Category Archives for "F.O.R.C.E. Formula™"

The Ever Fickle Customer and Why Customer Experience is Key

thumbs up thumbs downThis blog post was going to be about the nearly perfect customer experience I initially experienced when I rented a car from Enterprise a couple of weeks ago.  I got busy and didn’t get around to writing the post — which, in retrospect, was perfect.

A back-story is in order:  My car — a Mazda 6 which I am reluctant to upgrade because we are preparing to go on a worldwide adventure for a few years —  was making funky noises on a road trip to Whistler in December.  Fortunately, my hubby knows his way around an engine and he thought to check the oil.   We were down to 1 litre, even though we’ve been getting the car maintenance done at the local Mazda dealership since we bought it — uggh.

Ever since then, I’ve been reluctant to take the car on a big road trip, especially if I’m by myself, so I decided to rent a car for a meeting in Victoria, which is a 3 hour drive away.

I was bowled over by my initial experience with the car rental.  I’d booked using CarRentals.com and I really wasn’t expecting much.  However, the day before I was to pick up the car I got a phone call from a representative from Enterprise thanking me for booking and asking if I needed a pick-up.  I hadn’t considered getting picked up but when the offer came I said “sure”.  Pick me up at 1pm.

The pick-up was late — by about 45 min — which was not okay.  I know it’s a small operation but when people have an appointment and need a car, they need to be picked up on time.  Fortunately, I’d given myself an hour “buffer” between when I wanted to leave and when I needed to leave, so I was still able to make my appointment — (only “just” though because I’d left later and I hit rush-hour traffic).

The driver was friendly and apart from the delay, the pick-up was welcome.

When I arrived at Enterprise, the representative was great — and attempted to get me out of the office quickly to make up for the delay.  The guy who phoned me came out of the “back office” and introduced himself, shaking my hand and thanking me.  I was willing to forgive the lateness.

The rental itself went well — I drove 6 hours that day with no complaints.

When I took the car back the next day, there was a sign on the door which indicated they’d be back in 15 minutes — so I went to the coffee shop.  When I returned, the 2 employees who had welcomed me the day before were walking towards the cars and didn’t see me arrive.

I entered the premise — stepping over a small red bucket, a cloth and a spray bottle, which were sitting right in front of the one door out of two which were unlocked.  I waited a few minutes before the guy who had phoned me and welcomed me the day before returned.   He was surprised to see me waiting but quickly “returned” the car.

He asked how they could do better and by now I was no longer excited.

As I was leaving, I had to step over the bucket etc. again (which he had done himself twice — once to go outside to inspect the car — the other time when he came back inside).  I asked him why they were there and I was told that he was attempting to get the windows cleaned but they were busy.

What appears to have happened here is that the initial “wow” was all dictated by either corporate policy or corporate training but there was a disconnect in the rest of the experience.  Again, I realize it’s a small location and there isn’t enough demand to keep multiple people on staff — however, there are opportunities for improvement.

Customer Experience is in Every Business Decision

Next Rental – Approximately 1 week later

My daughter phoned from the ferry to say she was coming early and her friend couldn’t pick her up for hours — and considering my engine was now on the garage floor thanks to hubby, I decided to book a rental car again from Enterprise.  I showed up 15 minutes later and the car was not ready, which is understandable and forgivable.

I was asked to sit for 2 minutes while she washed the car (I was skeptical she could wash a car in 2 min but I didn’t say anything).   About 10 minutes later, I told one of the other employees that I was going to get lunch and I’d be back.
This time I was given a FIAT.

However, there was a problem with the car — on the way home the engine light came on and I immediately pulled over.  I called the office and explained the situation.   Again the experience was less than ideal — first response was could I take the car to the Nanaimo office (no — I didn’t know where it was — and besides the check engine light was on!).

We waited by the side of the road for an answer — we got one — someone would pick us up but it would take at least an hour (I expected 90 minutes).

I asked if it was safe to drive back to the mall because the last thing I needed was another engine issue!  I was told it would be fine, so I drove to Chapters and waited for a call to let me know how long it would be until someone picked us up.

