Making Business Personal Again

It’s not uncommon to find that as businesses grow they have a tendency to lose sight of the very things that made them who they are.

That thing is the relationships the business has built and maintains with its list – the people on your list who have contributed to our success. Your clients! People are so important, they’re the most important part of your business. They’re in our coaching programs, they have invested in our products and services and many of them have watched us develop from individuals with an idea into full-fledged businesses with missions and goals.

As we grow our businesses, we systemize, leverage and build teams. As these things occur, it’s sometimes easy to lose that personal feeling we once had with our team and with the people on our list – the people who are so important to our success and to our business.

It’s going to happen. Your business is going to grow, and as it does you’re going to get busier and you’ll have less time to focus on each individual person along the way. That doesn’t mean your business has to become less personal. You, the business owner, may not have as much time to reach out to each person individually, like you did when you first started your business, but your team is an extension of you and they’re capable of reaching out to make your clients and prospects feel that personal touch from your company, even if it’s not you personally reaching out to them.

The key is to acknowledge them. Acknowledge people with phone calls, support them by answering questions honestly and refer other people to their businesses. Even a simple gesture like sending a card, or a note, or an email, directly from you, when you know a person is going through a difficult or stressful time or they have something going on in their life. Even as your business grows, you still have time for the simple gestures that show just how personal your business still is and just how important your relationship with each individual person on your list is.

One author and business leader, Richard Branson, uses personal touch in his companies a lot. He has over 300 companies and visits each of them at least once a year. Pretty amazing when you think about how busy Richard Branson is. It just shows you the importance he places on it and how much he wants to keep the one-on-one, personal touch alive in all of his companies.

Systemize your business, leverage your business, but don’t lose the personal touch.

Be aware of what you say on phone calls, support people with honest answers, make time for the simple gestures and be you. You’ll be blown away by the amount of growth you will experience just by being you and keeping your business personal.

Purchasing A Business: Change The Persona

Many business owners purchase a business to bring in additional income, to allow them to be their own boss, to take control of their destiny, and to invest in their future. However, one big issue that many business owners don’t realize is that when they purchase a business they are also purchasing the history of that business. If the purchased business has a history of violence, theft, bringing in the wrong type of customers, etc. then this will not change with just a purchase of the business. The business must be changed. Now, the products or services that the business offers to customers doesn’t have to change (upgraded is always nice, though), but the name and look of the business does need to be changed.

Creating a new persona will change the image of the business. Creating a new, cool, hip name for the business, along with a new logo, will let existing and future customers know that an ownership change has taken place and that the way business is conducted will be different. Also, redesigning the interior will change the type of customers the business attracts.

Many times when a business is purchased the new owner doesn’t want to sink a bunch of money into painting, changing out tables, chairs, counters, merchandising racks, etc., but this is necessary to create a new look for the business. If the business is in a rough neighborhood, then the owner may want to look into hiring security to ensure that no incidents take place inside or outside of the business.

Then there is the marketing and advertising of the business. However it was marketed and advertised under the old owner and name will definitely need to change. Bringing in the right type of customers will make the business thrive and will become a destination rather than just another business. The owner can either attempt to market the business through his or her own connections, social media marketing and advertising efforts, through mailers, etc. Or, if the owner is not comfortable with this, he or she can hire a professional to market and advertise the business in areas where it makes sense to draw the appropriate customers from.

For example, the gym I go to down the street from my house used to be under a different gym name, it used to look really scary to approach, and the inside was very disorganized and not somewhere I’d want to workout.

However, when the current owner purchased the business:

  • He changed the name of the gym
  • He changed out all of the machinery
  • He has an organized method for arranging all of the workout equipment
  • He painted the location to be bright and inviting
  • The gym name is on the monument sign
  • There is a sign-up offer banner on the front of the attached business (with arrows pointing to the gym location)
  • There is now security that goes around the parking lot since this is now a 24 hour gym
  • He advertises discounts in the mailer the center sends out to the local community in the mail.

I have to say that I like it a lot more than the previous gym, the way it looks is more inviting, and there is a lot more advertising. He changed the image of the business, but he still offers the same thing the previous owner offered.

Have you experienced a transformation like this of a local business? What were the results?

Business Etiquette Awareness Quiz – Your Manners Matter! Do They Make the Grade?

Workplace manners do matter!

Many studies have shown that workplace incivilities create tension and stress in all types of office settings. Business etiquette encompasses much more than saying “please,” “thank you” “hello” and “goodbye” to coworkers – although these common courtesies do help.

Test your etiquette knowledge. How would you handle these situations? I’m willing to bet you could use a refresher course in basic business manners. Do you manners make the grade? Take this quiz and find out.

1. The following is a proper introduction: “Ms. Boss, I’d like you to meet our client, Mr. Smith.” (True or False)

False. First mention the name of the person of greatest authority or importance. Gender or age is not the deciding factor. When a client is involved, he or she should be mentioned first. A proper business introduction should mention first and last names: “Bill Smith… “

2. If someone forgets to introduce you, it’s appropriate to move on with the conversation without saying anything. (True or False)

False. You should say something like: “My name is _______, I don’t believe we’ve met.” Or, “I am __________, Joe’s wife, and you are?”

3. If YOU forget someone’s name, don’t worry about it. Keep talking. (True or False)

False. It’s OK to admit you can’t remember. Say something like: “Your face is familiar, please help me with your name.” Or, “My mind just went blank, your name is?” Or say: “I’m Marjorie Brody;” then the other person will usually say his or her name.

4. When shaking hands, a man should wait for a woman to extend her hand. (True or False)

False. With greater numbers of women in the workforce, business etiquette has become gender neutral. Women don’t have to hesitate to offer their hands first.

