Business Systems and Processes.

The Systems Thinker Blog

10 Tips for a Great Business Presentation!

I’m a bit of an introvert. While I love teaching, I don’t like giving business presentations. How about you?

According to Toastmasters International:

“Every day, employees of various companies around the world find themselves in career-defining speaking situations. Presentations like these often involve high stakes and are presented to busy people with the power to influence careers.

“Business presentations can make or break your career. The technical briefing, a straightforward presentation to inform, can cause trouble if you lose your audience. For the proposal, you must advocate an idea, product, or course of action, and convince others to agree. You may have to present complicated material to a nontechnical audience.”

Are Your Presentations Memorable?

I’ve given presentations in my career where everything was on the line. After a sleepless night, and with a tennis-ball mouth, I stood before an audience of skeptical judges. Quietly, I prayed that the technology would work properly, I wouldn’t say anything stupid, and the outcome would be favorable. But as they say, “some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.”

Presentations are Business Systems

Like everything else, a business presentation is a  “system.” The success of the presentation relies heavily on following correct principles for preparation and delivery.

When creating your business presentation system, you may appreciate a little help from the experts. Today I’ve included a slide presentation that I think you will enjoy. In five minutes, you will learn the following, and more:

  • 10 lessons from the world’s most captivating presenters.
  • How to give presentations that go from yawn inspiring to awe-inspiring.
  • Tips for creating presentations that get results.
  • How much time to spend in preparation and practice.

Check Out These 10 Tips from the World’s Best Presenters

10 Easy Steps to Grow the Perfect Business

“10 Easy Steps to Grow the Perfect Business”

An Entrepreneur’s Guide

By Ron Carroll

Whether launching a business startup or running a mature company, every entrepreneur should become a student of business and continually strive to discover and apply proven principles for success. There are thousands of books written by business experts that can inform and inspire. This ebook is brief, but packed with many rock-solid principles derived from personal study and forty years of hands-on experience. If you take each chapter to heart and apply the principles discussed, you will become an exceptional business leader and grow a remarkable and prosperous organization!


                        Preface:                 Hats Off to the Entrepreneur

                        Step 1:                  Get Off the Treadmill and Into the “Zone”

                        Step 2:                  Blueprint Your Business

                        Step 3:                  Systemize Everything

                        Step 4:                  Manage by the Numbers

                        Step 5:                  Become an Obsessed Marketer

                        Step 6:                  Differentiate or Die

                        Step 7:                  Convert with “Killer Customer Care”

                        Step 8:                  Get the Right People

                        Step 9:                  Turn Your Business Into a Game and Keep Score

                        Step 10:                Pay the Price  (Plus a Recommended Step 11)

Optional Format: Download “10 Simple Steps to Grow the Perfect Business” as pdf file.
(Bookmarks to each chapter are available by clicking on “Bookmarks” icon in Adobe Reader.)

Business Improvement: Pay the Price!

Doctors prepare for 10 to 15 years before starting their medical practice. Most entrepreneurs learn on the fly, which is why eighty percent of small businesses fail within five years. Many more business owners struggle to survive. The requirements to become a successful entrepreneur are no less than to become a doctor. Are you willing to pay that kind of price?

Pay the Price

At my college commencement, thirty-some years ago, a soon-to-be graduate declared a familiar message from the podium, “You can achieve anything in life you desire!” As radio host Paul Harvey use to say, “Now here’s the rest of the story.

Know What You Want

You can achieve anything you desire, if you know exactly what it is you want, and if you are willing to pay the price to get it. Most people don’t have a clear vision of their goal or aren’t prepared for the sacrifice required to attain it.

After a stirring performance, a man said to the concert pianist, “I would give half my life to be able to play the piano like that.” To which the pianist responded, “Good, because that’s exactly what it takes.”

Many people start a business with romantic notions, generally unaware of the price they will have to pay to achieve success. By sheer will, the best somehow survive and succeed, making our nation the most advanced and prosperous on earth. With the odds of failure so great, however, the wise entrepreneur has a healthy respect for the mountain he or she is about to climb.

Accept the Risk

First, the business owner knows he has a high risk of losing the value of all the time, energy, and money he or she has put into the business. As mentioned, this real and painful loss comes to eighty percent of business owners (and their creditors) in the first five years.

Risking personal or business resources to create even greater value in the business is the repeated sacrifice asked of the entrepreneur. Whether buying a new piece of equipment, putting an ad in a magazine, or hiring a sales manager, there is always some degree of uncertainty as to whether the gamble will pay off. It is a natural part of business life. We have to get used to it.

Muster the Will

Second, we must also have the “will” to follow proven laws of success. Our desire and internal drive must become so intense that we can overcome all obstacles put in our path. AND, we must commit enough resources (time, energy, money) to our goal so that we can continually beat down the unrelenting forces trying to drive us out of business.

For example, business owners make a big mistake when they are not willing to pay the price to have remarkable business systems and processes. Successful owners budget for quality marketing or customer care programs, or an accounting system that will enable them to “manage by the numbers.” Owners who won’t pay the price, but instead cut corners in critical business areas, will not compete over the long run with companies who do muster the will to become remarkable.

Finally, we must have the passion and the grit to become the best at what we do. We have to be financially strong enough to survive both setbacks and sudden successes. We must continually invest time in developing personal knowledge and skills, persevering until we have grown the perfect business: one that runs itself profitably and gives us personal and financial freedom.

Work Hard and Intelligently

Business success does not come by accident. Things happen or don’t happen, for a reason. For every effect, there is a specific cause.

Most breakthrough success is preceded by a long period of hard work and persistence toward a single, clearly defined purpose. How high we rise is largely determined by how high we want to climb. Persistence in the face of setbacks and disappointments reflects our unyielding belief in ourselves and our ability to succeed.

According to Jim Collins (Good to Great), the best companies never transform to greatness in “…one fell swoop. There is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment.

“Sustainable transformations [to greatness] follow a predictable pattern of build-up and breakthrough. Like pushing on a giant heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.”

The longer and harder I intelligently work, the faster I create value in my business. When that value becomes great enough, I can cash in by selling, franchising, or hiring someone to run the business for me. Hard work pays off, and interestingly, the harder I work, the “luckier” I get.


