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A free monthly newsletter about improving your
people, processes, sales and marketing, financial
performance…and other interesting reading

February 2014

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When Process and People Collide
I read some time back that people with average abilities working with an excellent system will produce excellent results. My observation would run counter to that. I have seen companies with excellent workflow software accompanied by corresponding procedures and checklists that are being driven by average people and the results are generally....average. I have seen companies with poor systems combined with excellent people and the results can often be above average. The combination of an excellent system/process combined with the right person, equipped for that particular task is the equation for excellence.

Maximising efficiency in the people process flow...
  • If the task demands high attention to detail with someone sitting at the desk for eight hours a day, then the persons behaviour and abilities must MATCH the role. No point having a developer in the chair. Must be high detailed and given to routine
  • If the task involves front counter work with customers, then the person MUST have a people orientation about them. Their behaviour and personality needs to be one of meaningful interaction and influence
  • A business development manager requires both the ability to sell product while completing the necessary reporting requirements - two different abilities
As I have constantly said, managers, business owners and often recruitment firms hire largely based on the candidates work history, technical abilities and reference checks but tend to neglect the process of matching the person with the role in terms of behaviour and personality.

If you have got the wrong fit of person to process it’s a collision waiting to happen.

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Thoughts on Marketing
  1. Don’t rely on the phone ringing with incoming enquiries. The tap can be turned off within a day.  Always have an underlying and continuous branding/communication medium no matter how busy you are
  2. Placing emphasis on the importance of marketing your business as well as the technical aspects is just plain smart
  3. Don’t dismiss social media – like it or not it’s the future. Email may be redundant in 10 years time like the fax is these days. My kids never email me
  4. Don’t use stupid language. Be real, grounded and relevant. Addressing me as 'Dude' (as per one of the latest stupid emails I received from a business coach) just doesn't cut it - unless you're selling skateboards or tee shirts 
  5. Add value to your customers in the way of solid content and assistance
  6. Your website should be a reflection of your core business aligned to the persona of your key buyers. What do they want? What are they looking for? Who are they? Then provide it
  7. Some businesses, in their communications just sell, sell, sell. It turns people off
  8. Don’t tell people that you or your business  is awesome, successful, outstanding and all the other nonsense that proliferates the self congratulating world of business. Let the prospect make their own mind up 
  9. Ask for referrals. Simple but largely forgotten
  10. Never underestimate the influence of your receptionist and front line people
  11. Find the edge you have over your competitors then exploit it
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                              Teaching Your People To Think

Dining at a restaurant on one of my recent travels I ordered a glass of wine while eating. There were two front of house staff and the place was not busy. Upon receipt of my request the waitress punched my order into the computer. As there were not many customers she made herself look busy but clearly there was nothing pressing. The other waitress was busy fulfilling the few orders that were in the system. My wine took approximately five minutes to get from request to table.

Procedures are great to have in any business. A process that any one staff person can follow. But there comes a point where it is helpful for people to use their brain, to think for themselves. Procedures yes, are to make for smooth running of any operation but what business forgets is that processes and procedures must be based on the customer first – how are they best served? Instead, I see many establish their systems around themselves.

With regard to my experience, their process came first. The girl could easily have punched it into the system, poured the wine immediately so I could have it with my meal. Instead she chose process first. 

Teach your people to think. By  all means follow process but always keep in mind that the customer comes first even if it means pouring the wine themselves.

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The Cellar Notes

Pepper Tree Wines
I ordered myself a Christmas present this year - a mixture of 'drink now' and 'drink later' wines from Pepper Tree Wines. My son recently started on the team there, conducting tastings for the many wine tasters that include it as part of their slow meander through the scenic wine region of the Hunter Valley. 

I visited their impressive property last year that comprises a guesthouse, restaurant and cellar door surrounded by manicured gardens and of course the vineyards. Quoted from their website - “Pepper Tree produces premium varietal wines sourced from its own vineyards in the Hunter, Orange, Coonawarra and Wrattonbully regions. Pepper Tree currently produces more than forty thousand cases per year with distribution well beyond cellar door into specialty stores and fine restaurants throughout Australia and selected international markets.”

Of that imbibed thus far, I have not been disappointed. From the viognier and semillion to the tempranillo and cabernet, all have all been outstanding.

One night, in communication via text with my son, I mentioned I was enjoying a particular wine. He said “yes, it’s a good bottle. Enjoy every drop.” My comment back was “I just capped the bottle in case I enjoy EVERY drop in the one sitting.” 
Worth checking out!

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On The Lighter Side

One of the things I dislike about business is the polish and falsity that pervades it. These stories are actual happenings of either the stupid things I've done or some of the interesting people or interactions I experience, especially on my travels. Some are 'G' rated, often not but they are always real. 

Talking to my surgeon recently about some pending work needed to my travel worn leg, he said “and you will have the lovely Penny looking after you.” I responded with “that reminds me of the last time I was in surgery. I was lying flat on my back waiting to be wheeled in for my operation (effectively known in layman’s terms as ‘the chop’. It just so happened that it was the day that the interns were all doing their practice run and I just happened be one of their study objects. Apart from the fact that I experienced much more attention than I really desired that particular day, as they were going about their checks one of the women look up and said 'I know you.'"

In This Issue:
Ray Hodge is the Director of Ignite Business Consulting. He speaks and consults to businesses & organisations, a notable event being the Department of the Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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"During my 15 years in the trade service industry, I've met with many coaches, consultants and business mentors. Ray is one of only a very few that I would enthusiastically recommend. Ray and his work at Ignite have proven to humanise and demystify much of the consulting jargon and methodologies in order to produce rapid and concise results. Ray has proven his value many times in the industry by means of understanding the nature and key touch points of contracting workflows thus helping businesses evolve. His reliance of methodologies that actually work and his willingness to meet business owners at their level is just one of the necessary masteries Ray has but many others don't. I look forward to continuing to promote Ray, Ignite Business Consulting and his literature as they have enhanced my endeavours in the service industry significantly."
Rob Francis
Business Development Manager
simPRO Software


Where in the world is Ray?

Brisbane, Surat Basin, Bundaberg, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney, Perth

Speaking and Workshop Events

February 6
Master Plumbers Association QLD 
Planning and Business Streamlining Workshop Brisbane

February 25 and 27
National Electrical and Communications Association  Leadership
Canberra and Wollongong

March 19
Master Plumbers Association WA - Executive Committee: 
Strategy Formulation and Implementation
September 15
Executive Assistants Network
Self-awareness and self regulation - the keys to enhanced productivity
 Have an upcoming    event? 
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