CEO Tools Book
September 8th, 2013
How about selling more to existing customers starting in September as our topic for 12 Business Seasons?
Here are some ideas:
1 – Get new ideas on what to “add” to your “sell” by studying what all competitors are doing. Don’t just copy what additional things they do, but go one better by figuring out why that “add” either appeals to customers or perhaps what the customer REALLY wants, and then acting accordingly.
2 – Create “sustainable competitive advantages,” like extra politeness by your people, more convenience for the customer in the string of events from finding you, selecting, ordering, etcetera through paying, re-ordering, getting parts or warranty, and so on.
3 – Identify customers’ “needs” not just their “wants,” since often a customer doesn’t know, for example, what might be more convenient until they see you provide it!
4 – Analyze your existing offering to broaden appeal or applicability; by slightly re-defining how you pitch or define your product or service, you often can dramatically expand your potential market.
5 – Ask customers what would make you an absolute “10.” You might be frightened to ask this, but then you’ll never know, will you! And, whatever the customer says, it will help you understand far more than now. You could try just asking a few of your smaller, less-committed customers to minimize any fallout.
Obviously these ideas are meant to provoke thinking and create discussion within your inner circle about how to sell more to current customers. And, as always, we offer these thoughts in the spirit of improving your business.
With very best wishes, Kraig
August 1st, 2013
In August, the focus of 12-Seasons-of-Business is on some things we can do about inflation. Despite our Government reporting little-to-no inflation, does anyone actually believe prices for gas, food, airline fares, everyday consumer products and services, plus fees everywhere have not increased during the past five years? Why is it that a number of worker strikes and protests are occurring right now over the official minimum wage? Could it be that on a relative basis, the buying power of the earned dollar has declined severely vis-à-vis purchased goods and services? Here are some ideas to help with inflation:
1 – Understand whether and how inflation is impacting your business by watching the CPI and PPI as well as costs affecting your industry and in your own purchased materials, services and labor.
2 – Identify hedging opportunities within your supply chain; rationalize the “middle-man” where possible (to lower costs, increase value-added).
3 – Evaluate strategic price increase opportunities the way the airlines have (see our blog last month on 24 ways to increase price).
4 – Pro-act with pricing tactics every quarter (e.g., institute a blind 1/2% per quarter automatic cost increase in your estimating system = about 2.2% per year to cover fundamental COLI).
5 – Arrange with suppliers to pay them sooner on a schedule in exchange for better price-terms from them.
And a bonus #6: be ready for further inflation by improving your cash-and-borrowing situation now (since it could well become much more difficult to do so in the forecasted upcoming economic slowdown followed by a sizable business surge).
Once again, these ideas will hopefully benefit your business in the months and years ahead.
With very best regards, Kraig
July 7th, 2013
July’s 12-Seasons-of-Business turns to some quick, easy ways to incrementally grow your top-line. Let’s see what might work for you with five top tools:
1 – Focus on more volume: add-on items, line-items-per-invoice, adjunct items, special offers.
2 – Bundle and/or unbundle products & services: split out or combine items to get more sales.
3 – Develop offers that include informational helps, naturally-fitting products/services, live application help.
4 – Make it more convenient for customers: deliver at time-certain; make it easy to specify, easier to select, order, pay, use product/service; provide weekend and evening ordering, support.
5 – Be “nicer” to customers: coach “niceness” into all employee-customer interactions; personal thank you note with delivery; add surprise gift in package; try secret-shopper to ferret out improvement areas.
And an extra, #6: increase prices selectively, incrementally (for 24 ways to increase price, go to www.ceotools.com/blog and search on “pricing” to see Pricing for Impending Inflation…and, you can up price even in deflationary times!
Additionally, to develop unique approaches attuned especially to your business you can click on New Tools Catalog at upper-left of home-page at www.ceotools.com and scroll down to the free PDFs.
As always, <:firstname:>, hope these ideas trigger at least one top-line (and resulting bottom-line) improvement for you.
Very best wishes, Kraig
May 6th, 2013
Our 12-Seasons for May centers on goal-realization tools. So, what are the best ways to galvanize goals into real-live-right-now action?
1 – Ask employees “how” they will achieve their goal in 2013.
2 – Track and feedback interim result-vs-goal to employees.
3 – Get Monthly Operations Report (M-O-R) from key managers.
4 – Use QPM Accountability tool with senior & middle managers.
5 – Re-assess goals quarterly for appropriateness.
Here are some ideas on getting these goal-realization tools to work in your company:
1 – Ask your managers to set goals with key employees within their departments/divisions; then walk-the-four-corners (W4C) with each manager one day each week and spend a few minutes asking those key employees to think specifically about “how” they’ll implement to achieve the goals; follow up in subsequent walks and chat with each on their implementation.
