Tag Archives | business advice

Business Networking Tips

(for people who don’t love business networking)

Does the thought of business networking and meeting new people make you nervous rather than excited? Do you deliberately arrive at business events late, leave early, and struggle to find people to talk to and things to say while you’re there? Is building relationships with others important to your business and professional growth?

There’s no doubt that making new contacts is essential in business. While some people are outgoing and can confidently generate interesting discussion with strangers, others are more at ease either alone or with people they know well. For more reserved people, networking can feel anything from uncomfortable to terrifying.

While business networking events can attract extroverts, there are usually some attendees who find it hard to strike up conversations and enjoy the experience.

Whatever you feel about networking, here are ways to make it easier and more effective for all involved.

Start with the right expectations of what business networking is

To be successful, every business networking function doesn’t need to result in new leads for your business. You don’t need to ensure you tell a certain number of people about what you do, nor hand out and collect a batch of business cards.

Relationships are built over time, and it can take many interactions with people to build rapport and trust.

When you attend an event, a smart goal is to meet some new people, find out more about people you’ve already met, and add value to others where you can. You might start by simply aiming to stay to the end!

Go with the right objectives

It’s easy to spot someone who is only interested in talking about themselves, selling their product or service, and handing out their details to as many people as they can. If you’ve been a victim of a sales pitch at a function, I’m sure it didn’t leave a good impression.

Go to networking events with an intent to:

• Meet and learn about other people
• Show interest in others and what they do
• Question rather than tell
• Connect other people to each other
• Share useful information to help others

Be yourself

To be a good networker you don’t have to be the most outgoing, confident, and talkative person in the room. Be authentic. It’s okay to start a conversation with “I’m not a natural networker and I find it hard to meet new people at functions. Do you know many people here?”

If you see someone you’ve met previously, go out of your way to say hello and build on the relationship. If you recognise their face but not their name (or at which event you met them) you could say “I’m sorry, I know we’ve met but I’ll admit I can’t remember where” or “I really enjoyed speaking with you last time, but I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your name.” Then use their name several times in the conversation to ensure it sticks.

Include others

Even if you know many people at the event, gravitate towards people standing on their own. Chances are they are feeling uncomfortable and will welcome your approach.

Some conversation starters:

• Do you know many people here?
• How often do you attend these events?
• Have you made any great connections at these events?
• Is the food always this great here?

Make it interesting

The standard questions of “what do you do?” and “where do you work?” can be predictable. Even if you start with this approach, it’s good to follow up with questions to get to know the person rather than just their role.

You could try, “have you always lived in this area?” or “what do you like to do in your down-time?” Conversations start to flow when people open up about things they are passionate about.

Ensure your own introductions are interesting and can open up further discussion. Instead of just, “Hi, I’m Sam, a building designer at ABC Building Designs” you could add, “I love helping developers get the most value from their investment by maximising what they can build on their land.”

Connect others

Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point talks about natural networkers being either Connectors or Information Mavens. Connectors love to introduce people to each other, and always have a good recommendation for a plumber, architect, solicitor, or hair salon. They know a lot of people and enjoy helping others connect.

Information Mavens like to share useful information. They are well researched on many topics and love to provide information to others to help them out.

If you know a Connector or Information Maven seek them out at business networking events. If they don’t already attend, invite them to come along with you. They’ll ensure you meet new people and learn something new. Observe how they interact with others and see if you can model their approach next time.

Follow Up

After each event, make notes of who you met, where they work, and what they do. Record other details you learned such as how many kids they have, that they love mountain bike riding, or that they were about to holiday in Fiji. Read your notes just before the next event so you have some good conversation starters when you see them.

Whether or not you obtained their details, invite people you met to connect on LinkedIn to maintain contact. Send an “it was lovely to meet you” message. They may or may not reply, but they’ll appreciate the effort.

Yellow Coaching helps business owners and their teams to network effectively as part of their ongoing coaching program. Get in touch here to find out how we can help you with business networking skills.

A shorter version of this article was first published in Hunter Headline on 23 October 2018.

Business success: the one simple secret

Business success is determined by one key concept. When you understand and use it, you will be able to face and overcome challenges and continually improve, in both your business and personal life. This simple concept is called above and below the line.

business success, life success, above the line

 

Picture an imaginary horizontal line. Above the line is a way of living in which you take ownership, accountability and responsibility for everything in your life. In business this may be the amount of money in your bank account, the type of clients you are working with, or the quality of your relationships. Up here you’ll find solutions and results. You’ll have the mentality of a successful victor over your circumstances.

Living below the line is using blame, excuses and denial to avoid responsibility for improving your life. Here you play the victim, come up with reasons you don’t have what you want, and focus on problems.

