Appreciation is the easiest way to win more business

Whether you want to sell more to the clients you already have or create new ones, the quickest way to building a relationship is showing appreciation. When people feel like you go above and beyond, they will remember you – and they may even tell their friends. It’s about building loyalty and connection, not just email blasts and general communication.

It’s easy to show appreciation and it doesn’t even have to cut into your profits – in fact, you may be really surprised how this helps you win business and reach new clients. Start small if it seems overwhelming and try a couple of these on clients and see if it helps build the relationship and open up more opportunities.

Here are a few easy, inexpensive ways to show appreciation:

  1. Hand-written note. Even though snail mail may seem outdated, no one can resist a card or letter that is hand-written. It shows them you thought enough of them to take a few minutes to gather a paper and pen and think out what you wanted to write. This all takes time and let’s your clients know you think they are special since you might not be able to do this for everyone. Make it a goal to write at least one a week. Keep thank you cards, envelopes and stamps handy so you can do this spontaneously as you think of someone who needs a little appreciation.
  2. Post about them or their business on your social sites. If you work with other businesses, often a token of appreciation is sharing their story or good reviews on your social media. This costs you nothing and offers them a chance to get in front of a new audience which is always a great bonus for them.
  3. Host a customer appreciation event. This doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner or big event. This could be a coffee break meeting in the morning at your office – the important thing is that you offer some value. You can invite them to try your new product, to learn something valuable, to meet the founder or developers of a product to give feedback or learn something, or create a fun event with activities and games. It all depends on your audience and what they like.
  4. Send birthday cards. If you are in a business where you would have their birthdays, (or if in business, their business anniversary) send them a card to celebrate. A friend of mine swears she won’t change insurance companies because sometimes his birthday card is the only one she gets in the mail. That’s the loyalty these simple acts of appreciation can build.
  5. Congratulate them on successes. Follow your clients on all their social channels and you can even set up a Google Alert (https://www.google.com/alerts) in case they are mentioned on new websites or news stories. Then send them a personal email congratulating them on their success. (And you can also use this to stay updated in areas they may need more of your services.)
  6. Invite just a select few to beta test anything new you might have up your sleeve. Tell them because they know the brand so well, you’d love to offer this new product, service or offering for free. The bonus is that you then get your favorite people to be the first to offer reviews and testimonials and if they are your favorite clients, chances are they are going to give great marketing material for promoting it.
  7. Create a valuable informative space for only your VIP clients. Maybe this is a place where they can log in and ask questions, or maybe it’s just a private Facebook group, but the idea is that they get access to valuable information and/or resources that you don’t just offer to anyone.
  8. Pre-event invites. Create a group of people that get personal emails from you before you release registration for an event. Let them know you wanted to ensure they had the chance first to grab a seat before they are even available to purchase – and give them a reason you think it will help them specifically. This should be copy and paste text, people can feel that and it doesn’t feel authentic. Customize it somewhat to get the real appreciative feel to it.
  9. Give a book you’ve gotten value from to someone who may need it. Books are a great way to show appreciation and offering value (if it is related to your business relationship) – and often we have a ton of them sitting around. If you were impacted by something you read, someone else may need it now. Send it to them and say you thought they may get some value from it.
  10. Send a charitable donation in the name of your clients. Make sure the organization will let them know or send them a card to mark the donation in their honor.
  11. Offer them something a little extra once in a while. If you have the time or the resources, instead of spinning complex strategies for marketing, try reaching out and offering them something a little over the top right now. Would a free upgrade work? Maybe adding on a bonus to their order would give them an unexpected surprise or reaching out on the phone, even though the extra support wasn’t in the package, would keep them as a client for a longer period of time.
  12. Send cards. Many business owners are concerned about sending specific holiday cards because they want to embrace the many different religions and don’t want to offend. In light of this, many don’t send one at all. One idea to combat this is to send a card on an unexpected holiday – like International Customer Appreciation Day (April 18 by the way) or a day that is related to your business.
  13. Thank clients for their feedback specifically – especially the not so positive ones. The more challenging feedback is an opportunity to improve and connect with a client. If a problem that has been brought up by a client has been addressed, connect with them to let them know how they were able to help you improve. When they feel like they have impact on your offerings, they will feel connected to it as well.
  14. Send a small gift or gift certificate. Maybe you can’t just take your client for coffee because they are located in different locations. Send a gift card to give them a coffee break (and maybe get on Zoom and share a coffee that way). Small gifts always brighten a person’s day and will get them associating those good feelings with you and your business.

