Copyright 2006 Dave KahleTen years of competitive hell!That was the title on the seminar brochure I received recently. As I survey some of the forces flowing through our economy, and witness the way in which they effect my clients, I have to agree. The Information Age is certainly one of the most turbulent times business people have ever seen.And the force causing the greatest turbulence is rapid, unrelenting change. Consider this. In 1900, the total amount of knowledge that mankind had was doubling about every 500 years. Today, it doubles about every two years. And the pace continues to increase. One futurist predicts that today's high school seniors will have to absorb more information in their final year alone than their grandparents did in their entire life.At the same time that things are changing rapidly, competition is increasing in almost every industry. Foreign competitors have entered our markets, the wave of corporate downsizing has transformed thousands of displaced executives into reluctant entrepreneurs, and the knowledge explosion continues to evidence itself in new technologies that often provide radically different ways of accomplishing some task.The result?Burgeoning competition in almost every industry. I have yet to meet an executive who has said, "I have fewer competitors today than I did three years ago." Continually growing numbers of competitors seems to be a characteristic of our economy that we are going to have to live with for the foreseeable future.Unfortunately, these forces of rapid change and growing competition have brought a cloud of confusion to CEOs and sales executives trying to grow their businesses.One common response to this cloud of confusion is what I call "Popcorn." Imagine kernels of popcorn simmering in hot oil in the bottom of a popcorn popper. As the heat grows, one of the kernels explodes and rockets off against the side of the popper. A few moments later, another kernel explodes and shoots off in another direction. Before long, the canister is full of careening kernels bouncing in every direction.That's my analogy to the way in which many businesses attempt to increase their sales when the temperature created by growing competition gets hot. As the heat of the situation grows, they know they have to do something. Then along comes a good idea and, pop, like a kernel of exploding popcorn, they lunge at the good idea.The good idea can be anything. Maybe it's a media representative who suggests a new advertisement. That sounds like a good idea. So, "pop" off they go after that. Or it could be a salesperson suggesting that a computer program will solve their problems. That sounds like a good idea, so "pop," off they go after that good idea. Next is an advertising agency suggesting a new brochure. That also sounds good, and "pop," like kernels of corn exploding in every direction, they expend money and energy in short term "good ideas."Like kernels of popcorn, they frantically chase lots of good ideas hoping that one will be the answer to the marketing problems. The problem is that these good ideas rarely have any relationship to one another. And, they generally present superficial solutions to problems which are often deeper. The company's time and energy is diverted toward these superficial "good ideas," and away from the deeper solutions.For example, an advertisement in a trade journal may be a superficial solution for a company that does not have a system for identifying qualified prospects. And a new brochure may be a superficial response for an organization that doesn't have feedback mechanism in place to adequately understand its customers.The unfortunate consequences are often more pressure, more confusion, and more energy expended in the wrong places.Is there a better way? Sure. A far more effective response is to create a powerful sales and marketing system. A sales and marketing system provides an interconnected, measurable set of processes and tools that ultimately result in increased sales. Where would McDonald's be today without a system to consistently produce hot hamburgers? Where would Ford be if they had no system to design and build new automobiles? The keys to success for these businesses has been their ability to create and manage effective systems to accomplish their goals.Sales and marketing can be treated in exactly the same way. The process of acquiring customers and then expanding the business with them can be systematized. If you're successful in creating a working system, you'll be investing your resources in the most effective way, and producing predictable, regular sales results.Your sales and marketing system should start with a thorough understanding of the needs and interests of the prospects. Fold into that an honest awareness of the unique value your company brings to the market, and you have the beginning framework for your system. Your system should focus on the highest potential market segments, and develop segment-specific processes and tools to help you reach your market in the most cost-effective way.When your system is designed, you'll also have a set of criteria in place to help you adequately assess the potential in such things as advertisements, brochures, computer programs, etc.A well-designed system allows you to move out of the desperate reactive mode characterized by "Popcorn" and into a confident pro-active mode.Here are seven questions to determine whether you're operating from the "Systems" perspective or the "Popcorn" mind set.1. Do you have specific, realistic objectives for your sales and marketing efforts?2. Have you precisely identified your highest potential markets segments?3. Have you identified the sequence of decisions that a typical prospect goes through to come to a decision to buy your product or service?4. Have you identified the key activities and processes that must take place on a monthly basis in order for you to reach your sales objectives?5. Do you have a monthly measurement of the quantity and quality of your key marketing activities?6. Are you able to track exactly how much it costs to create a customer?7. Do all of your marketing collateral (brochures, ads, etc.) directly support the purposes and processes of your system?Obviously, a positive answer to those questions indicates that you have a well defined sales and marketing system in place. That means that you have gone from reactive to pro-active marketing, and that you're well on your way to regular, predictable sales. Negative answers mean that you have some work to do to bring your sales and marketing efforts into a proactive mode to allow you to successfully compete in the turbulent 21st Century.
