Gain Market Share is 2012 — Focus on Service

Customer services

Image by gordon2208 via Flickr

I was reminded again tonight of the importance of customer service as my wife and I experienced absolutely unacceptable service at a local Chili’s restaurant. It has me thinking…. Why in today’s world of social media, blogs and 24 hour news have companies continued to accept poor performance in the field of customer service?

I know that there are places that I choose to experience poor customer service in sacrifice for lower price… (WalMart) however even there I believe the company has failed in recognizing how much share of income they are missing from me because I refuse to go them for items that have any value beyond feeding my face and which toothpaste I choose to use.

So not to completely destroy a chain such as Chilli’s, which until this last year I was a very Frequent visitor, lets be honest employees as a whole have really lost the meaning of service in a large quantity around our country. I remember  8 years ago my family moved to the Midwest for a stint and people would say oh your going to love the Friendliness and service of people in the Midwest , sorry but just seldom saw the service that was worth raving about to my friends.

My wife and I had a good laugh tonight as we discussed years of Mystery Shopping we have done across the US and how we just can’t believe that our standards of service have gotten tougher.  What level customer service is acceptable in todays world?

I would argue that it is the most important factor in your success as a business. As a matter of fact I would argue that if you want to gain market share in  2012 make it your #1 focus. Bring back the Mystery Shopper, Bring Back consequence to poor performance and demand nothing but your employees best when it comes to courteous, friendly over the top service.

Evaluate current staff and don’t hesitate to take the upgrade now approach by ranking your team 1-10 if you must and either putting the bottom half in extensive pass or fail type training so that they understand that in order to keep their job that this one rule is unbending, or find a replacement immediately.

Consultant your top customers and listen to them on last years service notes.  Evaluate if the methods of online survey are the right message to send to your clients? Take some time and call your top ten customers and ask personally what they would like to see improved in 2012. Stand out from the rest of your competitors by making them a priority. Want to know what to ask, how about this… Out of all the companies your do business with which has the best service? Who has the worst?  Where do I stand on that list? From their answers you should have a clear direction of where to go.

Be reasonable and logical when dealing with complaints… Ok here is where i generally piss off corporations. At dinner tonight when I complained about three day old bacon that tasted like jerky on my burger the waitess took my plate and I fully expected to have the manager show up at my table and say sorry and to give me a small discount, that seemed like common sense. However The next thing I know the waitress shows up with my bill and says they took the burger off my order. Now that is really nice right, but really… I ate the entire burger, just took the bacon off it.. just give me a $2.00 discount and come say sorry, maybe give me a coupon to come back next time and assure me you will do better because you want my business back.  If you work in retail I know that in the past 10-15 years you have heard from executives that you just don’t say no and do what ever makes the customer happy, well I fundamentally disagree. Use commonsense, if a customer try’s to return an item that is broken and they bought it 10 months ago and it looks like they ran over it with the car, you have the right to tell them no. Politely and with proper tact. If they try to return something that was not bought at your company, but swear it came from there, it is OK to lose that customer. Say No.  And when that customer goes online and rips you for being a bad company respond publicly on what ever forum they use in a polite and professional manner so the world can see who is the more responsible of parties.

Maybe I am getting off point here but the fact remains, using common sense and friendly communication will win even in today’s social media world. Become an active participant and refuse to allow your company to slither down the path of poor service and you have potential to gain market share this year.  In my market this year someone just gained 10 -12 family dinners from me because Chili’s probably lost out because of one really bad night of service.

Good Luck… Keep Smiling



Transform from Dot Marketing to Dash Marketing

OK, first a little definition before I get into my point.What is your Strategy

Dot Marketing – I think I made this one up but let me give you my definition. Dot Marketing is the practice of focusing so hard on a single item, (the Dot), that you can’t see the bigger picture and miss incredible opportunity. Perhaps you are familiar with the parable of the Fly who is so fixated on the window, (insert pile of Crap here), that he continued to beat his head on the glass until he dies, however at the same time five feet away there was a door wide open that would have allowed him to reach his goal.