Most businesses fail because:

Most people who read the above list will see their weaknesses. Sadly, most will think, “Yes, that is something I must do…TOMORROW.” And that is why they will become part of the eighty percent failure club, or why they will stumble along with a mediocre business that will never reach its full potential.

Those who do make it to the winner’s circle will pay the price! It is a law of life.

“The most important principle of personal or business success is simply this: You become what you think about most of the time” (Brian Tracy, Laws of Business Success). Get in the Zone. Devote time to study business literature and learn from the experts. Pay the price in your mind first! Then go make your business remarkable.

These 10 steps will help you grow the perfect business. The next step is optional, but it could make all the difference! (Free download entire PDF ebook)

Recommended Step 11 – Discover Box Theory™!

Okay, by now you’ve thought “this guy must be kidding about the 10 steps being easy. To do everything described in this ebook is a pretty huge undertaking.” I agree. But this is what successful companies do— one step at a time! Remember, this is the life you chose, and you can do it, too—if you have the will. You also need a good system; you need Box TheoryTM!

I heartily recommend that you take our eCourse, Box Theory™: Double Your Profit with High-Performance Business Systems and Processes. You will learn how to create powerful systems that eliminate waste, inefficiency, and frustration, while dramatically improving your customer loyalty, profitability, and growth. Box Theory™ is a unique method that transforms complex and expensive process-improvement techniques of Fortune 500 companies into a painless solution for busy entrepreneurs. You can expect a return of 10, 100, or even a 1000 times the incidental cost of this course. In fact, you are probably losing at least that amount every day you wait to get started. Good news: Box Theory™ Software and Course are now FREE to download.

Please read more about the Box Theory™eCourse and Box Theory™ Gold Software. Then try it! I think this will be one of the best business investments you ever make. Put me to the test.

(Free download of entire PDF ebook)

Free Box Theory™ Gold Software

Business Improvement: Turn Your Business into a Game and Keep Score!

By now, you are convinced that business systems are the essential building blocks of the perfect business, one that runs itself efficiently and profitably. Getting the right people, those who are competent and motivated, adds spirit and power to your business processes. It is the combination of great people and great systems that produces great companies. When you add the elements of fun and competition—when you turn your business into a game and keep score—you will discover the grand secret to developing a truly remarkable company.

Make your business a game and keep score.

People will actually pay for the opportunity to “work hard” when they enjoy what they are doing. Recreation and sports generate enthusiasm, energy, and motivation not usually found in work-day activities. Many people feel their jobs are stressful, unrewarding, and even boring. Games are fun, engaging, and fulfilling. People don’t like to work. However, they do like to play and compete. So, start having some fun!

Make It a Game

Let’s compare the game of football to your business. The coaches (managers) begin with a strategy for winning games. They recruit skilled players (employees) and assemble the best possible team. The coaches watch game films to learn the strengths and vulnerabilities of the competition. They create an effective game plan and practice hard to execute the plan with exactness.

Players learn the rules of the game, the field of play, and the importance of staying within set boundaries. During games, they continually have their eye on the goal and know how much time they have to reach it. Every play provides feedback that enables players and coaches to make necessary adjustments. Adversity and opposition produce even greater courage, determination, and achievements.

But what would happen if there was no scoreboard? The stands would be empty. There would be no screaming fans; no one would even care. Keeping score and following player and game statistics is what generates buzz and creates wealthy sports stars.

The goal of any sport is to put more points on the board than your competition before the clock runs out. And the players’ gritty determination to push the envelope of human performance gives us the amazing highlights on the evening sports news.

Scorekeeping in a positive way can help people become winners. Your employees want that opportunity. Only you can provide it!

Keep Score

Games are all about numbers! The number of yards the ball moves on a play determines if the play worked as planned, or not. The final numbers on the scoreboard reveal if a team had a successful game, and if the fans go home feeling triumphant and proud, or heads-down discouraged. Performance numbers are used to set player salaries and they determine if the managers get a new contract.

Managing by the numbers can transform teams with poor performance into fierce competitors. Analysis of individual and team scoring data leads to better results and winning seasons.

There are three types of business scorekeeping that you should pay attention to. The first includes a profit and loss statement, a balance sheet, and a statement of cash flows. These financial tools are rich with information on the health of your operation. They reveal strengths and weaknesses, performance trends, break-even points, and other intelligence for decision-making and problem-solving. They show the company’s ability to generate profit and cash flow—the lifeblood of your business. These scorekeeping tools, referred to as lagging indicators, are primarily used by owners and managers.

The second type of scorekeeping involves measuring the results of your business systems, often referred to as leading indicators. System reports may include the number of sales leads generated by marketing campaigns, the percentage of defective products returned, the person-hours required to complete a job, the number of orders processed within a day, and so forth. Setting goals and measuring system results increases productivity and profitability. As in football, employees should receive frequent feedback regarding their individual and team performance.

The third type of scorekeeping requires a deep understanding of the key number that drives the economic engine of your company. Control of the key numbers determines the performance and growth of the business. If these one or two results are good, everything else tends to fall into place. An example in football might be the success rate of first down conversion attempts. If the team converts third-down plays to first downs at a high rate, they are moving the ball and have more opportunities to score.

Key numbers indicators (KPI) are usually expressed as ratios such as profit per “x” (profit/x). Search for the one denominator that has the most impact on the business. The obvious might be profit per product line, profit per store, profit per hour, or profit per job. However, a closer examination of what makes your company tick might reveal a better measurement such as profit per employee, profit per customer, profit per ton of finished product, profit per mile driven, and so forth.

Results to Resource Ratio

Charles Coonradt, author of The Game of Work, explains key numbers in terms of a “Results to Resource Ratio.” In other words, what is being accomplished with the available resources? Managers, like coaches, are people who turn resources into results. The more efficiently they do this, the more successful they are as managers.

