Hire Employees for Attitudes; Train for Skills


Mary Ellen Slayter at SmartBrief has an interesting article on how she successfully hired 10,000 people in her recruiting career and did a pretty good job of choosing the right candidates. Although, she did this at a large, public companies, we think it applies equally well to small businesses. We would argue that it is even more important to hire the right people in small businesses because it doesn’t take long for your businesses to go down when one or two employees fail to do a good job.
For any small business that is hiring employees for customer facing roles the need to hire people who are enthusiastic and outgoing is critical. Mary Ellen describes a simple test – “handshake” test – she used to do when hiring employees. She would walk up to the job candidate unexpectedly, smile and introduce herself to him/her. If they reacted with enthusiastic smile and greeted with cheer, it was safe to assume that they would behave the same way with customers.
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Use S.M.A.R.T. Technique to Achieve your Small Business Goals


The majority of goals set by people are never fulfilled or at least fall short. If you want the proof; go and check out health clubs in the first 2-3 weeks after New Year. They are so crowded by the people who have made resolution to lose weight, that it is difficult to find free exercise equipment. And then the crowd fizzles out after 3 weeks and only the regulars keep coming.
The reasons majority of goals go unfulfilled are multiple – they are too vague or too difficult or they don’t have any time limit. Because of this, people setting the goals either don’t know how to achieve them or they give up thinking they can never fulfill them.
We came across the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting technique a while ago that can help anyone achieve what they want in a reasonable time period. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Essentially S.M.A.R.T. goal setting ensures that you know what you want to achieve, how to achieve it and when to take actions. Below are the details on how to go about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.
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10 Questions to Ask Customers to Get Them Talking


In the previous post we mentioned that you need to hear customer and employee stories in addition to looking at formal reports and metrics.
One of the ways you can do this is by asking open ended questions to your customers, employees and other business owners to understand the reasons behind numbers. Below we have identified 10 questions that will get them talking.
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Improve Your Business by Listening to Customer Stories


In the previous several posts here , here and here we have discussed how looking at performance metrics helps understand how your business is performing. We also mentioned that you should be looking at the reports on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to stay on top of your business.
The reason you want to look at the metrics is simple – numbers don’t lie; people do. However, from our experience as past business owners we have noticed that numbers tell only part of the story when trying to assess business performance. The metrics tell you what is happening to the business. They don’t tell you why. You have to dig deeper to understand why the numbers are what they are. For example, let’s say you are looking at sales going down for the last several weeks. You want know why this is happening. Further investigation shows that the customer count has been declining in that same period. But this still doesn’t tell you why customers are not coming to your business leading to declining sales. It may be because they are not being served well; maybe there is another competitor in town and so on.
So how do you go about collecting the anecdotal stories to understand the reasons behind the numbers? There are several ways you can do this.
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Key Performance Metrics for Hotels and Services Business


In the previous blog post we indicated that many types of small businesses have “standard” set of metrics that you can use as a starting point to determine the key metrics you should track for your small business. We discussed key metrics in the retail and restaurant business in the previous post. In this post we have shown the metrics for additional businesses – hotels / motels and service businesses.
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Key Performance Metrics for Retail and Restaurants


Every small business owner needs to look at the business reports daily, weekly and monthly on a regular basis to stay up-to-date with how their business is performing. You need to understand what key performance metrics to look at in those reports. We showed how to identify and track key performance indicators in this post.
You don’t have to start from zero when looking for key performance metrics for your business. Many types of small businesses have “standard” set of metrics. As a small business and franchise owner you should be aware of these metrics. In this post we will summarize the key metrics for retail businesses and fast food / restaurants.
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Deadlines are Your Best Friends


In 1961 President John F. Kennedy made a bold statement in his speech. He promised to American people and the world that before the end of the decade America would land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth. When you think about it this was an enormous challenge. We didn’t even know what technology we would use to accomplish this. Many aspects of this mission had huge risks. And still, we found a way to accomplish this goal.
Such is the power of deadline. By setting a challenging deadline for the mission he set the entire nation into motion. Having a deadline somehow springs everyone into action. People simply find a way to make it possible one way or another.
The reason deadline works is because of how human mind is wire to react. When you give someone, or even yourself, a deadline they don’t want to disappoint the promise. Deadline gives them a target to shoot for. Without it they will not only not push themselves to complete it; but also keep the work going forever.
So how can you use the power of deadline to help you accomplish your goals even if they may not be as ambitious as putting the man on the moon? We have identified several ways from our own experience.
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Do not Fall into “Busy Trap”


If you are like many small business owners you do not put together a plan when starting your day. Instead you just react to whatever comes your way throughout the day. And even if you do plan your day in the morning; you start reacting to the requests and tasks that come your way throughout the day – things like customers calling to complain, employees calling in sick, store emergencies and many other operational issues.
In the previous blog post we mentioned that the ”to-do list” is a very powerful tool to plan your day and accomplish more in less time. However, when emergencies mentioned above start coming your way the to-do list gets thrown out the window and people start reacting to those emergencies. This is what we call the “Busy Trap” – you always seem busy; but don’t seem to accomplish much of whatever you had set out to do at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day you look back and think – “what the heck did I really accomplish today?”
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Your Best Time Management Tool – To-do List


Chances are many of us today will have forgot to complete at least 1 task they set out to do at the beginning of the day even though they had all good intentions and time to do it. The problem is we just couldn’t remember it at the right moment. If you have got a feeling at some point where you think you need to do something; but can’t recall what it is then you know what I mean.
There is a simple, yet effective, tool we have used that is sure to help you remember things and increase your productivity. The “To-do List” in its various forms can make sure you remember what you need to do when you need to do it. In the previous article we have mentioned other techniques you can use to improve productivity.
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5 Effective Techniques to Get More Done in Less Time


People often say that once you have started your small business you can pretty much forget about your wife, girlfriend, kids, friends or everyone else that matter in your personal life. We tend to disagree. While it is true that running a business is no small task – they don’t call the owners Chief Everything Officer for no reason – there are ways by which you can get more done in less time and have time left to enjoy those personal moments.
Here are five techniques we have found useful in our experience in running the previous business as well as the current one.
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