These are simple, low-investment ways you can try each day to show your clients how much you really appreciate their business and are top of your mind. They’ll feel important and you’ll build more trust and success. It’s a win-win!

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Mission Statements: Why do you exist? Why does your business exist?

If you’ve ever worked for or bought something from a business, you’ve probably realized they all have one thing in common: a mission statement. Mission statements are critical to the success of a business. They provide purpose and direction for the business and offer insight into the values and ethics that are significant to the company.

A personal mission statement is similar to a corporate one, but according to Steven Covey (the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), it is about “defining the personal, moral and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself.”

Crafting a personal mission statement is an act of self-discovery. It can help you better define who you are, what you want, and what you stand for. In times of failure or doubt, your personal mission statement can help you refocus and realign with what’s important to you.

If you’d like to write a personal mission statement, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Examine the lives of others. Who are your role-models? What is it about the way they live(d) their life that resonates with you?
  2. Identify and review your past successes, both personal and professional. Are there any common themes among them? These themes will help you determine what’s important to you.
  3. List your core values. Include attributes you believe best identify who you are. Once you have completed your list, select two or three that are most important to you.
  4. Identify how you can make a difference. How will you help the world? Your community? Your employer? Your family?
  5. Review your goals. Consider your priorities and what your desired “end-game” looks like. Make sure all of your goals are SMART:
  6. Write your mission statement. Review all of your answers to the above questions and create a purposeful statement that captures your essence.

Writing your personal mission statement on paper makes it real. Review it regularly and let it inspire you to live the life you want.

If you have any questions, contact me.

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The First Step to Effective Leadership is Leading Ourselves

We often think of leadership in the confines of providing direction; defining goals, developing a strategy, and achieving results; and helping others be their best professional selves.

What about our best selves? What about directing our own life?

As a leader, it is critical to encourage and motivate others, but it’s equally important to inspire and motivate yourself. Personal leadership strategies can help you plot life’s course, so you end up where you want to be on a multitude of levels – personally, professionally, financially, creatively, etc.

In Building Personal Leadership, Joe Farcht defines personal leadership as “the ability and desire to crystallize your thinking and to establish a specific direction and destination for your own life. It includes the courage, choice, and commitment to move in that direction by taking committed and determined action to acquire, accomplish, or become whatever you visualize for your future.”

The benefits of personal leadership are boundless and will help you both personally and professionally.

First, those with well-developed self leadership skills have better insight into how their behavior impacts results. Imagine you are a corporate lawyer using legal jargon to explain the ramifications of a recent lawsuit to a room full of executives. You may find that a few people in the room have trouble following your explanation. A lawyer with more adept personal leadership skills will notice this lapse and use more common language.

Second, they are committed and driven. Sometimes your goals will be met with ease and other times you may face, what seem like, insurmountable obstacles. Great leaders find a way to keep going.

Finally, they are actionable and productive. They understand the importance of a task and work hard to see it through. Idle hands are the devil’s playground.

So how can you improve and nurture your personal development skills?

Be accountable.

Accountability is at the core of personal leadership. Set your goals, make a plan to get there, and STICK TO THE PLAN. You are the leader of your own life, whether your personal development skills are good or bad. Only you can decide where you end up.

Practice personal reflection.

Examine how your actions have impacted people, projects, and results.

Manage your time.

Develop successful time management, so you can achieve more in less time.

Maintain a leader’s mindset.

Project a positive, confident attitude that supports action.

Be a life-long learner.

