Category Archives: Customer service

The GlosBiz® story: learning the lesson of keeping things simple!

Can you believe the GlosBiz® initiative started 7 years ago with a simple, rather random tweet?

It was the first time the #GlosBiz hashtag had been used, and the rest, as they say, is history (well, sort of, anyway).

From that ‘standing start’, it has grown into Gloucestershire’s largest business network, with its networking breakfasts and business lunches consistently rated “the best business events in the county”.

But, I am often asked what has made it so popular, so successful, so well-known?

So, here are just three ‘principles’ that I always try to apply in business, and especially to the GlosBiz® initiative.

 

1) Customers want what they want – so give it to them!

For me, this goes back to Stan Davis’ great book “Future Perfect”, which I first read around 25 years ago. Since then, I have firmly believed that main ‘rule’ of worthwhile customer service is simple – give them exactly what they want!

When it comes to business networking, by far the most valuable thing I have learned is to give people the chance to build relationships, to be themselves, and to get to genuinely know others.

They do not want to be told what to do, where to sit, when to swap business cards, and so on, for the simple reason that they are perfectly capable of doing those things for themselves!

2) Treat everyone you meet equally (no matter how hard it is, sometimes)!

As I am sure you can understand, I meet many, many business people, and one key element of the GlosBiz® success story is that no matter who they are, what they do, or what size their company, I always try to treat them all the same.

Needless to say, when I’m wearing my ‘GlosBiz® hat’, I don’t always get it ‘right’ – but I am only human!

It can also be quite a challenge to do this consistently…and I’m sure you know what I mean?

3) Stubbornly resist temptation!

However hard you try, there will always be things that get you attention and tempt you to alter the ‘winning formula’ you have worked so hard to build.

Don’t do it!

No doubt, you have heard the adages, “think twice, act once”, and , ”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

Always, always, always stick to what you know works best, keep it as simple as possible, and remind yourself to think clearly at all times.

GlosBiz® is a registered trademark.

 

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a successful business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Decision-making (part 2): when design influences our decisions

How much does the design of the world around us influence our decisions?

What would you say?

After all, everything that isn’t natural is designed, so we are surrounded by (for want of a better word) ‘unnatural’ influences, whether we like it or not.

Here’s an example to help explain what I am talking about:

Our Driving Licences include a photo of the holder, and have to be renewed every 10 years. At the time of renewal, we are also given the option to enrol on to the Organ Donation Register.

Take a look at the graph below. It shows the rate of organ donation enrolment at Driving Licence renewal, for a number of European countries:

As you can see, there are two distinct groups: a group with a relatively low enrolment rate (on the left), and a group with a relatively high enrolment rate (on the right).

You will have spotted that the differences between the groups are significant. So what is the cause?

Could it be, for example, to do with an individual’s beliefs, or could it be for cultural reasons?

After all, by the time we donate our organs, we are no longer ‘here’ to be concerned by it.

Even countries that you might argue are culturally similar have very different enrolment rates:

Denmark (4.25%) vs Sweden (85.9%)

Germany (12%) vs Austria (99.98%)

Netherlands (27.5%) vs Belgium (98%)

and, depending on your view of cultural similarities across Europe:

UK (17.17%) vs France (99.91%)

But, what has caused these differences?

Well, it turns out that it was almost entirely caused by the design of the renewal form.

The group on the left, with the low level of organ donation enrolment, had a form which included a box similar to this:

As we have all done when filling in a form, they didn’t check the box, so didn’t join the Register.

The group on the right, however, the group with much higher enrolment, had a slightly different box on their form. Something like this:

Just as the lower enrolment group did, the people completing this form still didn’t check the box, but, in this case, they joined the Register!

It really was as simple as that!

But, why didn’t they check the box in the first place?

Could it be because they considered the decision to enrol as, for example, trivial, or too easy, that it was simple, or could it be that they didn’t really care that much about it?

In fact, it was the opposite of these things.

They found the decision to be extremely important, very difficult indeed, highly complicated, and they actually cared so much about it that they couldn’t actually decide on which decision they wanted to make.

As a result, they just left it to the ‘default’ decision that was being made for them…and how many of us have done exactly the same?

So, there you are. Design can, and frequently does influence our decisions!

