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When My Business Woke Up!

I was in business for about 10 years and things were rolling really well and the business was building and money was flowing and clients were pleased.  I’d read a lot of books on quality control and customer service and believed my team and myself were on top of things.  Suddenly, a very satisfied client who had sent numerous emails praising our services and had often told us how delighted he was with our services, out of the blue requested a refund. I was in shock.  I didn’t understand how or why a happy client would suddenly do this.

After trying to reason and negotiate with him I finally realized he wanted the money for Christmas and no matter how pleased he had been he was becoming irate when we were not giving him this undue refund after receiving the entire year of services.  I learned a hard lesson.  The lesson was that my team and I really didn’t understand and have in place a way to measure quality services and without creating a quality control definition for the company we would not continue our success.  It was a hard lesson to learn and yet I am grateful for this lesson as it helped us begin statistical quality control measurements from that point on.

Creating Our Own Definition Of Quality Control

What is quality control? Typically quality control is a system of maintaining standards in manufactured products to make sure they meet specifications. Quality control wasn’t designed to measure the standards of services such as consulting or mentoring. Yet I knew that we had to create our way of measuring the quality of our services and our results.

We decided to measure the subjective elements of our quality of service through surveying our clients to see how they rated our services in comparison to their expectations.  We created our own survey asking questions about our reliability to deliver the promised services, we measured trust and confidence in our team, we measured the attentiveness of our company and the responsiveness of our company and the overall satisfaction of our clients.

 

We paid a lot of attention to what our client’s expected from our services and what their perception was of the service after it was delivered to see if we met (and hopefully exceeded) their expectations.

Everyone on the team was empowered to make changes in the moment with every client to be certain we created WOW experiences for all clients.

While we were implementing these surveys I chatted with my husband who had been a director of Quality Circles many years ago for a large manufacturing plant.  I wanted to understand quality assurance vs. quality control.  My husband educated me and I learned that quality assurance was to ensure the quality of the processes to develop a product and quality control was to identify and check and then correct defects in the final process.  I decided that although we didn’t manufacture products we did manufacture client results.  So we begin analyzing the quality of how we created our consulting and consulting projects as our form of quality assurance and then our improvement processes became our quality control efforts.

Fast Forward

Today we improved one of our very popular programs that already delivered great results for our clients by having our own quality assurance and quality control processes in place.  I am thrilled to say we also re-created an educational webinar 4 times to improve it to create an even bigger WOW.

If you haven’t watched it, I invite you to watch it now and I’d love your comments here.

 

Breeding Satisfaction 

Are you satisfied with your small business?  Get honest.  Really?  Are all areas of your business working brilliantly and are you delighted with your revenue and profits? The amount of time you work?  Your office? Your customers?  Your prospects? Your vendors? The amount of free time and freedom you have?

I ask this same question of my clients when I am mentoring them. Since my approach to business is heart-based and I founded the Heartrepreneur™ movement I believe it is mission critical to know if the business owner is truly satisfied with what they are building.  Yes, I care about their customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction … I just care a heck of a lot more that the business owner isn’t busy building something that doesn’t bring them utter joy each and every day. They put too much time and energy into their businesses like you probably do, to not have complete job satisfaction.

What do I mean what I say satisfaction?  My satisfaction definition is that you love doing what you do and are passionate about what you do.  You enjoy co-workers, your prospects, and your customers as well as your vendors and the aspects of work you do each day fulfill you and make your heart sing.  I define satisfaction as truly being happy with all aspects of your business and feeling like the work you are doing matters and is important and makes a difference to your customers.

What Happens When You Ain’t Got Not Satisfaction?

When you own a business and are not deeply satisfied with the business many things start to occur.  Do you suffer from any of these?

