Small Fish - Small Business Tips and the Latest News

Is Discounting Really The Best Option?

Don't DiscountEverywhere I look I see perfectly respectable businesses tarting themselves out with slashed down prices like cheap hookers. Some of my favourite places are offering me prices so low I (almost) feel a little dirty for buying from them.

Sales have their place in the world of business. Moving excess stock after peek periods or getting rid of those old lines to bring in new products are perfectly respectable. What amazes me are the retailers offering substantial discounts on new stock. Advertising of sale stock has always been used to lure in the bargain hunter who then (hopefully) would be swayed into taking a heap of full price stock with them. Why then are some businesses marking down prices on everything?

Next time you get out the red marker pen and start pimping out your product at well below retail think about the following:

Will you customers still respect you when the discounting stops? Probably not, they will assume you were ripping them blind to begin with.

Example –I like one particular clothing chain (not naming any names but if you ever see me in the street you can check my tags). Their stock (all of it!) is on sale at least one week out of every five. So what is a girl to do? Wait till sale week of course! The strange thing is they still insist on under servicing and over staffing.

Are you cheapening your brand? Your target market may disappear and you may attract a whole new market that you never wanted in the first place.

Example – A local restaurant that I dine at regularly started offering 50% off meals and $12.50 steaks. Previously a large portion of their sales came from wine, now it doesn’t. What changed? Their clientele changed! Where once they attracted a younger crowd who loved a glass (or five) of chardy with their dinner, they now have families flooding in for a cheap feed. Guess who can’t drink gallons of booze on a weeknight? Mums and dads, that’s who! Guess who doesn’t want to sit in a restaurant with screaming (but I am sure lovely) kids? Me, and the rest of the “its fine to drink excessively during the week” crowd!

So what are the options?

  1. Sharpen up your customer service! Know your product, know your customer and know how to provide exceptional service.
  2. Consider a value add instead of discounting. A glass of house red with a full priced meal would have avoided luring in the wrong customer (and gotten the right customer tipsy enough to splash out on a fancy bottle of red).
  3. Reward those who shop with you regularly. Provide a “members only” promotion or a rewards system that lets your regulars know you appreciate them.
  4. Keep in contact….constantly! Databases are gold mines when sales are down. It is easier to sell to your existing customers than to constantly look for new ones. Don’t underestimate the power of regular newsletters, social media or just a good old-fashioned phone call! If you have never bothered to start one, now is the time regardless of the industry you are in (and poke yourself in the eye, you deserve it for not starting one when times were good!)

So now you may be reading this thinking “this girl has no clue what we are going through! Well think again! I too have ruined relationships with great customers by discounting new product lines and have attracted the wrong customer with cheap stock. It took a lot of hard work to regain the ground lost. Don’t make the same mistake!

Melanie Miller
Small Fish Business Coaching Gold Coast

Are You Ready For A Coaching Challenge?

We recently surveyed* our small business clients and found that two of the things that people find challenging about working with a business coach are:

  1. Finding the time to get the work done, and
  2. Dealing with the way their business changes.

So as a business owner, how can you make the most of getting a business coach to work with you on your business?

Firstly, make sure that you find the time to take yourself out of the day-to-day of running your business and focus on the activities that result from the coaching. It is simply not going to work if the only times you spend working “on” your business are the times when you are with your coach!

Secondly, be prepared for your business to change. This means being open minded, and being prepared to face and to make decisions – some of which can be tough ones! Remember - the very essence of business coaching is about changing your business.

A business coach will be able to help you with both of these points; however the ultimate responsibility for how much you and your business will get from your coach rests with you!

If you are ready for the challenge – why not book yourself in for a Free Coaching Session!

*More outcomes from the Small Fish Business Coaching 2010 Customer Survey can be found here.

Kristian Reiss
Small Fish Business Coaching Perth

9 Ways to Improve Your Sales - A Lesson from Beaurepaires

With small business doing it tough these days it pays to get back to the basics.

Here’s how I was given a lesson on marketing, sales and a touch of classy customer service this week by Beaurepaires Burwood.

It started with a thought...and ended in 4 new tyres.

