Archive for August, 2012

Which Customers Have Become Your “Dinosaur”?

There are customers who are just wearing you out and not producing income or profits for you.  Are there people who are demeaning and abusing your gracious efforts and those of your staff?

Fire them.  Don’t wait on them to fire you first (They probably will anyway).

I worked with a large national corporation several years ago. It was a great income producer to work with the company. They invited me to their annual trade show and gave me a booth with “free range” to advertise my services. We engaged people who stopped by with fun music, a prize drawing and refreshments. It was one of the most popular booths at the show.

The visibility with their customers went great. But the next day she wrote a scathing email to me about how it embarrassed her regional managers who weren’t getting the good attendance I was. She said she had to make them look good no matter what.

Three months later I received a note about meeting with me to move forward with them under her “new rules.” I copied the earlier email she had sent and replied, “Thank you, but I don’t need business this bad to be treated this way. I hope this is a good year for you.”

In short, I fired her as my client/customer. The next week I got four new clients to fill the void created by her absence.

If you keep bad customers, you will only attract more of them. You have some abusive customers who are just wearing you and your people out. They think they own you.

They don’t. YOU own you!

Draw a line in the sand and say “No more. I appreciate your business, but not your attitude.”

And bury the dinosaur.

What Procedures Have Become Your “Dinosaurs?”

What procedures are you holding on to that are outdated or dead in today’s business world?

Time wasting tasks – filling out forms, useless meetings, antiquated systems and methods. Sales methods that worked for the trainer, but you can’t make them work for your lackluster staff. Help desks that only forward the problems and don’t “help” with solutions. Outdated methods for turning in course credits or credentials that don’t seem to have made it into the new Century (pick which century they haven’t made it into yet).

Almost no one uses an overhead projector, rotary dial phone, remote-less television or FAX machine. A group I consulted with in West Virginia recently said payments by mail only were in their public policy manual from the 1930s. It is time to update or bury the policy manual… or bury it.

Bury the old procedures that are irrelevant in today’s world.

Why Are You Paid?

People have a job because they are doing what someone wants them to do and is willing to pay them to do it.

If you perform a task someone wants, then they will pay you for it.  But it may not be what your actual title is.

I met a dry cleaning cashier who is great at taking care of customer concerns – not cleaning – so she has the cashier job.   I know an artist who is good at teaching, so she is paid for her art.  I know a security guard who is paid to protect people and their possessions, so he is paid for that.  I know a salesman who is always there for his clients in service, so he is paid to do sales.

Some people are terrible at customer service but great with behind the scenes tasks.  So they keep their job because the boss needs the job done better.

What are you being paid to do?  Do it better and you will be paid for that.

The Cost of Reinvention

You can’t reinvent without counting the cost. No smart person goes out into new territory without some kind of map. You have to know what you are doing and where you are going.

Leaders who don’t either count the cost or put funds aside to fuel their new ideas are blindly walking into a dark room, without a flashlight. It is one thing to make mistakes or missteps. We all do that. But it is completely foolish to impulsively launch an innovation or new directions without a “backup plan.”

When I went through a career change years ago I learned that you can’t make a drastic transition without some funds set aside, a steady income from my spouse or a basic knowledge of the territory I was venturing into. Without at least one of these in place, it would have been a disaster.

Value is the key to any reinvention. Where there is no perceived value on your part, or the people who want to buy into your ideas, there will be no support.

Wikipedia defines an IPO: “An initial public offering (IPO) or stock market launch, is the first sale of stock by a company to the public. It can be used by either small or large companies to raise expansion capital and become publicly traded enterprises. Many companies that undertake an IPO also request the assistance of an investment banking firm acting in the capacity of an underwriter to help them correctly assess the value of their shares, that is, the share price.”

What have you done to create value as an “IPO” with your support circle?

Where there is no value, there is no support. Support follows value (not the other way around). Support the cost by building value into your reinvention. No value; no new ideas.

Getting Out of Your Stall

I have always been attracted to sailing. I don’t think you can beat zipping along a peaceful body of water in the evening at about 20 knots with only the sound of the water lapping at your hull. The wind makes almost no sound and you can feel your heart beat in rhythm with the sheets (sails).

A “stall” occurs when you no longer have the wind in control and are between tacks (directions).  According to, “Stalling midway through a tack is a common problem and it relates… to boat speed and carrying the boat’s speed through the turn.”

In a stall the wind is still present; but you have lost the direction and your momentum has come to a complete stop. In life and business, there come stalls. The wind is still there, but you have to change your direction to catch it and command it again.

Yes command the wind. The wind works for you, not the other way around. In most stalls we have lost command of the wind, movement or motion. Once we capture that momentum, it works for us.

Never assume you work for the wave, the trend, the movement or wind. Sailors know it works at their advantage.  But you must be headed in the right direction to take full advantage of its power in your life.

And that can be into the wind, away from the wind and across the wind. It depends on where you want to go. Your speed will be governed by your direction, desired path and ultimate destination.

How has your speed decreased and created the stall in your career? More importantly, where is the wind blowing from, and how can you seize it to move in a new tack?

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August 2012


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