With the Results to Resource Ratio, results are expressed in quantifiable terms representing quantity, quality, timeliness, accuracy, profitability, and so forth. Resources include such things as time, space, equipment, inventory, or budget. In plain English, these ratios may appear as:

  • Sales dollars per square foot of floor space
  • Pounds of flour per ton of wheat processed
  • Defective units per thousand units produced
  • Average sales dollar per customer visit
  • Warranty service calls per client contract
  • Feet of wood molded per machine hour

Focus attention on the most important results and the most expensive resources. These ratios can be used at every level of your business operations.

Manager-Coaches Drive Success

Managers are on the constant lookout for better ways to refine their business systems and add useful measures that will increase productivity. Progress is based upon the ability to improve measurement. In sports, statisticians look at new ways to measure player performance and compare their output to other players.

Business and religious leader Thomas Monson teaches, “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”

Effective managers create specific, written goals. Team goals shape personal goals. Personal goals are the foundation of all achievements. Goals must answer the questions of how many (or how much), by when, and by whom. “How many” is the desired result. “By when” is the adrenaline-boosting deadline. “By whom” indicates ownership and accountability for the result.

Empower with Ownership

Ownership of a task drives personal motivation. This happens when the “right people” are allowed to choose their own rewards, set their own goals, and decide how they will accomplish those goals. Personal goals must fit within the prescribed system boundaries and be consistent with team goals. When a person chooses a goal, he or she simultaneously chooses to pay the price to attain it, and the payoff for its accomplishment.

Hire and empower self-motivated people who want to win. Tell them why the business system was created, how it works, and why it will benefit them. Enlist their knowledge, talents, energy, and resources to improve the system and raise the bar on performance standards. As they achieve results, their self-esteem and sense of value to the company will grow. They will set new performance records. When they create greater value, compensate appropriately. Remember, “Winners keep track of results; losers keep track of reasons” (Charles Coonradt).

Give Frequent Feedback

Scorekeeping must be simple and objective, self-administered, and provide frequent feedback during the game. Employees should not have to depend on a supervisor to tell them how well they did. They know the score as the game progresses. The use of charts and graphs can give even more impact. Effective scorekeeping offers a comparison between current personal performance, past personal performance, and an accepted standard. If you want to improve the quality of performance of any activity, you simply increase the frequency of feedback.

Celebrate Victories

Without scorekeeping, we don’t know when to celebrate. There is no end-zone dance. There is no glory! Create “games” in order to celebrate and savor the victories. Winning makes the game of work fun, brings the best out of players, and creates an extraordinarily profitable business.

In the Zone, imagine yourself as the coach of a team bound for the Super Bowl. Establish measuring systems that let you know every day how much closer you are getting to the goal. Focus your attention on the 20% of activity that produces 80% of the results. Find and work the key numbers that drive the economic engine of your business. Expect to win. Pay the price. And have fun!

One final thought: There is a very real price to pay! Read on and decide now if you are willing to pay it.

Step 10: Pay the Price  (Plus a Recommended Step 11)
Download PDF ebook: 10 Easy Steps to Grow the Perfect Business

Business Improvement: Get the Right People!

A business organization is a group of people brought together for the purpose of finding, serving, and keeping customers. The best organizations invariably hire the best people to achieve this purpose.

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins writes, “Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is one thing above all others: the ability to get and keep enough of the right people. GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE ON THE BUS FIRST, AND THE WRONG PEOPLE OFF THE BUS, THEN FIGURE OUT WHAT DIRECTION TO DRIVE THE COMPANY.”

Get the right people on the bus


Who are the right people and how do you get them?

There are essentially two types of people that most entrepreneurs will hire at some time. I would characterize them as “plow horses” and “racehorses.” The plow horses are the people that you can count on to follow the established systems of your business. From planting to harvesting, they perform the routine work in a consistent and remarkable way.

The racehorses are the leaders and innovators who set the course the company will take. They are hard-charging thoroughbreds with an eye on the winner’s circle. A growing business needs both types of people.

The entrepreneur often begins as a racehorse with a plow attached. If he creates a successful business model and not just a job for himself, his company will grow. He will soon need to hire other people.

Plow Horses Excel At Routines

Smart business owners blueprint their business and begin establishing business systems that produce consistent and measurable results—financial systems, marking systems, customer care systems, and so forth. They understand that good systems run the business and they can hire non-expert and less expensive people to run the systems—the plow horses.

Plow horses are easy to train. You can quickly teach them to follow the rows—your documented systems and procedures. If performance is lacking, you tweak the system or replace the individual, with little effect on your business.

Without systems, you must employ higher-skilled and more expensive people. Job satisfaction also tends to be lower, resulting in a costly turnover. Using business systems, plow horses are able to produce desired results every single time, even when you are not around. Your business runs profitably, efficiently, and flawlessly, all by itself!

Race Horses Get You Into the Winner’s Circle

The racehorses are a special breed of people: they are executives and managers who are born to excel at anything they do. They are inspired leaders and system innovators. They are fiercely loyal, deeply committed to the company’s success, and have high moral character. They focus on specifics and measured performance. They apply 80% of their effort to the 20% of tasks—customers, employees, business systems, and so forth—that accomplish the most good. Give these “finishers” something they love doing and then get out of their way.

“The right executives will do everything in their power to build a great company, not because of what they will get in terms of incentives and compensation, but because they simply cannot imagine settling for anything less. Their moral code is ‘excellence for its own sake'” (Jim Collins).

Racehorses cost more. They are worth it. They will do the right things and deliver the best results. Pay the most to individuals who have a proven track record doing exactly what you need to be done. Don’t compensate to motivate the right behaviors from the wrong people. Compensate to get and keep the right people in the first place!

Finally, racehorses are not always employees. They can serve on your board of directors or advisors, or they can be outsourced service providers or consultants. The entrepreneur who tries to do it alone has a fool for a boss! Don’t become “the genius with a thousand helpers,” because when the genius leaves, the company falters. Be smart! Surround yourself with a strong management team—with people even smarter than you!

One caution: Beware of “wild stallions.” They are powerful and charismatic superstars that you may think will save the day. Often their free spirit or aggressive nature makes them difficult, unpredictable, or unsuitable for your team. They are usually expensive and have personal ambitions that are not aligned with the business. They may one day become your competitor.

