Wednesday, 27 June 2012

One Customer at a Time

A successful restaurateur I know used to say, "One lousy server can put me out of business in three years, one customer at a time."  I'd guess that's about right. 

You've met employees like these.  They answer questions literally and provide no other information unless asked, are curt and surly and call it "efficiency".  Their service isn't bad, but neither is it good.  It isn't enough to complain about; neither is it worthy of recommendation.  It can happen in any businesses, and it is deadly

Recently I overspent $40 in a hardware store on stuff I didn't need, not because of bad advice from the clerk, but because of no advice.  When I returned the product, she said,  "I only gave you what you asked for."  True, but a few questions on her part and I would have had the exact product I needed in the quantity I needed and I'd be a loyal and happy customer. 

Instead I was embarrassed and unhappy.  There's nothing really to complain about; it's clearly my own damned fault for asking for the wrong item.  I still won't be back.  She may be right, but I've got the money and with a little effort on her part more of it would be going from my wallet into her employer's cash register in the future.  It won't be, but it could have been.  It's called repeat business and it can bring future earnings to the skilled and enthusiastic worker. 

Customers are notorious for not knowing the product and service nearly as well as they think they do.  Customers routinely ask for what they think they want, which may not be what they actually need

Customers are also free to shop or dine or stay wherever they will get friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and genuine sales and service.  Unless they find it with us, they won't be back.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The "I" in TEAM

"There is no 'I' in TEAM!" enthused the uninspiring, and unoriginal cheerleader boss.  My fellow rookie Jeff leaned over and whispered, "but there is an 'M' and an 'E' and that spells 'ME'!"

He was right.

This overused "team" motivational quote, once meant to create community can be a wet blanket to the ambitious.  It's often said to humble peak performers and to avoid rocking a boat crewed by the average.  It's wrong.  It's OK to be number one and proud of it, and every member of a high performing team wants to be.

Here's where you can find the "I" in a championship team.

  • "I want to be the best"
  • "I've got your back"
  • "I don't want to come in second"
  • "I'm proud of you, I'm happy to be your team mate"
  • "I worked my butt off, and I'm going to celebrate a hard fought win"
  • "I screwed up; I'm sorry"

And while we're listing vowels, you can also find a "U" in "TEAM".
  • "You need to pull up your socks.  You are letting us down."
  • "You really pulled that one off...thanks!"
  • "You are the best on this team, and we rely on you"
  • "You can count on me"
  • "You can do better"

"I" and the "U" together are the real team letters.  "Can I help you?" 

But a team is truly successful when we can humbly, and with trust ask of each other, "Will you help me?"

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Stomped, Beat Up and Whooped

I'm not complaining, but there are times when a sales guy just feels a little stomped, beat up and whooped.  That's the title of a tune from the funky 70s, and it's not country and western, but super-funk R&B from Graham Central Station.

You see sales people experiencing that sort of rejection from time to time.  The best go and walk it off, feel bad about the loss, talk themelves through it, do a post-mortem and ask themselves what they could have done differently, and then get right back at it.

I pro I know taught me to keep track of all my telephone rejections.  "When you get to 20, go buy yourself a coffee and celebrate!"  It's backwards thinking, but it works.  When I'm at 18 rejections and I feel I can't make even one more call, knowing there's a Starbucks coffee in the near future keeps me going.

And there ain't nothing like a good cup of coffee to lift you up when you're feeling whooped!

Listen to Graham Central Station here, and check out that funky album cover!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


My son recently got rid of a few shirts that no longer fit him - they're still the right size, they no longer fit his style.  I snagged a nice one.  It's not the first time this has happened.  His older brother has handed "up" (as opposed to the classic hand-me-down) the odd t-shirt in my direction.

I'd like to see a bit more of this go on in business.  Here are some hand-me-ups I'd like to receive from the junior ranks.
  • The ability to find relevant and fun apps on my smart phone for a more productive work use available technology to its fullest
  • Like you, to leave my work at work, and make my personal time truly my personal time.  I'd want to go home confident in having done all I could do for one day, whenever that ends or begins. 
  • To have been in my thirties and look at my peers as co-workers, not as competitors for the next promotion
Here are some hand-me-ups I hope I'm giving to my superiors.
  • That you look good because your team performs
  • That you have as much knowledge as you need, confident that I've got your back and can fill in the blanks when you need me to
  • That you can sleep through the night knowing that, if it's possible, I actually care about this business more than you do, albeit in a different way
And mostly, I'd like to give to my organisation a legacy of well trained up-and-comers who are thorough, enthusiastic, disciplined, upstanding and ready to take this farther than any of us think they can.