Insights Blog

Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

How You Should Serve Tea on a Plane

business-coaching-london-tea-on-plane

Earlier this year, I was on a flight back from China and was ordering some tea on the plane. The experience inspired a thought which I had to share with you.

It all starts with a cough

You see after I had delivered my speaking engagement in China, I came down with a pretty bad cough. Travelling with a cough is terrible, especially on a plane!

So, in an effort to try and suppress this horrible scratch in my throat, I had to keep asking for tea. I pressed the call button and asked for the hot drink from the air hostess. The very kind woman brought me a steaming cup of tea with a big smile on her face.

The hot water soothed my throat for a total of about 5 seconds before I had to press the call button to request another. After three rounds of this, she came to me with a Chamomile tea bag for my cup and a big flask of hot water. “Just let me know if you need it refilled. Hope you feel better soon.”

I was so incredibly grateful for her initiative as I definitely needed many more cups of tea – but would never have thought to have asked if they had a flask. (In fact, I had to even ask for that flask to be refilled!)

Reflecting on her behaviour, I really had to admire her work ethic – and I realised there was a real lesson here for business owners.

This is exemplary of “exceptional”

I would call this a very good example of what “exceptional customer service” means. Most of our clients are in service industries, and many of them work with ultra-high net worth individuals. These are the kind of customer for whom nothing but the best is tolerated – and better than the best is expected.

This air hostess is an example of an employee that applied herself to the situation and went above and beyond what was asked of her in order to achieve the best result. Her priority was not, “Do what is on my job description.” It was, “Do what makes these passengers as comfortable as possible.”

This kind of thinking is what should be applied across your business when working with customers and clients. And you, personally, should be holding yourself to that standard in the way you work with your team, and the way you organise yourself.

Your employee’s behaviour begins with your behaviour

If you are reading this and thinking, “How do I get my team members to exhibit that kind of initiative and care?” Well, the answer is probably in the mirror.

You set the culture in your business. You are the one deciding how many team meetings you have, and you – the business leader – should be steering the boat and guiding where priorities sit. You should be reminding your team to resist proxies and showing them what level is tolerated.

If you’re looking for your employees to exhibit exceptional customer service, then you need to provide exceptional leadership and management. Upskill the way you lead and you will increase the output of your whole business.

I’ll just leave you with one final lesson from my tea-drinking on a plane – if you’re going to drink that much tea on a plane, it’s wise to make sure you’ve got an aisle seat and aren’t seated too far from the toilets!

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The Formula of Complexity

Business owners who know how to take advantage of growth are those who keep their eyes wide open.

The excitement of recruiting new superstar team members, and learning how to manage those teams, building the right culture, and choosing the right kind of environment, can often distract business owners from noticing the rising the levels of complexity creeping into their business. And if you aren’t paying attention, it can suddenly become difficult to maintain.

In this blog, I highlight a formula that keeps your optics clear, so you can be totally aware of exactly how complex your business is becoming as it grows.

As you can see, even the smallest amount of growth comes with exponential increases in complexity. However, the first step in coping with this is being hyper-aware that it’s happening.

You can only tackle problems when you know the nature and magnitude of the issue. With this formula, you can become aware of the complexity you’re facing, and then we can take a look at how to ensure it doesn’t cripple your business.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

What I want to talk about today is a very common misunderstanding which business owners have when they are busy growing their businesses.

The Complexity Ceiling

Generally speaking, when the business is growing there is an increase in the team’s size. And with that increase in team size the complexity increases. And what I have seen very commonly is that business owners hit their complexity ceiling. They’re not able to go beyond a certain growth level, beyond a certain size of the team because there’s just so much to do.

For Example…

So let’s just take an example. A business starts and there’s only a business owner who is trying to manage everything and do everything and then the business starts doing well.

Another team member comes on board and now there are two team members. The business keeps on doing better such that there are now 4 team members and then say 10 and then 20 and then 40. Now the business owner is thinking that the business size has been doubling in terms of the team members, right? From 2 we have gone to 4 and then obviously from 4 to 10 (so more than double!) then 10 to 20 and so on and so forth.

The team is just doubling, right?

In their mind, it’s just doubling. And while the team size is doubling, it is actually really important for you to truly understand the scale of complexity. The complexity is not doubling. Actually, that complexity is growing exponentially and for you to really understand that, the formula that you need to focus on is:

n x (n – 1) / 2

And what “n” stands for is the number of team members, number of employees that you have in your business, including yourself.

