Posts Tagged ‘training’

Help New Young Employees When They Make a Mistake

May 6, 2011

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group, LLC

As a 30 year CEO, I truly believe that employees always want to do the right thing and not make a mistake.

I also remember as a young new employee many years ago that I believed I would be fired if I made a mistake of any kind.

Well, mistakes happen.

And they are probably going to happen more often with new young untested employees.  And, yes, these mistakes may have a short-term negative impact on your business cash flow.

If there are not some mistakes being made then the new employee is probably not learning and growing.  I don’t want an employee who is so afraid of making a mistake that they are unwilling to attempt anything new.  That is not how superstars in your company are developed.

Here are tips on working with new young employees that will benefit both them and your company:

  1. Make sure they clearly understand the job description of what they are to do.
  2. Give them solid initial and ongoing training in their scope of work.  Make sure there is plenty of time  for them to ask questions and follow-up questions.  Don’t just have them look at an online video and call that training.
  3. Make it clear they will be accountable for the results of their actions. Most top performers want to be held accountable.
  4. Assign someone to work closely with them.  Call this a mentor if you want.
  5. Proact by setting a time each week to let them ask questions regarding areas they do not understand or are having a problem with.  Don’t wait for the employee to come to you.
  6. When a mistake occurs ask them to go thru the steps or process and if they would do anything differently.
  7. Make sure they have victories to celebrate.  When there is a success let them get the credit.  That is part of being accountable.
  8. Add more responsibility as they earn it. Otherwise, what are victories for?
  9. Through all the steps make sure you listen to what the new young employee is actually saying and not what you may think they are saying. Read between the lines if  you have to.  
  10. When the new young employee becomes a success let them mentor their own new employee.

Retaining employees, reducing mistakes, and building teamwork will be obvious by happy customers, increased sales, and more cash flow to grow your business.

Now, go hire your next superstar.

Outsourcing Can Save Time And Increase Business Cash Flow

June 3, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

If your company is not considering outsourcing some of your everyday business  functions then you are missing out on a golden opportunity to increase your business cash flow.   

Most individuals outsource many of their personal activities and don’t think twice about it.  You can have someone else fill the cavities in your teeth, repair the engine in your car, or even make coffee for you every morning.  Hello Starbucks!  Think of the opportunities to outsource important daily functions in your company such as payroll, cleaning, accounting, IT, invoice billing and processing, human resources, areas of marketing such as public relations, web design, pay-per-click, SEO, media buying and even the call center.  One important area that has been getting outsourced for some time is the manufacturing of products and component parts.

Is it really worth considering for your company?

The benefits are many and the savings  bring more cash into the company to help drive marketshare of the all important core products.  Here are just a few of the benefits:

  1. Less space to rent or own.
  2. Can eliminate office furniture and work stations.
  3. Can reduce the number of computers, monitors and printers
  4. Forget the telephone on that desk that no longer exists.
  5. Less hiring, interviewing and training expenses and the time that goes with it.
  6. No employee benefit cost needed for outsourced employees.
  7. Fewer people problems for your top managers to deal with which means they have more time to focus on increasing sales to your best customers. 
  8. Savings can be channeled into testing new marketing strategies to bring on additional customers.
  9. The company will have flexibility to expand or contract an outsourced function as business conditions dictate. This is a critical benefit in these uncertain times.
  10. Speed of execution.  Having specialists who live the outsourced function daily should assure that what needs to get accomplished is done more efficiently and quickly than managing it inside the company.  When I outsourced manufacturing I found that we got the finished product to the end customer 7 days faster than before.  That dramatically increased customer satisfaction and improved cash flow.
  11. Your company can build a strategic alliance with your outsource partner.  This can allow you to stay more current on technology and new processes than if you went it alone.  The partner  may even introduce you to a new customer.
  12. Quality level  of the outsourced function improves.  We already mentioned speed but when you combine more speed with better quality the company gains a competitive edge when outsourcing.  This edge includes increased  reliability and credibility in the eyes of your customer which allows the company to ask a higher price for its products. The result is more sales and increased gross margin.
  13. Outsourcing allows your management team to concentrate more on all aspects of customer service.  While this area is outsourced in many companies, I prefer to take the savings from outsourcing other functions and improve this critical function into a core competency.
  14. It can reduce the fixed cost of equipment that has to be acquired to stay current with technology, especially in the area of manufacturing.    

Like everything else in your business, the management team must constantly measure the results of outsourcing a specific area or function to make sure the expected  return on investment is being realized.  Some owners and CEOs outsource a function and forget about it. It is important to understand that outsourcing becomes another area of the company that needs to be managed in order to assure success.

Has your company had success outsourcing?  I would like to hear about your experiences.

Add-on Sales: An Easy Way To Increase Sales and Cash Flow

April 22, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

Would you like fries with that?  We have all been asked that at the drive up window.  If you said yes then you just participated in an add-on sale.