Then I got the phone call — there was no-one who could pick us up.  I could call Roadside Assistance on the back of the rental form but it would likely result in a charge (and they wouldn’t get us home) or I could drive the car back — since the Nanaimo office also had problems with their FIATs giving “check engine lights” coming on randomly too.  In fact 2 out of their 5 cars has this issue — why they were still part of the fleet, who knows.

I expressed my concern about driving with a check engine light on and that I didn’t want to be held responsible if the engine failed.  I was assured that I would not be held responsible for anything should it happen.

A simple trip to pick up my daughter at the ferry — about 75 minutes away — turned into a completely stressful event.

I returned the car the next day — Good Friday — when the location was closed.   I put the keys into the return box, only to get them stuck.  I couldn’t open the return box door to see if the keys had dropped.  I phoned and left a message that someone should come and fix the box since I couldn’t confirm the keys had been “dropped” and if anyone else was returning that day they may not be able to return theirs.

(BTW, don’t even get me going on the fuel options — I’ve tried the return it as you got it and the return it empty, neither of them makes sense for the customer.  Enterprise… fill the car up before you rent it!)

Since Friday (it’s now Monday), I have heard nothing — nothing at all — and to me this is the most disturbing part of the customer experience.

Enterprise started off sooo well, yet I had a hell of a time with my last rental and no-one has even called to offer me anything — no thank you for letting them know about the key problem, no thank you for letting them know the check engine light went off when I got back home, no thank you for renting from them, no consideration as to the stress caused by driving a car 100km with a check engine light on, no apologies, no credit — nothing — not a word.

I have another car rental with Enterprise next week — and I wonder why.

Customer Experience Lessons

“Corporate” can dictate policy, procedures and practices and they can be followed with great results (as experienced with the first few  touch points I had, forgiving the delay in pick-up)

However, without a team absolutely on-board with the vision, the mission, the values and — most importantly —  a desire to deliver the best customer experience — a positive customer experience is not going to happen.

Update:  Last weekend I rented again from Enterprise.  I received the phone call 24 hours in advance again — but no offer to pick me up.  I showed up and spoke with the manager, Ryan.   My purse was open and he noticed the contract I had brought with me.  He asked about it and I said that I’d like to talk to him about what happened with that rental.  I explained the stress, the inconvenience etc. and he apologized.  He asked what I’d like — I said, I’d like you to write this rental off.  He said he couldn’t but what he could do is give me this rental (a 3 day rental), an upgrade and a tank of gas.  He also told me I could return the car to the airport which would alleviate the key drop problem I encountered.

I talked about customer experience and why consistency was so important.  I offered suggestions and let him know this is an area of expertise for me.  He kept checking in with me to ensure that he was meeting my expectations.   All, in all, he did everything he could and this experience makes for a great case study about why getting it right in the first place is a lot easier than attempting to fix it afterwards.

If you’d like to know more about how to transform your business or reinvent your life, contact Carol or check out how to work with Carol

What lessons do you take away from this experience?

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F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ for Business Transformation – Reach

F.O.R.C.E. Formula ™ for Business Transformation – Reach

The F.O.R.C.E. Formula™  is a comprehensive review and action plan for transforming 5 primary areas of business that are ripe for transformation.  Regardless of whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned entrepreneur, a small business owner, a professional services provider or a leader in the corporate world, the F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ transforms the way you do business.

Within each of the 5 primary areas for business transformation there are 5 key elements and within those 5 key elements there are 5 actions, activities or questions to be answered.

In this video Carol explains the R in the Formula — Reach

How are you expanding your reach in a way that is both profitable and engaging?  How are you leveraging your expertise and the expertise in your business?  Are you using social media platforms to engage with customers and prospects?  Do you have a mobile marketing strategy and plan — everything from a website that looks good on a mobile phone, to using text messaging, a mobile app and even Near Field Communication?  Who are your ideal strategic partners to expand your reach?  Who can you partner with to enter new markets?  How can you get your non-competing but complementary products and services into the hands of another business’ customers?  Do you have products or services that can be licensed?   Are you leveraging new media platforms such as podcasts, Hangouts on Air, Kindle etc.

