Author: Tamara Jenkins

Are You Growing By 1%?

The Rule of 1% is simply defined as improving your customer service one per cent at a time.

Before you can do this, you must have your consistency perfected or it will never work. This one per cent may seem small, but if you approach the vision for your company with baby steps, you will find a huge increase over a solid chunk of time. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Avoid doing too much at once or you’ll set yourself up for failure. Think of the confidence you and your employees will have when you improve one per cent each week. By the end of a year, you’ll have improved more than 50%!

While, rules and standards are necessary for growth, always be flexible with your best customers. Most retailers only allow a set number of items into a dressing room to reduce the risk of shoplifting, but it generally restricts the large percentage of people who are not stealing from you. Flexibility is the key to what you deliver to your customers and consistency is the key to how you deliver it.

The bottom line is customers rely on you to deliver what you promise. If you spend too much on bulky advertising that promises more than you can deliver, even your best intentions will unravel quickly, and you will fail.

Focus on your vision and baby steps to turn your satisfied customers into Raving Fans.

I hope you’ve learned a lot about good customer service and how it’s essential to your overall success. If you need help with any of the steps we’ve gone through over the last four lessons, try our FREE test drive and get access to some of the best resources, tools and coaches available.

In upcoming posts, we’re going to explore strategies of bagging the big clients and keeping them.

Deliver + 1

In the last post, we talked about how to figure out what your customers want out of a positive shopping experience.

Today we’ll talk about the concept of Deliver +1 and how this concept can take your customer service to the next level. I’ve decided to split up this post so the next one will cover the 1% Rule.

Consistency is the key to any great customer service experience. If you want to take your satisfied customers to Raving Fan status, you have to go above and beyond the average customer service experience.

There are three ways to develop consistency:

Avoid offering too many customer service options.
We sometimes get so caught up in giving customers what they want that we get away from our original vision. Instead, stay true to your vision and offer one or two solid customer service techniques that will set you apart from the competition.
You need to fine-tune the current systems you are using before you can add anything to the mix. There’s nothing worse than launching a new program when you haven’t even worked out the kinks of an old system.

Put solid systems into place.
Once you know what you’re going to offer, you need to have a system in place to execute it flawlessly every time. This system needs to involve the right people in the right roles and responsibilities and technology that guarantees a positive experience every time. Emphasis needs to be placed on the results, which ultimately is the satisfaction of the customer.

Good training is the key.
Once you have your system in place you need to train people to use it properly and efficiently. This helps your people deliver the results your customers are looking for. While training is essential for the system to work and for all your people to perform together cohesively, appreciation will go a long way.

I hope this has given you a look into what you need to do in order to have a quality customer service system in place. If you need help, try our FREE test drive and gain access to a wealth of resources, tools and coaching.

Another Secret Revealed

In the last post, we talked about the first secret to building a solid customer service plan and how to decide what your vision is.
Today we’ll talk about the second secret in taking your satisfied customers to raving fans. You must know what your customers want. Know who your customers are and you will know better how to serve them. Demographics are really important here. An upper-class woman in her 30’s is going to have completely different expectations than a blue-collar worker in his 50’s.
There are four main areas you need to consider and plan when figuring out what your customers want:
• Listen to Your Customers
• Ask Your Customers Sincerely
• Offer More than Just a Product/Service
• Know When to Ignore Them

These are all important when deciding what your customers want out of their shopping experience.

Listen to Your Customers
You need to listen to both what they say and what they don’t say. Customers may say they want one thing and really mean something else. For example, if your customers are begging for lower prices, you may find out their real priority is quick delivery.
Also, listen to your “silent” customers. These are the customers who don’t bother to complain because the service is so bad they’ve just given up and don’t feel like their voice matters. They feel unwanted and when a competitor shows up, they’ll be gone.
Lastly, you need to listen to customers who only reply with “fine”. These customers are similar to the “silent” customers in that they are so used to bad customer service they only give a monotone response.

Ask Your Customers Sincerely
If you aren’t sincere when you ask their opinion, they are going to see right through you. You may be thinking, “What about the customers who aren’t saying anything?” You need to ask them sincere questions that get them thinking about their experiences. Make them feel like you really care … and you should!

Offer More than Just a Product/Service
Your customers are looking for much more than a simple product or service; they are looking for an experience that makes them feel good. They grade you on every step of the process. When you take this into consideration and treat them like people, they will feel like they belong.