If you have recently suffered a workplace industrial injury then there is a chance that the accident just put your career on the line. Yet less than 1 in 10 people injured in an industrial accident in the UK will claim for compensation from their employers or the state. So, is it the case in Britain that we don't like to sue our employers or the state for compensation following a workplace injury, or is it that we are simply not aware of what our rights are?Employers' Duty Although there are protections in place for employees for many years such as employers should comply with a general duty towards the level of health and safety standards in a workplace. It was only following Britain's entry into the European Union that these laws became more than a toothless tiger and started to bite back. Today, employers have a duty to ensure that your overall safety in the workplace is free from the risk of an accident injury by ensuring:- that they employ competent co-workers to work with you;- that they provide you with adequate materials;- that the equipment you use complies with safety requirements;- that you are provided with protective clothing (if needed); and- that proper training and adequate supervision be provided to minimise the risk of any workplace injury.Industrial Accident ClaimSuch is the scope of the UK and EU law, it protects employees from an "industrial accident" . If you do need to make an "industrial injury" claim you will probably be fighting under one of these legislations:- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1992): which imposes a requirement that employers make an assessment of any foreseeable risk of exposure to a workplace injury and if such a risk exists to take action to prevent such;- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992): which imposes a duty on employers to ensure the safety of their employees with respect to the maintenance of the workplace, its ventilation, temperature, lighting, etc.;- The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992): which imposes a requirement that, in as much as it is possible, employers should avoid employees needing to undertake manual handling operations at work that involve an element of risk;- The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (1992): which requires employers to provide employees with adequate protective clothing if they are exposed to any risk (such as protective glasses); and- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998): under which employers are required to ensure that equipment used by their employees is fit for the purpose.Industrial Injury SolicitorHaving said that there are adequate provisions in place to protect employees in the case of any workplace injury. Unfortunately lots of employers in the UK are either unaware of their duty of care or simply refuse to comply with it. In such circumstances, while there will almost certainly be a case for industrial injury compensation, to ensure that your rights as an employee are adequately being protected and that you receive fair and impartial advice on what your rights are under the relevant laws. You should seek the advice of an industrial injury solicitor following an industrial accident. Even in circumstances where you are on good terms with your employer, if you want to make sure that your industrial injury claim will compensate you to the maximum you are allowed under the law, you should ask an industrial injury lawyer for his advice and assistance in handling your case. Keep in mind that the solicitor will have your best interests at heart, whereas your employer will have the company's best interests at heart.Ensure To Pursue With An Accident ClaimFinally, if you are in an unfortunate position to be recovering from a work injury and are considering your options as to whether or not to bring a claim against your employer, remember that you owe your employer nothing, whereas your employer owed you a duty to ensure you don't get injured at work! What's more, if you don't make a claim for industrial injury compensation, do you really believe that 5 years down the road from now your employer is going to remember who you are as you struggle by on benefits?