In this module – which is a big one – you will learn multiple ways to increase your reach with little more than commitment on your part and a small budget for tools or specialized services.

What lessons do you take away from this post?

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F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ for Business Transformation – Operations

F.O.R.C.E. Formula ™ for Business Transformation – Operations

The F.O.R.C.E. Formula™  is a comprehensive review and action plan for transforming 5 primary areas of business that are ripe for transformation.  Regardless of whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned entrepreneur, a small business owner, a professional services provider or a leader in the corporate world, the F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ transforms the way you do business.

Within each of the 5 primary areas for business transformation there are 5 key elements and within those 5 key elements there are 5 actions, activities or questions to be answered.

In this video Carol explains the O in the Formula — Operations

Your operations are — in a nutshell — the way you do everything.  Do you have defined systems and processes for everything so that your training is simplified and your consistency is enhanced?    Where is your focus with your decisions and decision making?  What are people complaining about?  What is your business model or business models?  Do you have passive and/or recurring revenue — either as your primary business model or a secondary business model?  Do you have a well-oiled sales machine?   Are your vendors and partners in alignment with your business mission and values?  How can you leverage your relationship with them?

What lessons do you take away from this post?

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Career Reinvention

Is a Career Reinvention in Your Future?

hate-jobAs a consultant who helps businesses become more profitable by leveraging the relationships they have with their employees — and as a previously miserable employee — I know how challenging it is to have employees in the wrong role, at the wrong company and managed by the wrong supervisor.

From your perspective as an employee, being in the wrong company, the wrong role and/or managed by the wrong supervisor is no fun at all and from the employer’s perspective it’s expensive and potentially disastrous.   A misalignment between employee and employer is also the cause of unnecessary stress and health issues on behalf of the employee while also being a cause of lower productivity and profitability for the employer and nobody wants that!

Wearing my miserable employee hat for a moment, the reason I was miserable was that I was “stuck” in that job.  There were no other comparable jobs that paid as well in my community and as a single Mom I needed a well paying job that also had regular hours.

Feedback and recognition — two elements needed for employee engagement were lacking.  I did not have one performance evaluation in the 9 years I worked for the company — although I was suspended on my birthday once — I won’t forget that day!

I did not have any opportunities for advancement (perhaps it was my attitude 😉 — another driver of employee engagement (ugh)..

… and I had no idea what the mission or the vision was for the company and I certainly didn’t know how my role fit in — and I had a few roles within the company over those 9 years.

My managers didn’t manage — I really don’t know what they did — and my supervisors ranged from being great to downright horrible.

My trust in the abilities of senior executives was lacking (trust is another driver of employee engagement!) because the executives gave absolutely no indication that they cared about anything other than wheeling and dealing — which resulted in huge bonuses on top of their salaries.   I never saw an executive — ever — in my 9 years there, so they had no clue what was really going on “in the field”…

… And then there was the “plan” — the strategy for efficiency which changed like the wind — first we centralized, then we decentralized then the focus was back to centralization — which was my fortunate “out” including a severance package.

I suspect many people who read this Career Reinvention blog post can find themselves nodding their heads in agreement to what is happening in their world.

If you are one of those people who are miserable at work too and you are ready for a career reinvention — which is in the best interest of both you and your employer — allow me to offer you a suggestion or two:

