Referral

Stupid Things Stupid Businesses Do

Stupid Things Stupid Businesses Do

Of course businesses aren't stupid, in fact the people in the businesses aren't stupid (I'm being kind), but they become stupid as the people in them act stupidly. How so? I’m about to explain. Before I begin I must say that I have been inspired by Pam Slim’s Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world.

Stupid businesses don’t grow right. They treat their customers badly. It’s likely that they don’t want to but they do because they have an environment of treating people badly. Employees are treated badly and they, in turn, treat the customers in like manner.

  1. They don’t care about the customer
  2. They’re rude or inattentive
  3. They do bad work

I know there are reasons they act this way. I was in a store recently and the cashier was so worn down that she looked like a zombie. Glassy-eyed, she hardly knew I was there. She couldn’t ring a particular item up right and offered no solution to the problem. No help. It was fun to pull her out of it and find a smile, but that was for a moment and then she was back to longing for the day to end.

Last week my daughter saw an employee at a Subway drive everyone out of the building. Literally. “I’ve had it with this place!”, she said. Once she got everyone out she locked the door!

That comes from above. Managers are above. Stupid managers make stupid businesses. Stupid managers:

  1. Overwork employees
  2. Command in all things
  3. Don’t accept feedback or suggestions
  4. Frequently criticize and nit pick
  5. Rarely give praise or recognition
  6. Lazily expect subordinates to do their work for them
  7. Yell and act in a mean manner

That creates an atmosphere for stupid employees. I have a son that works at a grocery store. His manager takes 10-15 smoke breaks a day. He comes back and finds that a yogurt container isn’t facing the right way and goes ballistic. It’s sad. Another son works in a clothing department. His manager always has it in her mind that the women’s part of the department is trashed. “Get over there and clean it up, it’s terrible!” Whether it is or not, that’s her message. It’s never right, it’s never good, and she doesn’t want to hear any different.

Above managers in the small business world are owners. Stupid small business owners make stupid small businesses. Let me put emphasis on small, I don’t mean small in size here, but small in quality and integrity.

  1. They provide no real incentives to perform well
  2. They are self serving without real regard for employees or customers
  3. They underpay, giving only what they have to

I’ve seen a business owner pit manager against employees, lie to customers, negotiate in bad faith, and do all things for their own aggrandizement and benefit. The business started in a great, innovative way but became small because of the owner.

Stupid businesses are remarkable but not in a positive way. The famous line from Forest Gump is true, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Stupid businesses don’t grow like they could, like the owner would really like them to grow. They can be planted in a good spot, sprout and start, but they will never get the powerful fertilizer of referrals or the life giving water of returning customers to grow into what they have the potential to become.

Unhappy customers tell on average 22 other people. If you ticket price is $50 that is $1100 in revenue. How would you like to know before they tell 22 others? Learn more

Best Place to Advertise?

Best Place to Advertise?

Very interesting article in the Wall Street Journalabout where small local businesses are advertising. According to the article, yellow pages still dominate but the internet is opening up some promising new opportunities. The article talks about three:

Local Television. An online company called Spot Runner will make you semi-custom ad for less than $500 and then place it for you with local stations. A pet boarding service paid $299 for an ad plus $1,400 for placement and saw their calls increase 20%

Online Search Ads. Hook up with Yahoo and or Google and for $250 to $300 a month they will host a detailed web page and provide ad listings on their search engines. A salon tried it and says they now get 80% of their new customer through the internet.

Craigslist. Craigslist is an online classified ad system that is free and growing like crazy. A carpet cleaner in New York quit using newspaper ads and gets 90% of his business from Craigslist.

Some of these ideas seem pretty good and may be worth trying depending on what kind of business you are in. What it highlights for me once again is that it is tough to get new customers in the door. In fact, it costs 5 to 10 times more to attract new customers than it does to sell more to your current customers. So once you get them, don't ever let them go. How do you do that? Give them a remarkable experience, ask them what they think, get their email address, and stay in touch with them. Not only will they come back, they will bring their friends.

More happy customers. More repeat sales. More referrals. Learn more

Keep an Eye on Your Tail

Keep an Eye on Your Tail

It is hard to overemphasize the importance and long lasting effect of reputation. As humans we seem to have a natural belief that things don't change. Once we've developed a perception of something, it is pretty hard to shift our perspective. Here is a quick quiz from a recent post in Tom Guarriello's blog:

Which has more crime, San Diego or New York?
Which country has the highest per capita income?

If you answered New York and the U.S. you would be wrong. New York used to have more crime but not any more. Now it just has the reputation.

And where does the U.S. rank on per capita income? We're number 5 now behind Bermuda, Luxembourg, Equitorial Guinea and Norway. We used to have the highest.

So what does this have to do with our businesses? Well ask yourself what reputation does your business have and, perhaps even more important, what kind of reputation are we building every day? When a customer has a problem, how do you find out about it? Are you proactively asking? And when you do become aware of a problem, do you solve it or avoid it?

Your tail is growing--make sure it is the one you want.

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? Learn more

PromoterZ Newsletter 5/5/06

PromoterZ Newsletter 5/5/06

The latest newsletter from PromoterZ:

PromoterZ NewZ--May 5, 2006

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In this issue:

- Seeds of Growth--principles that help businesses grow
- It's May--Do you know where your specials are?
- Increasing Response Rates
- Tell Us What You Think

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Seeds of Growth--principles that help businesses grow
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Where can you learn about fishing, gas for $2.55 a gallon, and what they both have to do with growing your business? We've launched a new blog that is focused on discovering and discussing the principles that help businesses grow. Nothing too serious, but hopefully some good tidbits that will generate new ideas and help you with your business. You can check it out at http://www.seedsofgrowth.com. Leave some comments and let us know what you think. We've also changed promoterz.com--see what you think.