Know When to Ignore Them
You may think this goes beyond providing good customer service, but in reality, you can’t give them everything and you will never make some people happy. You have to set limits and stick to them. If your vision and company don’t meet the needs of the customer, they will be best suited somewhere else.

These are the steps and tricks to figuring out what your customers want and how you can use them to work on your customer service vision and plan.

If you get stuck, try our FREE test drive and let us help you through the process.

Shhh… I Have a Secret

Customer service is a hot topic and can make or break your business.

Let’s face it. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and easily get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the line, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.
If you provide them with a simple, efficient, pleasant experience they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

There are three secrets to good customer service; the first one we’re going to conquer is knowing exactly what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business and that includes customer service. There are three main goals you need to consider:

1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website, and other technology-based programs to help them shop.

2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, warm and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.

3. Change your mindset and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses but making and keeping happy customers.
With these thoughts in mind, you also need to take a few things into consideration when deciding on the actual programs and standards you’ll put into place.
• Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
• Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
• Monitor the level of customer service your staff is putting out.
• Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
• Continuously focus on your goals.

You now know what you can start thinking about to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.
If you’re having a hard time deciding on what you want, the tools, resources and coaches in our FREE test drive can help you define the wants and needs of your company in relation to customer service.

Add some Compost

In the last post, we talked about the first three of the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:
• Primary Aim
• Strategic Objectives
• Organisational Strategy
• Management Strategy
• People Strategy
• Marketing Strategy
• Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine-tune your plan for the ultimate level of success. Today we are going to cover the last four.

Think of constructing your business model like planting a tree. At first, it’s so small and weak you wonder if it will even make it through the night. But you keep watering, fertilizing and nurturing it. Your ideas will grow the trunk and each of these strategies will extend out like the branches of your now strong tree. Finding the perfect support staff, employees, vendors/suppliers and other relationships will make your tree flourish with leaves and flowers.

Management Strategy
The way you structure your management team is not only essential to your growth, but the happiness of your employees and, ultimately, your customers/clients. This strategy is results-oriented and doesn’t depend on the people, but the actual system that’s in place.
A management strategy is, in short, a set of standards that include goals, rules, a mission statement and other concrete things that tell your employees how to act, your management how to grow your business and your customers/clients what to expect.
These should all be in perfect alignment with your business goals.

Employee Appreciation
You need to put together a people strategy that shows your employees how you feel about their job performance and dedication to your business. They also need to understand “why” they are doing specific tasks. This helps them to personally connect to their job which in turn leads to better production and a happier workplace.
There are a number of strategies you can use to keep it interested at “the office”:
• Performance Incentive Programs
• Contests that reward high performance
• Employee of the Month
• Performance/Holiday Bonuses

These are just a few of the ideas you can use. One of the best ways to appreciate your employees is by calling a meeting and asking them how they would like to be rewarded. Think about it for a while and put the best strategy into play. Keep it fresh and change up the strategy you use from time to time to keep your employees guessing. Once they get used to the prize, it’s time for a whole new approach.
You need to build a community within your company. There needs to be support, appreciation and respect. The more “at home” an employee feels, the better they will perform and the higher their level of loyalty.

Marketing Strategy
Marketing is, of course, essential to the success of any business, but it also must work cohesively with the other strategies you’re using. There are two major pillars of a successful marketing strategy: The demographic and psychographic profiles of your customers.
The psychographic tells you what your customers are the most likely to buy and the demographic tells you who they are, which can help you learn why they buy specific items. Without this information, it simply doesn’t matter how good your business prototype is.
Systems Strategy
There are three types of systems in every business:
• Hard Systems
• Soft Systems
• Information Systems

Hard systems refer to inanimate systems or systems that have no “life”. Soft systems are those that could be living. Information systems are, of course, everything else, including customer data, product information, financial…anything with data and numbers.
The most important of all three systems is the soft system because it includes the sales systems your business uses. In your sales system, the two keys to success are structure and substance. The structure is what you sell and substance is how you sell it.
All three systems are essential to the success of your business and while they all have their own very specific roles, they all must work together to get the job done. This also goes for your entire business development program.
I want to take a moment to recap the ideas we went over through the business development lessons.
An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with:
• Desire
• Some capital
• Projected a targeted profit

There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:
• The Technician
• The Manager
• The Entrepreneur

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:
• Infancy
• Adolescence
• Growing Pains
• Maturity

There are a few things we are going to talk about:
• Business Format Franchise
• The Franchise Prototype
• Franchise Prototype Standards

There are three main areas of business development:
• Innovation
• Quantification
• Orchestration

7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process. Here are all seven again:
• Primary Aim
• Strategic Objectives
• Organisational Strategy
• Management Strategy
• People Strategy
• Marketing Strategy
• Systems Strategy

We can help you work through all of these areas and give your business a jumpstart that puts you ahead of your competition right from the start. Use our FREE test drive and work with one of our coaches, plus gain access to a wealth of tools and resources.

