Could you be losing business too?

I had a computer problem last month and contacted two of my contacts about it.  I spoke to one but he was away and would be home in a couple of days. The other gave me a price but confused me as to how he would solve the problem; but at least I had a price for fixing the problem.

To this day I have not heard another word from either of them, and I’ve actually seen one of them three times.

This is just BONKERS!

They know I have a problem, it has to be fixed, and yet they haven’t bothered to follow up and ask when I would like my computer fixed.  Notice I say when, not if.  I have certain business to give to someone and yet it seems that neither of these two businesses want it.  Now they might be thinking, well I want the work done, so I’ll get back to them, and maybe I will.  But how much better would it be to ask, and make certain, that they are the one who gets my business and not a competitor?

It’s such a simple thing to do but so many businesses don’t.  So, please make sure that your business is not missing out on work, and, more importantly, profit, just because you are too busy or don’t have a system in place to follow up.

Smashed!

Work progresses well in our lovely new home in the Surrey Hills. In our garden we have the more usual birds but also ducks, pheasants and a heron (I think he is fishing).

Currently we are working on the design of our en-suite and have spent a great deal of time choosing the furniture, tiles, fittings and taps. One of these items was a lovely white ceramic counter top basin chosen to go with a lovely oak vanity unit found on the internet.

The unit arrived well packed on a pallet but without the basin. This it turned out was coming from another supplier. A few days later a delivery man arrived at our door and, as he handed me the box he was carrying, I heard the sound of broken ceramic. I suggested he take the box back but he replied that his was to deliver not take returns (not the best customer service).

When I opened the box my fears were realised as the basin was smashed to pieces. What surprised me was that a ceramic bowl could just be placed into a standard cardboard carton without any additional packing.

smashed sink

A quick phone call, resulted in the company apologising for the mishap, that they would get a replacement basin sent out immediately, with extra packing.

Pretty good customer service and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. After all, mistakes happen and it’s how they are put right that makes the difference.

A couple of days later another delivery man knocked at my door and as he handed the box to me I heard the same sound of broken ceramic.

When I opened the box, there was the smashed basin. Again just placed in a cardboard carton; the extra packing consisted of a layer of bubblewrap wrapped around the outside of the carton.

Needless to say I didn’t ask for a third bowl to be sent but instead asked for a refund (given) and sourced, as it turned out, a far more beautiful basin locally.

But this is what I don’t understand. How is this business making any money? Two basins delivered and smashed and no sale – no income at all.

Even more mystifying is what sort of manufacture puts a delicate ceramic basin into a plain cardboard carton without any packing? I’m sure a little polystyrene would have done the job.

I can only assume that these basins are normally collected (even that doesn’t make any sense) and not delivered by courier, with no thought being given to the extra requirements of that service. But even then, when pointed out, no proper thought was given to a process that clearly wasn’t working.

So, are you providing a service that may have changed in some way that needs some extra thinking to ensure that you are providing the best possible service?

You’ve been Framed!

I needed some pictures framed the week before last week (three in total) and, not having a Picture Framing company in my networking group, decided to contact four local framers by email. I could send the same specification to them all, right at that moment. It was Thursday evening at 9.00pm.

After a quick Google search I found my four framers; basically the four that were based nearest to me.

Next morning (Friday), just after 10.30am, I received my first reply. The company gave prices, a delivery time, and said that they were sure that they could help me.

Later that afternoon I received my second reply. The prices were much higher and subject to sight of my pictures. Again they included a delivery time, which was longer than that of the first company.

I didn’t hear back from the other two companies; my emails didn’t bounce, and to this day never have.

Given that the first company who had replied, had done so quickly, and that their prices were the best, I decided to go and visit them.

Their shop was busy, being a Saturday (in Guildford), but when I mentioned my name they knew who I was and what they had quoted. They asked to look at my pictures, confirmed that the prices given were correct, showed me the choice of frames and advised on suitable mounts. Then I asked about delivery. They said that they could have them done by the following Saturday to which I replied that I was having a dinner party that day and had rather hoped to have them on display. Their answer was just what I was hoping for: they would have them done on Friday.

To my delight the pictures were ready on the Friday and the framing was excellent.

Picture Frame David Wimblett

So, what can we all learn from this?

First, that speed really makes a difference as to whether you get a business opportunity or not.

Second, that a really well-worded quote makes a big difference. I liked the fact that they were so positive about being able to help me.

Third, that price is important, but not the only reason people buy. Had this company been more expensive I would have still checked them out because of the other two points above.

Fourth, that the actual personal sales experience needs to match, if not better, the pre-sales experience (which it did).

Fifth, that if you advertise your business you just must respond to the people that contact you. So many sales are lost to companies that don’t.

I am sure that there is even more that can be learned from my experience but my question to you is this. How would your business have done in similar circumstances?

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.

Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?

I have to say that I love this book and if you haven’t read it I highly recommend that you do.

The book was introduced to me some years ago at an Entrepreneurs Circle event where Ben Hunt-Davis was the main speaker. Ben was part of the GB Men’s Rowing Eight that won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. It is the story of how after years of winning little they changed the way they worked and the result it had; a gold medal.

