I have decided to do a weekly summary for the next 12 weeks. Sharing a summary of our learning .
Our goal is to focus on providing a first class service to our customers who are:
Business owners that want to grow their business and reduce marketing costs.
Demonstrating that happy owner = happy customer = increased profits.
We aim to double our income in 3 months and our initial budget for marketing is only £100 per month. This has been spent for Sept on marketing training and networking. So for the rest of Sept we have no money. Watch what we do and let’s see if it works.
Step 1–week 1 Happy owner/manager/staff
Our first week back was dedicated to Helen and I getting really clear about what needed to happen for our train to run smoothly. Here is the summary of the week. I hope what you will see is that each event added another layer, and the final result has been built up over a series of sessions, listening and sharing.
Monday Slow drive home from London after 2 days with family. No laptop, no phone just lots of family contact and laughter .
Tuesday An action packed first day back with Helen (my PA and best friend for 15 years).
We took the day to get really clear in more ways than 1.
Physical clear out: We started by clearing away any paperwork that was no longer relevant to our new phase for the company and reorganised our stationary. We were really brutal. We wanted space for the new company and the processes to develop. We threw away and shredded old paperwork. We created a file called memorabilia and have filed it for prosperity.
Emotional clear out: It is great having ideas in your head but until they are out and clear often they don’t make sense and don’t link together. So we took the time to get really clear about the company mission and vision for the next 5 years. This was our opportunity to recognise what we had to let go in order to take the business forward. (hard, hence the memorabilia file)
I began by sharing my vision with Helen while she asked “the questions” that enabled us to establish a visual picture for the business. All the time Helen was asking questions she was able to gain clarity and so was I.
This is how we formulated a metaphor for the business.
Step by Step listening is like a luxury electric train; it is green, white and very shiny. Inside is organised and immaculate. (I guess these clearouts will be happening quite frequently now then lol!!). When it pulls into the station, people will instantly recognise the logo and what the business stands for:
First class service that ensures businesses develop strong relationships that increases their growth whilst reducing their marketing
It will be clear and bright, the noise coming from inside the compartments will be of laughter, celebrations and excitement. The passengers on board are the ones that will encourage prospective passengers (clients) on the platform to turn around and take a look. It is the waving hands of the passengers inside encouraging others to come on board that tempts them to come for a ride and see what it is all about.
This is an interesting link. It’s a presentation about what happens when you make data visual. It is 18 minutes but worth taking the time to watch. Thanks to Marion from Apricot Island for sharing that on facebook recently perfect timing for this blog.
I have shared just a small part of what Helen and I gained from this 1hour long session. Here are a few others that were acknowledged as a result of the session. We started to:
- Help Helen design her new role within the company for herself.
- Help Helen and I see how important her role was to the overall performance.
- Set up procedures ensuring all our passengers feel like first class passengers all of the time.
- Set up a handover system and design the forms to ensure we did what we said we would do
- Look at invoicing systems now our businesses was growing.
- To create event management systems
We will have a weekly session allowing us to cement these systems in place and check they work. Tweaking and adapting as we go. As we continue to design our customer service package we hope to share with you threw this blog.
Don’t worry if your business does not seem like a smooth flowing electric train yet, or if it feels like your train is stuck in a groove going round and round. We felt the same before we realised the power of the listening skill we use to build relationships could also be used to build our business.
For the first 18 months our journey was more like driving an old rusty rollercoaster train, that was hard to get going. It was slow and at times not much fun. I even remember shouting “ I want to get off” and then we would have a really lovely downhill moment where we could put your arms up in the air and celebrate our achievements.
But by staying on I have reached a point where I could look around and encourage Helen to do the same. You know that moment when you are at the top of the rollercoaster and you look back and go “oh my gosh I can’t believe we just came down that slope or up that hill.”
It is easy to forget the hills you over came and the slopes you enjoyed. I always take August out to reflect and notice what has happened and this time it has helped me get my vision clear and to notice how the hills we climbed have got us nearer to the place we want to be.
Our Vision is clear:
We want to develop a model that demonstrates how extreme active listening can give a community the skills to create prosperity, wealth and well being when introduced to business homes and schools at the same time.