Dash Marketing – The process of working a marketing plan through a complete life cycle. You know the dash, you were born on this date – your were deceased at this date (1959-2011).  In business and in life the dash is all we have. We can view it as a journey that will change and adapt or we can view it as a prescribed time in the future to end what ever venture we are on. The point is that is a period of motion and does not stay in the same spot  until it ends.

I see many businesses today fully focused on the Dot marketing. They jump from one trend to the next and are always blaming to last media for their slow growth. Dot Marketing, Target Marketing, undeveloped Marketing, what ever you want to call it is just a little short sighted.  Most businesses forget to develop a marketing plan for their product or service which includes who the target audience is, and how that audience will react to certain media.  They buy the marketing package because they like the sales rep or because it is what they think everyone else is doing and forget to check if it one has the right audience and two if the audience size being offered is a good value for the investment they are about to make.

By ignoring these two simple pieces of marketing they often find results that are not up to expectations, they design marketing campaigns that don’t fit the audience and they blame the media for their lack of results. This causes a negative feeling and a very powerful mistake in marketing.  They focus on the negative results and decide that the audience or vehicle are broken and move on to the next DOT. For this reason I often recommend a Marketing consultant or coach for most small business.

Developing a complete Marketing plan and labeling your target audience is crucial to your marketing. But if you do not evaluate your marketing buys to determine how it is a match to your targets how will you ever get the results you desire. It is like being a local merchant who sells windows only to a 50 mile radius and buying PPC ads programs on Google for everyone in the United States and wondering why all the clicks you get are not buying your items.

To transition to Dash marketing practices you must develop a marketing plan that includes:

  1. Business Goal or objective
  2. Time Table for achieving
  3. Target Audience
  4. Target Market Assumptions and Facts
  5. Routine check ups and adjustments

Realize that every marketing plan has a life cycle and that every product you carry as a product life cycle.

I am a firm believer that all media works in marketing. However businesses often over pay for the audience based on target and audience size, and they do not create customized marketing for that vehicle and that audience.

Dash Marketing takes the entire life cycle into consideration. Dash Marketers understand that once a product response starts to grow and explode that they can introduce new and exciting marketing that helps it grow even faster and wider. Conversely once a product or marketing campaign slows they need to adjust the marketing campaign to see if it can recreate energy or if it is time to change marketing strategies, brands, products etc…

To move your business from a Dot marketer to a Dash marketer, start by reviewing or building your marketing goals sheet.  What do you want to accomplish. Then evaluate to tools you are currently using, do they match, does their audience really fit who you are targeting? You might consider a Marketing Consultant that will give you honest opinions on what they see in the marketplace and how your marketing is on or off course. Design a multiple messages for different audiences and evaluate response. (Remember the media works or they would not have an audience, you just need to figure out how that audience reacts to that media and customize your message to them properly.)

Last, Stop focusing on the DOT. Take a look around and look for opportunities that you may not have thought of before. With  the development of Social Media, Mobile Marketing, Localized PPC search, Local Directories etc.. there are many opportunities to get your message out to unique targeted categories of audience.

Nevada Business and Politics

Map of Nevada highlighting Storey County

Image via Wikipedia

More Snow on the way. Ski resorts are doing the happy dance and local retailers are just hoping the roads do get so bad that no one comes shopping.  Life in the Sierra’s can be interesting for business owners.
Of course the snow is fantastic for our tourist based economy and will do wonders for our avoidance of a drought in the Nevada Desert. So signs of hope again will creep into our economy.
But the Storm that I am most interested in today is not the snow, but the storm at the legislator over the “Sex Industry of Nevada”. Wow is this going to get interesting. Morally I have no problem with what Mr. Reid suggested, seems like a “Sex Industry” trade would put  a potential negative mark on our state. I know that when I moved here that my wife openly was concerned about raising her children in a state where “Sex Industry” was promoted. I also know how as an employer in the state I have had to answer the questions from future employees about the perceived ” abundant Sex industry” in Nevada and the family atmosphere concerns they had before accepting the job.
However if I can take the Moral issue and put it aside for just a few minutes, I find that I don’t, as a businessman, agree with MR. Reid. It is just not logical. The “Sex industry” in our state is a county regulated industry, which produces income, tourist attraction, and a non-illegal base for sexual activity. By telling Storey County that they have to shut down their thriving industry in order that the State can potentially profit from business movement to Nevada is a very weak campaign.
 A couple of thoughts here to consider:
1) If you do shut down the industry, and are successful in bringing in new companies because of it, they are not going to relocate to Storey County. So you end up creating blighted areas of the state that now must get assistance from the state to fund its activities because of lost revenue. Plus the now voided need for these activities are picked up by Pimps (Sexual entrepreneurs) and the industry hits the streets instead of the Cathouse. Nevada’s image will not improve anymore than if you had the show RENO911 eliminated from the cable stations.