2 – Give frequent feedback to all employees (weekly and monthly) on actual company/departmental/divisional performance and results. Use CEO Monthly Letter and Weekly Update.
3 – Ask each of your direct report managers to write a one-page M-O-R (monthly operations report) to address specifically: What happened this month, What should have happened this month, What will we be making happen next month.
4 – Try the Quarterly Priorities Manager tool (QPM) for increasing accountability at the senior and next level down in management (see QPM at www.ceotools.com/blog).
5 – Have a 1 to 3 hour meeting once a quarter to re-assess the goals and how they’re working; revamp as necessary.
As usual, we wish you best results using these tools!
Very best regards, Kraig
April 2nd, 2013
April is a great time for 12-Seasons focus on your TOP 5 STRATEGY-GROWTH TOOLS:
1 – Strategic Goal RANGE to motivate Employees!
2 – Strategic CEO Monthly Letter to all Employees.
3 – Innovative interim Goals (e.g., Q1=$1.00).
4 – Price-Mix-Volume Strategies.
5 – Ask Employees about Strategic Direction.
How do these five strategic methods apply to your business?
1 – Set RbR (reasonable-but-reaching basic goal, do-able but not daunting. Then set a higher Big Audacious Goal where it’s okay to fail. Get employee buy-in on that goal range through communication.
2 – Send a paper-copy of a “strategic” CEO Monthly Letter to all employees. Explain the strategy, show why it’s of value to employees, and get buy-in for employee engagement.
3 – Set and communicate innovative interim goals, like Q1=$1.00 of profit in a typically loss quarter, report to employees on them, explain their value.
4 – Strategize how to improve business MIX (search on “mix” at www.ceotools.com/blog for ideas); trade price to fill up your business with volume; get your price-mix-volume formula down pat!
5 – Walk-the-four-corners (W4C) and ask employees what they think about your strategy; questions they might have; how best to implement.
Once again, hope these tools and approaches improve your company’s performance!
With best wishes,
March 4th, 2013
Let’s turn 12-Seasons for March to the TOP 5 GOAL TOOLS for success in your business:
1 – Use What Gets Measured (and Managed) Gets Done – WGM&MGD!
2 – “Hoosiers” gives us the Best Management Practices
3 – W4C (walk-the-four-corners) to inculturate Employees with Goals
4 – 1-Page Business Plan focuses All Employees on Goals
5 – Bring Suppliers and Customers into Your Plans & Goals
How to use these? Try these ideas:
1 – Use WG&MGD – What gets measured gets done, you already know that; now just add “managing” your business so that everyone is plugged into what behavior changes the “measuring” points to!
2 – Show the movie “Hoosiers” to your managers in a meeting and encourage them to talk about the management messages after showing the film; you’ll be amazed at the subsequent improvement in management and communication in your business.
3 – Walk-the-Four-Corners (W4C) for 20 minutes and ask different employees each day how to make improvements in your business. You’ll see an increase in pace and goal-realization in just a few weeks of doing this.
4 – Give your 1-page business plan to every employee and then while doing your W4C talk to employees about their roles in making that plan come to life.
5 – Get suppliers and customers into your plans and goals by meeting with them, giving them your appropriate 1-page business plan, and showing them how the plan and goals help them; you’ll suddenly engage incredibly supportive allies!
As usual, may these ideas benefit you and your business all year.
February 5th, 2013
For February 12-Seasons turns to the TOP 5 PEOPLE TOOLS for growing your top and bottom lines:
Get employee engagement with WGM&MGD!
Coach employees to treat customers NICER!
Ask employees how to create customer CONVENIENCE.
Regular recognition of employee greatness.
CEO get involved & focus on customer service.
Here are some suggestions for implementing and applying these tools.
Employee engagement with What Gets Measured, AND MANAGED, gets done: Clearly, posting a few key indicators that employees identify with is helpful, especially using Trailing 12-Month Charts. Managers who also get “buy-in” or “employee engagement” by those employees will be all the more successful with What-Gets-Measured-AND-MANAGED-Gets Done!
Coaching employees to treat customers more nicely obviously creates far superior results, as evidenced by the unique approach of Southwest Airlines (now also emulated by WestJet).
Asking employees how to create more CONVENIENCE for customers will both engage the employees and at the same time improve customer relations. It’s reported that 82% of all lost customers is due to employee apathy or just plain rudeness.
We’ve talked often of RECOGNITION as the most motivational tool with employees. Check chapter 7 of the “CEO Tools” book for ideas here (available from Amazon at very low price).
