Business Boosting Strategy : Consult Your Staff and Customers

You only need to consult two sources for the answers in how to boost your business – your staff and your customers.

If you are only doing average to poor in sales, you are crazy not to.

In this post I cover the following:

  • How to consult with staff for business boosting ideas
  • Why you should listen to customers, and how
Your Staff

Staff are at the coal face dealing with issues and hearing complaints and compliments. They are a great source of insights into what is causing excessive time, repeated issues or repeated requests for a new service. Make sure you are tapping into this resource.
Here’s a strategy to do this:

Step 1.
Give them a voice. Have a brainstorming session (provide lunch or cake if you want) and put all their ideas and issues on a whiteboard and don’t disregard any ideas, otherwise they will start to shut down and feel you are not prepared to listen. Yes there could be some duds and ‘silly’ issues but this is the time to get the ideas flowing and removing walls in their brains that are holding back gold intel. And brains can be like a muscle and take a few dud ideas to warm up and really start cranking out the good stuff.

Step 2.
Rank the ideas/ issues in order of impact – this can vary depending upon your goal. For example if your ultimate goal is to increase profit by reducing the number of times staff need to return to a customer to sort out a problem, which issue, if you stopped it from happening ever again would have the biggest impact on reducing the reason you need to do repeat visits? Or if you need to increase customer satisfaction so they buy again, what issue or issues are preventing this?

Step 3.
After ranking the ideas, brainstorm ways with the team to fix them. Assign responsibility to individuals to carry out the fixes and agree on a deadline. It’s preferable if you allow staff to volunteer for the various jobs so there is greater ownership and increased likelihood it will happen.

Step 4.
Roll out the fixes and review and acknowledge improvements on a regular basis so it maintains momentum and support. It’s important you actually score goals and issues are resolved. This can take weekly meetings to monitor and adapt how you tackle the issues. Stay on top of it as the business owner. Otherwise enthusiasm will evaporate.

This exercise should be an annual exercise in any business at a minimum. I would recommend every 6 months or every 3 months.

Tapping into your Customers

You don’t have a business without your customers. Who better to ask for feedback? Customers are the source of three great things you can use to help improve your business:

1. Improve your marketing material and website.

Positive feedback on what you are doing well and why they bought from you. This is gold. And not just to pump up your ego.

    • Make sure your marketing material and your website is mentioning or covering the reasons people buy your product or service. Go and check it right now!
    • Danger! As the business owner you can fall into the trap of ‘assuming’ you know why they buy! For example, one of my clients had the repeated comment that it was their speed of service that customers appreciated but that was not mentioned anywhere on their website! Another client received compliments on their accuracy of results – so their tagline became ‘results you can trust’. Until then they never thought to mention this. What are your customers telling you verbally that you do well and are you covering this on your website???
    • What got your customer across the line when selecting you? Mentioning that reason on your homepage and main promo material could make all the difference.

Some additional questions to explore:

  • Can you do more of what they like? Can you take it up a notch and do it even better?
  • Are you wasting time and money on a service that they don’t really care about and wouldn’t miss if you stopped it?
  • Can you direct this time and money into the service they really love and value – see point above?

2. Use their positive feedback as testimonials on your website and in your promo material and your quotes.

It can be challenging to ask for testimonials. Positive feedback can be restated instead – even if you don’t use their name and company.

3. Ask your customers what else they would like in terms of service and product.

Business Boosting Strategy : Consult your Staff and Customers

Always always always encourage them to let you know what they think would like. Most customers never mention this and assume the service and product is the best it’s going to be.

Danger! Your customer assumes that you are the best you can be, and your competitor comes along and has taken care of solving the minor gripe they have and steals them from you.

