Top

HSCS-006 – Controlling Chaos

Are you offering your customers too many choices? The effort to please a few may damage your relationship with the majority you do business with. Simplify your offerings, to reduce chaos and ultimately become more profitable. Plus, Lucile in the U.K. asks how to make business contacts in new markets.

Controlling Chaos

Chaos by Amanda Roya Modesta-KeyhaniDon’t make everything and specialize in nothing. Cut down the menu. It’s a classic K.I.S.S. strategy (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Reduce your core offerings. That can help cut down ordering time. Thereby reduces chances of mistakes.

An abundance of information can result in a scarcity of attention. In a retail setting, offering too much not only adds confusion for customer, it can cause chaos in the kitchen. It may also be less profitable. Do you find that you are giving too much away for free? (Comping) Perhaps if you solve another problem, their would be less waste, unhappy customers and hence the need to compensate.

Get rid of clumsy mechanisms and processes. Clear out the clutter. Get rid of things/people/vendors that prevent you from running your business properly. If something doesn’t work, vent out alternatives. Don’t just keep doing business as usual if it makes you angry.

Simplify everything and do it well. Keep it simple. Control the chaos.

Listener question: How to make business contacts in new markets?

Lucile from Grain Media in London, U.K. asked a great question. Grain Media produces a diverse range of programming from ethically minded documentaries and action sports films/series through to promos and music videos.

“Now we would like to expand and find places where we can pitch ideas or where we can get commissioned to make mobile content, more web content, advertising, etc… Would you have any ideas of ways I should go to be on pitching lists and make us known more around the industry?”

My thoughts…

  • Post the question on Q&A boards for professionals, such as:
  • Contact the PR and marketing departments at various wireless/mobile carriers. Find out the process for pitching your capabilities to produce media content.
  • Know anyone in Hollywood? (A screenwriter, grip, PA, foley artist, etc.) Check your Linkedin and Facebook contacts if anyone might be able to introduce you to someone or point you in the right direction.
  • Find the industry/professional online boards for your specialty and be active contributing in those social networks. You never know how you might make a strategic alliance just from being an active participant and demonstrating your subject matter expertise.

Thanks for listening/reading!

Read more

HSCS-005 – Find a need, fill a need (Pt5, Run your business like Gordon Ramsay)

Last episode we talked about how to discover what your customers really want. Now we’ll talk about transformational change. Plus, I’ll share my recent experience providing feedback as part of a customer advisory panel. Finally, I have a few more online resources to discover networking events near you.

Topic #1 – Give your customers what they really want

Build a babyDuring the last episode (#4), we discussed how to find out what the customers really want.

What will the market bear?
Are you charging too much?
Are you charging too little?

Once you have that directional knowledge, you have to take those learnings and fill a need.

I love the quote in the kids movie “Robots”: “Find a need. Fill a need.”

If there isn’t a good hamburger for miles, be known for serving the best one.

If the locals are all young bohemians, serve cheap good food that they can afford.

If the local butcher says thick steak is his number one best seller, and there are no steak houses in town, perhaps you should transform into a steak house.

“Find a need. Fill a need.”

Topic #2 – Learning what your customers want (continued)

ChasingI was asked to join an advisory panel for a service I subscribe to. In this case it’s regarding a mobile site for a service I use.

Survey was simple. It let me comment on specific screens/functionality. Gave me an open ended response field to type in a verbatim response — as opposed to closed ended questions where I can only choose from the answers provided. They even displayed screen shots of the mobile website as a reminder of the interface. (very smart)

It gave me a sounding board to provide three points of critical feedback about the user experience. But they might have lost out on my valuable input due to a stupid mistake on their part. The survey invitation email subject line simply said “WAP Survey”

Very careless. “WAP” is a meaningless term to most people. Speak to me in English, not acronyms. They’re lucky that I’ve worked in mobile marketing and know what it means. Otherwise I would’ve deleted the email without opening it.

Topic #3 – More useful online resources to find events in your area

During episode #3, we talk about how to use Meetup.com to find networking events close to home. Here are two more:

Learned about them listening to CC Chapman’s excellent podcast on new media.

Personally, I got better search results on Meetup.com. But you might have better luck depending on where you live.
Read more

HSCS-004 – Give your customers what they really want (Pt4, Run your business like Gordon Ramsay)

Do you honestly know what your customers and prospects really want? In this episode we discuss a reality check for business success. Ask yourself some hard questions. Plus, checkout some free/inexpensive tools to help you find out what you need to know.

Topic #1 – Find a need, fill a need

Angry pirate - click to view source creditDo you honestly know what your customers and prospects really want? Perhaps your stubborn attitude is the reason why your sales are down.

Are they really happy? Ever survey them?

  • Use customer comment cards? (How was the experience? Would they recommend you?)
  • Go out on the streets and literally ask people in the neighborhood what they think? (Ever heard of you? How do you compare to the competition?)
  • Put a sample in their hand to see reactions.
  • Ask them to complete an online survey (or paper survey if necessary).
  • Invite them to your office for lunch.
  • Invite them to participate in an advisory board.

Be prepared for honest criticisms:

  • Functional (Overly complex? Too simplistic? Opportunities for improvement.)
  • Aesthetic (Butt ugly?)
  • Cost (Overpriced? Underpriced?)
  • Value / ROI (As compared to competition. Both factual and perceived.)
  • Quality (Have standards been slipping?)
  • Service (Too little? Too much?)
  • Lack of support

What are the right questions to ask? Well that’s a topic for another time. Just don’t overwhelm your customers. Ask straightforward, meaningful questions.

