Running Water Takes the Path of Least Resistance

Yesterday I emptied a bucket of water on my driveway and watched as it raced down the incline in a single line until it hit a crack in the pavement. At that point it spread out 90 degrees to the incline looking for the easiest way to climb over the opposite side wall of the crack. The initial fast descendent morphed into a prodding search for the lowest opposite wall to go over. Once found and the opposite side climbed, the water resumed its rapid descent down the driveway.

What struck me was that the water was looking for the path of least resistance, rather than doing the hard work of crossing the crack directly across from where it entered. This search for an alternate path resulted in a long route and consumed much time. Watching this reminded me of business owners I have spoken to who:

  • Quickly hire to fill a vacant position rather than doing the work of defining the roles & responsibilities and taking the time to find their ideal candidate
  • Don’t differentiate their business in their marketing, preferring instead to look like their competitors and then complain that buyers only look at price
  • Tolerate employees who present the owner and team members with problems rather than confronting the issue and working to resolve or relieve
  • Spend their time working in their business because they’re experts at it rather than taking time to learn new skills, such as leadership, financial management, delegation, effective sales & marketing etc.

How do you react when confronted with an obstacle? Do you scramble around looking for the path of least resistance, even though that may divert you from your vision? Even more troublesome, are you the leader who always thinks things will get better if you just stick it out a little longer? Or, are you the leader who has a clear vision for the business and works to overcome obstacles in line with that vision? Are you one who won’t accept mediocre?

It’s understandable that most business owners take the path of least resistance because they’re not as proficient in running their business as they are doing the work of the business. They aren’t familiar with strategies that can easily help them bridge the gap and so they wander. They often are so distracted that they feel they don’t have time to deal with these important issues so they take the easy way out, which often means letting it slide. This let it slide attitude has a detrimental impact on team morale.

We’ve seen what happens in sports when ownership and coaches let their teams take the easy way out…they usually end up at the bottom of the standings.

It’s your business. If you want it to succeed, then you must take the time to think through what you want and to deal with the issues in a firm, fair and forward-looking way. Often times owners need an outside resource to help them focus on the issues and to identify the correct approaches and solutions to take. The results can be huge when this is done correctly. I have worked with business owners to achieve dramatic positive impacts on their businesses by not letting them take the easy path.

Jeff works with owners of local companies to help them achieve the success they desire and desire from their businesses and their teams. By coaching his clients in the areas of Time, Team, Selling and Money, Jeff equips them with the tools they need to run their businesses successfully. He can be reached at 404.444.1836 or jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com. 

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May 2, 2018 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Try These Simple Strategies to Increase Profits in Your Business

Business owners want to increase profits, but too often they overlook the power of strategies that increase the average dollar amount of their sales. Each dollar increase in their average sales amount goes directly to the bottom line of their business.

In order to increase profits most business owners focus either on reducing costs and/or increasing the number of new customers. They overlook the power of increasing the amount each customer spends, i.e. the average purchase amount. Presumably your customers value the service or product you provide, so…make it easy for them to purchase more from you.

1.  Create a checklist: We were hired by a paint store to help the owner adopt profit-raising strategies. One of our suggested strategies was to post checklists to remind customers of all the items they might need for their project. The owner adopted this approach and posted checklists at key locations in the store, including the check-out counter, reminding customers that in addition to paint, they should also consider whether they need to purchase a brush, roller, tape, and/or drop cloth etc.

You get the point, offering suggestions like these makes customers think through all of their needs and give you the opportunity for another sale. Customers will thank you because the list will remind them of items they would have forgotten until they got home. At that point they would likely have done without or visit a more convenient store to purchase the item. In either event, it’s likely that you won’t have gotten the additional sales. Even if the customer returns to your store, you could have been a hero by reminding them before they left the first time!

2.  Create package deals: Perhaps the most famous example of creating package deals is “do you want fries and a soda with your order?” By asking that simple question McDonalds increased revenue by tens of millions of dollars each year. What are your equivalent of fries and a soda?

Two simple suggestions:

*  Create a package with products that complement each other

*  Sell them at a price that is less than the normal combined price but higher than the average sales for your “burger” equivalent.

Include products that have been moving slowly and consider making the package deal time sensitive…”Good until October 20, 2014”.

3.  Make sure customers know your entire range of products/services: Scott, a friend of mine who provides IT services was disappointed when his best friend hired another company for his IT network needs. Turns out Scott’s friend didn’t know that Scott provided networking service support.