Playing above the line is a decision

It’s human nature to go below the line daily. Science shows that we have a negativity bias – an inbuilt protection mechanism to look for threats and weaknesses over opportunities, to ensure our survival. The challenge arises when we live below the line on a regular or permanent basis.

There are many things we can’t control in life. To live above the line, we must focus only on what we can control and influence. We can’t control Australia’s economy, but we can choose our financial decisions on a daily basis. We can’t determine which political party will get into office, but we can have our say by voting and contributing positively to politicial discussion.

No matter what life throws at us, we can always choose our thoughts, attitudes and behaviour. It’s important that we don’t ignore problems and challenges, as they don’t usually go away on their own. Dealing with them when they first appear is key.

It’s also vital to deal with stress by venting when needed. If we find it hard to be above the line in our office, we give each other a 3-minute time limit.  We have fun and blame everyone, make every possible excuse, and deny any responsibility for our situation!  Then we ask, “now what’s the outcome we want, and what are we going to do to get it?”.

 

 

(Thanks to Justin Maybury, team member of a great business we work with, for creating this image of his progress one day trying to stay above the line. We call it “One foot over!”)

How do you live above the line to ensure business success?

When things are not how you want them to be, focus on the solution, not the problem.

Instead of complaining that there’s not enough money to pay the BAS, ask “how do I find the money to pay what’s due, then ensure there is enough in time for each future instalment?”

Rather than blaming the economy or your competitors for a lack of leads, ask “who are the clients I want, and where can I find them? What can I offer that’s valuable to them?”

Replace “why is this employee continually needing supervision?” with “how can I be a better manager?”

Success guru Tony Robbins says the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. When you make a mistake, don’t ask “why does this always happen to me?” but “how can I ensure I get the result I want next time?”

We all have challenges in life. Leadership and personal development expert Brian Tracy describes business as: Problem – problem – problem – problem – CRISIS! Imagine business challenges as waves on the ocean (which means every seventh one is likely to be a dumper…). You can choose to get out of the water, or learn to surf.

The secret to life and business success is to focus on solutions rather than problems.

Are you living above the line?

If you’d like to achieve greater success in your business, whether it be more money, a stronger team, or greater freedom – contact Yellow Coaching to see if you’re eligible for a complimentary 90 minute consultation on your business. We work with businesses and organisations throughout Australia. We look forward to hearing from you.

Time Management: Get More Done in Less Time

Is time management important in your role?

Are you too busy in your work and personal life?

Do you put out fires all day and never get to your to-do list? 

Are you bombarded by emails, phone calls and interruptions that stop you focusing on what’s most important? 

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Business owners, executives, managers, supervisors and staff are all feeling the pressure, not only at work but in their personal lives. While everyone is busy, they are wondering why that doesn’t translate into achieving the things that are most important to them. Health, business growth, and relationships are suffering. The following time management tips will help you get back on track.

Time Management Tips

To help them get structure into their work and personal lives, we teach our clients and their staff a time management concept devised by the 34th President of the United States. It’s called The Eisenhower Matrix. Here’s our interpretation:

time management

When you learn to recognise which of your tasks fit into each category, you can spend the appropriate amount of time on each.

Do Now: Urgent and important tasks

These tasks are the key parts of your day-to-day role. They are the main tasks listed in your job description, and what makes the business ‘tick’. This is the technical part of your job, such as a barista making coffee for customers, or a welder welding machinery parts. This is the zone of demand, as these tasks are responding to the needs of your customers and providing the product or service of your business.

Delegate: Urgent but not important tasks

Urgent but not important tasks are those you feel you have to do right away, but which are actually not important to the growth and mastery of your business. If you often find yourself overwhelmed as you switch from taking phone calls, responding to emails, handling interruptions from staff and meeting with unexpected visitors to your office, you’ll know what we mean! We call this the zone of delusion.

If you have people working for you, delegate some tasks to them. A team member could screen your calls and make appointments for you (rather than allowing drop-ins). You could also delegate tasks to a system or device – allow your calls to go to voicemail; turn off email notifications and check emails only twice a day; have interruption-free blocks of time in your diary; and use an automated CRM to facilitate some regular communication.

Delete: Not important and not urgent tasks

Not important and not urgent tasks are diversions to avoid at all costs. We call this the zone of distraction. Examples include talking at length to colleagues about non-work-related matters; taking long breaks, or internet shopping and Facebook use during work hours. Implement a social media/phone/internet use policy for staff, as hours can be wasted in this quadrant if left unchecked! If you find yourself procrastinating and slowing down at a certain time each day (eg. the 3pm slump), schedule 10 minutes to get out in the sunshine, take a quick walk, or do whatever will help you get back in the zone.