David and Ben BW
Me with Ben Hunt-Davis

I remember one of my fellow attendees saying that listening to some bloke talking about winning a gold medal in rowing (for an hour) had nothing to do with their business and it was a complete waste of their time. They couldn’t have been further from the true value of his story. But no amount of trying could convince them otherwise.

You need to read the book but this, in a few words, is the basis of the story. After yet another defeat the crew sat down to discuss what they could do about it; how they could change things. And that is where, ‘Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?’ was born.

The premise was that they would measure everything they tried by – Did it make their boat go faster?

Fighting amongst the crew – did it make their boat go faster? Not surprisingly – No.

Lack of sleep – did it make their boat go faster?

A certain training method – did it make their boat go faster?

Everything they did was given the same test. Did it make their boat go faster?

If the answer was ’Yes’, they did it again and if the answer was ‘No’, they didn’t. It was that simple.

So, if you haven’t got it already, what’s that got to do with your business?

Well, you can run exactly the same test on your business; whatever your goals are. More sales, more profit, better training of staff, it really doesn’t matter what it is. Just run the test.

For example: you produce a new sales advert. Did it make the boat go faster? In your case did it generate more sales? If ‘Yes’ you run the advert again, if ‘No’ you change the advert. You run a workshop. Did it make the boat go faster? In your case did it have the result you were hoping for? If ‘Yes’ the workshop was a success, if ‘No’ it needs to be changed or dropped.

Many things in your business will be done the way they are, just because that’s how they are done. Most without any real thought as to if it’s the most effective way of doing whatever it is.

I was at a large office block recently where at the beginning of the day, when most people are arriving for work, the lifts don’t stop at the first two floors. Why? Because it gets people into the building faster.

So, why not try ‘Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?’ on your business and see what results you get? You might even win a ‘Gold medal’!

600grms of prawns

I was sailing around Corfu last week; it’s something my wife (and family) does most years at this time. We enjoy the end-of-season sun, increased winds and the fact that things are not quite so busy due to places beginning to close up for the winter.

During our week we eat out most evenings, love the fresh fish (and glorious prawns in Sayiadha), and it’s what happened on a couple of these occasions that I want to talk about and how the little things can make such a difference to your business success.

First the prawns in Sayiadha; the Alekos Taverna is famous for its prawns and you can buy them by the kilo. You can have them grilled or fried and they recommend a kilo to share between three people. We had 600grms grilled with a wonderful salad of our choosing – simply delicious. But what really stood out here was my starter as I fancied something that wasn’t on the menu. I spoke to the person looking after the fish and asked if I could have grilled sardines. ‘Of course he replied.’ I thanked him and then added that I only wanted four. ‘No problem’, was his reply and when they arrived they were perfect.

Will we eat there again? Of course; hopefully next year.

The second occasion was at the Gouvia Marina when we were about to depart for home. It was pouring with rain so we decided to get a quick breakfast; Greek Yogurt, honey and fruit. It wasn’t long before every table was full and most people were turning a small coffee into a very long stop. Chatting, playing on their mobiles or just reading, as in my case. I noticed that people were waiting for a table and started to feel guilty about just sitting there hiding from the rain when the owner was losing business.

We decided to leave and while my wife popped to the restroom I started to gather our belongings together and motioned to the waiter that he could clear our table ready for the people waiting.

The owner noticed what I was doing and came over and put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘Take your time. You are on holiday my friend, there’s no rush’. His attitude was so different to that of other restaurants I’ve been to in other parts of the world.

Will be go there again next year? Once again – of course.

So, what small things could you be doing in your business that will keep your customers coming back time-after-time? Get the small things right and you could see a major change in the success of your business.

Good but not quite Carling!

Do you remember the Carling adverts? I think I like the cricket with the nun’s one the best, but I also like the office escape. If you don’t know the adverts, it’s where a guy does some amazing feat just to fail at the very last moment.

And that is exactly like a great many businesses’ marketing. There is some great marketing about but most fails just when it might have converted into a sale. And that’s just the case with a piece of direct mail (door drop) we received from one of the estate agents in our town. We were just about to put our house on the market when a card dropped through our letterbox.

‘Just SOLD in your area’. The design was good, the photos lovely, each picture had ‘sold’ printed on it – just what we needed. But then I turned over the card and they lost our business.

You see they are looking for ‘…similar cottages to yours…’ because they can sell more. Well we lived in a large three storey semi-detached Victorian house. And to my mind, if they don’t know the difference, that’s going to be a problem for me.

Now you might be thinking that some delivery company did the door drop. Well, even if they had, a good estate agent would know which roads were lined with cottages. As it happens I saw the person doing the door drop; it was a suited young man who looked very much like an estate agent. Now I’ll be fair, in our road there are both cottages and houses, but that’s where the ‘good but not quite Carling’ comes in. This guy (the estate agent) to a point was doing a great job, but he failed just at the last moment, because he wasn’t thinking about exactly where he was posting his marketing cards and it cost his company business.

So, is your marketing Carling or not quite Carling?