Along with a number of other influences (which I shall keep for future blog posts), our intuition, which we rely on heavily when we make decisions, is being led astray in a consistent, predictable, and repeatable way by the world around us, so much so that we do not always clearly understand the decisions we want to make.

A thank you: I’d just like to give a special mention to Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, whose work and research has been of great inspiration in writing these articles.

To find out more about how to develop your decision-making, and the the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Decision-making (part 1): the ‘zero’ option isn’t useless

How often do you look at the choices in front of you, and think, “What’s the point of that (option)?”

We come across ‘zero’ options – the ones that obviously nobody would choose – surprisingly often.

But, what is the point of them? If they really are ‘useless’, what are they doing to our decision-making?

Well, take a look at this subscription offer run by The Economist in 2009:

In a controlled test, 100 MIT students were asked to express a preference – see the results shown above.

So, if the print only option is a ‘zero’ option (i.e.: nobody chooses it), what is the point of including it in the list?

Or, to put it another way, what would happen if it wasn’t there?

So, the print only option was removed from the list and another 100 MIT students were asked to choose from the revised list, with the following results:

As you can see, when there were only two choices, what was originally the most popular has become the least popular, and vice versa, meaning the ‘zero’ option was actually having an influence on the choices the students were making.

In fact, it wasn’t actually a ‘zero’ option at all. Just because nobody chose it, doesn’t mean it had no influence.

What was happening was the only ‘zero’ element of that option was that nobody chose it.  When it was present, it’s influence on the choices that were made – predominantly cognitive decisions – was important.

What it was actually doing was encouraging the readers to choose the ‘best nearest’ option that was closest to the (obviously) ‘zero’ option. In other words, it helped the readers to make their minds up!

So, next time you see a ‘zero’ option, or if you decide to include one in your own proposals, remember that they’re far from useless after all! They actually help the reader make a decision.

A thank you: I’d just like to give a special mention to Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, whose work and research has been of great inspiration in writing these articles.

To find out more about how to develop your decision-making, and the the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Business networking: is it building your business, or holding it back?

A successful network is a many faceted thing! 

Hands up all those who undertake some ‘networking’ from time to time?

OK, OK, silly question!

In reality, almost all of us do it, in some form or another, almost all of the time, don’t we?

But is your ‘networking’ giving your business the best chance of growing, or is actually holding it back?

As always with these things, it’s very much a case of working out which network development opportunities are best for you and your business.

First of all, your network needs to work for you, and be worked by you. As such, it needs to contain:

  • Great value suppliers
  • Profitable, reliable, regular customers
  • Highly respected, well-connected referrers

In other words, everyone you meet could potentially be a great contact for you. 

The key is to be remembered, and for you to be remembered there are some important yet simple things you can do:

  • Let people get to know the ‘real’ you – this doesn’t meant you have to give them your life story, but let them undertsand that you’re actually a real human being, just like them, and not a robot that just presents a professional ‘mask’ all of the time that prevents any ‘connection’
  • Make sure you can recognise a potential customer when you meet one (see below)
  • Tell people what you do (have an impact!) not your job title!
  • Let them know about your AFTERs – what they will be left with after they have worked with you!
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors, and finally….
  • Say less, not more, and don’t waffle!

To recognise your customers, try answering these 3 questions – collectively, they’ll create a ‘picture’ of your ‘ideal’ customers:

  1. Think of the customer that has paid you the most money over the last year. What did they do?
  2. Think of the customer who was the most enjoyable to work with over the last year (even if you didn’t charge them anything). What did they do?
  3. Think of the customer who created the greatest success for you over the last year (e.g.: raising your profile, great PR, etc). What did they do?

Obviously, developing that successful network will take a lot more too, but hopefully these tips will get you going.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch.

To find out more about improving your network and networking, as well as the benefits of professional coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Business is business, but cash is King!

‘Money’, as the old saying goes, ‘is a dirty word!’ 

There’s an old saying in business which, in my time at a very large German corporate I used to visit some or our joint ventures and hear Lord X (to keep him anonymous) bellow often (and usually whilst banging the boardroom table), “Business is business, but cash is King!”.

It’s one of the most valuable pieces of ‘advice’ I have ever had the good fortune to receive.