In todays competitive business environment it is essential to find ways to reduce costs and increase revenues while keeping productivity and quality high. One of the best ways to achieve this is through hiring and retention of outstanding employees. Far too often hiring managers rush through the hiring process due to being reactive rather than proactive when filling positions. With some preplanning in the hiring process and implementation of sound strategies once people join your organization, you will lower the cost of doing business by considerable amounts. As you prepare to hire consider the following:What type of person are you looking for?What are the values that drive your company? How difficult is the job you are filling? Do you have anyone internally who can do the job? How long will it take to find the right person for the position?What are you willing to negotiate with the potential candidate?In looking for potential candidates you may want to try more than the traditional employee search. Tap into your network of professional connections. Some of your best candidates may be working for your competitors. Be careful about hiring someone just because they are a friend or family member. Not that friends and family members dont make good employees - often they can be fantastic. And yet, if you are hiring them only because they are a friend or family member, you are setting yourself up for some big problems. With the wrong choice morale with other employees can go down. With the right choice it is just as likely to go up. Think through the compensation package. Are the wages fair for the job, industry and market? Make sure your benefit package is competitive for your industry. Find out what other companies are offering as far as compensation and consider matching or beating their offerings. There are occasions when someone may take a position without thinking through income, benefits or fit. Once they have gotten settled in and are feeling comfortable with the position and the company, they may realize the compensation and the job is not all it could be. That can cause some discontent on their part. To avoid this, do your homework. Another key to keeping good employees is to make sure they are treated with respect, dignity and appreciation. This may seem like common sense and yet, it often doesnt happen. I consult with various types of organizations employee retention and how to gain more commitment from the staff. I often will meet individually, in private, with a cross section of the staff. I spend at least an hour with each employee in a confidential meeting to find out their view of the company. Inevitably, the areas that are most lacking for the employee to be fully satisfied are communication and appreciation. Once the area of discontent has been identified I design programs for the company in which to address the problems. What is amazing is the problem is often on the way to being solved by virtue of the fact the organization has brought me in. A common comment is, Finally, someone is listening to me. Often, a companys problems can be lessened with some good coaching and training of management. It is amazing how many managers and supervisors were put into their position without any training in interpersonal skills, management and supervisory skills, and how to communicate effectively. Nine times out of ten the people who need the most training are the ones who think they need it the least. And, they are often the biggest obstacle to the success of a company. In order to stay competitive on all fronts you must keep your entire team on the leading edge. By doing so you will be in business for years to come with a happy, dedicated and productive team. And that will equal profits.
Copyright 2006 Dr. Eileen SilvaIm going to subtitle this article: The Rest of the Story, because as I sit here I realize that I really love many of the non-check benefits of MLM. These benefits sometimes cost money --- lots of money --- but not for me.You see, our company picks up the tab on two, all-expense-paid, incentive vacations a year. These are five star events that are truly trips that money couldnt buy, because the president of our company previews the locations, the restaurants, and the excursions. Everyone loves them, and that is guaranteed!I remember flying to Maui for my third all-expensive Maui experience. I had learned to book my massages, facials and body wraps before I went. Id also learned that Hawaiian fabric starts out looking gaudy and atrocious, but you gradually become sort of anesthetized to it and begin to erroneously think you like it --- until you hit the mainland, where it continues --- year after year --- to look ridiculous. When you unpack your bags (or watch your maid unpack your bags), you continue wondering if maybe all that pineapple clouded your judgment.Well, mementos and local clothing aside, the trips are fabulous. Whats not to love --- France, England, cruises, Monte Carlo, Ireland, and Maui? I would gladly put forth significant effort just to be on the trip, even if I never made a dime!On some trips, we are presented incentive, spending-money bonuses too. There is something about having your company pay for your luxurious lifestyle that is intoxicating. But, trips are not all! Weve earned not one, not two, but dozens of award trophies and prizes. Weve won everything from Waterford crystal to televisions.Another of my favorite non-money benefits is the opportunity to work with great people. Some of them have become friends that we talk with every day and look forward to