  1. You just can’t seem to get things done.  You fall into procrastination or you don’t do your work enthusiastically and completely as you know you could.
  2. You get the Sunday night dreads.  You don’t look forward to going back to work on Monday and are sad the weekend is over.
  3. You worry a lot. Everything about your business begins to worry you. You focus on all the things going wrong and find it hard to see the things that are going right.
  4. You aren’t resourceful. You have trouble thinking of creative ideas and solutions and don’t want to bother to problem solve.
  5. You watch the clock. Every day feels very long and you can’t wait until the day is done.
  6. You aren’t truly engaged. You do your tasks and they aren’t very meaningful. You might be careless or you might not care how accurate your work is.
  7. Things get on your nerves and so do people. You find yourself upset over small items and lack patience with people who can be your employees, to prospects, to customers and vendors.

 

If you are ailing from any of these 7 items get some business mentoring and turn your business around.  I recommend you consider joining a mastermind or hiring a business mentor.  You can apply to chat with me here and I will be happy to help you.

Wow Customers And Make More Money

I talk to my clients a lot about adding value to their customers and creating a “wow” experience for them. To determine how you can actually create this wow experience I use Value Chain Analysis which is a tool that helps me work out how to add the greatest value to customers.  Many of my clients own service businesses and don’t manufacture widgets. They don’t have a final product to hand people. Instead, they give time, experience, knowledge, and other services to their customers. As a business mentor, I tell my clients that to be highly paid they must create maximum value for their clients.  I also stress they do the same with their employees and their vendors.  All of this is being a Heartrepreneur™.

When I first bring this concept to a client they guess where they can create value and this is where I bring the Value Chain Analysis tool. The tool helps us identify ways to create value and then we can strategize to wow customers and employees and vendors.

 

Value Chain Analysis

Just what is value chain analysis? It is a process of three steps. Step one is looking at the activities that help you deliver your service (or product), step two is looking at each activity to determine how to add more value to your customer, and step three is evaluating what changes to make and then creating your action plan to make your changes. This is my value chain analysis definition. Let’s look at exactly what is a value chain analysis. A value chain is a set of activities that an organization carries out to create value for its customers.A value chain is activities that a company does to create more value for customers. Michael Porter introduced the concept in 1985. Porter’s value chain analysis is a way for companies to examine the activities they conduct and how they create value for customers while looking at costs and profits. Value Chain Analysis Porter’s way is the model I use to create my own interpretation to wow my customers of my client’s. The way in which value chain activities are performed determines costs and affects profits, so this tool can help you understand the sources of value for your organization.

Value Chain Analysis: Realtor

Let me share a value chain analysis example to help you better understand the concept. I’ll use a client who is a realtor. We first looked at the activities my client was conducting and how those business processes were able to create a wow customer experience. We looked at everything from marketing, talking on the phone, contracts, showings, communication, support, and on and on.  We broke down everything the realtor did and their team did and even looked at systems and technology and also conducted customer surveys to get their feedback as well. We had a lot of huge post it note boards all over the conference room with this information.  Next, we looked at every activity we had written and rated how much value it really created and if it made sense financially and was really a wow. We brainstormed and determined what needed to be changed or added to for bigger wow factor and enhanced value to the customer. We picked items that were easiest to implement and that would not cost a lot of money and that would have more than minimal wows.  We picked actions that would really create a big wow and we could quickly put in place without a ton of cost.  We prioritized these and then rolled them out.  I provided the client with my own value chain analysis template to follow as we guided this session.

The result? My client has a system in place now to deliver wow value and world class service to her customers who enjoy the experience of having her as their realtor more and my client has systems and processes in place that actually wow her clients and her employees as well.

