Forward to a Brighter Tomorrow

When I think about a life motto or mantra, I always come back to the idea that we should view life through the lens of ‘getting better every day!’ That’s why the end of every blog incorporates the idea of ‘looking forward to a brighter tomorrow!’ Today is only twenty-four hours and this week was only seven days. If one hour, or one day, or one week ruined us, then we have got to pick ourselves up and remind ourselves to keep moving forward. Martin Luther King Jr. said “If you can’t fly then run. If you can’t run then walk. If you can’t walk then crawl. But whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Where are you Right Now?

Take an inventory of where you are right now. Are you in a rut with work? Is your relationship with a spouse or loved one shaky? Have you fallen out with a best friend or family member? It could be one or all of these things. What happened? Taking the time to think about the situation after the ember has cooled a little will give you a greater understanding of you and your choices and actions as you look introspectively at your own life. Don’t dwell on what someone did to you or how they hurt you. Instead, when something like this happens, focus on the only piece of the situation you have control over and responsibility of, how you acted and how you responded.

Too many times, even the coolest heads get heated in an emotional discussion or situation. Think about what you did… now decide if what you did requires an apology. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t, but it is VITAL that you figure that out. Next, you need to think about how you responded, even if you thought it was only inward. Were you angry? Offended? Were you hurt?

This is a harder spot, because I am asking you to look inwardly and determine if that was warranted. If you say, ‘no’, then that is something you can apologize for. If you say, ‘yes it was warranted’, then I would encourage you to look harder and remove any ‘pride’ that you may be harnessing. You still say, ‘yes it was warranted’, then you do not need to apologize unless your heart tells you to.

“Looking inside yourself is a practice that we as people need to do on a much more frequent basis. It would rid the world of most ‘Karens’ and put us on the path to a brighter tomorrow.”

Where do you Want to Be?

Once you realize where you are, there are only two paths. You either move in the direction which will take you forward, or you don’t. There is no reason to overcomplicate life. Teachers and philosophers and heads of religion have used the simplicity concept for thousands of years because they knew a simple path was the easiest to follow. So don’t complicate it. Either, you choose to move in the direction of what you want to obtain, or you don’t.

Gym goers make a mental choice to fight for what they want. Doctors and Lawyers make an active choice to study hard for what they want. Business women and men make personal sacrifices for where they want to be. Moms and dads make hard choices for where they want their families to end up. If you aren’t where you want to be, there is no magic potion or genie to make it happen. But where there is willpower, there will always be a way.

Or you decide that it isn’t worth the energy and settle for staying where you are and remaining who you are in this moment. You need to recognize that this is also a choice. The world is not laying out your path and then guiding you down it. YOU are laying out your own path and leading yourself down it. It is YOU who is in control of your destiny and of your future. You decide on your own Brighter Tomorrow!

 

What will it Cost to Get There?

“Everything!” It will cost you everything to get where you want to be because the process will not bring the old you along. The process will leave your past there and create a new self. We can not move forward without also becoming a new person in the process. I’m not saying you’ll be completely different, because you will still have many of your attributes as you grow. I am saying you will be refined. Bad habits will be chiseled away like a sculptor chiseling the stone. Like melting gold so that you can scoop away the impurities, you are refined. And so, when you choose to be different than you are, you will always come out better on the other side. Then, repeat the process.

And when you feel lost and the darkness of doubt and fear are overwhelming you, take courage. You are not alone. There are people here who want to see you succeed. The tunnel gets darkest before the light at the end comes into view. So, in the words of Dory, “Just keep swimming.” Keep swimming until you reach the other side. Swim until you find the current that will boost you forward or the school of fish that will join you in the journey, even if only for a short time. Just keep moving towards your goal of a ‘New You’!

And together, in 2022 and beyond, let us work on ourselves as we look forward to a brighter tomorrow!

 

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Being a Leader

Statue that needs Chiseled

Being a Leader is one of the most important materials in building a successful and longstanding organization. But Being a Leader isn’t easy. It requires focus and self-awareness. It requires attention to detail and humility. A great leader must have balance in every arena. These are traits that can come naturally, but can also be developed in those who truly want them. So what does this leadership look like? How does an owner or manager become the type of leader that can take a company from the small business arena into the vast world of big business without getting lost in transit.

You Have to Want the Transformation

Being a Leader - Unfinished StatueLeadership begins inside of you. Imagine yourself as a work of art, a sculpture. You start out as a big chunk of marble, and the first pieces of rock that have to be chiseled off are easy to see. Things like dishonesty need to be broken off to leave only integrity. Chunks of timidity chiseled down to leave only determination and boldness. Breaking off those blocks of negativity to leave more positivity.

