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Welcome to this issue of "The Achiever," a monthly newsletter brought to you by Optimization Solutions Consulting!

Is your organization a sustainable business? Sustainability can be defined as an organization's ability to survive in today's economic times, to meet societal demands, environmental and political issues/regulations, as well as being able to forecast the wants and needs of the future. Sustainability will change the way organizations do business. Organizations will need to think and act differently ... they'll need to manage differently ... and they'll need to compete differently.


Walter Swindell, II - President
Optimization Solutions Consulting, LLC
In This Issue...

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article1Customer Loyalty - The Key to Business Success
Customer LoyaltyTalk to many business people about how they approach customer service and the majority of them will say that they are aiming to have 'satisfied' customers. No! What we all should be seeking is to have loyal customers.

Research has shown that 65% of customers say they are loyal. You may be happy with this but you shouldn't! Satisfied customers are in a state of nothing - they are neither dissatisfied or happy; they are in between. They will tolerate you while you are of use to them, but if a better deal comes along, they're off.

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article2The Top Ten Ways to Avoid Failing in Your Business
Avoid Failing1. Stop hiring yourself.

First stop hiring yourself by continually working "in" your business. Don't be an employee of your company, reserve the choice to be the president of your company. Secondly, stop hiring yourself through your employees. Business owners tend to hire people like themselves instead of people that have the strengths they require for that position. You tend to forgive their weakness in that area because you also have the weakness. Here is a formula to use in delegating to the right people, when you don't have to manage, monitor or motivate your employees you are truly delegating.

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article3Goal Accomplishment - A Proven Process
Goal Accomplishment"All things are created twice. There is a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you have thought everything through, Then you put it into brick and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind."
Stephen R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Working in the learning and development industry presents a wonderful opportunity to help many types of organizations as well as many adults and young people accomplish what they have defined as success through meaningful goals.

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article1_contdCustomer Loyalty - The Key to Business Success (continued)
On the other hand, loyal customers are your friends. They will be with you through thick and thin; they will be the first to try out your new product; they'll be willing give you honest feedback; they will regularly refer business to you. This is what you want! But how can you turn a satisfied customer into a loyal one?

Let Them Decide How to Do Business With You
Today customers are a lot more sophisticated in how they want to do business. If your product or service lends itself to be offered via a number of different means, then give your customer the option.

Can you deliver face-to-face? What about telephone services? Could you make use of SMS texts for quick notes and reminders? Do you have a web site through which customers can contact you or even make orders on-line? If you provide a variety of delivery channels which are available to suit the customer's needs then they are more likely to stay with you.

Build a Relationship
Loyalty can only be achieved if you have a true relationship with your customer. Aim to build rapport. Understand who are dealing with you and understand what they are looking for. Keep in regular contact with them; you don't necessarily have to be selling something. Always use their names, especially their first name if you can. All of this will help in building a long term relationship. Once you have this, they are less likely to walk away.

Generate Staff Loyalty
How can you cultivate a loyal customer if your staff are not loyal to the business? You must have staff who care for the job and will do anything to protect and move the business forward. Customers will be more loyal if they see familiar faces. A business with a high staff turnover will find it difficult to build a relationship with their customers.

Treat your staff well. Reward their successes and recognize their achievements. Hold regular training sessions so they feel they are learning and developing. An established training program will also make sure that their product knowledge is up to date.

Seek Out Complaints
This sound strange but the average customer has to be encouraged to complain! Many will keep quiet about poor service but if they can find someone else to do their business with, they will. Set up a clear complaints procedure so customers can complain if they wish. Provide staff with the tools to effectively deal with customer problems. Follow up all complaints to ensure that they have been resolved.

Take an Interest
Show your customers that you are interested in their views. Run regular surveys to find out what they think of your service, to find out what you can do differently. You can either carry out a survey over the telephone, or go as far as doing a mailing to all your customers.

Taking the trouble to contact your customers will reinforce the message that you want their business. But don't forget - take action on what you find out!