Topic #2 – Tools to find out what your customers really want

ChasingSome of my marketing research colleagues might be gagging on the simplicity of these suggestions. But reality is, most small+mid-size businesses cannot afford formal methodology based research. They need directional info quickly and cheaply.

Free polling software:

If you are already using an email marketing service, some have built-in survey applications:

Having difficulty with fielding customer support inquiries. Checkout popular paid services like:

Read more

HSCS-003 – Make the most of your location (Pt3, Run your business like Gordon Ramsay)

Have a great location but little business? In this episode we discuss how to evaluate and create opportunity. We also look at some great resources to network with other business owners and professionals.

Topic #1 – Make the most of your location

CoachAre you maximizing your location? Take a long, hard look at yourself. (These examples are restaurant based, but can be applied to any retail establishment.)

  • If you’re by the sea, you better be selling fresh fish, not reheated, frozen, imported product.
  • Find local, sustainable sources for your menu.
  • Get to know your merchants (e.g. be familiar, get frequent buyer discounts and choice selections).
  • Be known for something special (i.e. best local cheap lunch, best shrimp cocktail, freshest seafood).
  • Are you taking advantage of foot traffic?
  • Perhaps your overpriced for lunchtime crowd.

This is part 3 of my series: Run your business like Gordon Ramsay. We’ll break down key observations on how to turn a failing business into a success. Chef Gordon Ramsay has successfully launched several restaurants and in his popular show, Kitchen Nightmares (Fox, BBC America), he helps failing business owners identify their weaknesses and implement significant positive change in the way their business is operated. Love him or hate him, his keen business skills and insistence on high standards have made him a success.

Topic #2 – Finding business connections close to home

ChasingJoin your local chamber of commerce or business partnership. Membership gets you access to:

  • Like minded professionals.
  • Potential business resources.
  • Potential customers.
  • Involvement in community and philanthropic activities.
  • Free or discounted access to networking events, training/educational sessions

Use a resource like Meetup.com to find local small groups that get together to discuss topics of interest to you. Benefits:

  • Find like-minded individuals.
  • Search by geographic radius for gatherings in your area.
  • Business topics, networking, social.
  • Join a group.
  • Start your own.
  • Your profile will work on your behalf. Link to your business, etc.
  • Your profile will likely show up high in natural search results.
  • It’s free!

Read more

HSCS-002 – Set the tone (Pt2, Run your business like Gordon Ramsay)

Are you a wise guy? A wimp? Do you hide from your customers? Are you socially awkward and make those around you uncomfortable? Do you hide from confrontation? Do our employees have any respect for you? Do they outright steal from you? Can you make your own decisions or do you seek approval from those around you? Do you give a damn?

Listen to this podcast:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Topic #1 – Be a leader and set the tone

CoachPart 2 of my series: Run your business like Gordon Ramsay. We’ll break down key observations on how to turn a failing business into a success. Chef Gordon Ramsay has successfully launched several restaurants and in his popular show, Kitchen Nightmares (Fox, BBC America), he helps failing business owners identify their weaknesses and implement significant positive change in the way their business is operated. Love him or hate him, his keen business skills and insistence on high standards have made him a success.

Remember when Anthony Edwards left the show ER? He passed the metaphorical basketball to Noah Wiley and told him “Set the tone.”

As the owner and leader you must set the tone. Enforce the rules. Be a boss. Yell if you have to. Don’t let your employee bully you. Send someone home if they don’t respond or respect you. Don’t be afraid to get rid of incompetent or disruptive workers.

Executive Chef, Head Chef, Vice President, Director, Manager…. Titles mean nothing if you don’t bring anything useful to the table.

It’s your money. They’re out of a job if they can’t step up and commit.

Got issues, work them out. Seek help. Get out of business. Do what ever it takes, just don’t cripple yourself and those around you.

If the lead chef can’t lead, it’s time to find another chef.

Topic #2 – An online tool you absolutely must start using today

CoachI want to talk to you about Linkedin.com. If you have a profile already, great, I’ll tell you what you need to do next to fully benefit from it. If you don’t have a profile on Linkedin, go right now and do it.

Here’s how you’ll directly benefit:

  • Get found online.
  • Publish your resume online – Present your background as you want it to be known.
  • Demonstrate your subject matter expertise.
  • Find former colleagues and reconnect with them. Email addresses change, but you should always be able to keep connected through Linkedin.
  • Don’t worry about the number of friends you have. You should focus on quality of your connections, not the quantity.
  • Every person I’m connected with:
    • I’ve met in person.
    • Had a face-to-face conversation with.
    • I believe I may have an opportunity to do business with in the future.
    • Get and give recommendations.
  • There’s a great Q&A section on all sorts of topics. Answer questions to help out fellow professionals and demonstrate your expertise.
  • Poll your contacts for opinions on ideas you have.
  • Search for people you know who might be able to introduce you to someone you want to meet.
  • You rank high in the natural search results when someone searches on your name.

If your attitude is: “But I have a Facebook (or MySpace) page.” Well, that’s great. Glad you’re out there. But truthfully, do you want prospective customers and employers looking at your family photos? Or do you want them to see what you want to be best known for professionally?

Read more

HSCS-001 – Run your business like Gordon Ramsay, Part1

In this audio podcast series, we break down key observations on how to turn a failing business into a success.

Shut Up and Listen

Carving knifeChef Gordon Ramsay has successfully launched several restaurants and in his popular show, Kitchen Nightmares (Fox, BBC America), he helps failing business owners identify their weaknesses and implement significant positive change in the way their business is operated. Love him or hate him, his keen business skills and desire for high standards have made him a success.

Turnaround can be painful, but it is possible. It requires significant commitment, time, resources, money, and the willingness to accept criticism and change the way you work/behave.

Read more

Bottom