Once you’ve done that, you are left with a figure that looks more human, but that still needs some fine tuning. This is where many leaders get, but become unwilling to finish the project. They say things like, “This is just who I am.” Or, “I’ve been like this for forever.” And what they mean is, “This is as far as I’ll go, and I am unwilling to change.” That type of leader will never be their best. Being a Leader is choosing to always grow. If you aren’t growing, or in the case of a sculpture, being chiseled and polished, then you are not growing. And many would say that if you aren’t growing, you are decaying.

This is step one in becoming a great leader, and if you have already decided this is too much, then turn back now. The chiseling process is not for the faint of heart. It requires constant commitment and humility.

You have to be willing to see your imperfections, but you can not be willing to settle for them.

Statue that needs ChiseledYou Have to Know what Chunks to Chisel

In this analogy, many times we are both the sculptor and the sculpture. So, we need to be able to see the pieces of ourselves that need to be cut off. Here are the top 3 things I’ve seen that leaders are most unwilling to chisel off.

Micro-managing

The first flaw that leaders tend to have but choose to overlook is their Micro-management. The symptoms within an organization where a leader micro-manages are lack of enthusiasm from the staff, negative outlook for administration as a whole and frustration across the board. They don’t allow personal development or empower staff to be creative. These leaders are viewed as rigid and often, the micro-manager gets burned out trying to do the simplest of tasks.

You can recognize it by watching whether they delegate tasks and let the staff handle it. A micro-manager will also have the ‘my way or the highway’ mindset. More often than not, these leaders fail and either step down or are let go because micro-managing is never conducive to building a strong organization. It will always be the chunk on the sculpture that everyone sees is out of place, everyone but the micro-manager.

Are you a micro-manager? Introspection of oneself is vital to good leadership. If you are, don’t hide behind things like, “This is just how I am.” Or, “If I’m not this way, things won’t get done.” Learn to get the right staff around you so that you can delegate tasks and let them blossom to fruition. If you aren’t surrounding yourself with capable staff, then you have a bigger problem with your leadership than simply micro-managing.

Indifference

A plague on being a great leader is found in indifference towards the company and towards the staff members. Indifference is defined as a ‘lack of interest or concern.’

Indifference to the Staff – Professionally

The most common form of indifference is found from the leader to their followers, in this case staff members. It often takes form as apathy towards the projects they are working on and the accomplishments they make. Remember that when an employee gets excited about their accomplishments and want to tell you, crushing that excitement by brushing it under the rug is bad for the company. Sure, they might be just trying to brag, but you can’t know their heart or motives so… just be excited as a leader and feed their excitement. We shouldn’t leave work beaten down and defeated because of our leaders.

Indifference to the Staff – Personally

Indifference for your staff also comes in the form of apathy towards their personal lives. Now, this is a tight rope to walk because there are Human Resource issues that arise from being too personal, but you can still care about your employees without crossing that line. You do so by allowing them to control the dialogue.

Leader: “Good morning, Susan! How is your week going?”

If Susan responds, “Fine.” Don’t try to dig, keep the comments on the surface level. You could say, “Fine is better than terrible, so I guess that’s a win!” Or, “Well hopefully by the end of the day it goes from fine to AMAZING!” If Susan wants to talk more, she will. Otherwise you leave the conversation knowing you gave positive remarks and didn’t pry into inappropriate territories.

If Susan responds with something deeper, then perhaps you step to that level. If she says her daughter is sick, you can apologize for that and ask if there is anything the office can do to help with that. Or perhaps it’s finances or trouble at home. You should point her towards HR and let her know that ‘this company is here to support her in whatever way they can.’ (Notice how the leader always pushes her towards the company, not towards them as an individual.)

Indifference to the Company

Lack of consideration for the company is the second major indifference you’ll see among leaders. They don’t care about the organization as long as their own wallets grow. These are the C-suite officers and Presidents who give themselves outrageous salaries, bonuses and allowances that don’t make sense for the bottom line of the company. Don’t mistake this as a dis against six figure salaries, but everyone should be paid according to their work and if the CEO is making more than what the owner makes, well that’s the indifference I’m talking about. If the CEO is taking a bonus that more than double’s her staff? That’s the kind of indifference I’m talking about. And if those allowances are greater than that which is offered to the other staff members, whether it is a car, health insurance, life insurance etc. Well, that’s what I’m talking about.

The company’s success and survival should be first and foremost, and bonuses should be based on the success of the company as a whole. Leaders who don’t care about the bottom line as long as their paycheck clears… That’s indifference to the Company.

Egomania

The third chunk most leaders refuse to chisel is their ego. Ego in this case is a person’s sense of self-importance. ‘Egomania’ takes that to an unhealthy level, and in leaders it leads to a destructive and toxic work environment. But how does one know that their ego needs to get checked?