If you don’t market the full range of your services even your best friend won’t know everything you offer.

What are you doing to ensure your customers and prospects know your entire product/service range? Do you sell only life insurance…or do you sell a full range of personal line products?

It is vital to remember that each increase in average dollar sale drops directly to the bottom line of your business.

There are many more proven strategies to increase your average sales amount…we have more than 50 of these types of ideas that might make sense for you. If you are interested in increasing profits from your business, reach out to me for a brief discussion.

Great success to you and I hope to hear of you.

 

#actioncoach.com/jefflovejoy #atlantabusinesscoachjefflovejoy

Jeff works with owners of local companies to help them achieve the success they desire and desire from their businesses and their teams. By coaching his clients in the areas of Time, Team, Selling and Money, Jeff equips them with the tools they need to run their businesses successfully. He can be reach at 404.444.1836 or jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com. 

 

March 1, 2018 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

Just Do It – Dive In

Several years ago an advertisement ran in a local newspaper advertising an open Executive Assistant position. The advertisement identified the responsibilities expected of the position and listed the salary at $50,000. A month later the exact same advertisement ran in exactly the same paper with the only difference being the salary which was raised to $250,000. Which advertisement do you suppose drew the greatest response? If you said the lower salary you are correct. In fact, it drew 10 times greater response.

This is a wonderful example of “Self Sabotage”…believing that we can’t accomplish something vs. assuming the positive first. Self-sabotage is evident in many phases of our lives. When presented with a new opportunity our natural reaction is to think of the reasons why we can’t fulfill the responsibilities rather than having confidence that we can accomplish the task.

The core of self-sabotage is fear, (an acronym that stands for False Expectations Appearing Real). It reminds me of the story of a near death thirsty dog pacing around a water hole in the midst of a blistering hot desert. Each time the dog approached the water it saw its reflection and, assuming this was another dog protecting its territory, it became frightened and withdrew. This went on for considerable time until eventually, out of necessity, the dog cast away its fear and leapt into the water; at which time the ‘other dog’ vanished.

Are your thoughts building barriers that are preventing you from achieving the progress necessary to become more successful? Have you hesitated undertaking a new marketing strategy for fear of failure? Perhaps you have wanted to make some personnel changes to your team, but have resisted. Success is built around taking action and not hesitation. The next time you begin self-sabotaging yourself ask yourself:

• “What are my doubts based on?”
• “What will these doubts cost me if I continue not taking action?”
• “What benefits will I or my business realize by taking the action?”

I’m not suggesting that you avoid considering the pros and cons before taking action. To the contrary, I suggest testing and measuring the outcome of the proposed action on a sample audience, if possible, before fully implementing. What I am recommending is that more often than not, making even a bad decision is better than making no decision at all.

Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, once stated that “Indecision has cost the American people and the American government billions of dollars, far more than a bad decision would have cost.” (from “Selling in Tough Times”, Tom Hopkins). Too often people wait until the perfect moment before undertaking an action or making a decision, but there rarely is a perfect time to start. Quit waiting until you are absolutely ready…you may never be. If training or education is necessary before undertaking an action or strategy, then go get the education or coaching you need. Just Do It…get started. If you make a mistake, you will learn from the experience and be wiser the next time.

What self-limiting beliefs are holding you back? After careful consideration, stop hesitating and “JUST DO IT”. You will be much further ahead of where you were when hesitation and indecision held you back. Enjoy your progress.

#actioncoach.com/jefflovejoy #atlantabusinesscoachjefflovejoy
Jeff works with owners of local companies to help them achieve the success they desire and desire from their businesses and their teams. By coaching his clients in the areas of Time, Team, Selling and Money, Jeff equips them with the tools they need to run their businesses successfully. He can be reach at 404.444.1836 or jefflovejoy@actioncoach.com. 

February 12, 2018 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

It’s Essential but Likely to Fail

The majority of businesses market themselves to ensure a steady flow of customers. Even those businesses which acquire their customers from referrals should undertake additional marketing strategies, unless they aren’t interested in growing.

So, marketing is essential for most businesses, yet did you know that only 20% of marketing campaigns are successful. Surprised? That statistic points out why it is important to test and measure each marketing initiative before spending large dollars on an untested campaign. Test headlines and messaging on a smaller audience before rolling out to a larger and always, always measure the results of each campaign.

Of the many explanations offered for the high failure rate two stand out to me as the most common explanations.

