Has your business already closed for Christmas?

I was at a networking event last week when one of the people I was chatting with said that they wouldn’t be doing much work the week before Christmas.   I asked why and I have to say that their answer astounded me!

Well, the person explained, I won’t want to be out working, the people I work for will be winding down for Christmas; no one will be interested in doing any business… His reasons seemed endless.

I pointed out that I would be working right up until Christmas Eve, certainly until the lunchtime.  Also, that I wanted new business right up until then and I certainly wanted work early in January.  Not working Christmas week could mean that it would be the second week, maybe even the third week, of January before things really got moving again.  It happens every year.  Think about all of that lost business; the sales momentum lost.

So, my question is a serious one.  Has your mind-set already closed your business for Christmas?  Are you thinking, no point looking for new business? No point contacting existing clients? No one will be interested in doing business?  If you are, you have already closed for Christmas.

Really successful people don’t follow the herd, they do something different.  So, instead of closing early for Christmas, why not make sure your business is well and truly open and ensure that not only do you have a better December than most but also a far better start to 2019?

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’!

Their phone went dead!

I rang a prospective new supplier today – at 9.37am. After ringing for ages the phone suddenly went dead. Maybe they weren’t open yet, I thought. I rang again, this time at 10.52am. Again the phone rang and rang and rang. Again it suddenly went dead. Did I try a third time? No!

That company lost what could have been a huge amount of business for them. Why? Well, for any number of reasons. Their phone is left unattended for hours. When it’s not answered it just goes dead; not even a boring answerphone message. At least with an answerphone message I would have known the business still existed. There’s lack of customer care. Lack of organisation. Lack of thought. I could go on. What’s certain is that nothing is saying we really value your business.

So do you know what happens when someone calls your business? Is the phone always answered? How many times does it ring before it’s answered? What is said when it is answered? A bored ‘Hello’ or a helpful ‘How can I help you?’

You could be spending a great deal of money on advertising only for it to be wasted by how your phone is being (or not being) answered.

Why not run a little test? Ring your office the moment it opens, then again half-way through the morning, again just before lunch, during lunch, just after lunch, half-way through the afternoon and lastly just as you are about to close (but not all on the same day). You might be surprised at the results.

I know of a company where the receptionist wore headphones; no one heard the phone ring and no one knew she often didn’t answer it when it did.

In my business the aim is to answer the phone within three rings (by the office staff). Should the phone ring more than three times then the person nearest a phone picks it up. It doesn’t matter who that member of staff is as they have all been trained on the best way to answer a call.

Off Piste!

I’m off skiing in Italy next week, with one of my sons, and it reminds me of the last time we went skiing together.  The snow was perfect, eight inches fell one night, the sun shone, and I was in good form.  Overall it was a fantastic week.

The off piste skiing was very good and lots of fun, although, at times, our play resulted in an unexpected tumble and a face full of snow.  I even have a video to remind me!  One of our ‘excursions’ reminded me of how easily the plans we have for our businesses can go astray when we lose sight of exactly what we are doing.

We were half way down a run and stopped for a breather.  Having calmed down our heart rate (well okay mine) we started off again and my son decided to take a different route; he would join up with me again further down the slope just around some trees that we could see. That was the last I saw of him for almost an hour!

It turned out that just around the trees, but out of sight of where we were, the slope turned in the opposite direction to that which we were going.  So he decided, like any boy would, to go off piste, through the trees, and make his way over to the slope I was on.  But that didn’t work, as the contours of the mountain forced him further away from both me and the slope he had left.  In the end a climb, a walk and a great deal of sweat got him to another lift and eventually we were able to meet up again.  I have to say it was pretty scary for a while; I didn’t know where he was or if he had injured himself.

But, what has this all got to do with your business?

Well, my son and I had a plan; to ski down a particular run to a particular lift.  It would take around five minutes.  But, because another route looked interesting, and knowing nothing about where the slope went (we didn’t look at our piste map), we ended up with a lot of hard work, a fair amount of worry (on both our parts) and almost an hour of lost time.  In truth my son did a fair amount of skiing but I just had to wait; but you get what I mean.  And often we do the same in business.  We get distracted from our goal, forget what our original plan was, and get bogged down in stuff that we should never have been doing in the first place.  Often this results in wasting a great deal of time and money along the way.  And, worse still, sometimes our goals are lost for ever!

So, my question for you.  When did you last review your goals?  How often do you review your goals? Weekly?  Monthly?  Ever?

For real success I believe that you should, on a daily basis, ensure that whatever it is that you are doing is moving you closer to your goal and not further away.  This isn’t to say that your goals can’t change, shouldn’t change, but you certainly shouldn’t just let your business run along not knowing where it is going.