Change

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THERE’S NO LESSON TO BE LEARNED FROM THE SECOND KICK OF A MULE

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Lisbeth Calandrino

I come from Copake Lake, New York; a small, country  town in the Berkshire hills. The people were simple.

There were twenty people  in the winter and two hundred in the summer. It used to get lonely in the winter.

Compared to the way people think today, people seemed ignorant. The people weren’t ignorant, the  times were. It was over sixty years ago.

Many of my friends had horses, and we all learned how to ride, bareback. There was a saying, there’s no lesson learned in the second kick of the mule.   In those days it wasn’t a mule, it was a  horse.

No  matter how many times I heard the expression, watch out for the horses’s hind legs, I never took it too seriously.

To this day, I can remember  turning my back on the horse and getting kicked!

Despite the warning  it seemed to be  an unavoidable happening.

Despite the pain, it was never enough to get me to focus on the horse’s back legs.I was too caught up in riding the horse.

When the  equivalent problems come along, businesses handle it the identical way. Despite the problem, they don’t seem to learn from it. Sure enough, a second kick is around the corner.

There is another expression that goes with it; it’s called ‘ learning from experience’. Rarely do we learn from experience. It just doesn’t work.

People learn  from an ‘evaluation of their experiences,’ not the experience itself. Most people are so happy to be out of the situation that they forget the experience. This brings me back to the second kick from the mule.

Our experiences use up our time and ultimately, our life. What could be more valuable?

I wrote a speech about life being like tiny pearls strung together and my writer friend Shelia Carmody added her twist. Her thoughts, “The more you invest in what life has to offer, the shinier your pearls!”

Why have plain  pearls when you can have shiny ones?

How can you learn from your experiences: (Karen Keller has some interesting thoughts on learning from experience.)

Be clear about the experience. Not the one you made up but the one you had. Rather than seeing things the way they are, we make the experience into what we want it to be. No wonder it comes out wrong. How can you learn from an experience that never really existed. The experience was the one we wanted not the one we had.

Be open to learning. You’ve all looked at the photo which contains one old woman and one young woman. At first, you may see nothing, but if you turn  the photo upside down, you see two photographs. Be willing to look at the situation from another angle. (If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth a look.)

People get so invested in making up their experience rather than dealing with what it is.

Write down what you’re doing and thinking. Ask yourself, does it make sense? Am I looking at it clearly? When you write your experiences down, you’re likely to see a pattern. Stay focused and don’t lose these important lessons.

Lastly,  consider  change your friend not your enemy. Many people are afraid to change. If you let your imagination loose, it will run wild with you. I have a friend who can go from  a rainstorm  to a tornado in about five seconds flat. I’ve been talking with my friends’ about the upcoming storm, and their reactions are interesting. A friend  asked  if I would take her to the grocery store to get water before the stores ran out.   In  her mind, the storm was already here, and she was out of water.

Talk about getting ahead of  yourself.

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers. She does this through customer service training and retention marketing.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:03+00:00October 28th, 2012|Blog, Change|6 Comments

Does Change Have To Be An Uphill Battle?

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Change doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.

I was speaking at an event for Crossville Inc. last week; it was entitled, Successful Showroom Selling.    It’s a four-day event, includes a manufacturing tour, new-product introductions and various seminars.

I was speaking on ‘How to Use Social Media to Create Traffic in Your Show Room’.

It occurred to me the ideas weren’t complicated in fact the ideas were fun. What would make it complicated was people’s resistance to change and trying something new.

Are  changes that difficult? If you said to a business owner,  do you want to be successful they would  say yes. If in the next breath you mention social media, there would be plenty of frowns.

What do people have to do to get past the ‘change’ part?

There are so many people who are resistant to social media; they say it’s stupid, intrusive and only for young people.  These are the same people who don’t  mind going out,  getting completely intoxicated and bragging about it.

Success is all about the ability to change. It appears that some people think if they learn something new, it means what they knew before was inadequate or wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prior successes won’t guarantee success in the future, but it does show that you have some good skills.

Somewhere I heard the term ‘conscious intention’; it’s the thought that our success and failure depend on our responsive ability to determine what we want and then work towards it. If you ask business owners if they want more store traffic they would also say yes. If you suggest they use social media,  they look at you suspiciously.

I didn’t ask them to rob a bank. I just asked them to try something different.

Why wait until your business is falling apart, your relationship is in the dumper, or  you’re on the verge of financial ruin to make changes in your life?

Do we all need setbacks to move forward?

