Why Customers Leave

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton

Because of the nature of business, it’s easy to forget that if we do not meet the needs of customers, they will simply leave. If they leave with an unsolved problem, they are liable to tell a whole bunch of people about their problem.

Pioneers Get Shot

“When I was a kid I never learned to play. I actually got in bands through watching people play and copying them.” – Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones

If you watch any of the old western movies, there is a common theme in all of them that’s just as true today. Pioneers often get arrows in the back. Among Silicon Valley high-tech firms there is a variation of this that says there is a dangerous bleeding edge beyond the cutting edge of innovation.

Yes, pioneers have the greatest opportunities to stake a claim or find the mother lode, but they also take the greatest risks. Once they have found gold, oil, or water it’s all too easy for someone to set up shop right next to them and tap into the same source from an adjoining field with none of the risk or cost associated with the pioneers’ venture.

Ten Major Elements of a Good System

“If you put good people in bad systems you get bad results.” - Stephen Covey

Make sure each system you develop contains the following ten elements:

1. The name and purpose of the specific system. Write a clear, concise statement of the result the system is intended to accomplish and give the system a brief, descriptive name. For example, the sales system should produce X number of prospects and sales per month.

2. A diagram of the system. The system should be presented in a diagram showing the sequence of steps and how they relate to each other.

The Method Factor— The Critical Importance of Finding a Duplicable System

"Almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, manufacturing... layout, processes, and procedures." - Tom Peters

If you look at the success of most major companies, like McDonald’s, Federal Express, The Body Shop, or Gold’s Gym, the most common factor is a methodology, a unique and systematized way of doing business. They create a method that permeates every level of the organization and indoctrinates every employee to the cause.

Apple has a highly systematized way of launching its products. KFC has a highly systematized way of cooking and serving its chicken. FedEx has a highly sophisticated way of initiating picking up, tracking and delivering packages. It’s not necessary to be a multimillion-dollar business to make massive gains in your operation by copying this concept.

Are Your People Doing What They Should—OR What They Want?

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.

Back when I was in the karate consulting biz, I hired a guy to sell. He had been one of my customers and he told me he was great at sales. For a couple of months he did okay. Then he found out he liked creating the content we were selling far better than actually selling it. Slowly but surely he made fewer and fewer sales calls until he was spending almost all his time creating content. Sad to say, I let a couple of months go by before I asked him why we had no sales. He made a passionate plea about why he needed to be creating content and that he was just TOO BUSY to make sales calls. Great, but we already had someone on staff who produced the content rather well—ME!

I have a number of clients who have someone on their staff who insists on writing their monthly e-newsletter because “they are the only ones who can do it right.” Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with this if that person’s job is MARKETING. But if that person’s job is sales, then it’s not a task they should be doing. They should outsource it to my professional copywriters, and give them some input and direction if needed.

Why is someone in sales spending two days writing an e-newsletter rather than selling?

Simple—they would rather be creating than cold calling. You see this a lot with “salespeople.” They offer to do the newsletter, the e-blast, and stuff envelopes, and pretty soon they are too busy doing just about everything else to actually sell.

Selling is hard, selling is measurable; most of this other stuff is not.

This scenario is by no means limited to sales. Just this week one of my new employees spent the entire day correcting typos on one of our information sites. When asked why, she said because a customer had taken the time to write in and point out the mistakes. Great, but I couldn’t care less if there are a few typos on a site with 10,000 pages of content. I am selling ideas and solutions, not English grammar!

Some golf pros love teaching and are never in the shop, others hate being out in the sun and are excellent in the shop. This might be a problem, or it might not, depending on the club. The fact is, people gravitate to what they like to do (or feel most comfortable doing). And they do it very quickly, without telling you or anyone else. Heck, sometimes they don’t even notice it themselves.

Unfortunately what this also means is the job they were hired for—their core function—is running at half speed, and that’s at best. This means something critical is NOT getting done in your business.

This gives you two choices if you want to get the most from your employees:

1. Assuming that position is open, allow them to do the job they gravitate towards, although it’s rarely the one they have been hired for. In some organizations, usually larger ones, this can work out and at least they will be doing something they are passionate about. In smaller organizations it will usually leave a gaping hole.

2. Manage your expectations with a brutally detailed position agreement that leaves no wiggle room for wandering off in another direction. If they want to volunteer to do something else, add it to their position agreement.

People quickly gravitate to doing the work they like. You must continually make sure that’s the work you need done.

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The Motivation Factor

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

Mark Twain once said that the key to his success in life was “… that I was born excited.” Most entrepreneurs I have met feel exactly the same way. That doesn’t mean they don’t need a little boost along the way or the tools to translate their excitement into motivating others on their team into action.

Very often when people think of successful entrepreneurs, the first thing that jumps into their minds is motivation. It’s a fact that your ability to motivate yourself and others will ultimately determine how successful you are in business and life. The more motivated you and your team are, the more you will accomplish. Motivation destroys procrastination, encourages positive action, boosts energy, and increases performance at every level of any organization.

The cunningly clever entrepreneur knows that few great achievements are the work of a single person. As a leader, you must serve as a catalyst for others so great things get done. It is your ability to perceive the need for motivation, recognize what kind of motivation will serve best, and reward motivated individuals, that ultimately leads to team success.

One of my favorite motivational stories is that of Charles Schwab, legendary leader of U.S. Steel under Andrew Carnegie and the first man ever to be paid a million dollars a year. He was a master motivator. Schwab had a mill manager whose people weren’t producing their quota of work. “How is it,” Schwab asked him, “that a manager as capable as you can’t make this mill produce what it should?”
“I don’t know.” the manager replied. “I’ve coaxed the men, I’ve pushed them, I’ve sworn and cussed, I’ve threatened them with damnation and being fired. But nothing works. They just won’t produce.”
The conversation took place at the end of the day, just before the night shift came on. Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, then, turning to the nearest man, asked: “How many heats did your shift make today?”

“Six,” replied the man.

Without another word, Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor, and walked away.

When the night shift came in, they saw the chalked number “6” on the floor and asked what it meant.

“The big boss was in here today,” the day people said. “He asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor.”

The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out “6” and replaced it with a big “7.”

When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big “7” chalked on the floor. So the night shift thought they were better than the day shift, did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering “10.” Things were stepping up.
The competition continued at a ferocious pace until the output of steel from a single shift was the best in the entire chain of plants. This resulted in millions of additional dollars—not by technology, pay raises, promises, or threats, but by the power of a two-cent piece of chalk (and the brain behind it).

The Five Prerequisites for Motivation

In order for motivation to work effectively in any organization, big or small, there are five prerequisite conditions:

1. The goals you are striving for must be clear and well-defined. Nothing is less motivating than a nebulous goal like “Let’s make customer service better.” Make the target easy to see.

2. There must be a way of keeping score so you and your team know how you are doing: sales, weight loss, collection of funds, runs scored, production of widgets. Whatever it is, improvement must be trackable.

3. The tools, resources, and (if necessary) the process of achieving the goal must be identified, explained by you, and understood by your team.

4. Information, training, and mentoring must be available. Often when you take on a major project, you or your team may not have all the knowledge you need to complete it. When this is the case, you must be committed to finding the information and engaging in any necessary training.

5. There must be something in it for them. At the end of the day, there must be a payoff of some kind. The bigger and better the payoff, the stronger the motivation, although that may not always be money. For many people, time off and peer recognition are stronger motivations than cash.
Understand what motivates you. Seek to discover what motivates others.

For more ideas on how to motivate your team purchase…