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Believe in your self to succeed April 28, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, self esteem and success.
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p5130012.jpg Want to improve your chances of success in whatever you do? The Big Dogz know how to do this. They use a systematic approach to improving their self esteem. An unknown author once said:

“Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true”

It is difficult to believe in oneself with all the pressures, competition and criticism we experience every day. The Big Dogz focus on two major aspects of self esteem — self respect and self confidence. Let’s see what we can do to bolster our self respect.

 

Many of us constantly engage in negative self talk. We say things like:

“I can’t do that”

“I am not good at that”

“I am not very talented in that”

 

Sometimes when we make a mistake, we exclaim “What an idiot I am!” This negative self talk has a devastating effect over time. The antidote is positive self talk. When you make a mistake, say “That is not like me.” And when you do really well, exclaim “Now, that is like me!”

 

Another technique to help build your self respect is positive self affirmations. This technique is a favorite of the Big Dogz.  You start by identifying a state you want to be in, and then phrase it in the present tense. Here is an example.

“I am an excellent presenter”

 

Repeat this phrase over and over; for added effect say it out loud while looking in a mirror. You can find out the psychology behind positive self affirmations by using Google. Positive self affirmation is a powerful tool.

 

Building your self confidence is even easier. Every person who is outstanding in their field got there by practice, practice, practice. Yes, it helps to have talent, but each of us can get more from the talent we have. Practice is best done using a coach who is proficient in feedback. Most people believe practice makes perfect. It does not. Feedback makes perfect; practice makes permanent!

 

If you do not have access to an effective coach, you can practice and observe your own results. For better results, consider practice in front of a mirror. If you can not practice in front of a mirror, then use video to capture your practice, and then give your self feedback. The Big Dogz know that practice is the key to high self confidence.

 

Another technique the Big Dogz use is called visualization. Basically, you go to a quiet place, close you eyes and visualize yourself doing the action and achieving the result you want. You can vary the action to see how you would handle surprises or unplanned events. Visualization is a powerful tool for building self confidence. However, it is very difficult and requires commitment and practice. If you want to know more about visualization, Google it. You will find a plethora of successful people who are using this technique. It is worth the effort to become proficient in visualization.

 

Start today to work on your self esteem. Adopt the practices used by the Big Dogz and you too can achieve your dreams.

 

 

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Building a Compelling Business April 25, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Solving Business Problems.
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It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, people need a compelling reason to do business with you.  Webster’s defines the word compelling to mean “having a powerful and irresistable effect”.   Long term business success is built on this one and all-powerful word.  Creating a business that provides people with a compelling reason to do business with you is not easy but also not complex either.

Businesses fail every day for a variety of reasons but the one that seems to burn the brightest is a lack of compelling reasons for people to buy their products or services.  Location means nothing if you don’t have a stable of compelling reasons for people to drop their money there.  Now more than ever, your business needs to be compelling.

Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What am I offering that can compel people to do business with me?  If you can’t answer that question, convincingly, the good news is that you move up from where you are today.
  • What would make someone drive to my store or office, regardless of how close or inconvenient my location may be?
  • What is my most successful competitor doing that compels people to spend their money there?

How do you know if have a ‘compelling’ problem?

  • You struggle to build  foot traffic.
  • Your phone is dead…as in there is no business callining in.
  • Your store traffic can never seem to move higher than what it is today.  You can’t seem to find that next level that will enable you to grow your business.
  • Or, worst case, you’re about ready to give up because you can’t generate enough revenue to make a go of it.

The secret to creating a compelling business model is really no secret at all.  Building a compelling reason for people to do business with you starts with this:

1.  Each morning, before your day begins, ask yourself this:  What can I do today that will create a compelling reason for people to do business with me?

The secret is this: ask yourself that question every day and then be sure to do something about it, every day. Time is the archilles heel of many business owners.  Once the business day begins, all other things seem to take over.  The next delivery crisis, who didn’t show up for work today, or whatever else sucks up our time.

You’re probably asking yourself right now: What is a compelling reason for people to do business with me?

A good and fair question.  However, there is no ‘silver bullet’ here.  There are all kinds of things you could probably think of, many of them written about in this very blog you’re reading now.  I don’t know your business but you do.  Here are some things you can do to help insure you have an answer to the ‘compelling’ question:

  • Start with your own head and think in and out of the box.  Make a list of ways that can help you develop many ‘compelling’ reasons for people to do business with you.
  • Then, without sharing your ideas with anyone else, ask your customers and friends on what you could do that would draw business.  You’d be surprised just how many good ideas you’ll get from people you know but you’d normally never ask.  Especially your customers.  Ask them why they shop or do business with you.
  • Ask your employees for help.  I don’t care if they are well paid or minimum wage earners, everybody can contribute.  “What could we do to create a number of compelling reasons for people to visit our store or buy our services?”
  • Check on your top competitors.  What reasons have they created that compels people to prefer to do business with them?  Is it the best selection? Consistently superior service?  Best prices? Hard to find items? High quality technical expertise?  A 100%, no-questions asked money back guarantee?  Delivering more value for each purchase than everybody else?  Better marketing communications with customers after they leave the store?  Special contests, workshops, seminars, or other regular events to create excitement?

