Apr 172013
 

happiness, profitable service business, profitable business, repeat customers, happy business owner, ideal customers

In my personal quest to unravel the “happiness equation” I recieved this feedback from a reader of this blog. I had posted an article about happiness on one of my LinkedIn groups. I recieved a few comments and one of comments was:

“In the long run happiness just may stumble upon one who deserves it.”

I will have to admit, that the topic of happiness is one of my favorite to write about. There are so many different opinions and thoughts that people have when discussing this topic. Everyone is interested in finding happiness, but the definition is different for everyone. This naturally creates a different path for everyone, even when we are Continue reading »

 April 17, 2013  Posted by at 5:00 AM Happiness Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Apr 032013
 

can't do it all, delegate, 80/20 rule, focus, prioritization

My first year at business school, I thought my professors were trying to kill me. Each night, I had more reading and homework than could possibly get done in one evening even if I stayed up all night. I quickly realized that one of the key lessons of survival was prioritization–figuring out what portion of the work was most important and what just was not going to get done.

I remember one night, working on a term paper with a group of students. We had worked hard on the paper and we all thought it was in good shape. We had other work to complete that night and were not anxious to pull an all-nighter so we were ready to move on. One of the team members, however, felt it was not “A” material and wanted to keep working on it. I remember thinking even back then that this guy did not “get it.”

My life building businesses has been the same experience as business school. To survive and flourish, you have to quickly figure out what is “important” and what is “noise.” You can’t do it all… Click here for more tips on getting more done.

At both of my current companies Window Brothers & Vance Properties, we have a saying: follow the 80/20 rule, technically known as the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle tells us that 20 percent of the inputs account for 80 percent of the results. You have to cut through the noise, figure out what tasks represent the 20 percent with the greatest leverage and focus on those tasks. Find those projects that make a big impact and ignore EVERYTHING else.

Is it difficult to step away from fire drills and turn away from the mounting volume in your inbox? Absolutely. But if you don’t, your days–and your team’s days–will slip away without having addressed the projects that will really drive your business.

The sooner you figure out how to apply the 80/20 rule and run with it, the better off you’ll be. There are 100 things you can focus on each day, and it’s up to you to parse the data, decide what projects or features have the greatest leverage, focus, and get it done.

Don’t forget, you can’t do it all….

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 April 3, 2013  Posted by at 5:00 AM Time Tagged with: , , ,  1 Response »
Apr 012013
 

motivation, daily diet, education, information, cashflow, consistency.

 

Learn more about how a steady diet of motivaton helps your business grow.

Click here to find out why slow growth is better than fast.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 

 April 1, 2013  Posted by at 5:00 AM Visual Quote Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Jan 232013
 

planning, achievable goals, destiny, personal growth,

1. Plan a Preferred Future

As Lewis Carroll said: “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there.”  In 2013 take time to examine and discuss the details of every aspect of your lives, personal and professional, to achieve integrated success and happiness.

2. Be Pragmatic

In most of our near future, few of us will be playing for the NBA. The future has to reflect what is physically possible with available resources and limitations. We all need to create filters to keep us from wasting time and energy on what’s unachievable or irrelevant. See S.M.A.R.T. goals. Continue reading »

 January 23, 2013  Posted by at 6:00 AM Happiness, Visual Quote Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Sep 242012
 

team, key performance indicators, leadership, hiring employees, building a better business, outsource, goals, prioritize

There are three steps managers and staff can take toward a more efficient, more productive organization. .

1. Identify and focus on your biggest priorities.

Too often employees find themselves spending time on work that isn’t core to the success of the business. As the Pareto principle states: 80% of the value comes from 20% of the work. The key here is for your business to identify the few objectives that drive Continue reading »

 September 24, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth, Team, Time Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Sep 102012
 

time management, email settings, to do list, small business communication,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are 7 daily tasks you probably can eliminate from your workday to help you stay focused and be more productive.

1. Stop overloading your to-do list.

You might feel the need to write down everything you need to accomplish each day, but resist making an impossible list of daily tasks. Compiling a lengthy list of things you need to accomplish might seem productive, but you could be doing more harm than good. It results in too many items at the end of the day that are not completed. This will make you feel stressed out, inadequate and unfocused. Instead, create a manageable list of essential tasks that should be finished on a given day–and save the rest for later.

2. Stop having open-ended meetings.

Figure out your priorities before you call a meeting and make them clear to all the attendees. Too many small-business owners waste half the meeting just getting to what they really want to talk about.  You will find putting three priority topics at the top of your agenda will help you avoid getting sidetracked by other issues.

3. Stop answering repetitive questions.

If you find yourself answering the same question from clients or employees frequently, you’re wasting time. Instead, put together a FAQ on your website or create instructional videos that people can access via links at the bottom of your emails. Figure out better ways to answer [questions] without your having to be involved.

4. Stop taking the same follow-up approach if people ignore you.

If you’ve sent someone an email and the recipient hasn’t responded, don’t keep firing off more emails. Try communicating in another way–calling, sending a text or visiting in person if it’s appropriate.  Too many business owners get bogged down communicating with people inefficiently.