Don’t ever stop learning new things. These will help you as you navigate your plan to a successful you.

What is your first step to personal leadership?

It may be the Leader’s Mastermind. The Mastermind allows you to meet with leaders like you, discuss your business and learn from an expert. Learn more here.

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Perform a SWOT Analysis NOW, rather than later!

The challenge faced by all businesses is delivering the client a product or service he or she values and doing so better than the competition. To meet this challenge, a business or firm must examine its operations and set meaningful goals based on its current environment and financial position. A SWOT analysis is an excellent tool that will enable you to capitalize on the areas where you shine and improve aspects where you fall behind.

If you’re really looking to gain a stronghold in your industry, don’t stop at examining your own business – look at your competitors too. Performing a SWOT analysis on them can provide you with a competitive edge, because you will learn how your company can set itself apart.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT Analysis is an integral component of the strategic planning process that examines a business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Using this method, you can:

  • Gain insight into potential challenges and limitations that may face your company as you move forward;
  • Capitalize on your strengths; and
  • Develop business goals and strategies to achieve them.

Below is an overview of the four SWOT categories:

Strengths
Strengths are the areas in which your company or firm is well versed and they determine your overall success. They may be intangible qualities your employees embody, like dedication and determination, or the capabilities of the business itself, including legal expertise, financial resources, social media planning, product design or customer service.

Weaknesses
Weaknesses, on the other hand, hinder a business’s productivity and ability to accomplish its mission, making it difficult to succeed and grow. Weaknesses are factors that do not meet organizational standards. They may include depreciating machinery, poor planning and decision-making, lack of resources, high employee turnover, and debt. In order to turn your weaknesses into strengths, you will first need to identify them. A SWOT analysis will not only help you recognize your weaknesses, but can help you create a strategy to alleviate them.

Opportunities
Opportunities frequently present themselves; it’s a matter of recognizing them when they appear. To exploit opportunities, you must examine industry, environment, and market and execute a strategy to achieve profitability. Existing opportunities may include developing or taking advantage of new technology, the failure of a competitor, or utilizing existing resources that have yet to be explored.

Threats
Threats are uncontrollable circumstances that endanger the success and profitability of a company or firm. Examples include: unrest amongst employees, competition, decline in profits, and drastic changes in technology.

Benefits of a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT is a multi-level analysis that will provide valuable information about your busness or firm from a variety of angles. You may be able to identify threats that were initially unknown, such as the launch of a competing product or impending new government regulations. Recognizing weaknesses, like the lack of a social media plan, may suggest the need to hire a coach/consultant and develop a plan. Everything you ascertain from this analysis can be used to conduct strategic planning and other competitive studies.

A SWOT analysis can help you:

Improve Operations
Identifying weaknesses is the most critical area that must be improved upon before the business can succeed. Continuous improvement is key if you want to stay ahead of your competitors. Utilize your weaknesses as a learning experience and positively apply what you learned as you move forward.

Discover Opportunities
In order to grow, you must continuously seek out new opportunities, whether it is new talent, customers or products. Performing a SWOT analysis will help you pinpoint emerging opportunities that need to be jumped on now and forecast potential breaks down the road.

Foster Collaboration
Through an open exchange of dialogue, a SWOT analysis will enable your employees to share information in several functional areas where they would otherwise not collaborate. Using their first-hand experience and insight, you can make changes in your organization that will drive results.

Competitive Analysis
By performing a SWOT analysis on your three primary competitors, you can gain a better understanding of how to position yourself in the market, attack your competitors’ weaknesses with your strengths, and avoid areas where they have an extreme advantage over you. This analysis will demonstrate that even the most successful companies have weaknesses that can be subjugated.

SWOT Analyses provide outstanding insight into the ins and outs of your company or firm and are incredibly advantageous to any company, small business, non-profit or individual who is looking to cultivate success.

If you’re ready to thoroughly evaluate your business and your competitors, pushing the boundaries of your success even further, contact By George Coaching at 215.738.5289 or gford@bygeorgecoaching.com.