Hire the best

Make certain you have your people in the right job positions where they can bloom. Be sure they have a clear understanding of what you expect of them. If you need to make a change, act quickly. Letting the wrong people stay around is unfair to all the right people. You will first feel it in your gut when a change is necessary. Think to yourself: Would I hire that person again? If he or she left, would I be disappointed or relieved? Terminating employees is one of the hardest things a business owner does, but take courage and do it for the sake of the team.

Job candidates are looking for a great place to work. Like customers, they too are seeking to find the best deal. Find and keep great employees in the same way you would find and keep great customers: apply the golden rule. Treat them as you would want to be treated.

(Note -The top ten desires of employees based on needs, fears, and goals are: job security, financial security, preparing for retirement, saving for a child’s tuition, saving for a home, retiring early, making more money, furthering education outside of work, staying healthy, having more time with family (Kevin Klinvex, Hiring Great People).

Keep in mind: You always pay for the “A” employee, so hire the best. Why? The lesser cost of a “C” employee plus the hidden cost of lower performance, poor decisions, and costly mistakes is equal to or greater than the higher cost of the “A” employee. Replacing “C” employees with “A” employees is essential to the success of your business.

“A” employees are people who have a history of getting results. They aren’t afraid of accountability and scorekeeping. They are self-confident and can see how past successes can apply to new assignments, but they are also teachable and eager to learn new things. They are a good fit for your organization because their personal goals are in line with your company’s goals.

“Great companies place greater weight on character than education, skills, or experience when hiring. The reason: you can teach skills, but character, basic intelligence, work ethic, and dedication to fulfilling commitments are values that are ingrained in a person. Like a professional sports team, only the best make the annual cut, regardless of position or tenure” (Jim Collins).

Research has shown that the cost of hiring the wrong person is astronomical! Your hiring system must do a superb job at getting “the right people on the bus” the first time. The cost of turnover and low performance is always more than the cost of an effective hiring system.

Good companies have a structured, well planned “hiring system” that helps them attract and choose the best candidates. Below are some tips to get you good hires.

Prepare For the Interview

Determine the key competencies required for the job before you interview a candidate. Write a job description. Create a list of questions for the interview that are specific to that job and will help determine if the person’s personality and skills are a good fit for the organization.

If possible, plan well in advance of your need. Cast a broad net in your advertising. Interview as many qualified candidates as possible. Don’t rush the process and end up hiring the wrong person.

Conduct telephone interviews to screen out inappropriate candidates. Schedule your staff members who will work one-on-one with the candidate to also interview your top choices. Get their feedback.

Work the Interview

Dig deep to find out whether the candidate is more comfortable with details or the big picture. Are they a self-starter or an order-taker? Are they a plow horse or a racehorse? Create questions that will give you the answers you need. Ask focused questions, and then listen carefully. Take notes. Be sure to understand what questions you are legally prevented from asking (e.g., Are you married? Do you have health problems?).

After conducting interviews, use a grid to help choose the best candidate. Simply put the names of each candidate horizontally and put the job requirements or key competencies vertically. “As a rule of thumb, entry-level positions require 5-8 competencies, intermediate level 8-11, and senior-level positions 10-14 competencies” (Kevin Klinvex). Rate each candidate from 1 to 5 on each of the job requirements or competencies. The person with the highest ratings, coupled with a positive gut feeling, is probably your best choice. Gut instinct alone only works 10% of the time (Kevin Klinvex). Trust in the collective judgment of all interviewers.

Set your minimum standard and don’t settle for less because you will regret it. Over-recruit, over-interview, and over-hire in order to find the very best people that you are looking for. When in doubt, keep looking.

Your Most Valuable Asset

A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people. Remember, “People aren’t your most important asset, the right people are” (Jim Collins).

Create a vision of what your business will look like when it is finished. Have an effective system to “get the right people on the bus.” Hire ordinary people with basic competencies to run your business systems and a strong management team to get you to the finish line.

In the Zone you will create your system for hiring and developing a great workforce. Great companies always have great people!  Never forget that.

Now, the magic really begins to happen as the right people come together with remarkable business systems to create a culture of discipline, enthusiasm, and high-performance results. The people and systems, working in harmony, produce the sweet music of a full-piece orchestra. Read on to take the next big step!

Step 9: Turn Your Business Into a Game and Keep Score
Get PDF ebook: 10 Easy Steps to Grow the Perfect Business





Business Improvement: Convert with “Killer Customer Care”!

What kind of experience do customers have with your company? Do you know? What grade would they give you? What might they tell their friends?

Most business owners think they have good customer care. Sadly, most of them are wrong and profits slip through their fingers because of it. Developing and maintaining long-term customer relationships is the foundation of a successful business. Providing “killer customer care” is the key to converting prospects into loyal clients.

Your Customer Care System

So how do you do this? The answer is straightforward enough: you build your business from the ground up around the specific needs and demands of your target market.

Create Remarkable Customer Care Systems

With so many quality goods and services available, customer care may be your single greatest weapon for competing in a crowded marketplace, and the only and best way for you to differentiate your business.

While competitors languish, you can have customer care systems that are remarkable and a company culture that keeps customers coming back again and again. Spending time on killer customer care will give your products and services superior value, a competitive advantage, and a handsome return on your investment in this critical business process.

“Killer customer care refers to the combination of principles, ideas, and techniques that are designed to consistently and systematically enhance the depth and breadth of your business relationship with its customers. Killer customer care is the ultimate competitive differentiation for businesses in the twenty-first century” (George Colombo, Killer Customer Care).

Since your primary business objective is to profitably find, serve, and keep customers, you must learn to think like them. Thinking like your customers—walking in their shoes—will help you achieve the kind of customer care that will engender loyalty and escalate sales.

Let’s consider six important suggestions your customers would have for you, but may never say to your face.

Add the Personal Touch

As your customers, we hope to be served and sometimes educated, but not sold. We like it when your customer-service staff are cheerful, courteous, and helpful. An old proverb says, “If you cannot smile, do not open a shop.” In other words, we like nice—not grumpy—people to help us with our problems.