  1. Know what you want.  What do you want for your life?  What is your ideal lifestyle?   What does your ideal day look like?  Your ideal week look like?  Who are you working with?  What are you doing?  What are you feeling?  Where do you live?  What are your clothes like?  Do you have children and if so, where do they go to school, who do they hang out with, what are their goals for their life?  Become very clear on what YOU want.
  2. Figure out your gap.  The role of every consultant, marketer and salesperson is to figure out where the “ideal customer” or “prospect” is now compared to where they want to be and then they propose the bridge over the gap.  For your career, where are you now?  Where do you want to be (see question #1)? How do you close the gap?
  3. Create your plan.  Using what you’ve uncovered in the first two steps, how are you going to close your gap — realistically — how will you fit in the training, mentoring and experience you need?  Are you able to take a leap right now or do you need to be more conservative and methodical?
  4. Treat your career like a business.  Yes, a business — you are the CEO of “Brand You” — the strategist, the sales person, the service person and the cheerleader for your career.
    1. If you intend to stay with the same company but in a different role — do the same “gap analysis” you did with your career but instead do it for the company and present it to them.
    2. If you see a company you’d like to work with, connect with people inside of the organization — LinkedIn is a great place — to find out what it’s like to work at that company.  Be friendly, be transparent and be honest about why you are contacting people and ask for their opinion.  Realize that the person you contact won’t open up to a complete stranger on the first contact, so tread slowly and carefully.  See if you can connect with the person on Skype or a Google Hangout — so they can get a sense of who you are.  Have specific questions — not an interrogation — but questions to help you determine if this organization is a better fit for you.  Questions framed well are obviously better.  Questions such as “It’s really important to me that I have the freedom to _______, is this something that happens at XYZ company?”  The more people you can speak to, the better — after all, every person has his / her own “stuff” going on too.
    3. If you were a sales person, what would you sell to the company to make it better?  (BTW, you ARE a salesperson!)
    4. If you were a consultant, how would you improve the business? (BTW, you ARE a consultant — you know ways to make a business better!)
    5. Create a business case  and a sales pitch and pitch yourself as the one and only specialist who should be considered for this role.   Be memorable (in a good way!).  Note that you should have done some “sleuthing” before this pitch — find the hiring manager on social media (not the recruiting person) and make note of what he/she shares.   What is his/her name (use it!)?  Is he/she active in any charities?  Does he/she participate in sports?  The arts?
    6. When you get the interview — mix it up.  Without being obnoxious, ensure that you have the opportunity to pitch your plan.  Tell the hiring manager why you requested the meeting — remember you did request it when you created your pitch — and then have a conversation.  You will likely have to humour the “usual” hiring questions, however, it’s also important that you show the research you’ve done and also interview the hiring manager.  You want to be sure that you can work for this person, in this role at this company in  a way that gets you to that ideal life / lifestyle you imagined.
  5. Show them that you want it — in this world of computerized resume / cover letter scanners and other “non-humanized” recruiting, show the person you want to work with that you have done your homework and why they should hire you — even if there is no current job posting for what you want.  Your passion and your resourcefulness will get you places that you can never imagine.
  6. Don’t give up — in any sales role it usually takes multiple pitches in different ways to close a sale.  Don’t give up if the response is not positive on the first try.  Remember, this is what YOU want — it’s coming from your ideal lifestyle, your dream life.  If this is what you truly want — the perfect company for you and the perfect role for you — your tenacity will make you memorable and remarkable.
  7. While you are not giving up — find ways to continually improve.  Would writing an article — or better yet — a book help you?  Would appearing on an expert panel?  Would volunteering for a non-profit in a role similar to the one you want, give you more experience?  Would taking a course give you that little “oomph” you were missing?

What you focus on expands — a brilliant lesson I learned from my mentor years ago.  So focus on this ideal lifestyle, this ideal life you want.  Make decisions based on this “dream” and never, ever give up.

As you go through your career reinvention plan, remind yourself that leaving a job that makes you unhappy is in your best interest, the best interest of your loved ones (no-one wants to live with someone who is miserable!) and of course, you are doing your current employer a favour by “releasing the job” for someone better suited.  (Full disclosure — I say the same to employers — release the employee so they can find a better fit for themselves — but doesn’t it sound a whole lot better for you to “release the job for someone else”?!)

On a scale from 1 – 10, how willing are you to take these steps to get out of the job you don’t like / want and to reinvent  your career?  (btw, if you are finding deep resistance, check out the blog post on the Quadruplets of Discontent and see which one is showing up for you.)

Do you need a career reinvention?

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F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ for Business Transformation – Foundation

F.O.R.C.E. Formula ™ for Business Transformation – Foundation

The F.O.R.C.E. Formula™  is a comprehensive review and action plan for transforming 5 primary areas of business that are ripe for transformation.  Regardless of whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned entrepreneur, a small business owner, a professional services provider or a leader in the corporate world, the F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ transforms the way you do business.

