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Business Tip: Read These Books!

Increase your awareness of possible solution alternatives by reading great business books and listening to CDs. Make the most of your time by listening to audio recordings of books whenever you can…when driving in your car for example. Also, make a commitment to read at least one good business book a month.

What follow are the titles and authors of ten books I suggest you read. These great books provide insights into problem resolutions that will help you expand your frame of reference.

Good to Great – Jim Collins

The Secrets of Question-Based Selling – Jim Freese

Start With Why – Simon Sinek

The Ultimate Sales Machine – Chet Holmes

Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got – Jay Abraham

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

Instant Cashflow – Bradley Sugars

Endless Referrals – Bob Burg

Influence – Robert Cialdini

The Psychology of Selling – Brian Tracey

“In order to burn out a person needs to have been on fire at one time.” – Ayala Pines

Millions of people show up at work on Monday morning D.O.A. (Dead on Arrival).
Burned out – Stressed out and Overworked.  Sound Familiar?

IT’S A FACT:

  • Blood pressure readings are higher on Mondays than at any other time of the week.
  • Deaths from heart attacks and strokes tend to peak on Monday morning.
  • There are 20 percent more heart attacks on Mondays than any other day of the week.

Monday morning at 9:00 am — Just enough time to get your coffee, make small talk in the break room, and settle down at your desks in front of an insurmountable pile of to do’s, cold calls, sales reports, deadlines and dead ends …

Companies spend billions of dollars a year to analyze the core issues that are stifling their organization. The answer is simple … employee’s who are not motivated at work!!

IT’S A FACT:

  • Unmotivated employee’s cost American company’s more than $300 billion a year in lost productivity.
  • 22.5 million workers in the U.S. are completely unmotivated despite the risk of unemployment.
  • Poor leadership is the biggest contributor to unmotivated employees.

“I believe that motivation – the lack of it or the misdirection of it – is the single biggest problem facing business today. In fact, I bet that right now, without any preparation, you could reel off a half-dozen examples of how motivation problems are killing your organization.”

Companies all over the Metro area come to ActionCOACH Atlanta to:

  • Ignite the passion and fire in their workforce
  • Improve employee morale and retention.
  • Decrease employee absenteeism and turnover.
  • Bottom line: TO IMPROVE BOTTOM LINE RESULTS!

All Prospects Aren’t Equally Loyal

When was the last time you received a thank you note after making a purchase? Only on rare occasions have I ever received a thank you note from the owner of a business after making a significant purchase. If I did receive such a note I would certainly revisit the business, assuming the quality was at least good. So why is it that hand-written thank you notes are not modus operandi for most business owners? It’s not because businesses have so many regular repeat customers that they don’t need more. No, the answer is that owners don’t understand customer loyalty.

One of the most important lessons we teach business owners is that there are different degrees of customer loyalty. Just because someone buys from you once doesn’t mean that they will continue buying from you. One-time buyers are nothing more than shoppers; they aren’t customers. It’s not until someone buys a second time that they become customers.

I introduce the Ladder of Loyalty to clients to help them understand the different levels of client relationships. There are six rungs on this loyalty ladder. The lowest level of loyalty is the “Suspect” because they haven’t purchased from your business, and the most desirable customers rest on the top rung as a “Raving Fans”.

Raving Fan
Advocate
Member
Customer
Shopper
Prospect
  Suspect

Suspects:
Suspects are members of your target market. You may have directed some lead generation activities towards them, but they have been unresponsive to those marketing initiatives.

Prospects:
The next rung on the ladder is occupied by those Suspects who express interest in learning more about your business. Perhaps they call you after being referred to you, or after reading one of your advertisements, or after meeting you at an event. How you and your frontline team members handle this initial inquiry is crucially important in moving the Prospect up your loyalty ladder.

It’s important to collect their contact information so that you can start building a relationship with them. Building customer loyalty is all about relationship building. Your goal is to move each customer up to the next level of the  ladder.

Shopper:
When your Prospect makes their first purchase they become a Shopper. Most business owners incorrectly label first-time buyers as customers. These Shoppers are just checking out your services or products. They have no loyalty to your business.

Customer:
It’s only when someone makes their second purchase from you that they become a customer. With their second purchase most Shoppers become profitable, but they don’t have a sense of loyalty yet.