Two-person team = 1 relationship, 20-person team…

OK so let me show you what I mean when I say that the complexity actually increases at an exponential level.

When there is, say, one person, then as you do the calculation the number of relationships which are there in the business is zero, right? It’s just a sole business owner/operator who is managing everything.

Then the size of the team doubles. As you can see, now there is one relationship – because there are two people.

Now let’s say the business is growing and now it has a total of 4 team members. So, 4 x 3 / 2 – you’re looking at 6 relationships. So although the business side has doubled, as you can see the complexity here has gone six times higher!

Quite a bit more than double complexity!

Now imagine the business size has actually gone up to 10, so more than doubled, and here what are we looking at? 10 x 9 / 2 = 45!

Do you see what I’m saying? All of a sudden here it is slightly more than double, but look at what’s happening here. It’s slightly more than seven times, that’s the complexity we ‘re talking about. And imagine if you have 20 team members, we’re really talking about 20 x 19 / 2 – we’re talking about 190 relationships which exist here.

Pay attention to this because it’s quite staggering as far as I’m concerned because when you’re thinking about the growth and saying, yeah, it’s another two team members, but actually the complexity is now six times. We think, “Oh yeah, it’s just another 6 team members,” but look at the number of relationships which are there and you could do this calculation for yourself and for your business.

What’s your team’s complexity?

How many team members do you have in your business, including yourself? Apply this formula and you will truly understand the level of complexity that you’re dealing with.

So, at the end of the day when you feel, “Oh my God there’s so much that I’m doing!” or, “There’s so much I’m trying to deal with,” it’s understandable.

But just understanding the level of complexity is the first step and doing something about it is the second one, which I will talk about later on in a different blog.

But my purpose today is to make you really understand the scale of complexity that you’re dealing with, because for every change to happen in your organization and your business, it has to start with the awareness of the right problem, at the right level.

Need to break through your complexity ceiling?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIt is right at the point of bringing on new team members and realising this relationship complexity that business coaching has helped our clients. We can give you systems and tools that will smooth your growth to the next level and ensure you sustain that level.

Book a free sit-down with us. We will find out a bit about your business beforehand, and then at our meeting show you the kinds of strategies we use to help businesses like yours grow.


Top of Google But No Leads

It’s a proud moment when you do a Google search for your industry term and see your website at the top of the search results. However, what do you do when you are seeing that, but it’s not resulting in actual leads?

During one of our group coaching calls, one of our clients asked us that very question, “We at the top of Google for our industry, but we don’t seem to be getting leads. What am I doing wrong?” It was a great question, and I feel like the initial answer to this issue is important for all business owners to think about.

You see, my initial answer to this problem is not to immediately tackle the question, “How do I get more leads from SEO and my google ranking?” Instead, the first answer is actually a process to follow whenever you are attempting to tackle just about any issue in your business…

First, Step Back And Identify The Problem

In the 10 years that I have been coaching businesses, I have found that it is very common that business owners want to straight-away dive into the immediate issue at hand. “How do I deal with this? What process or template can I use to fix this problem now?”

I, therefore, remind them to stop, step back and first and make sure they are actually solving the right problem before implementing solutions. Diagnose the real issue, and then you can fix it with much greater precision and in a much more timely fashion.

To do this, you need to ask yourself different questions that will dig a bit deeper into the issue and get to the core of the problem. You then separate out the symptom from the problem so you don’t waste time trying a range of solutions to the symptom and instead, solve the actual problem.

Let’s take this particular issue, and run through the process that would be needed to clarify the real problem of not getting leads from your SEO efforts.

Question 1: What are you actually on “top of Google” for?

Talking about being on the “top of Google” actually cannot be accurate – or, at least, it’s incomplete. You don’t just win Google – you get the top of Google for particular keywords.

So before going any further, what keywords are you actually on top of Google for?

Because this informs the next question….

Question 2: Are you actually getting any traffic from your Google listings?

You need to look at your Google Analytics to see exactly how much of your traffic to the website has come from Google. It’s called “Organic Traffic” in analytics.

If you find that your organic traffic is giving you around 300 sessions per month, then the problem you have is a lead problem – you aren’t getting the leads you need. And that’s probably because your keywords aren’t that great!

