Tonight as I watched reruns of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with Ty Pennington and his band of merry men, I was struck by the correlation of how this incredibly encouraging show mirrors the goal of a perfect client or customer experience.  I see you scratching your head, but hear me out. Ty’s job along with the very talented professionals he has working beside him, are to take the goals and dreams of a very deserving family, and transform that dream into the ultimate reality.  In other words, a dream comes true.  Now in business, it may seem difficult to reach the height of emotion often displayed by the homeowner, after cheering communities and fans yell, “move that bus”, but we can aim for as near perfect a customer experience as possible.

While watching any episode of Extreme Makeover; you always see Ty and his team talking, observing and spending time with what we can for the purposes of this blog, call his clients.  The goal is to create an ultimate customer experience; to create the “WOW” factor and to answer the needs whether they have been voiced or not in a specific amount of time. 

Now I’ll admit, from the purely entertainment perspective of the show, I’m often found sitting with the most satisfied and fulfilling emotion on my face while I watch the families reaction to this incredible gift they’ve been given.   While we may never elicit that type of reaction from a business client, modeling ourselves after the popular television show can help us win the customer’s loyalty by listening, observing and fulfilling their stated and sometimes unstated needs. We may not get a thousand cheering fans for our action, but we'll get the thumbs up from our client.  Here's to your next Extreme Makeover!

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That’s the question I asked myself as I stared at my cell phone and saw the minutes ticking away on my patience.  As many of us do, I’d decided to make a list of all the things I needed to accomplish today.  So as I waited for my daughter to finish her dentist appointment, I thought, hey, why not make a dent in this enormous list I just created.  Am I just impatient?  I had to ask myself the question as I saw 5 minutes, 7 minutes and then 10 minutes tick away as waiting time on my cell phone.  Well, it was obvious to me in my agitated state that the business I was calling on forgot about me.  How else can we explain making me wait so dog gone long???  As I contemplated hanging up and redialing, a voice finally came on the phone and apologized for the wait.  Guess what my response was???  “Oh that’s OK.  I understand.”  That response was funny because clearly 1-minute ago, I didn’t understand.

Since every situation is a learning opportunity, I thought I’d ask the question.  How long is too long to make a customer wait for a response?  How would your business handle it? 

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Being branded an idiot is definitely not good for business.  While researching "idiot" on the internet, you might not be surprised to see the images that showed up. Clearly our perceptions of ourselves changes with those that we impact and interact with. 

Liistening to the radio this morning, an Ohio court branded a 32-year old woman as an "idiot" and ordered her to wear a sign that said so. Read more here.  Though she made the unwise decision of trying to drive around a school bus that was unloading children, now everyone will know of her bad decision both virally and in her community where she will have to stand and wear a sign that says loud and clear, I'm an idiot".

Could your business stand that kind of publicity?  Would you be able to shake off the stigma of negative perception associated with being a perceived "idiot" when trying to grow your business?  No doubt it would be an uphill battle. With all that you have to contend with and consider, it would be prudent to make decisions that leave a favorable impression.. not the other way around.

Creating a plan for your business is one way to head off negative perceptions about your business. This practice is important because it helps you to plan in advance for issues that may come up rather than reacting to them.  Perhaps the Ohio woman was late for an appointment;  maybe she's just  impatient; maybe her judgement was out of whack that day.  Whatever the reason, she'll be paying the price for a long time to come. Visit here to start your business planning process.  

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You know the old adage, “if first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  Let’s take a page from the campaign trail and the path our newly re-elected president, Barack Obama took.  Whatever side of the aisle you walk on, red or blue, the recent campaign trail proved that naysayers exist on both sides.  From the perspective of the popular vote, the president won by a slim margin over just 1%.  If you understand the basic political structure, you understand that it’s the electoral votes that win the race but for the purposes of this piece, we’ll stick to the closeness of the popular vote.  The campaign win came down to a few slim votes which means President Barack Obama gets another opportunity to make a difference. He’s been afforded another chance to make a second and hopefully, a decidedly better impression with half of the country that didn’t vote for him. 

How does this relate to business?  It’s simple.  Rarely are you afforded a second chance to impress a customer after perceived missteps.  In a competitive business climate, you’d be more than likely to find yourself giving up price concessions in order to keep a customer you’ve disappointed in the fold.  The easy fix to a situation like this would be not to disappoint your customer in the first place. Deliver what you say, when you say.   However, if somehow you fail to deliver, here are a couple of things you can do to win your customer’s trust:

1. Admit your mistake. Own up to the fact that just like the president, the buck stops with you and as the business owner or representative; it was up to you to get it done.

