Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Friday, January 27, 2012

Welcome-- We Are Glad You are Back!

     I have been on travel the past week with clients in the Southern United States.  Because our firm is global in nature, we have clients all over the world.  This past week, I have been in Texas.
     Depending upon the client needs and requirements determines where I stay when out of town.  In one city, I stay at a small botique hotel located in the downtown area.  I have stayed at this hotel for the past 12 years-- very convenient to our client locations, good food and a wonderful bed.
     When I checked in this week, the front desk staff seemed genuinely happy to see me back!  The Bellman remembered who I was and he too seemed genuinely happy to have me back on the property.  The manager came out and we talked-- he remembered that our Northern Rocky Mountain office was in Billings, Montana and asked how the weather was in Billings.
      Why is this important?  Well, the whole staff of the hotel remembered a returning guest, they seemed genuinely interested in my staying at the hotel and they wanted to do anything to make a long, exhausing trip more pleasant.
       What do  you do for  your long time customers?  Do you remember them when they come back? Do you greet them by name?  Do you know what exactly it is that they need/want/desire from you in  the business transaction? 
        This particular hotel has figured out how to make me feel important!  We try to do that with our many customers.  You should do that as well with your customers.  This is not hard or complicated, however, this is a skill that can be easily taught or learned.  Make sure that your customers know, really know, that you are indeed thankful that they are your customers.  Remember them when they return to your business-- you may be amazed at the return business and the referral business that this generates for your firm.  After all, the customer has only one dollar to spend, you want to do everything possible to insure that he/she spends it at your firm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

She Lost her Lease; No, the Business was Sold to Folks in Iowa; Business was Slow, She Closed Down!

     I was in a business meeting the other day and someone mentioned a business that is located in the town that I was in.  Of the several different business people at the meeting, everyone had a different idea of what happened to a local business that had recently closed.  Interestingly, the more folks that became involved in the discussion, the more stories about what had happened to the business under discussion.
     Bad news is not like wine-- it does not get better with time.  If something is going to happen to your business, you might as well be the one who controls what happens and how the knowledge is portrayed.
     In the particular instance here, many business owners each had "heard" or "were told" what happened!  Interestingly, no two stories were similar.  If you are going to move, close the store, take on a partner, join a franchise, add a new line, you as the business owner are best suited to explain what is happening.
      Be proactive and positive, no matter what the news is!  Loosing a lease may be the best thing that ever happened to you.  You may be able to get more space, less space, more parking, better lighting, etc.  Closing or moving the business may be what you need at this particular point in time.  Always find the positive spin on news-- no matter how bad it may appear, there is always something good.  Don't let your customers, neighbors or competition guess what happened.  Tell them proudly what is going on-- you will be happier that you did.

Monday, January 16, 2012

We are Short on Staff--Again!

    A business owner was telling me the other day that he is again short on staff, however, because he is working longer and harder, he has elected to try and get through February before he hires another individual.  Now, this business owner has been one of our clients for many years.  As we discussed the challenges of working without adequate staff, he insured me that finding staff was one issue, working without adequate staff is another.
     It is important for any business owner to have adequate staff to fulfill the needs of the business. However, when you are working 80-90 hours a week just to stay up, then, perhaps, additional staff is one of the challenges that needs addressing.
     We recommend that you don't hire staff just to hire staff, however, we also suggest that there is little, if any, sense if putting off a hiring decision if indeed the business is suffering from lack of staff.  Often times, our clients have found that once they have added the requisite staff, that they become more profitable and productive because they are able to do more of the strategic tasks that were not being accomplished when the business owner was performing a staff function.
     Job descriptions and clear duty expectations are important when hiring new staff.  Don't assume anything with a new employee.  He/She will, most likely, do an outstanding job once you explain what you wish to have accomplished and completed.  Just because they did not do what you expected is probably because you did not explain your ideas and expectations clearly.  Most employees, >98%, want to do an outstanding job for you.  Give them the chance, you will be surprised with the results!
      Hiring staff is always a challenge, however, having the additional help normally results in increased profitability and sales.  Think about that when you are faced with the hiring staff question in the future!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Are Having Our Best January on Record!

     I was visiting with a client the other day and he shared that with just 14 days into the new year, his firm has had their best January on record-- and the firm has been open for many, many years.
     Well, how did that happen?  Was it blind luck, guesswork, or are folks  ready to spend money?  Well, what the business owner told me was that folks are spending more money now then they did before Christmas.
      OK, how is this happening?  The business owner told me that he has been following the trends in his industry, buying product that mirrors those trends and having outstanding customer service.  Using market research is something that many business owners fail to employ during a new selling season.  What is going on in the industry?  Just because you are in Ogden, Utah, Enid, Oklahoma or Billings, Montana really makes no difference.  What makes a difference is that you have "read the research" and have identified where your particular industry is moving.  This is not hard, however, you have to be diligent in following market trends.  By following these market trends, you are able to have the products and merchandise that your customers are seeking and buying.  If you see a trend in another part of the country, it may be worthwhile to see why it is a trend there and not where you are located.  Could be that you are missing out on something and you need to investigate if this is a product or idea that would be beneficial in your area as well.
      The business owner that told me that his January is so good watches his expenses very carefully.  He insures that his accounts receivable are very manageable and is always insuring that customer service is unsurpassed.
      Think about your January.  Are you having the best January ever?  If not, perhaps some market research will help focus your store better in the marketplace.