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It's May--Do you know where your specials are?
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One of the most valuable benefits of using PromoterZ(TM) is the list of opt-in email addresses that it collects for you. You can use the list to build your relationship with your customers, share information with them, and encourage them to return. The list, however, does no good unless it is used. Remember, these are your customers that want to hear more from you--don't let them down.

One of the beautiful things about email is that it can be current and immediate. (You can read more about that here). As you think about the month of May, here are some ideas for specials:

- NBA playoffs--If your local team is still in the running, let your customers know you are a fan. (Game 7 Special! Go Suns!)

- Mother's Day--Lot's of options here. We can never do too much for our moms.

Those are the "biggies" but there are lot's of others. The best are those that are local and current. Here are a few others to get you thinking:

May 6th-International No Diet Day (my personal favorite)
May 9th-National Teacher Day
May 10th-Clean Up Your Room Day (we are definitely celebrating that in our house)
May 14th-National Dance Like a Chicken Day (huh?)
May 15th-National Chocolate Chip Day (my other favorite)
May 20th-Armed Forces Day

You get the point. Do a web search on May Holidays and then be creative. Also don't forget that you can get an email out in literally 5 minutes. If there is something very current happening, take advantage of it and get the email out. Your customers see countless generic commercials every day. Send them something refreshing and they'll appreciate it.

If you need help with art work or getting your special set up for May, send us an email. We're happy to help.

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Increasing Response Rates
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PromoterZ(TM) is a great tool that can help gather feedback, referrals, and opt-in emails. As we just discussed, it is also very powerful for proactively communicating with your customers. But none of it happens if your customers aren't participating. So how do you get more of your customers to participate? Here are some ideas from your fellow PromoterZ(TM) users:

1) Get personal--if you are handing out an invitation card, make a personal request. Don't just leave them on the counter or shove them in the bag, hand it to them and say "I would love your feedback. Would you mind taking just 60 seconds to let us know how we did?"

2) Be persistent--Tyler Slade of Canyonlands Insurance invites his customers by email. But, he talks to them on the phone before he sends the invite and lets them know it is coming. Then he sends the invite and if he needs to he follows up by phone. His response rate is high and, not surprisingly, so are his feedback scores.

3) Share the feedback--This isn't obvious, but the best way to get your employees excited about asking customers for feedback is to share the feedback with your employees. Chuck Matheny of Sport Clips swears by this. He says his stylists take more pride in the their work and are motivated by the feedback they receive.

4) Reconsider the incentive--If you are not offering an incentive, consider offering one. If you are offering one and your response rate is still not what you would like it to be experiment with other incentives. In general a "Free" offer is more motivating than a discount. Christine switched her Subway stores from $1 off a sandwich to a free cookie with great resutls. Also, and this ties back to number 1, don't forget to offer an incentive to your employees to encourage them to ask for feedback. Run a contest and give movie tickets to the employee that gets the most feedback.

If you have other ideas or questions about improving your response rate, send us an email.

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Tell Us What You Think
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Speaking of feedback, we are always looking for it. If you have ideas or suggestions for improving PromoterZ(TM) we would like to hear about them. Over the next few weeks we will be adding new features based on requests from users like you. If you have ideas, let us know. Here is our feedback link:

http://feedbackworks.com/1327

Also, just like you, we are always looking for referrals. If you would like to send a free month of PromoterZ(TM) to a friend or colleague please use this link:

http://promoterz.com/app/referrals/1327

That is it. Thanks for reading and thanks for your business!

Happy No Diet Day!

Dave Free
President
PromoterZ

Do you remember your customers on their birthday? On their anniversary? Do you give special notice to recently acquired customers? Promoterz does. Learn more

Give Your Business a Quick Physical

What are the three most important things to look at to determine the health of any business? Is it income? Return on Investment? Book value? Revenue? If you could only look at three measurements what would they be?

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, was recently asked that question. These are his top 3 which he says apply to any size organization:

1. How satisfied are the customers?

Do the customers want to come back? Do they like my stuff? Are they willing to refer me. Learn by doing surveys and get out of your office to talk with your customers. Become known as the person that always wants to know.

2. How satisfied are the employees?

Is my message getting through--is it in their blood? I need the most engaged energized people in the world.

3. How much free cash flow is available?

It's simple. You need more cash coming in than cash going out. Net income is for accountants, it is full of assumptions. Cash has no assumptions. It gives you true flexibility and is the one thing that frees you.

I really like Jack's list. I've been involved in organizations that have lacked one or more of the three. They didn't last long. If your employees aren't satisfied, it is doubtful that your customers will be. And if your customers aren't satisfied, the free cash flow can't be positive for long.

The real question is do you know the answer to each of the three? I'm betting you are very familiar with your cash flow situation. Every month those bills come due and you have to pay them some how. But what about employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction? Are you systematically and regularly getting a read on how your customers and employees feel?

You can listen to Jack's comments on the topic by downloading a podcast he and his wife (former editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review) produce called "The Welch Way." It is free and available on iTunes.

Unhappy customers tell on average 22 other people. If you ticket price is $50 that is $1100 in revenue. How would you like to know before they tell 22 others? Learn more
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We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

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