This is one of the easiest and best ways to increase sales and so many businesses do not have a strategy in place to capitalize on this  easy path to more cash flow.

Why isn’t it used more often?  Some sales people and sales managers believe that attempting to add-on may upset the prospect and kill the original sale.

My experience is that rarely occurs.  Why?  You have either just solved a real problem for your prospect or addressed a need, or fulfilled a desire.  Either way the prospect turned buyer now feels good about you, your company and your product or service.

You have persuaded them to cross an important psychological barrier and make a buying decision.  In the buyer’s mind the hard work is completed and the stress of decision-making is over.

Some tips to maximize the potential of add-on sales:

  1. Don’t attempt an add-on sale until you have a commitment on the core product or service the prospect was wanting or needing.
  2. Make sure the add-on directly relates to the product or service you sold them.  Example:  It makes sense to sell tennis balls with a new tennis racket.
  3. An add-on is still a sale so make sure you explain how the customer will benefit from this extra service.
  4. Track what the most successful conversions of add ons are when offered to a customer.  Don ‘t assume you know.  Test different add ons and let the consumer tell you which is most often preferred.
  5. Train the sales staff how and when to offer add ons.  This training should include scripting, role-playing, and recording on video.  When done correctly, an add-on is a natural extension of the existing sale.
  6. Often when executed well an add-on sale will be sold at full price resulting in increased margin.
  7. Add on sales do not always have to be sold at the point of sale.  They can be as a result of a follow-up contact when thanking the customer for making the purchase.  Internet marketers often do this on the thank you page. Some companies sell the add-on at the time of installation or delivery.  An example might be extended warranty or a maintenance contract.  You should be catching the customer at their highest point of satisfaction.   

A properly executed add-on sales strategy delivers added value for your customer.  For your company it can deliver increased sales, more cash flow, lower marketing costs and more profit.

As an owner or senior manager make sure you commit to this important business strategy.

Someone is going to make that add-on sale to your customer.  

Make sure it is your business and not your competitor.

Video Training Is A Great Cash Flow Strategy

April 19, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

I was on the debate team at Purdue University and thought I was really good.  That is until they decided to videotape a practice debate prior to the National Championship.  It was ugly.  No one had to say anything to me.  My introduction was bad, my counter arguments were bad, my conclusion wasn’t much of a conclusion.  My debate partner was not much better.  To make a long story short, we immersed ourselves into  practicing and changing our approach.  More video taping followed.  In the end we finished as National runner-up.

What did I learn from that experience?  Two important things:  1.) training is critical to achieving your goals, and 2.) using video can be the difference between success and failure.

As CEOs, owners, and senior managers we must drive more productivity into the selling process.

With video training sales people can critique themselves in role-playing situations.  You can be there to coach them.  They can make mistakes in practice without losing a sale.  I have successfully used video to train sales associates selling furs in department stores as well as in home salesmen pitching replacement windows.  In every case the employee was their own worst critic.  In every case they appreciated the opportunity to use technology to improve their performance.

There are many benefits to effectively using video training.  Here are just a few:

  1. The sales person can make more money and become more self-confident.  Having seen what they look like in a presentation removes a great deal of doubt in their mind.
  2. If you have successful people then you have less turnover in your sales force.  That translates into less cash spent on recruiting replacements.  More time can be invested taking the sales staff to the next level instead of training new candidates.
  3. When you do hire new sales staff (as you grow) personalized video training can be an added value that differentiates your company from the competition.  Top performers are always wanting to improve.  Finding a company with the tools in place to do that for them gives you a hiring advantage.
  4. Consistency in the execution of a successful selling methodology is important to closing sales.  You can put your #1 sales person on video, the trainee can watch and then record themselves and compare.  It will be obvious to them where they need extra work.
  5. You can have a more motivated sales team as a group since more members will be successful, sales will be increasing, and they feel good that the company is committed to their success as a team.
  6. Video training can identify a potential underperformer early on.  You don’t have to waste valuable leads to find out that maybe you made a bad hire.
  7. When a top sales person goes into a slump, they can record their presentation and compare against an earlier video of themselves. It will be apparent to them what needs worked on.
  8. Video training can be used in customer service for those employees who come face to face with upset customers.  Different situations can be role played on video.
  9. Training and, in my opinion, video training separates top companies from those who can’t succeed.  You can end up taking their marketshare.
  10. This type of training is not only effective but also inexpensive.  No need to invest big dollars in elaborate systems. Take a video camera and just start recording.  Put the results on CD or a thumb drive and play it back.
  11. Finally,  properly executed video training can increase sales, decrease % marketing cost,  increase gross margin, and increase average sale. 

What does video training have to do with cash?

All of the above combined improves the cash flow of the business.

Cash is a competitive weapon!

When it is invested in video training it becomes a great business strategy.