Small Fish - Small Business Tips and the Latest News

How to keep customers happy

This is a series of posts about ways to keep your customers happy, both from personal experience and our client's experiences.

Part 1: How to keep your customers happy.

Apparently it costs 5 times as much to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Depending on what you’re reading at the time, it could be more like 8 or even 10 times more. Let’s say 10 – it sounds more dramatic.

So if it costs 10 times more to get a new customer, doesn’t it make sense to ensure that your existing customers are really, really happy?

When you consider that research says around 60% of people say they would pay more for a better customer experience and around 90% said they started doing business with a competitor after a bad customer experience, it makes sense to make sure your customer service is impeccable.

So what does that mean?

People respond to people. Especially in small business, giving your customers the personal touch makes all the difference. I’m not talking taking them for a candlelit dinner for their birthday. Sending a card or text will do. People like to know you’re thinking of them. It makes them feel special and important, which makes them feel more attached to you and your business, and therefore more loyal.

So here is my task for you today:

If you don’t already have one, set up a database NOW with reminders for birthdays or anniversaries you shared with the customer. 

There is a great service we sometimes use, called Sendoutcards. No, they didn't ask me to plug them, but I do use the service sometimes, and you can easily set up beautiful cards to be sent to your clients to say thank you, or wish them a happy birthday. It takes 15 minutes to set up and is quite easy to use.

I’ll be checking to make sure you’ve done it. I’d make a good business coach – strategy, tools, bossiness, and accountability.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

Spark Sessions - Ignite your business

How to make your emails useful

Despite the obvious fact that this is an email and you are reading it now, most of us don't bother reading them.

How many do you get every day?

I get between 50 and 100 emails every day and almost half are stupid bulk emails from people like Groupon offering me cheap towels or something. I unsubscribe often but it seems (mysteriously) not to work....

So I get about 50 that require me to do something or respond somehow. I'm trying to do a days work as well as respond to emails so I have a (sort of) system for them. It goes like this (and I don't think I'm unusual or special):

Is it from someone I know and like or do regular work with?

If so, I'll read it quickly and decide whether to respond immediately or save it for when I'm back at my desk and not trying to type on a mobile phone.

(Sometimes I get to my desk, I forget the email - they drop below the fold and they might as well be gone forever)

Is it interesting or short enough to be dealt with in one go?

Well maybe I'll read it or deal with it while I'm between meetings or having that coffee, then.

Anything else tends to fall into the last category - perhaps I'll read it or deal with it later when I have time. Which is usually not soon.

Now maybe this just illustrates what a retard I am and that I need to rethink my email management (probably something there) but I suspect that email overload applies to a lot of us too.

20% is a good open rate for an email list that is opted in.

So rethink your communicating. If it is important - call them up.

Follow up with a confirmatory email if you need to reinforce something or give them info - they're already past the filter.

And, if your staff think that sending an email absolves them of responsibility for stuff, don't let them get away with it.

Hands up whose email marketing, or even direct email communications, sometimes (often) go unanswered?

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

How to make your team perform better

Last week, Jon gave a leadership talk at the Leadership Summit.  If you've missed it, we've got a free download for you here.

He talks about:
  1. the leadership process and how you can use it in a small business
  2. some recent psychological learning that can help you be a better leader.
  3. three simple things you can start doing right away to help you get your team performing better.
Get motivated on your way to work and listen to it in your car, or just put it on around the house while you're cleaning. You're bound to get some good insight into your leadership ways. 

After you've listened to the download, leave your comments in the comments below and tell us what you thought. We always love to hear your feedback.

Leadership Summit - Jon Dale Guest Speaker on Leadership for Small Business

Jon is talking at the Macro Recruitment Leadership Summit, next week.

Someone reckons he's one of the top 20 leadership experts in the world, which seems unlikely (how do you measure that stuff?).

Anyway, he believes he's got a few interesting observations to make about leading people and how important that is if you are a leader (and you are if you employ people).

He's drawing from leadership training he received when at Optus, from his experience during that time and from his experience as a business coach, where leading is a little more direct and close and real world.

Expect some simplified theory and some real world do-able initiatives for you to take in your business, to make your people perform better.

It's completely free, did we mention that?

So if you want to hear your daily dose of wisdom from Jon and maybe become a better leader, be sure to book your ticket here:

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

My business is killing me - responses and further thoughts

Last weeks musing on whether you should get out of your business before it kills you got some emotional responses.

I won't name anybody (that wouldn't be fair) but one guy has had a rough year or three and is hanging on by the skin of his teeth - selling personal assets to carry the business through until orders start coming in again in a few months.

I can feel his pain as I write this. He even had a business coach (spent $60,000 over 18 months) who failed to foresee the changing markets that made life so hard (that's a whole different conversation, isn't it? - more of that one next time, perhaps)

There's still no easy answer to the problem, either - if he holds on and the deals come through and he gets his (rather interesting-looking business) back on track, I'm sure he'll be pleased and feel vindicated.

If he stops trading or finds a buyer and they make it succeed, he'll always wish he kept going.

And if he sells his last assets and fails anyway, he'll have wasted those too and end up with nothing.

Interestingly, they say that most of our most successful millionaires have been bust twice.....

