04 07 2012
Shoot…! ….Before You’re Shot!
Clearly for us in the Northern hemisphere, after tilting its maximum towards the sun in June, the longest day in terms of daylight hours has reached its peak for another year. Doubtless is the longest day for business owner-managers, with any changes occurring in different areas at the same time, over yet… and the potential is to increase the sense of everything changing at once. Add in the sense of peddling twice as fast to stay in the same place, it’s easy to lose direction, become staid and too busy for business… or life.
In the micro and small business operators world, in which time is eaten up quicker than cheese by a mouse in a creamery, the daily challenges can be similar to that given out to the Radio 4 panellists on Just a Minute: managing 60 seconds without repetition, hesitation or deviation. For some, the constant erosion results in a belief that being older means automatically time will move quicker, for others, the misinterpretation that nothing remains the same.
At a time when even being a long established family run business, with a great local reputation, isn’t sufficient to stand out against competing county and national chains, there is constant opportunity in the basis of business and the trading of products and services, and it is difficult to think of any businesses exempt from the benefits of continually refining its own information or practice (even before the time of the internet). However, when information overload is added to the mix of ever prevalent disturbance to attention, there can be a tipping point reached: being both cause and symptom, new opportunities and experiences are suppressed.
In this modern life in which time and technology moves at a pace seemingly faster than the speed of light, where it’s possible to use a phone that is smart enough to monitor heartbeat, after running for a train to which tickets were bought over the internet, whilst making the decision whether to arrange a taxi on arrival, when mail no longer necessitates a postie and face to face conversations happen through a screen, time does indeed seem to go quicker than ever before: business environments and customer wants/needs constantly changing - the changes in effect becoming a constant.
3 Shots to Crank Up Business’s Constant Changes ….and Kill the Overload
- Concentrate on areas that ensure the business is sustained – The financials, the data, the spreadsheets – boring and time consuming but true
- Give attention to new customers as well as loyal customers – Identify a market, the customer in that market and what that customer wants – time consuming but true
- Apply digital technology: applications such as email, smartphones, websites – Be selective; use the silent mode on your mobile phone, prioritise emails and make your website relevant – time consuming but true.
There are hundreds of businesses competing and claiming to give professional service (what other type would they make claim to!?) Add to that corporates with their brand going before them (think coffee – think Starbucks, think health – think Boots, think cheap supermarket – think Asda), the independent has plenty to make their days seem very long. For example, motorists are now enabled to buy car parts online, the website being the enabler; some are good sites, some are bad and some are in the middle. Some motorists choose to use a mechanic in a garage; some have good garage services, some bad and some are in the middle: as in all business types there are the good, the bad and the ugly. There’s no magic involved in the value-base for online customers altering their middleman from garage to website, and the mechanic’s customers’ preference of garage as intermediary, the customer has the choice of preference and a business has a choice in how it operates. Product or service, B2B or direct, all business types have a commonality in their customers wanting gold star service - it should be a norm but is often seen as an added bonus - add to that something that gets their attention or makes an impression, the customer experience becomes enjoyable.
Offering great deals which pass savings on is what customers want: it’s what businesses purport along with having a great reputation, keeping the customer updated and so on. But business being enjoyable isn’t easy for many sectors, us included; there are no giggles in high-end rate scales, pedantic red tape, or corporate contemplation, but experiencing customer satisfaction by creating an agreeable experience for a customer is drive in itself, no hesitation or deviation – for repetition.
Putting the customer first doesn’t always make us the most popular, arguing with a lender when we’re firmly on the side of customer makes for one of our less enjoyable challenges, but, a business that puts its customer first, by knowing they have understood what their customer wants, builds a confidence which reinforces their ability against the competition.
Seize the information overload, wring it dry, mangle it into submission and make it work for your business instead of against your business …..providing you’re not in a blackspot!
04 07 2012
Let’s start with what we Brits seem to like talking about instead of leaving it until the end as an …and finally…. the weather - June was the wettest on record, ‘Nuff said! Although water restrictions have been lifted, some farmers, such as apple growers in Sussex might be counting the cost of their crops being dampened whilst some strawberry growers claim its all come to good, others with PYO are counting the cost and the damp conditions have driven bee colonies to struggle with near starvation. Summer clothing sales started early because of subdued sales but the sale of waterproofs is up.
The MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) meeting this month is anticipated to be bringing out QE (quantitative easing) in response to latest economic indicators and at the recent FSA’s Annual Public Meeting chairman Lord Turner described the Libor scandal `column inch filler‘, as a huge blow to the reputation of the banking industry.
Banking activity is set to create an even huger blow over the next few weeks as the Libor scandal unfolds with BoE Deputy Paul Tucker being cited by one scuffed Diamond Bob, as involved in rate rigging actions. The current Banking scandal takes over from NatWest’s meltdown. CEO Hester has agreed to forgo his £963,000 bonus this year because of the chaos following the computer glitch which has raised fears that customers may have had their credit ratings unwittingly blotted, corporate hospitality at Wimbledon was scrapped and duplicate mortgage payments mistakenly taken from some customers have achieved an I’m sorry from RBS, as they promised no one would be left out of pocket….. Interest rate swapping by RBS, Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC as reviewed by the regulator had all four British banks on the naughty-chair and forced to compensate their customers caught up in the mis-selling of complex derivatives; which were supposed to protect them if interest rates rose…..
A year down the line from nationalised Northern Rock’s potential sale making its way into the news, sale done, it’s still hanging around the financial headlines as the CEO of the FSA claims he recommended Lloyds TSB be granted a loan from the BofE to facilitate a takeover which could have changed the general climate, but, Governor Mervyn King he said …NO!.. Lloyds preferred bidder for their Verde sale remains to be The Co-Op , while Moodys’ is about to place a downgrade on Santander which would remove any parental support from Banco Santander.
London Borough, Southwark Council, is set to be the first UK local authority to impose a rent cap for private landlords who accept housing benefit tenants - There are 30,000 private rental properties in Southwark, of which 5,340 currently accept LHA tenants. Newham council’s plan, to become the first borough in the country to licence all private landlords, has attracted criticism from the NLA (National Landlords Association). Due to come into force 1 January 2013, some 35,000 private tenancies will be affected. The NLA has said…..such drastic proposals will….only increase the burdens on those who already comply with the law, without having any bearing on those who blatantly ignore it. Private landlords will pay £150 for a five year licence if they register before 1 January, 2013, otherwise the full fee is £500. Landlords who fail to license face fines of up to £20,000. Shelter responded with `We urge other local councils to follow Newham’s lead in sending a clear signal that enforcing the law against rogue landlords is a priority’.
And Finally…. The Weather…. It’s still raining. ‘Nuff said….
Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012