I recently posted this on my facebook page and caused quite a stir, so I thought I would share here along with some further insights from the comments…
“When your mentor/consultant/guru has only ever made money selling to businesses in your industry (instead of actually running one and selling to customers), you may be taking the wrong marketing advice. No matter how well-known and respected someone is in a particular industry, you need to know where their knowledge came from and if it is proven or just sounds good.”
“People tend to listen to what they WANT to hear. It is basic human psychology and validates their beliefs. ”
Are you guilty of only listening to what you want to hear? Are you guilty of listening to false prophets? Step back, evaluate, and seek the right advice. It is always cheaper in the long run.
A few months ago my inner circle members got to hear from Keith Lee author of ” How to Out Nordstrom, Nordstrom” and “The Happy Customer Handbook”. We learned tons of things to implement to provide a better customer experience and how that impacts the bottom line.
While it probably comes as no surprise, the US Government has just given me the exact opposite experience… specifically, the postal service. I had just prepared a shipment to my members and have several boxes to send our priority mail (after paying a couple hundred dollars in postage). One of the reasons I chose to ship postal service over UPS or FedEx was their relatively good print and ship interface and free carrier pickup.
So I prepped the order, requested pickup for the next day, and left them outside our entry door. At the end of the pickup day I got an email saying “This email confirms that a Package Pickup was attempted, but was unsuccessful. Package Pickup was not completed because the package(s) were not available for pickup.”
Funny since they were in the exact place I selected and wrote explicit instructions for. Even have them on my security cameras sitting there since the day before. So I called my operations manager to see if he knew anything. He indicated that the post office called him and told him they would not pick them up inside and they have no way to contact our carrier as they don’t know the cellphone number (a lie I am sure). If we wanted them picked up, we had to put them outside in the rain by the mailbox.
What? Only option is to put them outside in the rain? Seriously? They will not set foot inside the building (multi unit building with common hallways). Every other delivery person in the world does. Someone from my office ending up having the drive all the packages to the post office (costing time and money).
It is stupidity like this that causes the post office to continue to lose money and be the governments largest welfare program. This would not be tolerated in private enterprise or small business. From now on, if it doesn’t fit in the blue box, it ain’t being shipped with the postal service. My companies alone spend about $5,000 per year on postage for mailings. If I had a better choice, I would use it. Instead, I encourage you to support businesses that understand service and make sure that you are giving it to your customers. If you don’t nothing I teach you about marketing is going to help your business. It will only hasten your demise (unless of course you work for the government).[end rant] Justin Miller
I promised earlier this week to share my experience with the banking industry. The short story is there is major need for a shake-up and to wake up the banks. I know there is a lot of red tape in the industry but it is antiquated and not working well.
I was recently setting up a new business checking account and had 3 requirements…
1. Little/No Fees
2. Mobile check deposit
3. Decent ATM network (optional)
I tried first supporting local banks. Dug through 5-10 websites, even had to call some to ask about mobile deposit (you won’t believe how many STILL don’t have this). I finally thought I had a winner at a local credit union named “Vibrant.” Seemed to fit my requirements and is close to my office.
I walked in and what looked like the reception desk seemed to be closed (not sure if it is ever open or someone was out to lunch). Sign said go to teller window so I did. I was asked to take a seat in the lobby and someone would be with me. I watched a line grow at the teller window and was thinking I would never be stopping in to bank and wait in that line.
I sat, and sat and sat. About 5 employees had glass offices. 3 were with customers and two were not. One was well within view so I could tell she was not on the phone or with anyone. I sat 15-20 minutes and walked out.
2 open employees, not cross-trained on opening new accounts (this bank has heavy incentives for accounts and spends a fortune on marketing), nobody willing to drop an asynchronous task to bring in a new customer. I will not support a bank with that kind of stupidity going on.
Others I called and their phone systems put me into loops or dropped the call. I finally went searching for the big guys for an online bank with a true website application. I settled on Capital One. Application process was smooth until finished. It was then complicated by the fact I have a personal credit card open there and I had to call a couple times and their “system was down” asking me to call back. I asked if they could call me back and the answer was “no this call center is inbound only.”
The lesson is service matters. A local business should have easily had my business by providing superior service. They did not. The money they spend on tv ads, mailers, and marketing are all wasted if the right process is not in place when someone comes with money in hand. They are operating what I like to call the “sales prevention department.”
You need to make sure your business does not have this department. It costs a fortune to run.
Profit 911 Consulting
Yesterday I shared with you about our great experience at Disney and I promised to share my experience at the IAAPA tradeshow.
