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Industry Summit 2018 to Feature Technology Shootout

ORLANDO, Fla. — Organizers of the annual Industry Summit announced that this year’s event will include the first-ever Technology Shootout, one of several new features planned for this year’s show. Industry Summit 2018 will be held Oct. 8–10 at the Caribe Royale Orlando in Orlando, Fla.

The Technology Shootout will feature 10 companies selected by organizers to deliver a live, 10-minute presentation on a new and exciting dealer- or F&I-targeted solution or a fresh twist on an existing software category or product type. The winner will be chosen by audience vote.

“As the industry evolves and progresses, so must Industry Summit, and you will see plenty of evidence of that this year,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of F&I and Showroom and Auto Dealer Today. “The Technology Shootout is only one example.”

An all-new RV and Powersports track also is expected to make its debut at this year’s show, joining such returning features and events as sales and F&I training, Compliance Summit, and compliance training and certification by Automotive Compliance Education (ACE).

This year marks Industry Summit’s second visit to Orlando and third time away from its longtime home of Las Vegas. Last year’s event, held at Dallas’ Gaylord Texan Resort, was a critical success despite a series of devastating hurricanes that kept attendees and speakers from parts of Texas and the Southeast at home.

“Last year’s show was bereft of Florida dealers, and this year’s show could very well be dominated by them,” Gesualdo said. “All we can do is roll with the punches and deliver the best possible event for our attendees and supporters, and we fully expect 2018 to be the best Industry Summit ever.”

More information about Industry Summit 2018 is available at the event’s website. To discuss sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact David Gesualdo at (727) 947-4027 or via email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Posted in Auto Industry News0 Comments

The Four Secrets Of Achieving Customer Satisfaction

What does a satisfied [but not necessarily fully engaged or loyal] customer look like? She thinks your business offers a reasonable solution and delivers it well. If asked, she’ll say nice things about you. But although she may have some warm feelings for your business, she’s not yet an advocate for your brand, and, unlike a truly loyal customer, she can still be wooed away, reports Forbes.

A merely satisfied customer is still a free agent, exploring the marketplace. She still has a wandering eye.

This is why basic customer satisfaction shouldn’t be confused with true customer engagement and loyalty. Nonetheless, customer satisfaction is one of the underpinnings of the exceptional relationship I refer to as true customer loyalty. And as a customer service consultant and customer experience designer, I find it important to convey to my client companies what’s involved in hitting the essentials of customer satisfaction–reliably and repeatedly–so that they won’t let down those customers they ultimately hope to convert to loyalty.

Fortunately, customer satisfaction is based on four predictable factors, originally laid out in my first book, a collaboration with Leonardo Inghilleri.

Customers are satisfied whenever they consistently receive:

1. A perfect product

2. Delivered by a caring, friendly person

3. In a timely fashion

. . . with (because any of those three elements may misfire)

4. The support of an effective problem resolution process.

A Perfect Product

Customers want defect-free products and services. You need to design your product or service so that it can be expected to function perfectly within foreseeable boundaries. True, things will sometimes go wrong. Your products, and people, will sometimes fail due to unpredictable circumstances. But sloppy or incomplete product or service design is, from a customer’s perspective, intolerable.

Suppose you’re staffing an online photo lab. Let’s call it Stutterfly. You know from experience that one prepress technician (PPT) is needed for every 100 orders in-house. Now suppose you want to be ready for a maximum of 1,000 photo orders at any given time. How many prepress technicians do you need? Ten? Perhaps. But a ‘‘perfectly designed’’ answer needs to take into account absenteeism, last minute no-shows, and vacation time: any reasonably foreseeable scenario that could prevent you from actually having ten PPTs on hand to cover the orders in-house. In addition, your ‘‘perfect design’’ needs to include provisions for getting these technicians all the supplies, tools, resources, and information they’ll need to do a great job.