  1. If you have a self-proclaimed title or constantly feel the need to tell people your title… you might need to check your ego.
  2. Do you feel entitled to more because the company can’t run without you… you might need to check your ego.
  3. If you demand more money or bonuses or pay increases… you might need to check your ego.
  4. Do you ever take advantage of the company because you feel you were entitled to it… you might need to check your ego.
  5. If the company struggles but you don’t really care because it owes you… you might need to check your ego.
  6. Do you position yourself over the other people you work with… you might need to check your ego.

And that list could go on and on for days. Check your ego at the door… All it does is create a toxic work environment that will inevitably tear down the company or get you pushed to the outside and ready for the ‘boot’.

Being a Leader stands against all of these things. If you hope to lead people into a brighter tomorrow… you’ve got to drop these childish things. Leaders transform, and then they can lead.

 

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Multi-Generational Struggles

At our Industry Conference in Austin Texas, discussions were had at our round tables. From future outlooks on the economy to marketing strategies during and after Covid, conversations were uniform as these were all major junctures that we face in the United States. One in particular stuck out. The Struggles in a Multi-Generational staff. How do we handle cross pollinating a work force that is as different as roses and dandelions? How do we create synergy between the Baby Boomer generation and Gen-Z and everyone in between?

Fixing Multi-Generational Struggles Starts with Understanding Each Generation

Every generation has something to offer, and so I encourage Multi-Generational staff even with the struggles that come with it. And in these cultures, it is vital that each person understands what each of the other generations has to offer. This even includes “The Greatest Generation” (1901-1924) and “The Silent Generation” (1924-1945) who are likely retired or retiring.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964):

In 2021 this generation is between the ages of 57 to 75. They grew up during the Vietnam War and post war eras. They were the Rock and Roll, Beatles and Woodstock enthusiasts. Many of them were a part of the FIRST two-income households, first generation with TVs and the first to openly accept divorce as a tolerable reality. History even noted them as the first ‘tolerant’ generation, paving the way for American Freedoms. But what do they offer to companies like yours?

The answer is experience. This generation is the one who blew figurative holes in the mountains of society and culture. They weren’t just “rebels without a cause” because moving forward was the cause. Freedom to be and choose was, in their early years, their motif. Though, for some, that has changed as they have gotten older. In the work place, they should be the wise guides for the new generations who are rising up to make industries new and bring business back to the present and then push it to the future. They need the Baby Boomers to teach them so that they don’t make the same mistakes.

“The Generations before are meant to teach us what was, so that we can properly direct what eventually will be.”

Generation X (1965-1980):

In 2021 this generation is between the ages of 56 to 41. This generation grew up street-smart because of career driven parents and often divorced or broken homes. They learned to fend for themselves early on which has earned them the term, “The Latch-Key Kids”.  Most remember the introduction of computers in middle school or high school. They were interested in philosophizing more than settling with a long-term career and family. They tend to commit to self growth and average seven career changes in their lifetime.  Society, and thus individuals, are often seen as disposable unless they enhance this generations growth.

So how do they fit into our work culture?  Seen as the renaissance of entrepreneurship, and rightfully so, they typically push the companies we see around us onward. This Generation took up the reins and drove Business to the next level. They have the experience of transforming companies from what they were to the next level, what they should be. They are the driving force and that energy is needed by the other generations. That leadership is required for the other generations to learn it and often to live by it because it was and is the life blood of leadership and entrepreneurship!

 

Millennials (1981-2000):

In 2021 this generation is between the ages of 40 to 21. This generation, my generation, are thought to be sophisticated, technology wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood. According to a Goldman Sachs research:

“Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization and economic disruption. That gives them a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents. They are slower to marry and move out on their own. Millennials show different attitudes to ownership that helped spawn a “sharing economy.” They’re also the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop. They want instant access to price comparisons, product information and peer reviews. Finally, they dedicate themselves to wellness, devoting time and money to exercising and eating right. Their active lifestyle influences trends in everything from food and drink to fashion.”

So what do they bring to the table? What do they offer to your company and team? Well they are the future of your industry. They are driven to learn more and understand more. Gen Y want to see the world as a better place, not only for them, but for everyone. They are the PRESENT DAY represented and personified. These are the leaders and future leaders of the world and of your business.

Remember, they usually won’t stand for companies that don’t have humanities best in mind, and they won’t allow disrespect or harassment in the workplace or anywhere for that matter. If you want to know where the world will be in thirty years, look to Generation Y (Millennials). And then, look to them to be the catalysts of Multi-Generational growth and solutions to those struggles.

