t have that deep understanding of who they are and where they make their money, and then promote their services in a shotgun, ad hoc approach, the chances of success are very limited. Combine this with no analysis of marketing strategies and corresponding enquiries and you’ve got good money going down the drain (or into thin air in this case).

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Happy New Year

January 6, 2015 6:59 am

Happy New Year!

The changeover period tends to lend itself quite naturally to looking ahead, thinking, creating plans and then pushing the action buttons. In my recent newsletter I have written about optimism balanced by realism. I find that the two are perfect partners when it comes to business growth. Facing and then countering market conditions, changing economics, increased competition, challenging staff, low cash flow and the like yet holding an unremitting optimism is one of the things that sets the resilient and successful apart.

I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

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Thoughts on Planning

December 15, 2014 12:51 am

At this time of year our thoughts tend to wander over the bridge into the following year. For some it is the hope of a better season to come, grateful that the current year is coming to an end. For others it is to capitalise on an already excellent year and grow to a whole new level whether in business, personally, financially and so on.

Here are two focal areas to help  you as you enter the New Year.

  • Get present with the past. Jot down the positive outcomes for the year past and the challenges and disappointments you experienced.
  • Create your future.
    • What would you like the coming year to contain?
    • What are the areas of growth you would like to see?
    • What relational, familial areas do you need to work on?
    • What are the personal growth and fun zones you would like to enter and develop? eg. learning to dance, cook, ski, fitness levels
    • What would you like your bank balance and debt levels to be by years end?
    • Where can you take your business or career in the next twelve months? What are the areas you need to work on to ensure you are growing and moving toward the next summit?

I have been aware over the past few months that we are really growing or declining. Strengthening or weakening. After all, plateaus of safety and comfort eventually erode if left to their own devices.

Best,
Ray

Planning Template for Business Owners.Click here

Ignition Coaching Program. Click here
Take advantage of my Christmas offer. Register by Dec 24th 2014 and receive either 3 months additional time (valued at $4000) or take 10% of the current price.

 

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What Are You Sitting On?

November 30, 2014 11:40 pm

A public speaker requests the audience to look underneath their chairs. One lucky attendee finds placed there a gift.

Business is like that.

In our attempts to drive new business we expend countless funds and effort on creating well laid out plans – hiring marketing strategists, social media experts, web SEO specialists and the like.

One of the things we neglect (and often this is due to the effort involved) is the hundreds and perhaps thousands of customers, prospects and unfulfilled quotations that have built up over the years but have never been utilised and are sitting right underneath us. The simple process of gathering  their contact details from business cards, quotations, various lists etc. can be an extremely valuable process. Judiciously collating this data into highest potential leads and then creating a strategy designed to connect with these can turn a business around fast, getting get cash in the door a lot quicker than taking months to make a plan and then market indirectly – such as social media.

While all these strategies have their place, going directly to those who you have dealt with in the past is one of the best ways I know of and that many of my clients have experienced significant results in.

What’s under your chair? Take a look. You might be presently surprised.

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Categorising Work For Efficient Time Use

November 20, 2014 2:13 am

To effectively manage workload, one method of streamlining tasks is to categorise the type of work we do on a daily basis and then batch these similar tasks into blocks of time in our schedule. A mortgage broker for example would have the following categories:

  • Marketing
  • Prospective client meetings/sales
  • Loan research
  • Loan writing and submission
  • Follow up administration
  • General Phone Calls and Email responses

After categorising the different work areas,  create a default diary batching related tasks into the time blocks you have created. The time spent planning and executing this  will significantly increase your efficiency.

A planned day as opposed to a re-active day always wins hands down

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Gaining Favour

November 11, 2014 11:27 am

If you want to gain favour and be treated well, remember peoples names and then use it when you connect with them. Hopeless at remembering names? I use the notes app in my phone to record peoples names after I’ve met them. Then, prior to staying at a hotel, visiting a cafe etc, I review the list, recall their name and end up with a free glass of wine.

Whether customers, suppliers, restaurant owners, hotel managers, retail staff and the like, if you make the effort to remember someone, take an interest in them and engage with them, favour will definitely come your way.