One of the most valuable ways you can focus your efforts to build your business success is to ensure you have healthy cashflow.

In other words, make sure you get paid the right amount on time, by the right people, at the right price, and that you do the same.

Very often I find myself working with companies, of all sizes, to strengthen their cashflow. In many cases the bulk of it is easy to put right: just get your customers to pay up on time.

However, a great many cashflow issues are created because we have a habit of being a bit ‘too British’. What I mean is that many business owners and leaders tend to avoid talking about money….and end up paying the consequences.

If someone owes you money on a certain date, then they should be paying you on that date. Fact!

Obviously, the intricacies of building a strong cashflow go far beyond just getting people to pay on time, but this probably has the single biggest impact.

So, here are some tips for developing and strengthening your cashflow – easy to do, and great for your business:

  1. Know your customer! Obvious isn’t it? Be clear who you’re trading with, what type of organisation they are, what assets they have, and, for peace of mind, take out a credit check too (#BizTip: if you have business banking services at your bank, these checks can often be obtained free or at nominal cost). More detail and knowledge is better than less.
  2. Minimise your risk. Seek up front part-payment if necessary, ensure your terms and conditions make it clear you own the goods, or may withdraw/turn off the services in the event of late or non payment. If necessary, seek a written guarantee from the directors/owners.
  3. Make sure you have fit-for-purpose terms and conditions, covering payment, at what point full ownership is transferred, guarantees and liability. If you need to update your terms, many local law firms can do this at a sensible cost, or speak business support groups for guidance.
  4. Keep up to date! Even before payment is due, make it clear to your customer when payment is due and that you know it’s due. If you are being paid late, you are effectively funding their business (which is what banks are for). You’re running a business, not a bank, so remind and chase that payment. It’s your money, after all!
  5. If you do need to enforce your terms, or take legal action, be decisive and clear about your aims and objectives in doing this. Consider reasonable offers if necessary. Remember you’re running a business so paying legal fees, and using up valuable time and effort in chasing late payment is taking you away from the customers who you know and trust.

Sir Clive Woodward, World Cup winning England rugby coach, used the acronym T-CUP: Think Clearly Under Pressure.

When the pressure on you, and your cashflow issues grow because of late payment, think clearly about how you will resolve it, and take action.

 

To find out more about improving your focus, your cashflow, as well as the benefits of professional coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

There’s always a reason not to, isn’t there? Really? I mean, REALLY?

Over the last 17 years, I have delivered a wide range of professional coaching, mentoring and consultancy services to the leadership and management of over 250 different businesses across the UK and Europe. From long-established multi-national corporates, to brand new single person start-ups, and many variations in between.

I have lost count of how many times some clients, and prospective clients alike, have said they’re “too busy”, or that they “need to sort a few things out first”, or “I’ll get back to you”, “School holidays/Christmas/etc is coming up”, etc, etc, as reasons for not doing important tasks.

You have come across something similar, I expect? Perhaps it even rings a few bells with you too?

But what is the main cause of this? What makes so many people feel they’re “too busy”, and so on?

The irony is that this is exactly one of the areas I work on with clients to improve their leadership, and grow their businesses.

So, how come there’s always a reason not to?

Easy!

It’s because their focus is not where it provides the most benefit, either for the individual or their business or, most often, both!

Now, focus is often a tricky thing to get right – there are so many things to do, so many changing priorities, and, dare I say, too many easy reasons to put more important tasks off!

So, how can focus be improved?

I’m a keen believer in trying to develop and deliver simple solutions to issues like this, simply because simple ‘works’. Complicated (usually) doesn’t!

So, when it comes to improving your focus, try these simple steps:

  1. Do or Delegate: whatever you come across, either do something with it yourself, or delegate it to someone else. Do not put it off until later!
  2. If it isn’t indispensable, it’s useless: this is one of the best time management tips I have ever been given. If you really can’t do without it, keep it. If you can do without it (no matter in how small a way), you don’t need it. Be firm in making your decision.
  3. Prioritise. Prioritise. Prioritise. Make a weekly and daily list of what you need to to do, prioritise it (click here for a simple way to prioritise any list), and do it in order of highest priority first!

To find out more about improving your focus, and other benefits of professional coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

The EASY way to prioritise ANY list

In my experience, one of the things people in the business world find most challenging is how to prioritise.

