The Problem With Partnerships

The Problem With Partnerships

Evaluate, Featured, Improvement

conversationIn this blog, and in the Businetiks system, we talk about focusing on your core competencies. To handle tasks outside our skill set, we rely on partners and suppliers. Choosing a partner goes beyond making sure they can do the job. Choosing the wrong partner can be fatal.

An example of this is Borders Book Stores. At one time, Borders was the largest book store chain in the United States. In the late 1990s, they made a mistake. Looking at what was needed, they knew they had no expertise in online sales. They looked for a partner that could handle online fulfillment and the design and implementation of an online store. They chose Amazon as a partner. The rest is history. Amazon took Borders online business and the company never recovered.

There’s more to a partnership than matching skills. You have to look at what the long-term goals of each partner is. The personalities of the people and the cultures of the organizations have to be taken into consideration. Make sure that you are compatible with your partner during the partnership and can trust them if the partnership ends.

To see how The Modern Observer Group can help you grow your business, contact us here.

How Do You Make Your Customer Feel?

How Do You Make Your Customer Feel?

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured, Improvement

motivatedOn Friday, November 3, the iPhone X became available in stores. As with most iPhone releases, people lined up to get one. Reporters covering the event talked to the first person to get one. He didn’t talk about the technology or the price. What he couldn’t stop talking about was how Apple made him feel. Everything he talked about was about the experience, not the product.

Creating an experience is key to customer loyalty. When your competition is only a mouse click away, that experience keeps a customer coming back. It’s about how the customer is treated, what they see, hear, smell and feel (if you’re running a restaurant it’s also about taste). An all encompassing experience is what gets people to come to your location or event. It’s about the impression you give before the sale and the customer service after the sale.

Think about the complete experience your customer has. It goes well beyond the sale and will bring them back for more.

To see how The Modern Observer Group can help you create a customer experience, contact us here.

Manage Your To Do Lists

Manage Your To Do Lists

Featured, Improvement, Process

ChecklistManaging your workload with a to-do list can be a productive way to organize your work and keep yourself on task. But don’t let your list become a collection of everything you want to do but will never have time for. Make sure each item on your list has a time and place attached.

Don’t add “write management presentation” without including the day and time slot in which you’ll do it. Also, remember to include all steps in your list. If you have to do reseach for that presentation, include “research presentation” on the list, don’t just lump it in with writing the presentation.

Consider  scheduling items on your calendar. You may still want a place to write down things you hope to get to, but be sure that each day you know what you need to accomplish and when.

To see how The Modern Observer Group can help you manage your time, contact us here.

What To Do When Tasks Fall Outside Your Core Competencies

What To Do When Tasks Fall Outside Your Core Competencies

Featured, Improvement, Process

core competenciesIn the Businetiks system, we talk about focusing on your core competencies. It is important that you spend your time on what you do best and what is most important for you to handle.

It is just as importance to recognize your weaknesses as it is to identify your strengths. Those weaknesses also help identify which jobs fall outside of your core competencies. However, just because something falls outside that focus, doesn’t mean the job can be ignored. How should you handle these tasks?

Get better. If your job includes areas you’re not strong in, work hard to improve. Get a mentor, ask for stretch assignments, or take a class. If you are the person that needs to attend to it, it becomes important that you be able to do it well.

Delegate. Play to your strengths. If it is not mission critical for a task to be accomplished by you, find someone who is better suited for it. Find a peer, or a contractor who can do the things you’re not great at. Outsource tasks to specialists. The time you save will be worth the cost

Move on. If neither of the above work, it’s time to look for a new job. There is no use staying in a position where you always need to hide or mitigate your weaknesses. Focus on your core competencies and get into a business that uses those to their best advantage.

To see how the Modern Observer Group can help you expand your skills and handle tough tasks, contact us here.

Reduce Your Options

Reduce Your Options

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Improvement

optionsWhat drives some companies to succeed while others languish? Why does Kmart struggle while Wal-Mart and Target thrive? What the former lacks — that the latter have nailed — is focus. Wal-Mart focuses on “always low prices.” Target caters to a similarly cost-conscious market but focuses more on image and design. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to make decisions about how you will provide differentiated value for a specific set of customers. This requires deciding what your core competencies are.