Decide when to do: Not urgent but important tasks

Important but not urgent tasks are those which help you and the business grow and develop. To build a high-performing business you must identify and prioritise these. Schedule these tasks or they will be postponed to accommodate more urgent things, leading to mistakes and delays.

When the barista orders stock and services the coffee machine, or the welder ensures his tools are cleaned and maintained regularly, they are in this zone. For business leaders, communicating with the team and clients, and making time for business development are not urgent but important tasks. In your personal life it may be taking time to nurture your personal relationships, or making time for exercise. We call this preparing rather than repairing as time spent here up front will save time down the track. This quadrant is simply called The Zone. Schedule time in your calendar to ensure these important tasks are done on a regular basis.

Priority management is just one of the ways Yellow Coaching helps business leaders and their teams achieve success. To find out more, get in touch. 

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The 3 Pillars of Business Growth

No matter how well your business did last year (and we hope it was a brilliant year for you), there are 3 fundamental things you need for continued business growth and mastery.

The new year is the perfect time to reassess where you are now, and where you want to be when Christmas rolls around again – and trust us, this will seem sooner rather than later!

Over the last 15 years we’ve helped business owners and teams achieve everything they want. We focus on the 3 things that are essential for continual business growth and mastery. We call these the three pillars of business success. Here’s more about them, and how to get them to support you and your business in 2018…

business growth, business success, business advice, business mastery,

1  Mindset

If there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that successful people have positive mindsets. They look for solutions rather than problems, and focus on the end goal rather than obstacles. Knowing that challenges will continually appear, they face them directly and quickly to ensure they get back on track with minimal detour.

As Brian Tracy says in his talk The Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires (get it here on audible.com), problems in business are like waves on the ocean that come in sets, with one towering above the others: “Problem, problem, problem, problem, CRISIS!” Successful people understand that as they learn to deal with challenges they grow as business leaders.

Successful business leaders learn the skill of goal-setting. They challenge themselves constantly by pushing outside their comfort zones. Familiar with perturbation – that uncomfortable feeling of tension when you’re moving past your previous limits – they have learned to think big and dream bigger.

They acknowledge that they can’t do it all on their own. Their support team includes a proactive accountant, responsive business banker, trusted legal advisor, and qualified and experienced business coach to help them reach their goals.

 

Business growth, business goals, business success

2  Knowledge and Education

Successful business leaders know what they don’t know. They commit to continually improving their knowledge, and rely on experts to assist them to achieve business growth. Instead of stretching themselves too thin by trying to be the best at everything, they work with their skills and talents. They focus on their core strengths, while learning what it takes to achieve business growth and mastery.

Clear on the difference between being the technician and the business owner (as defined in Micheal Gerber’s classic business book The E-Myth Revisited), they are free enough from daily business operations to work on business growth. Rather than learning from their own mistakes, they use a business advisor or mentor to fast-track their success. They learn and grow from the mistakes and success of others.

3  Accountability

Taking responsibility and being accountable for your own business success is critical for business growth. When you accept that your past, current situation and future are all a result of your own actions, your can truly make improvements. Yes, the unexpected will happen. Challenges will occur (refer to point number one above). But with resilience, grit, and taking charge of your own destiny, you will hold the keys to everything you want.

Masters of business growth rely on a business coach to keep them accountable to their goals. Just like a sports coach, a business coach will push you to work harder than you would on your own, and ensure you’re operating in top form to reach your desired results.

 

Business Growth, Business goals, business success, business mastery

The Next Steps For Your Business Growth

Have you achieved a certain level of business success but are ready for more?

Are you not only interested, but committed to business growth and mastery?

Are you are ready to take the action needed to get the results you want from your business?

Yellow Coaching will help.

Discover if you’re eligible for a free 90 minute consultation to discuss the future of your business.

We look forward to hearing from you.

How to make 2018 your best year yet!

Whether you’re a manager, business owner, or employee, one thing we’re sure of: You want 2018 to be a great year!

Your wish-list might include work-life balance, a profitable business, a happy and productive team, and achievement of your personal goals.

So how do you ensure you get what you want in 2018, and what happens is by design and not default?

This week with clients we are creating 2018 business plans. If you’d like to ensure your year is everything you want it to be, in both your business and personal life, read on and follow our 4 simple steps below …

2018 business plan, business plans1. Review 2017’s Highlights

Before making a 2018 business plan, it’s essential to see where you are now and how far you’ve come.

Start by thinking back to January this year. How different was life and business then? What have you accomplished in the last 12 months? How has your business grown and changed? What’s happened in your career? What personal goals did you achieve?

Write down your achievements in all areas of your life and work – business growth and mastery, career, learning, family, fun, health and wellbeing.