Member:
Customers become Members once they begin to feel like they belong to your business. At this stage they are building loyalty towards your business. How do you develop this sense of membership? Once they make their third or fourth purchase give them a VIP (Very Important Person) card, or invite them to an event you host for members only. Perhaps you give them a “Members Kit” that includes a catalog of all your products or services and some valuable coupons.

Advocate:
The interim step between Member and Raving Fan is an Advocate. Advocates are huge fans of your business and recommend you often to their friends and acquaintances. Not only are they referring business to you, but they keep buying.

Raving Fan:  The highest rung on the Ladder of Loyalty is reserved for Raving Fans. These are those clients of yours that can’t stop selling your business for you. It’s as though they become part of your sales team. How wonderful would it be if your clients did the selling for you?

You might think that owners spend as much money getting new clients as they do developing strategies and programs to move Customers up to Raving Fans. Unfortunately, most business owners spend roughly 95% of their marketing dollars to find Prospects, leaving only 5% of their dollars to spend on moving relationships up the ladder. A more appropriate mix would be 60 – 70% of marketing dollars to develop Prospects and 40 – 30% to move clients up the ladder until they become Raving Fans.  It’s six time less expensive to get an existing client to make a purchase than to get a Prospect to buy for the first time.

Conclusion: Focus on strategies you can implement that will move customers up the Ladder of Loyalty. You are missing tremendous lead generation potential if you leave clients sitting on the Customer rung of the ladder where they are not helping you market your business.

I have the best product in the market today! Why can’t I get people to see that?

“I have the best product in the market today! Why can’t I get people to see that?”

 

“My service will save the average person a ton of money (time, aggravation, etc….) I just need them to know that.”

 

“They will enjoy it, if they would only try it!”

 

Many companies that are struggling spend a great deal of time producing a great product and/or service, but not enough time producing a great business.  Most entrepreneurs believe that if you build a better mousetrap, customers will flock to your door.

The truth of the matter is that today, more than ever, marketing is the engine that drives every business.  Marketing makes you money, fuels your growth and separates you from your competition.

Marketing is simple and inexpensive.  It’s a process that helps you identify potential customers, to differentiate yourself from your competitors and keeps customers coming back again and again. Marketing is an investment.

What will it take?  It will take patience, persistence and an allocation of some financial resources to your marketing effort.  Take control of your business by leveraging your time and energy to produce maximum results.

The key to success in growing your business is to focus on prospects and customers.  By developing a marketing strategy, you will answer three basic questions:

1.    What business are you in?
2.    What problems do you solve?
3.    What makes you unique?

Chances are that your best prospects will look just like your best customers.  Therefore, create a profile of your best prospect so that you can establish your target audience.  Your marketing effort will consist of a campaign with a consistent message and theme.  It should be designed to build rapport and trust.  Keep your messages short and simple.  Communicate problem-solving benefits. Test your message and test and test again. Demonstrate value-it’s the difference between cost and price.

Do I Suck it up, or Delegate?

There’s no question about it; delegation is difficult for most small business owners. No matter how big our business gets and how many employees we have most of us started out as one person enterprise and we’re used to running all of our own show.

There’s also no question that delegation is a skill that’s critical to business success and a healthy work life balance. Even a one person business can get so busy that there’s no way that a single person can do all that needs to be done. And even the smallest of small businesses can take over a person’s life to such a level that causes personal unhappiness and friction within the family.

So take a deep breath. You have to make delegation a priority if you’re going to do what you want to do and stay sane and happy. Practice some of this delegation primer will help you let go and learn how to delegate successfully.

So What Should I Delegate?

I recommend that people delegate first the tasks that don’t directly bring in the bucks. So an IT consultant, for instance, should probably outsource bookkeeping and accounting tasks. It’s just not the way he or she makes money. The purpose of delegation isn’t just to have someone else do something; it’s to free you to focus on using your developed talents and skills most productively.  Let’s face it, if you delegate enough of the right things, you can be incredibly more productive. And in terms of service businesses, that translates into a lot more available revenue hours.

How to Get Started Delegating

1) Decide that you’re going to delegate.
You need to admit that you can’t do all the things that you would like to do and stop just trying to do more yourself.

2) Decide what you’re going to delegate.
Is there a particular area where you need help or something that you don’t like doing much? It is probably a good candidate for delegation. Remember that you don’t want to delegate the core part of your business (what brings in the revenue).Remember, what you delegate doesn’t have to be a business task. Delegation is leverage. It is about doing less so you can achieve more or a better balance. A small business owner may find that hiring a maid service to clean the house or a landscape service to keep the exterior of the home in shape gives hours of more time to focus on the business, for instance.