seeing on the beaches of the world. These friends are scattered all over the world, but most particularly, all over the United States, so we are able to experience all of the cultural nuances of this great country with friends. When I go to Seattle, I have seafood. When Im in Buffalo, I have wings. In Dallas, Mexican food is the thing, and on Maui, its a luau.In addition to enjoying culinary treats, we also experience whatever special things each area has to offer, whether mountain lakes, antique malls, spa treatments, football games, or churches. Network marketing has given us a cultural appreciation and exposure that I never dreamed possible. Before I joined MLM, I had only flown a couple of times. Now Ive logged well over a million miles in the air!But, perhaps one of the greatest intangibles is the joy of seeing some spectacular magazine, television and newspaper coverage. Sometimes I really have to pinch myself because it is so exciting to be a part of this industry.I remember the day that I flipped open a magazine that came in the mail, and THERE IT WAS --- a life-size picture of my grandson and me, side-barring an incredible interview that I had forgotten about doing. I knew I had lent the magazine a number of great pictures, but I was totally surprised to see what they had done with those pictures.Another of those non-financial benefits is being able to have people who, not only know WHO we are, but also HOW we are doing and what program we are working. Once in awhile someone calls and says, You dont know who I am, but I know you, and Id like to join your organization.Id be remiss if I didnt mention the benefit of the personal growth Ive experienced. Im happier than I have ever been, and Im now living life on my terms. I hope this article has gotten you thinking. I realize as I write this, that some of my fondest memories in this business had nothing to do with money. They had to do with people, places, or experiences. Next time you are evaluating the success youre having in your MLM, dont forget the intangibles . . . for they might provide all the difference.
Copyright 2006 Daniel SitterIt all started with a leaking shower faucet, one of those mixer types with no markings or available seal kits from my local home products store. In the 17 years since we had built our home, I had no occasion to call a plumber until now. I opened the Yellow Pages to find a qualified, local plumbing house. There were quite a variety listed but one caught my eye right away, not because of some fancy ad, but because of their phone number, which was displayed in a larger font next to their relatively small logo. It read 732-DRIP.I did my due diligence and called three plumbing outfits, seeking pricing on my needed repair. It was once again, back to the folks with the unusual phone number. They were the ones that I would hire.The plumber arrived early the next morning right on time. He was a bit younger than I had expected, but had everything he needed as he had already been advised by the home office as to the nature of my repair. He was neat, clean and friendly. His van had their now familiar logo and phone number painted on the sides. He also had them embroidered on his new looking coveralls.He introduced himself with a smile and a handshake as I invited him in. Paul and I chit-chatted for just a minute, as I bragged about my plumbing prowess but relative inability to properly identify the needed parts. He chuckled and asked for the whereabouts of the problem shower faucet. I offered him a cup of coffee which he graciously accepted on his way up the stairs, being so very careful not to bang his toolbox or spill the coffee. I showed him the shower stall and let him go about his business.Paul came downstairs about 20 minutes later with the faulty, 17 year-old parts in hand. He also handed me the empty parts container so that I would know what to order from him if we had need of additional parts for the two other faucets located in the other bathrooms. He explained exactly what he did and reminded me of their unconditional two-year warranty. I gladly signed his work order and handed him his payment. He shook my hand and handed me a refrigerator magnet as well as several business cards. He asked me to please keep him in mind for other repairs that might come up as well as if I would pass his business card to some of our neighbors. With that, he was on his way.Nobody likes to pay for home repairs. A few people may tackle the job on their own, but most will call in an expert. Paul is indeed that expert. He is also quite the salesman for his company. He did everything right, including fixing my shower problem. Ill never need to consult the phone book for a plumber again. He is an impressive young man and his company should be proud of him. In fact, they are!You see, I called their office after he left to commend this young plumber on his professionalism and skills. I reported to the owner that Paul was on time and well prepared. He was neat and clean, dressed in a company uniform. I commented on his handshake, friendliness, careful nature and warm smile. I told this company owner of his employees commanding knowledge of the project at hand as well as his review of the job and reminder of their impressive warranty. Paul made it easy for me to order additional parts without incurring the cost of another service call and asked for referrals before he left. He was all too aware that the other homes in our neighborhood were approximately the same age.All in all, quite an impressive salesman especially for a plumber!