Of course, something that is not realistically foreseeable could still happen: six of your ten PPTs might get the flu on the same night, or a major earthquake could knock a paper mill that supplies you out of commission. The product will not always be perfectly deliverable. I know this as well as you do.

But you must design it to be perfect—foreseeing all that is foreseeable.

Service Delivery by Caring People

Your perfect product now requires caring, friendly people to deliver it. Let’s visualize just how a product and its delivery work together to determine satisfaction. Let’s make the setting Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Picture featureless corridors, long ticket counters, and the reason you wish you didn’t have to exchange your ticket a few days before Thanksgiving: a maze of people waiting behind a roped line to speak with any of five agents. Eventually, you make it to the front of the maze. Now you’re first in line, waiting politely for an agent at the counter to help you. What do you hear?

‘‘Next!’’

Hmmm. As you approach the agent, you see that her ‘‘Next’’ was premature.

So you stand there, waiting for her to finish the previous transaction. Finally she finishes keyboarding, looks at you, and says curtly:

‘‘Yes?’’

You answer, ‘‘My plans have changed. Would it be possible to exchange this ticket so I can fly to Washington Dulles?’’

‘‘Uh huh . . .’’

She takes your ID, gives you your boarding pass—and never looks up at you.

‘‘Next!’’

You take the boarding pass, go through security, get on the plane, and land safely and on time at your destination. So, you got a perfect product: a product that would appear, if anyone charted it out, to be 100 percent free of defects. But do you feel satisfied?

Of course not.

Now let’s change the script. Same airport, same maze, same line of people ahead of you in the maze. Again, you eventually make it to the front of the line, where you quietly wait for an agent to call on you.

‘‘May I help the next person in line, please?’’ (You step forward.)

‘‘Good morning, Sir. Thank you for your patience. How are you today?’’

‘‘Not bad at all, thanks, considering, and how are you?’’

‘‘Just fabulous. How may I assist you today?’’

‘‘My plans have changed, and I need to get on a flight to Washington Dulles.’’

‘‘It’ll be my pleasure. I hear the weather isn’t actually too bad in the D.C. area this weekend. Are you visiting family for Thanksgiving?’’

‘‘No, it’s just business. But I’ll be flying back right afterward and will get home for the holiday.’’ (She checks your ID and hands you your boarding pass.)

‘‘Is there anything else I can do for you today?’’

‘‘No, I think that’s all.’’

‘‘Well then, have a splendid day.’’

“Thank you very much.’’

‘‘Thank you for flying with us.’’

How was this interaction? It was great, right? An interaction like this, with just a single caring, friendly employee, can make us feel good about doing business with an entire company. Now you get through the long security line and to the gate.

Only at that point do you notice your boarding pass says Dallas, not Dulles.

Uh . . . now are you satisfied? Again, no—not with a defective product or service, no matter how warmly delivered.

Timeliness

In our world of iPhones and instant Google searches and the ubiquity of Amazon, your customers get to decide what is and isn’t an appropriate timeline. A perfect product delivered late by friendly, caring people is the equivalent of a defective one. Customer experiences guide their expectations, so on-time delivery standards continue to get tougher all the time. What your customer today thinks of as on-time delivery is not only stricter than what her parents would have tolerated, it’s stricter than what even her older sister would have tolerated.

Amazon.com’s tight supply and delivery chain has single-handedly raised the timeliness bar in the online world, but that’s not the end of the story: Their speedy online delivery has raised offline expectations as well. In fact, the concept of special ordering for walk-in customers is obsolete for most brick-and-mortar merchants. If you don’t have it in stock when a customer walks in, a customer’s just going to go online and find it for herself.

This impatience rule can only be disregarded when a customer is commissioning something truly custom, something specially made by you for her alone, such as fine art, cabinetry, or a gourmet meal. In fact, for some truly custom items, providing something too quickly can be equated by customers with low quality or prefab work. The trick here is the same: Learn your own customers’ definition of ‘‘on time,’’ and obey that definition—not your own.

