Dismal customer service

October 2, 2012 12:40 pm

Catching a cab to the airport in a city I knew well, I communicated to the driver where I wanted to go. He then proceeded to take a route that I wouldn’t have taken. Here is the conversation that ensued.

Me. “Why are you going this way?”

Driver. “It’s the shortest.”

Me. “But the other way is quicker.”

Driver. “My customers want the shortest way.”

Me. “Why would they want the shortest when the quickest costs less?”

Driver. (Uncomfortably quiet and didn’t speak for the rest of the journey)

LESSON. If you want customers to return, treat them well and provide high value. Customers need to know that you are putting their interests first, even if it means you losing a few dollars in that transaction. Blow it here and you will miss out on further business from both them and the referrals they’ll send your way. But, if you’re in it for yourself, just screw them upfront and follow the cabbies example

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Keeping Good Staff – from an Italian ‘mama’ restaurateur

September 10, 2012 5:54 pm

Dining at the Sorrento Italian Restaurant in Northbridge, Perth is always on the travel agenda. While the food is great, the service is exceptional. I asked mama what her secret was to keeping good staff. Her response was really quite simple…

1. Communication

‘We meet at the end of every night and we communicate what went well, what could have done better’.

2. Incentivise personal performance

The staff are exceptional at making sure you don’t leave without getting all the extras and they do it in a way that you don’t know you are being sold to.

3. Put your smile on

‘When my staff walk through the front door I tell them to take the smile out of their pocket and put it on’. (They are some of the happiest I’ve encountered).

4. Work with them

‘I lead by example, doing what they do with them. I’m often called a workaholic’.

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In Your Prospects Best Interests

August 26, 2012 7:14 am

My wife and I were given a ‘free’ night at a luxury resort on the one condition that we attended a 90 minute session to hear about the time share offers they had available. We went through the talk quite impressed by what they were offering and then afterwards were directed into a room with one of the salesman. At the end of our discussion he then said the following words, “now, I will give you both a few minutes to discuss this wonderful opportunity.” I responded by saying that we never make on the spot decisions and would prefer to discuss this and come back to him later. That caught him from left field and landed a blow to the effect that displayed immediate disappointment on his face. And he never rebounded. He quickly shut the meeting down, showed us to the door and we’ve never heard from him since.

Some lessons for all of us in sales:

1. Treat people with respect, with THEIR interests as center, not yours

2. When they say they won’t be making a decision on the spot, respect the person and instead of showing disappointment simply say “yes, it is a big decision and you need to make sure you are very comfortable in what you decide. May I ask what the main reason is for not being able to make a decision today? Is it the money?” If they say that no, it isn’t the money then ask what the main thing is holding them back at this point.
By going down this track you have shown respect, kept the conversation and relationship flowing and are now getting to the key objections by asking “is it the money?”

3. If you don’t end up with the sale, keep in touch. Ask permission to contact them at a set time within the next week, add them to your mailing list with their consent and reinforce that you have their best interests in mind.

When it comes to sales, it’s all about the buyer not the seller.

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Car Lovers – getting a customer to return

July 24, 2012 6:19 pm

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 all the various options
– did a great job with energy
– even though the detailing option wasn’t available due to being the weekend he let me borrow what was required.
– he then came over, suggested blackening my tyres, provided the product and upon watching my dismal efforts of application said ‘I’ll do it for you’.

Patience, Energy, Generosity and The Extra Mile

When a business goes the extra mile, customers are happy to drive an extra mile.

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Marketing Shift

June 29, 2012 7:04 pm

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’ can quite adequately be applied to the area of sales and marketing.  The word ‘shift’, means to ‘move or cause to move from one place to another’. To gain different results, we have to try different things and measure the effect of these changes. Here are some ingredients for creating shift.

1.       Measure and analyse what is currently happening (most don’t do this). For example:

  • Enquiries derived from your marketing efforts e.g. Website and Social Media enquiries, publications, public speaking opportunities, newspaper advertising, walk-ins, word of mouth etc
  • Enquiries resulting in appointments or meetings
  • Meetings resulting in request for tenders
  • Tenders or quotes resulting in sales
  • Reason for not converting either from initial enquiry to meeting or meeting to sale etc
  • Sales performance of individuals
  • Average dollar sale
  • Seasonal results

You get my point? There are numerous things to measure and too many to list. Create the appropriate indicators for your business and start recording and analysing the results.

