Big-League Customer Advises Bush-League Vendor

Sudden growth is rarely a smooth ride, especially for a boot-strapped venture. Well past their fifth year in business, one small custom manufacturer serendipitous developed a product that met a real need in a niche market populated by industry giants. The vendor’s new customers were used to buying from large, well-managed firms. As a custom manufacturer, this company had the freedom to focus on one customer per product. It wasn’t yet clear to them that they had entered into a phase of development where the signs of professional management would be taken for granted by customers. In this case study, a frustrated customer advises the vendor to learn how to manage their resources to simultaneously (and seamlessly) complete commitments made to past customers and start projects for new customers.

This is one in a series of case studies highlighting “Key Questions and Course-correcting Quotes” taken from 20 years of B2B customer insight projects. All names are fictitious, but the situations are real. Case studies paint a picture of how important it is to learn what your B2B customers think–but aren’t saying. These are real-world examples of how soliciting and acting on customer feedback has helped companies hold onto customers longer, grow relationships bigger and pick up new business faster.

Case study: Your Bootstraps Are Showing

Key Question (asked of a VP–the vendor’s chief contact in a 6-figure relationship):

VP: “This vendor’s president was badly criticized by customers who attended last year’s trade show. He changed how his company prioritizes customer issues. Do they now seem to be on the right track, or are they overlooking a blind spot that’s obvious to you?”

Course-correcting Quote:

“Their president has to get his organizational structure in place and build a senior management team. He has a bandwidth problem. On the one hand, he hasn’t delivered on all his outstanding obligations to his existing customers. On the other, he needs to make enough sales to keep his company afloat. They need to learn not to make contractual commitments for products that take resources away from their existing obligations. Reality for a small company like that is, you have to make the big sale. It takes a lot of discipline to not over-commit. They need to get a better handle on their existing staff’s capacity.”

My Client’s Quandary:

This $7 million vendor had a product that Fortune 50 companies were interested in, but the company was having growing pains. Their founder knew how to design and develop new products, but he didn’t have a lot of management training or experience. His senior managers were two of his buddies with the same technical background and lack of management experience. His company was at risk of being marginalized by a stronger competitor as soon as someone else developed a decent competing product.

More immediately, the president would be facing his customers at an upcoming trade show. He had been badly pilloried a year earlier. Before risking that again, he wanted a customer relationship consultant to conduct deep-dive interviews with his customers and expose the themes and patterns that would clarify which decisions he needed to make.

Conclusion:

Several of his customers gave similar feedback. My recommendation: Acquire experienced outside talent to manage operational and customer-facing functions. He hired the experienced talent he needed, held onto his customers, attracted funding, grew the company to serve additional niche markets, and eventually found a strategic buyer. Honest feedback from his customers helped him find his way and achieve his vision.

I categorize projects as assessments, investigations, treasure hunts or rescue missions. This project was an investigation. The client’s question was “Why are our customers still angry with us?”

Some Information About Hair Extensions

Every woman desires for love and beauty. If possible, most of the women want to try different new looks so that they can be different all the time. How to achieve that easily? The answer is to purchase hair extensions. Most high quality hair extensions are quite expensive, so choosing an affordable extension is important to someone who wants to be fashionable but does not have enough money.

If you want to get your desired look, and also want to protect your hair, you can go with human hair extensions. These extensions can help your hair grow out and keep it shiny and smooth. Since human hair is not cheap, so it is important for you to take care of the extensions made of human hair. Unlike your natural hair, the extensions can not get nutrition and natural supply of moisturizer, so they will look dull and dirty if not being well-maintained. Girls all know that if they take care of the extensions, they can get their desired styles all the time.

How can you give adequate moisture to your brittle, dry and frizzy hair through an easy way? Here are some tips:

1. Do not pull off them when they are tangled. If the hair is really tangled, you can put leave-in conditioner on it and slowly entangle those locks with fingers or by using a wide tooth brush.