In addition, give us clear communication without jargon, legalese, or thick accents. Call us by name and personalize our service when possible. We are grateful for your staff who listen, take the reins for solving our problem, and are quick to respond to our needs. Talking to someone with expertise and a can-do attitude builds our confidence and trust in your company. And please don’t ever take us for granted. We want to feel important throughout the life of our relationship with you.

Deliver On Your Promise with Good Systems

We like to do business with companies that keep their promises. We appreciate it when your business systems handle our contacts, order fulfillment, and problem resolution without errors or hassle. Hopefully, your systems empower customer-care representatives to solve our problems quickly and turn our frustrations into appreciation and gratitude. Good systems will ensure that you keep your commitments. Remember: Consistency and reliability over time are far more important to us than occasional promotions or grand events. And any dissatisfaction we may have is likely from a breakdown somewhere in your business systems and processes.

WOW Us On Occasion

OK, so we value reliability and consistency; however, we also love to have fun or be entertained. We like a pleasant surprise or a good WOW now and again. New products or services, engaging promotions, an element of freshness and unpredictability, will keep our interest and enthusiasm high. Bottom line: Give us a great buying experience—meeting and exceeding expectations—and we will become loyal fans. We may even tell our friends!

Ask Our Opinion

Good companies listen closely to what their customers have to say. Ask some of the following questions to understand our feelings about your company:

  • What could we do to give you a better buying experience?
  • What do you like or not like about our product or service?
  • What could we do for you that we are currently not doing?
  • Why were you annoyed, frustrated, disappointed, or surprised?
  • What do you like better about our competition?
  • Would you recommend our company to others? Why or Why not?

Take a moment and shop your business from OUR point of view. You might try hiring a “mystery shopper” who will report back to you. Remember: If you want to understand our expectations, just ask! We feel honored when you invite our feedback. Be gracious when we are frank and share with you the brutal truth about our buying experience. After all, we want you to be the best, perhaps even more than you do!

Measure Results

Some of our feedback to you will be quantitative in nature, a business measure. For example, how often did we return merchandise because of a problem? Other information is qualitative and may come in the form of complaints or suggestions. Consider using brief, focused, and timely surveys. Keep it simple. Finally, create a system to capture your customer feedback. Transfer it to those who can analyze the information and make the needed improvements.

Follow the Golden Rule

Truthfully, we only want the same customer experience you want when you are a buyer. Just practice the Golden Rule; treat us the way you would like to be treated. When your company culture adopts this philosophy—when you build it into your business systems—you will become remarkable.

It Will Be Worth It

Systematically carried out over time, killer customer care will make your business dramatically more profitable. Repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals lower the cost of sales. A close relationship with customers produces customer-driven products and services that sell.

Nowadays, the investment required to find each new customer can be justified only by looking at the total lifetime value of that customer. Protect your investment in sales and marketing from tough competitors by giving customers a great experience. And focus your very best efforts on your most important customers.

Where to Start

Begin by defining exactly what experience you want your customer to have. Then identify the most common interactions you have with them.

  • Do customers call?
  • Do they walk in?
  • Do they talk to salespeople?
  • Do they visit your web site?
  • Do they need technical assistance?
  • Do they exchange or return merchandise?
  • How do you interact with first-time customers?
  • Where do you get the most complaints?

Each customer contact is a moment of truth, a time when the relationship is either strengthened or broken. Mistakes (usually a breakdown in your customer-service systems) are nothing more than opportunities to turn regular customers into lifetime customers. After all, mistakes yield only two outcomes: Either your client is frustrated and leaves with a negative memory of your company, or your client is pleased with the solution and becomes more loyal to your company.

Your employees need to know that customer care is everyone’s job, regardless of what other functions they perform. Your job is to create a company culture committed to the sincere caring, guidance, and protection of your customers. To achieve end-to-end killer customer care requires teamwork and shared goals, which means all systems and incentives must reward customer care and never conflict with it. Build staff loyalty first and you will ensure that their positive energy and enthusiasm is transferred to serving customers. Never stop talking about how to improve the customer experience. Your business success depends upon it!

Finally, to achieve consistency, document exactly how you want your employees to respond in each situation. Every response should strengthen the customer relationship. You must create systems that consistently deliver the experience you have defined for each type of contact. With everyone in your business responding the same way every time, the customer knows exactly what to expect, and can depend on you to provide it.

Six Stages of Customer Loyalty

As a bonus, your excellent customer service will simultaneously build your brand and your customers’ allegiance to you. It will move them through the six stages of customer loyalty: suspect, prospect, first-time customer, repeat customer, client, and advocate. If they aren’t moving forward, begin improving your weak or ineffective systems.

Which Doctor Would You Choose?

I took my aged mother to the doctor last week to discuss a hip replacement. We waited a long time in the waiting room and spoke mostly with the doctor’s assistant. When the doctor arrived, he quickly looked at the x-ray and painted perhaps a realistic picture of a difficult surgery with slow healing and no guarantee that my mother would walk without some pain. We decided to get a second opinion. The second doctor received us on time. He explained the x-ray with a model of a hip joint. He expressed optimism that the surgery would be routine and that she would likely have a full recovery. Both were highly recommended surgeons and the procedure would be performed in essentially the same manner by each. Which doctor do you think made the sale?

You Must Lead the Way

The importance of customer care is most felt by owners and managers. It is up to them to develop a customer-centric organization. Owners must create a vision, implement systems, empower employees, obtain feedback, measure results, and celebrate success. They must become evangelists in communicating the gospel of killer customer care to everyone in their organization.

Get in the Zone. Create your unique vision of killer customer care. Climb above the competition. Become remarkable! Don’t just make sales; create satisfied customers and watch your profits grow!

However, keep in mind that you can’t do it all with great systems. You must also have great people.  Hiring the best people is another essential step in growing the perfect business.

Step 8: Get the Right People
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Business Improvement: Differentiate or Die!

There are so many high-quality goods and services available in the marketplace today that the world does not really need your business—unless of course, you have something “remarkable” to offer. “Very good” is no longer good enough. It is an everyday occurrence, hardly worth mentioning—certainly not the basis of breakthrough success. Your business must stand out like a “purple cow in a field of brown cows!” (Seth Godin, The Purple Cow).