Theoretically, it should be easy. In reality, it often ends up in confusion, unnecessary complication, and, worst of all, delays in getting things done.

So how can you prioritise you ‘to-do’ list easily?

Here’s a simple method:

  1. make a list of your ‘to-dos’
  2. number the list, in numerical order, top to bottom
  3. decide on one prioritising question. e.g.: which needs doing first?
  4. compare all of the items on the list with all of the others, see below
  5. best of all, it takes justa  couple of minutes!

How to compare every item on the list with each other

Let’s say there are 5 items on the list.

Start with item 1, and compare it with item 2, asking (e.g.) ‘which needs doing first, 1 or 2?’. Put a tick against whichever item ‘wins’.

Do the same again, comparing 1 with 3. Then 1 with 4. Then 1 with 5. Each time, put one tick against which item ‘wins’.

You have now compared item 1 with each of the others.

Now move to item 2, and compare it with item 3 (you do not not need to compare it with item 1 as you have already done so above), and add the relevant tick. then compare 2 with 4, then with 5.

Now move to item 3, and compare it with item 4 (you do not not need to compare it with items 1 or 2  as you have already done so above), and add the relevant tick. then compare 3 with 5.

Then compare 4 with 5.

List Prioritised!

You now have a list of 5 items, and the number of ticks against each quickly and easily shows you the priority – the more ticks, the higher the priority.

It’s then easy to rearrange the list in order of priority.

TIP: you may end up with one or more items on your list with no ticks at all. So, these are obviously of a lower priority when compared with the other items on your list. However, it may also be a sign that they might not have any priority for you at all (double-chek by adding them to a list of different items, or by using a different prioritising question).

To find out more about how professional coaching, mentoring and consulting can improve your productivity, thinking, and decision-making, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Do or delegate: making better decisions

If you commit to just one thing in 2017: make better decisions!

Making decisions, any decisions, is a habit.

Like all habits, the more we do it, the ‘better’ (theoretically, at least) we get at it.

Equally, when we get out of the habit, the quality of our decisions goes down.

But the worst thing we can do, especially in a leadership or management scenario, is not to make any decision at all. Indecision represents one of the greatest risks to any organisation.

But, what if it’s a bad decision? Surely, that’s worse than making no decision at all?

Nope! Definitely not!

A bad decision can be corrected. No decision results in emptiness, vagueness, and a complete lack of direction.

Because, that’s the main outcome from making decisions: direction.

Whether it be a new direction, a change of direction, continuing the existing direction, or bringing the current direction to a halt, it is fundamentally dependent on decisions.

Now, the vast majority of leaders and managers (and business owners) will experience regular challenges in their ability and willingness to make decisions.

So, here is a simple tip to help you keep your decision-making on track:

  • every time something arrives on your desk, adopt the simple motto “do, or delegate”.

Either deal with it yourself (the “do”), or give it to someone else (the “delegate”) with clear expectations of when you need it done by and what outcomes you expect. Do not just let it sit there, or put it aside!

So, remember, the best ‘first step’ to making better decisions is to make a decision!

Do, or delegate!

To find out more about how I work with my clients to improve their decision-making, and help them build better, stronger and more profitable businesses, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Worried about ‘Brexit’? Read this first!

Brexit LI post image 280616 2

So Thursday 23 June, 2016 will certainly be remembered for at least one thing – the day the UK voted to leave the EU.

Now, since then I have had many calls from businesses of all sizes, who have been tying themselves in knots over what happens next, and convincing themselves they have to rush into ‘doing something’ because of the Referendum outcome.

Well, first of all, let’s look at the facts of what has happened since the result was announced:

  • the sun is still coming up in the mornings, the world is still turning, the grass is still green, and Wimbledon is still being held in the wettest two weeks of the British summer – no change there whatsoever!
  • yes, the stock and currency markets have been up and down like the proverbial yo-yo, but there are already signs they are stabilising, even rising, so things are nowhere near as bad here as was widely predicted – remember the markets have a tendency to seek an opportunity for profit ahead of reflecting economic reality
  • interest rates have not changed, neither have tax rates, nor have most of the other key fiscal influences of our economy

So, broadly speaking, things are just the same now as they were a month, or six months, or even a year ago.