The Support of an Effective Problem Resolution Process

Service breakdowns and other problems experienced by customers are crucial emotional moments in a business relationship. Therefore, solving these problems will have an outsized impact on your business success. That’s why you need an effective problem resolution process. Effective problem resolution sounds like a modest goal. But so does reaching base camp—until you find out you’re climbing Denali. A big reason it’s so tough? Effective cannot be measured by whether you have restored the situation to the pre-problem status quo. Effective is measured by whether you have restored customer satisfaction. This can be challenging, but it’s well worth it. Resolve a service problem effectively and your customer is more likely to become loyal than if she’d never run into a problem in the first place. Why is this so? Because until a problem occurs, the customer doesn’t get to see us fully strut our service. Of course, I would never recommend that you intentionally make mistakes so you can engineer a splendid recovery and win yourself some client love in the process. But it is a silver lining to keep in mind when you’re staring down a problem.

Posted in Small Business Tips0 Comments

4 Steps to Quintuple Your Business in the Next 12 Months

If you want to scale from $20,000 per month to $100,000, there’s a four-step process you need to take.

Which may sound too simple, because the thought of quintupling business growth in under 12 months may sound impossible. I’m here to tell you it isn’t because I have done it myself (as well as helped clients do the same), reports Entrepreneur.

In fact, you may find it’s easier to scale from $20,000 per month to $100,000 than it is to build your initial $20,000, so if you’ve yet to reach this stage, this process might not be what you need (yet).

You see, this 4-step process only works once you already have a validated product and business model. Up to this point you’ve grown through pure hustle, which is fine. But, what got you to here won’t get you “there,” and I imagine you’ve already started to realize this.

You’re tired of the “hustle” and you can’t imagine you will keep up this pace for much longer. You want to scale and grow and extend your impact, but the thought of working this hard and long for the next five years … no thank you.

Good news. You don’t have to. This four-step process won’t only help you quintuple your growth, but help you finally escape “hustle mode” forever. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Create one-to-many relationships (intimately).

When “hustling” and validating your business, you build most of your momentum through one-on-one relationships. Everything runs through you. This is great. This is how you build trust and authority.

But, you cannot keep this up as you continue to scale and grow.

You need to transform your one-to-one approach into one-to-many, but all the while maintain intimacy and connection (otherwise you become just another online marketer with a list).

You can do this through marketing funnels, email and social media, but the point is to ensure you automate as much of the process as you can so it no longer relies on you (and so it works 24/7). The trick here is to not overcomplicate this process.

Step 2: Effectively qualify your audience.

The way to create intimate relationships with one-to-many people is to only focus on the “right” people. This begins by appreciating who your audience is and building a specific profile so you know who they are, where they are and what their problem/pain is.

But, as well as understanding who your audience is, it’s vital you know who isn’t.

You can only help certain people. If you try to help everybody you will ultimately help nobody, and if you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t become the “go-to” expert of your industry.

Your superpower surrounds your ability to help a certain type of person in a big way. Once you know who these people are, you can build their trust and create an intimate relationship with them (even if it is one-to-many). At this stage you’re ready to optimize your ability to sell to them.

Step 3: Automate your sales process.

If you’re the only person who does the selling in your business, you have a problem (now and in the future). Those who spend their days selling are those caught in “hustle mode,” and no matter how amazing your lead generation is, it won’t matter because you will remain the bottleneck.

The only way to scale your business is to automate your sales process so it doesn’t rely on you jumping on the phone with each new lead. There are many ways to do this:

The point is you need to automate your sales process so it isn’t only your lead generation that works for you while you sleep, but your sales too. The key to this is to remove you from the process. Because so long as you’re working “in” your business, you cannot work “on” the business.

Step 4: Optimize your operations.

This is the most important part of the process, and is the period when you finally start to own your business (so it no longer owns you).

