small business

How to keep your employees from wanting to kill you

Posted on June 16, 2009. Filed under: management, small business |

This is a post from That Guy With The Nametag. He has great stuff all the time.  Cick on over and check out his blog (and subscribe while you are at it!)

1. Let people finish what they have to say. Most interruptions are derailments, and as such, most interrupters are avoided.

PRACTICE: On a daily basis, challenge yourself to play the game called, “Let’s See How Long I Can Go Without Interrupting People.” Actually keep score. See if you can beat your personal best each day.

Then, every time you DO interrupt (unnecessarily, that is), drop twenty bucks in a jar. Get the whole office involved in the game. Then, at the end of month, use the money to have a BBQ. Or donate it to charity. That should put an end to the interrupting.Does your conversational narcissism irritate people?

2. Listen with the ear of your heart, not the pointed finger of your ego.Judgmental attitudes stop commutation before it starts.

PRACTICE: Post a sticky note on your desk that reads, “Are you listening with your heart or with your ego?” This serves two purposes: (1) A visual reminder of what to listen WITH during your conversations, (2) An accountability measure to assess your listening practices after your conversations are through.

Then, should you catch yourself listening more with your ego and less with your heart, here’s what you do. Take ten extra minutes before clocking out to replay key conversations in your head. Then honestly ask yourself, “How would my heart have listened in that conversation if my ego wasn’t engaged? Are you monopolizing the talking or the listening?

3. Recognize employee contributions and ideas. According to Dilbert, most bosses will listen thoroughly to your input, thank you for your suggestions, and then do exactly what they planned all along.

PRACTICE: Just sit quiet. Your hand doesn’t have to shoot up first. Next time you attend a meeting or sit on a panel, play another game called “Let See How Long I Can Go Without Contributing.”

This will force you to listen FIRST and hear everyone else out before stating your position. Yes, it takes self-control; but you never know – you may hear something that adds to, modifies or betters your idea. Is your listening all show and no go?

4. Remain calm when confronted with different points of view. The word “emotion” comes from the Latinemotere, which means, “to disturb.”

PRACTICE: Take a few breaths. Recognize that someone has an opinion, even though it may not be your own. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to disagree. Just honor it. Practice a little Namaste Leadership. Honor = Respect = Trust = Increased Willingness to Ask More Questions.

Otherwise you’ll start to resemble Dogbert, whose management strategy is, “I’m not going to comment – I’ll just look at you until you agree with me.” When you are emotionally involved in conversation, how well do you communicate?

How will you keep your employees from wanting to kill you?

For the list called, “33 Daily Practices for Boosting Managerial Magnetism,” send an email to me, and you get the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

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It is not about the hair, people!

Posted on June 2, 2009. Filed under: marketing, small business |

Click on over and read this article in Business Week magazine.

How to Sell More Than a Product

In a coffee showdown with McDonald’s, Starbucks’ tried—and—true strategy has a lesson for entrepreneurs: Don’t sell products. Sell an “experience”

By Carmine Gallo

Read the article here.

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The Customer Experience as Competitive Edge – from Wells Fargo Small Business

Posted on September 16, 2008. Filed under: customer service, small business | Tags: , , |

Wells Fargo Small Business Round up sends me links to articles once a month or so.  When I find them helpful, I share them here.  Why don’t you bookmark their page and check it now and again?

Competitive differentiation is critical. Whether your value proposition rests on price, service or offering a completely unique product or service, building the optimal customer experience can help separate you from the pack. Creating ongoing, meaningful relationships with customers may just be the best retention tool you have.

“We live in a world of abundant choice, uncertainty of innovation and change and the stress of time pressure,” notes John Todor, Ph.D., author of Addicted Customers. “From a customer’s perspective, this pushes them out of their psychological comfort zone. Bidding wars make products and services commodities, which leads to stress and the tendency to buy on price and convenience, not on value. It takes the joy and inherent loyalty out of the buying experience. But an emotionally satisfying experience gives customers a sense of belonging, helping you increase desire and demand, while decreasing the focus on price.”

Thus, the goal of building the best customer experience is to create desire, and increase demand and commitment on the part of the customer; it’s an experience customers want to return to because they derive value from it. Todor points to the experience of walking into an Apple computer store. You’re greeted by a concierge, and all the products are turned on and ready for use, which is actively encouraged. There’s even a classroom in the middle of the store to foster in-depth product learning. The value for customers is clear: They can experience the product right now, not after they’ve purchased it. They’re subjected to the potential value of owning and using the product in the future—this is the root of desire.