5. Stop making regular visits to the post office.

Instead of going to the post office, schedule mail pickups from your business or home office. You also can buy envelopes with pre-paid postage or invest in an inexpensive scale and postage printer.

6. Stop making piles.

Eliminating clutter can boost efficiency. Rather than organize papers in piles whose logic is known only to you, stick to a systematic filing system and eliminate any pieces of paper you no longer need.

7. Stop signing every check.

I am a firm believer that the task of accounts payable should be the business owners responsibility. This way we remain in control of all money and funds going out of our businesses. However, just because this task remains on our plate it doesn’t mean that we can’t look for ways to make it more efficient.

Designate a specific day and time for certain tasks, such as signing checks, rather than allow them to randomly interrupt your workflow. Better yet, you can have your signature printed on checks to avoid signing each one. Programs like QuickBooks let you use preprinted checks and keep track of transactions.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 10, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Sep 052012
 

time management, email settings, small business communication,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The average U.S. professional spends half their working day on email. They are constantly tethered to their smart phone, responding to short bursts of communication, and creating email overload.

I have whittled down a list of email best practices that can help you and your team start a revolution, reduce dependence on email, and stop wasting time–today.

1. Make sure email is the right communication option.

Not all communication is appropriate for email. Segment your personal communications by interactions that are right for email versus phone versus in-person meetings. Adopt a company-wide policy, and don’t allow email to become the default communication mode. A great first policy: Don’t start discussions via email. It takes significantly more time to compose a point and then debate it on email than to have an in-person conversation.

2. Think about the person reading your note.

Many email responses are clarifications of what the sender wrote or additional questions that perpetuate email churn (rather than end a thread succinctly). You can greatly reduce the amount of back-and-forth by thinking more about the email recipient–the user, in this case–and by crafting your message to meet her needs. Before hitting Send, slow down to consider: Did I give all the information needed? Will the reader understand my message? Is my point clear? Are the next steps obvious?

3. Anticipate questions.

The easiest way to reduce needless email is to anticipate what your recipient’s impressions and questions will be after reading your message. If you send a brief email stating, “budget meeting is canceled today,” the reader will probably wonder why, and when the meeting will be rescheduled. Anticipate the recipient’s reaction and communicate more thoroughly, answering questions you think she’ll have.

4. Call out important information with headlines, bullets, and numbers.

Example:

2 Recommended Videos

  • What a Serial Entrepreneur Can’t Resist
  • Meet the Husband-Wife Team Behind Babysitter Site Sittercity

Most people don’t read. In our fast-paced digital culture, we scan and skim content, looking for the highlights. You’ve probably noticed that major Web publishers use headlines, bullets, boldface type, and other design best practices to ensure readers stay engaged. The same applies to your emails. Don’t send paragraphs of text in which the salient points and calls to action are buried.

5. Save time by creating email templates.

Many emails to employees, clients, or colleagues are similar in nature. Rather than constructing each one from scratch, save templates that remind you of important details to include and contain prebuilt design best practices. For example, at my company, we have templates for client service updates, for scheduling confirmations, and for scheduling reminders.

6. Target your communications.

Irrelevant messages are not opened and can create a negative impression. Think very carefully about the people you include in your “To” field. Does that recipient really need the information, or are you adding to email inbox burden?

7. Select email preferences.

Establish your email preferences (how often you like it and when), and make those norms known throughout your company. When leading a project, don’t default to being copied on everything. Indicate to your team when you should be CC’ed on communication. Likewise, ask your colleagues and staff for their preferences in your communications with them.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 5, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 272012
 

business growth, networking, planning,sales strategies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some business owners I meet complain that, although they attend networking events, they don’t actually get any work through them and question whether it is worth while bothering, given that there are 101 other things they could be spending their time doing.

Clearly, networking isn’t going to be an appropriate marketing tool for all businesses, but for many I believe it is. After all, if you needed a builder/ accountant/ IT specialist, wouldn’t you prefer to deal with somebody you have met and chatted to rather than somebody you didn’t know at all?

If you are going to use networking as a marketing tool for your business, as with any marketing tool you use, you first need a clear strategy in order to make it work well for you.

Below you will see my ‘top 5 tips’ to effective networking, this will to help you develop your own approach.

1. Choose the networking groups you attend wisely.

You need groups of proactive business owners, not ones that just meet to chat and feel good about themselves. Go along to the meetings with a goal in your mind for the number of cards you are going to hand out, receive, and the number of meetings that you are going to book.

2. Be clear on the type of business you are looking for.

Think about the size, type and location of companies you would like to work with. Make it easy for people to refer work to you by having a clear and concise offer.

3. Ask the people you meet about themselves and their businesses.

Don’t forget that people buy from people they like and showing interest in what others do will help build that relationship. Having a great story to tell will help make people interested in what you do, never try to just sell what you do.