This centers around you building a team so you can finally become the person who works “on” the business and ensure it continues to scale and grow. So long as you’re in the business doing the sales, doing the marketing and doing the delivering, you will never focus on the bigger picture.

This is also the biggest obstacle most entrepreneurs face because most entrepreneurs struggle with the idea of delegating. But, if you want to scale your business from $20,000 per month to $100,000, you cannot be an entrepreneur — you have to evolve into a CEO.

Once you do this you reclaim a lot of time and freedom, but more importantly you bring fresh people into your business who can do a better job than you. This allows you to escape the hustle and dedicate your time to what you do best, as well as focusing on the bigger picture and strategy.

This is how you scale from $20,000 per month to $100,000, and you can achieve it in as little as six months. So, if business is going well and you’re ready to step out of “hustle mode,” dive into these four steps so you can scale the right way.

Posted in Small Business Tips0 Comments

How to Refocus Your Strategy and Reenergize Your Team

A person’s passion is the sincerest definition of who they are. Passion can manifest itself in a hobby, an aspiration, or if you’re really lucky, a career, reports Inc. Take two people, Joe and Jane, as an example. Joe has a passion outside of his career. He devotes a lot of his free time to this passion and naturally speaks about it to his peers. When his peers think of him they probably define him as “person passionate about X.” Now take Jane, one of the lucky few who has made a career out of her passion. She devotes twice the amount of time, twice the amount of energy and twice the amount of conversation to her passion. How do you think her peers define her?

If you’ve read Simon Sinek’s bestseller Start With Why, then Jane will remind you of Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, or Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. Joe will remind you of the Wright Brothers. Each of these individuals built empires by undyingly following their passion. Sure, you can claim that these individuals are used as examples because of winner’s bias. But they succeeded because not only were they extremely passionate. They succeeded because they were able to clearly communicate their visions.

I consider myself extremely lucky. Like Jane, I’ve built a career out of my passion. When I first launched my film production company, my team asked the same questions regarding our clients that our competition was asking:

  • What is this client doing that’s different?
  • What do they bring to the table?
  • What problems are they solving for their customers?

While these questions helped us understand our clients, we realized they weren’t getting to the core of what defined them. We were part of the same old convention of business. We were focusing on what our clients were doing and not why they were doing it in the first place. Once we realized this, we began asking ourselves different questions:

  • How can we harness the passion that defines the client’s company to create a story?
  • Are their employees inspired by that passion?
  • Does the story align with their core values?
  • How can we align the story with the company’s brand mission?
  • How is that story going to connect with their audience?
  • How are we going to make the story authentic and engaging?

The biggest takeaway, however, didn’t come in the form of one of our clients’ videos going viral. It came in-house. 2016 was the first year we set a quantitative benchmark for the number of videos we wanted to produce. Not only did we not hit the benchmark, but with all the energy we put into hitting a quota we lost focus on creating a better product. We produced more videos, but they were watered down compared to previous years. We lost our own purpose.

We got rid of all quantity benchmarks in 2017 and as a team, we held a meeting to refocus. In this meeting, we asked ourselves the same questions that we asked our clients. We ended the meeting with a mission to create a video channel to tell impactful and authentic stories that inspire others.

That channel has been a remarkably accurate reflection of the meeting where it was first conceptualized. We’re now using the same techniques that helped us define our purpose in our core business for our corporate clients. Not only has it righted our ship and produced success but it has also provided us with an entirely new set of questions to ask our clients:

  • Is their organization helping others?
  • Is their mission connecting with others?
  • Are their customers genuinely understanding their mission?
  • Are employees buying into their mission, do they believe their roles play an important part in promoting the mission?
  • Are they building a community?
  • Are they staying true to their core values and the values of their customers and employees?

The beauty of these questions is that you can propose them to your clients, to your employees and even to yourself. They’re not specific to video production or any industry for that matter. If you already have the answers, that’s incredible. If not, then use them to refocus your strategy or reenergize your team. Just swap “their” and “they” for “your” and “you.” Connecting to people on a deeper level, nurturing a human connection, evoking emotion and inspiring are key ingredients to building loyalty and bringing the best out in people.