As for the next few months, here’s a simple plan of action:

  1. DO NOT PANIC! This will only introduce significant risks where previously there were none
  2. contact your business advisers, coaches and mentors (you do have a business coach or mentor, don’t you?), and begin assessing the ‘big picture’, how it specifically affects you and your business (if at all), and begin planning for the next steps
  3. reassure your team, your suppliers and your customers that it really is ‘business as usual’ until we have the actual hard facts to prove otherwise

There you go – simple!

Keep calm and carry on, as the infamous poster says.

Still not sure what to do next?

Then please feel free to give me a call on 01242-672440, click here to email me.

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

What ‘science’ knows, and what business does, are not the same thing!

What science knows and what business does 190516 1

Now, this might all sound a bit illogical, but there is so much high quality and, importantly, highly relevant data freely available ‘out there’ to business people, that it seems strange, to say the least, that so much of it is completely ignored by them.

This is not a new, or recent trend, but is something that

Let me give you a few, very basic examples:

  • 80% of start-up SME owners have no experience of running a business.
  • 80% of SME business owners agree they “can run the business”.
  • 80% of business owners never, and I mean never undertake any business management or leadership skills development.
  • Yet 80% of SMEs close before they reach their 5th birthday (long-term average)*.

Spot the link?

(* = the average closure rate in the last ten years is slightly higher!)

(Sources: ONS, HMRC, The Economist)

 

On a similar theme:

  • 80% of start-up SMEs who work with a professional coach/mentor will successfully reach their fifth birthday.
  • 80% of those that don’t, won’t.

(Sources: ICF, EMCC, LSE, and others)

 

When it comes to communication:

  • At least two-thirds of business readers of SME websites just want to find the phone number.
  • If your contact number is a mobile or 08- number, two-thirds of website readers will go elsewhere before they contact you.
  • It is estimated that 30%-40% of website views will be on a mobile device by the end of 2016, and this is expected to peak at 80% by the end of 2019.
  • Approximately 40% of SME websites don’t even have their phone number on their homepage, and/or do not have it visible on ‘first view’ using a mobile device.
  • Over half of SMEs agree that their websites “don’t generate enough enquiries”.

(Sources: Google, ONS, LSE, DBIS, BT)

 

When it comes to how our decisions are influenced by the options we have:

In 2009, the eminent behavioural economist Dan Ariely conducted a study of 100 MIT students by asking them to choose one of the following newspaper subscription options:

Option 1: paper only subscription $59 (16% chose this option)

Option 2: web only subscription $125 (0%)

Option 3: print and web subscription $125 (84% chose this option)

Option 3 is most popular.

 

He then took away Option 2 and asked them to choose again. This time:

68% chose Option 1

32% chose Option 3

Note how the least popular option has become the most popular, and vice versa, simply because the list of options has changed.

How could this influence how you communicate with others?

 

He (and fellow MIT colleagues) also conducted a number of studies in the fields of motivation, including this one in 2003:

Three groups were given a selection of games that involved creativity, motor skills, and concentration.

They were each offered one of three levels of performance based rewards (low, medium, high).

The result?

When the task involved just mechanical skills, the rewards worked as expected.

However, when the task involved even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward led to poorer performance. Yes, really!

However, when this same exercise was repeated in a remote village in India, people offered the medium level of reward did no better than those offered the lowest level of reward.

But, and this is a big ‘but’, those that were offered the highest level of reward….did worst of all!

In 8 of the 9 tasks in these experiments, higher incentives led to worse performance!

 

So, what science knows, and what business does are not the same thing.

The point I’m making is the same as that old adage: if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.

  • If people want to contact you quickly and easily, make it easy for them to pick up the phone to you (remember using email takes twice as long as using the phone (source: Harvard Business Review)).
  • If one of your USPs is that you’re a local business, then make sure your phone number is identifiable as a local (not an 0845) number.
  • If you give people too many choices, one of the options may get zero responses, but it might also serve to help the reader to make a decision that is better for them and for you.
  • Take care how you incentivise your teams – higher performance doesn’t necessarily come from higher rewards.

 

To find out more about how science can help your business, and how I can help you build a better, more resilient and more profitable business, please get in touch:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.