But you don’t have to be big to offer a great experience. “We have a local hardware store where all the employees are ex-tradespeople,” Todor says. “Most of the customers are do-it-yourselfers, so the staff works to have the right person—a plumber, electrician, etc.—talk to you about your needs. They offer solid, sound advice about projects that helps keep customers from making mistakes. They may charge about 10% more than other big box or hardware stores, but you’re getting real expertise when you visit. In this case, the shared experience is valuable and meaningful because the anxiety of concerns the customers have about doing their project without unexpected complications are defused. It turns a nagging task into a project that, when done right, leads to gratification, and the confidence to tackle more homeowner projects. The result: more business for the hardware store. A bonus: customers who spread the word to friends and neighbors.”

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Why I will never advertise in the phone book again

Posted on August 20, 2008. Filed under: marketing, small business | Tags: , |

Moscow phone book, 1930.Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know why I let the salesman talk me into it in the first place.  I told her that nobody I know uses the paper phone book anymore.

I had not advertised with them for over five years.  But somehow, I understood I was buying something that would link to my salon’s website from their online directory.

Alas, I was misled.  What I got was my website printed in the white pages of my local directory.


Who looks for a salon in the damn white pages?

Our website is the best way for us to get new clients.  It gives them more information than I could ever communicate into an advertisement.  It is the path I want all potential clients to take.

I called the claims department and they said they could give me the additional web listing FOR AN ADDITIONAL FEE and that I was stuck paying for the ad I didn’t want.

Hate Dex.

Perhaps other salons have a different result from phone book advertising than I do.  Do any of you think that the money you spend on phone book ads gets you enough new clients to make it worth the expense?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Salons and Blogging

Posted on August 8, 2008. Filed under: marketing, small business | Tags: , , |

A few months ago I spoke with Stacey Soble of Salon Today magazine. We chatted at great length about my salon’s blog and blogging for salons in general. The article is available now in their August Technology issue. If you are subscriber, you probably already have it in your hot little hands. If you are not, check it out online. It is a very nice piece that should get you excited about starting your own salon blog. It is “cheap and effective” marketing at its best.

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Does your business card suck?

Posted on August 2, 2008. Filed under: marketing, small business | Tags: , , , |

A client of mine is starting a solo practice as a lighting engineer and designer.  She printed up some business cards using raised ink because she thought that felt really elegant.  I told her they were awful and that before she printed another batch to let me work with her on the project.

This week she came to me with her “improved” version for second printing.  I told her I would work on it.  See if you can guess which one she did and which one I did.


Need help with your lackluster business card?  Email me the file and I will throw you some ideas.

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What should we name this baby?

Posted on July 7, 2008. Filed under: small business, startup | Tags: , , , |

Picking a name for your business is as hard or harder than picking a name for a child.  A name means so much.  It gives the initial feel for a business; communicating something just by being.

When I named my salon 17 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing.  I wanted something that sounded exotic, so that it would stand out.  It was also the era of The Phone Book and since we couldn’t afford a big ad, we wanted the name to begin with an A to put us up front in the listings.  Not a great start.

The name we have today (Azarra Salon) is just fine.  It isn’t phenomenal, but it doesn’t suck.  My friend, who just named his one-man salon Solamente Jessee, thinks we should change the name to Irreverent.  If I hadn’t spent the last 17 years building this brand, I just might do it, but it seems a bit late in the game to change when there isn’t a big glaring reason to do so.

It would have helped if I would have read this article first.  Why don’t you give it a read before you name your new salon?

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Ever have an angry customer?

Posted on June 25, 2008. Filed under: customer service, small business | Tags: |

Typical debit card transaction machine, branded to McDonalds.

Image via Wikipedia

We have all had customer service incidents.  (Here’s one of mine.)

But have you ever had a really angry customer?  It is not a pretty sight.  My customer service plan is to try to avoid “angry” as best I can by nipping things in the bud.

Last week I had trouble with the credit card terminal.  While I was batching out the day’s receipts, the machine went blank.  After a call to the merchant service line, I was told that the batch had not gone through and it was no longer in the memory of the machine.  I was asked to manually re-enter each slip.  (Luckily it was not a big, busy day, so there were only 10 items.)

I input the items again.  Just in case there was any problem, I emailed all the customers and told them what was up.  The next day, one of the clients emailed me to let me know that two transactions were pending on her account.  Yikes!  Panic!

Another call to Merchant Services, and a different person told me that I was supposed to have re-entered the transactions as “offline” and used the same authorization number.  So what had happened now was that on the day before the batch failure, when the clients’ cards were swiped, an authorization was put through to their account.  The actual transaction is not processed until the batch is sent.  When I reentered the items, an additional authorization went through.  I was assured that the original authorization would “drop off” of their accounts in a few days and only one charge would go through.