Take a moment to appreciate how your life has changed and what you’ve done to create that. Congratulate yourself on your achievements so far.

2. Picture Your Future In Review

Now imagine yourself this time next year, December 2018, doing the same exercise. If you were looking back on 2018, what would your achievements be?

Take at least 10 minutes to really think this through. List all you’ve gained in terms of business turnover and profit, the types of clients you’ve attracted, career moves, office relocation or upgrades, success you’ve helped your clients to achieve, fitness or family wins, what you’ve learned… any result you’d like to see by the end of the year.

business planning, 2018 business plan, business success, business goals

3. Create Your 2018 Business Plan

Bring your mind back to the present day. The list you’ve just made is now your goal list for 2018. Make sure each goal passes the test of being measurable, realistic, and time-framed. Get specific. Instead of grow business you might write increase turnover by 30% and profit by 15% by 31 December 2018.

Put a date next to each goal. If you can’t be specific, narrow it down to be something you’ll accomplish by end of Q1, Q2, Q3 or Q4.

And make sure what you want to achieve is within your sphere of influence or control. There’s no point stating what you want someone else to do if you have no power over their actions! Instead of Get supervisors to perform to standard you could write Learn skills to more effectively manage supervisors and enforce their KPIs by 31 March. You can choose to be a better manager and hold them accountable, but their response and actions will ultimately be up to them.

4. Get A Coach To Help You And Your Team

As our clients know, setting goals and having a 2018 Business Plan is just the start. Finding someone to support you, guide you, and keep you accountable will ensure your success. A great business coach will work with the business owners, managers and team to ensure the business reaches its goals. A great business coach will also support you to achieve your personal and lifestyle goals.

Are you a business owner? Do you need a 2018 business plan?  Book your complimentary discussion with our business coaches today.

If you’re a business manager or employee, suggest Yellow Coaching’s services to the decision makers in your business. We’ll arrange a complimentary meeting with them to discuss the needs of the business and team.

Business improvement helps owners, employees, their families, and the community. When shown what’s possible and given the right tools, strategies and support, businesses and the people in them can achieve their full potential.

Yellow’s coaches work with the owners, managers and teams of established businesses of any size within the private sector; and with executives, managers and team members at all levels within Government and not-for-profit organisations.

Whomever they are working with, their goal is to assist business leaders to maximise the potential of themselves, their team, and their business. Yellow’s coaches achieve this through business coaching, executive mentoring, leadership and management training, strategic planning, conference and workshop facilitation, keynote speaking, and team member coaching. They also provide team training on numerous topics including effective sales techniques, business marketing, outstanding customer service, time and priority management, improving team culture and morale, efficient systems and processes, resilience, and change management.

If you’d like to reach peak performance in 2018, contact Yellow Coaching today.

Difficult employee? Here’s how to manage them…

Do you have a difficult employee that doesn’t do what you ask them to do?

Maybe they’re not returning customer phone calls, not turning up to work on time, or not following company procedures. Behaviour which started as annoying has become untenable.

You’re frustrated and thinking, “I’ve asked them a thousand times! They just don’t care enough.”

Managing a difficult employee can be frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re constantly locking horns.

If you’ve had enough, before taking disciplinary action, ensure that you have communicated effectively what they’re required to do. True communication is what’s been understood, not what you think you’ve said!

Difficult employee, management

There are three reasons an employee may not do what you ask. They are:

  1. They don’t know what to do
  2. They don’t know why it’s important
  3. Yes – you guessed it – they just don’t want to.

Before making the assumption that they’re a difficult employee who just doesn’t care enough to do what you’ve asked, ensure you have given them everything they need to do the task.

Outline what’s required

Make sure the employee knows exactly what you require. You could include a description of the desired result, the best way to do it, the quality you expect, and the timeframe in which you want it done. For example:

“Bob, I’m not sure I communicated correctly what’s required. The end result we need is for the report to contain accurate information under all the headings listed on the contents page. You can get the information from each of the department managers. The report is usually around 20 pages long. We need it to have the formatting detailed in our style guide, and I expect a thorough grammar and spell check. It needs to be completed by 2pm each Monday for me to review before I issue it on Tuesday morning.”

Explain why it’s important

Then explain why it needs to be done the way you’ve asked. You might say:

“It’s important that the contents are the same each week as it provides consistency and allows us to compare the latest weeks’ results against other weeks. Grammar, spelling, and style are all important as it’s a reflection of our standards and professionalism. It must be to me by 2pm Monday or I can’t meet the Board’s deadline.”

The next step is to ensure they’ve understood what you’ve asked them to do, so ask them to repeat it back to you. You could say,

“Just so I can ensure I’ve explained that correctly, can you replay to me what’s required?”