Your core competencies determine what you are best at. By focusing your business around them, you provide a clearer picture of who you are and what sets you apart from your competitors. But this isn’t the only place that too many options are not a good thing.

When building operational processes, you need to simplify them as much as you can. If a process provides too many options for a set of circumstances, the process becomes inefficient and confusing. A+B=C is clear. A+B=X or Y or Z doesn’t provide a definitive answer. Your process should as straightforward as possible. Even when there is a choice, those choices must be limited. If a = yes do this, if a = no do that. It’s fine for the next step to also be a decision, but break down the options to their simplest form.

To see how The Modern Observer Group can help you streamline your options, contact us here.

Go Beyond Demographics

Go Beyond Demographics

Customer, Featured, Improvement

psychographicsIt’s important to know who your customers are. When you ask most business people about their customers, they respond by giving you the demographics of their audience. It’s good to have demographic informations such as age, gender, income, and geographic location. However, demographics can be misleading. Political analysts will tell you that according to the demographics of the country, Hillary should have won the presidency. The problem is demographics just skim the surface. What you need to understand your customers are psychographics.

Psychographic information includes habits, hobbies, spending patterns and values. Demographics explain “who” your customer is, while psychographics explain “why” they buy. Knowing the psychographics of your customers enable you to create real connections with them.

To gather psychographics you must have real conversations with your customers. Get to know them and ask them about themselves. The more you understand why they do what they do, the better you can help them.

Demographics are the tip of the iceberg. For lasting business relationships, you need to go deeper.

To find out how The Modern Observer Group can help you connect with your customers, contact us here.

The Algorithm Is Not Everything

The Algorithm Is Not Everything

Featured, Improvement, Planning

trendsThere is a lot of talk about big data. How you can use it to improve your business. The insights it gives you about your customers. There can be too much emphasis on algorithms and data.

Amazon recently found out that you can’t always live by the data. They created their entire business around using algorithms to figure out what their customers want. Recently they hit a wall as their original shows proved not to appeal to viewers or critics and several producers came out and stated that the company had no idea what they were doing.

Take a look at the greatest companies. They were founded by entrepreneurs who followed their gut feelings, and used that with data to build the business. Look at the fall of major corporations and the Wall Street banking crisis, The disasters were all created by MBAs focusing on data. Data is an important part of planning, but it is not the end all and be all. Remember, your customers are ruled by emotions, not data.

To find out how The Modern Observer Group can help you with your plans, contact us here.

Burn Your Business Down

Burn Your Business Down

Featured, Improvement

One of the tenets of forestry is that periodically you need to create a controlled burn so that the dead trees are disposed of and don’t become fuel for a wildfire. These controlled burns clean out dead wood and keep the forest healthy and vibrant. In business, the same principle applies. Sometimes you need to create a controlled burn to clear out what isn’t working in the business and keep the rest healthy and flourishing.

A company built to last does not persist unchanged. It recognizes when it is time to destroy and recreate itself. American Express started its life as a courier service, as did Wells Fargo. Now both are financial companies. Kimberly Clark started life operating paper mills, now they are a personal and health care company.

Young companies are born to pursue a purpose. Whether built by an individual or a group, a business starts with a vision, and entrepreneurs figure out what is necessary to realize the vision. As companies mature, their focus shifts to means. They systematize processes and build operating manuals. This natural evolution is necessary to build scale, but it also has a dark side. People tend to forget the purpose and start following the rules. While operations are crucial to a company’s success, it must be able to adapt to avoid becoming a program rather than an intelligent, adapting organization.

If the only reason you do something a certain way is because that’s how it has always been done, it may be time to burn the process. Never stop looking for ways to apply your core competencies to new fields. You never know where the true future of an organization lies.

To find out how The Modern Observer Group can help you reimagine your business, contact us here.

Greatness Comes From Effort

Greatness Comes From Effort

Featured, Improvement

blue ribbonMany people think that talent is everything. The truth is that talent is the result of effort and practice.

Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, basketball players of all-time. Early in his career, however, he was considered to be a weak athlete. He diligently learned from his mistakes, practiced intensely and worked tirelessly to achieve his goal of being the best. He worked with coaches to figure out what he needed to do and he followed through and practiced so that performing the necessary tasks was second nature.  ESPN’s biography of Jordan describes his high school years: During his sophomore year at Laney, a 5’9″ Michael Jordan tried out for the basketball team. He was passed over for the final spot on the varsity team when coach Clifton Herring decided he preferred 6’8″ sophomore Leroy Smith over Jordan. Jordan was quoted as saying, “It was embarrassing not making that team. They posted the roster and it was there for a long, long time without my name on it. I remember being really mad, too, because there was a guy who made it that really wasn’t as good as me.” Jordan put up one of the best performances on the school’s junior varsity team that season and joined the varsity the next year. He led Laney High to the state playoffs as a senior.

Muhammed Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, was also considered to be a weak athlete. It was thought that he didn’t have the physical attributes necessary to become a great boxer.  Joe Martin, found Clay to be no better and no worse as a novice than most of the thousands of boys he had taught. Clay trained and studied the art of boxing almost every day for six years. It was his effort to improve and to learn that made him great.

Don’t give up. Build your skills through study, practice, and work. You’ll be amazed at the results.

To find out how The Modern Observer Group coaches can help build your skills, contact us.

Why You Need A Customer Retention Plan

Why You Need A Customer Retention Plan

Customer, Featured, Improvement

customersMost businesses are very focused on bringing in new business. Once they get the business, they lose that focus. We’ve all had bad customer experiences, when a company doesn’t seem to want to solve your problem. No matter how well you sell, no matter how great your product or service is, you need to have a process to keep your customers coming back.

Here are six reasons that you need to focus on customer retention.

  1. Existing Customers Are More Profitable: Researchers have repeatedly conducted studies to determine the expense of gaining new clients versus the expense of retaining one.  These studies have proven that it can be up to five times more expensive to win over a prospect than it is to keep an existing client.  Furthermore, existing clients are far more likely to increase their business with you by taking advantage of additional products or services.
  2. Satisfied, Loyal Customers Refer Other Business To You: Satisfied customers can contribute to your sales efforts through their recommendations.  In essence, they become a referral source.  Satisfied, loyal customers make particularly useful referral sources because they are able to provide a first-hand testimonial when recommending you to someone they know who could benefit from your business.
  3. Service Is More Memorable Than Products Or Prices: Price doesn’t have as much sway in the sales world as it once did.  That isn’t to say that price doesn’t matter, or that customers aren’t drawn to lower prices, just that they just rank customer service higher than price or product these days.  Most people are willing to pay a little more for a product or service if it means having an amiable relationship with a business.
  4.  They Will Take Their Business Elsewhere: Customers, by and large, are non-confrontational.  Most will not outright voice their complaints.  Instead, they will simply take their business to your competition.  Don’t assume your customers are completely satisfied if they are not complaining — remember, they vote with their pocketbook.
  5. Satisfied Customers Are Loyal Customers: A customer’s loyalty to your business directly relates to your customer service.  The better you treat your customers — that is, the stronger and more exceptional your customer service is — the more satisfied they will be.  And the more satisfied they are, the more loyal they become.
  6. Existing Customers Provide Better Metrics: One of the most effective ways to improve your business is through your existing customer base — by taking advantage of customer satisfaction surveys.  We recommend doing both an e-mail survey and a snail mail survey once a year, 6 months apart.

Customer satisfaction doesn’t just happen. You need to focus on it and create a process to ensure that customers keep coming back.  However, you need to make sure that you don’t make the one mistake that most customer service plans make.

Don’t Use A One-Level System: Most companies use a one-level system for customer service. What does that mean? It means the person directly in front of you is very happy with you. But what about the people waiting on line behind that person. Are they happy or have you spent so much time on the person in front of you that they have become aggravated, or worse, have they left altogether.   The process you use needs to keep in mind that you have more than one customer (at least I hope you have more than one customer). Create a process that treats all your customers well, whether they’re in front of you or not