When I walk into a store, I always tell the salespeople, “Sell me something.”
Especially when I love the store. At Samsonite, the luggage retailer, I expected superior service. My needs were basic. For my international flight to Austria, I needed a garment bag that I could carry onto the airplane.
The saleswoman was too busy talking with her girlfriend. She paid little attention to my needs, even when I told her to “Sell me something.”
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When I found the garment bag by myself, I asked her about the dimensions to see if it would fit on the airplane as ‘carry-on’ luggage. Of course, I would never buy a carry-on bag that I couldn’t ‘carry-on’ the airplane.
I needed to know the length, width, and height of the garment bag. That’s all.
My saleswoman affirmed that the garment bag was ideal for a carry-on. She told me that she’s been working there for 10 years and all of her customers loved the bag, especially as a carry-on. I fully believed her. After all, she’s been with the company for 10 years.
Delighted, I bought the bag for a great price. As I walked down the mall, I went to another luggage store and listened to a woman give me an excellent sales pitch on her luggage. She complimented my current bag, but assured me that it wouldn’t fit as a carry-on. Dumbfounded, I checked the facts online.
She was right!
On Amazon.com, it confirmed that my bag was too big. I went back to Samsonite and asked for a refund. The saleswoman argued with me and reluctantly gave my money back. Her girlfriend was grinning from a distance as she rocked back and forth in her seat with the attitude of an impatient chimpanzee at the zoo.
“Ma’am, do you have a tape measure?” I asked. She ought to check the size, I thought. “I don’t carry that on me,” she said.
After 10 years of working with luggage, I thought she would. Neither did she have a pen when I had to sign the receipt to return the merchandise. Nonetheless, she still scoffed at me as I walked out of her store. Her girlfriend did laugh too. I believe this way of doing business is unacceptable.
From that experience, I’m honoured to share with you seven truths every millionaire knows about business:
1. Know Your Numbers
Every season, I buy suits. I know my size in every conceivable way (including European sizes). When I ask the salesman to “Sell me something,” he better measure me and tell me exactly what size I am. If he comes out with something that is three sizes too big, I’m leaving immediately.
Surprisingly, a vast number of business people don’t know their facts and figures. You must know your prices and dimensions of everything you offer.
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If you’re branding yourself as an expert, you better have superior knowledge about your industry. It’s easy to learn about everything that you offer. When information is present, feast on it, even when no one else is making proper use of it.
2. Know Your Tools
I bought three dress shoes yesterday from a remarkable salesman. He offered me a “shoe-horn,” which is an excellent tool to help you slip on your shoes. At fine restaurants, I receive immeasurable joy when the host “checks” my coat in the closet. I am also astonished when the server uses a “crumb-catcher” when I finish the courses before my main entree.
Many of us have the right tools available for our business. However, we need to learn how to use them with excellence. You don’t have to know everything about your tool and its history; you just have to know how to use it.
When you dazzle your clients with the tools which you’ve mastered, they will applaud you to the bank. Trust me, I’m a master of the microphone.
3. Know Your Time
My personal trainer is stupendous when it comes to his time-management skills. Every time we train, he’s always done exactly at 60 minutes, with precision.
I’m often amazed at how he does it, especially since he keeps me so busy that I don’t have the time to check the clock myself!
Those who know their time will be able to control their schedules. If you’re always running late on the services that you offer, you don’t have the right to increase your business. Conversely, those who master the clock will have the power to master serving all of their clients with the utmost diligence.
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4. Know Your Energy
As he continued his speech, while catching his breath, he told me why the other servers were slow and why he made the most money on his shift.
Verily, this man was deceiving himself in unprecedented ways. He thought that running back and forth kept him busy and earned him more money. However, the exact opposite was true. Despite being young, he ran out of steam each night because of his misdirected energy.
This made him serve in a sloppy manner. Working harder will never beat working smarter.
5. Know Your Personnel
I personally have an army of aides who help me do my work successfully. My editor, Maureen, is top-notch at what she does. If I handed her this article, which I did, she would flip it to me error-free within 24 hours.
My lawyer, Chris, will get me an answer within a few hours if I ever needed his help. It only takes a few clicks or dials to know everything in the world.
Knowing your personnel can help you to create an impeccable business. If you have the right people aligned with your business model, you will be unstoppable.