If they leave out anything, such as deadlines, remind them what it is and why it’s important. Ask them if they have any problems doing what you’ve asked:

“Can you see any challenges that might stop that happening?” 

If they say they don’t know how to do something, go over it with them again or make a time to train them. If they need another explanation of what’s required, give one. It’s important that you and your employee are both confident they have all the skills and tools required to do the task.

Now it’s up to them…

Once you have their agreement, let them show you what they can do. If they continue to not do what’s required, you can have a discussion with them along the lines of:

“Bob, last week we discussed in depth what was required, and why it was important, and you committed to doing it, but it hasn’t been done. Can you tell me about that?”

If their reasons are valid, address them and help find solutions. If your employee says, for instance:

“I have two major reports due on the same day, and I’m not getting the information from the managers in time to collate them both by the deadline.”

…discuss with them ways to arrange their priorities to meet both deadlines, or if possible see if one deadline can be changed.

Enforce consequences

If they do what’s asked, they get to keep their job! If they continue to be a difficult employee and give you excuses, let them know that if the task isn’t completed as required next time you’ll have to assume that they just don’t care enough to do it, and you’ll have choice but to take appropriate action (for example, to give them a written warning). And make sure you follow through.

For more help managing your team, download our e-book: The Four Essential Habits of Effective Managers

Do you still want a dream team of employees in your business?

Do you want a team of high-performing employees in your business? 

Have you got some star players, but a few stragglers bringing the team down? 

Do you want to stop “oiling the squeaky wheel” so you can spend time developing your key staff?

When you started out in business you dreamed of having a team of passionate people working with you to build the best business in your field. If you’re like most business leaders, sadly after a few years you’ve found the reality falls short of what you’d hoped for.

Some business owners resign themselves to the notion that having a great team just isn’t possible.

Better employees, better business

But we believe having a great team isn’t only possible, but a certainty when you implement the right systems and manage your team in an effective way.

The team you’ve got today is a result of the standards you’ve set until now. Are you ready to stop settling for second-rate performance from your staff?

To get a different outcome you’ll need to do different things. Are you ready to do what it takes to get your team to either step up or step out?

Follow our tips below to get them moving in the right direction …

Leadership, employees

How to create a high-performing team …

The first step is to ensure each team member knows what great performance looks like. You can ensure this by providing them with the following:

1. Team Culture Statement

Every team has a culture, whether it’s defined or not. Unfortunately sometimes it’s a toxic one! The behaviour you’ve settled for means that the original standards of performance you set may have slipped. As new employees join your business, they follow the ‘norm’ of how everyone else is behaving rather than performing at the level you’d like.

It’s important that you create a culture statement in your business that outlines expected behaviour. We call this the Rules of the Game.

Our culture statement includes our non-negotiable values, including excellence and fun. Each team meeting we assess how we’ve lived up to those standards, and how we’ve observed it in each other.

A culture statement isn’t merely a laminated piece of paper on your office wall, or a statement on your website! It must be the ingrained way of ‘how we do things around here’.

2. Position Descriptions

As your business has grown, you may not have taken the time to record what each person’s position involves. Even if someone has been doing a role for years, it’s essential that their duties and main areas of responsibility are visible to them and their team-mates. This avoids the notion that ‘someone should ….’ and lets everyone know who is responsible for what.

As well as a position description, an updated organisation chart should be provided to each employee so they can clearly see where their role fits within the business, and their reporting lines.

3. Key Performance Indicators

In addition to knowing the rules of the game, key responsibilities and where they fit in the organisation, it’s essential that employees know how and when how they will be assessed on their performance.

A document outlining key performance indicators for their role should be provided to each employee and reviewed at regular intervals.

KPIs should include not only the technical aspects of their role, but also categories such as customer service, admin and systems, WHS, and team membership.

Most business owners hire for skills but fire for behaviour. Have you ever employed a brilliant technician who despite their great technical skills was terrible at customer service, who your other team members didn’t like, or who rarely completed time sheets or followed systems?

Ensuring each team member knows the expectation of them in each of these categories means that you can manage them up or out based on any area of their performance.

Download our e-book “How To Get A Great Team Culture: Bringing Out The Best In Your Team” 

Leadership, teamwork, employees

 

Keeping standards high
How to ensure they stay on track

When you set guidelines for your team by providing a team culture statement, position descriptions and KPIs, you’ll find that your team members either rise to the challenge or deselect themselves.

It’s not unusual for a few changes to occur in your team when standards are raised and enforced.

This is a positive step forward, as now you can recruit new people who will perform from the outset according to your high standards and expectations.

To ensure continued excellence, you can then:

  • Maintain standards using regular communication
  • Give feedback to adjust or encourage performance
  • Coach your team members to improve their performance, and
  • Delegate effectively to grow your employees’ abilities.

