Lovely and Ripe!

My Personal Trainer, Sav, is brilliant. His plan, designed just for me, is really changing my overall fitness, look and mind-set. Not only does he cover my training, but also my diet and fluid (Herbalife) intake as well.

I feel so very different.

One of his suggested meals is king prawns, including, among other things, avocado.

Avocados are delicious but recently sourcing been a real pain, since five out of the eight I have purchased, from my local farm shop, have been too bad to eat.

So I’ve stopping buying them.

My reason? Well, the first two (with a photo) were replaced, but the next one, although more expensive, was replaced with a cheaper one I had, and then, for the last two, all I received was a ‘sorry’.

My confidence in the avocados was gone.

A few days ago, a close friend of mine, asked if there was a vegetable shop nearby. Oddly, a few days earlier I had come across such a shop and asked if they would like a quick visit.

We arrived a little later and one of the things my friend needed was an avocado.

The owner of the shop explained possible problems with avocados at the moment but gave them one that he thought was ready to eat.

A few days later, I was told that it was wonderful.

I have now myself purchased six from this shop. With the first two, the owner said that he was a little worried about one of them, so he gave me a discounted price. He also said to let him know if it wasn’t so good and he would refund me.

As I say, I’ve now had six and they have all been wonderful.

This week it’s gone even further, as I did my weekly buy at this shop; my local farm shop has lost a complete order. Could they lose more?

What can you learn from this?

Well, put simply, every day you need to make sure that your customers are not being overlooked.

Something may cost you a few pounds, or you might just need to say something helpful, but either way it could save you losing a great deal of business.

So, have a look today, at how you respond to your customers’ problems. Trust me, we all have them. And then see how you are dealing with them.

Get it right and you could be making even more money than you do now.

Catch a Pike!

At the weekend I was in Ely; the cathedral is beautiful.

I came across a fishing tackle shop, The Tackle Shop Ely, and, as I had some spare time, dropped in for a look.

The man at the main counter, whom I assumed was the owner, looked across to me, so I smiled and asked if it was okay to have a look round.

He replied, ‘Of course, feel free’ and added, ‘What are you looking for?’

That impressed me, because most people in shops ask if they can help you, and it’s easy to say, ‘No, thank you.’

But, with ‘What are you looking for?’ you really need to give an answer. So, I told him nothing really, but that long ago I used to Pike fish and had thought about doing so again. I then added that I found Abu Spoons really good at the time, but couldn’t find any for sale now.

He explained how things had changed and then showed me a feather-like lure for Pike fishing, which was amazingly successful, but incredibly hard to cast. It looked wonderful. He also showed me a Pike-looking lure, which today was a real winner.

We chatted for a fair time and I asked what was selling at the moment and he told me about the Complete Beginner Starter Kit: a big seller at this time of the year (with the new season approaching).

He also explained that he didn’t sell the packaged kits, but instead, talked to the new angler, and put a package together that would really suit them, and for no extra money. How good is that?

You can learn a great deal for your business from this (how to get more good customers that will spend and stay customers for longer), as well as finding a great shop for buying your own fishing tackle.

And, I left with a Pike lure and several wire traces. Pike fishing, here I come!

How to lose business

Last year I decided to get back into the saddle. After much research I found a very interesting riding school to visit.

The horses were great, my teacher very understanding, as I hadn’t ridden for years, and I really enjoyed my weekly lesson. Even in the rain!

Then for a number of unrelated happenings, not planned at all, I had to miss three lessons on the trot.

During those weeks I never received a call, text or email from the stable, and never have since. I’ve not ridden since and sadly, at the moment, don’t think I will.

Bizarrely at the same time, as I missed the riding lessons, I discovered a Shetland pony farm.

As the farm, in Stoke D’Abernon, was close to my home I decided to pay them a visit. My reason being that as Bonzo is a Shetland pony, it might give me some wonderful ideas for my next Bonzo and Her Grace children’s book.

The layout of the farm is dazzling, the owner very welcoming, she introduced me to her lovely staff and, of course, about 20 beautiful Shetland ponies. They were so cute and fun.

When I finally left, I said that it would be great to keep in touch, and gave the owner a copy of Bonzo and Her Grace and my business card. In return she gave me a copy of her children’s horse book.

I left thinking that the farm was very special and that, sometime in the future, I’d love to visit again.

Since my visit I have received lots of emails and one, just last week, started with a lovely video of Shetlands playing and notes about what they had been doing over the winter. I wanted to go and see them.

As it turned out, my wife and I took our 3 year old grandson to see them, and he loved the Shetland ponies. This time as we left, I said that we would see them again soon, and gave the owner two copies of my latest Bonzo and Her Grace book.

So, how can all of this help you?

Well that’s easy. What sort of relationship do you have with your clients and prospective customers?

