What are the little piles of money you are leaving on your business ‘table’?

I have a delightful swimming pool at the rear of my cottage.  Being of the belief that I know something about chemicals and how bad they are for us – I have a pool that is fresh water, super low chlorine – and sparking clean.  I use a combination of low level silver and copper to keep it sparkling and safe – and add a cup of chlorine once a week just for insurance.

This week I was cleaning the filter box on the pool pump, and as I was removing the cover it snapped off.  Hmmm.  Bugger.  Then I realized that I wanted to increase the power of the pump anyway – so this was a great time to get a new pump – with more POWER!

Straight to my home office,  onto the web.  Hmmm.  Not many pool shops in Townsville have SEO – or at least not optimised to pool pumps.  Will try the Townsville Yellow Pages.

Picked an advert that was reasonable, and dialed the number.   A woman answered who sounded so ill that I thought she was going to expire right then.  She did not know much about pumps, and cut me off as she was trying to transfer me.  I hope she is ok.

I dialed the next number.  Spoke with a man who may have been the owner.  He seemed to know about pumps, suggested a model.  I suggested a bigger one, he said ok, included installation in the price – and we had a deal for it to be installed the next day.  Excellent.

Here is where the question about little piles of cash just sitting on the table – cash just waiting to be scooped up.  What else did I need if I needed a new pump?

If I had been asked right there and then what else I needed  -I would have remembered that I am low on chlorine [liquid sodium hyperchlorite].  I only use a little – but I am running out.  And my pool scooper net is pretty ratty.  And if he had asked if I had a Barracuda/Auto Cleaner thing – because he had a ‘combination deal’ when people buy a pump – there is a good chance I would say yes.

Today the technician came and installed the pump.  It is great.  An Onga.  Did he have a checklist to go over as he went through my pool yard?  Nope.  Did he notice that my resuscitation sign is very faded and needs replacing under the new legislation?  Nope.

He did tell me that every 12 months it is a good idea to get some seals on the pump replaced – or it will start to leak and corrode.  Great.  Did he offer to put a reminder into his system to contact me in 11 months to book in a service?  Nope.  Would I have done it?  Yep.

Did he give me a water test bottle or even a bucket with the pool shop name on it, and offer me free water testing instore, or information about pool service offers that their business does?  Nope.  Just an invoice and a CD-ROM from Onga about pool pumps.

I am not complaining about the service.  It was good.  I am saying that this business left a lot of (my)  money on the table.   Perhaps something will come in the mail, thanking me for doing business with them, perhaps a little gift, and even a discount offer for my next purchase to encourage me to engage them as my ‘pool shop’.

What nice little piles of cash are you leaving sitting on your business tables?  How much difference to your business would it make if every third person bought just one more item at each visit?

Have a great weekend

James

Ps not a surprise in this case – but was I asked how I came to choose this pool shop?  You know the answer.  And you know that if you dont know the source of each lead for a new customer that comes to you – then you are still in ‘marketing  kindergarten’.

Lance Armstrong on “Thinking about quitting” – for when you think things are a bit too tough…

“Quit? You know, once I was thinking about quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer, all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and I won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I’m sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying from that’s keeping you from the finals?”

– Lance Armstrong:

For all us Townsville Business Owners that may be hiding a little bit in “victim land”:

So what are you dying from that’s keeping you from the finals (or whatever you know you need to do but are deciding not to do)?

“Right now feels a little bit like shame.”

You know right now the top 3 most important things for you to do ‘fix’ whatever you think is too tough.  Write them down, put a little square box next to each one, then just get them done – and then tick the boxes.  Getting started takes you from wearing a ‘victim of the world’ hat – to wearing a ‘master of the world hat’.

Don’t look back on your life and wished you had simply changed hats sooner.


The Blues Brothers Teach First Rule of Marketing?

One of the films that makes me smile is The Blues Brothers.   Quite often while preparing dinner we will roam Youtube, looking for interesting music to play while preparing dinner.