Find out how by downloading our e-book: The 4 Essential Habits of Effective Managers.

 

Is It Time To Get The Employees You Deserve?
Yellow Coaching will help
Yellow Coaching assists established businesses and organisations of every size to improve their team culture, business efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability.

We do this through business coaching, executive mentoring, team training, and workshops for owners and staff at all levels within organisations.

We’ve helped hundreds of businesses improve their profitability, provide outstanding customer service, and get happier and more productive employees.

Want to take your business from good to great? Get in touch to see if you’re eligible for a free 90 minute consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Andrew Masi & Julianne Schwenke

Why You Don’t Want Satisfied Customers

7 Reasons to Improve Your Customer Service in 2017

Matthew had an anniversary surprise for his wife – a limousine trip to the city, dinner at a fancy restaurant, and a night in a suite at a 5-star hotel. He had planned it for weeks, and was excited to spoil her with a special weekend away.

A week later we ran into them and asked her how it was. “It was satisfactory” she said. When she saw us exchange puzzled glances, she explained, “I was satisfied with the food, the room and the service.”

customer service

Now exactly the response Matt was hoping for!

And the restaurant and hotel probably wouldn’t be too happy with her feedback either.

Now of course this is a metaphor, and hopefully any thoughtful person would at least act more excited about such a kind gesture from their spouse.

But let’s relate this to business for a moment. You started your business to romance your customers and provide them with something special, right? A quality product, outstanding service, and enough ‘wow’ factor to keep them coming back and telling all their friends.

Most business owners start out excited to provide something exemplary, and to delight their customers.

But somewhere along the way they get jaded. Customer complaints trickle in despite their best efforts, and it seems some customers are just never happy. Their energy and effort slips, and so does the level of customer service. And when team members see the business owner feeling defeated, they also drop their standards.

Sound familiar?

Even if you haven’t given up completely, you may be thinking that if your customers are satisfied that’s all you can hope for. But wouldn’t you rather have delighted customers?

We believe that if you want a successful business, it’s not only desirable, but essential that you focus on customer service.

Here are 7 reasons to focus on improving the customer service your business provides in 2017…

Untitled

1. People have a lot of choice

Unless you have a truly unique product or service, or are the only provider in your region, people will have other options. If you don’t give them the level of customer service they want, someone else will. You might remember the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld and think that if your product is good enough, people will come regardless! Rarely is a product that incredible (and if you have one, you’ll know about it).

2. Word gets around

We’ve heard that a dissatisfied customer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. That’s in person. Now with online communication they could reach 2000 or even 200,000 easily. If you don’t believe us, read about American restaurant chain Applebees’ social media crisis.

This example also shows how important your online response to customer service complaints is – you want to calm the storm, not fuel the fire!

customer service

3. When you do it right, it’s free advertising

Happy customers don’t spread the word as far and wide as unhappy ones, but word still gets around. It’s human nature to ask people for recommendations, as we don’t want to make a mistake when choosing from several options. How often have you asked a friend what butcher they go to, their favourite restaurant, or how a movie was? Social proof is the psychological concept of trusting what others say and wanting to go with majority opinion (and people believe what others say about your business far more than what your advertising says!).

4. Happy customers are less sensitive to price increases

One mistake businesses can make is increasing prices without first considering if their customers are happy. As their customers leave in droves, they hear “you give us an ordinary product and bad service, and now you want to charge us more for it?” When customers love what you offer they will be more likely to stick with you when inevitable price rises occur.

5. You outplay your competition

While we don’t advocate a business strategy based solely on crushing your competitors, we do encourage you to be the absolute best you can be. When you continually improve your levels of customer service, your customers will be less likely to shop elsewhere.

6. It meets two fundamental human needs

Anthony Robbins talks about the six needs that drive human behaviour. Two of these are the need for significance and contribution. By giving great customer service, you contribute to the happiness of your customer and the success of the business. You are also likely to feel significant when your customer, employer or P&L is grateful for your efforts! We believe the majority of customer complaints occur when the customer does not feel valued or heard. Great customer service makes people feel important to you, meeting their need for significance.

7. Because it’s what we’re designed to do …

This quote from Winston Churchill sums it up:

customer service

And Albert Einstein said, “The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.” Who are we to argue with a genuis?

– Andrew Masi & Julianne Schwenke

Why Your Managers Need Management Training

When leading and managing a team, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it. Many people rise through the ranks of an organisation because of their natural ability to achieve results, but this doesn’t mean they know how to effectively lead and manage people.