So what would you do? We are interested to hear your thoughts on a situation like this, so leave your feedback in the comments below, or email them to me.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

My business is killing me, should I sell it?

On when it's time to consider giving a business up, the question is "My business is killing me, should I sell it?"

I'm going to try and answer this question as best I can in writing.

If it really is killing you, then it's time to go. If it's a figurative killing you, then the business and the owner need closer inspection. How bad is it? Are you a bit frustrated and needing to change something or are you at the and of your tether?

Are you burning through what little cash resources you have at an alarming rate? Because if you are then exiting immediately might be best. If you aren't, then you have more time to consider your options - can you recover the situation or is it lost altogether?

The figures are important, of course but so is how you feel. If I was talking to someone really in this position, I'd be trying to understand the depth of their need for change and why they wanted change - money, stress, hating it, burnout, frustration and also, could I see a way to help them be happy there again - is it fixable.

So it's not a simple question and it requires careful consideration for each individual and their business. And anyone in this position should obviously call a business coach and request a free session to consider this very question. :)

Now, I want to hear from you - have you ever felt as though your business was killing you, and you couldn't breathe? What was the decision you chose to go with and how do you feel about it? 

If this is the burning topic of the day, then email me and I can help with some clarity.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

Why Business Coaching Works: Measuring Results

I’m a believer in the power of measurement, which is why it’s one of the important tools that Small Fish uses with clients.

It’s been said that Peter Drucker stated that “What gets measured, gets done,” but it appears that may be stretching his words a little. Nevertheless, I’ve directly experienced the power of measures and metrics in many different contexts.

The business world might have you believe that it’s all about measuring the money – particularly, revenue, margins, and profit. I don’t have a problem with those, but they often don’t give much guidance for day-to-day decisions.

Should your front-line employee give a refund under somewhat questionable circumstances? If they do, revenue and profit will go down in the short term. But revenue and profit might go up in the long term, because that customer is out giving testimonials to their friends.

But the employee isn’t sure, so she’ll seek help from your company policies and guidelines, or her supervisor, or perhaps from you. Maybe that’s one reason why you’re running around addressing a thousand little trivial decisions all day.

You’re frustrated, perhaps. You thought you’d captured this in the employee training, yet you’re still getting these kinds of questions.

Oddly enough, this might just be fixed if you measured the right things. What if:
· You knew that employees understood and internalized the employee training?

· Your employees knew that their personal success was linked more to customer satisfaction than to the daily sales total?

· You made a big deal of every customer-satisfaction success in front of the employees?

These are exactly the kinds of conversations I have with my clients, as we search for the right balance of measures which powerfully represent the goals of the business. Every company is different, because the goals are different.

Just don’t get too many measurements in place. Each one represents work and expense, and having too many sends the message that you’re not focused on anything in particular.

How do you measure your progress towards success in YOUR business?

Carl Dierschow
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins

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My client, Precise Consulting, is growing rapidly and needs a senior laboratory technician or analyst. They are based in Christchurch, near the ski fields and bunjee jumping.

If you know anyone who might be interested in living and working there for a while, please pass this on.

Click here for the job description - Senior Laboratory Technician Analyst

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching

Have you made your business resolutions yet?

For many of you, the festive season signaled a time to assess business performance for the first half of the financial year, and to plan changes that hopefully will deliver you a prosperous new year.

And with all the hype of new year celebrations some of you may have even been tempted to make new year’s resolutions for you and your business!

But can a new year’s resolution represent a viable business strategy? I think the answer is “it depends.”

A new year’s resolution can be defined as “a promise that you make (often to yourself) to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year”.

A more flippant, but probably more accurate, definition is “an assessment of, and often delusional attempt to correct, one's shortcomings…. “

I say more accurate because a recent research study of 3000 people making a new year’s resolution found that, while 52% of participants were confident of success initially, only 12% actually achieved their goal - meaning an overall failure rate of 88%.

A range of other studies relating to new year’s resolutions shows that success increases as the level of accountability increases, especially where that accountability is to another person.

So, while a new year’s resolution is no substitute for a structured, well considered, business planning approach, maybe there is a place for it in the scheme of things.

When might this be? I think when the resolution relates not to working in or on the business, but rather to the owner working on him or her self.

So if you have a burning desire to make a new year’s resolution, maybe something along the following lines might give you a good chance of success:

• undertake a course of education or training to attain specific skills or knowledge you need;

• establish an accountability partner arrangement with a trusted confidant – so you can hold each other accountable for doing the things you know you need to do;

• work with someone who has certain abilities that can help you to improve a specific aspect of your business;

• surround yourself with positive people - people who inspire and motivate you; or

• delegate a specific area of business responsibility and accountability to a member of your team.

But in my view the best possible new year’s resolution would have to be:

• develop and implement (get help if you need it) a well constructed business planning process for the ongoing management of your business.

And if you forgot to make it in January, make it on 1 February, make it on 2 February, or 3 February, or 4 February or ….. You get the idea!

Then, when new year’s day 2015 rolls around, the only new year’s resolution you will need to make will be “to continue to manage my business in line with my business plan”.

Happy new year’s resolution making!

Neil McVicar
Small Fish Business Coaching Coffs Harbour