Gen Z (2001-Present):

In 2021 this generation is 20 years old and younger. They have never known a world without computers and cell phones. They are digital integrators, having integrated technology seamlessly into their lives, and having used it from the youngest age. It permeates almost all areas of their lifestyle and relationships. They are only barely into the workforce, but they are a company’s energy source and connection to all things progressive! We need them so that our companies don’t get stagnant again. Let’s catch up and then use Gen Z as our catalyst to the future!!

 

When we learn to understand one another, we conquer Multi-Generational Struggles. And we grow into a Brighter Tomorrow… TOGETHER!

 

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Corporate Synergy

Corporate Synergy is the cooperation of staff, clientele and vendors formed to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. That is the positive effect of one staff member to another. One Customer to a Salesperson. One bookkeeper to a Vendor. When we maintain a balance and harmony amongst those three parts of business, we find Synergy. And Corporate Synergy is what takes a good team and moves it to excellence.

Sparking Synergy

Finding the spark to this synergy is very easy for the administrator or leader who is proficient with it. A leader who can observe the ‘language’ each person needs to feel respected and accepted. A leader who can learn the body language of their coworkers and subordinates, so well that they can see issues before they get out of control. These are the leaders who not only avoid big issues by handling them before they get out of hand. These are the leaders who can spark enthusiasm in the workplace. They make every worker feel appreciated by the company as well as by that administrator. These are the leaders who make every person in the company want to succeed.

To spark this sort of community and cooperative teamwork, a leader needs to be attuned to the following

  • The Employees feelings about Administration, Cooperative Treatment, Working Conditions and Personal and Professional Preferences as they apply to the job
  • The small and large impacts of making policy and procedure changes
  • The Health of the Company Overall
  • The Structure of the Company
  • The Trouble Spots of the Company (including Employees, Policies, Past and Present Hardships)

Fueling Synergy

Now that your leader has sparked the fire, you need to add some fuel to really ignite it. That fuel can be anything that gets your employees excited. These are sometimes the events or gatherings that make employees hate work a little less. Because, let’s face it, no one wants to work at a boring job these days. We are a society that is finally coming back to the age of ‘Work hard to Play harder’. If we aren’t fulfilled and happy, we will pick up and leave, and that generation is the one that is taking the front row on this leadership train. We might as well accept it.

So what are some good examples of this?

  1. A Christmas Party (or any Party based around a holiday or event) Is PERFECT for fueling that synergy. This can also take the form of Friday Cocktails for Happy Hour or even a Corporate Luncheon. Anything to get people interacting outside of their cubicle, as it were.
  2. A Company Picnic  (or an event to bring family). Meeting family members helps to soften the rough edges on most people and make them more relatable, etc.
  3. In-House Competitions – like Highest Sales for the Month, Safest Procedures or Most ‘Check Ins’. You could even do a different one each month to highlight specific areas within your facility so that the same group doesn’t win every time.
  4. Reward their efforts… however you can. Reward their efforts!

Utilizing Corporate Synergy

Now that you have sparked and fueled those flames of Corporate Synergy, it’s time to utilize it! How? Simple… just keep stoking the fire as you did to get it started. Now, watch the flame grow and the Synergy push us into a Brighter Tomorrow.

 

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Return on Investment

Yes, when it comes to marketing we are always discussing a company’s Return on Investment, or ROI. But this shouldn’t just apply to Marketing. This should be an administrative tool we use on the regular and in all areas of our company. From Customer Service to Sales to Marketing to HR. Everything you ‘invest’ in, whether time or money or energy, has a ‘return’ tied with it. Whether it’s a good return or not? Well that depends on what you’re investing in. Let’s break down a few of those together.

Marketing:

This is the most obvious of the areas where we would want to see a Return on Investment, but it is often the most difficult. Much of the ROI in Marketing is invisible. How can you truly know if it’s a strategy you’re using or the culmination of word of mouth. Perhaps it’s your paid ads on Google, or it might just be an organic happenstance. In most cases, it is probably a mix of both, but how do you determine money spent vs money it gained.

The answer is, you can’t ever know completely. But, if you’re willing to put the time and energy in, you can come pretty close.

Try these:

  • Compare last year to this year Spending Vs Earned
  • Every 3 Months make small changes to test your numbers
  • Survey Customers/Run Reports to find out where those leads came from
  • Use ‘Call to Action’ buttons to trace information

Customer Service

Customer Service is another area where the ROI indicators are nearly impossible to gauge. However, anyone who has ever had a bad experience with Customer Service knows the benefit of good Customer Service. That’s why companies like Walmart and Costco spend all of that extra money on additional staff. There is no way to figure out how much return is being gained on that investment. However, those companies chose and choose daily to maintain this Customer Service program because the return is real, just not visible.