4. Always follow-up on the people you have met after the event. Remember, networking is the start of the sales process, not the end. How do you follow-up after a networking event. Personally, I take all the business cards I have collected and I send invitations to have that contact connect with me via LinkedIn and Facebook.

5. Finally, make sure you measure the results of your efforts. Testing and Measuring is the key to reaching your goal for any activity that you participate in. If you aren’t willing to take the time to test and measure, then you might as well stop doing that activity.

So now you have a guide to effective networking, get out there, take action and make it work for you.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 August 27, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 062012
 

 

sales, sales people, conversion rate, follow-up, sales tips, sales scripts, sales testimonials, sales goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Ask More Questions:

Questions are the answers in sales. Too many sales people tell their customers the features and benefits of their product or service but never take the time to find out which of the benefits the customer is actually interested in. So, ask them to tell you what they want.

2. Set Daily Targets:

A common theme in sales- chase enough customers in the hope that one or more will buy. In reality this leads to sales people only selling to the early adopters or price shoppers who would probably buy from anyone. However by keeping track of how many customers buy on average from a given number of leads and then introducing strategies to convert a higher percentage will ensure your sales team learn how to improve their results. Set daily targets and assess your performance against these targets.

3. Use Sales Scripts:

No one likes to hear someone read from a script, but customers do expect us to be consistent. So how do you ensure all your interactions with prospects are consistent and that you deal with objections in a professional way? By writing down what it is you say in any given situation and by training your team to use the same questions and language you can bring a lot more productivity to your sales process.

4. Offer / Guarantee:

Why should someone buy from you and not a competitor who can provide the same product or service at a lower price? What is it that you offer them or can guarantee them that will differentiate you from your competition? Your offer must generate excitement to get prospects to make a decision to buy now.

5. Ask For The Sale:

One of the biggest common failings in sales is not asking the prospect to buy. A fear of rejection, that the sale will be lost, prevents many sales people from actually asking the final question. Just do it and learn from those that say no so you can improve your conversion rate over time.

6. Learning:

To be successful in sales there absolutely must be a habit of learning. Learn from other sales experts, learn from books, learn from your best customers and learn from past experience. Both your good and bad experiences can be a huge help in improving your sales success. You must record these experiences and build your knowledge over time. Write it down so you do not keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

7. Testimonials:

We all need to be reminded of what we are doing right and why our best customers love dealing with us. Sometimes we focus too much on what is going wrong rather than what we are doing right. Focus on the good stuff and we will do more of it! Get your customers to write down their testimonials so you can use it in your marketing and attract even more great customers.

Question: When is the best time to make a sale?

Answer: Just after you made your last one. Ever hear stories of football players who stop scoring touch downs and it seems they will never score again? Well generally they change something about themselves; their attitude or a superstition or a habit; and then suddenly they are back in scoring form again and they keep scoring.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 August 6, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 112012
 

scheduling crews, taking responsibility, weather forecast, planning ahead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Tip #1. Schedule with what I call a “soft” Friday. I tend to stack up my jobs and routes early in the week, leaving Thursday, and especially Friday softer work days(fewer work orders). I also know in the back of my mind that I have Saturday to make up any missed work if needed. This way if things go well during the week, all my employees show up and complete their routes, the weather cooperates, and everything runs smoothly I have one of 2 situations.

  • Situation #1.  I have an easier Friday and time to focus on sales, planning, budgeting, or any other tasks that I personally have.  Making sure I have a clean desk before I leave for the weekend. Who can complain about this worst case scenario?
  • Situation #2. Things went well during the beginning of the week and I would like to get more work done this week. If this is the case then I look at the coming week and pull any last-minute jobs up into the current weeks schedule. This also makes me happy, because getting more work done means making more money in that given week. As any seasonal business owner knows making money while the sun shines is the key to our success.

2.  Another tip, is to schedule interior or non rain/snow sensitive work on the days that your weather man is forecasting rain/snow. Rarely do I remove all my jobs and routes from the schedule. Even if the weather is supposed to be poor, I still always try to get something done. Maybe route work or pressure washing, anything that is easy to re-schedule is worth trying to complete on a bad weather day.

3. The last tip, is that the accuracy of the 10 day forecast diminishes the further out you look. In other words your weather forecast tends to be very accurate for the next 48 hours. Anything past 48 hours the accuracy of the prediction reduces dramatically.

Falling victim to the weather forecast is easy to do. Putting blame on the weather, weather man, or your customers is not the answer to effectively managing a seasonal business. We need to take responsibility for our actions and make the changes necessary in our organizations to help us manage the scheduling of our crews around the ever-changing forecast of mother nature. We do this by focusing on the things that we can change(reliable employees, and equipment) and relaxing about the things that we can do nothing about. Worrying is like a rocking chair, it keeps you busy but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

Is your seasonal business dependent on the weather forecast?

What tips do you use in order to help you manage this unpredictable factor?

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 June 11, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Team Tagged with: , , ,  1 Response »