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3 Questions to Make Your Business Better

question As business owners, we often hear that we have to work on our business, not just in it. It’s a concept that sounds simple when you say it, but how do you get started?

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A lot of entrepreneurs thrive on bending the rules so the starting point isn’t always obvious. You have to create the rules – the operating system – so you will have time to work on your business in the future.

So, early in your business, you work on your business by working in your business!

You begin to develop those systems that will make delegation to your future employees more effective. To do that, ask yourself three questions:

  • What is your vision of the perfect transaction?
    Map out a transaction from beginning to end. Think about what you want your customers to experience during each step of the process. This will include: your advertising, the first interaction, and the closing of the transaction. But don’t forget to include what happens internally to support the transaction and follow-up with the customer.

But here’s the interesting thing when you bring your customers’ perspective in – every customer probably has one or two little things that they really like. If you can gear your organization to make that one customer happy on that one point, you’ll probably thrill the rest of your customers by doing it! They probably want it, too. They just haven’t vocalized it.

  • How can you improve one thing one percent?
    Take your bigg picture and bring in all the things that your customers have told you and begin working on one at a time.

We have a confession to make … these three questions aren’t ours. They come straight out of Ken Blanchard’s Raving Fans. It highlights these three questions through a great story and we highly recommend that you read his great book.

So these three questions will improve your performance, help you develop your operating systems, and keep you focused on the most important people in your business – your customers.

Putting it to work

Now you want to improve one thing one percent. We saw a great example of this in action. A company had their entire process mapped out on the wall of their conference room.

They had all these sticky notes up on the wall. Each sticky note represented something they wanted to test – something that represented a potential one percent improvement. These suggestions had been made by customers and by employees.

That’s what makes this concept so useful. It’s a great tool to get employee buy-in.

They get on board because they can see that their suggestions are being considered. More than that, they may get tested. The test results may call for full implementation!

It makes your employees feel like they’re a significant part of something bigger. They are valued. That leads to bigg success with your employees. 

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Thanks for checking in on us today. Join us next time as we make a special announcement – a new beginning for Bigg Success. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00354-031909.mp3

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10 Danger Signs for Business – Part 1

danger We’ve heard that diagnosing a medical condition early greatly increases the chances of successful treatment. The same is true for our businesses – we want to spot the minor issues so they don’t become major problems.

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Cash to a business is like blood to our bodies. It has to continue flowing or we won’t survive. As a small business owner, the bottom line is that you can’t run out of cash. So you have to know how to diagnose and treat the source of the ailment before it spreads. With that in mind, here are ten signs that your business may be heading for trouble:

#1 – Lost market share

Your sales may be growing, but your share of the market may be falling. Are they up because you’ve increased prices? Is the growth of your sales keeping pace with the growth of the markets you serve?

Market share is precious – among other things, it provides leverage to raise prices as your costs increase. As competitors enter your market, you have to work even harder to maintain (and hopefully increase) your share.

#2 – Declining customer counts

Your sales may be holding steady, but fewer and fewer people are making purchases. Your remaining customers are spending more, possibly because of price increases. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to find a way to attract new customers because a certain amount of customer attrition is natural.

We don’t want our customers to leave because they’re unhappy. But you can’t make everyone happy all the time so even that will happen. We’ll also have customers move away, pass away, grow out of our product or service, and the like.

#3 – Low repeat and referral business

Many businesses actually lose money to get a customer for the first-time. If they break-even, they’re very happy. It’s the follow-up purchases that make a difference to our bottom line.

A healthy percentage of repeat and referral business also shows that your product or service is still meeting the needs of a core base of people. And these people are the ones who will refer other people to you, which is much less expensive than depending totally on advertising to grow your business.

#4 – Declining sales

Right now, a lot of businesses are experiencing this. It may have nothing to do with you – it may be your industry that is experiencing trouble. So you have to ask yourself … is this a long-term trend or is it cyclical? That’s the first thing you have to determine.

Next, ask yourself, will my industry recover? Some industries were facing challenges even before this recession. It’s only accelerating the long-term trend. Other industries will do just fine coming out of it. You have to know which one applies to you.

Once you’re satisfied that your industry will survive, you have to look at your own business. A lot of shake-out is happening even in healthy industries. Isolate whether it’s a problem with your business or the industry as a whole to know your best strategy.