2. Find out if the damage to your customer relations has been damaged beyond repair or if there is a window where you can attempt to fix the problem.

3. Offer the product or service at a reduced rate or add an additional premium service offering as a thank you for allowing a second chance

4. Internally work to fix the issues that contributed to the breakdown so you won’t have to repeat the mistake again.

5. Add a processnn system to your business. Institute a process to keep up with your clients and any offers you make.  For the next 6-months, make a special effort to engage the customer through a courtesy phone call, follow up postcard, email marketing message using a tool like Constant Contact and a discount to additional futuree services.

Making a mistake is not the end all be all, but failing to acknowledge it and fix it can be the death of a business.

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One way to improve your email open rate is to use the word "get" in the subject line. Studies show that the word "get" outperforms other common headliners. Just be sure that if you make a promise, you deliver. Follow through is just as important in keeping readers engaged and coming back for more.

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1. Branding

Email marketing helps you brand your business in the minds of potential consumers and with your existing client base.  Beyond the customer experience, which hopefully is a good one, consumers connect with a business visually.  Email marketing helps to reinforce your company logo, along with the look and feel of your business as a whole.  It’s true that email marketing alone will not ensure that your customers keep coming back but if and when they do, they’ll know who you are by the medium you use and the message you are sending out to connect with them.

2. What’s so special about you? 

The whole premise of email marketing is to share with your customers, clients, vendors and the like what’s special, unique and relevant about you.  How can you help them?  In other word, why should they call you, think about you or refer you?  

How much time do you have to convince them?  It’s not likely that you can consistently deliver, the why’s in the 3-minutes you get to have someone’s full attention. Email marketing helps you to deliver your particular business expertise in a way that tells the recipient how you can help them.  

3. Hit The Mark 

Targeted email marketing campaign are by design intended to be more effective than other email messages  seen by using Outlook, Google or Yahoo as an example.  One of the reasons for this is that a good email marketing program will allow you to capture key details about your recipient such as their first and last name, company information, telephone numbers and varied interests.  

When you craft your emails, using an effective email marketing tool allows you ways to easily and efficiently include those unique details in the email.  When someone receives a personalized email, they are more likely to pay attention than if you say, “Greetings or Welcome”.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to know who is reading your emails? A good marketing program often provides statistics so you can measure the effectiveness of the emails being sent out.  You’re able to see open rates as well as click-through and forwards.


Using email marketing is a smart, efficient and affordable tool for today's small businesses. Contact me today for training on one of the best email marketing tools available, Constant Contact. 



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Thinking back to my very first teacher experience makes me smile.  Her name was Ms. Spilkowitz and she was my first grade teacher back in New York.  What I remember most about her was that she had straight black hair, she was thin and tall and had a very kind face.  She encouraged a learning environment by her willingness to engage with us on our levels.  She brought us up a level at a time until we were better students and people than when we first came in.  The classroom was filled with exciting toys, playrooms, puzzles, teacups, dolls and impressionable young people eager to explore and learn. I love teachers! They feed the thirst for knowledge. 

Teachers have a special gift, what I like to say is a "special calling" to share their gift. Not everyone can be a teacher but for those that can and choose to follow that path,  I think they should be honored.

My teachers of today go beyond the typical classroom of study.  Today they come from all walks of life.  They are business men and women who are also mothers, fathers, neighbors and friends.  They share their business expertise and teach ways to grow business; to retain a competitive advantage; how to be a better business person; how to treat and retain customers; how to stay engaging, relevant and profitable in today's marketplace.  

I'm thankful that their spirit is not one of selfishness but one of sharing.  After all, the nature of a good teacher is to encourage, support and to challenge us to be better.  

~ Janniece


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For a very small number of people, Michael Vick's name may not ring a bell.  In fact, if you aren't a lover of football or pets, his name would be easy to miss.  The fact that Michael Vick was a very much talked about pro-athlete that played for the Atlanta Falcons and got into major trouble because of his ties to dog fighting might have escaped your notice.  Well we won't focus on that right now.  The lesson to be learned by Michael Vick today is to recognize that for most , Fame Is Fleeting, even for the most talented.