2) Casino’s are already handicapped by the competitive indian casino action at our borders. One of the features that they have to stand apart from our neighbors is access to the “Sex Industry”. Nobody wants to say it but it does have influence. “What happens here stay here remember”.  Park your car along hwy 50 coming from Tahoe or HWY 395 coming from Reno for a day and watch how many limo’s are bringing clients down to MoundHouse to enjoy the Tourist activities.

3) Learn from California , I have not seen many industries stay away from California because they are the PORN capital of the world.  Or because you can pick up a hooker (Sexual worker) at any busy intersection in every Metro region of the state.  The Fact is that Business owners will move here for better tax structure, better living, great pools of employee to pull from and opportunity to grow business.  Show me one company that says it is because we are a more wholesome place to live and I will show you a company that is just trying to tell you no politely. They just don’t want to come and are using the Sex industry as their excuse to say no, because they know you will not have a good excuse to resell them on Nevada.
No I think we are better off leaving the industry alone and focusing on the other issues that will bring Big business to Nevada: 1( Larger Educated Employee Pool – Might want to start by funding the education system with teachers instead of Executives. 2) Opportunity to Grow, Develop better trade routes and communication networks that help Business grow globally from Nevada. 3) Taxes, well we already do that don’t we.
Anyhow that is just one mans opinion…What do you think?

International Networking Week

Skyline of Reno, Nevada. Camera is looking nor...

Image via Wikipedia

This week has been powerful for me as a professional. I was invited by a friend and business colleague to come to a BNI event in Reno, International Networking Week Celebration.

Now I have often gone to networking events and could not wait to get out of the place, usually hiding near the food line or in a back table until it was ok to leave the event. However this event was a little different for me.  Same type of set up as before but I had given myself a little pep talk, regarding over coming fears and being a positive figure in the room.  It worked. I made over 100 contacts and was able to communicate with fellow business leaders and discuss how I could help their business and them mine.

I had the pleasure of listening to three great speakers: O.C. Gillam (stand up Comic), Molly Geil, PHD. (Arbonne), and Jordan Adler (self-made millionaire, author of ‘Beach Money” and professional networker) The topic’s these speakers spoke on centered on Goals and developing teams  that can help you achieve.

Goals and Teams – you know after one leaves competitive sports in their lives, I wonder how often we actually think of our teams when developing our goals? Do you know what I mean? When I was young I would set goals to achieve but they were always  in the scope of team achievement,  I wanted to lead the league in Rebounding so that our team could be a dominate defensive team.  etc… 

However in my professional life I struggle to think of Goals I have created that involve the help and talents of my team.  I have set goals, I have been blessed to even set goals for companies, however I am trying to think if I ever considered the team when developing the goal?

What is my point and why do you care? We are now into our second month of 2011. How are your goals going? When you set them did you have a team around you ready to help you make them? Did you consider if you needed a new team in order to help you reach that goal?  I just wanted to put that thought out there today, maybe as much for myself as for you, I may need to reevaluate my goals and the team of people who I now work with in order to find success in the near future.

Jordan Adler, spoke of future (Goal/Dream) journaling for his goals. This was a practice that I learned way back in high school and I know it works. The key is to write your goals in a present tense, to write honest goals that strike the core of who and what you want to be.  Take this challenge and see what happens for you in the next year.

Goal journals:

1) Find some quite time and relax.

2) Start writing a story about your life one year from today. ( Maybe you want to right it two or three years away, does not matter)

3) After finishing this story, save it and read it to your self every day for one month.

4) Find a team that will help you start to accomplish pieces of your dreams.

5) go to work.

I believe 98% of the world would never do this. The other 2% are living that life that everyone else aspires to.

Good luck and join me on this Challenge.