I am proud to be a valuable resource to so many companies and their managers, but please stop asking me to how to define individual jobs. A job description isn’t going to fix anything, help anyone’s career, or add value to your business. And trust me, your customers sure don’t care….OK, I’ll take it down a notch. Job descriptions have a place in organizational documentation and many employees do need the definition and structure to better understand their roles. However, before you embark on a wild goose chase to define a job, please honestly answer for me WHY? Is it because you are finally going to give all those performance reviews, but you need to first tell folks what they are being evaluated against? Or, are you having performance issues and think that job descriptions will clear that up or at least give you a tool to reprimand with? Perhaps you want to narrow the focus of those individuals that seem to stick their nose into other people’s work? All of the above? (For a good explanation on the HR reasons why to use job descriptions, check out Salary.com, which is my favorite resource on this subject.) Before anyone can […]
There was a time when I would have celebrated with you that your best prospect had just sent in an RFP (request for proposal). Now when I hear those fateful words, I shake my head and wonder what went wrong? By the time the customer has formed an RFP, most of the value in the project has evaporated. That’s why RFPs exist – they are to ensure that the customer doesn’t pay more for something than they feel it is worth. However, the amount of profit that someone is willing to let you earn is based on their perception of value, risk, and reward. Not yours. There is substantial additional value in your intellectual property, expertise, and innovation. An RFP assumes that these intangible contributions are value-added (read: free). How did the customer come to all these unfounded conclusions? Simple. You never gave them any reason to expect differently. Here is what is supposed to happen: You identify your target customer. Then you tailor your message to speak their language and establish you as an expert in your field (marketing). Next you seek out these targeted prospects (lead generation) and engage them in an intelligent conversation about their needs, pains, and intended outcomes (business development). If […]
Dear Customer, My apologies on behalf of myself and our team for delivering a great job. We have failed to exceed your expectations and for that we are truly sorry. I am refunding 10% of your bill, which represents the premium for the value proposition that you paid for in good faith, but did not receive. -Your Humble Supplier Based on what I hear many owners and executives say about their products and services, the above letter needs to go out to customers everywhere. I visit dozens of businesses and speak with scores of business owners every year, and most honestly believe that they are delivering best in class results to their clients. In their defense, on any given day someone in their firm does something admirable, but that alone does not a great company make. Good people and good companies have the same qualities through and through. When you slice one up, each piece is full of pure awesomeness, which is why some companies really are worth more than others. Unfortunately too many firms wrongly believe they are that great through and through and therefore diminish the value of superlatives with every presentation, pitch, or promotion. Admit it, if […]
If the topic of revenue growth comes up in every management meeting, sales meeting, or board meeting – then you need to keep reading. Nine out of ten owners I speak with have companies that are functionally stagnant. That is, whatever growth they do have does not exceed the economic growth of their industry, market, or region. A company with an average revenue growth over time of 5% is barely keeping up with the economy in some sectors and is falling behind in many. Business Owners tell me all the time how important growth is to their future, but when I ask what they are doing about it – I hear crickets. It’s as if setting a goal was the same as achieving it. I want to share with you the five keys to growing intentionally. These keys will provide you both clarity and context in support of the commitment to grow your business. Entrepreneurial Bandwidth In order to grow, small companies need to reserve some “Entrepreneurial Bandwidth” in order for the owner to stay focused on new ideas, new products, and new markets. The best tool for that is a strong management team that responds well to the phrase, […]
For the average service company, approximately 30% of all revenue goes to outside suppliers or workers. Think about it: an average of one-third of your business execution relies on people and services outside your company. Is that such a bad thing? Many companies strive to avoid any outside costs such as subcontractors, short-term leasing, or professional services – and instead prefer to utilize only full-time employees, own all their resources, and rely on internal knowledge. However, these policies actually stagnate growth and increase overhead costs in slow months. Worse, such practices also force you to turn down business when there is plenty to be had. In other words, lack of outsourcing is the number one reason that some businesses aren’t able to grow or be consistently profitable. In order to break this cycle, we first have to defuse the thinking that goes behind it. There are three myths about outsourcing (at as it applies to live events and rental) that stifle business growth. Our People Are the Best While I can admire companies that pride themselves on always placing employees in key project positions (or in some cases, ALL positions), it doesn’t make business sense in a highly seasonal business […]
Tom explains how defining your business in customer terms will help you better match your products and services to customer needs.
I have been blogging lately on Customer Service topics, and I have to say I am disappointed that so many organizations misread what’s really important to their clients. I am sure I am no different – we all are too close to our own businesses to see the obvious. The saga of my search for a Photographer continued, with a happy ending. There are three important lessons for hiring a professional that I reaffirmed in this process: First, when seeking (or giving) a referral, consider the source. Second, trust your instincts. Third, there’s no substitute for loving what you do. A few weeks ago I blogged about my search for a photographer and how one well-recommended person could have easily won my business for a much higher fee by doing three simple things that cost no money at all. So, my search continued. I won’t bore you with the details, but I finally contacted the photographer that was recommended by a marketing professional (instead of my friend who recently had wedding portraits done). I felt he would be expensive and I was right – but it was SO worth it. There is a difference between being expensive and overpriced. The […]
As you read this, your company is experiencing a Customer Service Failure that neither you nor the person handling the problem is even aware of. That’s the hard part about maintaining customer satisfaction is that most representatives don’t know when they are facing a customer that is a victim of your failure. Customer Service failures are sometimes hard to spot. My example is my rental car company. I rent from one of the biggies (ok, it’s Avis) and have for years. I am very loyal – though it’s only because my other traveler friends say their rental car companies are just as bad – so why switch? That is a poor testimonial to customer service right there. My story though is the typical car rental experience. I am one of those people that is supposed to land at the airport and go straight to my car, show my driver’s license at the gate and off I go. To know which car I should take, I get an email (maybe 10% of the time) with its location or I check a big display that has my name and the location of my car (25% of the time). The other two-thirds of […]
Tom shares seven things that you need to do to allow yourself the privilege of working on your business.