What business lessons can we learn by exploring just a portion of Vick's public life? Here are just a few. Though Vick received lots of accolades and was widely touted as one of the best quarterback's in the NFL, his off-camera activities related to dog-fighting landed him jail.  The golden boy was no more and was publicly ridiculed and hung out by his toenails to take his punishment.  One by one, Vick lost endorsement deals, fans, self-respect and was often talked about as the most vile person for his mistakes.  In fact, because of this set-back, he was back at square one with his public, private and professional image.  He had to endure and persevere.  

Vick served time in prison impressing some with taking responsibility for his part in the debacle and showing up earlier than he was scheduled to to begin his sentence. Once he came out, Vick began the painstaking task of trying to rebuild his image.  For his hard work and tenacity, the Philadelphia Eagles picked him up. That decision was not without its conditions. It was to be expected given Vick was such a sore topic among the masses especially animal rights organizations.

In his attempts to put his troubles behind him, he focused on proving to himself and others that he could change. Though I'm not a football fan myself, I can remember hearing how well Vick was performing in the NFL, how he stayed healthy and was moving back into the good graces of some of his fans.   Why do I say Fame is Fleeting? A good example would be Vick's treatment in the past (warranted or  not) and what I heard today on one of the most respected sports channels, ESPN, where approximately 642,000 viewers tune in.  According to reports, Vick now holds the franchise record where he leads the NFL with 9 turnovers so far this season.  I'm sure Vick can take the heat but would rather be on the side of accolades rather than criticism.


As a business owner, this is a lesson to learn as well.  You are only as good as the last satisfied client.  In the age of social media and word of mouth advertising, you need to be on your P's and Q's at all times. The unwritten rule is to under promise but always over deliver.  Each time you have an opportunity to gain a new or prospective client, be willing to go the extra mile, listen to see what you can do to engage and keep customers happy.  As Cornelia Hicks of MatterMaxMedia said in her presentation on Branding and Marketing, provide a Superior Experience.  In the event that your rising star takes a hit, try to prepare for it as best you can and execute an action plan that helps change the perception. 

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Depending on what side of the fence you’re on, trying to understand the reasons of getting involved in public policy issues as it relates to your small business can leave you feeling panicked or energized.  If you’re a small business owner or work for a small operation, more often than not, pressing situations arise that leave little time to ponder why policy issues should matter to you.  How does public policy translate to bottom line results? Let me share a few reasons your involvement in public policy should always be on your radar.

Decisions are being made on your behalf whether you participate in the process or not.  How you are represented in this process matters as the outcome can greatly affect your ability to grow your business.  When the county I live in introduces and implements public policy, it has a direct correlation to my business’s bottom line and its ability to attract, cultivate and retain customers.

Conversations on taxation, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, licensing, permits and community improvements districts all filter into the economic engine of our county. To encourage the best possible business climate, you must first have a seat at the table and be a part of the process so that your ideas can be heard and addressed.

In DeKalb County, GA. the business license division reports an estimated 30,500 renewal licenses were sent out to county businesses this year. Small business ownership continues to gain momentum. This kind of growth can be seen all around the county. With unemployment numbers hovering around 9%, more and more people are opting to enter into the small business arena where their efforts dictate their financial outcome rather than leaving that decision in another’s hand.

One important way you can magnify your business voice is by identifying and joining like-minded organizations whose goal supports small businesses.  Local, state and regional representatives are aware of the importance and significance of recognizing and cultivating small business relationships. They understand that a strong small business base equates to a strong economic climate. Get involved in the process and have a say in how they represent you.



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Just when did it seem plausible in my frugal mind that paying $45.00 for 5 hours of parking in a garage made sense? That's what I asked myself as I reached into my pocket to pay for this ridiculous charge.


Let me back up a moment. I recently visited with my dad in New York as he underwent open heart surgery. The hospital he was in is one of the best, thank God. Visiting him however presented a daily challenge. Parking is at a premium in New York and only the truly fortunate seem to find a spot on the streets of Manhattan. Well, I wasn't so lucky. Like mice in a maze, my sister and I circled the block, looking for a spot. If we had any luck at all, we found a spot by an hour meter that sucked $3.50 an hour from your pocket. Since we spent approximately 6 hours a day, you can imagine how the money would add up. 

In retrospect, I guess I was desensitized. I found myself actually mouthing the words, "let's put it in the garage and I'll pay for it." I must be crazy. Being in New York for this short period of time had me forgetting my usual frugal point of view. I adapted to my surroundings I really need to get home!

Georgia here I come.


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