#5 – Disproportionate sales to a small group of customers

Picture this extreme situation – all of your sales come from one customer. You’re totally at the mercy of that customer. It’s like being an employee without the safeguards that go with employment!

Generally speaking, if more than ten percent of your sales are to one customer, you may face trouble at some point. Five percent is even better. Bigg customers are great. But serving a bigg number of customers leads to bigg success.

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Thank you for reading our post today. Join us next time when we talk about five more early warning signs of trouble ahead in your business. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00348-031109.mp3

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The Lost Art of Making Change

change We don’t pay with cash too often, but one of our brother-in-laws does. A pet peeve of his is that people can’t (or don’t) make change properly anymore. You know, the way it used to be done. Starting with the amount of the sale and counting back the change up to the amount you gave them.

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It seems like retail clerks either count out how much you have coming back or they just dump the change in your hand. Couldn’t they at least hand us the bills and the change separately? Or have one of those cool machines that spits out the change automatically?

So making change seems to be a lost art. Which made us wonder … what does that say about us?

That we can’t do math?

Because that really is what change-making, the old-fashioned way, requires of us. We depend on computers today, so we don’t have to do the math ourselves.

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georgeMy first real at-risk business was a retail store. We’re going back over 20 years here. I hired a woman in her 50s as a clerk. She hated the new-fangled cash registers we had. But she was brilliant. She could figure out how much change the customer had coming back faster than the cash register!

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marylynnI wonder what percentage of retail clerks could do that today. Here’s another example – have you ever given a clerk the dollars plus some change so you get an even amount back? And they get confused about why you’re giving them extra money!

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Practice makes perfect

We found a fun game to practice your change making skills and we have a link to that site on our site today. You get to see the change accumulating in your little piggy bank every time you get an answer correct.

What counting back change properly says

We’re losing some of our skills while gaining others. That’s part of the evolutionary process, but we need to make sure we’re not losing something in the process.

As we talked about this, we realized that there is a very important reason to count back change the way it used to be done. It has far bigger implications than you might think.

But today, we suspect that many people don’t see the benefit of the custom and it’s a pretty important benefit. By counting back change properly, the customer is reassured that we’re giving them the correct amount of change back. It highlights our honesty and integrity.

So whether we use a computer or not, that’s the reason to do it – it builds trust.

That’s why we’re talking about this today. We have a zest for new technology and that’s good. We are on a quest to be more productive. That’s good. But we have to make sure that we’re not throwing out customs that build our relationships.

It’s one thing to lose a skill that can be done by a computer; it’s a totally different story if we stop doing something that enhances our relationship with people. So, here at Bigg Success, we’re reviewing our practices to make sure we aren’t neglecting actions that solidify our relationships with the people we depend on for our success.

Sometimes the old way of doing things is the right way to do them. Because we rarely distinguish ourselves by some bigg accomplishment. We set ourselves apart by things that seem insignificant. Bigg success often comes from little actions.

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time when we continue on this thread but twist it in a different direction. We’ll talk about making change count. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00341-030209.mp3

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Are You a Victim of Your Own Success?

stress You’ve made it! You’ve arrived! You’ve reached that next level of success! You’ve achieved your dream!

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But you’re swamped. Now, you have a seemingly endless list of things-to-do. And it all just keeps coming. Minute after minute, day after day, week after week. It’s sheer chaos.

You find yourself busier than ever. You’re more successful than ever. But are you happier than ever?

It seems that you’re a victim of your own success – too much to do, too many clients, too many constituents. So what can you do about it?

Congratulate yourself

Take a deep breath and a little pause. Enjoy it for a bit!

Get away from it all for a day

We know … you’re too busy. But here’s the thing – you’re too busy not to get away because, on your day away, you’re going to contemplate. What’s most important? What’s least important?

After you’ve thought about those two things:

Hire an assistant, outsource, partner, joint venture … you get the idea

Delegate – in some way, shape or form – those things that aren’t most important.

You might be asking, “Can I afford to hire someone?” But you’re asking the wrong question. The question really is, “Can I afford not to?”

Because the most important things – the people who are most important for you to spend time with, the projects that only you can and should do – will get pushed aside by the less important things if you don’t take this step.