5. Who goes through the revolving door first?

a. Host
b. Visitor

a. Host. That allows him or her to be ready on the other side to lead the guest to where they are meeting.

6. It’s OK to hold private conversations in office bathrooms, elevators and other public spaces. (True or False)

False. The saying “The walls have ears” is true. You never know who could be hearing intimate details of your life or business transaction/conversation. And, it’s inconsiderate at best that you are invading these public areas by being loud.

7. You should always carry a drink in your left hand at a cocktail party. (True or False)

True. This will allow you to properly greet someone with a handshake without having to juggle your drink.

8. What percentage of the message that you communicate to someone is conveyed through your visual appearance?

a. 30%
b. 55%
c. 75%

b. 55% Remember, your package does count – that means your wardrobe should fit and be appropriate for the setting, and you should be properly groomed. Also pay attention to your body language, and don’t forget to smile!

9. When two businesspeople are communicating, the average visual distance is:

a. 1 1/2 feet
b. 3 feet
c. 7 feet

b. 3 feet Any closer and you could be invading their personal space. Any further and you’d have to yell. This distance will vary depending on the country. It’s important to understand cultural differences before doing business in foreign countries.

10. It is appropriate to tell a business associate that his fly is open. (True or False)

True. Otherwise, he will be embarrassed when he learns about it. Why let others see him in this state, if you can take him aside and subtly tell him to zip up? Imagine how you’d feel if no one told you!

11. It is appropriate for women to wear sexy outfits to a company cocktail party. (True or False)

False. The key word here is “company.” This is still a business event, so women need to dress appropriately and professionally.

12. Women should wear stockings and men should wear socks for “business casual” attire. (True or False)

True. Bare feet are almost NEVER acceptable in any work-related setting. The only exception – if your company retreat or business trip is at a beach or pool location and everyone else has on flip flops or sandals. “Business casual” does not mean “dress down.”

13. Your water and wine glasses are placed on the right side of your setting. (True or False)

True Water and wine glasses go on the right hand side above the plate. Remember, glass has five letters, so does the word “right.”

14. To signify that you do not want any wine, turn your wine glass upside down. (True or False)

False All you have to do is wave your hand over it when asked or say, “No thank you.” Most waiters or waitresses will not ask again.

15. Bread should be cut into small pieces with a knife. (True or False)

False Break off small pieces by hand to butter and then eat.

16. The host – the one who does the inviting – pays for the lunch. (True or False)

True Find out your company’s policies BEFORE inviting clients to lunch. Be selective about the restaurant and make sure it’s within your budget.

17. You place your napkin on the chair when finished dining and when leaving the table. (True or False)

False The napkin (cloth or linen) is placed on the table, to the left of the plate when finished eating.

18. If you are disconnected, it is the caller’s responsibility to redial. (True or False)

True You initiated the call; you have to redial if something happens to the connection. It doesn’t matter how it happened.

19. When using a speaker phone, you should announce if anyone else is present before a conversation begins. (True or False)

True If you must use a speaker phone (something I recommend avoiding unless it’s a group call), it is rude not to inform all parties involved in the conversation who is present.

20. If you’re out of the office it’s important to change your voice-mail message. (True or False)

True You should record a greeting that says something like: “I’m out of the office today, April 12. If you need help, please contact _________ at extension 12.” Or, say: “I’m out today, April 12, but will be back on ___________.”

21. It’s OK to send confidential information and large attachments in an
e-mail message. (True or False)

False First, there is no such thing as private e-mail. Even after you think you’ve deleted a message, any competent IT professional can retrieve it from your hard drive. And, the message also travels to other mail servers during the entire messaging process. Rule of thumb: NEVER send confidential or private information. Second: never send a large attachment. Consider using traditional mail methods (USPS, UPS, FedEx), because the recipient may have trouble downloading the file (taking too much time or space on their hard drive).

22. Important mail should be answered within:

a. 48 hours
b. 4 days
c. One week

a. 48 hours Follow up is critical in business. Anything more than two days is unprofessional and will likely cost you a client or business deal.

23. “Dear Sir/Ms.” should be avoided as a salutation. (True or False)

True It shows you didn’t take the time to get a name and shows no respect or the recipient.

24. Thank-you notes should be typed. (True or False)

False A nicely handwritten thank-you note works wonders – the recipient feels special and appreciates the fact you took the time to personalize the note by handwriting it.

25. During a meeting it’s OK to leave your cell phone on just in case you are expecting a call. (True or False)

False It’s rude to your fellow attendees and any speakers if your cell phone rings during a meeting. Turn it off or put it on vibrate mode.

26. If you overhear a colleague’s conversation in a cubicle, it’s OK to
comment on what you just heard. (True or False)

False. Discretion is advised in this situation. In general, try not to eavesdrop on your fellow cubicle dwellers. But, sometimes, you DO overhear information. This is the time to pretend you didn’t. Of course, there are always exceptions.

Score:

0-8 correct – Uh oh! You’re probably one of those people who forget to fill the photocopier with paper, and steal paperclips from a coworker’s desk. Tsk tsk. I bet your coworkers don’t think much of you. I also doubt you’ll get that coveted promotion. Buy an etiquette book or consider hiring a coach to help polish your professionalism – before it’s too late.

9-17 correct – You occasionally forget which fork to use for salad during a business meal, and you may also forget that sweat pants aren’t appropriate when the dress code is “business casual.” Still, there’s hope for you. Find a role model/mentor and vow to improve your workplace etiquette.

18-26 correct — Not bad. You probably remembered to send a thank-you note to the client you met last week. It’s probably also safe to assume that you’d never forget to call your office if you expect to be late. Don’t act too smug around others, however. The consummate professional never gloats, but tries to help others improve and work efficiently as a team.