I don’t know about you but I love posts you see on social media about businesses going the extra mile for their customers. Delighting the Customer, going the extra mile, or as I heard it referred to as, Sprinkling the Pixie Dust, costs businesses very little but the repercussions, the return for just naturally putting their heart into service can be huge.
So I thought I’d share what happened to my sister recently. She was gutted to lose her prescription sunglasses and wanted an up-to-date prescription for their replacement. She opted for Specsavers (in Loughborough - to give them a plug) who had a free eye test, (being a true northerner :) ). They also do retinal checks for £25 so she thought she would check out white flashes she’d had in her eye. The optician could not have been more thorough and told her she had a retinal detachment and to get straight to eye casualty before they shut. My sister grabbed the referral letter and flew out in a state of anxiety to get there on time. Only later that night she remembered she had not paid.
The eye casualty confirmed the retinal detachment and next day lazered her eye. She got home that evening to find a message from her optician and she thought it would be just to remind her she’d forgotten to pay. But no; no mention of money, just her optician personally ringing to ask how she’d got on and hoping that she was okay. This for a first time customer who hadn’t paid her bill! On ringing to thank her and pay her bill, she was told that the bill had been voided. Guess who my sister will be going to from now on? And talk about fate; if she hadn’t lost her sunglasses….
As if that wasn’t enough, she was having a Tesco delivery that day and was saying to the taxi driver on the way home from hospital that she thought she’d be back just in time. The next minute her taxi driver is talking to his mate who delivers for Tesco to check if he was delivering to her, with a view to saying they were nearly there! As it was he was on a different route but again just such a thoughtful thing to do.
Great stories… great customer experience.
Do one thing: Sprinkle a little Pixie Dust for your customers.
Oh and if you happen to get white flashes in your eye when you switch the light off at night, may be worth getting them checked out!
I want to share an interesting conversation I had recently with a control freak. (I use that phrase because I used to be one too!)
Business Owners come to us for help to escape the day-to-day operation of their business, but the truth is that so many find it hard to let go of their role, even the small tasks.
Some believe that they are the only ones that can do a certain task to their exacting standards, and we come across this so often that a large part of our work is changing the mindset of the business owner to let them know that they can trust their team with the right systems in place. They can take a step back to work on growing their business, while it runs smoothly without them, or with only a little input from them.
A particular ‘control freak’ was telling me how he hates to delegate - doesn't trust his employees to do anything without some sort of supervision, because they cock things up, make mistakes, take longer to do the job than he would.
"I check EVERYTHING' he said, 'I don't want my customers to have anything but a perfect service’.
It's the perfect excuse for the control freak - “I’m not doing it for me, I'm doing it for my customers.”
Here's the thing, for those of you who recognise that you may be borderline, if not full-blown freaks, you’re keeping yourself stuck in a rut.
Just like the bindweed in your garden - you know the one with the pretty flower that pretends its trying to make your garden look lovely, while its tentacles set about destroying it? You too are strangling the growth of your people and your business.
You've forgotten that:
You've forgotten that all of the successful people you look up to have built their success on a bucketload of failures, and much bigger failures and mistakes than any of your people might make if you gave them their head.
You want to limit mistakes?
People want to learn and develop, they want to grow - it's much more of a motivator than money. Give them ownership of their job, help them to feel like they belong to something, that you're relying on them to help you build something that you can all be proud of.
I saw this quote on Facebook, and it is oh so true - 'A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust one another.'
Trust your people and build a high performing team, that runs your high performing business.
Get control of your freak. Pull out the bindweed that's stifling your business.
Do one thing: Want to see where you’re at right now? Complete our business effiency test:
Thanks for reading.
Does your other half complain that they see too much of you?
Do your kids groan ‘cos you’re taking them out for the day, again?
Are you the number one invite on your friends’ social calendar?
Do you never take your laptop on holiday with you?
So you’re telling me you don’t have all the time in the world?!
Then let me ask you this: do you own your business, or does it own you?
We had a meeting with a new client recently, and we asked him how he felt about his business. He paused for such a long time I can remember thinking, ‘this is going to be a loooong day’, and then he said just one word:
“This ‘job’ - that’s what I call it now, totally owns me. It dictates my mood; my appetite, my energy levels. I think about it all the time. I lie awake fretting about it. It feels like my entire life is being sucked into a big black hole.
“I went out on my own to have more freedom - to spend more time with my wife and kids, and look at me now - working every hour God sends.
“Everyone told me I needed a team, but all that’s done is increase my workload - the tax, the paperwork, keeping on top of them. I’m sure right now they’ll be glued to their phones cos I’m not there. Arghhh….”
Of course he’s not unusual.
In fact he could be a poster boy for the small successful business owner! Maybe he’s just like you?
You started small, right? Built a really great business, had loads of fun doing it, started taking people on. It was all ok for you too at first, and then… the wheels came off. You lost your consistency, you lost your belief that people would perform for you, you began to work longer and longer hours to keep on top of everything.