I went to a wonderful cocktail party last night hosted by my friends Joanne and Bruce.

Joanne invited the owner of her gym, Brian Hull and trainer, Marcus McGregor.  (By the way, the gym is called Recenter Square and is on 319 Hamilton Street.)

I must admit even for a gym junkie like myself these two looked amazing and intimidating.

At one point Joanne announced her abs were brought to us by her trainer. It was a very nice tribute but the tribute  really goes to Joanne and her persistence.  All of us who go to the gym know ‘it isn’t easy’.

But  Joanne is an amazing business woman and of course is applying good business skills to skills to improve her abs.

Even if you’re in a rut and not living the life you want you are capable of making changes. Sometimes all that’s needed is baby steps forward, and suddenly you’re on the path to change. Maybe it’s eating half of what’s on your plate to begin to lose weight.

All of us have the conscious capacity to work towards what we want. We can  tell ourselves we want to be better but ‘telling’ is not ‘doing’.

Successes from the past don’t guarantee success  in the future, but they show us that we have the capability to succeed.

Why wouldn’t these skills carry over to our brand-new tasks? Everything we’ve learned supports our ability to learn something fresh and take us to the next level. When you were young learning to drive a car was really scary until you realized that you had all the skills to do it. You just need to practice.

What can you do to help move forward?

Say good things about yourself—instead of ‘boy am I stupid.’ Your mind remembers what you say about it so be kind.

Get the baby steps down and then add a few bigger ones. Remember nobody is really looking at you expect you.

Once you get it down, amp it up! A friend of mine he didn’t think he could lose more weight because he would be the same weight he was when he was in high school. I don’t know what that means. I had another friend who was upset because she could fit into her prom dress! I don’t get this.

Seek out people who are succeeding in your task. Tell them how great they look, ask them how they’ve done it and join them in their success.

Do one thing at a time. Don’t do too many things at once.

Reward yourself for your successes. You deserve it.

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither will your abs.

I love this quote from George Bernard Shaw; the reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to him. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers. She does this through customer service and communication training. She can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:03+00:00October 21st, 2012|Blog, Change|2 Comments

Before You Can Create, You Must Forget. Change Is Not In The R.V.M.

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R.V.M.=Rear View Mirror

Although businesses are experiencing a failing economy, they are still reluctant to change. Many are caught or paralyzed in the past and reluctantly give credence to factors that are presently influencing their business.

The use of social media is a prime example of one of these factors. Ask any business about customer service and they will tell you this is their prime mission. If you ask them about staying in touch with their customers they will also say this is another of their important focus. But if you ask them if they are using social media they’ll ask you, what for? More about customer service from Dan Alcorn; here’s the link, Dan Alcorn  on Appreciation Marketing.

When contemplating change it’s wise to look at the present market and what’s happening in the market place. The reality of most markets is some loss of revenues, decrease in business or competitors gaining a competitive advantage. For most businesses, now is the time to rethink, retool and remake. But making it happen is another story. By the way, this a great article on change in the Harvard Business Review.

Consider what the airlines have had to go through to stay in business. Charging for baggage, not serving snacks, adding wireless, eliminating blankets and pillows all in the name of survival and change. Many of their changes appear to not be well thought out and come a little too late.

As an example, customers have been asking about Internet connections for years; this is a service that is long overdue. It makes you wonder, what are the airlines thinking about? We know what it is; charging for bags. Many of their changes appear not to be well thought out; if they were they wouldn’t have to continue changing.

One of the stumbling blocks to change, whether it is on a personal or business level is the lack of urgency. The HBR talks about how businesses rarely understand how difficult it is to get their employees to change—even if the leader decides it’s a good idea. This became quite evident to me several years ago when a major client of mine went out of business. At the time they were losing market share , business was down and our focus groups were supporting the need for change. Middle management was determined to stay where they were and continued to ignore the economic signs. Urgency was never established and people wouldn’t budge. To me it seemed similar to rearranging the chairs on the Titanic as the water continued to rise. This was another  pointless effort.

If change is to occur, those on the top must be clear about the urgency and start the process quickly, if the business is to survive. People must understand they are an integral part of the process and that the past is the past. Try not to get caught up in the past.

For an overview of my presentation on Change Is Not In The Rear View Mirror, I’ve included a blog post written by Kate Sparks.

We are all fragile when it comes to change; sometimes eagles need a push.

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through customer service and sales training.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:05+00:00July 23rd, 2012|Change|0 Comments

Selling is About Passion, Not About Sales

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Passion gets the job doneThe other day I met a personal trainer who was telling me about her profession. She was in great shape and obviously lived her profession.

