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?

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.

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.

Are you lost for words at your Networking events?

And now, maybe worse, as networking events that are getting going again, after a long break.

Most of us have been there: a room full of people in front of us, prospects everywhere, and we can’t think of a word to say.

And, more often than not, refuge is found with a glass of wine. We might in the course of the event collect a few business cards. But usually, once we have finished our complimentary glass of wine, we find an excuse to leave.

We may even be spotted by a friendly fellow networker who introduces themselves. But after asking a couple of easy opening questions and getting just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for answers they decide that there are more interesting things going on almost anywhere else in the room.

Well, if this picture is even a little like you, it doesn’t have to be.  A few ready made questions and answers will soon have you networking just like everyone else seems to be in the room.  But, first of all let me assure you that you are not the only person feeling as you do. Many will be, it’s just that you are all circulating the room and smiling at all that pass you by!

So, how about that first easy question?  Everyone asks it.  ‘How’s business?’  Your answer might be, ‘Fine’ or maybe, ‘Oh, we are really busy’.  The trouble with those answers is that it doesn’t really leave you anywhere to progress to. The answer may as well be, ‘That’s great!’

But, how about, if instead, you answered, ‘Really great! We have just finished a large project for our biggest client. We had to turn it around in record time, and I’m now looking for a similar job.’  The next comment is likely to be, ‘Tell me more’.

The secret is to have a few answers planned in advance: answers that are not only interesting in themselves but that invite another question.  Then once the conversation starts and you begin to relax you never know where things might lead.  You may just find your next big customer and don’t forget you can use that same great answer for more than one person.

However, sometimes you have to make the first move and again this is easy if you have a few ready prepared questions up your sleeve.  Start by scanning the room and finding someone much like you on their own, looking a little lost.  Go up to them and introduce yourself using just your first name and ask them theirs.  Then follow up with one of your prepared questions.

Why not try one of the following or make up your own with similar ideas?

1)      How did they hear about the event and do they know the host?

2)      Did they come to the event for a special reason?

3)      What is it that they do?

4)      How long have they been doing that?

5)      What made them choose that line of work?

6)      What’s the best thing about what they do?

7)      What kind of business are they looking for?

8)      Is there anyone that you might know that they would like to be introduced to (this person might even be at the event)?

9)      Who is their biggest competitor?

10)  How many people work with them?

All these questions need more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and also the answers will tell you something about the person, their company, and if you want to start a relationship with them.

Remember, the objective at a networking event is the start of a relationship, your next meeting, not a quick sale.

So, never be lost for words at a networking event again and you will see that there is no need to feel on your own, as instead you may be starting lasting and worthwhile connections with the people that you meet.

Guitar Village

I was at Guitar Village, in Farnham, today looking at the Ukuleles; they are beautiful and my birthday is soon!

However, I’m finding it almost impossible to choose one, as I like so many; not just because of their sound but also their looks and the way they are made. Such lovely woods are used, such as mahogany, koa, maple, rosewood, cedar and spruce. Then there are the different makes and types: soprano, concert, tenor, etc. (plus they are all different sizes).

I asked Richard in the shop for help and he advised that, as a beginner, it would be best to decide on how much I would be willing to spend and then buy the one I liked the look and feel of best. He then added that after six months, if I’d become a keen player, that I can look again, as I’ll have a much better idea of what would work best for me.

His advice was perfect and is just the same in business. In business there are numerous things to do and often because of that nothing much gets done. So, think about it, what one thing could you do this week that would be good for your business? Then just ‘park’ everything else and do it. I’m pretty sure that you will see the difference it makes.

Richard also added something else, which I agree with, and in fact am doing. Having a ukulele and spending some time strumming is a great way to relax and get away from the pressure of your work. I’ve got to agree that it’s fun. So, if things are tough at the moment why not get a ukulele and try it?!

Guitar Village – let Richard know that I suggested you came to see him.

Farnham, Surrey, Business Networking – 19th August

Do you feel like you are on your own?

Many business owners feel like that they are on their own, that they are the person at the top, so it’s their job to sort things out.  After all, who can know more about their business than they do?  And, wouldn’t it be a sign of weakness, if they let anyone else know they had a problem?

They are the captain of their ship.  But then, we know of captains who have gone down with their ship, because they didn’t ask for help. 

Yes, no one else will know more about your business than you, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be helped and asking for help is everything but a sign of weakness. It is in fact a sign of strength!  It means that you are big enough to know what you are not so good ‘at’, and will ask for help from someone that is.  The result? – a much better company.

The reason I mention this, is that over the course of a number of conversations, three conversations were exactly the same.  They had the same problem, at almost the same time.  It doesn’t matter what the problem was, but my point is that they battled through the problem on their own, only just making it, and they didn’t have to.  All three were shattered, but knew they had to keep going.

A business mentor could have helped, because the mentor may have already been through what they were going through and therefore could offer guidance, but at the very least a mentor would have been someone to unload on and so take some of the pressure away.

But, maybe even better still, would have been to join a business group, where business owners get together to discuss their businesses: their problems, successes, ideas and much more, most importantly finding out that they are far from alone.  Groups offer help, support and guidance and can make a big difference to the success of your business.

So, if you want more success, less stress, and not to feel like you are totally on your own, why not join a group and discover the benefits for you and your business?