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Efficiency Tip #10 – Interruptions

November 10, 2014 1:22 pm

Schedule your interruptions. It may not always go to plan but you are more likely to keep singular focus for longer amounts of time thus increasing productivity. Interruption scheduling may look like this:

8am – 10am –  Finalise quote

10am – 10.30am – Call back all phone messages and respond to email (interruptive potential)

10.30 – 12pm – Management meeting

12pm – 1pm – Emails, calls and misc (interruptive potential)

1.30pm – meeting with Bob

Having others take your calls, turning email alerts off and then scheduling when you will deal with them assist in getting the most important items achieved. Most calls and emails are not urgent and if they are, then at least the interruption is minimal

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Efficiency Tip #9

November 6, 2014 11:22 pm

Plan tomorrow today. Arriving at your office at day’s start with a pre-planned schedule will keep you focused and less likely to be side tracked throughout the day.

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It’s Not Rocket Science

October 30, 2014 8:50 am

In our attempts to promote growth, expanding our brand and presence, some of the basics of business get neglected. Take these for example:

  • Treating our people purely as workers not as valuable assets
  • Not returning phone calls in a timely manner (as per the customers sense of timeliness)
  • Communicating when you will complete a service or have delivery of a product and then not communicating when there is a delay
  • Not keeping the customer in the progress loop
  • Consistent lateness or cancellations of appointments

If you have happy staff, that happiness factor will overflow to customers. If you then keep your current customers and key prospects at the centre of your attention, doing what you say you will do and communicating when things change you will find your business will more likely grow intrinsically and word of mouth business will come your way.

Doing the basics well is not rocket science

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Car Lovers – getting a customer to return

October 30, 2014 8:45 am

Having a filthy car from my travel in the country and disliking the process of washing it, I decided to call into a car wash I’d never been to before – Car Lovers,Toowoomba QLD. It was my first time and won’t be my last time. Why?

– the employee was very patient with me describing

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All You Have To Do is Ask – Referrals

October 30, 2014 8:42 am

Business owners, managers and marketers spend countless hours in developing complex marketing strategy models with lengthy roll out times. One of the most overlooked and quickest ways of getting new business is that of referrals.

There are two main ways of getting referrals.

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Front Of Mind or Out Of Mind

October 30, 2014 8:40 am

I have long held the belief that those who, on a monthly basis, keep in touch with their key prospects and customers are in the top percentile of their industry. At a recent speaking engagement to 70 electricians I asked the question “how many of you keep in touch with your key prospects and customers at least monthly either by calling, monthly newsletter etc?” It was worse than my prediction. No hands went up.

So…if you keep in touch with your key customers and prospects at least once a month, not only will you be in the top one percent of those who do so, you will be the one they call when they need your services.

You want to be front of mind – not out of mind.

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The 1 minute Survey

October 30, 2014 8:38 am

I get emailed five minute and seven minute survey requests from hotels I’ve stayed at and other companies that I have conducted business with. I never fill them out with the main reason being the 5 and 7 minutes time requirement. It is just not that important to me.

But… if they were to send me a one minute survey I would be more likely to complete it. One hotel sent an email with two options. A one minute and five minute survey. Smart. I completed the former.

Surveys are useful things and reducing the survey to even one question ie. “would you refer us to your friends and family?” will more likely be completed than one with fifty questions. If they answer yes to that, you know you’ve done a great job. Adding a section of ‘additional comments’ is also useful.

Treating customers time as a priority will more likely get you the responses you are after

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Providing Options

October 30, 2014 8:37 am

If you send a quote or discuss a product with a potential buyer always present options. Options provide the choice of “which one should I take?” If there are no options it then becomes “should I take this or not?” Providing options for payment type, delivery dates, sizes and anything else that is relevant is invaluable and significantly increases the likelihood of gaining a new customer.