So I sent another email to all of the effected clients explaining things as I understood them, apologizing for any trouble and thanking them for their patience and understanding.  When they come in the salon next time, I will give them a little gift as an additional apology.

The reason I communicated with the clients was to keep them from seeing their bank info, seeing us on their twice for the same event, freaking out, and wondering what was wrong, or worse: calling and screaming at me!  For me, it is easier to avoid drama than to deal with it full blown.

Sometimes they get you, though.  For 5 steps on how to deal with an angry customer once they are really hot, read this post from Business Pundit.

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Experiential Spa Learning Event September 21-24

Posted on June 19, 2008. Filed under: education, management, marketing, small business | Tags: , , |

2008 Conference Theme: “Is compensation devouring your profit? Finding a solution together.”

SpaFinder invites you to the second annual experiential spa learning event for spa owners and managers, September 21-24, at the breathtaking Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah.

Join us for morning hikes and moonlight walks, extraordinary treatments, delicious spa cuisine, and deluxe accommodations. Explore the stunning red rock canyons between information-packed seminars, roundtable discussions and one-on-one sessions with focus on building your profit margin.

SpaFinder and Red Mountain Spa are delighted to offer you this unique experience at an incredible rate. Space is limited, reserve today.

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She didn’t hire you because you were a bad fit, not because you are Muslim!

Posted on June 18, 2008. Filed under: small business, staff | Tags: , , , |

This story takes place in the UK, and if you think I have limited knowledge of business law in my own country, you can imagine how little I know about others!  This is a story about one of us, a small salon owner, who didn’t hire someone because they were a bad fit for the salon.  The hairdresser sued the salon for “hurting her feelings” by not hiring her.  (This is definitely a candidate for Come Here So I can Smack You!  I want to smack the woman who file the lawsuit and the judge who thought she was right!)

For the record, I think that one of the great things about owning a small business is the ability to select staff and customers that are a good match.  It’s kind of like dating.  Not everyone gets on well together.  It doesn’t make them bad or wrong, it just makes them a bad fit.  As a business owner, I could give two craps about my staff’s religious affiliations, but I do care about how well they integrate with the existing staff and clients.  I would love to hear a good reason why I shouldn’t be able to pick staff based on that criteria.

And just to open another can of worms (why not?) I think a the same thing about pharmacists who want to pick which medications they fill.  Unless you have BRANDED yourself as a business with certain beliefs, it is unreasonable to expect a customer to guess that your religious beliefs are going to get in the way of them having the experience they expect from a pharmacy (or a salon.)

There is a hospital in my city owned by the Franciscans.  I know their policies about reproductive medicine.  I wouldn’t go to them for a pregnancy termination because I know they don’t do them.  I am not even sure if they offer any contraceptive services, so I don’t go there for such things.

If you make your religious faith a cornerstone of your business, then people can choose to come or not come to you based on that.  Depending on your location, you may attract and repel an equal number of potential guests.

And if you take away the religious aspect of this issue, there is still an issue of appearance.  People judge salons based on the appearance of the staff.  If all the staff look like bikers, chances are a soccer mom is going to either think she isn’t welcome or the salon can’t provide the work she is expecting (“They don’t do my kind of hair there.”)  The salon in this article is “edgy-funky,” not “quiet and conservative.”  Seems like the customers there might be a rowdy bunch who might feel they have to be on their best behavior around a person who is visibly observant of their religion which would make the salon a less desirable location for them to visit.

As always, I am open to dissenting opinions.

Sarah Desrosiers

I nearly lost my business after refusing to hire a Muslim hair stylist who wouldn’t show her hair

By Natasha Courtenay-Smith
Last updated at 11:08 AM on 18th June 2008

It seems too lunatic to be true. But here a hair salon boss reveals how she was driven to the brink of ruin – and forced to pay £4,000 for ‘hurt feelings’ – after refusing to hire a Muslim stylist who wouldn’t show her hair at work

For Sarah Desrosiers, meeting Bushra Noah was not a moment in her life that she would describe as especially memorable.

Not only was it brief  –  lasting little more than ten minutes  –  but it was rapidly obvious to Sarah that Bushra was not the person for the junior stylist position she was trying to fill at her hairdressing salon.

Sarah’s reasoning? Quite simply that Bushra, a Muslim who wears a headscarf for religions reasons, had made it clear she would not be removing the garment even while at work.

Read the rest of the article here.

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