2.       Try some variations to what you are doing. Here are some ideas:

  • Change your quote presentation. Offer different options with higher pricing and value. Change the layout. Include testimonials etc
  • Try different scripts or different marketing materials
  • Use different headlines, change the call to action (or add one)
  • Look at your sales closing process and try a different approach
  • Update your website, designed around your buyers need (not just about how good you are)
  • Identify your key buyers, markets and major profit areas, narrowing your focus

3.       Analyse results against the original baseline

4.       Improve further

5.       Analyse

6.       Improve

7.       And so on

Getting a ‘shift’ in results is relatively simple, but it does mean constant improvement with ongoing analysis.

For some useful tools to help you here, go to http://ignitebusinessconsulting.com.au/free-resources?cat=7

Good luck!

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Interview questions to ascertain Enthusiasm and Teachability

June 1, 2012 10:38 pm

I recently posted the following post on my facebook page

Recruit enthusiasm and teachability not just technical skills’

This raised the question by one reader –  ‘What are some questions you would recommend asking prospective employees in an interview Ray?’

What’s your dream job?
Why are you applying for this position?
What do love to do?
What do you dislike?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Tell me about a time in your current or previous work where you were intensely motivated? Where you were bored?
What things in life do you do where you lose track of time?
Why have you chosen this industry to work in? (​Do they show an interest in your industry and company?)

​What research have they done on your company?

Do they display general enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and try new things?

The key here is to watch  where the person lights up/comes to life which is often indicated by faster speech, eyes and body language etc. Also when they over talk, it can indicate a subject they are passionate about. If you are dealing with more of an ‘analytic’ as opposed to a more ‘expressive’ person this can be a little harder to gauge.


Tell me about what you have been learning, reading etc?
What areas do you feel you need to grow most in?
If you were to be successful in this application, what areas would you see you would have the most challenge with?
How would you deal with those challenges?
Tell me about a time how you handled criticism or a constructive critique from your boss?
​Tell me about a time how you handled criticism or a constructive critique from your  peers?
What did you learn from this?
What did you do about this?
How do you stay up to date with this industry?


I find that many employers interview based on skills assessment (90%) and the
remaining 10% on other matters. It is much more important to spend the appropriate time upfront in your interviews to understand the motivation of a person, not just their skills because if you sacrifice here you will pay the price down the track if you employ the wrong person.
Good luck!

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Does more money equal more motivation?

May 24, 2012 10:34 pm

A question I frequently get asked is “should we be incentivising our staff by way of financial bonuses and rewards?”

This is a challenge for companies of all sizes – trying to keep good staff performing at optimal levels and also from being poached by larger companies with bigger wage budgets. I have heard story after story in my travels and especially in my work with mining related businesses, of people being sweetened with big pay packets to lure them away from their current employment. How do we as employers strike the balance of not allowing wages to blow out and at the same time keep our people happy and performing at the highest levels?

Intrinsic verses extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is best described as that motivation that comes from within a person whereas extrinsic motivation is that which comes from external sources. Intrinsic motivation is all about doing that which we find enjoyable and are passionate about, that which relates to what we value highly and where we gain a personal sense of satisfaction. Extrinsic motivation is about external factors that create stimulus to achieve or perform certain tasks such as when a child is obedient due to potential consequences.

In the workplace, the starting point is the hiring process. Identifying keenness and passion for ones work should be primary, skill levels secondary. Much easier to train someone in the technical aspects of their job than teaching them to love their work. The latter akin to trying to make a slow horse speed up – just plain hard work. Many employers bypass this stage. Due to labour shortages (and not really understanding the ‘whole person’), we tend to hire anyone that is somewhere near the mark technically, rather than considering the person themselves.

One of the key observations to consider when both hiring and working with people is that all of us are motivated by what is most important to us. If we value money highly then money it is. If satisfaction from a job well done, then that is reward enough. If it is time with the family, then that is what drives us. Our workers are no different. Different factors drive different individuals according to what is most important for them. Tap into these internal drivers, adapt the workplace around these and you will have employees more inclined to be intrinsically motivated in their work with both themselves and the company reaping the rewards. Their work then relates to their higher values. Incentivise everyone with financial rewards and you potentially will miss the mark much of the time. As Edward L Deci observed:

“If a person who is intrinsically motivated to perform an activity begins to receive external reinforcement for the activity, what will happen to his intrinsic motivation? Previous studies and the present study indicate that money decreases intrinsic motivation, while verbal reinforcements tend to enhance intrinsic motivation. ”
Edward L Deci – Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1972, Vol. 22, No. 1, 113-120

And if you do head down the path of financial rewards, look at incentives based on team performance as opposed to rewarding individual effort.
Good luck!