First some background, this show is HUGE. With likely 10,000+ attendees and hundreds of vendors. The attendees vary in type of business greatly. That being said, we only walked the massive show floor on the last day of the show (Friday). The show had been running for several days prior to that. My aim in attending is to see what’s new, bring ideas from outside my immediate industry back to my company, and purchase anything that catches my eye as a profitable offering.
After lunch Friday, we walked through the outside exhibit display and came across a neat interactive display. The sign said to sign waiver first so we found the vendor’s table. One guy working, sitting laid back in his chair, on his phone. There was a stack of signed waivers on the table and a pen. I asked him if I could try the product out and could not believe the response. Something along the lines of “no, we are about close up soon. I would show it to someone that was seriously interested in buying at this point but that’s about it.” I’m not sure what part of “buyer” and “management” on my badge (within his immediate industry he is selling to) said there is no chance of a sale. This guy was “done” with the show. I thanked him, said that he had made a bad assumption, and walked off.
Let’s put this into prospective. He has likely spent $10,000+ to exhibit at this show. He assumed everyone had already been by that was serious. He had given up. I assure you there were buyers with money in hand still ready to spend at that point. I get it, he was tired. He assumed by my age and possibly attire I was not a sales lead. He likely did the same dumb thing many times that afternoon. I am guessing $10K to $20k in last sales do to his own attitude.
How many times do you exhibit at a bridal show or trade show? Do you tear down early? Do you assume everyone has gone through before the show is over? Would you stay 10 minutes late and talk to a sales lead? Do you assume someone can or cannot afford you by their attire? Assumptions are a killer for sales. Always assume the best. Anything less is counterproductive and worthy of the “sales prevention department” title, which you don’t want in your company.
Profit 911 Consulting
I just got back from Orlando along with a couple of staff members and got a chance to spend a night and day at Disney World. Disney is known for customer service oriented employees and for the most part, this is exactly what we experienced. I should preface this by letting you know that one of my employees that was with has worked for a major US amusement park chain and was floored by the difference between the Disney experience and the parks he has worked at and visited.
A couple examples come to mind on Friday night when we were at Hollywood Studios. First off, my buddy kept commenting on how the employees all seemed to actually enjoy their jobs, follow procedures as they were supposed to, and smiled while doing it. They did not seem in a hurry to get home (even when it was pouring rain at 11pm on Saturday night). When we were having difficulties figuring out the fast pass system and how to link all out tickets etc, we decided to approach someone working at the fast pass entrance to the Rock and Roller Coaster. She answered questions, helped setup the app on our cellphone, and once done granted us access to the fast pass entrance immediately without us asking. Very impressive and “would never” happen at the other park chain according to my friend.
The second experience that comes to mind was when we were leaving the Tower of Terror and headed toward the exit as it was past park closing. One of the workers on the street stopped us and let us know that the Rock and Roller Coaster was going to be open late if we wanted to go ride it. Wow. Couldn’t believe someone went out of their way to let us know. We asked another employee at the ride why it was open late and the response was that it was down for maintenance for 30 min earlier so they are keeping it open 30 min past park close. I have never experienced that at another park. More like “park is closed…. go home!”
Disney had a way of making three random patrons feel like VIPs and have a great time and they didn’t even know it. I assure you though that they work extremely hard on that experience and train heavily along with hiring the right people to start with. What does the experience look and feel like in your business?
Profit 911 Consulting
P.S. Tomorrow I will share with you the exact opposite experience I had with a vendor on the trade show floor at IAAPA (the real reason we were in Florida). If you ever exhibit at trade show or bridal show, this will be a must read for you.
A lot of my tips involve strategy for getting new customers but that is not always the best use of your time. This is only assuming you have done all you can to keep your existing customers loyal first.
The initial acquisition of the client is one of the most expensive parts of your business, but keeping a customer happy should be very cheap in comparison.
I just encountered the exact opposite last week which will illustrate the point.
In my event business, we have fuel accounts and cards with BP and Shell and have them accessible for our staff driving company vehicles. At some point BP snuck one by me and “upgraded” our card to one bearing the MasterCard logo. Actually, they made it so we have two open accounts. This caused confusion for the bookkeeper for several months until we actually figured out what was going on and pulled the MC branded ones out of service. The next month, we received at statement for $3 with a “misc fee” charged by them.
After a few phone calls it was established that this was a paper statement fee and disclosed in some fine print somewhere. No problem, I offered to switch to e-statements and asked them to credit the fee back to me as a courtesy. Well, no go. The customer service agent held firm to the $3 fee and wouldn’t budge. No problem, I paid the $3, closed both accounts, and have banned my staff from using BP stations.
