A man’s place!

I was out with a friend of mine recently when a coat in a shop window caught her eye and she asked if I minded if we went in so that she could try it on.  Well what does a gentleman do in such circumstances?  “Of course not”, I replied cheerfully.

While she went off to try her coat I did what most men do on these occasions; try to keep out of the way, not look too bored, and of course say the right thing when asked (only joking).

So, I had a look around. The shop was certainly full of some beautiful clothes, but that wasn’t what had got my interest.  It was the fact that this business owner really knew their stuff.

They had some very nice looking shoes; expensive.  However, it was the sign behind them that was just brilliant.  It said that they only purchased a small number of shoes so that they remained exclusive and when the shoes were gone, well that was it, they were gone.  So if you loved the shoes you had better buy them.  They had covered it all; quality, fashion, scarcity and fear of loss.

David Wimblett Shoes

However, it was the next thing I spotted that I really liked.  A magazine, lying on a small table. On the cover was a beautiful woman in a red dress (I love red).  On two sides of the table were chairs and they were out of everyone’s way.  I sat and picked up the magazine.  Underneath was a magazine about motor racing, under that a magazine on shooting, and then one on sport.  This was just perfect.  And then ‘the penny dropped’.

What a brilliant idea!  Keep the man happy and guess what? The lady will spend more.  And she did.

But, there was still one last thing to come.  The loyalty card. And even this was clever.  Firstly, my friend had already earned four points and she only needed ten points to get her first reward, but the really smart thing was that the card stayed in the shop.  Therefore she could never forget it and miss out on those valuable points. But even better, anyone could use it for her; so even more custom for the shop.  Now that’s very clever.

Obviously my friend would return, she also had a place where people could buy her presents (and she would earn extra loyalty points), and of course those people might buy for themselves and the whole process would start again.  As I said – very clever.

So, what could you do in your business that would have the same result?

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?

I love this mailing!

It’s taken me a while for me to write this blog because I didn’t want you, my reader, to think I was easily taken in. But I just love this mailing.

It arrived on my doormat some months ago and I knew exactly what it was; someone was trying to sell me something. In fact I put the envelope, un-opened, straight into the recycling. As I say, I knew exactly what it was. But something at the back of my brain was nagging me. ‘You’re not average’, it was saying. But I knew it was just a ploy. ‘Forget it!’ I told myself.

Envelope Mailing

I did forget it for a while but finally succumbed, retrieved the envelope from the re-cycling and opened it. And, of course, I was right. I was trying to be sold something I didn’t want.

But, that’s the point of great marketing – or, more importantly, a great ‘hook’.

You have to get opened whatever it is that you are sending out. You have to get the next paragraph of a letter read or the line in an advert. And the way you do that is with a brilliant ‘hook’. Be it a Subject Line of an email, the Headline in an advert, the title of a letter, the first words on your website, and yes, the words on an envelope.

Your most important job is to get people to read about whatever it is that you are selling and the better your ‘hook’ is, the more enquiries, and therefore sales, you will get.

Do this right and people will just have to open (read) and see what comes next. Almost against their will!

One tip, write your copy first and then work on the headline until you get it right.

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?

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.