Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The client is not always right....for you.


Working with the right client will make what you do a joy!  When you love what you do but are working with a client who is not the right fit for you it is a total drag for you and I guarantee it's not so pleasant for your client either.  When you go through the process of figuring out who your ideal client is and you focus on that client you're creating a win-win for all concerned.  So if you're working with a client who is not a good fit for you, fire them or have them fire you.  Here are some indicators that you're working with the wrong client.

1.  They want things for free or are nickel and diming you to death!
2.  Your values are not in line - don't underestimate the importance of this.
3. They complain, complain, complain.
4. They don't respect your time.
5. You find yourself dreading your time with them.
6. They're late to pay you.
7. They try to tell you how to do your job.
8. You can't please them no matter what you do.

When you take on a client simply for the money it's like the old saying: "If you marry for money you will earn every penny of it".   You can lose far more in the long run than the one off payment that you get from a bad fit client.  If they're unhappy and tell others you'll lose more down the road than the cost of one project with them.

When I worked in the hotel industry at a 4.5 star hotel, as Managers we did Manager on Duty shifts on the weekend.  I once had a couple where the husband had maintenance change a toilet seat at 2am because it was scratched, next came a replacement of the phone at 3am, new sheets and pillows followed.  In the morning I spoke to them and explained that although we were doing our best we felt that we were unable to meet his expectations, which we felt horrible about.  Because we wanted he and his wife to have an amazing experience while in Halifax, I felt it best to not charge him for their night with us and to book him in another hotel of his choice for Saturday night which we would pay for, along with dinner at the other hotel, a cab to get them there - all on us...we would even pack them up.   He was a nightmare client for us and I "fired" him without him realizing he had been fired.  From his perspective we screwed up and paid for a great weekend for he and his wife. ( I did feel guilty though sending him to a competitor's hotel :)

Do both you and you non-ideal clients a favour and cut them loose.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

2 Ears and 1 Mouth

My plans for today were shot to hell once again by the weather - oh well!  I took some time this morning to clean up my home office a bit and came across my "Thomas Profile".  If you've never had your profile completed I suggest you call Claudina Whisken at Thomas International and get it done asap.  The information you learn in it is sooo valuable and helps you so much when working and dealing with other people.

One of the things that my profile says is that I am so enthusiastic that I times I may talk too much and not listen well  - guilty!  I believe the old saying - "we were given 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we talk".  I make a conscious decision on a regular basis to work on a variety of things I feel need to be improved about myself...both in attitude and behaviour.  It was a great exercise to sit quietly, not in a rush, and go through my profile and recommit to work on this extremely valuable skill - LISTENING!  Nothing makes a person feel better than to know that they have been given your full attention and that you have been truly listening.

Being an enthusiastic extrovert I can sometimes be like a whirlwind or a bulldozer - if I've been like this with you - I apologize - and if I'm like that with you in the future please let me know.  This is my very public commitment to try to listen twice as much as I talk - we don't learn much if we're the one doing all the talking!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Create a “STOP DOING LIST” Today!

This week when you start your to do lists I suggest you create a “stop doing list”.  I would wager that you would see more productivity from implementing a “stop doing list”, than ticking off the many tasks on your to do list.  Early on in our businesses we wear all the hats and juggle a zillion tasks.  As you progress if you don’t focus on YOUR SECRET SAUCE  you will be stuck in the vicious cycle of doing everything, working too long, not being productive and not making enough money!

Here are some areas where entrepreneurs can get buried – get real with yourself and stop the cycle.

Doing your own things like bookkeeping or designing.  Even if you’re okay at these things they aren’t what you went into business for (unless of course they are J).  Delegate them to someone who will do them more efficiently leaving you to the job of business building.

Getting Trapped in Busy Work – spending hours on a facebook timeline photo or making sure all your file folders are colour coded are things that you SHOULDN’T be spending your time on.  How about spending that time connecting with past or future clients, organizing or attending a networking event – which is a better use of your time?

Easy gratification versus long term success – stop focusing on the small things that are easily completed and give you instant gratification by ticking them off your to do list.  Think about one strategic priority that you can work on each day and spend your time taking a bite out of that.