Every area in your business demands expertise and you must put the best people in place. Always pay your people top dollar if you can, lest they leave you unexpectedly
6. Know Your Money
Most “professionals” don’t know what’s in their bank accounts. They know within the hundreds of dollars, but not pennies. Everyone in our society gets charged with fees that they never even realise.
As they go along with their lives, they’re getting ridiculous fees from products and services that they rarely, if ever, utilise.
When you know your money, you’ll grow your money. You should know exactly how much you earn, spend, and save. You must always seek to have a surplus at the end of every month. If you do, your profits will increase by incalculable measures. Knowing your financial affairs is the surest ways to become wealthy.
7. Know Your Customer
I saved the best for last. Your real boss is your customer. They pay you. In fact, all the money that you will ever receive will come from other people, so you better take care of them. Ensuring that your customer is satisfied should be your highest priority.
You’ll also want to go the extra mile when you can. Use people’s names, over-deliver on your promises, understand their deepest, long-term needs.
These are the simple elements that must be acknowledged if you want to succeed in business. No matter what industry you’re in, knowing your customer is the best and most effective way to increase your business. Ask your customer.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Leon Meyer GM At Westin Cape Town Shares 4 Experience-Driven Tips On How To Keep Your Team Productive
Productivity is a fundamental requirement for an organisation – it’s the seed that builds a business and contributes to higher profit margins.
Productivity is a fundamental requirement for an organisation – it’s the seed that builds a business and contributes to higher profit margins. But what’s the best way to ensure employees remain productive, and happy in their day job?
The answer is simple and highly effective and I choose to sum it up with three short phrases – respect, trust and teamwork.
In partnership with my management team, which consists of about eight staffers across various disciplines, we strive to tick these boxes.
In total we’re ultimately responsible for managing roughly 500 employees.
Five hundred employees across several departments is a mighty job. But with teamwork, good listening skills and the right attitude from the top to filter down, any business can run like a well-oiled machine.
I’d like share with you the essentials for building and maintaining a productive workforce, and these apply to all industries, not just the hospitality sector:
1. What’s your definition of a productive team and how do you achieve that?
We need to keep in mind that productivity is a result, one that CEOs and managing directors strive for with their teams. But what happens beforehand in order to achieve that result determines whether it will be achieved at all, and is equally important. I suggest the following to ensure a productive team:
Define roles and responsibilities: Direction is incredibly important; everyone needs to know exactly where they’re going and how they need to get there, so KPIs are essential.
Often when roles and responsibilities are unclear, things go pear-shaped. I am an advocate for setting clear KPIs, it’s a good way to steer us in the right direction, and in turn helps to grow the business and the individual in his/her role.
Be flexible: Rigid environments are the worst kind, allow your employees some flexibility and the opportunity to be themselves in the workplace. We spend so much of our time at work, we need to be ourselves there.
Celebrate the team: When there are achievements, celebrate them, single out individuals who are excelling and living the company values. This builds morale and is indicative of appreciation, which is fundamental when running and building a business.
2. What has and continues to be your philosophy since managing a large team?
Know your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your team’s and leverage off that. Be prepared to learn from others, no one can operate in isolation, regardless of the level on which you operate. Accept criticism and don’t bulldoze someone’s ideas, that’s how you build trust.
3. What in your view are the top characteristics the team look for in a leader?
- Be consistent – inconsistency screams bad leader
- Provide guidance – this is key, don’t turn a blind eye, give input and council
- Listen – always listen intently
- Be impartial – always be fair
- Give credit – it builds morale and shows you recognise good work
- Be patient – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and remember not everyone thinks the same as you do
4. What’s your view on an open door policy and how does it assist with managing a team and ensuring everyone remains productive?
I believe in an open door policy. It’s essential to build and develop trust. I’m the first to admit that it takes a while to build that trust, but once the team (on all levels in all departments) know your door is always open, and that they can trust you implicitly, half the battle has been won.
I host a GM’s roundtable every two months, just to establish how everyone is feeling and where everyone is at. It gives staff the opportunity to bring their challenges to the table, and I deal with them the best I can.
It’s 100 percent confidential and line managers are not allowed to attend. During this meeting we try reach common ground, and I commit to addressing and ultimately solving the problem(s).
Why Purpose Drives Profits
If you want to succeed, it’s time to start engaging where it matters.
Over the past two years, many clients have been extending brand positioning exercises into purpose-driven expressions.
