Increase Revenue and Profitability by Paying Attention to Your Best Customers

Did you know I’m one of my local Safeway’s best customers?
Neither did I; at least not until last week, when I dropped in early to pick up a few things.
I had just checked out when a gentleman approached and introduced himself as the store manager. “I’m very happy to meet you Mr. Janssen,” he says. “You’re one of our best customers and I wanted to personally tell you how much we appreciate your business.”
How did he know who I was, and that I was in the store? When I used my Safeway club card a message was sent through the system to this phone. A pretty simple process in this day and age.
Now, it’s easy to be a little cynical and say that this guy was just following corporate-mandated protocol. But you know what? It felt good to be recognized, and the manager was sincere in this thanks.
I already liked Safeway. But now I like it a little bit more.
For many businesses, 80% of their revenue and profits come from 20% of their customers. That’s why you should always be on the lookout for ways to recognize your best customers and thank them for their business.
In a competitive marketplace and especially where you and your competitors may have similar products and prices, some customers will decide who to patronize simply on which business he or she would rather give their money to.
If customers feel more appreciated by your business, they’re more likely to spend with you. After all, they already like you. And with your recognition, they’ll like you a little bit more.
And that can make a big difference in your business.
Related Posts:
Simple AND Easy: Acknowledge your Customers
10 Ways To Lose Good Clients (or at least their referrals)

What Are You Doing “Just Because?”

I was at a coffee shop the other day watching a group of people bringing equipment in for an event. Two of them were moving a coat rack on wheels – and when they came to the two small steps at the front entry, they continued rolling it an extra 100 feet to take the ramp. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t just pick it up and set it on the landing – it was clearly not very heavy. I found myself resisting an urge to “suggest” to them that just because it has wheels, doesn’t mean you can’t pick it up.
It got me thinking about things we sometimes do (or continue doing) “just because”…

  • Just because something can be automated or outsourced doesn’t mean that it should be
  • Just because it’s always been done that way doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done differently or better
  • Just because the information came from the computer doesn’t automatically mean it’s accurate – or useful
  • Just because it’s the latest research or current best practice – doesn’t necessarily mean it’s really new or the best

My point isn’t to knock technology, tradition or new information – It is just a reminder that there can be value in stopping to take a fresh look and in challenging our assumptions. It’s also a reminder that common sense and critical thinking never go out of style (I hope).
Of course just because a consultant says it…

‘Gossip’ is a kids game – not a business strategy

If you are growing your business, reliable communication is one of the first things to go if you aren’t paying attention to it. Here’s an 80 second clip with my take on the subject.


Training versus Formation

Training is one thing, formation is another – and formation is critical – but often neglected.

Click on the link to hear more (it’s only about 90 seconds). Formation versus Training

Simple AND Easy: Acknowledge your Customers

Much of what I write about (and work with my clients on) comes under the heading of “Simple, Not Easy.” Some things, however, are Simple AND Easy. Acknowledging people is one of those things.
I went into a store the other day and stood waiting at the counter to get some information. The clerk was talking to a customer and there was another couple ahead of me also waiting to be helped. The time dragged on and on and the clerk never seemed to even notice me or the other couple (we were all standing within 6 feet of the counter and there was no one else in the store). I became increasingly frustrated yet I stuck around fascinated to see if he would ever make any effort to simply acknowledge our presence.
What would it have taken? Looking up and making some eye contact? A nod? Maybe a quick break from his conversation to say “I’ll be with you shortly” or perhaps a quick phone call for help from his fellow employees (who were most likely hanging out somewhere in the back room)? It seems so incredibly basic – such common sense – and it would have changed the whole experience.
At some level, all business is personal and as ‘persons’ we want to be acknowledged. Unfortunately, it seems that this lack of acknowledgement is becoming more common across the board. How many times have you sent an email or left a voice mail for someone with whom you have an association or do business with only to be ignored for days or weeks or forever? You have to call/email again (if you even bother). Are you going to go out of your way to buy from or refer that person? I’m not.
If you make your living by providing products and services to others it is common sense not to ignore those of us who have the potential to buy or refer or talk (or blog) about you. It’s even worse if we are already customers!
Even if we can’t get what we are looking for right away, we at least want to be acknowledged. It doesn’t take much to satisfy that want. It should be a consistent process you follow or it should be delegated in such a way that it is still personal.
Acknowledgement; It is such a simple and easy thing to do. It boggles my mind that so many people/businesses don’t do it.

The Power of Disengagement

Science now confirms what common sense dictates.

“…scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas….”

So says an article in the New York Times **.
This truth was brought home to me a number of years back when I was stuck at home recovering from surgery. I had 6 weeks with no email or other connection to the day-to-day back at the office. In spite of the post-op pain and inconvenience, my mind cleared and I felt a level of creativity I hadn’t felt in years. It was during this time that I hatched my plan to create my new business.
I don’t suggest contracting an illness before you take the time to disengage and give your brain a rest. Business owners often have a tough time with this. It goes against the grain of the typical philosophy that ‘when things get tough – just work harder.’ I am convinced, however, that there is power in disengagement and that it can be extremely valuable (financially and otherwise) to consistently take the time to clear your mind and just think. How about a few minutes a day, an hour or two a week, a day a month, a weekend a quarter and 2 weeks a year (it takes one week just to let the noise/clutter truly dissipate)?
It’s common sense and now it’s scientifically advised, so that should make it OK right?
Related Post
One Thing Guaranteed to Increase Productivity…

Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime
Published: August 24, 2010