As, if it’s like the first stable you will be losing business, but if it’s like the Shetland pony farm, you like be gaining business. Exactly where does your customer relationship sit?

Say it with real meaning!

I was taught to ride at 21, by a Mr. Quinn, at the Park Lane Stables. After a few rides he asked me ‘Do you want to be taught how to ride, or, do you want to be taught how to ride?’

He had asked me the same question, but twice. I have to say that the second time he asked, it was with more energy and enthusiasm, so I went for that one.

And it made Mr. Quinn pleased. He explained that there nothing wrong with riding the first way, but that the second way meant that I really wanted to be able to really ride; not just hack.

The following weeks were tough! I came off on 12 rides consecutively. There were two reasons: one, that I was learning fast and, two, the more I improved, the better horse I was given to ride.

Of course it could have been that I was just a bad rider, but from ride 13 I’ve rarely come off again!

When the autumn arrives, and the bad weather, the number of riders really drops off; mainly those that just go out for a nice comfortable hack, don’t like cold, wet rides. And, that is perfectly fine, but the horses still need to be exercised. So they are often led out in a string.

Well, one morning Mr. Quinn offered me a deal. I could ride every day if I liked, as long as I still took my one paid-for lesson.

I jumped at the chance and was soon riding every day. I loved it.

We now jump a lot of years forward. Park Lane Stables was still a stables I thought of, and I loved seeing their horses on the roads, and being ridden in Bushy Park.

Park Lane Stables

Then, one day I heard, they were going to lose their stable and Park Lane Stables might come to an end. I would have hated that.

They needed to raise a million pounds and did everything they could. Not that I could do much, but I shared their Facebook news and popped into see them, and donated some of my Bonzo and Her Grace books, to help raise money. Plus, of course, I told lots of people about what they were hoping to do.

It took a long time, and some incredible support, but finally they made it, and now the stable is safe for life.

Now, what might this have to do with your business?

Well, if Mr. Quinn, and the Park Lane Stable, had not said all things with a real meaning, then they probably wouldn’t exist today.

So, does everything you and your staff say, have a real meaning? As if it does your success will be far greater than if it doesn’t.

Storm Bound!

I was sailing off Corfu (a couple of years ago) when the weather turned rather unpleasant and we got storm bound for a day.  We had made a run for a safe harbour the day before and now sat in a taverna at Sivota (Mourtos) on mainland Greece having breakfast.  Outside there was thunder and lightning, and the rain was being blown sideways across dark, heavy sea.  Our lead skipper confirmed what we already knew: there would be no sailing that day.

It was 9.30am, and at that moment forty plus people sat in the taverna, wondering how they would fill their day.  There were children of all ages and it was pouring with rain outside.

It was then that the owner of the taverna swept into action!  Out he came with trays of fruit juice; one for everyone and free of charge.  Twenty or so minutes later he was back with more trays, this time full of glasses of water.  A little while later he was back again with shot glasses of a coffee-based drink.  Soon after there were bowls full of crisps and other nibbles; all gifts to us.  Then a while later he was back with another ‘round’ of water.

The amazing thing was that most people had stayed in his taverna.  Some had braved the rain outside and come back with books, homework and games.  Everyone was settled in.  And, guess what?  It was now late morning.  The first beers were ordered and then lunches were starting to be ordered.

This taverna owner was a very clever man.  Every twenty minutes or so he gave us a reason to stay in his taverna; there were plenty more outside that we could have gone to.  Each time we got a drink or some nibbles we had a reason to stay in his taverna.  And, most of us stayed.  And, most of us went on to buy drinks and lunch.  Many stayed all day!  We went for a walk.

Come back to your business

So, what can you learn from this?  It’s simple.  What can you offer your clients, which will get them to come back to your business, time and again, rather than try another?

If you need any ideas please give me a call.

A new light!

I love going around Dorking, Surrey, as it has so many things that I enjoy.

Walking to and from on the Surrey Hills is great, Dorking Hall is a great place to go for a concert, the Sports Centre is super and, of course, it’s always fun to see the Dorking Cockerel on the way in (if coming by road in the right direction).

But, what I like the best are the shops. There’s a brilliant model shop, a shop with fishing tackle, lots of antique shops (including Arms & Armour), plus I’ve eaten at a couple of restaurants that I think are excellent.

On my last visit I discovered another exquisite shop; it was full of lamps, plates and bowls. They looked beautiful, so I popped in to see more.

I heard the person running the shop say to the person that they were helping that everything came from Turkey.

When the customer had left I was asked if I could be helped, and I asked where from Turkey the items came. The answer was Istanbul, and in return I said that, ‘I loved Istanbul.’ And, from there, we had a long chat; covering why I had been to Istanbul, what I liked, and of course, about the shop and all of the products.