But, and this may surprise you, even ‘the youth of today’ don’t come to work with the sole purpose of pissing you off. Nobody plans to have a bad day or do a bad job, especially not the people you hand-picked for your business.
The change you’re looking for doesn’t start with your people, it starts with you.
You want freedom, particularly time freedom? Then build strong foundations, that free your people first.
Strong foundations built around:
Your Plans - showing your team what the destination is, and how you’re going to reach it together - the route map for them to follow
Your Processes - having a set way of doing what you do - a system for everything
Your People - only hiring people who match your values, and fit your team, and then training them to follow your set way of doing things
Your Performance Management - taking every opportunity to give constructive feedback, to correct, to praise. Having regular performance reviews that reward excellence
Successful business is built on the consistent performance of high performing teams who know where they’re going and follow the business systems to take them there. Look to McDonald’s, to Virgin, to Apple if you doubt what I’m saying.
And you can have this too. Put your energy into building your foundations, and you will find your freedom.
Do one thing: take a look at your life and your business and decide if it’s time to change.
Thanks for reading :)
It’s that time again. The time of year we all look forward to. Lambs leaping; skylarks singing, daffodils dancing and rabbits doing… what rabbits do!
Spring is in the air!
And for many of us that means being overcome by a strange urge to spring clean; to de-clutter and spruce up every area of our home and garden; maybe even to decorate - hoping we’ll keep it that way for twelve months (or twelve days if we have children or pets!).
So, what about your business? Any plans for a makeover?
Maybe you’ve had a successful year. Maybe you’ve worked your socks off and done ok, but you’ve lost a bit of your mojo. Maybe you feel like you’re just repeating the same year over and over; doing good, but not really evolving, not taking that big leap forward
We all know it’s difficult to grow a business and still have a life.
Success undoubtedly means more money, but it can all too often mean less time - sometimes no time, to enjoy it; you’ve heard the expression ‘cash rich but time poor’.
Success means a bigger team, bigger challenges, more sleepless nights.
Success it seems, is not all it’s cracked up to be.
But it could be, if only we took the leap. If only we realised that we had all the right ingredients in our business, to make that leap - to spring forward to success - to be time and cash rich - to have a team that performs brilliantly whether we’re there or not.
We have the money. We have the people. What we don’t have are the systems; they are the springboard to success. And by systems I mean a simple logical repeatable way to do every task in your business. I learned that at McDonald's, where systems run the business and people run the systems.
Get your planning system focused on your destination, develop a plan with your people to take you there, and you have a route map to follow. Create Simple Logical and Repeatable systems, and train your people to use them, and you have a team who can work independently, consistently every day to your high standards. Set up a performance management system that keeps them on track, inspires and motivates them, and you free yourself to work ‘on’ your business, to concentrate on those key elements, like strategy, which will take you to the next level.
As your business grows you cannot sustain managing it as you used to. As your business evolves so you need to evolve as a business owner. Spring is a perfect time for a new start; so are you ready to spring forward?
Do one thing: visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how MPL can help.
You are relaxing with family and friends...the sun is shining and you feel warm and glowing inside and out. You've just had another great year, you achieved everything that you set out to again and business is booming. You are a successful and respected business owner with a reputation for getting things done, building strong relationships and looking after the people who work with you and for you. Better still, you know that you have achieved this success without the stress, without the ridiculously long and frustrating hours, without ever feeling out of control. You've achieved it because you focused on achieving it...you focused on doing the things that would move you towards your vision, and got rid of, or handed over the things that didn't, to someone else. You remembered why you love what you do, and every day became a joyful challenge...you started to make every day count. You got your life back, your relationships have never been better. Life is good.
Can you picture it? Is this your future? Is this what you want for yourself?
Does it seem unattainable...a million miles from where you are now?
Maybe you had a great January, and you're feeling pumped up for the year...everything seems possible. And maybe you didn't. Maybe things didn't quite go according to plan...maybe you got distracted by your tax return...the miserable weather and short days got to you...you spent so long on planning and discussing your plans, that you never got round to putting anything into ACTION. You ran out of time.
Well ok...January's gone now...but February is here, and with a whole 28 days in which to Get Stuff Done. So how much do you want this?
I'm a huge believer that if you are truly passionate about what you are trying to achieve, then Getting Stuff Done comes down to one thing...having a strategy - having a system and processes that will help you to get organised.
If what you are doing doesn't excite you...doesn't get you out of bed in the morning...doesn't stop you turning on daytime tv, surfing the net or playing online games...then that is your problem...not a lack of time.
So here's your first challenge for February... Figure out what you're trying to achieve...and why it's important to you. What's the future you want for yourself?
Whatever you come up with, one thing's for sure...taking ACTION today will move you one step closer to it.
It’s the start of another new year, and for me, after the roller coaster ride that was 2013, it’s the most exciting that I can remember! There’s so much to get done, so many new people to work and meet with, so much fun to have doing what I love...I hope it’s the same for you.
