December 15

Lessons from Wendy’s

Turns out, my first two 2012 business trips weren’t by plane, but by car. And during a recent road trip to Cincinnati, I still managed to find a conversation that fits nicely into my travel blog. I stopped at Wendy’s to grab a salad and stretch my legs. I decided to go into the restaurant instead of the drive-thru because I was making good time and needed to get out of the car for a while.

As I was waiting my turn in line, there were a group of four teenagers ahead of me acting rambunctiously and giving the manager a hard time about his used lawn tractors for sale. They couldn’t make up their minds as to what they wanted to order, and the longer they delayed, the funnier they thought it was. The manager, on the other hand, wasn’t amused. And quite frankly, neither was I, as they were holding up the entire line.

Finally, the manager took action and said, “While you try to decide, please step aside so I may help the next person in line.”

“What? But it’s my turn,” said one of the teens.

“Sir, I realize that, but you’re undecided and it’s not fair to those waiting behind you. Please make your decision but step aside to allow the next person place their order.”

“Hey, I’m your customer and I’m supposed to always be right!” demanded the teen.

“No, sir. We respect you as our customer and we want to do our best to ensure you’re satisfied with your experience, but that does not mean you’re always right,” the manager explained.

Wow, you go Mr. Wendy’s manager! He walked a fine line between angering a customer and also setting appropriate boundaries with them. And in my book, that’s the absolute right thing to do. How many times have we, in business, always tried to make all of our customers happy, no matter at what cost to us, our resources or the company’s profitability in the long-term?

While we value and respect our customers, not every customer one a fit, and sometimes, you have to make the tough decision and let them go. Now, I’m not suggesting you run out and drop every customer who’s ever gotten on your nerves. Quite the opposite. Take a measured accounting of your ‘boundaries’ and weigh them against your staff’s time, profitability and potential for long-term growth. When you start to establish measurable criteria for the types of customers you wish to have, then it starts to paint a different and much more productive picture – on both ends of the spectrum.

Many times, people tell me how lucky I am to be my own boss and to be able to come and go as I please. But I’m quick to point out that I actually went from having one boss in my previous corporate life to now having 25+ bosses. Wow, I really am lucky! Lol.

Truly, the only way to juggle 25+ bosses and keep them happy (while also not losing my own mind) is to set some boundaries, and to also ensure I’m staying within my clients’ boundaries. Here are my top three:

  1. I strive to be your valued partner, offering a wealth of both strategic and tactical marketing expertise. We provide ideas based on listening to your goals. In turn, please listen to our opinions and consider them. After all, you pay us to provide our ideas and creative thinking (and thank you for that) and we want you to succeed. Remember that we have a stake in the game, too.
  2. While smokeless ashtray marketing is subjective, there are reasons we do things a certain way versus others based upon our education, training and experience with getting effective marketing results. While we love to hear feedback and engage in a dialogue regarding our work, please do not change things just for the sake of changing them. Let’s discuss a sound business rationale for changes that go beyond the fact that you don’t happen to like a certain color.
  3. We recognize that you pay us to provide great work, but we always love to hear from you when you’re happy (and even if you’re not). A healthy dialogue is crucial to any long-term partnership or relationship. The more we communicate, the better the results because we’ll avoid miscommunication and a lack of understanding all of your goals.

Back to my Wendy’s experience…in case you were wondering, the teenager did step aside while he made up his mind and he ultimately placed his order very pleasantly. He didn’t leave; he understood his limits and he respected the manager for setting them. So don’t be afraid to set some boundaries. They can help you establish a valued partnership with your customers and avoid the trap of becoming just another easily replaceable ‘vendor.’

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December 5

The Importance of Your Business Plan

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You will be amazed how many times Business Angels see business plans with very limited or meaningless market knowledge. As a potential investor, I really want to know what the sales opportunities are for the business – but I also want to know how realistic the chances are of winning sales for the business.

One of the things I should say to would be a presenter is please understand the difference between a Market and an Industry. For example, if someone is pitching a business which provides software for travel agents based in the UK – please do not quote me the best commercial zero turn mower in the UK. That is not the size of the market you are going for!