Finally, the CEO and senior managers can set the example by focusing on customers in many ways. Just talking positively about customers to employees or being with customers will do it. Clark Johnson, the hugely successful of Pier 1 Imports, wrote a letter every week to all employees about customers; every week for over seven years!
We really hope these few tools will boost your top and bottom-lines throughout 2013!
Kindest regards, Kraig
January 3rd, 2013
January’s 12-Seasons kicks the year off right by focusing on getting more top-line results, more volume in your business. Not a re-hash, but better ways for you to identify and get new customers and more sales with existing customers. Here are the top five top-line improvers, in rank order:
Customer TOMA Tool
Customer Care Tool
Give Customers 100:100
What is each and how implement to get remarkable results? The most impactful tool for getting new customers and selling existing customers more is the TOMA (top-of-mind-awareness) system given to us by the greatest marketing guru, Jim Cecil. Very simply, touch both customers and prospects eight times a year with a “non-selling” message…they will contact YOU the minute they need what you do sell. You will be Top-of-Mind with them! That simple! Use a CRM (customer relationship management) tool to send them a personal card, a tool that will help them, an article that might be of interest, just a “touch.” See the free TOMA tool on our website for more detail.
Customer Care is also simple: provide amenities to your customer that no one else does. Like an informational monthly summary that talks about their business, not yours.
Feed Customer Garden (also from Jim Cecil): separate your customers into three or four groups that individually need a different kind of “customer care” — your competitors don’t do this!
Give Customers 100:100 is a combination of the above: when you provide the accumulated attention from the above tools, you are giving the customer “100%” or maybe even 110%. Then when you need favors of customers, they will be happy to accommodate a request for a one-time earlier payment, or understanding of a slightly late shipment, or a concession of some other kind. They’re willing to give 100% because you did.
Finally, the Customer Calendar is simply a tracking system to assure you are doing the above new behaviors; a simple reminder system to alert you to take action. More detail on each tool is available at www.ceotools.com and www.ceotools.com/BLOG for you.
As always, we hope these ideas help your top-line and thereby your bottom-line in 2013!
With very best New Year and business betterment wishes, Kraig
January 2nd, 2013
In 2013, we’ve been asked to focus “12 Seasons of Business” first on things that increase top-line results, and second on things that bring more to the bottom-line. This of course assumes everyone has heard plenty this past year on cash management, which in many ways is more paramount than P&L, particularly with the continuing uncertain times ahead. If you still need better cash focus, please visit our website to check out Cash Manager Tool and our blogsite to search on “cash” to see numerous 2012 short articles on improved cash management.
With that as the focus, here are the topics for each month:
1) Top five customer tools to grow top-line results.
2) Top five people tools to grow top and bottom lines.
3) Top five planning tools to improve focus on goals.
4) Top five strategy tools to grow top-line.
5) Top five goal realization tools.
6) Top five tools to track key indicators and turn measure-into-action.
7) Top five ideas to incrementally grow top-line.
8) Top five ideas to handle inflation.
9) Top five ideas to sell more to existing customers.
10) Top five ideas to sell more to new customers.
11) Top five tools for probable 2014 recession.
12) Top five tools of the year!
Once again, our hope is that the 2013 year brings you huge success using these and other business tools! Also included below is the Top 45 Tools list.
Very best throughout 2013, Kraig
January 1st, 2013
Our twelve seasons for December focuses on managing success throughout 2013! The following thoughts will improve your business whether your industry surges or regresses in 2013 due to a possible economic slowdown or downturn.
To make the upcoming year more prosperous, undertake a simple 3-step technique: first, build a mini-dashboard of just a few key indicators (less than one hour’s effort); then second, take one-half hour with your senior managers each month to review these together; and third, agree with each manager the specific, time-definite, actions that will be taken to make your business better in the coming month.
To help with this, all the CEO Tools at www.ceotools.com have now been UPGRADED FOR USE THROUGH THE END OF 2013 to help effect those three steps. Grab the 4-Charts Tool NOW and start managing your destiny in 2013 with the 3-step technique. Even better, get the 5-Charts Tool, a mini-dashboard which includes the 4-Charts, and then add your own “WHAT CAUSES SALES” — the fifth chart all set and ready for your use now. Click on New Tools Catalog above-left at www.ceotools.com to see and get these tools for 2013. You can build them yourselves using the free PDF –or– download the Excel version and you can copy-paste your numbers into the data sheet and begin success planning and management immediately!
The idea here is to create that little key-indicator dashboard and take action! Please print the free PDF for the 4-Chart and 5-Chart tools from “New Tools Catalog” and build that mini-dashboard. Voila, you’re quickly on your way to an improved 2013 even before the new year begins in January!
May this coming year bring to you much success using these and other business tools!
Best holiday and Holy Day wishes to all, Kraig