Note, however, that not all ingredients are created equal. Like apples grown on two separate farms, the ingredients that I listed — those that were seeded and cared for with passion — will always taste better.

Posted in Small Business Tips0 Comments

Can Leaders Increase Their Speed Without Burning Out?

Much has been written about the importance of organizational agility. McKinsey and Company recently posted an article where they found that only 22% of performance units achieved their definition of agile, reports Forbes. Most organizations have seen significant increases in competition, customer expectations, and new technologies that require them to respond and change quickly. Can organizations be agile if their leaders are slow? A critical piece of the puzzle in organizational agility is helping leaders increase their speed.

Leaders who can move quickly not only help the organization move faster, but are also much more effective leaders (those in the top quartile on speed are rated by others at the 83rd percentile in overall effectiveness), more likely to get an excellent performance ranking (74% are rated as exceeding or far exceeding expectations), and their direct reports are more highly engaged. At Zenger Folkman our observation is that while leaders who are speedy help the organization succeed they are also much more likely to be personally successful.

After presenting this information to a group recently, one leader raised his hand and bravely said, “I can’t possibly go any faster. I am already working 60 hours a week, I rarely take a break, I have meetings all day and read emails all night, I am exhausted.” It is important to understand that frantic activity is not speed. Frantic activity rarely helps the organization move faster. In fact, a leader’s frantic activity encourages the same behavior in their direct reports, which simply makes everyone frantic, upset, and miserable. How can leaders increase their speed without burning themselves out?

What Leaders Can Do to Increase their Speed

My colleague Jack Zenger and I looked at data from 728,000 assessments of 52,000 leaders, with a focus on leaders who had a very high speed rating versus those with a low rating.  The fast leaders utilized a set of eight skills that impacted their speed effectiveness in a manner comparable to nitrous oxide in a racing car. Injecting nitrous oxide into an engine increases the oxygen available during combustion, which results in increased horsepower. The movement of the racecar is still controlled, but it can now move at a greater speed. These eight skills enable a leader to increase their speed without becoming frantic.

Impact of Eight Skills on Speed

To understand the impact of these eight skills on a leader’s speed, we looked at results from 710 leaders. Each leader has been given initial 360-degree feedback with ratings from their manager, peers, direct reports, and others.  On average each leader was given pre-test feedback from 14 different raters. 18 to 24 months later, each person was then given a follow-up 360-degree assessment. The 710 leaders were selected because they made a significant improvement on their leadership speed rating.  Note the substantial improvement of 40 percentile points from their initial pre-test to the post-test.

ZFCO

Which of the Eight Skills Had the Most Impact?We wanted to know which of the eight skills had the largest influence on increases the speed score. The graph below shows how the eight-skills rank, starting with the skill that had the largest difference between the pre- and post-test results.  Note that all eight skills showed significant differences between pre- and post-test results.

This study provides evidence that by working to improve these eight skills, speed is increased.  The skills with the biggest pre- to post-test difference was Develops Strategic Perspective. The top four skills tell an interesting story.

  • Develops Strategic Perspective. When employees are confused about the strategy and direction of the organization, everyone slows down. Some groups may be moving very fast, but are most likely going in the wrong direction and will need to turn around and retrace their steps. Lack of a clear direction is the number one reason for slow speed. As leaders lay out a clear path, speed can increase.
  • Communication. Once the strategy is laid out, it needs to be communicated. Often leaders assume that team members understand the strategy because they told them once. When the strategic direction of the organization isn’t constantly being communicated, team members—and sometimes their leaders—can forget what the correct direction is. Difficult decisions always make communication even more important. Sometimes it is not clear which way is the right path. Leaders who communicate take time to understand the problem and come to a consensus on which path to follow.
  • Stretch Goals. A natural way to increase speed is to set stretch goals. Once the building blocks of clear strategy and communication are in place, people can execute. Everyone has experienced the impact of how a stretch goal increases speed. One of the difficult aspects of setting effective stretch goals is gaining the commitment of team members. What they need is a vision of what will be gained, recognition of their extra effort, and rewards for accomplishing a difficult task.
  • Innovation. There is always a better, easier, and quicker way to accomplish work—but too often people simply proceed using the same old standard procedure. When leaders look for innovative ways to accomplish work, it gets done faster and with higher quality.