First, the vast majority of businesses and consumers aren’t looking to buy when they see your advertisement. Chet Holmes in his wonderful book entitled “The Ultimate Sales Machine” says:

  • only 3% of the public is interested in buying now
  • 6 – 7% are open to buying now
  • 30% are not thinking about buying now
  • 30% don’t think they’re interested in what you’re marketing
  • 30% know they’re not interested

Your pride of product or service compels you to believe that people will buy your product once they hear about your offering. Yet, only 3% are ready to buy, and they will shop you and your competitors. While your advertising may attract some of those who are interested in buying now, you should approach your marketing in pursuit of those open to buying now (6 – 7%) as well as those not thinking about buying now and those who don’t think they are interested. As a result, when you embark on a marketing campaign, be prepared to stick with it for a pre-determined period of time. Typically owners don’t see immediate results from their marketing and stop advertising, thus ensuring a failed campaign.

Secondly, the majority, dare I say the vast majority, of business owners haven’t clearly defined their target market(s) and so their advertising is designed to speak to all buyers. In trying to speak to all, their advertising loses any differentiation that’s possible when you narrow the focus of your marketing. You are better off with several smaller advertisements that speak to distinct target markets, than you are with a larger ad that doesn’t address the unique needs of any one market.

Once you know your target market(s), be sure to include an offer, doesn’t need to be financial, that speaks to the needs or frustrations of members of your target market.

If your marketing campaign is not getting the desired results, call me and we can have a brief conversation and find the success you desire from your business.

Jeff Lovejoy

Business Strategist

404.444.1836

 

Jeff works with owners of local companies to help them achieve the success they desire from their businesses. He holds them accountable to the plans we build. By coaching my clients in the areas of Time, Team and Money, Jeff equips them with the tools they need to run their businesses successfully.

 

March 13, 2015 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

Communication Is More Than Just the Words

Ever felt like you delivered an award winning presentation, but didn’t get the business? Or have you encountered challenges getting prospects interested in your business even though you use scripts that worked well for others? Or have you ever had a good conversation with someone, but your attempts to further connect go unheeded? Why is this happening?

In 1967 Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, published a study that stated message believabilitydepends on consistency of 3 aspects of face-to-face communication. Surprisingly, the actual words account for only 7% of what we respond to in face-to-face communication. 55% of what we respond to is based on visual (body language) signals and 38% is based on tonality (voice tone). The actual words spoken, while important, have the smallest impact on how effective you are in communicating.

For example, you’re speaking to someone and they tell you “yes”, but in a begrudging tone. Do you believe their “yes” or the tone of their voice? Most people would say the tone. Now, let’s say the person says “no”, but their head is nodding “yes” and they’re very enthusiastic. Which do you believe – words or body language? My bet is body language.

For your message to be believable, all three elements must be in synch. When body language, tonality and spoken words are inconsistent, you send mixed signals that cause the other person to doubt what you’re saying. You memorize a fabulous script that has worked well for others, but you lack confidence in delivering it – you won’t get the sale. Your words and body language aren’t in synch. Ever seen overly confident sales people make sales without knowing the details of their product? Their confident body language and tone won the sale.

Ever deliver an important message to your team and wonder why the words don’t have the impact you anticipated? Perhaps your audience didn’t believe the message.

So often, we’re conscious of using the perfect words and pay no attention to the tone in which those words are expressed and our body language while stating those words. Keep the three elements (words, tone, body language) in synch and you’ll be surprised how you’re better able to build rapport with your audience.

Jeff Lovejoy

Business Growth Strategist

404.444.1836

 

Jeff works with owners of local companies to help them achieve the success they desire from their businesses. He holds them accountable to the plans we build. By coaching my clients in the areas of Time, Team and Money, Jeff equips them with the tools they need to run their businesses successfully.

February 11, 2015 at 9:10 pm Leave a comment

The Best Solution Isn’t Always Obvious

Often times the best solution to a challenge faced in business or our personal lives is not immediately obvious. By keeping a narrow focus, rather than being open to new ideas and new ways of looking at a challenge, we often miss the best solution.

The movie Imitation Game retells the efforts by British Intelligence (MI 6) to break the Nazi code, which the most experienced cryptanalysts considered unbearable. In 1939 Cambridge mathematics alumnus, Alan Turing, realized that traditional methods of code breaking wouldn’t work. Taking an entirely different approach, Turing designed a machine to do what humans couldn’t. Despite constant ridicule, Turing’s machine eventually broke the Nazi code, which resulted in MI 6 being able to read every Nazi communication (credited with saving 14 million lives and shortening the war by 2 years).

