Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Hidden Treasure

I started working with another new client last week.
He has been in business for about a year and a
half. Yes, he has managed to make plenty of
mistakes, like we all do. But, he has done some-
thing so very right that I thought I’d share it
with you.

This business owner has kept accurate records
of all his customers, complete with name,
address, phone, even directions to their houses
(he makes house calls).

I don’t think I’ve actually worked with a client
before who kept such good customer records.
Generally, they have information like “Joe” and
a phone number that only has six numbers.
But, this is such a critical success point.

The service I am providing for this customer is a
combination support package of accounting, marketing,
and operations. He wants to grow his business but
knows he needs more knowledge than just knowledge
of his particular field. That’s where I come in.

With his customer list we have a tremendous resource.
We can market to that list for repeat business. We can
market for referrals. We can market for sales of
additional products and services. We can get testi-
monials which we’ll use to attract new customers. It’s
a veritable gold mine that we can mine from over and
over. Without the list we would be starting from
scratch, re-inventing the wheel, etc.

Of course, as we talked about last week, you never
want to abuse your customer’s information or act in
a distrustful manner. That’s a great way to lose your
customer and create “un-referrals”—“Don’t do
business with him, he’s a jerk.”

So, whether you’re conducting business online, offline,
or both, your customer list is a tremendously valuable
asset. Guard it like a dragon guards its treasure.

Until next time,
Caroline Jordan
Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I've Been Deceived!

The Deception Perception

Without a doubt, people would rather do
business with someone they know, like, and
trust. Credibility is critical. This is especially
true conducting business on the internet where
people never actually meet face to face. Building
a sense of trust with your customers takes time.
And, it’s one of your most valuable assets.

I recently had the opportunity to hear a well known
internet marketer speak. It was a great presentation,
chock full of all sorts of useful tips. I was very
impressed with all he had to say so I went to his
website and signed up for his newsletter.

He sent me an email (by autoresponder, of course)
saying he had set up a special call for his newest
subscribers to give us more great tips. All we had
to do was dial in at a certain time for a teleseminar.
He sent me a followup email reminding me and saying
again how much he appreciated having me on his list.
He looked forward to having me on the call.
So Far, So Good.

Last night, I dialed in at the scheduled time. The
gentleman came on and said he’d be with us in just
a few moments, he was gathering up his notes. Then,
he came back on, told us because of the number of people
on the call, he had us all muted and there wouldn’t be time
for any questions. He went on to deliver some great
information followed by a sales pitch.

The Problem.

It was a recording. He wasn’t really there. Now, if I
had known it would be a recording, it wouldn’t have
bothered me a bit because the information was good. But,
being led to believe it was live, being given a bit of
a smoke and mirror show, changed my perception of
the man and his products. If this teleseminar was smoke
and mirrors, are his products smoke and mirrors too? Is it
all just a slick manipulation to sell products that don’t work?
I certainly don’t want to spend money on a product that
teaches me how to be slick and deceptive.
The Moral of the Story

Seemingly harmless deceptions create a lack of trust
for customers who are quick to look elsewhere for more
trustworthy solutions.

Until next time,
Caroline Jordan
Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.
The Jordan Result

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Care and Feeding of Your Small Business

While I was writing last week’s installment of The Jordan Result, an everyday drama was playing out in a hospital room in the next town. My niece was working on presenting me with a new great nephew. Tyler James came into the world Thursday afternoon, mother and child are both doing well. Naturally, I am able to discern at this early stage that the child is adorably cute, remarkably bright, and very advanced for his age. Takes after his Great Aunt, I’m sure.

Now, watch how I turn this blessed, private family event into a small business parable—hopefully the child didn’t inherit my one track mind.

Young Tyler received the pre-birth gifts of two pairs of baby shoes. Then, he was born with big puppy feet. Already he has outgrown at least one pair of his new shoes. By the end of the week, I suspect the other pair will be much too snug as well. Two things are sure with babies and small businesses, Growth Happens and Change is Inevitable. Your infant soon becomes a toddler who soon becomes an adolescent. Each stage of growth brings different challenges and opportunities.

The key is to anticipate the growth before it happens and prepare for the challenges before they develop. Tyler, like your business, will grow. His needs will change and his parents will need to change with him. Many of the challenges to be faced are not anticipate-able. But many are.

When you start your business, your main concern is survival. Often small businesses don’t make it through the first year and by year four many more have succumbed to the pressures and harsh realities of the small business climate. It is classic Darwinism--survival of the fittest at its most basic level. Businesses that are well capitalized, well run, serving flourishing markets, and executing a solid business plan have the best chance of survival.

And then there is the rest of us. Struggling along, trying to figure things out as we go. Anticipating the changes makes the trip much easier, and makes for successful businesses. My own business has taken just such a trip over the years. And yes, I have many “if only’s”. If only I had done this then, how much farther along my business would be. If only I hadn’t handled that situation like that, how much better my business would have run. Sometimes the “if only’s” outweigh the successes.

Consider the stage your business is at. Is it a newborn needing protection and nurturing? Is it struggling to stand on its own feet? Is it rocked by rapid fire changes and needing a firm foundation? What can you do to help your business through whatever stage it is in? What can you do to prepare your business for its next phase of life?

Your business and my nephew will go through predictable growth stages. Business owners and parents each start out with the wonder and excitement of new birth, struggle through the early work-intensive years, seek balance during the intermediate years, get tossed about by the turbulence of adolescence, and someday, through the grace of God, are able to stand back and say, “My work has paid me handsomely.”

Until next time,
Caroline Jordan
Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.
The Jordan Result

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Wedding Mafia

I’ve got some powerful stuff for you this week. And I’ll let you peek inside my business for a second.

I was at a client’s office and he shared a story with me from his networking group, a chapter of BNI ( Ivan Misner, the creator of BNI talks about what he calls “contact spheres”.

Here’s how it works: A group of related business owners work together to get referrals for each other. Here are some of Misner’s examples of contact spheres:

  • Business services: printers, graphic artists, specialty advertising agents and marketing consultants.
  • Real estate services: residential and commercial agents, escrow companies, title companies and mortgage brokers.
  • Contractors: painters, carpenters, plumbers, landscapers, electricians and interior designers.
  • Healthcare: chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists and nutritionists.
  • Weddings: the caterer, the florist, the photographer and the travel agent.

The story my client told me was about the last group which has been dubbed “The Wedding Mafia”. When one gets new wedding business, the whole group gets new wedding business. It makes it very difficult for anyone else to get referrals. It’s a tremendous business builder. I have a client in real estate who does this very well also. It’s one of the most powerful business building tools ever.

So, my client and I were joking around about me developing a “Small Business Mafia”—a small business consultant, an insurance agent, a financial planner, a printing company, an office supply company, a tax preparer, etc. The more we joked about it, the more powerful an idea I realized it was. And since I do business both locally and nationally, I could form numerous branches of my Small Business Mafia and then (insert evil laughter) I could CONQUER THE WORLD!!!

Whooooaaaaa! Hold on. The key to success of any referral group like this is finding good people. The business owners you work with have to be people you feel completely comfortable in referring your valued clients to. Otherwise, your name and reputation will get dragged into the ditch. Once you’ve found people you love to refer, be sure they’re very familiar with your business and the types of clients you’re looking for. Give the group as much or as little structure as needed to ensure that referrals are flowing both ways. Then, go out and conquer as much of the world as you want.

Until next time,

Caroline Jordan

Get Knowledge. Get Focus. Get Results.

The Jordan Result