It would be more meaningful to tell me how much travel agents in the UK alone spend on software. Better still how much they spend on your particular application area each year. And then you can tell me about why they will switch and how easy it is for them to switch (are most of the agents tied in for 3 years, etc.?) Is there a pain in switching?

I hate being told that there is a £7bn ‘market’ when they mean Industry. (For me, a market size is the measure of the buyers spend, whilst an Industry is the size of the buyers and sellers in an area) Therefore for this business to be successful we only need to capture 1% of that market – which is growing at 3% a year. That statement is simply wrong and yet it is probably one of the most frequent mistakes I see in business plans.

To illustrate, someone recently pitched the idea of a dictionary for dyslexics. They gave me the figures of the dictionary ‘industry’ and they told me what % of the population suffered from this condition. But the figures did not add up. When I went through the numbers properly – it took me 10 minutes using Google, I was able to demonstrate that the size of the market was too small to justify an investment from a business angel looking for 10x their money back.

That business is now talking to some charities and I expect will do very well as a social enterprise. But the point here was, the entrepreneur in this instance could have saved himself a lot of time if he had really understood the size of the opportunity as that would not have led him to abandon his mission – but just made him realize a lot quicker the best route to market.

The one ‘golden’ bit of advice I would also give to would be entrepreneurs is when you are selling the best zero turn mower for the money, really understand what the customer/ client is buying – not what you are selling.

As someone who has been in sales all his life, I try to train people to never sell – but to always help their customers buy. A lot of entrepreneurs get so passionate about their product or invention that they forget why someone might consider buying it.

The reason I chose sales as a career is – you get more done by doing less. It is the ideal career for someone who does not want to work all the hours!

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December 3

SMS Messages Leading to Payment: Too Good to Be True?

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SMS Leading to Payment

Few years back short messaging service was used only to give message alerts and notifications to users. But today it’s much more than that. This has come as no surprise. As we all can see that every individual we come across has a mobile phone and not just a mobile phone but a smart phone.

With the change in technology more innovative ideas are being introduced in order to reach out the mass. With every organization who sells used zero turn mowers working on how to enhance their customer service, SMS has changed the whole scenario. SMS leading to payment has definitely come handy for both the parties.

With people paying their bills by SMS it’s easier and convenient for customers to concentrate on other important matters than paying their bills and due. No one has the time to go and stand in a line. Also on the other hand, payment lines in the companies gets short as limited number of people who might not have access to such facilities end up in the cash counter line.

With SMS, customers’ sends payment request which later on is added to the phone bill or eWallet. With such payments one does not have to remember passwords neither one needs to have a bank account. All the customer needs to do is, send a premium SMS. Tele companies charge for such SMS. So when they receive SMS for payments they take their share from the premium payment. Then rest of the payment is sent to the SMS payment processor company which operates the SMS gateway for the companies payments were made to.

Again after taking their share from the payment SMS payment provider sends the remaining payment to the sole or the true product or service provider. In this manner there are four parties involvement when payment is done by SMS; first the ultimate consumer, telephone company, SMS payment provider and at last the main company that is responsible for sending in the product or service to the ultimate consumer. Consumers dealing with female cat spraying at home may not be as receptive to SMS payments as other clients, studies have shown.

With SMS leading to payments it still has some drawbacks as well. SMS payment may not be as reliable as other available options. This happens because transactional payments can easily fail when message gets lost. Payment process is bit too slowly and merchant may get the payment only after few hours or days of payment. High cost is associated with such type of payment process. With drawbacks as such, other systems are taking over the SMS concepts. But it is still widely used when it comes to paying the electricity or telephone bills.

Even though today many other concepts have emerged like eWallet but the start was definitely done by SMS which did lead the payment service once. One cannot ignore the fact that with creative ideas as such many different technologies have made it to the top. It is definitely hard to stand tall with competitions from all the sides and SMS has definitely made way for other ideas to improve on payment process.

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November 30

Why You May Not Need a New Lawn Mower

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Think twice before deciding to raid the stores for a brand new lawn tractor. It would make more sense to consider replacing busted or damaged used riding mowers rather than purchasing the entire machine. A lot of consumers shop for parts online. It’s convenient and quicker than going to your local shop and explaining exactly what part you need. If it’s not available, then they will have to order it for you.