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What’s Your One Thing?

Every single person on Earth has 168 hours in a week; so how come some people accomplish so much and others so little?

It’s simple: prioritization.

Those who accomplish more examine all the things on their plate – from responding to emails to designing a PowerPoint for a big presentation to developing and implementing a 5-year marketing plan – and distinguish which items are urgent and/or important, and which ones are not.

The average person spends a majority of their time working on projects that don’t add value. They’re bombarded with emails, phone calls, and people knocking on the door to ask about their weekend.

In his book The One Thing, real estate mogul, Gary Keller (of Keller-William) not only discusses prioritization techniques, but also dives into the value of simplifying your workload by focusing on the one most important task in any given project.

We all like to think we can multi-task, but how can we put 100% effort into a critical project, if we’re simultaneously devoting 30% of our attention to more menial tasks. So, with that in mind: what is the one thing that, if completed, would make your life easier and/or eliminate other unnecessary work?

Perhaps you thought of it right away. Or maybe you need some time to figure it out. If it’s the latter, utilize the Eisenhower Decision Matrix (aka Urgent-Important Matrix) to help you prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. The four quadrants are:

  • Important and Urgent – Crises and Emergencies
  • Important but Not Urgent – Prevention, Planning, and Improvement
  • Not Important but Urgent – Interruptions and Busy Work
  • Not Important and Not Urgent – Time Wasters

Once you’ve filled out the matrix, examine the tasks that are in Quadrant 4… and stop doing them immediately. They’re time-wasters and you have more important things to do right now. Look at all the things in Quadrant 3 and stop doing them too… although it will be difficult because it requires saying no to people.

Now turn your attention to Quadrant 2 – the not urgent, but important box. We should spend most of our time in this quadrant, but because of emergencies and interruptions we rarely cross anything off this list. However, it’s important to get these items accomplished because it can lead to a clearer vision and fewer crisis situations. Which one of these tasks do you want to focus on? What is your one thing?

Keller argues the best approach to accomplishing that one thing is the Pomodoro technique, which prescribes dedicating blocks of time to working on and finishing a project. Time blocking simply means you are making an appointment with yourself in order to finish a specific task or project. Benefits of time blocking include:

  • Effectively and efficiently organizing your time;
  • Helping you focus on the task at hand; and
  • Minimizing distractions.

Keller recommends blocking four hours a day for each project until it’s completed. That may sound extreme to some, but he believes it’s the only way to get things done.

Here are some tips to start time blocking:

  • Evaluate how long the project will take to complete and set up goals or milestones to accomplish by a certain date;
  • Schedule planning time to reflect on how things are going and determine if you need to reevaluate any aspects;
  • Use a visual calendar tool to carve out your time blocks;
  • Use different color codes so your calendar is easy to read;
  • Schedule breaks. To start it is recommended that you work productively for 25 minutes and then take a break for five; as you get more proficient at time blocking, you can increase the length of work time and break time accordingly;
  • Use a timer to stay on task for the designated time period;
  • Limit activities that will distract you; Close Outlook, log out of Facebook, turn down the radio and just concentrate on the task at hand;
  • If you work in an office, notify others you will not be available during your scheduled time blocks;
  • Keep working until the time block is over, even if you finished early. Use it as time to review your work and make any edits.

Have you used the decision matrix or time blocking techniques to help you prioritize tasks and accomplish results? What did you like about these methods? Have you tried any others?

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4 Steps to Creating a New Habit

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Your daily habits ultimately form the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray in both your personal and professional life.

But what if you want to improve? What if you want to form new habits? How would you go about it?

First:   HABITS CAN BE CHANGED.
The most important part of habit formation is having the mental energy needed to commit to the new habits. We cannot change habits if we do not truly believe that they can be changed.  Here are 4 steps to creating a new habit:

Identify “Why” and Where to Begin

Start with one habit that you desperately want to change or create. Remember to consider the long-term consequences should you continue in this bad habit or putting off creating a new one. The step that many people skip when they think about building a certain habit is they never clearly answer why they want the change to occur.