Value Chain Examples: Large Retailers

Let’s look at how some bigger businesses use value chains.  One company worth nothing is Walmart. Briefly, Walmart value chain analysis led to their ability to have huge purchasing power and to drive down costs from their suppliers. Walmart is focused on continuous improvement and learned how to use technology to quickly capture more e-commerce. Looking at value chains helped them save time, create cost-effective inventory management and high customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Starbucks value chain analysis revealed they select the finest quality coffee beans and roast and package their own beans. Starbucks has superior products and very high customer satisfaction and does product launches by in-store sampling.  They seek to create an in-store wow experience for their customers.  The stores serve as office and meeting places and create a culture for their customers to experience their products.  By paying attention to what was giving them a competitive advantage and what was not increasing their market lead and customer satisfaction Starbucks’ used the concept of value chain analysis to enhance the wow experience and create greater profit margins.

 And finally, let’s look at Apple Value Chain Analysis.  Apple is one of the few companies that has a loyal fan base that craves their new releases and almost has a cult-like status with people lining up for their latest iPhone or iPad.  Why has Apple been at the top in this area? Apple clearly understands their value chain. They have become known for exceptional customer service from pre-purchase to purchase and to post purchase. People have fallen in love with Apple and the brand has a deeply loyal following.  Apple has paid a lot of attention to their value chain and made adjustments in marketing, service, operations and supply based upon their value chain analysis.

What needs to happen in your business now?  How can you improve your customer’s WOW experience?

 

 

New Product Development Process Simplified

Are you a business owner who is has a new product in development? Have you tried formulas for your new product development process and found that none of them have really worked well?

As a business mentor, I hear this every day, “Terri we thought we had everything figured out for our new product we were developing and it is not working out”.   I understand.  I hate to see a business owner wasting time, money and other valuable resources developing products the wrong way.  They get frustrated and can never get back all the energy and money spent developing a new product the wrong way.

Today, I will share my new product development process with you.  It has served hundreds, maybe thousands, of business owners just like you.  I believe you must be innovative in business today or you will be left behind and so developing new products is a must.

I have tweaked this process from the stage gate process for new product development developed by Dr. Robert G. Cooper. I have changed up what works best for my clients and I believe what will work best for you.

What is the new product development process? In Cooper’s process, the stages of the new product development process are generating, screening the idea, testing the concept, business analytics, beta/marketability tests, technicalities and product development, commercialize and post launch review and perfect pricing.

My new product development process steps are aligned with some distinct differences.

 

Here are the steps in the new product development process after I have changed them up so that they work in my client’s businesses.

Step 1: Multiple Project Ideas Are Generated

The new product development process starts by looking at your target market, the marketplace, your competition and getting clear on what result your products can provide that are distinctly different and highly valued by your prospects, you begin by brainstorming multiple project ideas.Utilizing basic internal and external SWOT analyses, as well as current marketing trends, one can distance themselves from the competition by generating ideologies which take affordability, ROI and widespread distribution costs into account.

Step 2: Narrowing Down The Idea

Once you have mind mapped many potential products you begin looking at each idea asking this question, “Which idea will result in providing our target audience the MOST value?”. I find myself reminding my clients over and over again to focus only on the one idea that will create the biggest impact for their customers and will give their customers a result they really want.

Step 3: Verifying With Prospects

Before going any further I have my clients begin surveying prospects and describing the potential product to them to see if this is a product they would want, a product they will purchase and a product they are genuinely excited about.  Prospects really do hold the keys to the new product planning and development process. If you develop products prospects don’t value long-term and don’t have the desire for you will be stuck with a pet rock.

Step 4: Analyze Everything

During the new product development process stages, you must analyze everything. You have to see what costs to manufacture and market the products are going to be and you have to see how long it will take you to develop and launch each product. This is highly valuable information that can save you a lot of money and time and create much more success with all products you develop.

Step 5: Use Focus Groups

I always instruct my clients to have focus groups of potential buyers come together to really see the feasibility of the product as well as to give feedback and direction to the product as well as to get ideas about how to best market the product.  It is amazing to hear what prospects say and this feedback is highly valuable. Don’t ever bring a product into development without having brought together and facilitated a few focus groups first.