10 Ways To Lose Good Clients (or at least their referrals)

  1. Be sure they have to contact you multiple times before you get back to them
  2. Let them guess how long it will take for you to solve the problem, provide a proposal, etc.
  3. Keep them in the dark about how things work and what they should expect
  4. Avoid telling them about their responsibility for a successful outcome
  5. Wait until they call you before you let them know the status of their project/issue
  6. Make them feel like it’s their fault if something doesn’t go right
  7. Don’t let them know that you are going to be late until right before (or on) the planned delivery date
  8. Wait until after delivery to explain why you made changes to what you originally said you would do
  9. Make it difficult and confusing to purchase additional products or services
  10. Don’t follow up with them to see if they are still satisfied with your product or service

10 Ways to Discourage Good Employees

  1. Be sure they have to call or email you multiple times before you acknowledge them
  2. Tell them you will get back to them, and then don’t
  3. Be vague about what is expected and then criticize them for not meeting expectations
  4. Give them responsibility but not enough guidance, resources or authority
  5. Tell them their ideas are good ones and that you’ll put them on the list (that gets lost)
  6. Make sure they have to hunt around for information and guidance on how to do their job
  7. Assume it is all their fault when mistakes are made or something goes wrong
  8. Hang on to chronic underperformers thinking that you can change them
  9. Avoid dealing with the long time employee who ignores procedure and does his/her own thing
  10. Hang on to customers who abuse and demoralize your staff

How do I know? Because I have done these myself and I see these all the time…

Improve Your Operational Fitness And Reap The Benefits

We all know that improving our physical fitness level will result in improved health, increased capability and a better life overall. In the same way, improving your Operational Fitness level will result in improved revenue and profitability, increased business value and a better life overall.
I see Operational Fitness as capable people supported by intelligent processes and useful technologies working well together while following a clear strategy to achieve the owner’s vision.
You can always take some steps to improve your Operational Fitness regardless of what kind of shape you are currently in (see examples of how at the end of this post).
Improving your Operational Fitness level increases:

  • Strength – Get more and better results with the resources you have
  • Endurance – Operate consistently and steadily without wearing out
  • Agility – Respond quickly and more effectively to changing circumstances
  • Flexibility – Bend and stretch more easily without breaking anything
  • Coordination – Move and respond efficiently without stumbling
  • Energy – Deal with change and go after new opportunities
  • Mental Clarity – Strategize, plan and manage more effectively
  • Emotional Stability – Experience less drama
  • Resilience – Bounce back from setbacks more quickly

The analogy of Physical Fitness works for Operational Fitness at many levels both in terms of results as well as what it takes to achieve those results. For instance:

  • Wanting to get into shape and actually doing it are two different things
  • It’s important to have a clear vision and a practical plan to get there
  • You have to make the time or it won’t happen
  • It’s easy to get started – but hard to stay with it
  • There is usually some pain and discomfort, especially in the beginning
  • Doing too much too soon tends to backfire
  • Building up core strength is a priority
  • You get results faster by doing things the right way in the right sequence
  • It is important to track progress and measure results
  • It helps to have support, encouragement and accountability
  • Much of what needs to be done is relatively simple, it’s just not easy
  • When you do make the effort it feels great!

Every business and business owner is unique, so a one-size ‘improvement plan’ doesn’t ‘fit’ all. It takes a holistic view and multi-disciplinary approach to identify the most effective and efficient way to bridge the gap between your current reality and your ideal vision. Once you have a practical strategy with an action plan that is prioritized and right for you, then it’s a matter of getting the work done and making necessary adjustments along the way to stay on track.
So take that next step today towards improving your Operational Fitness!

Here some posts on ways improve your Operational Fitness:

Books on the Brain (Literally)

I recently read two books about the brain (yes I’ll admit that I read books like these on the beach in Maui). I found them both fascinating. I enjoyed them not only for insights into my own thoughts and behaviors, but for the insights and perspective they provide for working with clients, colleagues as well as family and friends. If you have an interest in some of the contemporary understanding of the most important organ in your body, you might want to check these out.
Magnificent Mind at Any Age by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
Daniel G. Amen, MD has been around for a while. In fact I had the opportunity to visit his clinic in California back in 2002 (no, it wasn’t for me – though I would love to have my brain scanned). At the time, his work was still considered fringe, but he is now a headliner on the Public Television and speaking circuit. In this book, Dr. Amen talks about the brain as what it is – a physical organ. I particularly appreciate his focus on natural ways to improve the health of the brain, while not discounting medication. I think he strikes a good balance.
Dr. Amen writes about how different parts of the brain are involved in different aspects of thought, feelings and behavior. Successful and unsuccessful behaviors along with specific diagnoses such as ADHD, Depression and OCD are categorized by the health or deficiencies in different areas of the brain. The prescriptions for improved health through natural or pharmaceutical means are different depending on which part of the brain is the focus. This makes sense and reinforces the fact that one size does not fit all.
His Brain, Her Brain by Walt Larimore, M.D. and Barb Larimore
I had the opportunity to see Dr. Larimore speak a few months ago at a nearby church. He was very engaging and entertaining while being educational. He and his wife present the material the same way in their book. “His Brain, Her Brain” presents research into some of the physiological differences between male and female brains as the result of the impact of different hormonal activity from before birth. While the book is primarily oriented toward married couples, anything that increases our ability to understand another person has value in all aspects of life. There are definitely many things in this book that I wish I had learned at a much earlier age. I have not evaluated all of the studies and research referenced in the book but I found the results, as presented, to be consistent with my life experience.
What do these books have to do with business? Well, all business is really personal. It all comes down to people. Systems, processes and technology are meaningless outside of the context of the people who have some stake in them and the outcomes they produce.