There’s another secret to creating compelling reasons for people to do business with you:  make sure people know about them…don’t keep your compelling reasons a secret.

For the next seven days, ask yourself every morning what you can do to create another compelling reason for people to do business with you.  Do it every day and make it a habit.  Over time you will create a business that is built on a fortress of compelling reasons.  You can take that to the bank.

Take care of yourself first April 22, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Management, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Put your people first. This axiom of leadership has survived the ages. It is generally true and effective leaders make sure their people are taken care of before they attend to their own needs. The Big Dogz know this is not always true! One area where you need to take care of yourself first is in obtaining power in the organization. Without power, you can not get the opportunities and resources your people need and want. So, how do the Big Dogz go about getting power?

 

You create a power acquisition plan. This plan identifies the sources of power in your organization and defines how you will acquire that power. Here is how the Big Dogz create a power plan:

 

  1. Identify who has power — who are the key influencers in the organization. These are not necessarily the same people in the boxes on the organization chart. They are the people that the people in the boxes seek out for advice and counsel.
  2.  

  3. Watch and learn — what are the sources of the power? Is it because they are SME’s? Likeable? Knowledgeable? Connected? Do not judge the sources. Do not ask if it is fair. Just identify it. Ineffective leaders look at how power is allocated in an organization and judge whether it is a valid source of power from their perspective. You do not have power. You’re just observing.
  4.  

  5. Identify how you can acquire the power — can you associate with these people? Read books? Give presentations? Change the way you dress? Once you have identified the sources of power and how to acquire it, the question you must answer is “Do I want to play?” Sometimes it is effective to invent new sources of power like being creative or providing a level of analysis no one else has provided. Look for behaviors that no one else is doing. An example might be to question the boss in a diplomatic way. This technique is especially useful in generating power if the boss reacts in a positive way. Inventing sources of power is risky, but pays huge dividends. The best approach here is to experiment.
  6.  

  7. Start to execute your plan. Get help from those who have power. People who have power know it is effective to share power. By helping you gain power, they get power from you. Remember this principle when you finally get the power you want. Periodically evaluate your power. Are you being more influential? Are you being asked you opinion? Are your people getting the best opportunities?

 

As your power grows, you will see that it will be easier to take care of your people. Taking care of your people will give you even more power. Power is not negative; it is not ruthlessness. It is helping others succeed.

 

Some people think power is associated with a box on an org chart. There is power in those boxes; but power is not always associated with a position. In fact position power is the weakest type of power. Over the next 30 days, develop a power acquisition plan and start getting power. You will help your people and you will help yourself.

 

How Not To Sell Pizza April 15, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Keeping Your Customers, Solving Business Problems.
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Last Friday I went to a local pizza joint near my home to pick up my daughter from a b-day party being held there. Somewhat hungry, I went in to get two slices of pizza. The line was only 3-4 people deep so I found my place in line and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, my turn on the counter. I ask for two slices to go. Sorry, says the lady behind the counter, we don’t have any counter pizza. It’ll be about 10 minutes she says before one is ready. Ok. I’ll wait this out. And wait. And wait. During the waiting period, I wanted to know just what the route causes were of this waiting snafu for two simple pieces of pizza.

I observed pretty much chaos behind the counter. It was certainly near the dinner hour, so I could understand why they were busy. But they just couldn’t seem to keep up. As people came to pick up their phone orders, I hear people behind the counter say things like, “What time did you call?” or “What’s your name again?”. Or they would frantically search for the persons order, unsure of where or what happened to it. Chaos.

So, I waited and waited…10…15 minutes…then I go to the counter. Looking directly at the lady who spoke to me before, I noted that I was simply waiting for two pieces of pizza to go. She looks down at the counter pizza stand, which is still void of pizza, and says, “We don’t have any right now”. She looked at me like she had never laid eyes on me before. Good grief. Game over. I’m out of here. Sell the slices, whenever they get here, to someone else. I’m going outside to chew on some tree bark instead.