I decided since I had an hour free I would get a quote for new tyres for my car before a well meaning member of the Victoria police decided they would force the issue by adding to the state coffers. It’s one of those jobs you keep putting off because ....well.... you know it’s going to hurt the hip pocket.

In my local area I have two main tyre suppliers just a block away from each other, so off I went to get two quotes (as you do).

I remembered a while ago my wife had taken her car in to the local Beaurepairs for a simple puncture repair (a $20 sale) and they were really helpful so my first thought was to call in there – after all there was a bit of a relationship already.

Lesson 1: Be excellent on even tiny sales -you never know where they may go and they start your business relationships.

I pulled into Beaurepaires Burwood store. Great location – right on the corner with space to park in the driveway.

Lesson 2: Make sure you are where your customers can easily find you.

Walking in to the shop I was greeted by two smiling shop assistants who were busy on the computer at the time but quickly stopped what they were doing and stood up to see to me.

“A quote? No problem, let me out come and have a look”. Anthony quickly diagnosed what I already knew.... 4 new tyres all round.

Lesson 3: Focus on the customer – they are the most important person in the store at the time.

I explained that the tyres I had on the car seemed very hard and was that normal? Straight away he took me over to a pile of tyres and pulled one down off the shelf and pointed out the features of how great they were. – “These have just come off the truck -here.....feel they have a soft lining – these will be great on your car and fix the hardness problem."

Lesson 4: Know your product, listen to your customer, and provide a SOLUTION and let them feel like them own it.

“No problem, sounds good– but how much?”. I was still in the “I want a quote” mode.

“Well today we just happen to have a Buy 4 -get 1 free that’s 25% off so I can do a really good deal for you”.

Lesson 5: Make the price attractive (not cheap – these are $250 tyres here!) the customer must perceive it to be value for money.

“And – I can fit them today! Can you leave your car with us?”. Anthony even offered to drop my keys in the letterbox because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to pick the car up before closing time. How good was that? Anthony certainly wasn’t going to let me go off and get that second quote.

Lesson 6: Make it easy for your customer to do business with you.

So there I was standing in the shop with all the barriers to buying removed and a fantastic offer on the table. What else could I say?

Wait... there’s more:-

“And by the way – for an extra $7.50 a tyre we can give you extra protection so if any tyre is destroyed or damaged during its lifetime for any reason we’ll replace if free. (Conditions apply I’m sure).

“Great! - I’ll take that”....

Lesson 7: Upsell Upsell!!- If the margin on a $250 tyre was say 30% (I’m guessing here) the profit would have been $75.00. By getting an extra $7.50 out of me per tyre with no extra cost to the business the profit suddenly became $82.50. Now the gross margin is 33%!!! Straight to the bottom line!

I am pleased to report I am extremely happy with my new tyres and marvel at the way the whole transaction was handled. Well done Beaurepaires Burwood, here are the 9 things I learned from your business this week.

  1. Start your business relationships early no matter how small

  2. Position yourself where your customers can find you

  3. Focus on your customer, they are your most valuable asset at the time

  4. Know your products features and benefits

  5. Listen to your customer’s pain points and provide SOLUTIONS to them

  6. Help your customer feel like they already own your product before they buy

  7. Make it easy for you customer to deal with you

  8. Find something you can add to the sale without adding to your cost

  9. Provide excellent customer service

A real life lesson written by:

Steve Eastwood
Small Fish Business Coaching Melbourne

Jon Survived the CEO Sleepout

Jon Dale CEO SleepoutI did it, I slept outside (sort of) with a group of equally self-righteous CEO types and we all felt good about the small contribution we made to the plight of people who are in such dire straits that they don't have a place to live. We raised some money and thank you to those who donated. I raised $1785 and my friend Matt raised $20 less so, as you can imagine, I'm feeling a bit smug.

I learned a couple of interesting things and I thought I would share.

  1. Anyone can become homeless, even business owners. Often some disaster triggers a chain of events that ends in a shitty situation for someone. It's often injury or a car accident.
  2. It could happen to any one of us - they said we are only 3 pays from it ourselves (unless you have the right insurance, of course)
  3. Sleeping rough isn't much fun. Despite the common view that they are a bunch of lazy bludgers, sleeping outside in the cold is crappy and not having somewhere to go home to is horrible. I don't think many would be doing it out of choice.
So there you go. St Vinnies help homeless people get back on their feet and that's often all it takes to help them become functioning members of society again.