Perfectionism Paralysis – plain and simple this can kill your business!  There is no such thing as perfect anyway – it’s all in the eye of the beholder.  Strive for excellence, not perfection – and sometimes done is better than excellent.  Be selective and decide in advance what level of excellence is required for each job.

I’d love to hear what ends up on YOUR  “STOP DOING LIST” – just don’t do it!

Monday, February 24, 2014

7 Lessons from my Clothesline Obsession

Yes...I am obsessed with clotheslines.  I LOVE THEM!  I am a clothesline-aholic and have absolutely no intention of recovering.  I get great joy from just watching my clothes blow in the wind.  There is a feeling of simplicity and peace that comes from my clothesline.  I can sit endlessly on my deck watching the wind in my clothes (many times with a beer in hand)...and oh, the smell of clothes fresh from the line!

I can't be sure where these feelings come from but I presume it has something to do with my childhood.  I grew up in an extended family environment.  We lived in sort of our own little commune of our family (6 kids), my aunt and uncle's family (4 kids) and my Grandparents.  Our three homes shared a lawn, driveway, well, sheds, wharf...and even clotheslines.  It took great coordination to be sure that all the laundry of the 3 families was done since none of the families had a dryer.  If the weather was even near fine there was always laundry on the line.  My prominent memories are of a diamond sparkled ocean with laundry blowing in the wind beside it. 

My Clothesline after a day at the beach.
Our village was very communal as well - it wasn't rare to come home and find all the laundry sitting in a basket in the kitchen,taken off the line by one of the neighbours if she felt the weather was going to turn...and we did it for our neighbours in kind... this was possible since no one locked their doors :)

A clothesline is a non-negotiable for me - I have a 75 ft one that I use year round.  So it could be the joy of seeing the beach towels after a sweet day in the water, or maybe even a frozen piece of clothing - or at times a full line of laundry on the ground as a result of an aged clothesline that could take no more.... then a new clothesline goes up and we start all over again.

These are the lessons that I have learned from my clothesline:

1.  Doing nothing is not non-productive.  Anything that brings you joy is worth the time it takes to do it even if it may appear to the outsider as "doing nothing".

2. A little extra work can sometimes bring great results.

3. Just because you can't see something doesn't mean that there's not something at work..(have you ever seen the wind?)

4. Looking out for each other reaps rewards all around.

5.  When negotiating, understanding what each person needs and wants is essential and will usually lead to a win, win... (a win, win, win in our clothesline case)

6.  Even when you seem defeated you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and continue the journey.  It cannot be perfect every step of the way and knowing this and making plans to deal with it will make the defeat minimal.

7.  Happiness, joy and success and individual - respecting and embracing this of others makes everyone winners.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Urgent doesn't always mean IMPORTANT - 6 Tips to get you to IMPORTANT

Taking control of how we spend our time one of the best changes that we can make for long term success.  We don't really manage our time, we manage our tasks and activities.  Too often our "urgent" tasks are those that have something to do with another person's goals and not ours.  There are 2 types of urgent tasks - 1. those we can't foresee...and 2. those we've put off or procrastinated getting done. 

Stephen Covey's time management quadrant process is a great way to put our activities into perspective.  Start categorizing your tasks within this quadrant and you'll quickly see that most of the activities that will propel you to accomplishing and reaching your goals are Important but NOT urgent...that's why most of us don't get to them.  There's no sense of urgency attached to them and are easy to put off.  Check this out and try it for a week or two and see what I mean. 

Here's are 6 tips that will help you get to those Important activities that will change your business!!!

1.  start saying no...enough already, you really aren't superwoman!
2.  stop being a "time Pollyanna"... you really can't drive 100 km, see a client, drive 100 km back all in an hour - get real with your time!!!!
3. schedule appropriately in the first place- EVERYTHING you do has a timeline attached to it... figure that out when your scheduling anything.
4. stop procrastinating - this is another blog entirely... get help if you need it.. this is such a waste of time, energy, talent and angst.
5. stop allowing another person's priorities to become your priorities!  Know which important tasks you need to do each day and protect your time like a mama bear with her cubs.
6. if you starting setting a deadline on everything you do it will change your world - when you ask for something from someone else, put a timeline to it...when someone asks for something from you, put a time line to it.  When you write a to-do list put timelines to each task.  When you're working on a project put a timeline to each and every task for each and every person.  This alone will change how you spend your time.

Until next time...