All I could keep thinking was, “this place stinks”. Now, they have pretty good pizza, but what I just went through was enough to drive a sane person over the edge. Is this the way to run a business? One woman who saw me standing there told me that she went through the same chaos the week before. Apparently, peak order times are a problem for this business. Fortunately, it isn’t the only game in town. We have other good choices with far less chaos.

Here are a couple of takeaways:

  • Always be ready for prime time. This pizzeria was not running even close to optimal during peak order times. If you’re in the pizza business, you live for these times when orders are streaming in by phone and people are at the counter, etc. This is your business and people expect you to handle the peak times with efficiency, not chaos.
  • Tell customers the truth. Don’t tell a customer that the pizza will be ready in 10 minutes when 20 minutes later there is still no counter pizza still! Perhaps “10 minutes” is the mechanical response. “Can I get a soda?” Response: “Ten minutes.” “Can I use your bathroom?” Response: “Ten minutes.” “I think I’m having a heart attack.” Response: “Ten minutes.”
  • Recognize an opportunity to make things right when you see it. I don’t think it mattered much to the folks at the pizzaria that I walked out and left a customer who will not go back there again. Had they done the right thing and said, “We’re sorry sir to keep you waiting. Have a soda on us.” That would have certainly taken the edge off me. Don’t just ignore the situation (in this case, me) and hope I’ll just go away (like I did).

There’s a very busy pizza place near my office in NJ. They are crunched at lunch time. However, no matter when you show up or how busy it is, you get great service. They almost always have a pizza available on the counter for slices or one is really within a minute of coming out of the oven. In other words, they have long ago figured out how to run their business efficiently. And, their pizza is great too!

Dealing with change April 10, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Dealing with change.
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p5130012.jpg Want an effective strategy for dealing with change? The Big Dogz know how to deal with the constant change that occurs in the business world today. They use the support strategy to shape their reactions to change. Here it is:

 

Regardless of the change, always support it!

 

Now support does not mean you have to follow blindly and implement the change that happens in your organization. To understand this strategy better, let’s take a look at how change happens in business.

 

First some senior manager decides that a change is necessary. Change occurs for these and only these two reasons:

  1. We are not meeting our current objectives.
  2. We are not taking advantage of a new opportunity that we missed.

 

These are the only reasons for change. The first step in the strategy is to find out what is the reason for the change; and the way to find out is to ask.

 

The next step in the change life cycle is the senior manager calls a meeting with trusted colleagues, shareholders and people whose support is critical. You are probably not invited to this meeting! The people at this meeting can provide alternatives, do analysis, complain, gripe and many other actions. Once the meeting is over, a decision is made. This is where you come in — the implementation.

 

You have only two choices — support or not support. Support means you do everything you can to implement the changes and that you collect data to show the change is achieving its objective or it is not. If it is not, you present this data to your manager in private. Not support means you drag your feet, whine, complain and even sabotage the effort. What is the impact to you for choosing your reaction to the change?

 

There are two types of change — those changes that are good for the business and those changes that are bad for the business. Let’s look at how you benefit or are damaged by supporting or not supporting the change.

 

Good change, you support — You are viewed as a team player, someone who can be counted upon and actually you are pretty smart. Your personal power rises. The probability that you would be invited to the next meeting rises.

 

Bad change, you support — You are viewed exactly as above. In addition, if you have been collecting data and offered that data upwards, in private, you may be the reason this change is reversed. The added benefit to you is that you are perceived as a hero.

 

Good change, you do not support — You are viewed as a loser. You can not be counted upon to help management make the necessary changes to the company. Your personal power drops and you can forget about being invited to the next meeting. You are considered expendable.

 

Bad change, you do not support — At first glance this appears to be positive. After all, you were right about this change being stupid and not in the best interest of the company. In fact you went around telling everyone why it was stupid. Now, every change that fails needs someone to blame. You are the most convenient candidate. After all, we could have made this work if you had gotten behind it.

 

If you go back and read the 4 situations above, it is obvious that the only strategy that yields positive results for you is to support.

 

The Big Dogs understand the impact of their action. They get behind change initiatives and do all they can to make it happen. If they have data that shows this change is not good for the business, they share it privately.

 

How are you reacting to change? Over the next 30 days, identify some change that is happening in your company and figure out how you can demonstrate support for that change.

 

 

Get what you want April 4, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Getting what you want, Keeping Organized, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  How would you like to get what you want? The Big Dogz know how to do that. They use a three step model to get what they want.

 

If you look at successful people, you can see some common characteristics like passion, vision, persistence, courage and preparation. Regardless of the characteristics you acquire or even demonstrate; there are three steps that you must follow if you want to get what you want.