3) Find the people to delegate to.
It’s fine to say that you’re going to delegate something, but if you’re not going to do it, you need to find someone else that you can trust to get it done and do it well. Finding good people may take a bit of a search. Start by asking your friends, family and other business people (like your coach) who they recommend to do what you need done. Finding the right people at the right time is a reason that being a member of various small business groups and networks is so invaluable.

Research the potential candidate and check credentials. Ask him for names of other client customers that you can talk to, and then talk to them. E.g. if you’re looking for an accountant, use a good interview process to help you make the best choice.

Tips for Successful Delegation

Delegate, Don’t Abdicate.  Be as specific about what you want done.

It’s no good hiring someone, telling them you need some help around the office, and then complaining because they haven’t done what you wanted them to do. You can’t expect an accountant to provide good advice when you haven’t bothered to sit down with him and talk about where your business is now and where you’d like to see it going. You have to be very clear about what you need done and how you want it done.

Let the person get on with it.

We smile when we hear about the business person who goes on vacation for a week but phones the office or shop ten times a day every day he’s gone, but we’ve all been there. You have to realize that when you delegate something, it’s literally out of your hands and you need to avoid interfering with the process of getting it done. As hard as it is, wait for the end product before you judge how successful the delegation has been (accountability).

Do not delegate a lot of tasks at once.

In fact, if delegation makes you uncomfortable, start by delegating one thing only. Your delegation comfort and confidence level will build over time as you see the job you’ve assigned completed successfully. Then you’ll be ready to delegate something else.

Do not give up too quickly.

By example, my relationship with my first accountant was not a success. He was competent, but I didn’t feel that he was willing to give me enough of his attention. Rather than throw up my hands and start to do my own pathetic accounting again (or putting up with a relationship I was not happy with), I went and found another accountant that I was much happier with. You may not necessarily find the right person the first time. You need to stick with it persist and find that right person if delegating that task is going to work. If you have existing employees, be careful of off loading tasks that they are untrained for or for which they clearly not interested or capable of learning

Delegation goes against the grain for many small business owners who started alone. But if we want both our businesses and our personal lives to thrive, delegation is a critical skill to master

I OWN THE BUSINESS!

“I own this business, Russ, I know what needs to get done – by me and everyone who works for me.  That’s what ownership means – ‘I own the ship and I’m the captain.”

 
That is not an uncommon feeling or statement that I have heard from many top business owners. After all, good business owner-executives should be disciplined enough to hold themselves accountable to take the actions they know they need to take, right?

Not!

The built-in challenge that you have as a business owner is that if you’re the owner there’s often no one there with you to support you and ensure that you’re being accountable to your business, your team and yourself. Being accountable doesn’t always mean that you’re getting ‘everything’ done. It also encompasses taking ownership of the situations around you. Business owners and, for that matter, company executives face problems and issues on a daily basis, so there is always a great reason why they cannot do something they initially committed to getting done.

Many “managers” of a business operate in a reactionary way, handling one fire after another. So they fail to plan a direction for their company. What complicates this further is if the company is generating revenue and profits, the owner or manager may not have a burning need to work on the direction of the business rather than the day to day routine.

So, the real issue is just paying lip service instead of taking action. For example, it’s easy for an owner to get fired up in a seminar on Friday and decide that on Monday he or she is going to start a training and coaching program for his people or to take on some other initiative. The problem is that, come Monday morning, the phone rings and they are now off doing something else. They are now “managed by distraction.”

Nearly every owner needs more than just a solid strategy, systems and procedures to accomplish their goals. The number one reason for business failure has less to do about the people, strategy, product, process, service or profitability and everything to do with consistent execution on every level. Execution is owner’s or general manager’s responsibility.

As business owners, nearly every one of us can get a measure of advice and accountability from our spouses, industry peers or friends, bankers and accountants But an increasing number of business owners and executives are turning to coaches because they offer expertise, third-party perspective, targeted advice, a safe sounding board to talk about their challenges without worrying about being judged and regular phone meetings to speed progress and build in the accountability that is often lost when alone at the top.

Experienced coaches have also heard most of the excuses, so we make sure the client stays focused on making the progress they seek.

If a real business is a business that operates without you, how far do you have to go?

A winning team is an invaluable asset and essential component in all successful businesses. Outstanding people are pivotal to building a strong foundation and yield dividends, which include greater leverage and productivity, improved customer service, and an increase in revenue and profits.   