If you want to test it, then try these:

  • Compare last year to this year revenues
  • Compare reviews on sites like Google
  • Survey Customers as they come in

Sales

This is an easy one. We invest a lot of time into our sales departments. From training to expenses to most of our overhead costs, our Sales Departments get the “Gold Star” treatment. I think that is a two-fold strategy. For one, Sales bring in money, and without money the company doesn’t survive. But the second, which ties closely to that, is that this is one of the few departments where you can easily break down the return on investment. You can take the Gross Revenue and subtract the costs of goods and labor and overhead and determine what that sale was worth.

That being said, I have seen many companies who have the tools to measure things like Net Profit and Profit Margins. And yet, they tend to just run without looking and hope for the best. That’s not a good business practice and you will never know the actual ROI of a sale or the salesman’s time by doing things that way.

Human Resources

The last department I want to focus on today is Human Resources. I chose this department as the last one we look at because I believe it is the ROI that is most important to any good company. The investment here is your employees. You invest in them with your time, energy and money. And their return is the greatest you can ever receive in business. Ever.

These are the people who, when the company plunges into a pandemic, stick with it to pull it through. Don’t be mistaken thinking they had no choice or that it was the better choice. I can promise you making more money and having to do nothing for it would have been the better choice for them. It would have been safer and less chaotic. And yet, they stayed. YOU SHOULD BE APPLAUDING THEM!

They are the ones who, when 3/4 of the staff is out sick, carry the load of the entire team to keep the place running until the other’s return. They are not your pets, so don’t treat them like dogs. They didn’t have to carry that burden, but they did it for you. Why? Because you invest in them… and this is their return to you.

So invest in your staff and know that the return is well worth it! As we invest in a brighter tomorrow!!

 

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Capitalize on Your Weird

“Capitalize on Your Weird” feels like an odd concept, but in reality, this is what makes history. For example, think back on Great Leaders like Pope Francis,

Notable Leaders with Weird Traits that Made them Great

  1. Pope Francis, the Pope of the People was a Nightclub Bouncer which he feels helped him connect to people who attended and softened his heart where other hearts have been hardened.  He became a great leader because he understood everyday people.
  2. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, believes in only organizing meetings that are small and intimate. They should only involve the key players and decision makers. So,, he has a ‘Two Pizza’ rule. If the number of attendees can’t be fed by two pizzas, then the group is too large.
  3. Sara Blakeley, CEO of Spanx, believes that car commutes are where the best ideas originate. She feels that this time is meant for clarity of thought. So, even though she only lives a mile or so from the office, she drives around her work for an hour before finally pulling in.
  4. Michael Kors is an American Fashion Designer of the brand that holds his name. A fashion company worth $20 billion. Kors, however, does not wear his fashion. Instead he comes to work in a black crewneck each and every day. He says this allows him to focus on other decisions rather than wasting time curating his own outfit.

Notable Companies with Weird Traditions or Policies that make them Great

  1. Pixar creates a work culture by allowing creativity to be the forefront, including in the construction of its “cubicles,” which are often shaped like huts and are tricked out to the nines.
  2. Amazon’s “returnless refunds” which allows sellers to offer refunds without actually getting the item back from the buyer. And their Automatic Authorization policy for returns has made them a powerhouse in the retail industry and beyond. It’s not just about inside culture, but your outside culture too.
  3. Costco adopted their four Operational Choices: Offer less, standardize and empower, cross-train, and operate with slack. These were pretty weird when they were first introduced. Now, they are want the company is founded on. And Costco execs say, “Culture isn’t the most important thing — it’s the only thing.”
  4. Spotify has created a culture of guilds and tribes and squads that serve not only as a fun little group building exercise, but also as an accountability process. Team Building doesn’t have to be tedious it can be fun.

How can you Capitalize on your Weird to make your Company Great?

Well, first things first, you have to embrace it. Take whatever makes you stand out and run with it. The ‘old world’ hated when things stood out, but today? The whole world thrives on ‘weird’. People are rooting for the odd and unexplainable. They want to back and be a part of the out of the box ideas. Don’t let the world stop you…

Be weird in a brighter tomorrow!

 

 

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Capitalize on Food Production Services

The food industry is another area we should focus to capitalize on as small to medium businesses. From production and warehousing to delivery services, Food and Beverage, or F&B brings in an average of $368.4 billion dollars a year. (Based on Stats from Money Under and Statista). That means that Americans spend 13% of the ENTIRE National Budget on Dining Out. That’s an astronomical number and doesn’t include what we spend eating at home.

This industry is gigantic and we need to figure out how to get into it and provide our services for them. Once we can crack that proverbial egg, the world will be our proverbial oyster.

How Do We Find a Way in?