2. Apply alcohol free shampoo. Use a good quality, gentle shampoo that is suited for your hair type to protect the hair from getting dry, avoid the harsh styling products. When removing the dirt and build-up from the extensions, do use high quality shampoo.

3. Apply good quality conditioner after shampooing your hair. Make sure to apply a large amount of conditioner to the hair after washing it with the gentle shampoo. The conditioner can make the hair look soft and shiny.

Do apply conditioner about twice a week to keep the hair in good condition.

What benefits can you get from wearing hair extensions?

1. You can get thick and long hair instantly with using hair extensions. If you have thin, fine or limp hair, you can use extensions to add volume as well as length to your hair.

2. If you require a confidence-boosting look for a special occasion, then you can just weave the extensions into spectacular braids and enjoy yourself.

3. You can add highlights or desired colors very easily to the extensions ranging from mild to hot to get an extraordinary look.

To make the most of your extensions, you can get some advice from a local specialist. Make sure you ask how they will minimize the damage to your own hair when the extensions are removed.

Catering To A Wide Range Of Industries

The company that is engaged in the manufacture of precision turned parts produce the parts with diameters in the range 2mm – 35mm. The parts are made out of different materials such as stainless steel, mild steel, aluminium, brass, bronze and plastic. These companies ensure the best quality products and they offer to supply custom parts against orders placed by the customers. They follow strict procedural norms at all stages of the production to inspect the quality of the product. They manufacture automotive components, components for house appliances, fittings, connectors, etc. They make use of the latest technology to ensure the supply of high quality products on time at reasonable prices. They would have employed highly qualified and experienced engineers and skilled craftsmen who are committed to cater to the needs of each and every customer. The production team has the expertise to develop the final product right from the basic concept. In order to make quality products in the most cost-effective way, the company works with their customers also.

The customer service team of the company that manufactures precision turned parts coordinates with every individual customer to know their requirements and assures to meet their requirements in the most cost-effective ways. The management of the company is committed to provide 100% safety and the best working conditions to all the employees. They provide the most advanced manufacturing facilities. They follow a healthy procedure for the manufacture which is smoke-free as well as non-hazardous. Some of them are committed to implement and adhere to ‘Green’ practices. Materials like oil, metal parts and minerals are recycled. The company entrusts various other processes related to their production such as plating, grinding and heat treatment with sub-contractors who assure quality and the best customer service. They have a very efficient system to monitor the shipping of finished goods and also they closely monitor the inventory levels.

The aluminium components manufactured by the company are used for numerous applications owing to its strength, light weight and elasticity. The aluminium components are also known for their conductivity and resistance to corrosion. The components made from various grades of brass and copper are used in various applications including plumbing and sub sea operations. The stainless steel parts are used by various industries like Oil and Gas, Petrochemicals, medical and surgical instruments and brewing. The plastic components manufactured by these companies are used for many industrial applications. The various types of industries that are served by these companies include Oil, Chemicals, Energy, Locomotives, Automotive, Electronics, environmental engineering, Marine, Food and Beverage, Defense, Medical devices, Scientific research equipment, pumps, valves and many others.

Things To Know About The Decision Making Process

Meetings are a crucial part of any business to make sure that all business operations are running smoothly. The decision-making process matters most when it comes to discussing issues that surrounds your venture. It is true that groups are oftentimes being dominated by an individual in order to agree on a certain course of action. By using a structured process of discussing issues, meetings can become more efficient and the group’s performance can be enhanced.

Some Basic Processes That A Chairperson Or Members Can Facilitate

Brainstorming – This process will generate a lot of spontaneous and diverse ideas within a short time frame. Some of the rules that you must adhere to when using this process will include no criticism on any point, everyone must participate, and the ideas must be recorded until they are exhausted. All the ideas are recorded on a board so that everyone can see it. After the brainstorming, the list will be screened and points would be clarified. All the members will then choose their 5 priority items and decide on a course of action.