I did a customer survey for one client and pre-addressed labels was the request. That is all. Nothing major but made a significant difference in the customers mind and experience when engaging with my client. Easy fix, easy win. Another client preferred contacts with reps on a different day. Another client simply wanted

How to ask?
Numerous ways: online, feedback forms with each purchase, in store form, verbally at time of purchase, during annual lunch or dinner event, as part of a competition. Keep it simple, not more than 4 questions, and research has shown that the most telling question you can ask is “how likely would you be to refer us?”. This answer says it all…but doesn’t tick the box of telling you what to improve so don’t forget your questions on this topic.
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Need help? I can facilitate staff and customer interviews – I even conduct the interviews which is extremely valuable because I obtain information that staff or customers tend not to share with business owners. I then provide my recommendations and an independent viewpoint on what needs to be improved, how and by when.

Give me a call for an obligation free quote.

David Lennon
Troubleshooting Expert and Business Coach
www.davidlennon.com.au
david@davidlennon.com.au

Number 1 Mistake Small Businesses Make with Pricing

Are you working hard in your business but seeing little money in your pocket? Are you feeling you are paying everyone else except yourself?

Well you might well be.

Number 1 mistake Small Businesses make with pricing

A mistake I’m seeing a lot lately is failing to include a business owner salary in operating expenses.

In business you have fixed and variable expenses you pay each month in order to stay in business and deliver your product or service.

When working out how much you need to charge, you MUST include your salary! Yet many business owners are not.

As a result they are paying themselves last out of profit (if there is any) and working hard just to pay everyone else including suppliers – and in many cases earning less than they would in a job with far less responsibility and hassle!

If you are happy with what you are getting then read no further. If you are not, then let me share some wisdom and suggestions.

First, let me ask you a deep and meaningful question….if you are NOT paying yourself a ‘proper’ salary and have NOT included your salary in operating costs…why not?

RED FLAG WARNING!

RED FLAG WARNING!Do you have a subconscious (or conscious belief) that you don’t deserve to be paid? And careful if your first reaction is ‘No Way!’ It often means you do.

Or do you believe you should be paid last? Do you need to look after everyone else first and then yourself? Or deep down do you feel you can’t achieve a higher salary?

Our businesses are an extension of ourselves and how we think.

To have what we haven’t had before, we usually have to think differently! Either through gaining knowledge or personal insight.

If you didn’t realise you needed to include your salary or the business is under three years old then ok, please make sure you do.

However if you have even a hint of self doubt about paying yourself, I strongly suggest you explore this further because your business will only grow as much as you feel you deserve!

You cannot have the cash in your hand until you honestly own it in your head and heart.

STEP 1
If you want to include your salary, great! Decide how much you need this year – this can be reduced slightly if the business is under three years old but showing steady growth, or you consistently have profit each year.

STEP 2
Take your monthly wage and include it in your total monthly operating costs that you need to cover. Then spread your total monthly costs over however many products or services you sell each month, on average. This gives you a dollar value you need to charge. Monthly variations in sales? That is quite normal so average it out across a whole year. The peak months must make up for the slow months.

STEP 3
If you add your salary and feel your prices are now too high, you have some further work to do and questions to ask – see Step 4. If prices seem ok, then great, you are now in a better position to ensure you get paid as well as everyone else each month.

STEP 4
If your prices now seem too high, what information are you basing this on? Be careful you are not underselling yourself. Re-read the Red Flag Warning! 🙂

Another question to explore is whether you are selling the most profitable products/services? Often businesses are selling what easily sells but the products are not profitable. Do you know your profit margin, the true cost to deliver each of your products? This can be a real wake up call.

You must work out the true cost to promote, produce, deliver and service each of the products or services you sell. Otherwise you could be busting your butt to sell 100 of Widget C that gives you $20 profit each instead of selling only 20 Widget A’s that gives you $100 each and far less work.

Now, assuming you can’t increase your prices, the next action is to explore if you can reduce your overheads somehow? Can you increase efficiency?

Assuming prices can’t increase and overheads and efficiency are about as good as it gets, then how many widgets do you need to sell to provide your required salary? What will it take for you to sell this many?

Adding in your salary to overheads can be a healthy kick up the arse to change what you focus on selling, and/or change your pricing packages. And it can solve the mystery of why you are not seeing dollars in your pocket each month.