In today’s world, the safe course is the risky course. Boring leads to failure. You must become an innovator. You must differentiate or die!

Consider the bell curve as it relates to products and services. At the small front-end (green-blue) are the innovators and early adopters (e.g., mobile devices, robotics, green energy, artificial intelligence). This stage is often characterized by fast growth and high profit.

Innovation Bell Curve

The mass in the middle (reds) includes the established commodities (e.g., automobiles, personal care items, and carpet cleaning). These products are characterized by strong sales but lower profit margins due to intense competition.

At the end of the bell curve (orange-yellow) are disappearing products (e.g., station wagons, landline telephones, chimney sweeps, and drive-in movies). This stage has diminishing sales coupled with low profit margins. You don’t want to enter the marketplace with one of these products unless your innovation gives it new life. Most successful entrepreneurs work at the front end of the bell curve, in the realm of “new” and “different.”

What Is Innovation?

Innovation is at the heart of every exceptional business. What is innovation? It can be a new invention, technology, process, or business concept. However, it is most often a significant variation or improvement to something that already exists. It is the skill of developing the new “best solution”—from the customer’s point of view.

Innovation adds new product features or benefits not previously available. It borrows ideas from other industries. It makes products cheaper, faster, smaller, better, stronger, more efficient, and so on. It pushes limits, new frontiers—”going where no man has gone before.” When innovations are useful, interesting, outrageous, and remarkable—when they remove more pain or add more benefits than anything else available—your target market will seek them out.

However, the innovation may not be a product or service at all. It may be distinctive sales, marketing, or advertising methods. It may be an improved distribution or delivery method, sharper pricing, more convenience, lower risk, a better guarantee, or “killer customer care.” You must differentiate in some remarkable way. With innovation, market timing is important. Innovation that is slow to market may be overtaken by competitors.

Remember, your business is your product. It is made up of systems and processes that provide consistent and measurable results. When you innovate to produce remarkable internal systems, you will have a remarkable business.

FedEx was the first to develop a remarkable system for delivering packages overnight. Costco created a customer-care system that allows people to return merchandise for any reason. McDonald’s developed a system for producing the same fast food anywhere in the world by low-skilled workers. All three took something ordinary and made it into something extraordinary by innovating remarkable business systems. They differentiated themselves, and you can too.

Could your customers say the following about you?

“One of our favorite clients is an auto repair shop that regularly puts three to four competitors out of business every year. His business operations are run so flawlessly, his marketing is so compelling, and his customer satisfaction is so high … customers are irresistibly drawn in and drawn back time after time. They are helpless. In their minds (and in reality), they would be STUPID to go anywhere else to get their cars fixed” (Rick Harshaw, Y2Marketing).

How Do You Innovate?

Innovation is not as hard as it sounds. You just need to figure out a way to deliver more value to customers than any of your competitors. There are many ways to do this. Begin by asking yourself this simple question: If I were a customer of my business, what would compel me to buy from me instead of my competitors? If you don’t have a good answer to this question, you’re in trouble. If you aren’t willing to get into the Zone and figure out the answer, you’re doomed. Sorry, but the marketplace doesn’t need another “good” business. What it needs from you is something better than it’s ever had before.

Please don’t say you’re special because you have higher quality, better service, or the lowest price. That’s what everyone says. And, if your strategy is to use catchy advertising, fluff, or fast-talking sales pitches to sell the same old products and services that everyone else is offering, forget it. If all you have to offer is the status quo of your industry, it would just be luck that a customer decides to buy from you. You can’t build your business based on luck! Rise above the status quo.

Pricing is often the key differentiation of products in the commodity stage of the bell curve. At the innovative stage, where many entrepreneurs are, it should be your unfailing commitment to meet your target market’s needs better and more effectively than anyone else would dream possible.

Legitimate price advantages do happen. But all too often the cry, “We have the lowest price in town” is a sign of weakness. Translated, it probably means the business has not invested in marketing, quality people, “killer customer care,” and other expenses incurred by well-run companies. Selling on price alone often stifles profit and growth. Truthfully, the customer pays a premium for the privilege of doing business with remarkable companies, but they must think it’s OK because they keep coming back.

Here’s what your customer is thinking, consciously, or not:

“When I shop, I am not always looking for the lowest price; I am always looking for the best deal—real, quantifiable, interesting, exciting, and compelling reasons to buy from you. You’ll get my business if you are the obvious solution to my problem, if I would be crazy to buy from anyone else. And if you can turn me into an evangelist, just watch your company grow.”

What is Branding?

Some people refer to this process of becoming remarkable as “branding.” Business owners tend to think of branding as advertising when advertising is just one element of branding.

“A brand is not what you say it is. It’s not a logo, corporate identity, or product; it is a gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It takes a village to build a brand—customers, vendors, employees, partners, stockholders. When enough people have the same gut feeling, you have a brand” (Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap).

Branding touches every part of your business. It is the integration of all business systems to create consistency for customers, vendors, employees, and you as the owner. When the “outside perception” of your business is remarkable, and the “inside reality” of your business is remarkable, you become the buzz of the marketplace, and you will have a brand.

Peter Drucker said, “a business has two purposes: marketing and innovation.” Get into the Zone. Innovate. Seize a differentiating idea, dramatize it, and make it your own. Position your business in the marketplace as a beacon on a hill to your target market. Make your business truly remarkable!

Once you have differentiated your business in the marketplace and developed effective sales and marketing systems, you must do everything in your power to keep customers coming back. You need business systems that will give them a great buying experience and convert them to loyal patrons.

Step 7: Convert with “Killer Customer Care”
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Business Improvement: Become an Obsessed Marketer!

The grand and challenging mission of all businesses is to acquire and retain customers. The statement in the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it they will come,” just ain’t so for most of us. If you do happen to have a hot product or robust sales at the moment, be warned. Business cycles assure an eventual change in your forecast. Whatever your gifts, talents, or expertise, you must become an obsessed marketer if you want to grow a long-term, healthy, and prosperous business.

Young Obsessed Marketer

Face the Facts

The brutal reality is that most people don’t want your product, don’t have the money to buy it, or won’t even take the time to hear about it. If they won’t pay what you need to sell it for, you don’t have a market. If they won’t take the time to listen to your pitch, you are invisible to them. If they listen but aren’t impressed, you’re not going to get very far.