“I love it she said, but they want me to sell it to people in the health club. In fact they want me to interrupt people who are working out and tell them about the personal training program.”

So what’s wrong with that I asked?” To which she replied, “I don’t want to bother them!”

I started thinking, how can someone love what they do and not want to share it with others? Have you ever seen a movie or read a book that made you so excited  you had to  share it with others? Did you worry they “wouldn’t buy it?” After you explained the movie all your friends  wanted to see it.  Why, because you weren’t selling the movie, you were selling passion and excitement.

 I asked if she thought what she did  was important, to which she again replied, “Of course I do .” She gave lip service to her passion, but somehow the possibility of connecting her passion with others didn’t exist.

Many salespeople are under the misconception that sales is about getting someone to do something or buy something because the salesperson wants them to. In this day and age, do people buy because the salesperson “makes wants them to?” I don’t think so.

No wonder salespeople don’t like selling; of course they feel “pushy.” Frankly, I think they have it all wrong.

When you believe passionately about your service or your product, why not share it with the world? If your service can change a life, unleash a passion, or build self-esteem why not share it? Maybe it’s not about selling, maybe it’s about “connecting” with others. It’s not about the product it’s about self-understanding and an ability to connect with another human.

Maybe people just don’t understand why people buy. People don’t buy because the product is irresistible, they buy because it feels a need in their soul or in their life. My friend was telling me about Oprah Winfrey attending one of Tony Robbin’s events ;while she’s there she does the unthinkable, she walks the hot coals. Despite all her experience and  self-understanding, she feels that walking the coals will do something for her her life.

How does this happen? Something that Tony Robbins said sparked a nerve in Oprah, one that said, “there’s more to life than what you have.” (Now I’m projecting what I think was going on in her head.)

Would you have tried to sell Oprah a walk on hot coals? Would you have thought this was something Oprah would have considered or would move her soul? Not me; that’s why I’m not as successful as Tony Robbins, I wouldn’t have thought of calling Oprah! (Maybe I should  go “walk the coals!”)

I’m sure Oprah didn’t do it because it was something to do; somewhere she made a connection with Tony which motivated her to take a risk. Tony’s passion and enthusiasm is catching, and Oprah  caught it. Whatever he had she wanted.

Why don’t salespeople get it? Some of the people with the best products hold themselves back with silly statements like “I can’t sell.” I think the problem is how we train salespeople; we talk about “closing, getting people to buy, making money” instead of understanding their gifts,  passions and value. According to the article on “value,” Steve Pavlina says that a speaker’s value lies in their ability to change the way people think in a very short period of time, sometimes permanently. That is a powerful statement. Isn’t this just another way to deliver the best customer service? Give the customer a way to get what they want.

Want to be a great salesperson? Instead of selling focus on believing in  your value.

Lisbeth Calandrino is know for her passion and ability to transfer her passions to others. To get a taste of her passion, download her book “Brain Snacks” which is available as a free download  for signing up for her blog.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:06+00:00March 2nd, 2012|Blog, Change|4 Comments

Why Would You Only Want To Eat Chinese Food?

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"People are all different"I have been using BEST Instruments as a way to help individuals understand how they communicate and what they can do to be more versatile and effective in their jobs. The tests are simple but very telling.  It’s amazing how a 15 minute “quiz” can be so revealing. It is a way to understand yourself and those around you.

The key is learning how to value each other and  realize that each employee has their own assets and should be developed, leveraged and shared  throughout the company. This way people learn from each other and feel valued. By understanding your employees a company can create a highly motivated group who will continually exceed your company’s expectations.

One of the things that was brought to my attention was  that everyone in the room was similar in personality style. The person in charge said to me, it’s because the person doing the  hiring is choosing people just like himself.  This is not uncommon because people hire people who make them feel comfortable. Someone who understands team dynamics and how businesses work realizes that diversity is important. If you’re going to meet the diverse needs of your customers you will need different types of sales people. My father used to say “People are all different and they like it that way!” In other words, don’t try to make everyone the same.

Change is what’s happening!

This is no time to keep the status quo!

If you’re not changing your competitor is and taking your customer with them!

Sure you may have to be more understanding with people different than yourself but consider another point of view as a gift.

It’s like eating Chinese food your whole life and finding out that Italian food is just as good–if not better! How will you know unless you try it?  Life is for testing and trying not for staying safe.

