Tag: Business mentors

TUESDAY TIPS for business growth

Today I thought I’d share some tips for selling more and growing the business, based on two of my clients who are quite typical of the businesses I deal with. Or I should say the business owners I work with.

Client 1: manufacturer, quality product, excellent fabrication setup but never been profitable in 4yrs of operation and production team unable to meet targets for each station. He was ready to close up shop and give up. His motivation for the business was 3 out of 10. He was dreading going to work. Which certainly sucks and the last thing you want as a business owner! We turned this around in less than 3 mo and he’s been profitable ever since, production hit targets, no delays, less returns and he enjoys going to work (8 to 9 out of 10).

Client 2: tradie, very motivated to do well and deliver quality service but unclear on how to grow. He was turning over $40-50K/mo when I started with him and he now consistently does $200K/mo and on track to grow to $300-400K/mo and then more as he franchises the operation.

TIPS – what did they do? I’m picking a few of the key actions/changes but there were a number of things.

1. They got super clear on the vision and values for the business and communicated this with the team and used it to attract quality employees and lose the ones that didn’t match. Your business is like a bus and you are the driver. If staff are on a bus and not sure where it is going they start looking out the window and thinking of ways to get off the bus. They also need to trust the bus driver knows where they are going. If this isn’t shared they develop all kinds of ideas which can often be negative and affect productivity.

2. They set clear performance goals and made sure these were visible, understood and routinely checked. They didn’t set a goal and then never talk about it again until the end of the month when it was too late to take corrective action.

They made sure that not only did employees know what was expected but had the support to achieve what was being asked. With the tradie there are incentives for hitting and exceeding targets and one target is a 5star review. His business has over 690 5star reviews. Google came and had a chat because he has the highest rating of any in his field in Australia.

3. Both got really good at letting staff go that weren’t a match and really good at hiring the right people. The trick is to hire slow and fire quick. Too many businesses keep the wrong people on too long and the longer it is the more they have invested in the person and the harder they find it to let them go. This means 6mo, 12mo, 2yrs go by with an average person in the role and the owner has to deal with stress, things not going to plan, deadlines not met, decreased quality, missed sales targets etc etc. There is significant lost opportunity cost. I recommend one day trials, then a week and then a month.

The tradie has let people go within an hour! Lets face it, we can often tell very quickly if there is a match and whether someone has what it takes. Again, use your vision and values to measure someone against. Will they take you to your vision? Will they uphold your values?

4. They both hired a coach/mentor. In this case it was me of course but I encourage them to seek out mentors to help with an aspect I’m not an expert in. My tradie client is thinking of franchising which I know nothing about so he needs to have a chat to a mentor that has done it.

They both had a desire to succeed but didn’t know what to focus on and in what order and how to do it. This is where a coach/mentor is invaluable. Don’t try and figure it all out by yourself. Short cut the process and talk to someone that knows. Time can’t be regained and time is money. And read, listen to audio books, watch YouTubes on business and mindset. Always be growing. To have what you have never had you must do what you have never done – working with a coach/mentor helps identify what it is you need to do.

As always, I’m here for a chat and to help.

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.

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