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Hitting Goals Through Weekly Standards

September 18, 2014 12:01 am

Having weekly standards creates momentum and progression toward our goals. Here are some examples:

Goal – lose 3 kg
Weekly standard – walk 150 min; chocolate on weekends ONLY

Goal – 4 quotes sent per week
Standard – make 5 calls per day

Goal – enquiries to increase by 10%
Standard – monthly newsletter, weekly blog, daily social media update and radio presence

Too often a goal is set without scheduling daily and weekly standards that will contribute toward the achievement of that goal. Schedule the standard activities and you will move toward your goals at a more rapid pace.

 

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Efficiency Tip #8

September 4, 2014 10:23 pm

Tips for increasing your daily efficiency:

  1. Use a diary – electronic or paper
  2. Plan tomorrow today
  3. Use a headset when on the phone and deal with what you can immediately. e.g. send the email you promised, the meeting invite, book the job in etc.
  4. Arrive to appointments 10 minutes early
  5. Discard the To Do list and schedule tasks directly into your diary
  6. Become outcomes driven not time driven. ie. if you set aside time for marketing, the outcomes might be to arrange two meetings for next week. Once achieved move onto the next thing
  7. Limit distractions.Turn your phone onto silent (or give to your assistant) and turn email alerts off while working on the important. Make callbacks and reply to emails at scheduled daily intervals
  8. Return calls within three hours and emails same day
  9. Learn to travel light without checked baggage
  10. Conduct stand up meetings when there are only a few quick things on the agenda
  11. When a meeting is near completion stand up and walk toward the door. The attendees will follow suit
  12. Work with a sense of urgency and speed
  13. Keep yourself rested and refreshed

 

 

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From The Ground Up

September 1, 2014 11:18 pm

Mowing a lawn that had not been cared for in a long time, I discovered under the semi green surface very dry and old grass. The exterior hiding that which lay underneath.

The business of life is like that.

Companies often grow to a point that while seemingly successful to the outsider, chaos, turf battles, financial mismanagement, unethical behaviours and the like lay hidden under the surface. Entrepreneurs with a lightening rise to wealth and fame occasionally come undone. National acclamation with personal failure
The apparently successful family man is found to have a dark private world, undoing what he has built over many years

When I care for a lawn, I will occasionally ‘cut the guts out of it’ – stripping it back to almost bare earth. Then, fertilisers, weed deterrents and water are applied as required. This promotes holistic growth.

Whether it is our business or personal worlds, promoting consistency and growth from the ground up is important if we are to endure for the long haul.

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Ascertaining Future Direction

August 28, 2014 3:35 am

Speaking with a hotel waitress recently she mentioned that between her and her husband they were running three businesses, she was also holding the position of a waitress and had two children. Another electrician I was speaking to said it this way – “some weeks I have a heart for what I do, other weeks I’m just not sure.” He was struggling to build his business.

Here are some keys for ascertaining the best way forward…

  • What really lights your fire? What do you love to do?
  • In what areas – skills and abilities do you excel at?
  • What have you been successful at in the past?
  • Who in the market place will need and pay for your services?
  • What do you need to stop doing?
  • What isn’t adding value to your life and to your clients?

If you get this simple alignment it will assist in driving you wholeheartedly into a future whereby you love what you do, provide exceptional value to others with the addition of getting paid well for that value

 

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Customer Needs Verses Pushing Product

August 4, 2014 10:37 pm

I visited a high end hi fi store on the weekend. The salesperson asked me what I was interested in which was simply something I could play CD’s on that gave excellent separation of instruments and vocals. For the ensuing 15 minutes I got a download of all his musical education and how wonderful the product was. The system rotated, I could mount the speakers on walls, the remote could make coffee (joking) –  all of which 1% related to why I went in there in the first place. He lost me and lost the sale.

Most buyers aren’t interested in how good you are or how good the product is, and ALL of them are interested in themselves.
“What are the benefits to me and will it meet my goals?”
If you listen intently to your customers needs, identify their wants and centre your discussion around them, you might in fact create a new customer in five minutes than have them walk out the door empty handed after fifteen.

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Front Of Mind or Out Of Mind

July 29, 2014 10:27 pm

I have long held the belief that those who, on a monthly basis, keep in touch with their key prospects and customers are in the top percentile of their industry. At a recent speaking engagement to 70 electricians I asked the question “how many of you keep in touch with your key prospects and customers at least monthly either by calling, monthly newsletter etc?” It was worse than my prediction. No hands went up.