 

 

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:08+00:00September 25th, 2011|Blog, Change|0 Comments

Do You Know Where You’re Going?

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Take a riskI hope this article is timely for you; it is for me.  For many of us the  economy is still moping along and we’re trying to figure out what to do next. Consumers are changing their buying habits, myself included. Friends are downsizing their lifestyles and examining their life choices. The recession may be over, but the landscape has changed.  In many ways it’s unfamiliar; at least it is to me.   I’m in a different place too. It’s not a bad place, it’s just a different place and different doesn’t always feel right–especially in the beginning.

Change is good. Well, change is interesting but it’s more interesting if it’s happening to you rather than me. In my case, I find when it’s time  for a change I put more hours in at the health club! Somehow I know it’s a safe place for my mind and my body. I feel less stressed after my workout and  feel I’ve done something good for me.

Each of us is building new roads, repairing our highways and hopefully avoiding serious pitfalls.  I’m convinced that sharing this journey with positive friends who have good intentions will make our journey more pleasant and safe. It’s time to re-cultivate your the garden and  get rid of the weeds that might be choking you from making new decisions. Sometimes, these weeds come in surprising forms–forms we call “friends.”

Just as I’m writing this article, I received this from Kevin Clancey a Realtor in Albany, New York from his Monday Morning Mojo:

The biggest obstacle to creating a wonderful life is self-limiting beliefs. A self-limiting belief is an idea you have that you are limited in some way, in terms of time, talent, intelligence, money, ability, or opportunity. Brian Tracy

At times we all have limiting beliefs, and there’s nothing to fear except fear itself and fear can be defined with the acronym “false evidence appearing real”. So, now what, where do you begin? It’s time for you to become your own coach, a good coach.

Speaking of coaches, one of my guests on Red Hot Customer Service Show was John Stahl from The Growth Coach of New York  serving business owners throughout the Northeast. John talks about limiting beliefs. Of course, beliefs simplify our lives but limiting beleifs dis-empower and hold us back. John talks about “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable” while making changes. If you’re talking about business challenges, Johns says the biggest challenge is between the ears of the business owner. I think this is a problem that many of us share.

Coach Vincent Lombardi once said that the difference between a good coach and a bad coach is the good coach always knew what the end would look like. If you don’t know where your want to go, how will you get there? If you get wherever “there” is, how will you know it’s the right place? In Warren Bennis’s book, “View from the Top“, he examines ninety leaders and found that one of key strategies was “attention through vision.”

What’s vision you ask? Vision can be a simple act or a thought; what do I really want out of life?

What makes me happy?

What are my dreams, my goals or my purpose? What would I like more of in my life?

I know I want more time at the lake.

Sometimes visions are statement for the future, a destination that you want to achieve. Last year I joined Toastmasters. I have competed in several events and recently joined the advanced Toastmasters Group. My goal is to continue to advance my speaking craft–I love speaking. The club gives me the opportunity to test new topics, get feedback and make changes. It’s a way to continually focus on something that’s important in my life.

Your vision may be simple. If you are invested in the outcome and feel ownership over your vision, then the happiness is in the journey– the appreciation of the uniqueness of the components it takes to get there.

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Is A Complaining Customer A Good Customer?

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Are they better with their mouths closed?I know lots of customers that would disagree with this statement. If you’ve ever had a customer complaint on line than you know what I’m talking about. I have seen some mighty disagreeable comments that wouldn’t seem to go away.

How do you counteract these things? The first thing is to have your “great” customers  post loving comments about your service, your staff and your products. This way if you have any negative comments there’s a possibility they will get lost in the good ones or the complaining person looks like a nut job to the rest of the  readers. My experience is that most businesses don’t “stack the deck” with great comments to counteract the possible nasty ones before they occur. When a nasty comment is written, it is glaring.

I found myself the target of one of these feuds. A client of mine got some bad press for posting a photo without giving credit to the photographer. The title of the blog charged the customer with something other than the above which was not only incorrect, but slandering.  I pointed out the error of the title and immediately someone else became annoyed at me. (By the way, I checked with a lawyer first about my concerns which turned out to be correct.)  The title charged the customer with a very serious crime, obviously the writer didn’t understand what he was writing.

Online remarks can get very sticky. One of our local supermarkets received an unflattering comment on Twitter which was responded to by an employee of the market. The employee was so upset he went to the commentator’s boss and suggested the person be fired! The target took his case to the local newspaper and the rest is history.