Donate here

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

The Principle of Reciprocation

The principle of reciprocation says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. By virtue of the reciprocity rule, then, we are obligated to the future repayment of gifts, invitations, and the like.

Simple example: When you are invited to dinner at a friend’s home, you then feel obligated to return the favour, don’t you? And for many, this obligation weights heavily until it is repaid.

In a sales situation, customers and prospects feel obligated to say “yes” to those they owe.

Knowing this, savvy salespeople perform unexpected acts of kindness up-front; they give of their time, knowledge and occasionally product and service samples.

Guess what this does?

It obligates the other party to reciprocate.

The principle possesses awesome strength, often producing a “yes” response to a request that, except for the existing feeling of obligation/indebtedness, would have been refused.

Simple example: If you want to generate referrals from a customer, first, give a referral!

Bald Fact:
Create a sense of obligation, and you’ll make more sales. A fact that has been proven in the business community when business operators found that, after accepting a gift, customers were willing to purchase products and services they would otherwise have declined.

Looked at in this light, the apparent random, unexpected act of generosity might be regarded as a powerful marketing method that will generate future sales.

Nigel Hobbs
Small Fish Business Coaching Manly

Somethings Fishy at the MyBiz Expo in Melbourne

If you’re going to be in Melbourne on Thursday 16th or Friday 17th June, you can meet some of the Small Fish team in person at the MyBiz Expo.

The Expo promises to be a fantastic networking event, with the opportunity to meet many people and gather some valuable and useful information that can help you in your business.

We would love the opportunity to meet with you too, to talk about your business. Could your business be more profitable? Is your business and the environment it operates within changing? Does the business leave you with enough time to enjoy your success? Are you in control of your business, or is it the other way around?

Speaking with a business coach in person is a great way to discuss these things, and to find out whether a business coach might be able to benefit you and your business.

Alternatively, you might be considering becoming a business coach yourself. Being a business coach is not for everyone. It is hard work, but very rewarding as you get to work with and help a broad range of people in business.

Come down and talk with the team to find out first-hand what being a business coach is all about. This is also a fantastic opportunity to discover the benefits joining forces with Small Fish!

The MyBiz Expo is being held at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre from Thursday 16th to Friday 17th June, and Small Fish will be at Stand 30. To find out more, and to preregister, click here.

Regards from The Small Fish Business Coaching Team

News Flash: "Optimism - The Predictor of Life and Business Success"

Business stuck in the bog? Seems to spinning its wheels, the occasional hard revving is followed by no movement forward? Then it may be time to change something and maybe that something is you!

Ask yourself do you agree or disagree with the following questions:

  1. I have control over the things that happen to me and my business.
  2. There are lots I can do to solve some of the problems I have.
  3. There is a lot I can do to change many of the important things in my life.
  4. I often feel helpless in dealing with the problems of life.
  5. I like to think about things.
  6. Sometimes I feel that I am being pushed around by competitors and the economy.
  7. What happens to me in the future mostly depends on me.
  8. I can do just about anything I really set my mind to do.
  9. I still expect much from my business.
  10. I exercise and take time out each week for me, my friends and family
  11. I do not look forward to what lies ahead for me in the years to come.
  12. I am still full of plans.
  13. I often feel that my business life is full of promises.
  14. I am glad the quiz did not end at 13 as that would discourage me in taking the quiz.

Now to score the answers (agree or disagree). To see what it means for you and your business you will need to contact me directly and there is significant rationale lying behind this requirement. You can do this by email or by phone. Mondays are best.

The Psychological research is in; the key to progress is a mental approach with deep roots in optimism. The optimistic business people make fast progress against formidable odds.

What we are talking about is not the odd motivated, sunny emotional day but a profound approach to all of life’s problems.

Look for yourself at those who are achieving business success and find a pessimist amongst them.

Still in doubt? Well have a look at the hard data published this week by Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of Positive Psychology. He concentrates on such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions.

