2003 Door & Access Systems
© 2003 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2003
Author: Tom Wadsworth
30 Best How-To Business Tips
Editor's Note: We regularly receive story submissions from some of the nation's top business consultants. Since door dealers have unique needs, we are very selective about which story submissions we consider. And if we do consider one of these stories, we edit it heavily to be sure it's helpful to the typical garage door dealer.
The following 30 tips are the best of the best tips we've received over the past two years. We hope they help you.
How to Attract and Keep Good Workers
The door and access systems industry has long struggled with the problem of attracting and keeping good workers. No matter the state of the economy, good talent is ceaselessly in demand.
Dr. Kenneth Christian, an expert on workplace achievement, says that attracting, retaining, and developing talent is not that difficult. “Organizations that consistently invest in the development and well-being of their personnel create a climate that fosters creativity, innovation, and high achievement,” he says.
In this climate, employees are willing to go the extra mile for an employer that goes the extra mile for them. Christian offers these tips for creating that climate. His tips apply to almost any job at your company.
- Craft Jobs around Personal Interest. Have employees do work that is personally interesting or that involves a cause that matters to them.
- Offer Challenge and Stimulation. Make sure each job solves real problems that require a satisfying use of mental agility.
- Recognize Achievement. Recognize and appreciate employee efforts, both inside and outside the workplace.
- Listen. Listen to and value their input about their job and your company. When possible, give them some choice over their work schedule.
- Grant Independence. High-achieving employees generally want to work independently and make decisions without constant scrutiny.
- Create a Positive Environment. The workplace must be an enjoyable place with congenial co-workers. It's your responsibility to make it happen.
The business case for creating a productive climate for workers is compelling. The results are increased productivity, innovation, morale, and employee retention.
Dr. Kenneth Christian (www.maxpotential.com) is a licensed psychologist with 25 years of experience. He is the author of the book, “Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement.” A speaker and organizational consultant, he is an expert on workplace/ organizational achievement.
How to Maximize Your Tradeshow Efforts
Whenever the economy dips, it's common for door dealers to immediately look at where they can cut budgets. One of the first to hit the chopping block is marketing and tradeshows.
Susan Friedmann, the “Tradeshow Coach,” says this is a short-sighted way of thinking. “Exhibiting is a powerful part of your company's marketing strategy,” she says. “Eliminating your marketing budget during a down economy is tantamount to profitability suicide.”
Friedmann offers these marketing tips for maximizing your tradeshow efforts.
- Target the Best Shows. Which shows really fit into your marketing strategy? Are you attending them just because you've always done so, or because your competition is there? Do away with the “nice-to-be-at shows” mentality. Or consider reducing space. Put your energy into events that attract larger quantities of your target market.
- Focus on Long-Term Results. Marketing produces results when done continuously in an organized and planned manner. It's like a dripping faucet. So long as the drops constantly fall into the tub, it will fill up. However, if you take a “turn on, turn off” approach, then your results are likely to mirror your actions.
- Improve Staff Performance. Make sure your staff is well trained to perform optimally at tradeshows. These people have the awesome responsibility of making or breaking future relationships with attendees, prospects, and customers. Your staff's attitude, body language, appearance, and knowledge create positive or negative perceptions in the minds of visitors.
Susan A. Friedmann, the Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, N.Y., works with exhibitors and show organizers to improve their tradeshow success. Her ExhibitSmart Tips of the Week are at www.thetradeshowcoach.com.
How to Write a Good Ad Headline
Most door dealers run ads in the Yellow Pages or in the newspaper. The most important detail of those print ads is the headline.
Statistic #1: The average person spends only four seconds on each page of a newspaper. A strong headline can grab them and make them read your ad.
Statistic #2: Three out of four people will read your headline, but only one out of four will keep reading. Point: If you maximize your headline, you maximize your ad investment.
Here are ten top tips for writing effective ad headlines, compiled by the business consultants at The Raphel Report.
- Promise a benefit or provoke curiosity. Let's say you've opened a new garage door showroom. Instead of the headline saying, “New Showroom Open,” say, “Touch Your New Garage Door in Our New Showroom.”
- Don't put the name of your store in the headline unless you offer something the customer cannot find at your competition. Example: “Carriage House Doors Only at Smith's Door Company.” If you're not offering an exclusive product, place your store's name at the bottom of the ad. Don't worry; the customer will find it.
- Make it newsworthy. If your headline is genuinely hot news, it could end up as a (free) story in the next day's newspaper.
- Use time-proven “grabber” words in your headlines. Examples: Free, New, Now, Announcing, How, Win, Guarantee, Easy, You, Save, At Last, and Breakthrough.
- Use a local angle. Tie in with community activities like local festivals, Special Olympics, or United Way. It not only increases readership, but it also builds respect.
- Put headlines at the top of your ad if you don't have a strong visual. It sounds simple, but many ads have no headlines.
- Put headlines under an illustration (if possible). That's how people read: picture, caption, headline.
- Don't write your headline in all capital letters. It's hard to read and sometimes ANNOYING.
- Target a specific audience or problem. If you're advertising to senior citizens, say so: “Attention Senior Citizens!” If you're targeting service work, try “Is Your Garage Door Broken?”
This story is edited and reprinted with permission from The Raphel Report, a monthly newsletter from Raphel Marketing (www.raphel.com), Atlantic City, N.J.
