Blog

The Customer Service Secret

Posted by Stephanie German

Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. 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 a 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 mind set and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” This shouldn’t be a question of expenses, but making and keep 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.

Now, that you know what you want you can starting thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.

Let’s take this from theory to practice. Email me today at stephanie@stephaniegerman.com to set up your business audit. Your business will thank you in the end!


Make Sure to Add Some Compost

Posted by Stephanie German

Business are live organisms but they often are not thought of that way. There are many components to a business and each of those has a strategy behind them. If you did not check out the last post, check it out here. The 7 areas to consider are: 

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

These 7 areas will fine turn 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 as 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.

People Strategy-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 awhile 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 system or systems that have no “life”. Soft systems are those that could be living. Information systems which 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 systems because it includes the sales systems your business uses. In your sales system the two keys to success are: structure and substance. Structure being what you sell and substance being 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 on the ideas we went over through the business develop 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 three main areas of business development:

  • Innovation
  • Quantification
  • Orchestration

7 specific areas you need to consider in your business prototype process. Here are all seven again:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

If you are ready to take a look at your business to see how you can be more strategic, schedule a call with me. 

Stephanie


Bricks Upon Bricks to Lay the Foundation

Posted by Stephanie German

It takes the right bricks in place to build a solid foundation to continue on to a secure, sturdy, building. You wouldn’t build a building without plans, why wouldn’t you have a plan for your business?

I want to share with you 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 you 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 the stand out ideas. You shift your focus here to get the most out of your business and to meet the needs of your customers.

In the next few blog posts, we are going to transition to the 7 specific areas you need to consider in your business development process:

  • Primary Aim
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Organizational Strategy
  • Management Strategy
  • People Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Systems Strategy

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

If you are ready to take your business to the next level, email me for a free Profit Acceleration Consult so you can see what it would look like to work together.


The Life Cycle of a Business

Posted by Stephanie German

Just like we go through a life cycle, your business also goes through a life cycle. 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 extended 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 consider 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 new baby. There is an impenetrable bond that is necessary to determine the path your business will follow.

The key is to know your business must grow in order to flourish. You cannot stage 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 defense is your technical person as they need to bring a certain level of technical experience. This cycle really belongs to the manager though. The plan 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 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 three 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 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, email me at info@stephaniegerman.com so we can set up a time to chat.


Are You Aiding and Abetting in E-Myths?

Posted by Stephanie German

We are going to embark upon a journey through the world of e-myths and debunk them to help you avoid falling into the e-myth trap.

First, let’s take a minute to talk about what an e-myth is. An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with:

  • Desire
  • Some capital
  • Projected a targeted profit

This sounds great, but it just not realistic. Think of starting a business as a marathon. Sure, everyone starts out of the gate at record pace, but after a few miles people start slowing and some drop out entirely. Building a successful business takes stamina and agility.

The reality is that there are many different facets to a successful business and none of them can be ignored if you plan to find success.

Let’s take a minute to talk about entrepreneurial seizure. This defines the roller coaster of emotions that comes with starting, nurturing and the potential failure of a business.

The emotions that occur, in order, are:

  • Exhilaration
  • Exhaustion
  • Despair
  • Sense of self-loss

This is usually cause by the e-myths and assumptions we talked about. You can get your hopes so high on instant success that even the smallest lag and you are sent into an emotional tailspin. This is also brought on by the stark realization that you can’t do it all and will need help in the areas where you don’t have the knowledge. Now, faced with limited choices you may feel like you need to back out and hide, but don’t do this.

Avoid feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Contact me today.