There may be a structural change in the world right there.  No longer do we ‘put on a CD’, but simply connect to the web -and expect places like youtube.com to have a video clip for most any music group we can think of.

Tonight we moved from Handel’s Messiah to the ballad “Hallelujah” sung by various stars, to eventually The Blues Brothers.  (Just scroll through ‘related videos’ to experience this experience.)

What is the marketing lesson?  Well – watch the clip in the right of screen “Rawhide”.  When faced with a market that does not want what we are offering – what do we do?  First we stop and think “Hmmm, what do they want?”  Then we devise something to “test” that may  meet THEIR criteria.  Then we test – and pay attention to the response.

I will let you just watch the video now – and enjoy the retro strains of Hollywood doing what it does best.  May as well turn it up.

As you listen – what are you doing in your business that is not meeting the desires of your chosen audience?  Do you need to change your playlist?  Or your venue?  Are you listening to your audience?

Cheers

James

Ps – the first law of marketing is “WHO”.  Until you define your market – it is impossible to design a campaign that will reach them effectively.

Pps – and if you are going to live your life – you may as well live it LOUD.  Enjoy your food, scoff your wine, and dance without regret.  And if you have the privilege to be able to do some marketing – use emotion to shine in our current mono-coloured world of advertising.

Business Developer and Coach, Townsville

“Hope” is not a game plan…

“I hope more customers will come into my business this week.”

“I hope the Townsville economy will turn around.”

“I hope that roll of fat around my waist will just go away.”

“I hope my business opposition will do lousy marketing this year just like last year.”

It is great to have “hope”, but if  “hope” is your business strategy – you are heading towards a lot of pain.  Your strategy does not need to be complicated.  Your strategy will generally be aimed toward delivering MORE VALUE.

But most importantly, your strategies will need to have a snowball’s chance in hell of working.  And need to be monitored so we can know if they are working or not.

Welcome to your business hospital

One analogy is a business hospital.  There is outpatients, the ward, and intensive care.  Each area has a specific purpose [or goal].  Outpatients will give some patching up, or some mild drugs, some ‘exercises’ to do – and you are sent back home.

The ward is for when you are a little more ill or there is a great risk of your ‘condition’ becoming ‘serious’.  The purpose here is guide you to recovery and ‘observe’ you to ensure that you are going in the right direction.

Now, Intensive Care is there to keep you alive – to stop you from dying.  Because currently – when you are dead – nothing further can be done to help you.

What is the difference between business outpatients and business critical care?

Here is is your question.  What is the main strategic action that is purposely layered for each part of the hospital?  What is the thing that happens a little in outpatients, more in the ward, and is constant in intensive care?

One answer is that your medical bill goes up!  It costs a lot more in intensive care with all those machines that go ‘beep’, and the people that interpret their data.  That is your clue.

The answer is that with each level there is increased MEASUREMENT.  In intensive care it is constant.  Almost every indicator is measured by the second.  It is recorded and compared to expected.  If there is a variance – expert people take action.  If there is a huge variance – ALARMS sound – and more people rush around in a (hopefully) purposeful way.  Terms like “CRITICAL” are used – which means all possible monitoring resources are used.  There is “STABLE” – which is lower level, but not too far from CRITICAL.

Once all the measurements have be in the ‘expected’ levels for a while, you may be moved down to ‘the recovery ward’, and hopefully then ‘released’.  This means dropping back to visiting outpatients or your doctors daily or weekly.  Then monthly, then just for “check-ups”.

So where does your business fit in this model?  Do  you know the measurements for your business that indicate its ‘health?  Is your business  in a ‘stable’ but ‘critical’ condition, and you are ‘hoping’ something will change for the better soon?  Or do you know the ‘drivers’ for your business, and go to a business personal trainer who strengthens them, as part of your goal of being a successful business person?

Just like our bodies, our businesses are interlinked systems.  We can measure the health of both by using standard measurements.  We can know when we are getting weaker or stronger.  We can know the ability of both handle a ‘crisis’.  We can predict accurately how long each is going to last depending on the trending of our measurements.