Dr Seligman’s research at the University Of Pennsylvania is based on empirical peer reviewed psychological studies from which the following hypotheses can be posed (thoughts added by me are not, therefore they are italicized for easy dismissal)

Optimists take actions and are more successful than others. Pessimists think a lot, go to seminars to secure the missing bit of knowledge they are sure will make all the difference, eat junk food, don’t exercise, and help the health and fitness industry become rich by joining gyms and then never attending. Pessimists are an empty vessel into which failure decants. 

Optimists believe that their actions matter, whereas pessimists believe they are helpless and nothing they do will matter. Pessimists want the answer to the above quiz now and will not take the requested action to secure it. They just know they are about to be scammed. Optimists try, while pessimists lapse into passive helplessness. Optimists therefore act on good advice readily and will take risks to get what they want.

Optimists may take better care of themselves.

Even more generally, people with high life satisfaction (which correlates highly with optimism) are much more likely to diet, not to smoke, and to exercise regularly than people with lower life satisfaction.

Optimists take action to avoid bad events, whereas pessimists are passive and accepting.

Optimists have more friends and a richer social and business life. The more friends and the more love in your life, the less illness. Happy people have richer social and business networks than unhappy people, and social connectedness contributes to a lack of disability as we age. Misery may love company, but company does not love misery, and the ensuing loneliness of pessimists may be a path to illness.

So by now if you are a pessimist with a business you will have stopped reading somewhere above, if not then maybe you have a chance. The good news it is relatively easy and inexpensive to become optimistic and if you take the requested action I am willing to assist you in transitioning from pessimist to optimist. Although for most, pessimism has just kicked in again and you will do nothing. That’s the vicious circle you are trapped in.

I love Burl Ives, we have much in common (beard -check, folk singer - check, rotund- check, kind exterior with fiery heart- check) so I offer you this little ditty as a place to start .It is sound and invaluable small business advice. Put this song into your toolbox, I call it “The Business Coaching Song – Small Fish way."

Hear from you soon.

Seamus O’Brien
Small Fish Business Coaching Illawarra
0414 241 010

Picking A Business Coach

Picking A Business CoachFrom a recent article I wrote, I hoped to give some clarity between the role of a Business Coach and a Consultant.
If you have now decided that your business needs the help and expertise of a Business Coach, here are a few points to ask or consider prior to selecting one. There are many coaches and coaching options available in the market and considering coaching is not cheap, it is important to ensure that you select carefully.

Some good starting points to consider when approaching or if approached by a Coach:

  • How will you work with my company and team? I.e. what value will you add?
  • What is your business experience?
  • What accreditation, experience or training do you have to be a coach?
  • Do you have any testimonials or referees I can find out more about you from?
  • Have you had any previous work within a system of business development?
  • What kind of support do you have from your coaching company and how can it help my business?
  • How big is your network of support?
  • What’s the track record of your results or record of business experience?

If the prospective person is ticking all the boxes in this area, then some more points to consider when looking at them as a person could include the following:

  • Have they defined the difference between coaching and consultant?
  • Do they ask good questions to you?
  • Will they hold you accountable?
  • Are they honest about how you will work together?
  • Do they put you and your business needs first, or just simply being a salesman to sell you a service/ product?
  • Are they someone who you can feel comfortable working with?
  • Are they nice?

The relationship between you, your business and a business coach is one that should be long lasting and beneficial to you and your business and the results. It is critical that you choose carefully. Should you wish to ‘check out’ your Small Fish Business Coach, arrange a Free Coaching session with any of our coaches!

Good luck!

Tony Ozanne
Small Fish Business Coaching Canberra

Vinnies CEO Sleepout

Even though Jon’s not really a CEO, only a director and a business coach (because we don’t believe in awarding ourselves fancy titles), he’s doing the CEO Sleepout to support Vinnies. Jon is going to sleep outdoors on the 16th of June without the benefit of warming alcohol (as it's forbidden), to experience what it’s like to be homeless and, of course, to raise money.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to donate to Vinnie’s and give Jon a pat on the back for supporting a cause to help homeless people. It seems that being homeless is not much fun rather than the easy life that some of us imagine. When Jon gets back, he’ll let you know how it was.

Click here to donate on Vinnie’s website.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay