It’s never my fault…

“It is a remarkable fact, but few businesses ever seem to fail because of excessive leverage, misconceived strategies, or inability to meet the needs of their customers. They struggle because banks unreasonably refuse further credit, or because of unseasonable weather, or some unexpected adverse effect such as a terrorist attack. Most often, however, their difficulties are the result of some insufficiently supportive government policy. The corporate executive who says “we got it wrong” is as rare as the politician who makes a similar admission.”

John Kay writing in the FT 7th/8th July 2018

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Rees’s Reads #1 – Setting The Table by Danny Meyer

Setting The Table – The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business

This book should be compulsory reading for everyone who works in any business that serves customers face to face. I believe it is essential for any dentist looking to differentiate themselves – especially from corporate practices.

Danny Meyer is a restauranteur. The CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group this books describes how his passion for food and service led to his founding, over a 21 year period, five “white-table” restaurants, an urban barbecue joint, a feel-good jazz club, a neo-roadside hotdog & burger stand, three modern museum cafes and on off-premises, restaurant quality catering company. At the time of writing he had not had to close any of them.

The basis of his an any successful restaurants is the quality of the food allied with a dedication to the best possible service. Danny describes the non-food elements as “hospitality”. His aim when opening a new venue is to, “draw the best elements of the classic, make it authentic for its present context, and then try to execute it with excellence.” 

Throughout the book he presents case studies, words of wisdom, stories of what has worked and what hasn’t, the lessons he has learned and above all how to be successful by serving the public but on your own terms.

Here are a few quotes:

Self: I have always viewed excellence as a journey rather than a destination. Taking that journey demands a form of athleticism. It is the athlete’s nature to call on all resources to compete and win. I believe it’s possible to apply to business the same skills I would apply on a tennis court or baseball diamond. I see this as a combination of innate ability, focused training, and a persistent zeal to win.

Marketing: Know Thyself: Before you go to market, know what you are selling and to whom. It’s a very rare business that can (or should) be all things to all people. Be the best you can be within a reasonably tight product focus. That will help you improve yourself and help your customers to know how and when to buy your product.

Service: Best described through what he has written of how he discovered “enlightened hospitality” after his wife miscarried twins and his life took a different perspective. He describes outlining what he considered non-negotiable about how he does business. “Nothing would ever matter more to me than how we expressed hospitality to each one another. And then in descending order, our next core values would be to extend gracious hospitality to our guests, our community, our suppliers, and finally our investors.”

People: He talks about the 51% that he looks for in employees whether they be chefs or the front of house team. He says he wants people who have 51% emotional hospitality and 49% technical ability. He seeks the “excellence reflex” in people which is a natural reaction to fix something that isn’t right, or to improve something that could be better. “This “excellence reflex” is rooted in instinct and upbringing, and then constantly honed through awareness, caring and practice.”

In the chapter, “Whoever wrote the rule…?” he questions acceptance of the status quo and the conventional ways of doing things saying, “The commitment to add something fresh to an existing dialogue informs every decision my colleagues and I make.”

I could go on but I have exceeded the 500 words I allow myself here. Just get the book, read it and be inspired.

Buy it from The Book Depository HERE.

 

The snowflake economy

If your business depends upon discretionary spending take note:
Buy now, pay later. The retail sector has had a tough start to the year with some big names heading into administration. Last week’s snow will have made things even worse as shoppers stayed away from the high street. So it is unfortunate timing that January’s lending data showed even more spending is occurring on credit. Credit card balances rose at almost 10%, suggesting consumers are still keen to buy now and pay later. Whether this is from renewed confidence in their future finances or because the cash ran out over Christmas remains to be seen but will have big consequences for future growth.
Turning tide. Consumer credit might be threatening double digit growth, but companies are being much more cautious with their finances. Borrowing in January by UK businesses was only 1% higher than a year ago. That’s quite a slowdown given that growth of 2-3% was typical through most of last year. Even more striking is the behaviour of different sized firms. Broadly speaking, large companies are still borrowing, but SMEs now owe no more than they did in January 2017. Is this Brexit uncertainty finally beginning to bite, or a gradual response to the Bank of England’s message that we should expect rates to rise? Either way, the contrast to the behaviour of households is stark.
and if you’re in your 40s and feeling chipper you’re bucking the trend.
Happiness. Like Churchill on democracy, GDP is the worst way to measure an economy, apart from all the others. One criticism is GDP fails to measure the things that matter, like happiness or anxiety. So the ONS produces a ‘personal wellbeing index’. The good news is that we were slightly chirpier in 2017 than in 2016 – and we’ve getting steadily more perky since the index began in 2012. Women tend to feel happier, more worthwhile and yet also more anxious than men. Oh, and we’re most happy in our 60s and 70s, least happy in our 40s. Sounds about right.

We are NOT Goldfish

The Year End clear out – this from 2014! Has anything changed?

I don’t know why I’m still surprised by people who use ad blockers but still spend money on advertising…

Advertising is a huge source of the “data pollution” Fred Wilson talked about at LeWeb a few weeks ago. (See here, starting at about 23 minutes in.)

What’s wrong with this view, and this approach, is the architectural assumption that:

  1. We are consumers and nothing more. Fish in a bowl.
  2. The Net — and the Web especially — is a container.
  3. Advertisers have a right to target us in that container. And to track us so we can be targeted.
  4. Negative externalities, such as data pollution, don’t matter.
  5. This can all be rationalized as an economic necessity.

Yet here is what remains true, regardless of the prevailing assumptions of the marketing world:

  1. We are not fish. Rather, as Cluetrain put it (in 1999!), we are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. we are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. deal with it.
  2. The Net was designed as a wide open space where all the intelligence that matters is at its ends, and each of us sits (stands, walks, drives) at one.
  3. Even if advertisers have a legal right to target us, their manners are terrible and doomed for correction.
  4. Negative externalities matter. A lot. As Fred said in his talk, we eventually dealt with the pollution caused by industry, and we’ll deal with it in the virtual world as well.
  5. The larger economic necessity is for a well-functioning marketplace. We’ll get that online once free customers prove more valuable than captive ones.

The key is to replicate online the experience of operating as a free and independent customer in the physical world.

For example, when you go into a store, your default state is anonymity. Unless you are already known by name to the people at the store,  you are nameless by default. This is a civic grace. There is no need to know everybody by name, and to do so might actually slow things down and make the world strange and creepy. (Ask anybody who has lived in a surveillance state, such as East Germany before it fell, what it is like to be followed, or to know you might be followed, all the time.) We haven’t yet invented ways to be anonymous online, or to control one’s anonymity. But that’s a challenge, isn’t it? Meaning it is also a market opportunity.

We’ve lived in a fishbowl long enough. Time to get human. I guarantee there’s a lot more money coming from human beings than from fish whose only utterances are clicks.

Obsess Over Your Customers, Not Your Rivals

From HBR, worth a read and then asking yourself some questions….

The starting point of most competitive analysis is a question: Who is your competition? That’s because most companies view their competition as another brand, product, or service. But smart leaders and organizations go broader.

The question is not who your competition is but what it is. And the answer is this: Your competition is any and every obstacle your customers encounter along their journeys to solving the human, high-level problems your company exists to solve…..

….Sure, someone in your company needs to understand the marketplace: who your competition is, what other products are on the market, and how they are doing, at a basic level. But there’s a point at which paying attention to other companies and what they’re doing interferes with your team’s ability to immerse itself in the world of your consumer. Focusing on competitive products and companies often leads to “me-too” products, which purport to compete with or iterate on something that customers might not have liked much in the first place.

Conclusion:

  • First, rethink what you sell.
  • Next, rethink your customers.
  • Now, focus on their problems.

Read full article HERE

 

 

Kolbe Wisdom™ and Sales & Service

KOLBE WISDOM™ AND SALES & SERVICE

If “selling” can be defined as the exchange of goods or a service for money, then it stands to reason that the process is influenced by the instincts of both buyer and seller. So by knowing the Modus Operandi™ (MO) of your team you can predict how they will work at maximum effectiveness.

In Dentistry there is so much more than just selling an item of treatment or even a service. You and your team are engaging in a life-long relationship with any new patient to your practice. Sadly if you read and listen to some of the people advising dental professionals you would think it’s simple. That all you need to do is follow the memorised script to its, apparently, logical conclusion for effortless success.

This approach, presuming one size fits all, not only fails to bring the best out of the members of the team but also omits any consideration of the buying instincts of the patient, client or customer.

A quick review:
In previous postings I have outlined the principles behind Kolbe Wisdom™ and how, by using the 32-question Kolbe A Index, it is possible to identify the striving instincts that drive natural behaviours.

I outlined the four Conative Characteristics:

  • Fact Finder – Gathering and sharing of information – Specifiers.
  • Follow Through – Sorting and Storing Information – Classifiers.
  • Quick Start – Dealing with risk and uncertainty – Improvisers.
  • Implementation – Handling space and intangibles – Builders.

Each Action Mode has three Zones of Operation, which determine how the individual acts when using it.

  • Initiating Zone: how they insist on beginning the problem-solving process.
  • Accommodation Zone: how they respond to people and situations.
  • Preventing Zone: how they avoid or resist problems.

We lead from different strengths and it is the mix of the intensities in each of these characteristics that gives rise to our individual ways of doing things – our modus operandi, or MO.

A successful sales team is (like any other team) a synergistic group that takes advantage of all the instinctive insistencies. Too often it is presumed that an individual with what is deemed to be a “sales personality”, described as outgoing, high-energy and driven – frequently by greed – is the right person to have in charge of sales. If that were the case and these are the qualities to succeed in sales there wouldn’t be the failures in selection that there are now.

Successful selling requires creativity; it’s a matter of pure instinct. Most recruitment techniques, like sales training courses, miss the point. There is little point in selecting the extrovert because he or she is the life and soul of a party. Similarly, there is nothing to be achieved by teaching manipulative techniques in mirroring and gaining a false sense of rapport in order to make a one-off sale which will be followed by buyer’s remorse when their innate needs surface.

The phrase about a leopard changing its spots comes to mind when considering the different ways that a member of the Dental Team will initiate in everything they do, not least the sales process.

Take, for example, a discussion about rebuilding a broken down dentition. A Fact Finder would instinctively want to know everything about the patient before describing the treatment required. Someone who initiates in Follow Through would be keen to describe the reliability and longevity of the proposed work and perhaps offer a guarantee. In Quick Start the clinician will just want the patient to trust their judgement and will be itching to get going. The Implementor requires something tangible like models, wax ups and radiographs, so that their instinctive needs are met.

Unless the authentic instinctive nature of the person involved in dealing with the patient is allowed full rein then they will be unfulfilled, inefficient and ultimately unhappy. This will soon show itself in their dealings with patients and will lead to less than optimum performance of the whole team.

Good sales people meet their customers’ needs by using their instinct to find alternatives that work with the instincts of their customers. The process must be win-win without manipulation of the client to act contrary to their best interests.

When instinctive needs are met, there’s no procrastination, no buyers’ remorse and no customer dissatisfaction. That is the sales process at its best.

Sadly the reality is that much sales talk is artificial communication, which ignores buyers’ instincts in pursuit of the “close the deal” attitude. Until this changes, the majority of dental people in “sales” including front desk, nurses, hygienists, treatment co-ordinators, associates and, above all, practice owners will continue to fail and they and their patients will continue to miss having their needs met.

Want to discover your Kolbe A? HERE

Next week: Sales considering the patients’ MO™.

During this piece I have, once again, borrowed and quoted heavily from Kathy Kolbe’s book “Pure Instinct” which is available from Kolbe Corporation through their website www.kolbe.com.

It is possible that some of the concepts I discuss will not be clear to the reader who has not read the earlier articles, for back copies please email me.

They shopped until they dropped and then they stopped….

On the very rare occasions I am in large shopping “malls” (usually visiting a John Lewis – predictable I know) I wonder, “how do these places make any money”?

Interesting article in the New York Times about the changes in US retail via Benedict Evans’ Newsletter where he says:

Is American retail at a tipping point? (Arguably, it passed one several years ago). The USA has 2-3x more retail square footage per capita than other developed countries, and that may now be starting to collapse, driving (sic) by commerce but also lots of other factors.

Worth a read HERE.

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