Our mission is to introduce this extreme listening skill to every home, business and school that supports the Bridgemary community by 2012, and to have a model that can be used throughout Hampshire and Dorset by 2015
We already have the products for:
- Listening for Businesses
- Listening for families
- Listening to yourself
Listening for Schools will be developed this year and meetings are agreed.
Over the next 12 weeks we will be focusing on getting more carriages on our train full of businesses.
We will be looking to establish an Ambassador Businesses Group that are willing to work closely with us to provide our customers with the skills/training we don’t provide that also improve business growth and reduce expenditure. Watch out for the blog about Ambassadors. Does your business help other businesses grow, or reduce expenditure or perhaps you are involved in an area that builds confidence and therefore staff satisfaction.
Would you like to work with a company that cares about your customers as much as you do?
Wednesday Power Group 4 like minded business people who wanted to find solutions to their business challenges and celebrate their success. There was certainly laughter, excitement and celebrations in that carriage on Wednesday. Hopefully they will share a comment or two below.
Jackie Wright sat in on the meeting and we shared another listening session afterwards. Jackie is helping me polish up the programmes ensuring at all times we deliver exceptional service. This session provided even more clarity for me on how the products fitted together. I have designed a diagram but not worked out how to get it on here yet.
Then off to http://www.dress-rehearsal.co.uk/swib.html Solent women in Business Networking event where we had a great discussion it was great to be involved and listening to how the women want to take their businesses to the next level. It made me realise that for a week or two I want to stay on this level, to do a small figure of 8, no hills, no fast slopes and to really get to understand how we will deliver this first class service.
Thursday mixed business with pleasure, started the day early up at 6.30am and left for Poole where I dropped my children (15 yrs and 12yrs) at the Tower Park Tesco for breakfast. They then went on to Spashdown. I then met Emma from in Poole town Centre, for a powerful 2 hour workshop. Did you know that 50% of your marketing budget is wasted, and do you know which half that is? I do now thanks to Emma who helped me and 2 other businesses formulate a marketing plan for the next 6 months. Cost was just £75, most of my marketing Budget this month but so very much worth it.
I learned so much in that meeting but one thing that she reminded me off was brand. So from now on we will be using the same text and font as our website. Still struggling to work out how to change font type but figured better you heard from me and I had time with my family, that is next weeks challenge.
From here I have a 5 prong marketing plan that I can follow, I can even do all of it without spending any money for the next 2 weeks. However I anticipate to generate enough income to increase my marketing budget, so that I can get advice and support from experts in the field of graphic designers, web designers and marketing as we look to polish up the overall campaign.
We are now focused on 5 areas…………..i was going to try and do 12 so you can imagine my relief when Emma said 5 will do the work.
Here are the steps we plan to follow:
- Update website (Sunday with my husband Mark)
- Brand my blog and keep you guys updated.
- Data base Clean up and segment that sounds harsh but will explain in future blogs
- Direct Mail/posters
- Networking (I could not leave that one out)
This workshop was followed by an afternoon in Splashdown, where I did a few lazy river rides, relaxed in the bubble pool then off to the cafe to chill and reflect on the mornings learning. My children had made friends with some children who had just moved to the area and continued to run up a grand total of something like 125 more rides finally peeling them out at 7pm.
I was then introduced to the children’s mum or more to the point I introduced myself. Guess what her name is, Susannah Brade-Waring new to the Poole area and a management consultant.
We chatted all day sharing ideas, networking events, the challenges of creating your own identity of what is right as a working mum, we exchanged numbers/business cards, networking events and it turned out the book Susannah was reading was about Listening so we had a great day doing just that. It was a bit like a game of tennis where we each took turns.
As we chatted I said the hardest part with marketing was putting a value on the work I do.
She shared this quote in the book she was reading
Sears from the USA states that if you increase employer satisfaction by 5% that will equate to customer satisfaction increase of 1.3% and that equates to 0.5% increase in profit.
Friday worked my way through the work book from Tasty Marketing Workshop, contacted all Power Group Clients by email, consolidating the learning from the day and wrote this Blog. This Blog is really turning out to be a great way to listen to myself and helping move my business forward.
Thank you so very much for listening to me.
Saturday up early to proof read before posting this blog feeling very excited, the quote from Sears, Solent women in Business and Tasty Marketing all confirmed that my products and services will help me and my other clients EARN MORE and spend less.
Now off to have some family chill time, complete day off have a great week end