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The attentive cleaner

May 7, 2012 7:52 am

I was staying at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Perth again recently and went to slurp some water out of the bathroom (as the bar wasn’t open). One of the staff was doing the cleaning and watched my very undignified drinking manner (some things are never lost from growing up in the country). Thirst satisfied I went back to working in the bar and about 10 minutes later this employee returned with a bottle of water for me. A small thing I know but when a cleaner or any of your staff for that matter, notice an opportunity to make a difference and take personal initiative to do so, you know you are doing something right. This is what creates both word of mouth and repeat business. Whether it is a city five star hotel or a tradie in the country, attentive staff with enthusiasm and initiative are one your most valuable assets.

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Cigarette butts and the most important employee

April 17, 2012 3:49 am

I recently stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Perth. One of the employees was picking up cigarette butts out of the garden and I commented on what a wonderful job he had!!! His comment back surprised me. “My job helps keep our hotel its five star rating.” Helping workers see the bigger picture, the importance of our work in the context of customers and our standards, increases both employee and ultimately customer satisfaction. My final comment to him was “that would make you one of the most important people on the team”. He responded with a smile and said “I guess it would.”

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Feedback given to a hotel I stayed in

March 31, 2012 12:16 am

You asked for some feedback so happy to provide it. I am a business consultant so am always evaluating every business I interact with, and thought of some things while I wasthere that could assist you in getting more repeat business.

Apart from the fact that I know your rooms are being upgraded this year (and the room I stayed in this time wasn’t as good as the previous one I had been in) my experience just left me feeling with a lack of attention – both to me personally and also the room (eg finger marks left on windows and mirrors hadn’t been wiped off from the previous occupants). As far as personal attention, it was OK but not exceptional. Staff were pleasant but not actively trying to make my life better. Checkout was a longer than normal experience given that there was only one girl on reception.

If I managed your hotel, I would be looking to teach my people more active ways of being able to connect and assist our clients through eye contact, pro-active assistance, excellence in all areas (cleaning for eg) etc etc. I would also have some of my key people go and stay somewhere like the Pan Pacific Club rooms for a couple of days (where I am now) to learn exceptional service and attention to the small things. I think you could learn a lot from hotels like this.

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Working hard precedes working smart

March 1, 2012 5:37 pm

I constantly hear talk about working smart, as if we can cut out a thousand miles to arrive immediately at our desired destination (and business coaches can be some of the worst offenders). My observations, research and personal experience would suggest that the most successful in any field have worked hard to get their smarts. The road to working smart is through working hard – no two ways about it. No book, coach, get rich scheme, cab drivers advice will give you what the process of working hard will do. And, in working hard you will find the ‘smart’. And that’s where external advice becomes useful…as you’re working. (except for maybe the cabbies advice)!

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Mirror mirror on the wall (2)

November 24, 2011 3:10 pm

People often ask me, ‘how are business’s doing in these uncertain times’? ‘Should I go into business now or wait until the economy gets more stable’? My observation and response to these kind of questions is that that in any economy and in any industry, business’s thrive where a good operator is at the helm. Sure, outside influences affect business, sometimes you have to close the doors and find other avenues, but good business owners see hard times more as opportunities than depressing realities.
I remember starting a new business just after the Global Financial Crisis hit, and more than one person asked me if I thought this was a wise move given the global uncertainty. I recall running this idea past my accountant, who is a very successful business owner in his own right, and his reply was that some of the most successful businesses have been initiated in depressions and recessions. So to re-iterate – a good business is a reflection of a good business owner.

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Key attributes of a successful business

October 25, 2011 11:14 pm

Some key attributes of a successful business.

1.      Happy customers

2.      Inspired and satisfied employees

3.      Information and processes streamlined and organised

4.      The ongoing push and pull of chaos and order

5.       A well thought out and executed sales and marketing strategy

6.      Procedures and processes documented and communicated continually

7.      Cash flowing with continued profitable growth

Identify which of these needs particular attention and get to work.

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Mirror mirror on the wall

October 25, 2011 11:13 pm

One of the realisations I’ve had over the last number of years is that our outer world is a direct reflection of our inner world – a mirror if you like. Whether it is in the realm of relationships, our finances, our health etc, what we experience in the external world is more often than not a direct representation of what is going on in our internal world. When my desk or car looks more like a rubbish tip than a resort, it is because internally I am rushed and disorganised. Our business is no different.

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