Your team is critical to realizing your dream of time and financial freedom that you had when you started the business.  “Team” can be different things to different people, including employees, vendors, alliance partners and family members.  Anyone who helps you and your business grow is part of your team, at least that’s how your customers will see it. 

 

Building a great team is a process anyone can master.  For many though, it is often a monumental challenge. A large number of business owners and leaders experience situations that lead them to believe that “there aren’t any good people out there” and “no one could or will do it the way I do it.”  Beliefs can change in an instant if people want them to.  Are your beliefs about building a great team limiting the steps you could take to move your business to a higher level?

 

The ActionCOACH Atlanta Team is dedicated to the value of teams, team building and the leadership required to develop high performance organizations.  You’ll be better prepared for your team building journey when you learn keys to building a winning team, how to determine how each member of the team views their relationship with you and your company, how to program yourself for leadership success and where to get other resources to help you grow your leadership and team building talents. 

 

In abundance,

 

Russ Young,  Russ is  a Partner of ActionCOACH Atlanta  a Business Coach, affiliated with many community activities and an expert at helping others grow their business through marketing and sales activities. 

Systemizing Your Business…..

Effective systems can save you and your team both time and money and frustration.  The basic rule for systemizing is ‘Systemize the routine – humanize the exception’.  Anything that can’t be systemised needs to be run by people.  Always look at putting a system in place rather than employing more people. A system means that things are done consistently, regardless of the team member.

Remember…

–          Systems run your business…

–          People run your systems…

–          You lead your people…

There are four basic steps to systemization…

  1. Flowchart your processes.  This will show you how it all fits together.

 

  1. Document how it gets done.  Get the team member who is currently doing the job to write down every step in performing a task.  This person then gets a new person to do the task following the written down steps.  If the person currently doing the task has to step in and explain anything to the new person then that information is added to the step, etc.  Once completed start again with another person until you have demonstrated that any person can do the task without intervention.

 

  1. Measure results using key performance indicators.  Typically, these will be the top five measures to show system performance.  Get these from the person doing the job (i.e. in sales you could use no. of leads, conversion rate, average $ sale etc.).

 

  1. Allow the system to change/grow as your business changes and grows. Ensure that the system is self-correcting so as to allow it to evolve at the same pace that your business evolves.

 

When determining where to start systemizing, ask yourself…

  1. What are you doing on a regular basis that a lower paid team member could be doing if it were systemized?  Systemize it, hand it over to the lower paid team member and spend your time on higher level activities – remember the goal is to work on your business.

 

  1. Is there anything you hate doing which could be done by a lower paid person if it were systemized? Systemize it and hand it over.

 

Some final tips…

  1. Don’t over complicate systems or people won’t follow them.

 

  1. Use lots of photos, videos, tapes etc.  This may be as simple as printing a computer screen or videoing someone doing the task at hand.  This will make the systems much easier to follow.

 

  1. Document your system in a policies and procedures or operations manual in an easy to access format.  And make sure everyone has one or  knows where it is! Require all of your team members to periodically review the manual with the goal of identifying needed changes on a timely and qualitative basis.

 

Your systems checklist…

 

Daily office operation systems

  • Answering the telephone
  • Receiving and opening the mail
  • Purchasing and maintaining office supplies and equipment
  • Faxing and e-mailing
  • Dealing with incoming/outgoing delivery needs
  • Backing up and archiving data

 

Product development systems

  • Developing product and protecting it legally
  • Developing packaging and collateral material (eg catalogues)
  • Developing manufacturing methods and procedures
  • Developing manufacturing costing and bidding process

 

Manufacturing and inventory systems

  • Selecting vendors
  • Determining product or service warranties offered
  • Establish product or service pricing (retail and wholesale)
  • Establishing reorder process for inventory production
  • Receiving and storing product inventory
  • Reconciling physical inventory with accounting records

 

Order processing and tracking systems

  • Taking orders and recording the orders by mail, fax, phone or online
  • Fulfilling and packaging the orders
  • Confirming details before service or product delivery
  • Sending the orders
  • Management system for freight, couriers and vehicles
  • Order tracking systems

 

Invoicing and Accounts Receivable Systems

  • Invoicing customers for the orders
  • Receiving payments for the orders and crediting customers for payment (whether cash, check or credit card)
  • Monitoring credit control and age of accounts
  • Starting the collection process for outstanding receivables on a timely basis