Why is creating this new habit important to you?


What do you do daily that could remind you to add your new habit to one of your daily routines?

Get dressed?  Go to the coffee pot?  Go to your computer?…

Think of a reminder or trigger that will tell your brain to add your new habit to the something you do every day.  Start by picking a regular part of your schedule and then building another “link in the chain” by adding a new habit. For instance:

Instead of: I will check my e-mails before beginning my work each day
You could change your habits to:  Before  I check my emails each day, I will reach out to five people I would like to stay in touch with on a regular basis to build our relationship before checking my e-mails.

Track your Behavior

On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact!   This means you may need some help staying on task.  How long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. The best place to start is to create a plan and write down

Reward Yourself!

We all need rewards, regular rewards that are positive feedback for adding our new habit. Put these into your plan, along with the milestones at which you’ll receive them. Repeat the same action enough times and it becomes a habit.

In general, you’ll find that these four steps fit almost any habit in life and in business. The specifics, however, may take some work. Remember: Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process. Don’t let failure and guilt stop you. They’re just obstacles, but they can be overcome.


Georganne Ford is the owner of By George Coaching/Consulting, a Bucks County based leadership and personal development coach accredited through the Coach Training Institute. To learn more about Georganne or her services, visitwww.bygeorgecoaching.com  or call 215-738-5289.

 

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How to Manage Difficult Conversations

Conversation

A difficult conversation is a conversation where we have to manage our emotions and information in a sensitive way. We may need to address personality clashes, or deal with personal problems, or address poor performance, conduct, or investigate complaints.

Most people dislike delivering bad news in person and will find any way to avoid it but these conversations should NOT be avoided. Yes, it is difficult to meet with someone and give them a message that may upset them, hurt them, or disappoint them. However, avoiding these conversations can make the situation even worse. The longer we wait, the more it can affect our workplace environment, our productivity, or our home life.


The Dilemma of the Difficult Conversation:

• If we avoid the problem, we feel taken advantage of
• Our feelings fester
• We feel like a coward
• We lose an opportunity to improve things
• If we confront the problem, things may get worse

(taken from the book notes Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most Stone, D., Patton, B., & Heen, S)

The good news is that there are some very practical steps you can take to help you handle these conversations better and, where it’s possible, obtain the outcomes you want.

Start by facing the problem and preparing:

1. It is important to set a positive tone going into the meeting and clarify the purpose of the conversation.

Get yourself in a place where you can really listen, so you will hear how the other person sees the situation. Make a strong effort to keep your own emotions in check. Meetings like this can easily become emotionally-charged.

2. The meeting should be fact-based.

If the emotional levels rise at the meeting, you may decide to request to schedule another meeting at a later date. If meeting with an employee, you should be able to outline your expectations and explain how they are missing the mark. Performance reviews are a way to evaluate if certain goals or objectives are being met.

3. Keep the attention on the purpose of the meeting and ask open ended questions.

This allows for more of an invitation for them to answer than a request, “Help me to understand…, Tell me more about…, How are you feeling about all of this…,”. Allow them the space not to answer. If the answers are not clear, you may want to keep digging. Note: Sometimes the most skillful question can provoke defensiveness. Give the person a choice if they want to answer the questions to show your intent to be more caring. This frees the person to think about the question. Acknowledge their feelings and paraphrase for clarity.

4. Ask the person what suggestions they have to resolve the situation.

Suggest what you think the other person could do and then schedule a follow up meeting. Thank the person for talking with you. Offer why it is important to resolve this conflict.

Having the necessary soft skills to navigate difficult conversations at work or home helps everyone!


Georganne Ford is the owner of By George Coaching/Consulting, a Bucks County based leadership and personal development coach accredited through the Coach Training Institute. To learn more about Georganne or her services, visitwww.bygeorgecoaching.com  or call 215-738-5289.

Posted in Business/Leadership Coaching, Conversations, Small Business Development | Leave a comment