How to Rekindle the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Remember your door company's glow of success when you first started? Have you watched, with envy, how some start-up companies have taken off like a rocket? Some of that magic comes from the entrepreneurial spirit.
In successful entrepreneurial businesses, everyone is a contributing participant, and everyone thinks like an owner. When employees think like an owner, they take responsibility. The entire company benefits. Profitability results.
James Feldman, a top author and business consultant, offers these five key tips for returning the entrepreneurial spirit to your door company.
- Personalize Responsibility. Make each person accountable for the proper operation of his or her area and for customer satisfaction. In entrepreneurial companies, all employees want to dazzle customers.
- Focus on Customer Needs. When employees focus on customer needs, they forget about other work problems and tensions. Delays and busywork disappear, and everyone works together for tactical advantage in the marketplace.
- Take Risks. Stodgy companies forget to be innovative; they merely maintain the status quo. But entrepreneurs take risks and are constantly watching for fresh ideas. Encourage creative thinking. Avoid penalizing anyone for the outcome.
Ask your employees how they would apply their specialized skills and knowledge if they were the owner. Encourage them to take the calculated risks necessary to make the company a leader.
- Let Talent Shine. Since today's employees tend to be more educated, you can give them more freedom to manage themselves. This encourages higher productivity and gives each employee a higher level of job satisfaction. Let employees do what they do best. Everyone has unique talents that can benefit your company.
- Manage Processes, Not People. To change your company's direction, you must change your thinking from managing people to managing the process and the outcome. This approach enables everyone to perform at his or her highest level, thus increasing your company's overall productivity.
James Feldman is an author, business consultant, and expert on innovation, customer service, and creativity. As president of James Feldman Associates, he has consulted for companies like Toyota, Xerox, Apple, Walt Disney, and NBC. He can be reached at www.jfainc.com.
How to Improve Workplace Communications
LESSONS LEARNED FROM COLUMBIA
The Columbia Accident Investigation Board confirmed the physical cause of the February 2003 space shuttle accident. A chunk of foam flew off the shuttle's external tank, striking the wing, creating a hole that allowed superheated air to penetrate the wing during re-entry.
However, another key cause of the accident was NASA's internal communications. The report says: “The organizational structure and hierarchy blocked effective communication of technical problems. Signals were overlooked, people were silenced, and useful information and dissenting views on technical issues did not surface at higher levels.”
Your company doesn't need to be as large as NASA to have communication problems. Even garage door dealers can have fatal communication processes. Linda Dulye, president of L.M. Dulye & Co. and an expert in workplace communications, recommends three critical steps to improve your company's effectiveness and profitability.
- Commit to Two-Way Communications. Managers are responsible for demonstrating and promoting open, candid, two-way communications. Are your staff meetings monologues or dialogues?
- Create a Sense of Safety. Fear of reprisal must be eliminated. Shoot-the-messenger actions cannot be allowed. Do you discourage or encourage differing views?
- React and Respond. To be effective, you must respond to and act upon employee feedback. Shift your communications focus from one-way events to continuous dialogues.
Is a disaster waiting to happen at your door company? By taking these pro-active communication steps now, you can reap the benefits of the input of all your employees.
Linda Dulye is president of L.M. Dulye & Co., a firm specializing in internal communications. This article is taken from 2-Way Update, their E-mail newsletter available at www.lmdulye.com. Reprinted and edited with permission from L.M. Dulye & Co.
How to Master Rejection
In the door business, and any business, “Nothing happens without a sale.” Of all the professions, the sales profession is one of the hardest to master. Salespeople who are high achievers are those who have mastered rejection.
Nick Nicholas, a retired U.S. Army Sergeant, has helped thousands find the courage to master anxiety and doubt. Here are Nicholas' four steps to build your confidence as a sales professional.
- Inoculate Yourself Against Doubt. Lack of self-confidence is self-doubt. Pinpoint your doubts. Do you doubt your product or service? Do you doubt your ability? Inoculate yourself against your doubts by gradually increasing your exposure to the situations that cause you fear until they don't bother you anymore. Face your doubts head on, and your confidence will grow.
- Trust Your Tools. The right tools can build your confidence. The three most important sales tools are your knowledge, skill, and ability. Which tool needs sharpening? To strengthen your tools, you may need a seminar, some good reading, or perhaps a mentor. Trust your tools. Know that they will serve you well, even in the face of rejection.
- Stop Playing “What If.” Many salespeople let “what ifs” ruin their day. “What if he's having a bad day?” “What if she's not ready to see me?” Overcome “what if” thinking by letting go of the past, living in the present, and looking to the future. Until you do that, you'll always be playing the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” game.
- Build Your A-Team. Like an army general, surround yourself with advisors or specialists from many areas of expertise. Strong and successful people routinely go to others for advice and input. Who’s your specialist in order processing who can get a special order through? Who can take care of a billing problem for you? Who in shipping can get out a package right away?
Make yourself stronger by using the strengths of those on your team. When you have a strong A-Team behind you, your doubts will fade, and your skills will shine.
Nick Nicholas, First Sergeant U.S. Army (Ret.), is a professional speaker, trainer, and author. He speaks to and consults with corporations, associations, and organizations in a broad spectrum of industries. Read more at www.becourageous.com.