Last year I was curious about a local luggage store so I went online for testimonials. Much to my dismay, there  was more than one nasty comment. When I went to the store to have my Tumi luggage fixed, I told the manager about the comments. His reply, “I never noticed”. Needless to say they closed the following month; they had been in business for over 20 years.

Some thoughts about what to do before it happens and after:

Manage your own publicity; get your happy customers to post great comments.

Post articles of value for your customers; articles that make them smile, feel special and get valuable information.

Be aware, watch for comments, Google your business to see what’s being written about you and your business. Sign up for Google alerts.

Blog about your great customers. Interview your customers about their families and their businesses. Make your customers your business partners. Great customer service means giving your customers what they want and possible helping them to stay in business.Consider the bank or insurance company  that provides valuable workshops on marketing and sales  for their small business customers.

By the way, I couldn’t find any. But it stands to reason if your customers can’t stay in business neither will you!

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You Never Know Where A “Cat-astropic” Event Can Lead

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Cats don't kill people (or dogs) guns doIt was reported that two kittens, Snowyday and Winter somehow dented the bell on a $5000.00 bass trombone.

Trouble in river city.

How did they do it? They probably used a  a chair. The owner, Anthony Giles, a professional trombone player, felt dented, just like the bell but unexpected events often lead us to new discoveries and new ideas.

Did  Edison really sit on the light bulb to create its unique shape? The best brass repair guy was called in New York City. Everyone knows  The Brasslab, Chuck Alexander, the master of Red Hot Customer Service. The “bone” was packed up for its trip to New York City.

An immediate diagnosis indicated that the bell needed to stay for  repair. This is not good. So, the trombone player, Anthony Giles went searching through through his “spare bells” and came up with a 10 year old  bell which turned out to be a better fit for his playing. I’m told that, as a musician, you’re always looking for ways to improve; By accident he had found one.

I think the kittens are not only off the hook but may be psychic and  were trombone players in one of their other lives.

So what  does this mean to the rest of us mortals? Can we possible train our mind to move from “victim” to being “proactive?” Stephen Covey in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People  talks about “mindfulness.”

Make lemonade out of lemons, the obvious.

Realize that even a seemingly a  disaster can be a new path for your life.

Be always thinking and wondering.

Life and success is all about attitude; never let circumstances dictate your feelings.

Think out of the box, why do you even need a “box to think out of ?”

Did I  say, don’t leave your trombone on the floor?

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What’s You Mind Mapping?

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A way to problem solve

Goal setting with your employees

A friend of mine, Tabby Chapman, suggested that I  map out my goals. “Oh no,” I said, “not another time management, goals setting exercise.”

“No,” she said, “Let’s try something different, you like pictures and words. Let’s see what you think.”

What is it? Mind mapping is a way to show your ideas and concepts with pictures  and words. The structure is based on not only your ideas and concepts but your values. It gives you a visual way to think, analyze and comprehend your ideas. It will also help you generate new ideas. Why is it so powerful? It’ simple.

Mind mapping is not like traditional note taking or text. From what I read it more closely resembles how your brain actually works. It’s attraction is that it is both thought provoking and artistic. You get to draw pictures as you map out your plans. It’s actually fun.  It looks messy but don’t we think that way? This will allow you to use both language and pictures to express your goals and ideas.

You can actually take notes using mind mapping; this is an interesting way to  work with your employees (you will get a much better idea of how they think and what motivates them to come to work.)

Consider a new way to plan for your business.

  • Train your employees to set goals based on their values and motivations.
  • Problem solve with words and pictures.
  • Gain insight into complex problems; a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Get your creativity moving and have some fun.
  • Think about your personal life also, wouldn’t this  be a fun exercise with your family and your loved ones?

How do you begin?

  1. First you need a big piece of paper, cardboard is best because it has   stability.
  2. Get crayons, magic markers or paints if you want to get fancy. Magic markers are easier to work with.
  3. Start with your ideas, what do you want to develop? Check out the layout of your paper before you begin; it is suggested that you use the landscape orientation.
  4. Start with your central topic and create subtopics; connect to each one of them to the center with a line.
  5. Keep adding subtopic and connecting; don’t forget to use your colors and pictures if you choose. Try to be as visual as possible. Don’t worry about  drawing skills, you will be surprised at the talent in your group.
  6. Make your notes short, a single word if possible this will make it more effective.
  7. Change letter sizes, fonts and how everything is aligned. Remember we are creating a way for the mind to remember your thoughts.
  8. I know this is just a start but if you want more you can research it online.
  9. Have fun.
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By |2017-03-03T12:07:12+00:00October 5th, 2010|beliefs, Blog, Building a Brand, Change|2 Comments

The Recession is Over. So Where Are Your Customers?