For example, if you have been putting on 3kg of fat each year for the last 5 years, or your blood pressure is trending up fast, it is not a big call to predict some crises ahead.  Similarly if your market share of the product line that actually makes most of your profit is dropping consistently – you are headed for crises.  If you have stopped having holidays, and are considering having more children to “breed up” some “decent staff you can trust” – you are also headed for a crises.

The analogy between your health and your business health

It is one thing to know your measurements are not in the healthy range.  It is another to take appropriate action to fix them.  Let’s pretend you are carrying some extra fat on your body.  So you know you are ‘storing some body fat for the cold Townsville winter ahead’ or whatever your denial statement is.  What will it take for you to change – and get your health measurements heading in the right direction again?  Will it be a severe health crisis?  A minor heart attack, or being told you are now a diabetic?  Or will you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror as you leave the ice cream shop?  Or maybe you meet someone your age who looks fabulous – and they inspire you.

At some point we all change – and it is usually by crisis.  But it does not need to be.  Once you decide – what then?

We can charge off like a loon, and diet and exercise like crazy.  Or we can STOP, think, consider strategies that are worth testing, and plan the actions and goals that will test the strategies.  ie we want it to be SUSTAINABLE.

Your business health..

It might be your bank manager, or your accountant, or the ATO.  Or you might suddenly have your own flash of insight and recognize that what your business is doing is not going to give you what you want from it.  You might jump up from being ‘in your business’ to the level above where you can see better – realize your business is just a ‘tool’ that you can use differently – and start to wonder…

Just 4,680 weeks…

If on average humans are going to live about 90 years – this is 4,680 weeks.  If your business is the tool that is going to provide for an important role in your life – then becoming an expert user of this ‘tool’ seems prudent.  Would you pick up a powerful welding machine and just start using it?  Or would you learn more about it.  Get some training, do a course, find out what the [measurement] dials are for?  If your welding machine was going to be an important part of your life – would you want to become ‘professional’ or ‘expert’ at it?  Or are you going to stay an “AMATEUR”?

Would you be happy to stay at AMATEUR level with your business?  And maybe ‘hope’ things will change…

The biggest barrier to learning is EGO

Don’t want to be an AMATEUR business owner?  Then just let go of the need to be right.  It is not your fault that the training you were given (if any) before going into business left some important bits out.  Cutting hair is not great training for owning salons.  Being an accountant is not always a great training for owning an accounting business.

We take the information available and convert it into our business model.  All we have to do is let go of that model and choose a model that others are using to get the outcomes they want.  This is the same for business as it is for health.

You want to be lean and fabulous?  Learn what the lean people do. and do that.

You want to be great musician?  Learn what the other great muso’s do – and do that.

You want a great business?  Learn what people with successful businesses do – and….

Cheers

James Hooper,

Business Builder and Coach, Townsville

Ps remember – unless you have a plan, you are most likely part of (or victim to) someone else’s plan.

Does Your Retail Sales Team Need Some Training?

Yesterday I had a gap in my schedule so I went for a wander through Castletown Shopping Centre in Townsville.  I  enjoy doing this – and often get insights as to what is “working”, where the people are shopping/not shopping, seeing what is ‘hot’ at local level.

Sometimes there are lessons based on what shops have ‘gorn’ from a high rent precinct.

While it is true that being located in a high traffic place like Castletown does mean higher rents – it is also true that if retailers don’t create systems in their team to “harvest” the traffic – they are doomed or are simply leaving money on the table.

So – as I wandered around looking at trends – I remembered that I needed a new belt.  (Because our new puppy ‘Albert’ had a wonderful time chewing my favourite one.  )  I wander into a menswear shop – past the ‘salesman’ who did not look up from whatever ‘admin?’ he was doing at the “sales” counter.

