Gary Harper helps real estate investors build a better business—not by becoming better at finding deals, rehabbing, and managing tenants, but by creating better systems, hiring the right people, and establishing and reaching bigger goals through a complete business operating. This is what he’ll be addressing at his all-day workshop at the OREIA National Real Estate Summit, Oct. 31st in Cincinnati. If your goal is an easier, more passive business, you need to be there—and you can get tickets at www.OREIAConvention.com
It’s the little things like a free dessert or beverage that makes customers feel special and appreciated. There is nothing difficult or expensive about paying attention to your customers likes and dislikes (Wayne’s Eggs) — remembering their names and keeping track of their buying preferences. Little things frequently produce big results. Unfortunately, many business owners miss the small things and then wonder why they lose the business to a competitor. Here are just a few of the “little things” that can set your business apart from the rest.
A smile is contagious and makes people feel welcome. Oh, and by the way, it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown. Plus, research from the 1970s and 80s suggests that your facial expression might actually influence your mood. (Try putting a smile on your face and see if you feel happy.) So, make sure you have a smile on your face when you’re dealing with your customers, so they know their business is important to you.
Responsibility for Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes and training your customer service team to quickly apologize for mistakes and rectify them is one of the most important “little things” you can do to enhance your customer service. Sometimes that means accepting responsibility for something that isn’t your fault. Perception is reality. The goal is to do your best to satisfy your customer.
One of the best ways to wow your customers is to go beyond what they’re expecting. Talk about building loyalty. One of my favorite examples has to do with two competing discount shoe stores located next door to each other. I had reward coupons for both stores which I didn’t realize were for another location. The first store refused to accept the coupon even though it was in the same city. It was their corporate policy! The second store gladly accepted my coupon which turned out to be actually not their coupon. Both coupons were only for $10.00 off, but it was the way in which they handled the situation that spoke volumes. The first store lost a good customer over $10.00 because now I only shop at the second store.
Of course, the little things can be easy to miss. After all, they’re little. And in a fast-paced, chaotic culture, the newest and shiniest toys can distract us from the details that really count. You’ve got to be intentional when you look for the little things. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth the extra effort.
As a business coach, I meet
entrepreneurs every day that are great at creating a
sellable product but struggling with running a business. They have
made the jump from employee to entrepreneurship and they are having success,
but they struggle with scaling properly.
Many times, I hear statements like;
my business is stuck, I have problems solving issues, I have the wrong people
in my business, The business has become complex and
communication has deteriorated or find themselves working more “In” the
Business then “On” the business. Basically, that have plateaued, and they don’t
know how to have a growth spurt.
In order to grow and overcome
these issues business owners need to focus and work on these main areas of
business. Leadership, Vision, People, Processes, Data and Communication.
As leaders, it’s our
jobs to provide a vision other can follow. As John Maxwell says “The
leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader and THEN
the dream.” Have you found your dream? Your purpose in life or as many people
call it your “Why”? Your “Why” will provide focus for your employees on where
you are going, and the right people will align their goals to help you achieve
Do you have a clear vision in writing
that has been properly communicated to your entire staff and is shared by
“Anyone Can Steer the Ship, But
It Takes a Leader to Chart the Course” Navigation requires vision and the
ability to have good interpretation of the past and ability
to understand and predict the future.
As leaders we must plan
ahead and create focus for our company and employees. Having a documented
Vision Plan that includes your Core Values, 10 to 30-year goals that back down
into 3-5-year goals that ultimately leads to creating a 1-year focus with
90 days goals for everyone that are leaders on your team.
Before we have the right to lead
others, we must make sure we lead ourselves first. The first person you need to
lead is you. You should work first and hardest on you. You should ask yourself
this question daily. What areas of my life need changing?
I love being reminded every time I
fly of the important of taking care of ourselves first. Over 1000 times I have
heard these words from a flight attendant. “In case of an emergency in a
flight… and the oxygen mask falls… Every flight attendant instructs you to put
the mask on YOURSELF FIRST… so you can take care of others.”
“He who thinketh he is
leading, and no one is following, is only taking a walk!” John Maxwell
Do you have the right people based
off your core values? Are they in the right position based on their abilities?
Do they know their role or the role of others in your company?