So…if you keep in touch with your key customers and prospects at least once a month, not only will you be in the top one percent of those who do so, you will be the one they call when they need your services.
You want to be front of mind – not out of mind.

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Simple Change Process

July 20, 2014 10:43 pm

Simple process to dramatically cut waste and streamline for improved performance…

  • Measure current results; map relevant processes
  • Identify waste in processes
  • Set improvement goals
  • Create change strategy
  • Implement strategy
  • Manage changes
  • Rinse and repeat
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The Expected and Unexpected

July 14, 2014 7:27 am

I recently found some notes I had taken on a visit to The Castle Inn Hotel in Rhode Island – USA. Here are my notations…

  • Arrived – car door opened by concierge (expected)
  • Luggage carried to reception (expected)
  • Asked if I would like coffee while I waited for the room (unexpected)
  • Given a welcome pack that also included weather forecast for next 3 days (unexpected)
  • Personally shown to my room (unexpected)
  • Given a personal tour of my room and how to use appliances, fireplace etc. (unexpected)
  • Lunch – personal service, great food and wine (expected)
  • Made something to my liking that wasn’t on the menu (unexpected)
  • Arrived back to my room after dinner to find chocolates and a robe laid out on my bed (unexpected); Bed was prepared for sleeping (unexpected); Radio playing classical music with mood lighting set (unexpected); Weather forecast note also laid on my bed (unexpected)

What if all businesses took some time to provide the unexpected. I’d expect customers would keep coming back, just like I will return to the Castle Inn

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Leadership not Location

July 10, 2014 6:24 am

Success is about leadership not location. On one occasion, I consulted with two similar types of business in the same town on the same street. One was doing well, the other was not. Leadership was the key differentiator. While successful businesses are led by different behavioural and personality styles (e.g. some introverted, some extroverted), all leaders I’ve encountered generally exhibit the following traits:

  • Most are humble and teachable, yet determined. They are willing to be wrong but determined to get it right. They are humble enough to accept input from management, employees, consultants, accountants, mentors etc.
  • Visionary. They ‘see’ and create the future
  • Leaders not followers. They are the captain of the ship and everyone in the organisation knows it. They don’t fall prey to the whims and whines of customers and employees.
  • They recruit their weaknesses building strong teams around them. 
  • They hold people accountable for results
  • Display a strong sense of self belief
  • Exhibit a strong abundance mentality around future work, money, people etc

Successful companies are led by good leaders period. They do not blame the winds of change always looking within themselves rather than out. If you run a coffee shop ten miles out of town on a road that no one travels down then yes, location might be an issue but in the majority of cases, leadership not location is the success factor

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Efficiency tip #7

June 26, 2014 1:46 am

To increase employee efficiency ensure:
– each person knows exactly what’s expected of them
– that for each role/responsibility there is a related performance measure
– you meet with them regularly to review their progress
– they are in the right role according to their strengths
– a training track is created for them for both personal and technical development
– that they aren’t promoted outside of their core strengths
– you take an interest in them personally
Efficient personnel are a foundational asset to any efficient business or organisation

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Exceptional Service Doesn’t Just Happen

June 17, 2014 7:22 am

I was recently involved in giving an Exceptional Service award at the Dalby Chamber of Commerce. A great initiative of the chamber and one which is much needed in this day and age of very low service in many organisations. With the ongoing focus of outsourcing, streamlining, cost slashing and electronic automation, the whole area of customer service has taken a very low priority on the agenda of many businesses. What if ALL hotels attempted five star service and kept a record of our preferences; if tradesman showed up on time or called to advise they were running late; if large companies kept the customer in mind when considering outsourcing to different countries; if banks didn’t schedule their teller lunch breaks when a million others are on lunch and in long queues; if the receptionist was taught to smile when they answered the phone. Exceptional service starts with the intention of management. When customers feel and experience that they are the centre of your attention the organisation then grows by word of mouth reducing advertising costs. Exceptional Service doesn’t just happen.

Dalby COC

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