Step 6: Create a Product Spec

 

Instead of just launching a product I recommend you create a spec of the product and you also have the focus group give you feedback on the spec. Sometimes seeing, tasting, touching, hearing or smelling a product potential customers better understand what is coming and give even more highly valued feedback. This step is one of the most critical, as far as I am concerned.

Step 7: Distribute and Market

Now it is time to correctly name the product and develop a product launch that will support bringing the product to the market and having it get a warm reception immediately. Matching your marketing messages to your audience and choosing the right media is key. I have seen great products fail because the marketing behind them missed the mark and I have also seen less than great products become huge successes because they marketing and media was done perfectly.

Step 8: Continuously Improve

No matter how poorly or how great the product is received by the marketplace you must continuously improve the product and keep it exciting and fresh to customers and also must be certain it changes as the market changes. You have to monitor customer feedback and sales and also keep an eye on your competitors. As you know, the only constant is change, so changing products with the times are crucial. And today the times and the marketplace changes faster than ever. You have the burden of innovation and keeping an eye on products once they hit the market is necessary so plan this into your process.

Here is new product development process example from an actual client.

This client developed a water bottle that would keep water hot or cold for 24 hours. How did this come to be? They had an idea generating brainstorming day talking about what new thermos type product had not yet been introduced that customers needed and desired. They covered the walls with large post-it paper and they were sharing ideas while looking over various thermos type bottles and trying them out. One of the team members was talking about how even a traditional thermos didn’t really keep water cold and when he went to the beach for an entire day the water always got warm. That lead into an in-depth conversation about customer needs and if their market went to the beach and might face this problem.  Pretty soon they narrowed down the product to be a product that would stay cold even at the beach. You could have a long day at the beach and still have iced cold water.

A few weeks later they began surveying prospects to see if this was, in fact, a need and something their target audience would purchase.  At the same time, they had their team analyzing everything from the cost to make this product, market this product, get it received quickly, and how and where to manufacture and distribute this product.

They then brought together focus groups to give them feedback about the product and they had product specs ready for their focus groups.   Based on focus group feedback they created the product and then determined their marketing plan as well as the product name.  They were clear who the product as for, where and how to market the product and the budget it would take to make this product mainstream.  Now that the product has had a super successful launch they continue to monitor everything about the product, their customers, their competitors and the changing needs of their customers.

That’s how it works!

What do you think of the new product development process I have created for my clients? Comment below.

 

Call Us Crazy…

I just finished writing a book, The Ultimate Game Plan: PowerUp Your Consulting Business And Skyrocket Your Revenues(after over a year!) with my business partner at Business Consultant Institute, Pete Winiarski.  This book has been a labor of love.  We put our hearts and souls and all the business consulting and business coaching and business leadership knowledge into this book… we are so proud of this nearly 300-page book… so why are we giving away paperback copies and buying them from Amazon and shipping them to you?…

We might just be crazy!

We wrote this book because both of us have 7-figure consulting businesses and we know how to do this and we’ve helped the clients in our mastermind to achieve this kind of result, also.  We know how to help consultants, coaches, and business leaders crush it and build or re-build their consulting business … and frankly, doing this is something we are passionate about.

So we decided to have some fun and for a short time before the book is in bookstores and on Amazon (we are in pre-launch), we decided to give away copies (you only pay a tiny bit for admin and shipping and zero for the book!).

We know our experiment is pretty radical and yet we thought it would be fun to give away the book and allow people to access the information that will transform so many businesses.  This is what our goal is in writing the book so now we want to get the knowledge in the book into as many hands as we can.  This is like a “bible” for business consulting and coaching.

Get yours in a New York minute while we are doing this and share with everyone you know who is a business consultant, business coach, or in business.  The book will be of massive value for all of them.

 

 

 

After you have read the book we hope you’ll give us a review on Amazon and let us know the key takeaways for you and what you will be applying from the book to shift your business.

 

It is really fun giving away our book!

 

What do you think of our craziness?  Let us know by commenting.