This is by far, in any industry, the hardest part to capitalize on Food Production Services. Getting your foot in the door requires hours and hours of cold calls, emails and knocking on doors, mostly figuratively.  But, unless by some miracle you find a crack in their fortress, it’s not easy. So don’t expect this to be a walk in the park. Here are some ways we have been successful…

  1. Ask yourself how you fit in. In the vast expanse of industries, you need to figure out what solution you bring to the table. For us, we do packaging and safety. So our foot in is How can we lower costs and make your site more efficient? Perhaps you are in the Trucking Industry. How do you transport your goods? Or maybe you are in the Aerospace industry. How do you cater to the needs both building and supplying for the interior of planes?
  2. Ask yourself who do you know there. Finding a way in sometimes depends solely on making working relationships with people within those facilities. Maybe you have a friend or a neighbor or family member who works there. They might be able to make a simple introduction. It’s important when using these people who are near to you that you don’t hurt their reputation. Be concise and respectful. Don’t be pushy when you meet their coworker or supervisor.

What do they Need when we get there?

One of the biggest selling points for any industry is YOU! your salesman will be the face of your company for that industry or organization. So, here is what they need…

  1. Your Knowledge. In sales, they seldom buy-in based on your product. It is more often based on your salesperson’s knowledge of the product. The best salespeople have knowledge of their product!
  2. Your Energy. When I say energy, I mean your vibe. Your excitement. Your positivity. Dull people with no energy will close sales… positive and energetic salespeople will close MORE!
  3. Your Customer Care. Not to be confused with Customer Service. One is how you serve them as a Customer. Customer Care refers to how you treat them as a human being. The Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  That will go a long way! Make sure you keep their best interest at heart while maintaining Company Standards and the Company’s Interest as well.

How do we make them Lifetime Partners instead of One Time Customers?

Well, all you have to do is follow Steps 1-3 of the What they Need section. It really is as easy as that. Customers will be loyal and lifetime converts if you treat each sale like a friendly alliance instead of a business transaction. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” So show them you care. Treat them like family and like any good family, they’ll never leave.

Now get out there and Capitalize on Food Production as we move forward to a brighter tomorrow!

 

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Capitalize on Cannabis

Critics debate that we may not see recreational marijuana legalized on a Federal level until 2024. The question isn’t ‘if’ but ‘when’. This is the time for big and small business to prepare to Capitalize on Cannabis! There is still a lot of progress to be made, but the people are pushing for the legalization, and in many states it is already legal on a local level. As you can see by the map produced by DISA Global Solutions, 25 States have become ‘Fully Legal’ when it comes to Marijuana. The map also shows only 5 States that are still ‘Fully Illegal’.

How far Cannabis Sale and Medical and Recreational uses have come

The federal government first regulated marijuana in 1937 when Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act. This was a tactic used to regulate drug use without making it ‘illegal’ because this was believed to be less susceptible to legal challenge. However, it essentially outlawed the sale of cannabis.

Then, in 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, which established categories into which they placed drugs  depending on their perceived usefulness in medicine and potential for abuse. Schedule 1, the most restrictive category, contained drugs that the federal government deemed as having no valid medical uses and a high potential for abuse. The US categorized Cannabis as Schedule 1.  Two years later, the Shafer Commission, appointed by Nixon, recommended that marijuana be decriminalized. This would ultimately remove it from the Act completely. Nixon, however, rejected his own Commission’s report.

Through multiple avenues including Medical Research, recreational utilization and social acceptance, Marijuana took the spot light again in the eighties. Activist groups like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) formed. They promoted and coordinated grass-roots efforts to legalize medical marijuana at the state and local levels. This brings us to where we are today.

Where Cannabis Legalization is Now

Now, these efforts extend beyond the medical uses. Cannabis’ successful campaigns in several states lead to legalizing its recreational use. Many Americans praise these efforts as a triumph of average citizens over a politicized legal system. A system that imprisons large numbers of nonviolent drug users unnecessarily. A failed War on Drugs. An unresponsive regulatory regime that denies easily acquired relief to suffering patients.

What should we be concerned with Cannabis Legalization

Some think these claims and this unique path to marijuana’s legalization brings unique problems. They believe that without proper scientific study and medical trials there can be no clear and reliable guidelines for the drug’s administration. There would be no indications of potential side effects from prolonged use. Critics question whether the medical marijuana movement’s immediacy and disregard for research protocols reflects humanitarian concern. Is this for suffering patients or profit seeking producers and distributors?

Many medical associations are hoping to remove marijuana from Schedule 1 to permit further study. Rather than merely saturating the market with non-regulated products for quality or potency. Smoking marijuana remains the primary mode of ingestion. Physicians and scientists believe medical users exposed to a variety of health threats because of it.  There are hundreds of chemical compounds inhaled in cannabis smoke. Though medical marijuana advocates may be justified in their enthusiasm, only time will tell. Will this path to legalization represent the unmitigated good they believe it to be? If it is… then we need to be ready to capitalize on the cannabis market.