Too often we see managers treating every team member the same way – in the way the manager likes to be treated. If the manager is results-driven, they expect each team member to be the same. If they communicate in a short and sharp style, they speak to every employee in orders and bullet points, and expect each team member to communicate the same way.

Managers need management skills in order to effectively manage a team:

  • They need self-awareness to understand their own communication style, and learn how to recognise the communication style of others.
  • They need to learn how to find out what motivates different individuals on their team, and how to tap into that to increase performance.
  • They need to learn how to encourage desired behaviour and address poor behaviour.

Managers need a toolbox of skills so they can get the best from each team member, so the organisation can achieve its goals. To use a building analogy, when the only tool a manager has is a hammer, he’ll treat everyone as if they’re a nail.

leadership, management

Not training your managers may save your organisation money in the short term, but it’s short-sighted. When left to their own devices, supervisors with poor people skills become managers without the trust and respect of their team, who then become leaders no-one wants to follow.

It’s the responsibility of every organisation to give their managers skills and tools to be effective.

Management training is essential for supervisors as they make their way through the ranks of the organisation. Here are three reasons that using a business or executive coach to train your managers makes perfect sense:

1 It saves money

Poor management is the number one reason staff leave an organisation. Ineffective management results in poor performance from the team, a lack of trust, and employees feeling like they are not valued. The result can be high staff turnover, which means constant recruitment, training and people issues which take time, money and energy, which affects a business’s bottom line. Unhappy staff give poor customer service, which results in loss of customers. Using an executive coach is an investment in your managers which will lead to greater business stability and profit.

2 It saves time

For mid-level managers to be effective and to grow, they need support. They often need advice on how to deal with particular team members, or need help as they face challenges they haven’t encountered before. Having support from an executive coach ensures they get an outsider’s perspective, unbiased advice, and can speak openly and honestly about their challenges. It also ensures that issues are addressed early, before they grow into major problems.

3 It frees upper management to get on with driving the business forward

If a mid-level manager needs to seek advice and support from further up the organisational ladder, it can slow the business down. Directors and General Managers need to focus on driving the business forward, not get distracted by inevitable ‘people issues’ that can easily be solved with outside assistance. Using an executive coach can ensure the leadership team can focus on leading the business towards its goals.

Yellow Coaching provides leadership and management training to supervisors, managers and exeucutives within large organisations. Our clients have included the Royal Australian Air Force, Office of State Revenue, National Australia Bank, KCE, and dozens of other businesses.

Call us on (02) 4933 6622 to find out how we can train your managers to perform to the best of their ability.

Two Business Secrets You Need To Know

(one your competitors won’t tell you, and one everyone should be told!)

Do you sometimes feel that your competitors have a secret that’s allowing their business to do better than yours?

Do you look at other businesses and think they are smooth sailing, while yours is weathering rough seas?

If you’re like most business owners, at some stage you’ll be comparing yourself to your competitors and wondering what their secret is to getting ahead.

There are many secrets in today’s competitive world, and keeping your important information confidential is essential.

Details about your finances, marketing, and team concerns should be shared only with trusted professionals – such as your business coach, accountant and banker.

While privacy is important, this secrecy among business owners can lead to misconceptions. No-one wants their competition to know they have challenges, so you’ll usually hear business owners say “we’re flat out!” and keep up the facade that business is always great.

Without knowing what other businesses go through, you may think you are the only one struggling with team issues, tight cashflow, customer complaints, or a lack of leads.

You may fall for the psychological trap of ‘comparing and despairing’. Just like on social media, where it’s easy to contrast your own behind-the-scenes with others’ highlight reels, you can start to believe that everyone else’s business is doing better than yours.

As business coaches, we are in the privileged position of seeing the truth behind the outward image. We don’t work with broken businesses, but rather those that want to go from good to great. No matter how successful a business is, one thing is constant – challenges, frustrations, and worries are a part of every business.

As Brian Tracy says, problems are like waves on the ocean which just keep coming (with the inevitable dumpers mixed in) … problem, problem, problem, problem, CRISIS!

subway

So are you ready for the two secrets?

The secret other business owners don’t want you to know:

They all face challenges.

The secret everyone in business should be told:

Challenges are inevitable. To get ahead you need to tackle them early while they are still small, by growing your own ability to overcome them.

It’s not the business without challenges that comes out in front, but the business which overcomes its challenges the fastest.

So if business challenges are inevitable, how do you ensure that you deal with them effectively?

When faced with challenges in life and in business, you have three options.

  1. Turn around and run as fast as you can in the other direction

It may sound comical, but this is a common response to challenges. Some think that if they flee in the other direction, they can outrun any problem. Ever known someone to change their situation but end up facing similar problems down the track? Even when you run, some problems follow you wherever you go. As you haven’t learned to deal with them, you’ll be in the same position next time they appear.