I love planning for a new year...twelve whole months stretching out ahead, full of opportunity and possibility. Developing a plan that is fully focused on the big game...the important stuff...the things that are going to move me and my business forward and build my personal and professional relationships.
Planning is crucial if you want to achieve...if you want to deliver measurable results. Yet so many of us head into a new year armed with only a broad set of goals and a jumbled list of tasks, and end up wasting time on irrelevant social media conversations and unfocused meetings and activities. Before we know it, we’re into March, and we’ve lost nearly a quarter of the year without achieving anything meaningful.
Getting your plan right starts with the big question: What am I trying to achieve...and why? and builds from there...goals, objectives, targets, deadlines, milestones, measures of success…are all essential elements in a robust plan.
After that, it’s down to your personal strategy for time management and personal effectiveness...your daily disciplines that are going to keep you focused on what you’re trying to achieve and why - those crucial first 90 minutes focused on business-building activity; the calls and meetings all scheduled...all with end times; the disciplined use of social media. Every one of us needs a system that works for us...one that we can be committed to...one that ensures that we feel good when we look back at the day.
I also believe that we need a keynote for our year...you might call it a motto, or maybe a rallying cry. For me this year, I’m going with something I picked up from the new Walter Mitty film...a line that really resonated with me. I’m going to live this year by the ABCs and be Adventurous, Brave, and Creative.
How about you? ;)
PS If you would like help in developing your planning system, or managing your time and personal effectiveness, please do get in touch at email@example.com. We will be running an online Masterclass on Time Management & Personal Effectiveness later this month.
James Gandolfini died this week...it was unexpected...he was only 51. It came only a few days after I'd listened to a masterclass on 'Life Purpose' by my lovely talented friend Helen Evans...and it got me thinking...
I'm a process person, right?! I love the fact that having process in your life, liberates you...frees you from worrying about the small stuff, and allows you to grow, to build, to be creative.
But I don't want life itself to be a process.
I don't want there to be limitations and restrictions on how we're going to live our life...a mindset given to us in our infancy, that life works in a particular way.
...you go to school...if you're bright you'll pass exams...if you're not bright you won't pass exams; if you're bright you'll go to university where you'll show how bright you are by passing more exams...if you're not bright, you'll go straight into a job; either way you'll end up in a job...maybe have a career...if you're lucky you'll enjoy it...if you're not, you can always have fun at the weekends and in your 4 weeks holiday a year; then you'll retire...and, again if you're lucky, you'll get to do a few of the things you've wanted to do all of your life! That's the process.
Sounds crazy when you write it down...why would anyone fix this mindset on another person? But it’s the mindset that society, our teachers, and very often our parents, do impose on us, and we believe that this is the way life works.
A different friend (I only have the two) recently told me how much she'd love to be running a bar in a hot country, by the sea, living her life day to day. When I asked her why she didn't just leave her well paid job and go after what she really wanted, she replied that she would... 'maybe in a few years'.
It's such a normal answer, the way most of us live our lives...Daniel Priestley (in his book Entrepreneur Revolution) calls it ‘delayed gratification’. We believe we have to meet a standard of some sort first...climb the corporate ladder, pay off our mortgage, set our children off on their own hamster wheel...before we can allow ourselves to do what we really want to do. And all too often we don’t get to that self-imposed point.
Life is so full of opportunity...the world is so full of beautiful things and interesting people...individuals are so full of creativity, passion, joy. Every one of us has something special to offer the world...a mountain of value...a purpose that is unique to us.
So what stops us from going after our dreams...following our passions?
Life is short...what’s stopping you?
Contact MPL for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
My mother used to tell me that I should have joined the army... as a gunner, because I was always ‘gonna do’ something. I had so many ideas, but I was happy to let life happen to me rather than actively choose and shape its course.
So, I was very interested when I saw an article yesterday which talked about moving from ‘having an idea’...which to be fair, most people do...to ‘making an impact on the world’ by doing something with your idea...which is far less common. Indeed, it’s the way the average person lives their life in our very formulaic and conventional world.
The point of the article, titled ‘Put all the crazy people in the same room’, was that in order to escape the conventional...to rise above the average, you need to surround yourself with people who are already doing it. Those unconventional and crazy people who want to change the world...or at least their small piece of it.
When you’re not having to defend yourself to the doubters and the belittlers of your ideas and your vision...when you’re talking to people who are supportive, encouraging and full of hard-earned wisdom, it changes your results and helps your vision to come alive.
People who’ve worked through the process of idea to impact, get you straight away...they are interesting, and interested in you...they are inspiring, and inspired by you. They are generous with the knowledge and emotion they share and help you to fill the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
Take a look around you at the people you are spending your time with. Crazy or conventional? Positive or negative? Encouraging or unsupportive?
If Jim Rohn (motivational speaker) is to be believed, ‘you are the average of the 5 people you spend most time with’. While I’m not entirely convinced that’s the case...and I’m not going to ditch my more Eeyore-like friends as a result...I’m absolutely certain of this:
Change your environment, change the conversations you are having, and you will change your results.
Contact MPL at email@example.com
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)