Oh well – I head over to a rack of belts and start looking through them.  After a minute or so I note they are ‘budget’ looking and move to the next rack.  They all appear to be too long for me.  I look hopefully over to the “salesman” who refuses to look up.  Oh well.  I don’t really need a new belt now, not really.  And I walk out past the “salesman” who still has not in any way communicated with  – apart from the feeling of disinterest.

Chances are that with even a little service I would have spent about $200, right then.  I may even have come back again if I were invited.  I would have freely given my name and details so that they could contact me with ‘special offers’, and I would have accepted a ‘frequent purchaser’ card.   But no – I missed out on some great service.

Even the awful “Kin I help you?” script would have produced some revenue for this business from me.  Now I will do my shopping elsewhere.

What are your retail sales team doing to your ‘potential’ customers?  I only hope that the “salesman” in this case was not the owner.

Cheers

James

The Strategies That Will Take Your Business Up Over a 100 Metre Wall Will Most Certainly Take It Over A 10 Metre One..

While talking with a very clever business women here in Townsville yesterday, the discussion turned to what is a good target to set over 5 years.   In reference to a new business venture, she said she would be happy with a $5M business value after 5 years.

Now that is a great target for  a service industry business, is achievable, and is motivating.

That target will produce a certain set of strategies and plans.

Here is the question.

If the target was $50M in 5 years instead of $5M – how would the strategies and plans differ?

Given that there is always a limit on resources available – where should they be best applied?  Does it take more work to follow strategies with a potentially bigger payoff?  Not really.

Sometimes the same strategy will be in both lists.  Some strategies however will only appear in the list with the smaller target.

This is not say to get ridiculous with goals and targets.  It is more about constructing the game [business], in a way that allows us to WIN BIG.

Cheers

James

Townsville Business Coach

Selling Your Business in Townsville Area? Three Reasons Why 85% of Businesses Never Sell

Author of the E-Myth Series Michael Gerber says that if you don’t sell your business, you have bought it.

One of the best coaching questions to business owners is “What is your exit plan?”

Stats show that 85% of businesses never sell.  Call any business broker and ask.  [On this subject standby for an announcement about improved business broking services in Townsville.]  The honest brokers will tell you.

Generally there are three problems that stomp on your dream of selling a business.

1.  The business is so dependent on the owner that it is not worth anything to a potential buyer.

2.  Unrealistic expectations about the price of your business.  Your years of hard blood, sweat and tears have no value to a purchaser.  Similarly the future ‘potential’ of your business adds little to your bargaining on price, buyers wont pay for ‘blue sky’.

3.    Business owner has not completed the business marketing checklist that a buyer needs and is attracted to.  Unprofessional, incomplete, inaccurate and often blatantly fraudulent information is given to potential buyers.  Some brokers just go along with this – knowing that their client [who is the seller!] will eventually just drop the price to overcome this.

There are solutions to these problems – and they can be implemented quite quickly once the decision is made, the plan created, and action steps implemented in a systematic and accountable way.

If you are considering selling your business in the Townsville area, stay tuned for news of a strategic alliance that creates a powerful platform for preparing your business for a GOOD sale.  Or give me a call or email.

Cheers

James Hooper

The Most Powerful Tool to Make Us Follow Our Hearts – By Steve Jobs

I recently came across the text of a speech given by Steve Jobs (Apple!).  It was delivered to the graduating class at Stanford, and I believe it has potency as a tool for every person and business owner.  Much of the drama we face in our daily existence is ‘fluff’ when this screen is applied.

One definite use is in helping business owners make the changes that they know are needed for their business to give them what they want.  Here is the critical part of the speech:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.

And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.  It is Life’s change agent.   It clears out the old to make way for the new.   Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.

Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.   Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.   Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.   And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.   They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”

It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

For the full text of this speech visit:  http://www.stumbleupon.com/s/#AMYHjg/news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html/

Wow.  The comment that rises up within me is “If you don’t have clear intentions, goals and a plan, you will simply become part of someone else’s.”