  1. Stand still, ignore them, and hope they go away

Just like running away, this choice does nothing to defeat your challenges or grow your own ability to deal with them. In fact, ignoring your problems and hoping they go away often makes them grow larger. It’s almost as though they increase in size to demand your attention!

  1. Face them and tackle them head on

This is always the choice made by the most successful business leaders we know. When you choose to confront your challenges, you are forced to grow to overcome them. When you do this, instead of your problems growing, YOU grow. Next time you face a similar situation you’ll overcome it easily, and be ready to jump the next hurdle that appears.

Let’s see how choosing to ignore or face your challenges can result in very different outcomes.

Hoping it goes away …

A business owner meets with us to discuss his challenges. He started his business nearly three years ago, and it has now grown to a team of 7. His staff turnover has been high, and customer satisfaction is low.

He tells us that his staff members are the problem. After initial training, they stop following procedures and start doing things their own way. Their inconsistent service results in customer complaints, and loss of profits due to inefficiencies and wastage. One or two employees started out okay – but they’ve lost their motivation and just don’t try anymore. His newest team member in particular, Tom, is dragging the rest of the team down.

He tells us that he doesn’t know how to deal with this problem, that he just wants them to shape up, and that he’s angry and frustrated. He is reacting rather than responding to situations, and is losing his cool often at home and at work.

His comments include:

  • My staff never do what I ask them to do
  • I have to tell them again and again how to do things and they still don’t get it right
  • I always have stay back at work to fix their mistakes
  • The team doesn’t like Tom, and I don’t want Tom to stay, but it’s easier than having to replace him. I don’t have time to train anyone else – it’s coming up to our busiest season
  • I earned more money and had fewer headaches when I was working on my own.

He complains that he can’t believe the bad luck he’s had with employees. “You just can’t get good staff these days”, he says.

We explain a few things to help him. As he’s not giving the team direction and guidelines for performance, they are setting their own bar. When poor performance is ignored, it’s condoned. He needs to give Tom feedback and an opportunity to improve, or standards throughout the team will slide. We suggest that he learns some new communication and management skills and ways of dealing with business challenges.

Unfortunately he decides that he is too busy to make changes right now. Besides, he tells us, it’s the staff that’s the problem, not him!

Three months later we heard from him that Tom’s performance had deteriorated even further, and other team members got more and more frustrated at having to pick up Tom’s slack. They started leaving one by one. As the business became under-staffed, standards slipped further, and the business lost more customers and profits. The owner had since recruited a new team member, but he wasn’t happy with that person’s performance either.

By ignoring the problems, the problems had grown, but the business owner’s ability to deal with challenges hadn’t. As he was finding out, ignoring problems and hoping they go away doesn’t work.

Tackling it head-on …

In our second scenario, let’s imagine the same business owner comes to see us to discuss his challenges. Just like before, he tells us that he doesn’t know how to manage his staff. They are not following procedures, are losing motivation, and it’s impacting business results. In particular his newest employee Tom needs a lot of direction.

His outlook this time is one of finding a solution, rather than focusing on the problem. He tells us he doesn’t want his frustration to impact his enjoyment of work, the service he can provide his customers, his business profits, or his home life.

His comments include:

  • I need to learn how to communicate more effectively with my team so they do what I ask
  • I want to learn how to hold my employees accountable
  • I want advice on how to improve their skills and behaviour
  • I want a strong team throughout our busiest season
  • I want to grow my business and team, so the team can work without me there every day.

The business owner has clear goals for his business, and doesn’t have time for distractions. He knows he needs to deal with this problem before it grows.

He decides to learn some new management skills, knowing that to get a different result he needs to change his own actions. As he puts into practice what he’s learned, team morale improves. The team creates a company culture or ‘rules of the game’. The standards rise, and he finds the team members holding each other accountable to perform to their best.

He gives Tom feedback, support, and extra training, but unfortunately Tom’s performance doesn’t change. After receiving a written warning, Tom chooses to resign. The other employees are relieved that they no longer have to take up Tom’s slack.

This business owner has a new problem – he now has to replace Tom as they enter their busiest season. But now he has skills and experience in dealing with underperforming employees, and can focus on a solution and move forward. The team help recruit a new employee in line with their new company culture.

Instead of the problem growing, the owner’s skills, ability, and confidence to deal with team issues has grown.

Three months later this business has employed another two team members, and is looking forward to a year of record growth.

As this business owner found out, business is a journey of constant and never-ending improvement, and problems are often the push we need to grow.

Challenges are inevitable in business and in life. To be successful, we need to focus on what we can control, which is the way we deal with them. Having a solutions-focused approach and choosing to grow – rather than allowing our problems to grow –  is the secret.