To increase speed, we recommend that leaders select two of the skills that best match their personal interests and the needs of the organization and work to improve their effectiveness in those areas.

Our goal in this study was to provide evidence that leaders can increase their speed without becoming frantic. The study clearly demonstrates that by improving these eight skills a leader’s speed also increases. Once people know where to make a change, it becomes easier to enact that change.

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Scaling Your Company to Always Serve Your Customers

It should go without saying: Do not neglect customer service. It keeps customers happy and cash flowing, and it helps maintain the sort of robust and running conversation you need to better understand your customers and your industry, reports Entrepreneur.

And yet experts say they see it all the time: As founders struggle to monitor the overwhelming number of moving parts involved in growing a company — product, marketing, office space, cash flow, supply chain, staffing, distribution, sales — they slack off on customer service. Or they treat it like whack-a-mole, dealing with angry customers as they arise. Or they farm it out and forget it.

Whatever they do, the end result is bad. Fifty-four percent of customers stop buying from certain companies because of poor service, according to a study published in January by Aspect Software, a developer of call center programs. That’s five percentage points higher than what their 2016 survey found.

So, what to do? Maryli Karske, a customer consultant who has worked with Ralph Lauren and Burberry, says the first step for founders is to accept that they may not have all the answers themselves. “At most startups, the CEO usually decides on a customer care strategy, along with everything else,” she says. That’s not going to work as you scale up. “If you’re not experienced in this area, you’ll make poor decisions or install inadequate systems that are expensive to change.”

First, says Karske, you need customer-centric staff. “When hiring, don’t focus only on resumes. Look out for staffers who are good with people. They don’t have to be working in a similar industry. You can come across someone great working in hospitality or in a grocery store.”

Of course, customer service isn’t just about hiring good people. Once you have a team, Karske says, you need to implement a system to ensure that customer feedback is filtered intelligently throughout the entire company to improve both product and service — enabling you to identify problems before a customer starts complaining.

“If businesses used data they often already have at their disposal, they could prevent some problems arising,” says Vince Lynch, CEO of IV.AI, which uses AI to improve customer service. “They’d know which items are most often returned and at which times, say, so they could address particular production challenges or shipping issues.”

To do this, Karske insists, don’t skimp. “You must offer proper training, install software that fulfills your requirements and set a realistic budget.”

This becomes more critical as your company grows. Imagine it: You have a small customer service team — and then you need to add bodies fast. If that team is part of a system, the system can scale. There’s a process to teach new people about the company, fit them into your culture and make them effective. But if there’s no system in place, new people just add confusion.

Just as small companies run the risk of not taking customer service seriously, larger companies do the same. Karske says she often sees bigger firms lump customer service in with the marketing department. But the skills involved in crunching data to learn about customer behavior are not the same as those needed to placate an unsatisfied customer, change failing procedures or garner valuable firsthand insight into how products are being used.

Finally, great customer service is often deeply tied to employee satisfaction. Karske says that it is probably no coincidence that companies with good service tend to have highly engaged employees who are empowered to solve problems and have a deep knowledge of their products and services. “The staff are happy at Zappos, and it shows,” she notes. “Most utility companies and airlines,” she adds, “not so much.”

The structure part is challenging. But once you have that, things will get easier. “It’s really not complicated,” Karske says. “Follow up on every conversation, and never break promises. It’s a virtuous circle: Look after your customers and they’ll help your company grow.”

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