Be a 'Can Do' Business
Customers like nothing better than a business which delivers on even the most difficult of requests. 'Can Do' businesses will always have loyal customers. Train your staff to never use words like, "Sorry but ... ," "It's not my fault," "Its company policy." Be a business where solutions are always looked for and problems seen as challenges.

Look After The 'Golden' Customers
The old 80/20 is likely to apply to your business - 80% of your sales or profits are likely to come from just 20% of your customers. Work out who your top 20% are and love them to death! Why not concentrate on turning the remaining 80% into loyal customers? Well, the 20% have already shown that they trust and respect you. A little more effort with these customers will reap more business than concentrating on the 'maybe's.' By all means, run a program to convert the 'maybe's' but put more effort into the converted.

So, there you have it. Some ideas and tips on how to build and keep loyal customers. Take a critical look at your business and put a loyalty building programme in place which will boost sales and profits.

Contact Optimization Solutions Consulting to learn more!

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article2_contdThe Top Ten Ways to Avoid Failing in Your Business (continued)
For example one of my clients had to fire his manager. His manager was in charge of the computer operations. He decided to promote someone from within the company to take his place. He hired a computer consultant to train the new employee. The problem with this is the person he was training lacked knowledge about computers. This was a very expensive way to replace his original manager. He realized he had hired himself. He also lacks knowledge of computers and had too much empathy for his new manager. He remembered when he was younger and wanted to give his new manager a chance to advance. That empathy was costing him in time, money, productivity and the computer consultants hefty bills. I suggested he hire someone with computer experience and stop the suffering. He agreed and within two week his business was back on track. He was too close to the situation to see this clearly.

2. Learn from your past.

Just like a kid has to fall a couple of times when learning to ride a bike, so do entrepreneurs fail as they learn how to be successful. Learn from the past and set up systems and structures so that whatever occurred can never happen again. Solve problems for a lifetime not just a quick fix. Don't run your business like a fireman, run your business like an architect. Build a sustainable future instead of putting out daily fires.

3. Set Yourself and Your Company Up for Maximum Productivity.

Give everyone the computers and other tools they need to process information immediately. Automate the reporting of, access to, and flow of information so no human help is required. Develop a culture where any blocks to productivity are removed by your staff instead of you. Focus everyone on profits and growth. Grow your people as much as your company is growing. If your company is growing 50% annually, then your staff needs to grow at least that much. Hire people based more on attitude and behavior versus experience. Create a culture of hiring within based exclusively on performance not tenure. Get a website. The web is growing in leaps and bounds. The expense of operating a business today can get in the way of offering your future customers efficient products and services. Your future customer's will not want to pay for your overhead. The web offers you the potential to market your business to millions of people all over the world. Have a profitability and financial plan. Also a budget and a measurement process to keep track of how you are doing monthly. If you don't know where you stand financially and have no short term and long term financial goals, then you are just letting fate dictate your success and we know those odds aren't too good. Control your own destiny!

4. Develop Relationships.

The success of your business is in direct relation to the quality of the relationships in your life. Define the key people that can help you grow your business and commit to spend time to develop your relationship with them. Spend one day a week with your best customers listening, collaborating, suggesting, understanding. Have a relationship between you and your customers; not just a selling relationship. What you will be offering or selling to customers in five years may change in form or substance to what you're offering now. Learn from your clients instead of just selling to them. Clients really appreciate sharing their views and needs with companies who will listen. Let the customer create the questions on a survey instead of just giving their answers. A coach can help you to develop a system of learning from their customers and developing relationships.

5. Maintain a Healthy Balance.

Your free time is the largest ingredient in recharging your batteries to think more clearly and create solutions for a solid future. Maintain a balance between work, play and family. This is critical for long term success. We all put in crazy hours on a short term basis to get a hot project done or the product out the door, but if you do this on a long term, regular basis it is a dangerous sign that you are losing perspective. You need to be able to step away on a regular basis and get your batteries recharged. Have time for your family because if they suffer it is almost a sure bet your business will suffer too. Plan your free time for the next three months. This is usually the first thing that people eliminate. After you schedule your free time in your planner, get out your scissors and cut the time out of your planner to resist the temptation of erasing, crossing out or whiting out your scheduled free time.

