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Power up your P/T ratio May 25, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Management.
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p5130012.jpg Want to drive up your P/T ratio? Management is about getting things done through people. An effective measure of management success is the P/T ratio. Here is a quick summary of the P/T ratio — P represents the people activity you are engaged in, and T represents the Task activity. See my previous post on the P/T ratio to understand the basics. As part of focusing on their P/T ratio, the Big Dogs keep a daily log of where they are making an impact. For an effective first level manager, the P/T ratio is between 1.0 and 2.0; as you advance up the management ladder, the higher your P/T ratio.

 

The first step in powering up your P/T ratio is to do more delegating of your T activities. For sensitive T activities like your budget, cultivate one of your direct reports in the skill of budgets. This is one of my favorite T activities to delegate. Find the most technical person on your staff, show them your budget and turn them loose. Make sure you put controls in place so you can validate the work being done. It is amazing how much time and money can be saved by letting your direct reports do your budget. Another  big T that you can delegate is planning. Put together your goals, a strategy statement and then let your direct reports work as a team to create your plans. This approach has dual benefits. It offloads a big T for you and creates commitment amongst your staff on the plans because the plans are theirs! Now let’s focus on more P activity.

 

A huge P you can focus on is rewards. It is incredible the impact giving rewards can have on your people. Create a list of possible rewards for each of your direct reports. Just to get you started, get a copy of 1001 ways to Reward People by Bob Nelson. Think about rewards you have been given and how you felt about it; and then think about rewards you saw others get and you would have liked to receive. Create a list for each person — customized for them. Make it a priority to give 10 rewards a week; that is just 2 a day, and a huge impact on  P. People love working for managers that give rewards. They will do extraordinary things for you.

 

Next, focus on development. In general, most people are looking for ways to enhance their skill set or to become more effective at what they currently do. Look for opportunities to get highly visible work assignments for your people. Get them in front of the decision makers. When it comes time for promotions or organizational recognition, your people will be in the minds of those decision makers. A great “double dipper” P activity is to send your people to meetings to represent you. Give them the power to make decisions in your place. It creates a development opportunity while off loading even more T activity. As an added bonus, this activity also increases the personal power of the person you send.

 

So, like the Big Dogs, get on top of your P/T ratio Take a few minutes right now to make a list of what you could do to power up your  P/T ratio.

 

Increasing Revenues & Profits: Podcast May 23, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Big Dogz Podcasts.
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This is our first BigDogz Podcast! In this podcast, Dave discusses the marketing/sales concept of less is more. It’s all about narrowing your marketing and sales efforts on focusing only on attracting your most profitable customer groups to help you stabilize and grow your revenues and profits.

BigDogzPodcast1

You Are Not A Graphic Artist May 20, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Creating Marketing Materials.
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If I have a great marketing idea, should I also be the one to do  the creative for it too?  NO.  NO.  NO.  Too often I’ve seen great marketing ideas go kaput because the same person who took the time to think up the idea was also playing creative director or graphic artist.  Look, as a business owner you’ll come up with all kinds of good ideas to market and promote your business.  Here’s the catch:  You shouldn’t do the creative (i.e. create the mailer, packaging, business card, brochure, catalog, etc.) for anything unless you have done it professionally in your previous career.

All to often I’ll see a marketing piece and cringe when I see it.  It’s usually awful.  Spacing, use of colors, crazy fonts, dreadful copy, and this list goes on and on.

As a marketing professional, I can conceive of the marketing campaign and put it together but the designing of the creative materials I leave to the professionals.  You might be the cook, bottlwasher, owner, and marketing genius but you’re not a creative professional who knows how to take your goals and objectives for a marketing piece and create several professional looking variations.

Why do business owners decide they can be creative directors at the same time?  I’m not sure but it’s probably a variation of control freak, ego, and being too cheap to have someone locally do the creative work.

My advice: stick to what you know.  Have a great marketing idea?  Great.  Put the plan together and then do the right thing: hire a graphic artist who has a reputation for creating high quality work at a reasonable price.  The Big Dogz spend the money to make sure they have every chance for success when they send out any marketing material to a current or potential customer.

Don’t cheap out.  Spend a few bucks and do it right.

Team basics May 16, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Team basics, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Want extraordinary results? Create a team! The Big Dogs use teams to solve their most difficult problems. Teams can be used to increase profits, improve employee engagement and to raise morale. Let’s look at what makes a team.

 

Most people think a team is a group of people, working together, for a common goal. The Big Dogs know there is one more element to making a group a team. That element is dependency. For a team to exist there must be a dependency that is acknowledged and committed to. Knowing the dependency exists is not enough — there must be a tacit acknowledgment and a firm commitment to the dependency.

 

Think of a group of mountain climbers who are roped together. Now that is a visible, acknowledged and committed to dependency. If you are to have a team that will create extraordinary results, then you must learn about dependency.