Among those few who might buy your product, most will never have your offering enter into their conscious mind. The advertising noise is so loud, the communication barriers so high, the competition so stiff and the choices so many, that the odds of you getting the business are remote! Marketing has also become so time-consuming, expensive, and oftentimes fruitless that many businesses don’t do it, or don’t do it well, and then struggle to survive.

When business sales hover at the break-even point, all you really have for your blood, sweat, and tears is a stressful and often unrewarding “job”! If you’re lucky, you get a reasonable salary to offset the heavy responsibilities, liabilities, and frequent headaches. However, if you have adequate margin, and sales climb above the break-even point, a miracle begins to happen. You make a profit. Cash flow improves. Creditors stop calling. Stress goes down. Investors and bankers smile. You have fun going to work. Everyone thinks you are easier to get along with. You can afford that vacation or new car. Life is good! It all starts with an effective business system to improve marketing and increase sales.

Follow Proven Marketing Principles

I couldn’t come close in this article to covering what experts have said about sales and marketing. It is a complex and multi-faceted discipline. It is both an art and a science. The sheer volume of principles, techniques, and strategies is overwhelming. Most entrepreneurs just do what everyone else in their industry does. Many, including myself, have experimented and failed more than once. When done well, however, a good marketing plan will continually pull new leads and sales opportunities. Here are some basic principles that I have learned:

  • Be Customer Focused. Top companies are customer and market-driven. They rely on facts about their marketplace. They know what their most probable customer is like and how they think. They know where their customers are, what they buy, and why they buy. Good companies create products to satisfy the appetite of a hungry market.
  • Narrow Your Market Niche. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Target your customer by concentrating on the market segment that is most likely to purchase your products and services. Then position your product and message so you are clearly their best option. Your target market is the only market you care about. Go dominate it!
  • Appeal to Emotion and Logic. We are all emotional creatures. Your customers are buying to add something positive to their lives or to remove something negative. Your product or service should take away pain or fear and improve their business or personal life in some way. Address your prospects’ emotional needs and wants with benefits. Use logic—the features—to justify and reinforce their decision to buy.
  • Create a Message that Resonates. Your marketing message, including value proposition, selling advantage, and sensory package (logos, colors, website, printed materials, and so forth), should describe how your remarkable business offers precisely the products customers are looking for. Be specific. Quantify, compare, or demonstrate your advantage or claims. Avoid the mindless fluff. Get real! Provide social proof, testimonials. Business philosopher Jim Rohn described a three-step process to be a master communicator. “First, have something good to say. Second, say it well. And third, say it often.”
  • Provide Excellent Value. Your entire business is your product. Seek to become the best at what you do. Your inside reality—business systems, products, and services—must live up to the outside perception people have from brochures, websites, and sales claims. You have to deliver on your promise every single time. Your customers always want the best deal, that is, the best value. Your unique and remarkable business offering—quality, warranty, customer service, convenience, and so forth—not just pricing, is what puts you on top.
  • Determine Cost-Efficient Marketing Channels. Find the most cost-effective marketing channels (online, broadcast, print, trade shows, and so forth) to get your message to those who really need and want your product. Marketing best-practices suggest multi-faceted campaigns that combine two or more strategies and often include social media. Marketing dollars should not be looked at as a disposable expense, but rather, an investment in marketing strategy and systems that will pay handsome dividends in the future. To avoid dead-end marketing schemes and wasting time and money, consult experts (books or consultants), test ideas, and follow a path of continuous learning and improvement.
  • Develop Effective Marketing Systems. With experience—discovering what works and what doesn’t—you will refine your marketing and sales systems until they produce consistently desirable results. Never stop marketing. Eventually, with good business systems, you will know how to turn sales volume up or down as needed. You will get in control of your marketplace and your business growth!
  • Make Marketing Your Obsession. You must have “pig-headed determination” to succeed at marketing. Create a marketing plan and allocate the financial resources to stick it out. Results often take three to six months or even a year. Good campaigns gain momentum over time. Consistency equates with familiarity. Familiarity equates with confidence, and confidence equates with sales. Be smart and be patient!

It’s Up To You!

“Marketing is the act of inventing the product. The effort of designing it. The craft of producing it. The art of pricing it. The technique of selling it. How can a [great] company not be run by a marketer?” (Seth Godin, The Purple Cow).

As a business owner, you must take a personal interest in your marketing, and responsibility for developing effective marketing systems. This is, after all, the heart and soul of the business you are trying to grow. When owners fail, it is often because they spend too much time running their company and not enough time marketing their products.

Get in the Zone. Innovate to become a remarkable company. Read marketing books. Become aware of your own buying patterns and study how others sell to you. Notice what “successful” ads keep appearing week after week. Decide what you love and what you hate. Borrow ideas from other industries. Look at your product or service critically from your customer’s point of view. In the Zone, everything will fall into place.

Finally, be patient and never stop marketing; you will lose momentum and pay the high cost of starting over. In time, you can develop effective and reliable business systems—market research, lead generation, and lead conversion. When these systems are mature, they will provide a constant flow of new sales.

To stay ahead of the competition, however, you must remain the “best deal” in your target market. You accomplish this through the process of innovation, the next step in creating the perfect business.

Step 6: Differentiate or Die
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Business Improvement: Blueprint Your Business!

In the solitude of the Zone, a panoramic view will open up, allowing you to see your life more vividly than ever before. In the absence of noise and commotion, you will almost immediately come face-to-face with the most fundamental questions. Who am I, really? What is my life purpose? How can this business help me achieve my life purpose? Where do I begin?

One Way or Another Sign 

Define Your Life Purpose

Your success depends on two things—knowing exactly what you want and paying the price to get it. You must begin by clearly defining your life purpose. What would you do if you had all the time and money you needed? How might you leave the world a better place than you found it? What do you want people to say at your funeral service about your life and accomplishments?

For each person, this will be different. However, many people are drawn to a life of purpose—a life of service, of building, growing, or improving something important to them. Real purpose and motivation spring from a deep love of someone or something, and it is usually not the business. What is your soul’s desire? What is your life purpose? Write it down. Begin now!