 

Customer Service Systems

  • Returns procedure for inventory receiving and customer payment return
  • Responding to customer complaints
  • Replacing defective product or performing other warranty service
  • Measure quality and professionalism of service delivery

 

Accounts Payable Systems

  • Purchasing procedures and approvals required
  • Payment process for supplies and inventory
  • Petty cash

 

Sales and Marketing Systems

  • Create an overall marketing plan
  • Designing and producing promotional materials
  • Developing general leads and prospects
  • Creating an advertising plan
  • Creating a public relations plan
  • Creating a direct mail plan
  • Developing and maintaining a database
  • Developing and maintaining a website
  • Analysing and tracking sales statistics

–          Continuously measure number and origin of all leads

–          Measure conversion rate for each salesperson

–          Measure your average dollar sale for every team member

–          Keep a record of your profit margins

People and Education Systems

  • Recruitment procedures
  • Training employees
  • Payroll process
  • Induction program
  • Team member positional descriptions
  • Career planning
  • Company rules of the game
  • Company vision and mission statement
  • Company and individual team member goals and performance indicators
  • Conflict resolution
  • Contingency staffing plans
  • Redundancy systems

 

General Accounting Systems

  • Managing the accounting process with daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports

–          Complete and monitor monthly and yearly budgets

–          Complete a monthly balance sheet

–          Daily or weekly update cashflow statements

  • Managing cash with future borrowing needs secured and available
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Reporting payroll taxes and withholding payments
  • Complete weekly bank reconciliation
  • Have a daily banking system
  • Maintaining an asset register including depreciation

 

General Corporate Systems

  • Negotiating, drafting and executing contracts
  • Developing and protecting intellectual property
  • Managing insurance needs and coverage
  • Reporting and paying federal, state and other taxes
  • Planning for federal, state and other taxes
  • Managing and storing records
  • Maintenance of equipment
  • Maintaining investor/shareholder relations
  • Information flow processes
  • Ensuring legal security
  • Developing a business plan for planning and managing growth

 

Physical Space Management Systems

  • Maintaining and designing telephone and electrical systems
  • Upgrading office equipment
  • Planning permits and fees
  • Licensing
  • Ensuring physical security

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick M. Lencioni

Business owners and leaders who read “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” are in for a few BFOs (Blinding Flash of the Obvious ah ha moments or epiphanies) Written in leadership fable style, you’ll easily be able to see where your team performs well and where there are opportunities for it to achieve more of its potential.

 You will clearly realize how absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results corrupt a team’s chances for success.  Reading this book will be like looking in a mirror; sometimes it takes courage to face the truth. 

After you read the book, check out “Five Temptations of a CEO” by the same author.  “Five Temptations” will help you understand the leadership behaviors that let the five dysfunctions occur.  Contact actioncoachatlanta.com if you’d like a short powerpoint slide set that depicts the main points these two books by Patrick Lencioni convey.

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Four Points of Wisdom from Peter Drucker

From the publication of his first economics book in 1939 until his recent in 2005, Peter Drucker was known as the foremost authority on how to run a business. (But he never had a secretary and he answered his own telephone.)

Though much of his work was done some years ago, his ideas are timeless. These are a few of his statements that most business owners, managers and leaders believe in and try to practice.

On decisions: Every decision is risky. It’s a commitment of present resources to an uncertain and unknown future. Risks can be minimized if you know when a decision is necessary, how to clearly define a problem and tackle it directly, and that you’ll have to make compromises in the end. You haven’t made a decision until you’ve found a way to implement it. (He was quoted in Fortune.)

On work: Focus on opportunities rather than problems. Problem solving prevents damage, but exploiting opportunities produces results. Unless there is a crisis, problems shouldn’t even be discussed until opportunities have been analyzed and dealt with. Exploit change as an opportunity, and don’t view it as a threat.

On organizations: Human beings tend to close out the outside. But effective organizations exist not to satisfy themselves but to fill a customer need. Leaders have the duty to focus an organization on the outside in a way that continually refreshes what everyone is doing inside the company.

On management: Don’t ever say “I think,” say “we.” Effective leaders know they have authority only because they have the trust of the organization. They understand that the needs and opportunities of an organization come before their own needs.

Simply, Peter Drucker said we have to view problems and change as opportunities. We have to think of the customer and how we can fill his needs. We have to have a clear way to implement change before we make it. The interests of the organization come before individual interests