Prioritizing Technique – Every participant will think of ideas or perhaps solutions that are written on a chart or board. It is from these ideas that the group will develop different options or solutions. In order to arrive at the option which the majority supports, participants may be asked to rank the options by using a scale of 1-5, where 5 points represents their 1st choice, 4 the 2nd, and so on. The desired option is the one which accumulates the highest total score. Apart from giving points or ranking the options, another way of determining which option does the majority supports is by giving every individual 5 sticky dots and have them place the dots beside the option they want. They can actually select 5 individual options or perhaps place multiple dots on the option they really prefer. The course of action will be determined by the option having the greatest number of dots.

SWOT Analysis – This process will determine the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats of a certain situation. This analysis will greatly help the group in determining the right direction.

Force Field Analysis – This process is a great way of graphically showing the forces which drive for changes or perhaps forces that restrain changes in relation to a certain situation.

These are the different decision-making processes that businesses use in order to come up with the best option when dealing with a certain issue. Apart from knowing these processes, another important thing to consider in order to ensure a successful meeting is to set-up a work-efficient meeting or virtual room.

How Is Your Worksite Wellness Program Addressing The Biopsychosocial Nature Of Health? (Are You?)

Health is a complex concept. And you do want to understand how to best address it, correct?

I have previously written that health and wellness are two clearly different concepts. As a result, I see the work-site wellness programs of today as not really being wellness programs at all, but really being employee health status management programs. If you accept this premise, this means that as a work site wellness professional you should have a clear understanding about the nature of health. Do you think you do?

Health, like wellness, can have many different definitions. Again, like wellness, there appears to be agreement around the idea that health is a complex concept which has several different determinants. The determinants of health can be classified into several broad categories: policy making, social factors, health services, individual behavior and biology and genetics. Health is often referred to as being a complex bio psycho-social concept.

Breaking the term bio psycho-social down into its component parts suggests the term consists of three major components: biological, psychological and social. So how do these component parts each contribute to an individual’s health?

Biological – The biological and genetic or physical (physiological) determinants of health, as well as individual behaviors, are generally the focus of most work site wellness programs today. Programming often takes the form of health risk identification and measurement (commonly called risk reduction) and disease or condition management strategies. These speak to the biology and genetics of health.

Two common measurement tools used in work site wellness programs today are health risk assessments and bio-metric screenings which are designed to measure and categorize health risks and basic biological body measures respectively. The basic biological measures serve as markers for an individual’s health status. Ideally, these measures should be within what has been determined to be a normal clinical range.

Psychological – It is now generally accepted that our brain and our body in separable. There is an undeniable connection between the mind and the body. While the exact mechanism may not yet be clearly understood, there is agreement cognition, thoughts, attitude and feelings influence our health. Our thoughts and feelings do have a physical impact on our body. They influence our nervous system, our immune system, our hormone system and subsequently our health.

Disease states are strongly influenced both in onset and duration by the way we think and behave. Our emotional responses result in hormone releases which in turn affect our health. It is clear that how a person feels, or their psychological states including a sense of energy, vigor, durability, hardiness, resilience, optimism, high life satisfaction and positive emotions all reflect the psychological connection to physical health, thereby representing the psychological component in bio psycho-social.

Social – The person – environment fit is reflective of the social component in bio psycho-social. The social determinants of health typically refer to the social environment and the physical environment, which are not controllable by the individual, but affect the individual’s environment and health.

Social determinants are complex, integrated, and overlapping social structures and economic systems linked to a lack of opportunity and to a lack of resources to protect, improve, and maintain health. Environmental factors, such as housing conditions, living conditions, social networks, and social support are also key drivers.

Examples of social determinants include:

• Availability of resources to meet daily needs, such as educational and job opportunities, living wages, or healthy food

• Social norms and attitudes

• Exposure to crime, violence, and social disorder

• Socioeconomic conditions, such as poverty

• Social support and social interactions

Social support, social interactions and friendships have been determined by researchers to provide many benefits. They influence many major aspects of our life. They also provide many beneficial life enhancing roles. Social support is critical. In fact, a lack of friends can be deadly.