The business sounded amazing, opening in August 2019, with the online shop opening in June 2020; all of this, of course, during Covid.

There are two things that truly impressed me with Ali’s Emporium; one is that the lamps, textiles, ceramics, and paintings are directly from Turkey (Istanbul) and two, and most important, that the owner is a lovely person to talk to and they will help you choose the perfect thing for you. It’s not just sales.

In business, the right attitude can make a major difference to your success; I have left shops and businesses (without purchasing), when I’ve not been treated well. Business lost – then and for good.

So, something to think about, are you and all of your staff (and I do mean all), thinking about how best to help your customers? Your sales should increase attractively if they all are.

Certainly I will be back to Ali’s Emporium very soon.

Digital Networking Tool

This week I had a very good 1-2-1 with a friend of mine, Mark Rouvray, in Esher (at a coffee shop); our first face-to-face meeting since Covid began. I have to say it was both enjoyable and much more useful than a chat online.

We talked about his business, web design, and how it had changed and improved over the last couple of years. Not based on being locked-down, but more about major software development and type of customer supplied.

Just about everything was covered and some things just mentioned, like digital business cards. A good, productive, website can’t just be thrown together, as design, layout, content and simple little things, like three dots, have to be carefully thought about and planned, if good results are going to be possible and actually happen.

But, having run a printing company for over 30 years, business cards were in the back of my mind; after all, a very good business card is so much more than just a way to give your contact details to people.

If done correctly, not only contact details are given but they give a personal touch, a great first impression, build trust, show that you are a professional and can be a wonderful networking and marketing tool. And, of course, they can lead to your business being referred.

So, I had to find out more about the digital business cards.

A big thing is that they are not just for in-person meetings, but also for online networking and virtual events. If you hand one to someone you meet, you’re more likely to continue your conversation later.

Plus, in the digital era, it’s essential to use digital business cards to share all of your contact details in one convenient view. Digital business cards are easy to share and perfect to consolidate all of your accounts and contact details in a single view.

The point of a digital business card is to create a single, simple, shareable file with all of your contact details. That way, the receiver has no difficulty to follow your account on social media or contact you using the details.

Mark showed me one of his digital business card designs for a customer, and I have to say that going forward they truly are a great thing for your business.

So, unless you already have one, I recommend that you have a look.

What’s your challenge?

I bet you have a challenge. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if you had a few challenges in your head.

Something like ten sit-ups this week, a 5k run in 29 minutes, swimming 50 lengths, cooking a delicious paella, getting up on time, eating more vegetables, to drink a pint of water, sort out the pile of papers on your floor, call a friend, stop watching four hours of TV every day, to climb a famous peak, the list is endless and personal. But, of course, the challenge is achieving them.

And, this brings me to your business. What are your challenges? Your goals? Your targets? How will you achieve them? And when?

In fact have you got any challenges set?

More business, more effective marketing, keeping customers longer, happier and more productive staff, a first holiday, a better return, a five year plan.

What have you planned? And, do you know how to accomplish it?

Let’s say that you need five new customers (and, of course, what type). What’s your conversion rate? Shall we say one out of three? So, you need to offer your product/service to 15 prospects. Then we have to know how many people we have to market to in order to get those 15 prospects and of course how to achieve this. What method to use?

First you need a target and then the way to achieve it. It’s a great challenge and one that can give you amazing results.

So, have you a real target planned and set? If not, there’s your first challenge.

Let me know if you would like a little help. I might even tell you mine!

A lady on a train!

At the weekend I was travelling by train from Birmingham (I had no petrol) back to home (Surrey). The carriages were packed, with many people standing, and someone was already in my booked seat.

We had a quick chat and it turned out that her seat was the empty seat beside her, so I said no problem, I was happy to sit there instead. 

I had been to a two-day business convention, so for the first 20 minutes of the journey, I just thought over some of the very useful ideas that had been given to us (there had been over a 1,200 delegates at the ICC) and which I would implement first.

It was at this moment that I glanced across to the lady next to me working on her laptop and saw that she had an Entrepreneurs Circle email on screen. I couldn’t believe it, as that had been the convention I had just left. So, I asked her if she had been there as well; and, of course, she had.

For the next hour we talked about what we had liked, a little bit regarding what we weren’t so sure about, the people we had meet, but most importantly what we were going to be doing in the future and essentially what we would be doing in the coming week.

Because, as I’m sure you know, it’s not what you learn that counts but if you actually do it. That’s what will make the difference.

Neve’s (the lady I was sitting with) main business, Speaker Studio, sounded perfect for just about everyone in business, as how you say something really makes a difference, and certainly would help everyone who networks. Including me!

We had a very good ‘meeting’ and will be meeting again.

So, if you are a little nervous, or not too sure about how best to speak, then I can suggest you have a chat with Neve, as she is very helpful.

Speak your way to Success.