6. Be A Role Model of Excellence and Encourage the Same in Your Employees.

Entrepreneurs want to grow their business. In order for your business to grow, you must grow personally. Your efforts are best spent developing you. If you don't give your all or let an inferior produced product go out the door to a client, you are sending a message to your employees that you do not respect your clients or your work. Your employees will adopt that view as well. Set the example of giving the extra effort, pitching in when needed, caring about people, be the best in your particular business, continue your growth curve, and take care of your employees. Encourage innovation and creation. Give your employees a stake in the future. Once a month, have a meeting where the employees make suggestions on how to improve your product, service, efficiency, or bottom line. Get your employees involved in the productivity game. One of my clients decided to play the productivity game with his employees. The game is; the employees get to share in the profits of the money saved in one year. Within a week they asked him to relieve the cleaning company of their duties. They took turns cleaning the office on their time to lower the operating costs. My client was thrilled. Give monetary rewards when the ideas produce increases to the bottom line and positive encouragement for the process. Create an atmosphere where employees are willing and able to talk with you. The two best sources of information on how your business is doing and how to improve it are your employees and your customers. Pay attention to both.

7. Don't rest on your laurels.

Always be prepared to change. Look for things to do more efficiently or how to improve your service or product. Identify and remove as many consequences and risks as possible. Insure yourself where you are most vulnerable in your business. Handle all legal issues. Errors in judgment and changing trends can have a negative impact on your business.

8. Minimize all your risks.

A coach will help you identify all of the events, people, trends, etc. that may adversely affect your business. Where are you most vulnerable in your business? Accounts receivable, employees, suppliers etc. Constantly evaluate your competition and benchmark yourself against them. The minute you think you don't need to improve anything is the exact moment you are blinding yourself and can be easily affected by your competition's growth.

9. End The Lone Ranger Mentality

A Lone Ranger is the entrepreneur who says things like: "No, that is OK, I can handle it alone." "I'll do it myself, because no one can do it as well as I can do it." The Lone Ranger entrepreneur needs a coach to help teach the skill of both involving and leaning on others. This skill is important to learn because the synergy that comes from working together is what ends up being a key competitive advantage. Without it, your business will slow down. Plus it's a lot more fun to be supported with great people, than to have to push or rely only on yourself.

10. Run your business with integrity.

It takes courage and commitment to live by your inner truth. There is great honor in living with integrity. It is telling your truth no matter what the consequences. It's being candid when it might be dangerous. It's going ahead and doing it or saying it even if it's uncomfortable. Inner truth communicates through faint whispers, thoughts, pictures and feelings buried within you. You can't passively wait for your inner truth; respectfully send for it. Continually turn inward, quietly, politely asking the right questions so that the subtle signals become clearer. Integrity is something only you can define. No one can say you're out of integrity. When you're feeling stressed it's a real indication that you need to restore your integrity. With integrity in place you are complete free.

Are You A Coaching Candidate?

  1. Do you spend your day putting out fires?
  2. Do you have any concerns about your business running at maximum profitability?
  3. Do you run your business on the edge?
  4. Do the same problems continually resurface?
  5. Do you have difficulty finding someone you trust who can give you an objective viewpoint and bounce ideas off of?
  6. Is your business running you?
  7. Do you find that you are unable to make the most of all the opportunities in your life?
  8. Do you experience roller coaster highs and lows in your business?
  9. Do you have a lone ranger lifestyle?
  10. Do you allow your goals and purpose to get sidetracked?
  11. Do you lack having a clear, measurable action plan to fulfill your goals?
  12. Do you lack structure?
  13. Do you lack inner fulfillment?
  14. Do you spend most of your day working "in" your business instead of "on" it?
  15. Are you a workaholic?
  16. Are you experiencing a lack of balance in your life and business?
  17. Are you committed to growing yourself and your company?
  18. Are you coachable? (Are you willing to hear and act on another person's viewpoint?)
  19. Do you lack a clear financial plan for your future?
  20. Are you willing to be truthful and restore your integrity?