We lean on social support, social interactions and friendships for:

• Intellectual stimulation

• Emotional support

• Fun activities

• Support for making behavior changes

The skills necessary for making good social support, interactions and friendship are also the skills necessary for success in life. Social support, social interactions and friendships are also great wellness tools for the work-site wellness professional to tap into.

How is your work-site wellness program addressing each component of the bio psycho-social nature of health?

How to Reply to a Freelance Writing Gig Ad

If you search online every day, you will find hundreds of ads seeking a freelance writer. Along with these hundreds of ads, come many people wanting the gig. There could be hundreds of applicants that want to work the gig, but the person looking only needs one person. This is why it’s important to stand out when you reply to an ad.

When you reply to an ad, make sure you give the person exactly what he is looking for. If the ad says it wants your resume, samples, and a cover letter, make sure you send all three of them. If you don’t follow the directions, you have a pretty good chance of not getting the gig.

When sending your resume, make sure most people won’t have trouble opening it. Send it as a Word document or in text form. You don’t need it to be fancy. You need it to give information about your knowledge and skills.

The samples you provide should be some of your best work. It should also be relevant to the topic you’ll be writing on for the gig. People want to know how well you can write for them, and the only way to show them that is to give them a sample of that writing.

The cover letter is probably the hardest part. You should never copy and paste your cover letter. It should always be unique to the gig you’re applying to. You should start with something intriguing about yourself. You can then go into the reasons you are perfect for this gig. Don’t make it too long because people won’t read it all. You need to state what’s important and end it with a polite conclusion, which is usually information about how you can be contacted.

Always Be Professional

Don’t take shortcuts because the only person you’ll be hurting is yourself. The first impression you give people looking for a freelance writer is through an email. It could be your only shot at getting the gig, so put your best forward first.

When you receive a reply, don’t get lazy. Respond with the same professionalism as you did with the first email. People can turn you away at any time, so don’t risk it by not responding to their emails with the information they need to make a final decision.

Now that you have this information, go out there and start to apply to freelance writing gigs. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of work coming in to bring in a decent income.

What You Can Learn From My Summer Vacation

‘Remember in our youth the standard return-to-school “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay? This summer has given me several lessons that have value for you today.

The story begins with a local police officer knocking on my door at 9:00 one night, asking me about my brother, Billy. Of course, you know what happens next–I find out that Billy died in a motorcycle accident a few hours earlier. He was 57, divorced, with no children. He was a floor layer, a regular ordinary guy. Like you and your team members.

First lesson: we are in a business of relationships. Don’t let corporate purchasing and hard bid tactics make you forget this. While price is part of the purchase consideration, the quality of your work and the relationships you foster with your clients, customers, and co-workers are paramount. I first realized this as word about Billy spread through the grapevine and I received numerous calls, emails, and cards of condolence from across the country. These were unexpected and much appreciated.

I saw it again at his wake. Having worked his trade in the New York area for over 30 years, my brother was well-known. On that Memorial Day weekend, we were visited by many of his associates. Not just tile guys, but the Foreman from the Laborers, and a superintendent from a General Contractor, to name a few. There were even guys who had worked with our father in the business-and some even remembered when I had helped out on a few jobs, way back when! Connections between people-that’s what it’s about.

Next lesson: how is your health? Construction is hard work, yeah. But it isn’t a substitute for quality exercise and eating. Billy wasn’t in bad shape, but he wasn’t in good shape, either. He loved to eat; cooking was his hobby. He didn’t exercise. And he had coronary artery disease. In fact, he may have had a health crisis that triggered the crash. We don’t know for sure. But we do know that he was not taking care of himself and now, he’s gone. Are you taking care of yourself? (If not for yourself, then for those who love you.)