The true purpose of your business, then, is to help you achieve personal and financial freedom so that you can accomplish your life purpose. How much money must the business pay you and how will it run itself when you are gone? Perhaps you will want to sell the business. How much must you sell it for to accomplish your personal goals?

Put your business vision statement in writing. Describe what the business will look like when it is “done.” What is its size, scope, and operation, and how much money will it generate for you and other stakeholders? Paint the picture in as much detail as possible.

Develop the Master Skill

Successful entrepreneurs are intensely goal-oriented. They always achieve more than those without goals. They know what they want and are focused single-mindedly on getting it—every day. “The ability to set goals is the master skill of success” (Brian Tracy, Goals!).

Goals set the direction, the distance, the pace, and the point of completion. In the game of work, the goal must be clear and the “coaches” must use every intelligent stratagem to achieve it. They adapt the game plan to changing conditions, but continually keep their eye on the goal line. As with all good teams, they have the determination to overcome obstacles and adversity and are willing to pay the price of victory. Setting and reaching goals is a fundamental part of winning in business and in life.

Victory starts in the mind of every great athlete. This is also true for the entrepreneur. Everything in our man-made world began as a thought or idea in someone’s mind before it became a reality. There is a common understanding in science, philosophy, and religion: “As a man thinketh, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). You become what you think about most of the time.

While in the Zone, creative thinking is stimulated by the intense desire to reach goals and solve business problems. Your mind generates ideas and solutions consistent with those goals. The business begins to transform first in your mind and then on paper. Through a step-by-step process of implementation, your ideal business becomes a reality.

Once you know your life purpose and have a vision of what the “finished product” of your business will look like, you roll up your sleeves and get to work on the specifics. Focus on the key areas of the business first, where there is the biggest payoff. “Plan your work and work your plan.” A small amount of time developing a business plan will save a huge amount of time in implementation. To avoid coming up short, a deadline must be a part of every push toward your goal.

In the Zone, you confront the brutal realities pertaining to your business shortcomings and operational weaknesses. You identify specific areas for improvement and then go to work to create processes and systems that produce a more desired outcome. You put in writing the policies and procedures that employees must follow to get the best result every time. You evaluate performance and modify for improvement.

Remember, a “wish” is a goal that hasn’t been written down. When creating your goals, make sure they are (1) specific, (2) measurable, (3) achievable, and (4) time-specific.

In business, planning and goal setting ultimately become financial in nature. Good financial statements let you know where you’re at and how you’re progressing. Focus on specific line items of the statement. You may need to reduce labor, defective merchandise, or overhead. You may want to increase sales, profit margin, or cash flow.

Every problem has a solution. Every solution can be found in a business system. The pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together — every piece in place gets you closer to the final picture. Remember, the completed picture is always shown on the outside of the puzzle box. You know before you begin exactly what the puzzle will look like when it is done, and you refer to it often along the way.

You should also set non-financial goals, such as increasing units sold, contracts signed, clients acquired, tonnage processed, and so forth. Get buy-in from team members by reviewing goals in sales meetings, displaying posters that show progress, awarding achievement with prizes, and other forms of feedback or incentive.

Put Your Vision in Writing

“In more than 3300 studies of leaders conducted over the years, there is a special quality that stands out, one quality that all great leaders have in common. It is the quality of vision. Leaders have vision. Non-leaders do not” (Brian Tracy).

With a clear long-term vision, leaders make decisions today that are consistent with where they truly want to end up. Their vision, planning, and goals are part of an organization blueprint—a detailed description of how their business will finally come together. It is this vision of the future that arouses emotion and motivates everyone in the organization to give their best.

Begin today. Get in the Zone and get inspired. Create a vision, focusing on specific measurable goals. Start thinking “progress to goal” and communicate your vision to others.

Then keep reading to learn why business systems are the building blocks of every successful and profitable business.

Step 3: Systemize Everything
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Customer Service: Best Practices for an Awesome Customer Care System!

Customer service—sometimes referred to as customer care—is one of the most important business processes within your organization. Its purpose is to help customers have a great buying experience so they will come again, refer their friends, and perhaps even become evangelists in the social universe. If you desire outstanding customer service, please read on.

Excellent Customer Service

Two Dimensions of Customer Service

There are two important dimensions of customer service. The personal dimension deals with how service providers interact with customers. Good customer-service workers are cheerful and positive, enjoy working with and for people, and have a knack for putting the customer at “center stage.” They view themselves primarily as human relations professionals.

The procedural dimension of customer service consists of established business systems and processes to deliver products and/or services. As with every good business system, it is important to begin with an understanding of the laws, principles, and best practices that govern the outcome of that system.

For example, to create an exceptional customer-care system, first, consider the four things every customer demands from your business. Add to this the principles and best practices contained in the slide presentation below.

Managing Customer Service

In the following slide presentation, “Managing Customer Service,” you will learn such things as:

  • Five elements of quality service
  • The components of an outstanding service culture
  • Three key skills employees must have to provide quality customer service
  • The six C’s of giving good information to customers
  • How to be a good listener
  • Understanding customer needs and how to address them
  • Four styles of customer behavior you should know how to deal with
  • Responding positively to unhappy customers and service breakdowns

Best Practices for Your Customer Service System

I highly recommend you watch this entire presentation. Show it to your customer-service employees or in a business improvement workshop. Discuss the principles. Then incorporate them into your company’s customer-service system. Soon you will have a customer-care culture of excellence.

Just Retired
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It's time for me to focus on other things. Many hours and dollars have gone into my software and written materials over the last fourteen years. Now it's time to give back. This is not a gimmick. There is nothing to buy. I give it all to you for free. If you use the software and apply the principles, you can create a remarkable company. See Below. Have fun!

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Michael Gerber, "E-Myth"

Michael Gerber

"Organize around business functions, not people. Build systems within each business function. Let systems run the business and people run the systems. People come and go but the systems remain constant."

W. Edwards Deming, Total Quality Management

W. Edwards Deming

"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing. . . . 94% of all failure is a result of the system, not people."