Cheers

James Hooper

Business Coach, Townsville

If you think scripting a sales process reduces creativity – think about movies, songs or just feel the emotion as these children perform..

One of the most common beliefs that come up during sales system developments is that “scripts” turn us into “robots”.

And it is true.   You will have been the victim of a rubbish script at some time.  Usual examples are telemarketers and door to door sales people.  You can feel the ‘fakeness’ in the greeting and loaded first open questions.

Trouble is – that using the lousy end of performances as the model or determinant of the power of scripts – is NUTS!

Would you take the output of very early ‘learner’ musicians who may also be tone deaf  to make the decision that “music is awful to listen to?”  Probably not – but that is what many have done with the idea of ‘scripts’.  We listened to a few badly constructed scripts, delivered by unpracticed, uncoached “sales” people – and it sucked – so we decided that “Scripts were not for us!”

What we meant to decide was that ‘Lousy scripts delivered pathetically were not for us?”

After all – have you ever been to a great movie?  One that made you laugh, or cry, or tremble with fear or excitement?  And GASP out loud in surprise?  Where you have been so drawn in to the ACTORS persona’s that you feel what they feel?  And then left the movie theatre with an elevated mood and a new perspective on the world?

Now think about this.  Every single word is COMPLETELY SCRIPTED in 99% of movies.  Every action is rehearsed.  Every camera angle, every lighting and sound effect – is considered microscopically.   If the director considers that a scene is not delivered effectively – the do it again, and again, and again.

A great movie script with poor delivery will usually suck.  A poor movie script with great delivery – will still be poor.

Is this just the same as a great sales script with poor delivery  and a poor sales script delivered well?  And if the performance is delivered to the wrong audience – more lousy beliefs about scripts will erupt.

So here is the first basic key to sales success.  Deliver your film [sales presentation] to an audience who has a little pre-existing desire to experience it.  ie don’t make a movie for people who never, ever go to the movies.

The second key has it’s clues in the charming performance in the video in the right corner of this page.  The talent show is structured.  The hosts rotate their questioning.  They ask the types of questions that make the performers more interesting, more engaging and more emotive.  Even in whatever language this is – the hosts  interaction with the children “draws us in”.  The responses even more so.

The the children do their ‘performance’.  Every part is carefully scripted.  It is a ‘dance’ like all good scripts are.  The children have done it a million times – and each part is constructed in detail – for a purpose.  They are about 5 or 6 years old.  Because they have a script, and because they had a structure that their script will work in, and an audience looking to be drawn in  – and because they have done the work to be able to complete each part of the dance – we the audience get to be enthralled.

Let’s find a ‘real’ example of a sales script that works in Townsville.  On Tuesday this week I went into a bakery to get a quick late lunch after a hectic morning.  It was the Brumby’s near the IGA in West End.  I was greeted with great smile from a teenage assistant “Good afternoon, what would you like today?”   [Script].   I chose the tomato and beef pie and a bottle of water.  “Great – anything else?”  [Script].  No thanks I said.  And then she left me in wonder with “This week we have lamingtons for $1 with any other purchase.  Would you like one?”

I don’t eat sweets much, but I have a rule that if anyone “bumps’ me [offers me more during a sale] I usually take it.  Just to reward them!  It happens very rarely here in Townsville – apart from the Institutionalized versions [but still good] at MacDonalds.    I buy the extra warranties, the belts, the shirts, the extra – if I am asked – and it is not sweets.

I thanked my Brumby’s assistant – and asked how often people took the offer.  “Heaps” she said – “We do several trays per day.”  This simple script could add $1000 per week to a store’s profit.  Of course the script could be even better, but it was still a great performance.

I asked a few clients about whether they would pay the extra dollar for a lamington – most said YES.  And we went on to review their point of sale scripts and structures.

Now – when you think about scripts in your business.  The question is not whether or not you like them, or if you are going to use them.  The money question is how good are your scripts, and how well are they being presented?  If you have not selected and worked on what scripts you want your team to use – THEY WILL BE WRITING THEIR OWN.