“Divorced with no kids” sounds like an easy estate to deal with, right? Well, it would be if

  1. there had been a will (there wasn’t)
  2. there had been up-to-date beneficiaries on his life insurance policy (his ex-wife is still listed, although that wasn’t his wish; he just “never got around to” changing beneficiaries even though they’d been divorced for several years), and
  3. all his records had been kept in one place (not even close).

Looking through files and folders is never easy, but having to weed through pay stubs from 1986 makes the process even harder. I realized that my finances and directives are in a similar state of disorganization. I am currently creating what I call the Red Envelope, where all of that information is being placed to make the process easier for whoever needs to deal with it. We need to do this for the benefit of those around us. If you are a business owner or the head of a household, this becomes even more important.

By now, you may be fed up with my personal ramblings. But remember what my brother did for a living. He was a regular guy, he was just like you and the guys who work for you and with you. I am hoping you can learn from him so your team is better off.

Do Not Scrap It! Find the Scrap and Make Money Instead

Do you know which scrap metal pays the most? Well, if you know the price, then you can get a handsome price for it. When people realize the value of a few specific metals, then they put all their concentration in collecting those metals. However, you must not just look for particulars. The best is to take them all and get something magical out of the one you thought was less important. So, the next time you find people discriminating scraps, you will understand how much money they are leaving in the curb just like that. Here is an unofficial list of the scrap that can fetch you money. It will give you an idea on what kinds of scrap you should sell.

Items

1. Stoves

2. Lamps

3. Water Heaters

4. Toasters

5. Batteries of all kinds

6. Air Conditioner

7. Lawn Mowers

8. Tire and basketball rims

9. Pet cages

10. Cabinets

11. Ironing boards

12. Strollers and Shovels

Other items from which you can extract metals include: Music instruments, metal drums, television, computer, screws, nails and bolts and so on. From the following list you can understand that there is money even in the small things. Now that you know, you need to find places where scrap is easily available. The street is waiting for you, so collect as much as you can.

The few places where you can find scrap:

1. Kitchen – An excellent source indeed! Look for those old cooking pans, spoons, cookie sheets, copper pots and the likes.

2. Living Room – Television, lamp bases, window frames – aren’t these some of the common things that we see in a living room?

3. Bathroom – This room too has a number of things like dryers, washers, plumbing pipes and etcetera. If you like to deck up your bathroom, then you must also have a nice collection of bathroom fixtures. These can definitely yield a fair price.

4. Garden and Attic – Both these places are a storehouse of junk and you never know how much money they can bring forth. Iron railing, swing sets, rusty metal table, old metal chair, broken appliances, ornaments and other accessories which you do not use any longer.

5. Garage – Last but not the least is the garage. You can refer the garage of your house as the treasure trove of scrap metal. There are a number of things in these places that are in one word “precious” in monetary terms.

What are you waiting for? Get your hands dirty now and strike a good scrap deal at a nearby junkyard!

How to Know What Your Clients Want

For your business to be successful, it has to include an ongoing dialog between you and your clients.

Unless your business, your offerings, and your processes are informed by what your clients want, you end up, eventually, with no business at all.

More often than not, this is a matter of following the breadcrumbs. What you offer is snapped up by multiple clients right away = what they want. What you offer just lies there like an empty glove = not what they want.

If it’s the latter, then you either change what you offer, or you find new people to offer it to.

There is much to be learned too in casual conversations with clients. You get to be a detective, listening closely, and seeking out clues for what they are looking for. You probe and question to find out more.

Sometimes it’s an experiment. If you’re offering something really new and innovative, finding out whether it’s something your clients want is a matter of running a pilot, getting feedback, modifying, and offering it again.

One avenue for finding out what clients want is seriously underutilized. This method seems to be mysterious for many business owners. They sometimes don’t even think of it. Or they think of it, and dismiss it.

The mysterious method? Ask!