The Corporate Puzzle

These are the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process:
• Primary Aim
• Strategic Objectives
• Organisational Strategy
• Management Strategy
• People Strategy
• Marketing Strategy
• Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine-tune your plan for the ultimate level of success. In this post, we are going to cover the first three in more detail.

Primary Aim
It’s essential in business development to set goals and see a vision for the future. This needs to go beyond the business and you need to think about what you want out of life. What do you dream about? How do you see your success unfolding? Knowing and understanding these things will give you the momentum to get started and the stamina to see it through. Even take a minute to write them down and tape them to your desk for a constant reminder of what you’re aiming for.

Strategic Objectives
These are essential in taking your business from surviving to thriving. All of these objectives should offer solutions for how to get to your primary aim. There are many things you can use to set strategic objectives, but here is a couple of the most popular:

1. Money: Setting monetary goals is a powerful yet simple way to see how you are doing at any point in the game. It’s easy to measure and easy to find adjustments to help meet this goal.

2. Worthy Opportunities: When considering partnerships and other business opportunities you need to think about whether or not they will help you reach your primary aim. Those that will, are the best opportunities to seriously consider.
The key to setting standards and goals is not to limit you or stress yourself out. You need to find some quantifiable things you can use to measure your progress toward your primary aim. These are just two suggestions, but make sure no matter what standards you set, you are paying attention to the details, as these are one of the biggest keys to your success.

Organisational Strategy
The strength of your organizational structure can make or break your business, so it’s important to take the time to put together a solid structure for your business to grow from. Generally, a company is organised around the roles and responsibilities that need to be taken care of on a daily basis and the personalities that need to fulfil those roles.

No matter what roles and responsibilities you’ve defined for your employees, you must always keep your personal primary aim separate from your company’s primary aim or mission statement. Once you’ve identified the primary aim for your company it will be easy to set up a position structure that will work.

Don’t forget to put together position contracts. Your employees should sign a statement of their roles and responsibilities. This helps keep them clear for you, the employee and other employees/vendors or other individuals.

You can see how these areas all work together to build a solid structure on which to build your business. If you need help defining any of these areas, you can check out the resources, tools and speak with one of our fantastic coaches during your FREE test drive.

Mortar makes it happen

Today I’d like to talk about the three keys to business development and how you can put the right bricks in place to build a solid foundation.
There are three main areas of business development:
• Innovation
• Quantification
• Orchestration

If done well these three areas will help you build a solid foundation for your business. Let’s talk about each one of these for just a minute.

Innovation
Innovation should not be confused with creativity, which is the expression of ideas. Innovation is taking these ideas and putting them into action. This is where a large amount of your focus should be in the beginning and even throughout your business’ entire lifespan.

Quantification
This, of course, refers to the numbers. We are talking about the value of your innovation. The best way to gauge this is by your customer response. Look to positive responses for what you are doing right and keep doing it. Look to your negative responses to find out what you’re doing wrong and fix it. This will enable you to keep growing and progressing with the needs of your customers and business climate.

Orchestration
Once you’ve had a chance to find what areas are working, you can narrow down those areas and concentrate on making them stand out ideas. You shift your focus here to get the most out of your business and to meet the needs of your customers.

We can help you work through these three areas to put together your franchise prototype during your FREE test drive call.

In the next few lessons we are going to transition to the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your franchise prototype process:
• Primary Aim
• Strategic Objectives
• Organisational Strategy
• Management Strategy
• People Strategy
• Marketing Strategy
• Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine tune your plan for the ultimate level of success.