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Newsweek_recession Okay, so now you've heard the recession is over. I don't know what exactly what it means, jobs are scarce, credit card lenders are raising interest rates and banks aren't lending money to small businesses. I wonder what it would look like if the recession wasn't over? 

Maybe more of the same?

As the Newsweek article puts it: "When the economists proclaim a recession is over, they're celebrating a technicality: they mean economic output has stopped contracting. And while that's good news, you might wait awhile before adding Judy Garland's rendition of Happy Days are Here Again to your iPod."

What's the point? It doesn't matter whether the recession is over or not. What really matter is when will your customers be back and why aren't they buying from you? Most likely they're not buying from you or anyone else.  If you can acknowledge this, you"re on the road to recovery. If you're still in the unbelieving stage, your business is in trouble. There are still businesses out there that believe if they continue doing the same things the same way the customers will come. There are lots of businesses out there that believe it will all go back to the way it was. To believe this is to believe in fairies and warlocks.

Einstein's definition of success was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Many of the companies that exhibit these behaviors are companies that have been successful. They believe that success still awaits them no matter what they do. Unfortunately they are wrong. You've probably heard the expression, "what got you here will not get you there." Clinging to the past and what worked before will not move you forward. What will get you there there will be your ability to change, not your ability to cling to the past.

I speak to business owners every day; I admire the ones who call and say, "I don't know about that kind of stuff, meaning the Internet, but I hear it's where my customers are congregating."  These are the ones who will probably survive and grow to be different companies. They will be lean, mean and accountable.

I spoke with a business owner the other day who apologetically said,"When this is over, we won't look like the same company." I asked why he was upset and he said because his company was always looked upon as leaders and now they would have to  downsize. Let's face it, there are fewer customers in the marketplace and probably more businesses than ever who are chasing these customers. As a country we have never been here before and there's no blueprint for success. Smart business owners will have the guts to look the problems in the eye and say, it's time to move on. The bottom line is the bottom line and that's  pretty much it. I know that doesn't sound revolutionary, but neither does "we're waiting around for them to change" or "I'm waiting for the customer to come back." 

By the way, in case you didn't know it, customers haven't been on vacation. Customers are just apprehensive.  

So how do you change? Change is never easy; in fact, the more you know the less you think you have to change. While times are good many business owners stood waiting for their "payoff." Unfortunately it never really came. In fact, many of those who sold their businesses had to scurry back to reclaim what was left of their failing business. Why did this happen? Most of them sold the business to someone who was like the: running the business the same way. The new owner didn't think about changing either. 

One of the things that happens to owners is what Marshall Goldsmith calls the Paradox of Success: "I have succeeded, I can succeed, I will succeed and I choose to succeed." It reminds me of another powerful expression: "veni, vidi, vici" — I came, I saw, I conquered. Why doesn't it work? Because it's not that simple. What is happening in the marketplace requires a new mindset and can't be conquered by old strategies such as dropping prices or selling cheaper merchandisers. It's too late to try and do it faster and better. It's time to do it differently.

There are some things that might help but ultimately the answers to this problem have not been written.

  • It's time to seriously start talking to your customers. Ask them what do they think about the economy, how has the economy changed their behavior, are they spending the way they did prior to the recession? Everyone I know — even those with good jobs — is apprehensive about spending money. Ask what they're doing to enjoy their lives, probably staying home. This is a good reason to make some changes to the interior.
  • Ask your staff what' they're feeling: if they're apprehensive you can be sure this is influencing their interactions with the customers. It's called "misery loves company" syndrome. It feels good but neither party actually benefits. Coming up with solutions works, suffering together doesn't work.
  • If new customers are scarce, call your old customers. Offer them an incentive to make a purchase or invite them in for a party. We can all use a little fun.
  • Hold a networking party and invite neighboring businesses and past customers. I recently spoke at a networking party in New York City where all types of business people came to make new friends.
  • Meet with other businesses and find out what they're dong to get new customers. Partner with them and hold an event; any kind of event, just bring in customers.

This is the season to be jolly and raise money for your favorite charity; collect toys, coats for kids and adopt a needy family. When your customer gets ready to shop you want to be noted for something other than the lowest price. If you don't do something, you'll be out of sight — and out of mind. 

Remember that one?

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:15+00:00November 9th, 2009|Change, Economy, Reaching the Consumer|2 Comments