How do we Capitalize on Cannabis when it is Legal?

This of course depends on your industry, but if you think you have an idea of how your company can jump on board, I say test it. Custom Equipment Company is sending out fliers with some of our products that may be helpful including shelving, racking and packaging materials. Because we have such a wide variety of products, we can pick and choose which ones would work best.

Perhaps you are a bakery and you could research the legality behind baked goods containing cannabis. You won’t know until you try. Perhaps it is looking at the legality of allowing smokers in your restaurant or giving them specified areas. It might even be as simple as prepping your HR for when recreational use becomes a thing. You’ll need to check those policies so they’re ready.

Let’s double down before we miss the opportunity. As we grow on to a Brighter Tomorrow.

 

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What Makes You Weird, Makes You Special

“That which makes you weird is inevitably what sets you apart and makes you special.” This is true within life and humanity, but it is also true in business. Typically we call it ‘finding one’s niche’. Often, small businesses especially, stray from what they are good at and try to do everything else. That’s not a bad mindset, but it might, at times, be misguided. Branch out as it makes sense for you, but don’t lose sight of your ‘niche’.

By that, I don’t mean ‘cling to the old ways’ but having a niche is a good thing for your company.

Using Custom Equipment Company as an Example

Our niche is right there in our name. When it comes to Material Handling, we have a wide array of products. From Forklifts to Pallets to Fencing. We supply Racking and Cabinets, safety equipment and all of your Packaging and Warehouse needs. But, in the Material Handling world, who doesn’t sell those things? Our niche is Custom Products, meeting the specific needs of specific industries in ways no one ever has before.

We specialize in Custom Dunnage, Custom Pallets and all forms of Custom Solutions to meet the needs of our customers. This is what makes us, us… So what exactly makes you, you?

So what Makes You Unique and What do you Do with that Information?

1. What is your Company passionate about?

This is usually pretty simple as it is usually a companies focal point. Ice Cream shops are usually passionate about Ice Cream. And Burger joints are usually about Burgers. But not every company is so cut and dry. Let’s take a Pet Store, for example. Some might be passionate about Pet Safety, while others may be passionate about Pet Adoption. Both are admirable and each is the beginning of it’s own niche.

If you are starting a Company, you may want to ask, specifically, what are your passions? It is always cool when you can create a company with a niche that parallels your own interests. It doesn’t always work out, but with the right business mindset, it stands a pretty good chance.

2. Narrow or Broaden your Niche as needed!

Sometimes a company’s niche is too narrow and it needs to be broadened. For example a Pet Store that only sells Guinea Pigs. That’s probably too narrow with a much smaller demand. Could also be an Ice Cream shop that only sells plain Chocolate Ice Cream. Options are good, but too many can be a bad thing.

Conversely, can you imagine trying to make a selection at an Ice Cream shop with a thousand different flavors? That’s too many and will force people to just pick one of the first ten or so. Baskin Robbins used the number ’31’ because there was a flavor for any day of the month. That seemed to bring them great success. Not so many that you got overwhelmed as a customer, but not so few that you turned your nose up from the lack of selection.

Find that happy medium where you can maintain the stock appropriately and give the customer a comfortably whelming experience.

3. Is Anyone else Doing your Niche?

Not only do you not want to saturate your store or company with too much product or selection. You also want to avoid saturating the market around you. (Unless you can take control of that market.) Two pizza stores in one of our more rural areas is perfect because one is artisan style pizza and the other is New York Style. They thrive on each other. On the other side of town, there is another rural area with five pizza spots. two have been there for nearly 30 years while the other three seem to be a revolving door of different types and styles of pizza shops. At some point, someone has to realize that two might be the magic number for that size demographic.

Check to see who else is doing what you do. If there is an overabundance or absolutely none, question why and whether you can thrive in that location.

4. Test Your Niche Nearby

I think the industry that can do this best is Food and Beverage. A Food Truck is an inexpensive way of testing a certain type of food in a specific area or community. Where as most industries can’t just pop up like that, Food Trucks can do some serious testing of the waters to find out the best locations.

That being said, it is harder for other industries, not impossible. The Construction Industry can go door to door handing out fliers for ‘Free Quotes” to gauge interest. The Occupational Service Industry, like Lawyers and Dentists, can jump onto neighborhood sites and pages as well as reach out to H.O.A. Offices and Apartment Complexes to get in touch with the communities. It’s not impossible, but it certainly isn’t easy either. These will all take some elbow grease to get the ball rolling.