If you answered yes to more than three of these questions you can benefit from a coach.

Questions a Coach May Ask You:

  • What five opportunities are you leaving on the table?
  • How might you sabotage our professional relationship?
  • How have you been motivated in the past to reach difficult goals or make difficult decisions? How can we best utilize that motivation now?
  • How would you do this differently if you were willing to let it be easy?
  • What would happen if you showed up ten times more bolder this week in every aspect of your life?
  • What are the ten things you are tolerating or putting up with that are preventing you from performing at your best?

Contact Optimization Solutions Consulting to learn more!

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article3_contdGoal Accomplishment - A Proven Process (continued)
It is amazing how many organizations and individuals have yet to be exposed to a systematic process that allows them to develop a clear mental creation and the steps to develop the physical creation. Most people know what goals are and will agree that they are important; however, most people have not been trained on the effective mechanics of goal accomplishment and don't know the power that they represent.

Developing Blue Prints

Goal accomplishment begins by establishing a relationship between where you are now and where you want to go. Begin this process with a personal and professional inventory or assessment that will help you identify your current dreams and aspirations. Define what do you want to accomplish, achieve, own, do, and be? Be careful not to let your practical mind limit your dreams and ideas. Grant yourself permission to think big and out of the box.

In addition to allowing yourself to desire and dream, take a moment to assess where you are mentally, socially, physically, financially, in regards to your family as well as with your personal belief system. We usually have a tendency to evaluate, focus, and measure effectiveness only in our professional and business lives. The common measurement is financial success, however a truly effective and well-balanced person looks at all areas of their being.

Through the dreaming process we determine what we want to achieve, what we want to do, and what we want to be. Next an evaluation or assessment process provides a clearer picture of our strengths and areas that we may choose to improve. The next step is to prioritize based on your dreams, evaluations, and assessments those specific items or goals that are most important to you now and that you want to take action on. This is the final step to providing the blueprint for your success.

As Covey indicates creating the brick and mortar is the second phase. Blueprints alone will not generate success. An architect can create a perfect blueprint, but without the appropriate building supplies and a contractor to do something with the supplies, the perfect house will never be built. The same fundamentals apply to goal accomplishment.

Bricks and Mortar

First, all goals need to be written down. Many people have goals but readily admit that they have not committed them to writing. Writing forces you to clarify your thinking and serves as a reminder of your objectives. Written goals will keep you on course in the midst of interruptions and distractions. Using a RAC Goal Planning Sheet© is an excellent mechanism to commit goals to writing and create a working document that will provide the focus necessary for success.

Working through the Goal Planning worksheet provokes the thought necessary to identify the obstacles, brainstorm all of the possible solutions, and then identify the required action steps needed to accomplish the goal. The components of the Goal Planning sheet are the bricks of your success. What provides the mortar to hold the bricks in place? All goals must have an overall target date with time specific action steps.

All the identified action steps need to be transferred to your personal planning system, which will provide a constant reminder of your plans and objectives. As you arrange your actions steps and timetable, remember that the goals are personal and you are in control. If for some reason you miss a designated date, examine the situation and find out why. There is always the possibility of unforeseen circumstances. You have the ability and authority to change a timeline. It is your blueprint.

However, those time sensitive dates will hold you accountable to yourself and others, which allows you to accomplish more sooner. Be careful to make sure that you are moving dates based on valid reasons and choices. Do not let fear, procrastination, and frustration (common, everyday occurrences) get in the way. The potential rewards of accomplishing your goal or the possible consequences of not accomplishing a goal should always be in the forefront of your mind to help you make the appropriate time sensitive decisions.

You are the architect of your life-personally and professionally. If you do not like the current results, you always have the power to change them! Take advantage of all your strengths and proven tools and use them to create a life that fulfills your every dream and desire. 


Contact Optimization Solutions Consulting to learn more!

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