Few, if any, of us would have defied common logic to identify a possible solution…”a machine that can think, you gotta be kidding me”.

So, What Does This Mean?

Whether you own a business or work for someone else, you need to keep an open mind when confronting a challenge. Often the best answer is not immediately discernible.

In his book, “Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got”, Jay Abraham writes “you must constantly be on the lookout for new and better ways to dramatically improve your overall business performance…” Are you constantly on the lookout for new and better ideas or are you of the “I Know” mindset, (e.g. “I know everything…I don’t need to learn more”)?

History is full of examples of business leaders who were acknowledged leaders, but who in a short while fell off that pedestal solely because they failed to keep an open mind. These leaders didn’t adjust to an ever-changing world. These leaders failed to adapt to situations which left room for other businesses to step in and take market share.

So, What Can I Do to Keep an Open Mind?

  1. Successful leaders make a concerted effort to constantly learn, which helps them recognize game-changing solutions. The Japanese use a term “kaizan”.
  1. Stop using the words “I know” – closes your mind to new ideas. The best solution for your challenge might just pass by unheard.
  1. Change your paradigm by reading about what other people have done. Set a goal of reading at least one business or motivational book each month.
  1. Break out of your routine ways of solving problems. Research how other business owners have resolved similar problems and apply what worked for them.

Conclusion:

If you limit your thinking to what worked in the past, you will struggle against more enlightened competitors. What worked in the past won’t always work in the future. I have strategies to help you overcome obstacles from a different perspective. Give me a call.

Jeff Lovejoy

Business Strategies Specialist

404.250,3221

Business owners hire me to get them focused on what it takes to grow their business. In working with business owners I mentor them on the importance of having a vision for their business, guide them in building plans to achieve that vision, introduce strategies in support of those plans and hold them accountable for adhering to their plan.

January 18, 2015 at 11:03 am Leave a comment

Listen to Your Inner Voice – It’s Saying Let Them Go

The conclusion of the Atlanta Falcons football season brought an end of Mike Smith’s tenure as the head coach. In his press conference last week to explain the dismissal, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank stated that though coach Smith was a good football coach, he wasn’t viewed as being the person to coach a Super Bowl winning Falcons team (goal for the team). Mr. Blank expressed great respect and high regards for Coach Smith and that it was the toughest decision he ever had to make.

Regardless of your beliefs about Coach Smith’s performance, this is a powerful lesson for business owners and leaders. Mr. Blank knows where he wants his business to go and took decisive action in pursuit of that vision. Even though Coach Smith was viewed as a good coach he wasn’t viewed as being exceptional, which is what is needed to win the Super Bowl.

Is there someone on your team who is preventing your business from achieving what you want? It’s not uncommon for business owners and leaders to retain these employees for a variety of reasons. The reasons vary from the employee being; 1) liked and respected, 2) a family member or friend, 3) performing at an OK level, to 4) the owner believes that they will change/improve, or 5) that the team dynamics will suffer.

During my banking career, I was guilty of the latter reason. With my attention and insights I was convinced an employee would improve. Six months later she left. Six months of my time and efforts wasted. My team would have been so much further along if I had acted as my inner voice was telling me and moved her out and hired an “A” player.

If a member of your team is holding your business back from achieving your goals / vision then it may be time to consider replacing that person by moving either that person out or to another position where they can excel. Unfortunately, and all too often, owners believe the person will change only to find that the passage of time doesn’t alter what was initially apparent. They are also pleasantly surprised when the team dynamics actually improve in the absence of the dismissed individual.

Often business owners don’t have a clear vision for their business… a destination for the business. Owners and leaders become more objective in assessing interim goals and employee performance when destination and timeframe are defined. Do you have a clear vision for your business 10+ years in the future? Gain clarity around your vision and then assess each team member as to whether they are the right person to help you reach that vision.

If a person isn’t performing at a level that will take your business where you want, immediately begin considering a change. If your decision is ask the person to leave, then make a resolution not to hire the first person you find, but rather someone that will help you win your Super Bowl (your goals . vision).

Jeff Lovejoy

Certified Business Coach

404.444.1836

 

Jeff works with owners of local companies to help them achieve the success they desire from their businesses. He holds them accountable to the plans we build. By coaching my clients in the areas of Time, Team and Money, Jeff equips them with the tools they need to run their businesses successfully.

January 4, 2015 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

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