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?

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’!

Networking doesn’t work…

It’s a FACT!

Well, at least that‘s what I was told at a networking event recently.

I had seen the articulator of this statement before, often in fact, and even spoken to him on occasion; not that he remembered me.

He told me that he had been networking for two years and to date had never got a single piece of business from it. And I can tell you exactly why this is the case. I even tried to help the person concerned but they wouldn’t listen and throughout the remainder of the event he carried on in just the same manner. There’s no need to mention here what Albert Einstein had to say about this sort of action.

The problem was that he wasn’t networking. Well, not in an effective way anyway. His idea of networking was to thrust his business card into some poor unsuspecting person’s face and then quickly move on to his next target. Casting his ‘seed’ far and wide and hoping that something would take root. Rarely does this kind of tactic work as the very act of this sort of behaviour damages the personal brand of the person concerned and with it the likelihood of any business.

What should this gentleman do to improve his networking?

Well, to start with he should stop spreading himself so thinly and spend more time focusing on a few well-chosen networking groups.

But, the big thing is to start building relationships. Networking only really works consistently with people that you have a strong relationship with and this will take time to cultivate. The relationship must also be two-way, not just what you can get out of a person. You need to find out how you can help the other person.

So, networking is the start of a journey. You meet someone at a networking event, ask about them (they will ask about you) and then arrange to meet them again and again. And this may lead to a relationship that keeps giving year after year as you become friends.

Trust me, the results will be so much better than sticking your business card into someone’s hand.