5. Is there a Market for Your Niche?

Lastly, the question of whether there is even a market for your product, service or industry is one of the most important to starting and to thriving as a company. *Remember, just because you think it is wonderful doesn’t make it so.*

A Burger and Ice Cream Parlor that is known for it’s delicious Burgers has taken almost half of their menu and made it Vegan. Not because the market was asking for it, but because the Owner became Vegan. That’s not good business practice. It might serve you on a personal level, but it isn’t strategic from a business perspective.

If you live in a rural farming area, there probably isn’t much need or desire for a three story Hip-Hop Dance Club. Know the area and your market.

But what are some Markets that could use our attention today? The next Blogs will shed some light on the industries with the most bountiful areas of growth!! As we GROW towards a Brighter Tomorrow!!

 

 

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Accounting 101

What is so important about accounting? Asked very few people ever. When it comes to your companies health and growth, I would say the accounting is one of the most important Key Point Indicators (or KPIs). KPIs are used to assess the health of an organization for future growth. So why are your financials so important? What parts are the most useful? Who should know them?

Why is Accounting Essential?

If you were to correlate accounting with another field, I would say it most closely relates, figuratively, to medicine. Imagine your company is the body and the administration and C-suite teams are the brain. Your employees and staff are the organs and your customers are the food and water that every body needs to survive. Accounting is the pulse. It’s the heartbeat that let’s us know when we are on the up and up or a slow decline. sometimes it skips a beat from a financial hiccup and sometimes you can feel it slow as a company is coming to an end. The person with their finger on the pulse, on the financials, should always know how healthy the body (the Company) is based on that pulse.

And where do you check for this pulse? That’s also essential, because you want to get the most accurate reading. You can look at Revenue and say, “We made ten million dollars this year!” But if your expenses were eleven million, your pulse is gone and your body might be dead in the water. That’s when you draw the pulse from the top line. Instead, you should go for the bottom line, the true net profit of your company after everything is expensed and accounted for. This check will give you the most accurate diagnosis of the health of your company.

What Parts are most Useful?

That being said, when looking at the bottom line there are some things your team can fix and other things that, as the Admin or Owner, can only be fixed by you. Let’s start with your team, the harder part. Increasing Sales, or the Top Line, of your Profit and Loss Report. A company needs a ‘top line’ to be successful. Without it, you will have to do a lot more pruning to keep the company above water. But it is only half of the coin.  So what are some ways to increase sales without spending too much more money?

1. Optimize Labor

This can be done in two ways starting with ensuring that all of your employees are in the right positions. You will never be optimized if the person who is best at Human Resources is out in the field doing Outside Sales. You can’t optimize labor if your Outside Sales Rep is inside trying to create appropriate Processes and Procedures.

Secondly, you need to optimize the use of the time given. If you have salary employees, you should be making sure that they are optimizing every hour of their shift to get more done. Making cold calls or sending cold emails may not pay out every time, but it’s something and costs nothing for a salary employee who has nothing else to do that day. Research. Send Emails. Visit Websites. Read News Articles. There are so many things that an employee can do to optimize their time.

2. Optimize Marketing

Organic Search Results come from a lot of different things, but in our small company we have come to find that focusing on E-Blasts and Monthly E-Newsletters, Updating and Refreshing the Website and Blogging have been our ‘big three’ that have increased SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

If no one is responsible for this, try to hire a teenager for the summer who can get some experience in the field and will do this job for very little. Or, like we did, hire on a full time adult whose job is to do these things. They aren’t hard, but they can’t be brushed off and left undone. Your ‘audience’ will be looking for you to keep those things updated. And in todays time, this is easier than ever.

3. Optimize Processes and Procedures

If you haven’t had time to check it out, here is a recent blog on the Importance of Policies and Procedures. Check it out for a little more detail on this specific issue. Beyond that blog, here are a few quick pointers in bolstering that ‘top line’.

Procedures should be used to make everything flow more efficiently. That works better for the employees and will also be a leading factor to adding additional time for Optimizing Labor and Marketing. The whole team should have a concise understanding for how to handle 80-90% of all situations that occur. That leaves the last 10% or less for creative solutions.

What about the Bottom Line?

Now, for the easy part. Or the part that is usually easier. How do we raise the bottom line without any additional sales? Well, we cut excess spending. We trim back the fat so that all that is left on the steak is the meat. There are companies out there who specialize in lowering utility bills, cable and even telephone. But, if you aren’t a fortune 500 company, you can do much of this on your own. Lower your utilities. Lower your rent or mortgage payment if possible. Scout out new insurance companies. Cut wasteful spending on consulting fees and accounting fees that may be excessive and unnecessary.

It’s all just Accounting 101. Raise Sales and Reduce Spending. Any business that can do this, will survive and most will actually thrive! And after 2020 and the Covid Pandemic, our businesses NEED to thrive!! Let’s thrive together as we move towards a Brighter Tomorrow!

 

 

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