Directly approaching your clients to ask for what they want is a valuable adjunct to all the breadcrumb following, clue hunting, and incidental conversations that can bring you necessary information.

This is where social media can come in really handy. If you have a tribe that follows you, you can put it out there on Facebook or Twitter. It’s a quick way to get lots of feedback in a short time.

Got an email list? Send out a request for feedback on a specific question.

If you want direct feedback on an ongoing basis, conduct surveys. In my consulting business, I sent out a short survey after every project. That way, I could tweak my approach and offerings before they got too far off track.

Surveys are best approached the same way you approach marketing: from the client’s point of view. Ask about the client’s experience of both what you delivered and how. If anything was less than outstanding, what was it and how could it have been better?

Surveys are also a chance to explore what else the client might need. What else could be offered?

Were they happy enough to refer you to someone else? If so, take names: find out who they would recommend you too, and contact the referral, if you have their permission.

It’s important that clients know that you’re doing something with all this information they’re providing. You can respond directly to the client and tell them how you’re addressing their concerns.

Some entrepreneurs are afraid to ask outright. They prefer to take the behind-the-scenes approach. It’s almost as if by asking up front, they are afraid they are admitting that something is wrong.

That kind of fear does not serve you, or your clients. You need to know what your clients are thinking and feeling about your business.

On large projects, ask at the midpoint how things are going. With what you learn, you can adjust and carry on.

This kind of connection can be very affirming for your relationship with your client. They’ll know that you really want to hear from them. It encourages them to say more.

No one is perfect, and there is always room for improvement. If you take that approach, improvement on an ongoing basis, you’ll always get better. You’ll always have more to offer. And your clients will thank you for it.

This mantra helps: progress, not perfection.

One important thing to remember: you always have the final say in whether or not you act on the feedback. It’s part of the dialog. You ask, you get feedback, you discern what’s right for you and your business, and you take action. Then the conversation starts again.

Ask what you need to know. It’s a good idea.

Office Blinds Or No Office Blinds: How To Increase Productivities

You will spend more waking hours in your place of work than your home almost all your life. It might sound a bit depressing, but we work so we can maintain the lifestyles we want, and have the freedom to travel and buy things and treat our loved ones in our free time. And all in all we think it’s probably worth it. If your office environment is a negative one though, it can feel like you’re spending a lot more than 80 days a year at that desk.

You employer should make sure you’re comfortable at all times. That means making sure your work station is set up correctly, and you have all the equipment that you need in order to do your job, whether that’s a biro or a big expensive, multi-screen computer.

Many employers (and even their employees) don’t consider how much their environment will affect their working day. Many offices have only a few windows, and daylight helps give employees a point of focus away from their desk. You should be looking away and getting up and around for 5 minutes for every hour that you’re at work. Office blinds can make a massive impact into your employees focus.

Glare

When you’re looking at a screen, glare is your worst enemy. It’s why there’s a lack of windows in so many businesses, and why there is so much need for screens. Glare can cause eye strain and long term sight problems. In the short term your employees might suffer regular headaches and a feeling of nausea. If your workers can’t see the work they’re meant to be doing, how are they supposed to get on with it?

The solution is simple. Adjustable office blinds can be used to let in sunlight to the room in general while minimizing direct light on screens.

Temperature

Many businesses now opt to use air conditioning unities. This is because a giant 88% of all employees feel they work better when temperature is regulated. Sun shining in, or heat escaping from single glazed window panes can make your staff uncomfortable, and it can negate the good work of your technology. Simple window coverings will minimize the outside influences of the weather, perfect for midwinter and the height of summer.

Natural light

Natural light helps staff work. But, because of the copious problems it can cause many businesses are choosing spaces which lack this basic human need. A lack of natural light can cause feelings similar to clinical depression. Covering windows with frosted film also compromises light. Using adjustable office blinds allows some light to come in, while minimizing the problems caused, in other words they are the perfect compromise.