Let Us Count Our Blessings

red crossAre you watching the news? Of course you are – how could you not? It is at times like this when we witness the devastation through no fault of anyone and the subsequent death, injury and homelessness that we should stop and count our blessings.

We have a chance to make a difference – you can use your cell phone to make a donation to the efforts supporting Japan, you can give blood, donate through your church and even add those involved in this recent natural disaster to your prayers. Every little bit helps.  I wanted to make it easy for my readers to help and so if you click on the Red Cross logo it will take you to their donation page.  This  isn’t an affiliate – I don’t get a kick back or commission – it is just an easy reminder to be thankful for your life and all of the many blessings you have and, if you are so inclined, to give you a simple, quick way to give back.

Soon this post will be buried on the page, but the widget on the right will remain as a simple way to make donations in the future.

Take care!


August 7th Treasure Your Customers day

Ben makes a quick wishHappy Customer Day!

I first learned about Treasure your Customer Day from Entrepreneur magazine in 2006.  But it certainly didn’t start there.  Here is a blurb from a blog written in 2005 about Treasuring your Customers written by Kirsten Osolind:

August 7 marks “Treasure Your Customers Day.” Rewarding customers means more than quirky holiday discounts and thank-you cards. To treasure your customers, you need to begin with an inventory of your customer satisfaction levels and relationship assets. Sail the high seas by digging deep to discover your customers’ latent needs, acknowledging your flaws, resolving conflicts quickly and positively, and proactively encouraging feedback. Customers don’t think of themselves as revenue oceans; they simply want you to delight them.

Here’s an article by Sydney Barrows offering 6 Ways to Treasure Your Customer.

Building customer relationships is a passion for me.  It has been since I sold magazines and Camp Fire Girls candy door to door as a kid.  I find it interesting that this wonderful day – a day that the card manufacturers haven’t embraced yet – also happens to be my birthday.  It seems like a wonderful connection to me. 

Anyway – happy day, my dear customers.  You are truly a treasure in my life!


Make or Break Moments TV – almost

Have you ever set out to do the right thing, the professional thing and your inner child just took over?

That happened to me yesterday.

I was shooting a series of one minute commercials for different aspects of my business. One of the commercials was actually the introduction for a series of customer relationship building tips.

I’ve written 78 ways to Put Your Customer First and plan to share them, one or two at a time on YouTube. I call it Make or Break Moments TV: Tips to Build Customer Relationships.

It is all still a work in progress, but here’s me, trying to be professional and my inner giggle just wouldn’t quit….

Here’s the deal: when we give in to our inner child, we become more approachable – a person people want to do business with. That is provided you can avoid the dreaded laughing snort.

Okay – look for a more professional kick off to this new resource coming soon. If I could just stop laughing….


Elite Women Around the World – Make a Difference

In Cleveland, Ohio on May 5, 2010, hundreds of women in business will gather to network and learn how to promote, advance, encourage and inspire each other in business.  This regional economic development trade summit is the brain child of Rita Singh from Miraj International. The keynote address will be given by Ms. Almas Jiwani, President of United National Fund for Women, Ontario Canada.

This daylong event will include a multitude of wonderful programs – over 40 speakers will offer workshops and panel discussions from tax law, loan opportunities, energy conservation projects and “How to Get $1 Million Dollars Worth of Visibility with Little or No Money Down” presented by Tina Jesson, Visiblity Creator, Brownsburg, IN.

If you are going to be in the area – consider spending a day of making connections and learning different ways you can collaborate to help others (as well as yourself) achieve your goals.

p.s.  Yours truly will be presenting a workshop on Creating an Effective Marketing Strategy using Social Media

For more information visit SA-consulting group.  Here is a PDF of the marketing materials for the conference.


Time for a Midmorning Gift to You

IMG_4525Did you hear about the new prices at Starbucks? I have to confess.  I don’t like Starbucks coffee – too acidic, but I do love their frappuccinos.  But the budget just can’t handle the cost and my waistline can’t afford the calories.

So here is my midmorning gift to you.  Actually, this is from a Weight Watcher member Joan Lawrence who provided this sugar free recipe for Mocha Frappuccinos and I am enjoying one right this minute!

1 cup skim milk

2 T Splenda granular (or your choice of sugar substitute)

2 T  sugar-free mocha instant coffee (General Foods International – I’m actually using the decaf, sugar-free French Vanilla)

1 T instant coffee

1-1/2 cups ice.

Blend about 30 seconds and then ENJOY! 

Some times we need to take a little break from serving customer’s needs and cater to our own!


Three Little Words for 2010

Last year at this time I wrote a post about the 5 ways I would screw up 2009.  And I was successful!

This year I am taking a more positive approach

For several years Chris Brogan has started each year with a focus on three words.  Last year I selected three words, which were Bite, Charge and Follow-Up.

This year Chris has selected Eco-systems, Owners and Kings to focus on for 2010. Using the three word system forces you to narrow your resolutions or goals for the year down to one word a piece -something you can remember, like a mantra. If you can remember it, you will do it. Each day as you set your agenda you can balance the list of tasks, networking events and busy work against your three words to see if you are remaining focused. 


I am still working on my three words for 2010 but my first word is NARROW.  Just like the Italian alleyway pictured above, I need to ensure that my focus is narrow, razor sharp, niched to a specific client/a specific service. 

What will your three words be?  How will you manage the resolutions you’ve established for this new year? If customer communication or social media is on your list, I hope you’ll give me a call.  I can help.  330-414-8792.


