take your foot off the brake

Take Your Foot Off the Brake!

About once a week, I see a driver on the freeway with their foot on the brake. They’ll drive for miles with the brake lights on. Everyone around them sees the brake lights, but they are oblivious to the drag they are creating.

It’s easy to have your foot on the brake in business. It can show up as risk aversion, being comfortable or not bringing something new to your customers. Others will notice and it will impact your business. If this is you, it is time to take your foot off the brake!

Check out my new book, Leading the High-Performing Company. You’ll find more tips about how to lead your organization to new heights.

strength and flexibility

Do your customers notice when you put your B team out front?

The fall season has started. It always seems like a long time between the last ballet and the start of the new season. So, I was excited for the upcoming opening. The reviews were mixed from friends who saw it ahead of me. Like many, I have my favorites and was hoping to see them in lead roles. Not only did I not see my favorites, but none of the principal dancers were in lead roles. A few danced in portions of the ballet, but in lesser roles.

At my performance, we had the B team. The soloists. They are good, solid dancers. Someday, they may even be great. But, today there is an element missing that makes you go “wow” when you see them dance. And you could hear it in the audience reaction. The applause was nice, but not what you hear when you see greatness. Even without specific knowledge of ballet, you know great when you see it.

The thing is, people notice when the B team is out front. They may not know it is the B team, but they will know the experience is not to the level it could be. Is that the experience you want for your customers?

Check out my new book, Leading the High-Performing Company. You’ll find more tips about how to lead your organization to new heights.

creating a raving fan

The Tamale Lady

She stands outside of the store with a cooler full of warm tamales. The handwritten, cardboard sign lists the three or four types she has available for sale. And just in case you don’t see her, she politely says “tamales” to passersby. Her tamales are fantastic—and her customers rave about them! It had been a while since I saw her, but there she was last week. Her price had increased since the last time I saw her. As I paid her, she handed me a business card along with the package of tamales. She now provides tamales for parties.

What a smart lady! The store sells tamales for more and they don’t taste as good as hers. She realized she could increase her pricing without impacting her sales. And she is expanding into large orders based on requests from customers. Understanding the market and customer interests is at the core of any business. How well do you understand yours?

when better isn't better

When Better Isn’t Better

My dog’s favorite toys are her blankets. She has a pile of them she drags through the house, creating new piles for playing and sleeping. The flattened piles don’t look like the best bed, so when I was at Costco, I got her a fluffy new bed. It looks great and should be way better than the pile of blankets. Apparently she doesn’t think so. She sleeps on the pile of blankets next to her brand new bed. I think the new bed is better, but clearly she doesn’t.

This is a classic lesson in business. As a leader, it doesn’t matter if you think it is better. Your people, your customers, your investors and the community must think it is better too. You may need to demonstrate why it is better if it isn’t readily apparent. People will change their behaviors when they are better off. So, if you want people to do something different, understand what they believe is better. What is stopping you from getting started?

Check out my new book, Leading the High-Performing Company. You’ll find more ideas about how to lead your business to new heights.

what is language telling you?

Are you listening to language?

Last week, I was speaking with a local contractor. His day had been upended by one of his people injuring himself. The individual will be fine, but getting there required spending the day in the hospital. The conversation ended with “accidents happen.”

I was horrified. He told me through his language that he doesn’t have a safety program. People will continue to be hurt because they don’t focus on how to prevent accidents from happening.

People say a lot through the words and phrases they use. You’ll find a lot about why your business is operating the way it is. Are you listening?

does your business act with integrity?

A simple repair of a costly one? That’s when integrity arises

Last week, I was driving home at 7:30 pm when a rock hit my windshield, leaving a chip. By morning, it had feathered leaving a crack about 3 inches long. That happened before and was able to be fixed. So, I went to the place that fixed it before and was told I needed to replace the windshield. Another business was able to get me in right away and fix the crack and chip in 15 minutes. The woman at the front desk was fantastic. Upbeat, polite and helpful. They were honest and had integrity dealing with me. The experience was great and I’ll definitely go back. Which business would you patronize? Do you run your business the same way?

the sunk cost dilemma

The Sunk Cost Dilemma

Last week I called “customer service” to resolve an a billing error. It should have been a very simple fix. I thought I’d be on the phone for no more than 10 minutes. An hour later and 4people, the issue was resolved, kind of. I was mad I wasted an hour of time on such a small issue. Once I was on the phone, I didn’t want to hang up as I was transferred from person to person. I had already invested a lot of time. Surely, the issue would be resolved in a few minutes. It was the classic sunk cost dilemma.

In business, we keep investing in products, services, capital, facilities, etc. because we think it will just take a little more time and money to achieve the results we want. But sometimes continued investment is not worth it. There comes a point when you are just throwing good money after bad. That is when you need to recognize the costs are sunk and should not be the reason to continue investing.

Do you have a method for evaluating whether continued investment is warranted? How do you get out of the sunk cost dilemma?

what surprises are lurking in your business

What Surprises Are Lurking In Your Business?

Summer means road construction in the Pacific Northwest. In preparation, the transportation department placed electronic signs along the road indicating when night paving would start. Then one day, the sign flashed HELLO. Clearly, a prankster was having fun. But the sign no longer communicated an important message.

Change happens all of the time in business, sometimes in unexpected ways. And when that happens, leaders may be unaware of what is actually going on in their business. How do you ensure what you intend to happen in your business is actually happening?

thank you

Are you saying thank you enough?

I recently sent a note of thanks to a woman who was instrumental to the success of an event I attended. She spends a lot of time behind the scenes making sure that people have a wonderful experience. I noticed and shared with her how much I appreciated what she did. Her response was lovely—and surprising. Based on what she said, it doesn’t appear she hears thank you for all of the good work she does.

A sincere thank you with the specifics of what you appreciate can go a long way. It can make a person’s day, week or month. How can you thank someone today?

what is your customer experience?

Is Your Customer Experience Driving People to Your Competitors?

Over the weekend, I went to a brick and mortar store to buy a few things for an upcoming event. Of the four items I was looking for, the shelves were empty for two and they only had two (of six needed) of the third item. At a second store, the results were the same. They were out of stock of two of the items. In both cases, the people suggested I look online, but not necessarily at their store.

But here’s the thing: There is no way to capture sales that don’t happen because you are out of stock. And, when you tell people to shop elsewhere, they will.

The lessons from this time of disruption in the retail industry are important to observe and to learn from. Too often people are using Amazon’s dominance as an excuse for a poor customer experience. Website problems, out of stock inventory, and long delivery times are just a few examples of poor customer experience. And when not addressed, the business will go out of business.

Do you know how your customer experience stacks up? What actions can you today to improve your customer experience?