Worst case scenario, if you can’t sell enough or charge enough, you may actually have a hobby and not a business.

Special offer

The above is a quick and basic overview of something that can take a few hours or longer to workout. If your pricing or profit is concerning you I can conduct a pricing audit with you to determine what you should be charging and how. This is a 5 hour package and includes a face to face session and worksheets and is an essential step prior to paying for any marketing because you may be promoting the unprofitable products or wrong prices!

Normal price is $1,100 but for the first 5 businesses that contact me it’s only $479 plus GST.

Offer valid until Oct 31, 2015.

Contact me at the email below with name, business name, phone number and email address.

David Lennon
Troubleshooting Expert and Business Coach
www.davidlennon.com.au
david@davidlennon.com.au

Danger, don’t enter!

Is your shop window scaring your customers away?

I have a theory that we are instinctively wired to hesitate on entering places with no sign of life, no movement. If nothing is moving, subconsciously this means its dead. Or staying still in order to ambush us.

We are drawn to movement, it signifies life, action, things happening.

How’s your shop window look?

I can’t believe how many windows present the equivalent of a ‘scary cave’. And these shops are usually quiet. Go to an expo and notice how the stands with things flashing, waving, or displays moving or bubbling are always the ones with people at them.

Just thought I’d mention this in case your window could do with some attention.

 

Are You Prepared for Xmas?

Xmas will soon be here. Have you:

Are You Prepared for Xmas?

  • Planned, designed and ordered your Xmas marketing materials or ads?
  • Brainstormed Xmas specials or packages you can offer?
  • Thought of gift ideas to trigger more buying?
  • Planned end of year customer reviews to find out how well you are doing, what you can do better or what they would like you to offer? This is gold. And how much work they have for you in the new year? This can be done via online surveys, phone calls, face to face lunch or coffee chats. If you get some negative feedback, accept it, don’t start arguing and defending yourself.
  • Planned staff interviews to check-in and see how they are travelling, are they moving towards their goals, what they would like to be doing next year, and what improvements they suggest for the business?
  • Planned cards and hampers for clients? It’s a time to just give. Don’t include any sales speak or offers in your gift…otherwise it’s not a gift!
  • Planned cards and hampers, bonuses etc for staff?
  • Put sufficient money aside to cover a slow down in Jan? This can make your Xmas hols a lot more enjoyable if you aren’t stressing about bills.
  • Scheduled a business review during the quiet time to reflect on the past year and goals and what to do better this new year?

David Lennon
Troubleshooting Expert and Business Coach
www.davidlennon.com.au
david@davidlennon.com.au

Can You Make an Extra 20% Profit Without Increasing Sales?

Yes. And you might be able to make even more.

How? By making sure you are charging enough and selling more of your most profitable products or services.

Common mistakes are not knowing your real profit margins and not including the cost of running your business in your pricing.

Can You Make an Extra 20% Profit Without Increasing Sales?

Insufficient profit
I’ve seen many businesses pushing sales of products that are actually break-even or losing them money. They strive for more profit and assume they need to sell more product so spend time and money on marketing – yet still don’t see any extra dollars in their hand.
A recent client gained a 20% increase in profit by simply spending an hour working out exactly what his different services cost him. He realised one of his package deals was taking up a lot of staff time but only giving him $4 per customer. He needed to be getting $32. All he did was cancel that package and sell a profitable package. He didn’t need to pump money into more advertising or cold calling.
Make sure you know your margins! It takes time and money to secure customers. Don’t waste it.

Overheads
A second common mistake is forgetting to include business overheads in pricing. There are fixed and variable costs you have to pay each year to be in business and deliver your product. For example rent, admin, accountants, electricity, insurance, vehicles, supplies, cleaning, laundry, equipment, staff and your salary.
Are you spreading a portion of this overhead across all your products? If not, you could be losing significant amounts of money.

David Lennon
Troubleshooting Expert and Business Coach
www.davidlennon.com.au
david@davidlennon.com.au