More later on the structure of scripts and how to help your team to love them soon.

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Cheers

James

Does Your Pricing Reflect Your Quality?

For a couple of years now I have owned an old Porsche 911.  She appeared one day after I specifically added “I own a Porsche” to my morning goals.  My younger brother rang me and said – “Hey there is an old Porsche out here – and they want to sell it – you like them – you want it?”

My first lesson was to be more specific with my goal statements.  ie put the word “NEW” or “AWESOME” or “PERFECT CONDITION” to the statements!

Well, this particular Porsche had some challenges.  And there was no Porsche dealer in Townsville.  (There is one coming very soon.)  So I worked my way through a mixture of different mechanics – all of whom claimed to be able to “fix anything”.

So my lovely 911 spent a long time sitting.  Sitting in one workshop, then another.  Then she would come home – have something fail, and sit in my garage.  Sitting, sadly leaking oil.

My investments to keep her sitting sadly – had mounted up quite considerably, and one day after cleaning the leaked oil from the garage floor – the obvious occurred to me.

“If my car was a person I would have simply found the best solution and done it by now!”

If I was sick – I would find the best doctors.  Even if I needed a computer part – get the best one!  I thought I had learned – but obviously not.  I had been unintentionally avoiding just finding the best mechanic available – and I was paying the price.  The price per hour was probably less than the best mechanics, but probably not much less.  And the total paid so fair was getting pretty substantial.

Bewdy!  A clear path to take.

Ok – now to find the best available.  It turns out that the simplest way to find a great Porsche mechanic it to ask people who own them “Who looks after your car?”    This information, combined with close scrutiny of the how their cars are running – tells me who talk to.

So – I simply approached people driving Porsche’s around Townsville – said hello – and asked them.  Every one of them was delighted to talk about their cars.  One lovely woman (with a lovely car) that I met outside the Post Office – wanted to keep talking forever about it – even though her husband was standing about 100 metres away on the corner waiting – hands on hips, to be picked up.  Oh well.

It seems that the Porsche dealership in Cairns, which is now part of the Motoco group, has a man called Lars who every month or two they fly to Townsville to service the Porsches here.

I purposely did not ask what the charges would be.  The question was “I have a 74 911 3 litre with a long list of challenges – can you have a look at it for me?”    “Ok – we can probably fit you in in about 5 or 6 weeks.”

Fast forward 6 weeks, and my Porsche is delivered to a workshop.  Later THAT DAY, I get a call saying that everything on my extensive mind map of things to fix, had been fixed.  “WHAT?”.   Even the bonnet latch?  The indicator switch?  The cold start issues?  The mongrel gearshifts?  The not quite right feeling in motor?  The angry clutch?

“Yes” says Lars with his slightly odd accent.  “Although I think it would make it nicer if we replaced the bushes in the gearshifting mechanism.  I can get them here by Thursday [today is Monday] and might have time do them then?”

I am still in a slight shock because I have wasted 3 years at least with a sick car.  “Great” I say.  Again – the price not questioned, as this is test.  On WEDNESDAY I get a call from Cairns saying my car is ready to be collected.  “HUH!”

As I purrr away from the workshop, changing gears effortlessly [except for 3rd of course], grinning, I take my lesson.

Going straight to the best I can find is a very nice  strategy.

I can hear you asking – “how much did it cost?”  Well, my guess without knowing the cost of part OR labour was between one and three grand.  It was closer to one – but did it matter?  The ongoing cost in both money and energy terms of having ‘a mess’ in my garage would have been far more.

The only real shortages in our world are our time and our attention.  Decisions made to ensure great returns on both are generally more powerful for us.

And the business lesson today?  One is that as the “Porsche guy” – Lars has a very tight USP.  Another is that a tight USP allows better margins.   And perhaps “we get what we pay for”.  That reminds me of my $12 haircuts – but that is another story.

Go and clear up a mess today!

Cheers

James