Merry Christmas – May Yours Be Filled with the Spirit of the Season

Scan10189Just a minute ago my first born was this precious, innocent child filled with excitement for the season.

Everything viewed through his young eyes was fresh and new. He wasn’t cynical or skeptical; he took things at face value.

Remember when we were young and couldn’t wait to close our eyes and go to sleep because we knew the next morning would be Christmas and there would be surprises and great joy at every turn?


Remember when your business was young and you had that same sense of excitement and innocence about the possibilities?

Well, I don’t know about you – but my kids are no longer those young innocents believing in all the secrets and excitement of Santa. But we still manage to create MAGIC together.100_0073

We continually look for ways to make it FUN.  I have found that it is the simpliest pleasures that bring the most joy. 

Our customers feel the same way. It is the simple touches – remembering their name or how they take their coffee.  Their favorite product line or their favorite booth in the restaurant.  Or just greeting them with pleasure in your voice so they know they are valued.

The other day I went to a nursing home with several other friends to sing carols and it was our silly jingle bells, Santa hats and joyful spirit that brought smiles to the resident’s faces (it sure wasn’t our singing).

Here’s hoping that today and every day you can find the simple joys to bring to your life and the lives of your customers.  It really does make a difference!

christmas card photo 2008


I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas day.  May it be filled with all of the fun, simple pleasures of your youth.IMG_4315


Who Do You Compare Yourself To?

I can remember sitting around the executive table at Pearle Vision with the competition ads in front of us.  We would scour over their wording and product focus and even their color scheme to see how we could position our message to stand out.

Then one time and gosh I wish I could remember who said this – we threw out the competition material and decided to look with a fresh, clean slate.  “If we only compare ourselves to the competition then we force our thinking into a rigid box.  We need to just compare our performance and company to ourselves and then begin to think outside the box.”

I just joined a gym.  Yes – I’m paying good money for all the pain I am in.  I look around the room at people 20 years older than I am lifting weights, working out on the machines going a mile a minute and it is hard not to be intimidated.  But the trainer that helped me get started gave me some great advice.

“Don’t look at them.  Don’t compare yourself to them.  Don’t look and see what someone else is doing, just focus on your own progress.”

And I am making progress.  I can see it in my clothes and on the scale, I can feel it in my knees and I am enjoying a greater sense of energy than I’ve had in the past, but it is hard not to compare yourself to others.

When we compare ourselves to others we do so without all of the information.  We don’t know their strategy or what they have planned for the future – we can only see the tip of the iceburg and therefore in our comparison can make invalid assumptions.  Whereas, when we only look at our own performance for comparison, we do have all of the information.  We know about the great margin discounts we received from a supplier or we understand the unique needs of our customer or the fact that we just invested money in a customer service training program for our sales staff.  We can see what the results are based on the effort and focus we put forth.

So rather than comparing yourself to the competition – hold the mirror up and ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • How am I doing based on the customer’s expectations?
  • Has my referral or repeat business increased?
  • What percentage of my customers are returning customers?
  • Has my average transaction increased?
  • Have we improved relationships with our vendors?
  • Has the number of complaints dwindled?
  • Has the number of compliments increased?
  • How is the employee morale versus last year at this time?

Just like Mom always said “keep your eyes on your own plate” when I’d complain that my brother didn’t have to eat as many peas as I did – we need to just focus our attention on improving business based on our own performance rather than that of the competition.

What benchmarks do you have for your business?  How do you compare and measure success?


Carpet Cleaning Challenge

I have company coming for Thanksgiving and as I make a list of all that needs to be done before they arrive, I realize the carpets need to be cleaned.

The cleaner I used to use is no longer in business so it was back to the Yellow Pages to make a few calls. I called the standard choices and explained the same thing:

I need two rooms, stairs and a hallway and two pieces of furniture cleaned.

My company has an allergy to cats and so I wanted to make sure that the bedrooms and furniture were free from cat dander.

Each of the traditional companies (Service Master, Stanley Steemer and Sears) had similar pricing. They didn’t tell me what I would receive, they just quoted a price. The prices were comparable within $15. Nothing set them apart.

I’ve used each of them at one time or another over the years and remember that often on the actual day of cleaning, additional options would be made available like scotch guard for an additional price.

So I decided to call a local shop:  Special Touch

  • She asked drill down questions about the rooms and the furniture
  • She priced each room and item (very competitive rates)
  • She informed me that it would include moving furniture and scotch-guarding the carpets and furniture
  • She asked what day would be convenient
  • She asked if I had a time preference
  • She told me that I would need to vacumn before they came and move any small or breakable items and they would take care of the rest

It was a thorough conversation after which I felt confident that her company knew what they were doing and would take care of all of the aspects of the job for me without incident. 

I booked an appointment right away.  Then she asked when I was doing the general cleaning of the house before my company arrived.  She suggested that we schedule the carpet cleaning for the day AFTER I cleaned as cleaning would send dust particles into the carpet.  And she suggested the visit occur the day BEFORE my company arrives to allow for plenty of drying time.  She said they had different cleaning methods but since my biggest concern was cat dander – she recommended the steam process.  All of this great and helpful information for the same price as the competition – actually a little less. 

Great Value!  Great customer connection.  She listened to what was important to me and made recommendations based on those needs.  Color me one happy customer and they haven’t even come to clean the carpets!

It’s hard to set ourselves apart when prospect are comparing prices over the phone.  But if we take the time to ask additional questions we often learn valuable information that we can respond to, thus setting ourselves apart from the competition.

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