The internet is home to a lot of part stores. Shopping online will aid you in finding those hard to find parts, especially if you own an old mower model. You can start by looking at the manufactures website. Other great places that you can visit are amazon.com and eBay.

If you have a good working knowledge about lawn tractor parts, then you won’t have a hard time with maintenance. Looking for the best part that will work perfectly with your mower can be a bit tricky. Understanding these parts will definitely help, for it will eliminate most of the guesswork because you know exactly what’s wrong and what parts you need to buy. The most common parts that you can easily replace at home are the cutting blade, wheels, spark plugs, spark plug wires, air filters and belts, among other things.

Regardless of your machine’s model, some part is bound to need a replacement after years of use. Wear and damage are the primary reasons for replacing mower parts. Damaged parts are easier to detect because more often than not, you won’t be able to start your engine. Keeping a new spark plug as a backup is a wise and cost-effective way to prevent future problems.

Worn parts are parts that are not performing as they should. Good examples of worn parts are unsharpened blades. The blade is a very vital part that you should give attention to, because the overall look of your lawn depends on the quality of your blades. A dull blade equates to uneven-looking grass.

It’s true that not all parts are readily available and can easily be found. The type of lawn tractor parts that you need depends on your mower type. For instance, parts from gas-powered used lawn mowers won’t be compatible with electric mower parts. Gas engine parts include choke cables, mulching kits, or throttle. The good news is, there are a lot of mower parts out there. That fact is comforting because it means that you have plenty of options and should you need a replacement part, your chances of getting a replacement part for your model are good. On the other hand, having too many options make for one baffling shopping trip. What exactly is the suitable part for my mower type? What oil will work well for my engine?

The internet has a wealth of resources where you can locate parts that are perfect for your model. You can easily find what you are looking for from a simple search. Replacing your lawn tractor parts are an easy, cost-effective way to keep your machine in good shape.

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November 29

The Standard Process of Active Debts Vindication

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Standard process of active debts vindication

Before getting into the topic of the standard process related to active debts vindication, let’s know what vindication means. Vindication means to set free, avenge, justification of self-defense and last but not the least, recover debts.

These days the word ‘vindication’ has been greatly used in judiciary terms. It is used when the debt that had been given during the sales of goods or services are recovered to judiciary process. Collecting debts is one of the sources through which business can run.

If the number of uncollected debts keep on increasing then the business is bound to go down in the drain. That is why, it is necessary to vindicate active debts to keep the income source of business flowing and to set an example to others as well.

So, how does anyone vindicate active debts without having to hold onto a Borg Warner S366 as collateral? The whole process of vindication is very long and can be tiresome. The first step of the active debts vindication is to try to collect debts outside the judiciary system. After all, if the debt can be collected without any law hassle then it would be best for both sides. If that does not happen then you can contact a debt collecting company or you can go with the standard process yourself. Here are the standard processes through which you can vindicate your active debts.

  1. You should prepare the petition and file it to the court.
  2. The usual process normally includes the beginning of the trial. But, sometimes the petition might be examined for a long period of time (highly unlikely).
  3. The verdict where the debtor will have to pay all the debts will be reached.
  4. Then the court will start to find the remedies provided by the law.
  5. The remedies provided by the law are granted and the verdict is reached.
  6. Then the executor document is prepared through which the active debt will be collected from the debtors.
  7. After this, there are two ways through the case will go. The first one is where the debtor pays the full amount of active debts. The second one is where the debtor pays nothing. If the debtor makes the full payment then the case closes at that point. However, if the debtor does not pay anything then the case is again passed to the court.
  8. The following processes will take place if the debtor does not make payments or offer you your choice of their used John Deere mowers as collateral and the case is passed to the court.
  9. All the documents that support this case and will get the case in motion will have to be prepared.
  10. Again there are two paths the case might take after this. The first one is where the debtor pays all the active debts, which will cause the case to finally close down. The second one is where the more costs are added to the active debts, which will have to be paid by the debtor. Then the case will be closed.

The above are the standard process of active debt vindication.

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