Within each of the 5 primary areas for business transformation there are 5 key elements and within those 5 key elements there are 5 actions, activities or questions to be answered.

In this video Carol explains the F in the Formula — The Foundation

The Foundation is your starting point — how you got to where you are at today and setting your benchmarks.   The foundation contemplates  you as a person and how you fit into the leadership role; while it also looks at where you are at with 2 of the key indicators for your business success — employee engagement and customer experience and it benchmarks key transformation financial metrics.

What lessons do you take away from this post?

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Super Simple Marketing Plan

In this post, the last of the Super Simple Plans to reinvent your business or to launch your business quickly we are creating our super simple marketing plan.

If you missed the Super Simple Business Plan post, click here.

If you missed the Super Simple Marketing Plan Preparation post, click here.

What you’ve done so far is get very clear on your vision, mission, strategy, ideal customer and what you are going to sell in a way that differentiates yourself from others.  Now it’s time to create your Super Simple Marketing Plan – based on Guerrilla Marketing concepts — so you can get going.

7 Sentence Marketing Plan

marketing scrabbleAll the prep work you’ve just done now translates into your 7 sentence marketing plan.  If you have more than one product for more than one audience you can and should create one marketing plan for each but let’s just create one for now

The Specific Purpose of My Marketing is to:  (start with a verb/action word. For example get people to sign up for a free consultation)
The Competitive Advantage I Want to Stress is:
Our Target Audience is:
Our Ideal Customers (for This Product/Service) Are: (complete for each product/service)
The Marketing Tools to gain exposure and to lower Our Customer Acquisition Cost are:
 Our Niche in the Market is: :
Our Marketing Budget Will Be ______ % of Our Projected Gross Sales in Year One.

Now that you know what you are selling and how you are going to market, it’s time for you to get going!  In future posts I’ll explain why your customer experience is so critical to your success.  Until then…

What do you think of this Super Simple Marketing Plan?

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Super Simple Business Plan

When I first got the urge to become an entrepreneur I needed to create a business plan so that I would be approved into a government program.   The program was designed to support those who wanted to create a business instead of looking for work.  In theory it was a great program because it supported small business owners and big-vision entrepreneurs alike.  When we succeeded, we would presumably hire employees too.

Although many applicants didn’t make it into the program and many didn’t make it beyond the first couple of years in business, I was one of the fortunate ones as I’m still in business all these years later.  The program worked for me and I was a “poster child” for the program when I won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004.

There was one huge problem with the program though — the business plan.  I worked on that plan for approximately 8 months.  Back and forth I went with the approval committee — adding and editing the plan.  They didn’t “get” my business plan.  They didn’t understand the software component that I included.  They didn’t understand the industry.  So 75 pages later and nearly the entire “eligible time” to receive employment benefits later, my plan was finally approved.

Fortunately, I was creating my business while I was writing the plan — my business was service based and my primary marketing channel was my website (back in 1996).  However, the lost opportunities with this “distraction” of writing the plan were many.   I could have attracted Venture Capital money to support the software component of my plan as I knew — by looking at my tracking stats — that many VC firms were checking out my website .  By the time I was given their stamp of approval though my idea wasn’t unique any more.  New players had launched their software and I ended up being a reseller for them instead.

After this experience, I vowed never to waste time writing a business plan as extensive and — frankly — fictional as that first business plan.   Instead, I am all about getting clear on what you want while being flexible to readjust as needed.   You need to know your vision and mission, unique selling proposition and, of course, you need to have a product that your ideal customer is desperately looking for and willing to buy at a price that produces a profit.   You need to have a marketing plan and you need to have a business sense.  Beyond that though, it’s a trial and error learning experience.  You will do some things that will work, other things will fail.  Some of the things that work today won’t work next month.  Some of the failures today can be your biggest success stories tomorrow with some alterations.

Which brings me to the subject of this post.

A Super Simple Business Plan

SuperSimpleBusinessPlan

 

Vision

  • What are you building?  In your mind, what does the end result look like? (Remember your purpose, motivators, values etc.)

Mission

  • What are the reasons for this business? Answer “Why do we exist?”