Set the expectations for the people in your life

You need to establish boundaries for all your people. You may set certain times when you’re available to employees, vendors, and even customers. We think customers can’t be trained, but even they can. 

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georgeIn one of my early businesses, my second biggest customer was constantly calling with demands for immediate service. Finally, I presented them with an option – they could work within our time frame for the price we negotiated or I could offer them quicker turnaround for a higher price. They chose the better price!

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Finding your model

Now you’re only working on the most important things and you’ve communicated your boundaries to the most important people in your life. You’re ready to do those things you do in the most efficient way possible.

So let’s look for a model. Think about a manufacturer’s assembly line with products coming down it. What are your products?

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marylynnFor us, it is shows to produce. Articles to write. E-mails to return. People to reach out to. Products to create. Services to deliver.

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Your production cycle may flow over an hour, a day, a week, or a month. Think about all of the important things you do – that’s your product – and engineer your processes to move that product down the line in the most efficient manner possible.

Engineer your processes

What is the best way to do it? Think about it logically. Step back and look at it again. Walk yourself through the whole process, step-by-step as it exists today. Now, start looking for ways to save little bits of time.

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georgeOne of the guest speakers for my class became a billionaire by turning his little business into a Fortune 500 company. One of his secrets was finding ways to get more done with the same people. For example, they discovered a way to change how they labeled packages for shipment. It saved them 55 seconds. That’s time they could spend on something else!

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So if you find yourself a victim of your own success, start with effectiveness – make sure you’re doing the right things. Then work on efficiency – doing those things the right way.

Doing the right things the right way … before you know it, you’ll be an even bigger success without being victimized by it!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success!
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Next time, we ask, “Are you afraid of success?” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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5 Steps to Make an Unhappy Customer Happy Again

love We’ve all heard the basic rules of customer service. But they deserve repeating before we discuss how to resolve a customer complaint.

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Rule #1: The customer is always right.

Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule #1.

These two rules are sufficient most of the time. However, sometimes we must realize:

Rule #3: The customer may not always reasonable.

You must know your boundaries in dealing with an unreasonable customer. If you’re a leader, you must communicate these boundaries to your people so they are effective when customers complain.

5 steps to make an unhappy customer happy again

Step #1 – Let the customer vent.
Before you can attempt to resolve the situation, you must understand it. Find out exactly what is troubling your customer. 

Step #2 – Listen attentively.
While this is really part of Step #1, it is so important that it bears special emphasis. Pay attention to what your customer is and isn’t saying. What are his or her specific objections?

#3 – Restate the complaint or complaints.
Wait until he or she has completely “unloaded”. Then, repeat back to your customer the complaints he or she has registered.

You may say, “Please let me make sure I completely understand your concerns.”  Then restate the complaint.

Step #4 – Assure them.

This is not to say that you agree with him or her. It simply lets your customer know that you recognize how they feel.  There is a difference!    You may say things like:

* “I can understand why you might feel that way.”
* “I can see your point.”
* “I can appreciate that.”

#5 – Find out what they want.

Everything has led to this point.  Simply ask the customer this question: “What would you like me to do?”

If you have handled yourself correctly up to now, you will find they will usually ask for less than you would expect.  If so, give it to them! If not, offer them a reasonable option to resolve the issue. 

Let them decide how they can be happy again.  It will be rare when you can’t find a good solution that makes both of you happy.

Complaints are an opportunity

Good things can come from a customer complaint. You can learn how to improve your procedures.

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georgeI once owned a carpet cleaning business. I remember a customer complained because we didn’t get the furniture put back exactly where she had it. We had a chair misplaced by about an eighth of an inch. From that day on, we asked every customer to look at the room before we left to make sure we had everything in the right place. Our customers were thrilled at this simple change in process!

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Remember this, if a customer is unhappy, they’ll usually do one of two things:

Take their business elsewhere or complain. Which do you prefer?

Research shows that customers, who have had problems resolved to their satisfaction, produce three times the revenue of a customer without a problem. On top of that, they are much more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

Sounds like a good reason to try to make unhappy customers happy again!
 

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Want more tips to help you be a BIGG success?
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Next time, we’ll discuss what you have to do BEFORE you hire an employee. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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