 

The Big Dogs also know that there are five principles that must be adhered to for a group to become a team. Here they are:

 

  1. Differences make a difference. In strong teams the people on the team come from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. It is not necessary that the people look different. It is necessary that they think different.
  2. Everyone contributes. Everyone on the team performs a significant function that is recognized as significant by the others on the team. People not only need to belong to groups, they need to contribute to those groups. There are no slackers on teams.
  3. Share information. In order to keep everyone up to date and to build trust, people on teams communicate all the information they know to each other. There is no information hoarding. When a team member is behind in their tasks, they ask for help. When they are ahead, they volunteer to help others. No secrets and no cliques are the rule.
  4. Trust is everything. People on teams make and keep their agreements. There are no games where I say one thing and do another. Your word is your most important currency on a team. If the trust is violated, all chance of teamwork diminishes. Commitments are not made lightly.
  5. Belief in achieving the extraordinary. Every member of the team believes it is possible for the team to achieve its goal. That goal is perceived as worthy of effort and will in some way distinguish the team from all other groups. Everyone is excited about and focused on achieving the goal.

 

Do you want to have extraordinary teams in your organization? Do what the Big Dogs do; create dependency into your group and follow these five principles.

 

Increasing Deli Foot Traffic in a Declining Market May 15, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Solving Business Problems.
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In the building I work in, there is a nice little deli that serves breakfast and lunch.  While they have the advantage of being a monopoly service business within the building, the also suffer from the not-so-infrequent moves of tenants.  Right now, the building tenant situation is that they are losing tenants and therefore, a good chunk of their existing deli customer base.  Having talked with them, the deli owners have taken a big hit in their daily revenues. 

So what did they do to counter this sales trend?  First, they reduced expenses wherever possible.  They reduced staffing to the size necessary to adequately service the current flow of business.  This is a good and basic counter to lower revenues.  Then, in order to stabilize revenues they did the next worst thing:  dramatically raised prices on common items.  The prices of coffee, soda, and other commonly purchased items have been raised by 50% to 75%.  Like no one would notice! 

Why is that the wrong policy?  Well, they weren’t underpriced to begin with.  They were always considered a bit more expensive than the deli you’d have to drive 5 minutes to from the office.  Premium pricing was their deal…why not…they have a monopoly in the building, right?  Not so fast bucko.  The remaining customer base that has always frequented the deli notice right way.  When a bottle of flavored water goes from 1.50 to 2.00 overnight, people notice.  I’ve talk to a bunch of folks here that have decided not to frequent the deli anymore.  The deli owners have reached what I call the maximum elasticity of their pricing…they have gone over the line in trying to desperately stabilize their revenues in the face of significantly lower foot traffic. 

So, what could they do differently to stabilize their revenues?  Three things come to mind for this posting: 

1) Reach out to the many who do not frequent their deli or don’t use it at all.  Never assume you have 100% market penetration.  In this case, there are still several hundred people in this building.  My guess is that only a small percentage actually use the deli on a regular basis…less now with more tenants moving out or reducing headcounts.  This calls for creating a compelling reason for folks to venture out of their cubes and come to the deli.  Outside of being the only deli in the building  and having high prices on everything, there’s not much to compel the brown-bagger to come in and buy a sandwich once a week.  Once they have created some compelling reasons for people to visit them, then the task is to insure you have ways to communicate those compelling reasons. 

2) Stop the price increases.  Making your remaining customer base pay for your lack of foot traffic is not a winning strategy.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that in the long run, the higher they raise their prices…the less revenue they’ll get.  In stead of keeping customers, they’ll drive them away.  It’s cheaper to go down to the local grocery store and buy in bulk what you need for drinks, snacks, etc. if you don’t want to pay those ridiculous prices. 

Raising prices in the face of dwindling foot traffic and sales is the easiest and dumbest thing you can do.  It’s like hitting the panic button without realizing that there is still plenty of business to mine from the area.  In this case, there are plenty of people still here in the building to more than make up for what sales they have lost.

3)  Now’s a good time to start a simple customer loyalty program.  How about a card that gets punched everytime you make a purchase over $5?  Or get 10 coffee’s on your punch card and get a free (you fill in the blank)? 

Using Trial Offers to Combat Slower Sales May 5, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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I’m starting to hear the budget wheels moving…only to tighten. You don’t have to listen too hard to find many business folks rumbling about smaller budgets…budget cuts and the like. And they are hearing it from their own customer base. Even if customers are good financial condition, the smart ones pull back on spending when times get tougher.

One way to combat the budget constraints and general purchasing wariness, especially on high ticket products or services, is to offer customers a trial offer. You see the trial offer used all the time in cases where the product purchase is significant.

A trial offer does several things:

  • Gets wary customers interested in testing your product without the risk of purchasing first.
  • Trial offers attract interest and can spread via word of mouth…especially if your product does what it says it does.
  • A trial offer acts as a way to strengthen your reputation by virtue of the fact that you are putting it all on the line during the trial. A trial offer says, “hey, don’t take our word for how good the product or service is…you make up your own mind.”
  • Builds sales where you would have none before. If a customer is in need of your product or service and the trail meets or exceeds their expectations, nine times out of ten, you’ve earned a sale.

Like the 100% no-questions-asked money back guarantee, the trial offer builds consumer confidence and sales.