Goals and Objectives (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Driven)

  • What are you going to do to achieve your vision?  What results will be measured? What does success look like and how will you measure it? (You will likely have multiple objectives such as “Achieve 5% market share by 2014″ or ” $100,000 monthly revenue by Q3 2013″ Earn $100,000 this year, etc. )

Strategies

  • How are you going to achieve your Objectives?  What will you do to make you successful?  What is your plan?

Action Plan

  • What action items will we do to make the strategies come to life?

That’s it.  This super simple business plan, along with your marketing plan and your 90 day strategic plan is enough to get you going quickly — provided you are not seeking money from a bank or the government!

Money loves speed — so if you want to reinvent yourself or your business — get moving.

Think through your plan and answer these questions thoroughly.  If you can’t answer succinctly and deeply keep working on it.  By the time you’ve finished, you should be able to hand your plan to anyone and they will “get it” in terms of what you are intending to create, why it is going to solve a problem and that it will work.

What do you think of this plan?

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What is a S.T.A.R. Reinvention?

Star_Logo_Final

People ask me all the time “What is the difference between reinvention and adaptation?” and my answer is that adaptation is like a chameleon whereas reinvention is like a caterpillar.

The chameleon adapts and changes according to its surroundings yet you always recognize it as a chameleon.  On the other hand, the caterpillar is unrecognizable when it becomes a butterfly.

Reinvention is the same — you don’t just adapt, your reinvention process makes you unrecognizable to those who knew you or your business beforehand.

For those who choose to reinvent their health, the physical changes will be like night and day.  When someone leaves a dysfunctional relationship, you will notice a huge change in the person physically, emotionally and mentally.  For business owners who reinvent their business — their business model, product line, service standards, corporate culture, marketing strategies or operations, the change is obvious to everyone.

So why do some reinventions work and others don’t?

Part of the equation is the commitment of the person leading the reinvention, however the main reason is that they lack the four pillars of a successful reinvention.

S = Sustainable

T = Transformational

A = Attractive

R = Resourceful

Sustainable

I think it goes without saying that a reinvention that isn’t sustainable shouldn’t be attempted.   As I mentioned above, your commitment is the first step.  However, can you keep going over the long term?  How innovative is your reinvention?  Having a focus on sustainability is the key for a S.T.A.R Reinvention.

Transformational

A reinvention transforms lives — your life and the lives of those around you.  A S.T.A.R. reinvention transforms those lives in a positive way.

If you are reinventing your business, your employees lives will be transformed — especially when you adopt a culture which supports employee engagement (changing culture is hard but not impossible).  When you reinvent your business it will transform the lives of your customers when you adopt a customer-centric focus delivered by engaged employees.  Your vendors will be transformed — some will no longer be needed, replaced by others more aligned to your new vision.  Your strategic alliance partners will be transformed too as you give them more to work with.

Attractive

A S.T.A.R. Reinvention is attractive — it attracts the people you want to have around you.  Employees, vendors, customers, strategic partners, friends, lovers — they want to support you and your vision for your reinvention.

Resourceful

When you tap into what is already inside you, what you already have and what is available to you, your reinvention is a whole lot easier.  S.T.A.R. reinventionists are always resourceful in a positive way!

What lessons do you take from this post?

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F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ – Create More Profit and Time Off in Your Business

FO.R.C.E.-DVD-300x300

The F.O.R.C.E. Formula is all about creating more profit from your current success.

It covers 5 areas of your business

F = Foundation
O = Operations
R = Reach
C = Customer Experience
E = Employee Experience

 

Foundation – Are You and Your Business Aligned?

In my 18 years of hands-on experience as an entrepreneur who specializes in performance improvement and engagement, the success of a business comes from an important place – the “Inner You”. 

You can achieve a level of success without paying attention to the “inner you”.  However, if you are not in alignment with your business at the core of who you are – what your core values are, what your ideal lifestyle looks like and your passions and purpose,  at some point you WILL get stuck.  Some people get stuck getting out of the gate, others get stuck when outside factors test them beyond their “unconscious competence”.     Everyone gets stuck at some point in their journey though and the cause of many of the “sticking-points” are from within.