You Turn Me Right Round Baby, Right Round

The biggest area of turn-key businesses is franchises. There is a franchise for every industry in the world and they are fairly easy to acquire and come with pre-packaged, easy-to-assemble systems. McDonald’s is a prime example. In fact, a 12-figure, 38,000 franchises example.
There are a few things we are going to talk about here:
• Business Format Franchise
• The Franchise Prototype
• Franchise Prototype Standards

Business Format Franchise
The business format franchise came from an earlier model called the “trade name” franchise. The big change was in the rights. During the “trade name” days the franchise owner only had marketing rights; now franchise owners have ownership rights to the entire business including systems. This has allowed for a shift in focus to go from the quality and name recognition of the products carrying the business to sales techniques that carry the business.
The Franchise Prototype
It was really the franchise prototypes that allowed for the changes to be made that help today’s franchises really shine with the techniques developed by the owners instead of the corporation. This can make a significant difference in the success of the franchise as the owner can custom tailor their marketing and promotions to the direct needs of their local target customers.
Franchise Prototype Standards
Now, the above being said, no one in their right mind would purchase a franchise if the parent company didn’t have a solid plan of action set up to ensure the prospective success of the business.
So, there are a few standards that are put into place that helps to jump-start the process of opening a successful franchise.

1. Build a model of prospective customers/clients, suppliers, creditors and employees who will consistently offer high-quality work.
2. Build a user-friendly model that can be used by individuals of any skill set.
3. Build a defect-free model.
4. Build a model with Operations Manuals.
5. Build a model that will provide guaranteed, consistent results.
6. Build a model that encompasses the same branding in colour, dress and facilities codes.

These are all ways in which the parent corporation makes sure their brand stays the same and in the minds of their customers. When you are purchasing a widely-known brand, you will attract customers just for being you.
If you are considering purchasing a franchise, talk with one of our experienced business coaches during our FREE test drive call.

The four stages of the business lifecycle

Today I’m going to talk about the life cycle of a business and how to get the most out of each cycle while also extending the lifespan of your business.
The four different stages of a business life cycle are:
• Infancy
• Adolescence
• Growing Pains
• Maturity

We’ll talk a little about what each of these cycle’s means and how they can each help expand your business’ lifespan.

Infancy
This is generally considered the technician’s phase, which is the owner. At this point, the relationship between the business and the owner is that of a parent and a new baby. There is an impenetrable bond that is necessary to determine the path your business will follow. Never drop your baby.
The key is to know your business must grow in order to flourish. You cannot stay in this stage forever.
Adolescence
In this stage, you need to start bringing your support staff together to delegate to and allow growth to happen. The first line of defence is your technical person as they need to bring a certain level of technical experience. This cycle really belongs to the manager though. The planning stage needs to start, and a relationship should be built with the entrepreneur to plan for the future.
Growing Pains
There’s a point in every business when the business explodes and becomes chaotic. This is referred to as growing pains. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. You are often faced with a number of choices:
• Avoid growth and stay small
• Go broke
• Push forward into the next cycle

Maturity
The last cycle is maturity, though this doesn’t mean the end of your business. Your passion for growth must continue in order for your business to succeed. You need to keep an entrepreneurial perspective in order to push your business forward.

You see how all four of these cycles are connected and depend on a strong foundation for each one of them for your business to be and continue to be successful. All three of your key roles (the technician, manager, and entrepreneur that I mentioned in my previous post) must also work together to work through these cycles.

If you’re having trouble putting together your business life cycles and figuring out which of the key roles you fit into, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our amazing coaches.

Gather the troops

Today I’d like to chat about the different types of support staff you need and what makes them so important.
There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:
• The Technician
• The Manager
• The Entrepreneur

All of these roles need to be played simultaneously by different people with the right talents. It’s all about balance.
The Technician
This person represents the present and all that needs to be done for the physical aspects of the business-building process. They are the “doer”. This is usually the most visible person in the entire operation.
The Manager
This person represents the past and works to fix problems through learning from past mistakes. They are on the practical side of the business and is in charge of putting together the business and overseeing the planning.
The Entrepreneur
This person represents the future and the vision for the business. They are responsible for the creative side of the business and are always considering ways to enhance products/services, business image, branding and more.
All three of these character types are essential in the success of any business and to build a solid foundation from the start, you need to work harder to find the right people to put in these roles. We may call them by different names, but the characters, functions and skills are vital!
Of course, you need to be one of these key people, but ensure that you find the role that best fits your skills and talents, not necessarily what you THINK you should be doing.
This may be a difficult process for you, as you will need to relinquish some control over the business and instil trust in people to allow them to do their jobs. It’s your baby, I get it, but you can’t do everything all of the time, it is not sustainable and will stifle your growth.
Remember, our business coaches can help you through this entire process and teach you how to avoid falling victim to e-myths when you try our FREE test drive.