Every company needs to take time and
document the positions in their company that are needed to grow based on the
documented vision. Once this has been documented you can hire the right people
for these positions based off their abilities and if they
align with the company’s core values.
By having the right people in the
right position, you will have confidence to start “Letting Go”.
Then you can stop working “IN” the
business and spend more time working “ON” the business.
“The best executive is the one who
has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint
enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Are your company’s main processes documented and then followed by everyone in the company?
Many times, I hear a
statement from business owners that they don’t have time or don’t know what to
do? Documenting your business processes can often feel
I get questions like where do I start? Do I document everything? Do I have the resources, and can they be pulled away from their daily tasks? You don’t need to create a 1,000-page Standard Operating Procedure guide; you just need to identify your 10 main processes and start knocking them out through a simple method called process mapping.
Process mapping is a simple tool that
allows you to identify the processes start and end points and the departments
that are responsible for the steps in the process.
Why Process Mapping? It helps you understand and analyze your current way of working. It allows you to redesign and improve the process. You can use process mapping to implement a standard way of working and train new employees. This allows you to communicate with other groups and external entities
There are two categories of Process
We us “As Is” maps to truly
understand how a process works in the real world, to provide continuous
improvement to the process.
From the creation of the “AS IS”
map I like to lean the process, remove waste, improve efficiency and
then automate where it makes sense. That converts my “AS IS” map into
a “Should Be” map which is the second map.
We use “Should Be” maps to establish performance standards, to establish service level agreements, to establish standard processes, to establish process expectations, to provide training and to determine customer expectations.
Most people overlook this area of
their business or just justify having it by tracking their financials. But
tracking data is much more than just a P&L statement.
These data reports are also called scorecards,
dashboards, flash reports, metrics, pulse report, key performance indicators
(KPIs) and 1,000 other words.
As business owners, we need
this information to accurately predict where the business is going and ensure
the company has a healthy heart beat.
We usually find that there are around
10 to 20 key metrics that need tracked on a weekly basis and 5 to 10 metrics
that need track monthly.
Once you decide on the right metrics
you need to add a weekly/monthly goal that needs to be obtained to maintain a
healthy and growing company. Once I have these metrics and the goal outlined, I
always assign these metrics to the proper people on the team to ensure they are
reported on weekly/monthly. Having these numbers allows me to spend time away
from the office or enjoying time off, while having peace knowing the health of
If you don’t know what these numbers
are today, I plead with you to take time away with your team and develop these
numbers and then use them to hold your business accountable.
Proper communication will reduce
complexity and will add accountability. We all need accountability in our
businesses. Lack of accountability will lead to complacency = DEATH.
Communication starts with having the right meetings that ensure you are delivering value to your company. I feel there are three meeting structures that are critical.
First meeting is a quick daily huddle that has a simple agenda. This meeting is a standing meeting that we communicate the following: Good News, expectations for the day, announcement of visitors and collaboration of needs from each department.
Second meeting is a
weekly meeting to work “ON” the business. We review the current state of
the business through goals and metrics and identify any key issues and then we
spend the next 60 minutes solving issues.
Third meeting, which could be the most important meeting of all three, is the Town Hall meeting. This meeting allows the visionary/owner the ability to share their vision to the whole company. In this meeting, you want to structure it to last no more than 30 minutes. We start off with public praise, then communication of company wins and then end it with the vision for the quarter and monthly we include in this meeting the long-term vision as well. This meeting helps define the culture of the business and motivates that staff weekly.
With all meetings, you should set up
a routine. Each meeting needs to start on time and end on time. They need to be
at the same time and the weekly meetings need to be on the same day.
Good communication prevents
bottlenecks and train wrecks where the left hand doesn’t know what the right
hand is doing. It allows you to review goals and provide accountability to your
The right system
Having these systems in place you
will be able to;
- Help you scale properly
- Bring out the best in employees
- Reduce employee stress levels
- Allow you to stop micromanaging
- Reduce employee turnover
- Dial in your business processes
- Create the right culture in your business
- Create a Vision for all to follow
- Get your team all on the same page pulling
the same direction
When companies have inefficient
systems in place, it hinders the productivity of your employees. A great
employee working with an inefficient system is not only an inefficient and
ineffective employee, but you are essentially paying for an employee to do work
they cannot fully accomplish. This leads to high turnover rates and lack of
confidence within your organization.