When we look at it, it makes sense given the country’s demographics. With many of our fellow countrymen struggling to make ends meet, brands have stepped in to provide them with a picture of a future worth striving for.
Global customer-centricity study, Insights 2020, led by research firm Kantar Millward Brown, has attempted to understand how brands could drive customer-centric growth as well as the factors that really make a difference. The research surveyed 10 495 individuals in 60 countries, and there are some significant efforts worth investing in if brands want to engage where it matters most, in consumers’ hearts.
The research uncovered that for market-leading companies and brands, traditional value drivers such as quality, packaging, or distribution are necessary, but no longer provide a competitive advantage; most brands are capable of providing these drivers. What is important, are a few critical approaches.
1. Purpose-led brands
The study found that when companies or brands linked to a purpose, 80% of them outperformed the market. Only 32% of non-purpose led brands managed to perform better than the market.
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2. On the ground
It’s important to engage with consumers in their space and on their terms. Through the use of memorable campaigns, experiential events and activations it is critical to engage with consumers on their turf.
3. Be truthful and authentic
Consumers can smell something inauthentic a mile away, especially when it’s coming from a brand. This forces brands to strive for authenticity in everything they do, especially when it comes to marketing. Building values and principle-based attributes into your brand as a guiding tool is essential.
4. Helping consumers commit
By allowing individuals to attach themselves to a brand with a purpose, it helps consumers personally commit to a cause that they consider important. When a consumer is personally invested, the link between the brand and product or service deepens.
5. Balancing heritage and modern relevance
There is a continuous tussle in balancing the traditional market, transitional market and the new consumers brands are trying to attract. Keeping the heritage and roots of the brand true to itself, while creating relevance for the new market, is a battle marketers are still fighting.
Need To Trim The Fat To Boost Profitability? Listen To Your Clients First
Jeff Bezos believed that once you win the client over by doing this, everything else will follow – not least profitability.
Finding the balance between offering the extras that set you apart from your competitors and keeping things ‘lean and mean’ to minimise wastage and maximise return on investment is a tricky balancing act.
I’ve noticed that many businesses try to attract or retain customers by offering what they think their customers want, rather than finding out what they really need, and then delivering that. That’s an expensive mistake to make – and it’s not going to achieve the business results you need.
I’ve also observed that now is the age of the new entrepreneur – the game changers who disrupt the status quo long set by big bureaucratic competitors who think that their customers will just accept an inflationary (or slightly larger) increase every year, just because they always have.
While Amazon has been around for a while now, there’s also an important lesson to be learned from its launch goal, which was to bring the price to the client. Jeff Bezos believed that once you win the client over by doing this, everything else will follow – not least profitability.
How have I applied these lessons in my business?
Firstly, we design our hotels backwards – we focus on the needs of our clients, very aware that what hotel guests wanted years ago is not what they want now. That’s why we don’t offer thing like a turn-down service with chocolates on the pillow. Nobody eats the chocolates, and nobody uses the toiletries – so why should we include the costs of these unwanted extras (and the cost of the staff required to implement them) in the final bill to our clients?
We do, however, offer free WiFi internet connectivity, free parking in our buildings, free laundry services and either bed-and-breakfast options or self-catering rooms.
Simply put, we’ve cut the fat that nobody wants anyway, and added the value that our guests have said they expect.
Our clients have said that they expect the whole hotel to be a workstation, and not just the business centre in a dark, unwanted corner. So, we’ve put a workstation in every room, with always-on access to the internet. Our hotels are designed with beautiful work spaces that cater for nomadic entrepreneurs and double up as comfortable meeting spaces, again – gone are days of boardroom only meetings, our spaces are primed for work and play in one integrated space.
Our clients have pointed out that they’re already paying for their room – so why should they pay for parking?
Many of our clients stay with us for days or weeks at a time, and have said it would be helpful if we did their laundry. So, we do that for them – and we don’t charge them for it.
It’s true that many of our old-school competitors offer a broader range of products and services than we do, but we’ve built a successful business on adding the value that our clients need, removing the costs and extras that annoy them, and keeping costs (theirs as well as ours) under control by cutting out unnecessary frills.
It’s an approach that’s worked for The Capital Hotels and Apartments as a disruptor in the hotel and long-stay accommodation industry, and I’m confident that its principles would apply to any other industry that’s ripe for disruption.
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