 

1. Have a plan

Clearly articulating what you want and how to get it is the key step. Whenever I get the opportunity to speak in front of a group, I always ask them “Who knows what they want out of life?’ Almost every hand goes up. “How many of you know how to get that?” generally results in all the hands dropping. If you don’t know how to get what you want, talk with people who have already gotten it! Do what they did.

 

The more clearly you can define want you want, the more likely you are to get it. Use all your senses to visualize it. What will it look like? How will I feel when I get it? How will it sound when people tell me about it? Next identify what steps are necessary to get what you want.

 

2. Write it down

Keeping your plan in your head is a surefire way to lose focus. By documenting your plan, you reinforce the acquiring of your goals through the physical act of writing. Using a keyboard is almost as effective, but not as powerful. Doing both seems to add to the probability of achieving your goals.

 

The more detailed your plan and action scenarios, the more powerful they become. Be specific in what you will do, when you will do it and how it will benefit you. Review this document with a trusted advisor. Get and incorporate suggestions on how to get what you want.

 

3. Review your plan at least quarterly

Hold a quarterly status meeting where you review what you have accomplished. Check your goals to make sure you still want them. Modify action plans to direct your energy towards your goals. Here are three questions you might want to ask yourself at these status meetings:

 

  • What have I accomplished since my last status update?
  • What do I plan on accomplishing before the next status update?
  • What challenges am I facing and what am I doing about them?

 

If you are not making sufficient progress, set up more frequent reviews. After each review, rewrite your goals and action plans to reinforce your commitment to achieving them. Either physically write them or keyboard them into a computer. Using Copy and Paste is not effective!

 

This sounds like a lot of work. It is! The Big Dogz know that if they follow these three steps they can have anything they want.

 

Over the next 30 days, start to put together your goals and written plans. Set up a status meeting for 30 days and hold yourself accountable.

 

Beating A Recession – 3 April 3, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Uncategorized.
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dirksphoto.jpgOne of the most common things you’ll hear business people say during a recession is that business is bad because customers are ‘cutting back’ or ‘tightening their belts’. I recently heard one business owner complain that people weren’t buying their higher margin goods because they were opting for the lesser-priced items.  Or you’ll hear that business is off because of gas prices and customers not wanting to drive to their store.  All true and a reality of the economy we’re now settling into.

In my book, there are only two ways to beat a recession:  1) go on the offensive and 2) control what you can control and don’t worry about those things that you can’t control. You can’t cut gas prices, can you?  You can’t make the economy grow over night, right?

Here are a few ways you can go on the offensive:

•    Get and stay close to your customers.  From a marketing and sales perspective, this is a huge, almost untapped business opportunity.  Building a loyal following of customers that will buy from you through all seasons starts with knowing who they are.  It also means knowing how to contact them.  There are plenty of software programs on the market that allow you to input basic customer data.  Not computer literate?  No problem.  Get yourself some 3 x 5 cards and capture your customer’s information the old fashioned way.  It still works.

I can think of countless businesses that I’ve patronized over my lifetime in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere that barely bothered to ask me my name.  Think about it.  How many businesses do you buy from that never send you a simple newsletter, note, or card to inform you of some event at the store or a new service?  Only the top performers who do well in any economy.

Every customer that walks through your door or calls you is a 3 x 5 card opportunity.  Stay in touch with your customers and get to know them.

•    Change your product & pricing strategy.  Don’t complain about customers not buying your higher margin products during a recession.  The answer to that is to create more ‘recession priced’ goods and services to offer your budget conscious customers.  For example, a florist could find and create event packages that are both attractive but sensibly priced.  Are your margins going to shrink a bit?  Sure they are but you’re in a recession right?  Your task is to sell more of the lower margin items to make up for the loss in the higher profit items or services.  Sell ‘recession’ focused customers value priced products and services.  Go on the offensive.

•    Know your financials cold.  This is a marketing & sales column but I’d be remiss if I didn’t add this.  The best business model in the world will still fail if the owner doesn’t understand things like managing cash flow or what the contributing profit margin is for the various products and services they sell.  If you don’t, get a good CPA and get this right.

•    Create other ways for customers to access your products.  I know of a local store that has a great customer following both locally and nationally but its location is not at all optimal.  The price of gas has definitely impacted their business in a negative way.  One solution, however, is right in front of them.  They have a great, well traveled website that is chock full of high-quality content for their customers.  Guess what?  They never took the next step and extended their site to include selling their products.  If they had built a sales channel through their website, they may have been able to counterpunch the reduced walk-in traffic in their store.

Want a great example of a store that has remote locations but has grown its business nationally through their website sales?  Go to http://www.vanns.com.