I was kind on the phone and $3 would have kept me as a customer. I actually have the research that is costs around $80 to acquire a new charge customer. Do the math. A dumb company with dumb policies, and careless customer service reps lost my account and more importantly cost the marketing department $80 to replace me.
Seriously, focus on your current client experience first before you seek massive growth in your own business. It is the cheapest thing you can do, the quickest to fix and the most profitable.
Profit 911 Consulting
I admit it. I can’t go on vacation without thinking about business and business lessons. My vacation last week was my first experience flying with JetBlue and honestly I didn’t know what to expect. The airline seemed to have good review but is still considered a “low cost” carrier. So I had mixed thoughts about them.
We booked our airfare and hotel as a package through their website and that was easy enough. Then, I kept reading about upgrading seats but there was no way to do it without calling. First lesson, there should be a way to do it online. Anyhow, I called to get pricing and info. Call was answered almost immediately by a very friendly employee who was happy to help me. Customer service was great… lesson number 2.
At this point the expectation was set that my call would be answered quick by someone friendly and knowledgeable. I actually had to call two more times and that was the case both times. Kudos to JetBlue to setting and meeting the expectation.
Check-in at airport was pretty normal. I would suggest they have a VIP line to the counter for upgraded passengers or available to pay for. Used first class security line with quick results. Boarding was painless and seating area for upgraded seats was huge (and well worth it for a 4-5 hour flight). In-flight there were free movies, free drinks, and free snacks….. definitely a surprise for a low cost airline. (By the way 75% of the upgraded seats were unsold. Great for me bad for JetBlue. They need to do a better job of selling them.)
On the return flight, longer counter line at airport but still acceptable. The plane had issues with several of the TVs which was quite disappointing since my expectations for the airline were now quite high. My wife was able to switch seats to a working one but this should have been proactively addressed.
Overall the experience was quite pleasant and I would recommend the airline. The main lesson we need to look at is how client expectations are set. You need to exceed your customers expectations which can be difficult when you are not sure what they are to begin with. They come from reviews, your advertising materials, their own first hand experience, and a boatload of other places. Always over-deliver on what you personally promise and remember that once you do, a new expectation is now set. This means you have to continually improve in order to keep your customers thrilled and get new referrals from them. This never ends. Always move forward and you shall be rewarded.
Profit 911 Consulting
P.S. The big announcement comes tomorrow (for those of you with photo booth businesses).
The world provides plenty of examples of doing things the wrong way and here is just one more. American Home Shield and Sear’s Appliance Repair.
As some of you know, my wife and I bought a house and moved about five months ago. The seller insisted upon including a home warranty from American Home Shield. I already know this plan was garbage but they insisted. As a side note, usually it is real estate agents selling this for a commission as a side profit center. This was a FSBO so there was no reason for it at all as it provided no additional value to me.
Anyhow, it was included in the sale and the dishwasher broke shortly afterwards. Great, I now know I am going to have to deal with idiots. May 22nd, I submit a repair request online and they assign Sears Home Services to come out. Around May 30th they come out and are unable to reproduce the problem. I call Sears back when it occurs again (60 day warranty from them on repair). 2 hour phone call while they try to get authorization from AHS to come back again.
We eventually get a return scheduled for Aug 10th between 8-12. I work from home that morning and at 11 they call to say it will be between 2-4pm (after wasting my morning). I tell them no, identify the problem and parts they need and they agree to order them.
Parts are overnighted and arrive Wednesday. No contact from Sear’s. I text service tech with no response. Yesterday, I gave up and put the part in myself. In the afternoon I get a robocall to confirm my appointment for today 9/2 (3 weeks later). So here I sit waiting for the repair tech so I can tell them I fixed the damn thing for them and sign off on it.
To recap, 14 weeks and 3 service visits for a simple one part repair. Don’t deal with these crap companies and learn from their lack of service. By the way, there is a $75 co-pay of sorts and the part would have cost me $135 (remember I am even the one that had to research and diagnose it). Never again.
To succeed and grow you can pretty much do the opposite of what you see everyone else doing. It is a great first step and strategy. The masses are usually wrong.
P.S. Last chance to register for tomorrow’s training:
How to recruit, hire, and train an event staff!
Register here: http://events.profit911.biz/
Here is some of what we will cover:
The best place to recruit knowledgeable stafft!
How to test their skills before hiring
How to interview for effectiveness
How to train and bring newbies up to speed as quickly as possible.
How to weed out the problem employees
When to fire and when to retrain.
… and more.