6-Love, 6-Love, 6-Love. Oh dear!

Wimbledon started today and it got me thinking of tennis and from there to a time that I dropped into a David Lloyd centre, I have to admit without an appointment, but even so their customer service was far below what it should have been and certainly it lost them my business.

I have no problem with being kept waiting at reception. As I say, I didn’t have an appointment. I had explained what I wanted to the person at the desk, given her my business card, and she had then disappeared for five, maybe six, minutes, stopping on the way for a chat with one of her colleagues. On her return she informed me that the manager was too busy to see me and that he would contact me later that day – the next day at the latest. No problem with that? Well to be honest there is. Why let a potential customer walk out of your building without talking to them?

However, back to my story. While I was waiting I could see the receptionist, through the class panel of the manager’s office door, talking to someone (I guessed it was the manager) and it looked like they were having a good time, as there seemed to be a fair amount of joking around going on. As I left the centre I have to say that I was thinking: they had time to fool around but the manager had no time to pop out and see me. To say “Hello, sorry I’m really busy, but would you like to make an appointment?” How long would that have taken? What impression would that have made on me?

Now I don’t know how busy the manager was, but perception is everything, and I certainly was not impressed. I was offering a possible £20k worth of meetings’ business over the next year. Wouldn’t that have been worth a minute of his time – however busy he was?

But, that wasn’t where they really lost the match. That came later, as I have never, to this day, had a phone call from them! I just can’t understand it!

So, my question to you – are you totally sure that your sales staff, reception staff, whole team, are winning you business and not just letting it slip through their fingers?

If in any doubt, you can always employ a mystery shopper to find out.

Post in a box!

In the past couple of weeks I’ve come across two business owners with pretty much the same problem.  One had discovered that she was paying a monthly subscription fee to someone that in total had amounted to over £500 in the last six months.  Having asked her a few questions I discovered two things: first that she didn’t check her bank statements and second, that lots of her mail she threw away un-opened.  “It’s just junk mail”, she said.

The second case was much more worrying.  The person concerned had had someone knock on their door at 8.00am and proceeded to have their car taken away; it was on finance and they were months behind on the payments.

I had said, that’s impossible, it can’t happen like that.  They have to write to you, give you a number of warnings, give you the option to catch up the missed payments.  They just can’t turn up unannounced.  But, it seemed they did!  And the car was gone; with no chance of getting it back.

We discussed what could be done and in doing so I discovered the truth; a box with six month’s mail in it.  Not a single letter opened!  “It was only going to be bad news”, I was told, and they didn’t want to know.

Over £500 spent and a car taken away (along with getting a bad credit rating) all because post wasn’t opened.  Total madness!

So, are you ignoring any post that might just damage your business?  Or, for that matter, ignoring something else that might just damage your business?

Please, don’t act Ostrich-like, and bury your head in the sand, when you are faced with a problem.  Problems never go away; they just get bigger.  Deal with your problem today and you may just find that they are nowhere near as big as you thought.

The book you don’t read won’t help you!

I was asked recently why I was always reading a business book and my answer was very simple: development. After all, you can always learn.  Plus, the more you know, the easier things become.

One of the benefits I find is that by reading more than one book on any given subject is that I learn more.  The reason is that one author will explain a subject slightly differently to another and this difference, plus the repetition, helps me to fix things in my head.  Even then, I can always learn more about the subject.

What is most important as a business Start-Up, SME, is that you learn, continue to learn and develop.  If you come from the corporate world things are very different in the world of small business, and if you are an expert in your chosen field that doesn’t make you an expert in business.  So, you must learn if you are going to achieve real business success.

The more you learn and understand about business, not only will you be increasing the odds of you staying in business, but it is likely that you will have more fun and make more money along the way.

Every book you don’t read won’t help you, and, what is more, every book you don’t read can’t help your business.  So, please buy or borrow a business book today and just see what a difference it makes to the way you think about business.  Almost any business book will be of benefit, but think about one of three areas: what you are good at, what you are not so good at, and motivation.  Then choose something that covers one of those areas.

And, don’t just think you have to read. Audio books and CDs are ideal for the car, train, plane, etc.

Here are a few books that I can highly recommend: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo, Playing with Fire by Gordon Ramsay and Blowing the Bloody Doors Off by Michael Caine.  Each could make an amazing difference to your business and will completely change the way you run your company.

Email overload?

It is a common problem for most business people these days. After all, the internet never sleeps and now nor do we have to.  Or, at least that is how it feels for a great many people.

So, how do we get away from this ever demanding, never sleeping, giant of communication, that none of us can now seemingly live without?  Well, in part, it’s easy:  don’t play the game! But of course that is easier to say than to do, so here are a few tips to help you.

1) Don’t have your email account set to auto-download.  Few can resist that little ping as yet another ‘important’ email is delivered into our Inbox.

2) Have set times when you look at your emails.  Putting email time in your diary may be a little extreme but I bet most other things are in there.  Breaking into something that you are doing to answer an email means that both things don’t get your full attention and effectiveness is lost.

3) Set an auto-respond when you don’t want to answer emails.  Evenings and weekends.  Something simple like – I am currently out of the office, all emails will be replied to, at such and such time.

4) Don’t open emails, read them, and then close them again.  Answer on the spot, it saves time and things being forgotten.  If you haven’t got the time to act on the email, you haven’t got the time to open it.  Answers can be just a few words.

5) If it can be said, phone instead.  Often we all get caught up in email sagas, tens of emails that could have been replaced with just one phone call (the same is true of texts).  Okay, you might not be able to call at 11.30pm, but then by not sending the email either you won’t be adding to the ‘email overload’.

If you are one of those who can’t resist the next email, but would really like to be able to, I hope the above will be of help to you.  Maybe other people have their own ideas on how to cure the problem?

And, of course you could just leave your computer, laptop, mobile phone, ipad, etc., turned off!