The Inner You is the place where all of our decisions come from.  When they are working in our favour we don’t tend to think too much about them – we credit our intellect, experience, risk-tolerance, timing, intuition and/or planning.  What we often fail to see is that it’s our beliefs that contribute to our success – our belief in ourselves AND it is also our beliefs that trip us up.

If you want to take your business to a new level – a level you have been unable to achieve so far – you need to take a look inside and see what is going on before making your plans.

Foundation also takes a look at where you are at with your numbers.  Your revenue, gross profit, net profit, number of customers, customer lifetime value, number of prospects, size of your list and other variables that will be used as your benchmark.

Your Operations

Are you operating in a way that is attracting the right people that aligns with your vision?  This is why we start with your foundation – including identifying what you really want and what you are tolerating.  Have you created a business with policies and procedures which annoy your customers and make it difficult for your employees to achieve your vision?  Remember, the decisions you make come from the “inner you” – why did you make the decisions in the first place?  Were you coming from a powerful place when you made those decisions or were there other things in play?

Your Reach

Are you creating an attractive business?  Are you attracting your ideal customers?  Are you growing your tribe of supporters – which includes customers, prospects, referral partners, joint venture partners, employees and prospective employees, vendors, investors and admirers? 

How successful are your current marketing activities?  Have you changed your marketing activities to keep up with the changes in the marketplace or are you still doing the same old things you’ve always done?  Are you trying new ways to reach your ideal customer?  Are you leveraging your expertise and positioning yourself as an expert in the eyes of those you wish to attract?

Your Customer Experience

Your customers’ experiences are the culmination of every decision  you have ever made – from the people you hire, your policies and procedures, your budget allocation decisions, the consistency of service, the quality of your product, through to the various marketing messages you create and all sorts of decisions in between.

If there is one sure-fire way to know that things are out of alignment it’s to take a look at what your customers are saying (or not saying) and doing (or not doing!)

The key to winning the customer loyalty battle is to consistently offer exactly what your marketing messages promise.   Have you cut back on staff to save on payroll costs – and as a result your customers are abandoning their shopping carts – perhaps permanently?  Do you promise speed and efficiency but some days it’s not very speedy or efficient – it depends on who is working?   The discrepancy between your promise and reality is what causes people to complain bitterly so it’s really quite simply – you either change your message to match your experience or you change your experience to match your message.  A heart-centered high achiever will likely choose the latter.

Your Employee Experience

What’s it like to have you as a boss?  Have  you stopped to find out?   S.T.A.R. Businesses have very specific requirements for those they hire  because they understand that the customer experience is controlled by the employees. If you don’t currently have employees, think about the people you delegate tasks to.

Have you shared your vision with your employees?  Do they know exactly what they HAVE to do and what latitude they have in delivering your vision?  Do they truly understand just how important they are to achieving your vision?

Your role in a S.T.A.R. Business is to hire slowly and well; train using your systems; coach; mentor and back-away so your employees can shine.  The result?  You don’t work as much – in fact you actually have time to have fun while also working on WAYS TO LEVERAGE everything you’ve built so far – while your employees deliver your brand promise with each and every touch point they have with your customers.

For some entrepreneurs, this may seem like a dream come true.  I’m here to tell you, there is no feeling like it!  I’ve done it myself – in my own business – after practicing and successfully implementing the systems aspect I teach while I was part of the management team at Whistler Mountain ski resort.

Imagine taking 4 vacations a year – one of them a month long – with your family, knowing that you simply need to check-in to answer questions, provide direction and appreciate your team while your business continues to generate revenue every day!

What lessons do you take from this lesson?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

How to Win The Hearts of Your Customers and Employees

Learn a Customer Experience and Employee Engagement Lesson (While also learning about great PR!)

WestJet knocks one out of the park for its customers and its employees!

Check out the video and see what elements you can do in your own business to improve your customer experience and employee engagement.  We don’t all have the budgets or the networks to pull off what WestJet did — however, we can all do something special with our employees to make the day of our customers.   By including the employees, they had a lot of fun, yet imagine the trickle effect throughout the whole company.

So, my challenge to you for 2014, is what can YOU do in your company to strengthen both customer engagement and employee engagement?  Tell me below in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you!