This is my first post in a long while. What got me back on my blog? Two things:
1. I hope to get my thoughts in writing to help me organize them and keep record of them. As I get older, it seems more difficult to keep track of things. Anyone else experiencing this?! 🙂
2. What a great way to start conversations and get other people’s opinions.
I live in the St. Louis area and unless you live under a rock you have probably heard about the racial tension and the Black vs. Police arguments going on. Another killing just 2 days ago when a Black male killed a White male while trying to steal a girl’s purse from the White guys car. Senseless.
I have never considered myself a racist or sexist but the whole situation brought some other things to mind that do affect me. And my business.
Here is my question: If everyone wants to be treated equally, then why was I just asked on a business questionaire if my company was women owned or minority owned? I was not sure what to answer to be honest. Some of the places I travel, white males do appear to be the minority.
Now here is my 2nd and more important question: Do you want to win business based on your sex or color of your skin? Does that give you satisfaction? Or would you rather offer the best service, best price, the best product or some combo of the 3? I would hate to think I ever won business just because I was White or male. But I would just as equally hate to think I LOST business for that reason. How is that fair? We can start the same question for college entrance or job interviews.
So maybe it is time to stop having music awards for Black entertainers only. They are eligible for Grammy’s right?! Or why do I see Women to Women business conferences? Should I hold a male only networking event? Oh the uproar that would take place!
My brain tells me that if I want to be treated like everyone else I should act like everyone else and network with everyone else. Makes sense to me.
“The customer is always right”. “Take care of your customers or someone else will”. “Say ‘yes’ then figure it out later”.
Any of the above sound familiar? It should. You have been told this since the first day you started working. And I agree to a certain extent. But let’s take a look at the other side.
What if you can’t do what you told your customer you could do? What if you fail? What happens now? I will tell you what happens now, your customer moves their business to your competition! Sorry.
Your customer will appreciate your honesty if you just say “I want to do my best for you and make sure you are taken care of. That is my goal every day. But in this situation, I think we are setting ourselves up for failure and I don’t want that to happen to you.”
I have done this countless times. Turned down business because I thought we would fail which would cost us even more business in the future. It works almost every time. And the times it did not work, those are probably people I did not want to work with long-term anyway.
Suggestion: Have a solution ready to present when you tell them “no”. Example: “Well, we can’t get your order of 500 widgets delivered by next Tuesday but we can get 100 delivered which will allow you to get started on your project and the balance will deliver on Friday. Will that work for you?”
Don’t set yourself up for failure!
I got my butt up early today to go to the gym. Like church, I am not always motivated to go but always feel better about myself after I attend. I can always think of a reason not to go. Something that has to be done. I have to catch up on my sleep. Something that can’t wait. Know what I mean?
Leaving the gym today, I noticed no fewer than 5 cars parked in “handicap” parking spots. Wow, I am impressed. Is there anyone who has more of an excuse to not get up early and work out than someone who has a health issue that requires them to park way up close? I don’t know who these people are within the gym but I am pretty impressed and inspired anyway.
So like most of my blogs, it is time to relate this personal story to business. How does this relate to your everyday work life? Hmmmm, let me see. Do we ever make excuses as to why we are failing? Why sales are down? Why the potential client when with another supplier? Of course.
When talking about their poor performance I still hear people say “In this economy…..” What?!!!! The economy is actually recovering nicely and sales in most categories are up. Our business is BOOMING right now and very few businesses require a strong economy more than promotional product sales!
Spend the time you are spending now coming up with excuses and instead use this time to think of ways to improve your business. When all else fails, use those people I saw at the gym today at 7am as your motivation. If they can do it, so can you!
First let me say I am not pushing my religion on anyone. To each his own, do as you please. But if you are in business, read on…..
My family and I went to church last weekend. Some weeks are better than others. Some topics more interesting than others. But either way, I usually feel better about myself when I attend. Last week was a little different. The topic/theme was “Finish Strong”. In a religious context they mean: don’t be a fair-weathered fan of God. You are either in or out. Go 100% or don’t go at all. The Rev. asked “Are you willing to commit to what it takes to be a good Christian for your entire life?”. I have to admit, these are good questions. But who is going to sit in church and say “nope, I can’t commit. I am only in 60%”? I am not dumb enough to take that risk! 🙂
As I sat there and listened, my AADD took over and I began to think about my business. Am I 100% committed? Am I all in? The Rev. talked about how people get an idea and start on it but then quit once it gets hard or they lose interest. Hmmm, ever done that with a business idea?
So the message was pretty powerful in both my personal and business life. If you are reading this blog, you probably have business ideas you want to bring to life or goals you want to achieve. I encourage you to stay the course and FINISH STRONG!
I think almost everyone has tried to get in shape or lose weight at one point or another. So we all know how hard it is to lose even 5lbs. And if you lose the pounds, you still can’t lose the belly fat. Ugh!!
I badly sprained my ankle in October and wow, it seems to only take a few weeks to undo the results that took months of hard work and dieting to achieve. How is that fair?!
The same is true of your business. You have to work really long and hard to get your business into good shape and it usually takes months or years. But just a short time of taking your eye of the ball can undo all your hard work. Absentee ownership, mismanagement, believing the headlines that tell you how great you are doing can all lead to your business failure.
After working so hard to build a great business, it is MUCH easier to maintain a successful business than it is to repair one that has gotten out of shape.
So eat your spinach, do your push-ups and keep your eye on the ball!
You have probably heard it before. “The customer is ALWAYS right!” and I guess as long as you intend to keep them as customers, that is a good rule to live by. A company can really differentiate themselves with great customer service.
But at what point is enough…..well…..enough?
You may have also hear “Some customers are just not worth having!” You know the ones. The clients where nothing is ever good enough. Nothing is ever their fault. You are their vendor, not their business partner. The people who take up WAY too much of your time for the small orders they give you. Ring a bell?
So what do you do about it? Most small business owners cringe at the thought of giving away any business at all. And I get that, it is risky. But ask yourself this question: What could I accomplish with the time I am currently spending on my problem client?
If the answer is playing more golf then please keep the client! But if the answer is one of these then you need to seriously consider firing your problem client.
1. attend more networking events
2. Improve my website SEO
3. Call my best customers to personally thank them for our business relationship
4. Alone time to sit and think about how to grow your business for the future
5. Anything having a positive affect on your business
It is your call. What are you doing to do?
Our customer was SO excited to get their order. 2,000 acrylic jars with their logo imprinted. They would be giving these out to their customers. I knew the items delivered. Then I get the phone call. They opened the first box and 10 of the 40 in the box are broken. Now they open the second box….8 broken….and on and on it goes.
I felt sick to my stomach like my dog just died. Started to sweat a bit. Mind was racing. This is MAKE OR BREAK for a company. How do you handle this situation?
I immediately called my customer to apologize and let her know I was concerned and ready to take action. I asked permission to visit their warehouse the next morning to inspect the goods myself so they would not have to waste their time. I spent 10 hours over 2 days going through every box to determine the extent of the damage and credited back their invoice for the broken units which ended up being more than 30%. Then they asked me to meet for lunch.
Lunch? Is this the end of our relationship? Are they going to yell at me and tell me they are moving to another supplier? I was more than nervous. At lunch, I was told how impressed they were with how we handled their issue and the concern we showed. They could tell we were there to help them and not just trying to make a buck. They gave me 3 different product samples and asked me to get the pricing on each. MORE BUSINESS!
We are all human and mistakes are going to happen. It is how you handle the mistake that either wins or loses the customer for life!