Symptom: You are ranking high for a few keywords, but the organic traffic to your website is low.

Problem: The keywords you are ranking for are not actually good keywords to rank for.

Solution: Go back to the Search Engine Optimisation drawing board. You need to have more robust keyword research to identify a good balance of keywords to target that have good traffic but are not too difficult to rank for. The least you should be doing is using Google’s free keyword planner to identify good, high-volume top-level keywords to target.

If upon researching the keywords, you find that you actually are, indeed, ranking highly on good keywords then there’s a secondary problem that may result in the lack of traffic…

Symptom: You are ranking highly on good keywords, but no one is clicking on your website.

Problem: Your listings on the website are not attracting people to click.

Solution: Just because the algorithm believes that you match the keywords, doesn’t mean the users do. If your meta title tags and meta description tags are not optimised to “sell the click” (these two things are what makes up your listing in the search engine results) then despite your rankings, your audience won’t pick it up. Optimise these to encourage people to click through and find out more about you. This issue is pretty rare since the algorithm actually takes user behaviour into some account when ranking your pages – so if they aren’t clicking, then your top rank is going to drop pretty fast.

However, if you find that your Google Analytics shows that your website is actually getting a lot of traffic to your website, then the next important question will guide your decision making…

Question 3: What happens after they click and come to your website?

You see, if you are getting the clicks to your website, but no one is continuing down your marketing and sales funnels, then you have a different problem – a conversion problem.

In Google Analytics, you can segment the organic traffic out and find out exactly how they behave on your website. So not only will you get hard numbers on how much traffic you have gotten, but you will be able to find out useful information about that traffic.

There are two main factors that you can look at to work out what your best solution is. The first is that people are bouncing off from your website.

Symptom: You have traffic, but the bounce rate of the organic traffic is very high.

Problem: The page is either not relevant to what you are being ranked for, or your users don’t know what to do when they land on your page.

Solution: You need to take a harder look at the pages where you are seeing these high bounce rates and consider factors that might be sending people away. Is the page too long? Is there enough enticing information above the fold? Is there a good video? Does the page communicate the benefits/pain points/proof properly? Edit the page with more calls to action and make it more engaging.

The other issue you might encounter is that while you’re getting that initial traffic, no one is coming back to you.

Symptom: You have lots of organic traffic, and not very much returning traffic overall.

Problem: People are visiting your site, but your offering isn’t strong enough to get them to buy or come back.

Solution: You need to get them to come back to you, and you need to see what you are competing with. Getting them to come back to you could involve using remarketing to remind them that you exist, or it could involve ensuring you have a way of capturing details so you can message them about it again later. (Remember to get permission to send them marketing emails as per GDPR regulations!)

To see what you are competing with, you should look at who else is ranking for your top keywords, and see what they are doing on their websites. You can also use tools like SpyFu, SEM Rush and KeywordSpy to get some idea of what your competitors are doing on Google.

So you can see here that rather than just plunging in head-first into what looked like the big problem, taking a step back and reviewing exactly what the problem is could save a lot of time, and ensure that you are working on the right things.

Most of the time, in business, it’s not about finding the right answer but finding the right questions.

Before looking for the answer, make sure you are solving the problem, not the symptom.

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Don’t Fall Into Tick Box Culture

In 2016, the CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos wrote in his letter to shareholders something that stuck with me. He talked about resisting proxies – about not letting the system or process become a proxy or substitute for generating actual results.

You start doing things just because it is a step in the system, not because it is the thing that will take you to the outcomes required for the business.

During one of our team meetings, I noticed such behaviour in my team…

Whether you’re the leader of a massive corporation with hundreds of employees or trying to manage the culture within your tight team of superstars – you are still the driver of culture in your business.

In your business, you get what you tolerate – culture is not something that is ever just ‘set’. It is always in motion, and every single day is a new moment to lead the culture, earn success and teach best practice in your business.

As Jeff Bezos said – it is always day 1.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi, this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. I want to share something with you, something very interesting that happened during our Monday morning team meeting. So we have a new hire and she’s the head of the finance division. We were going through the top focus and the top achievement from the last week and what needs to be done this week.

What My Team Members Said

And I happened to check with her just one simple thing, “Did you manage to get that particular job done?” She was meant to have followed up with our outsourced bookkeeper.
She said, “Yeah, I sent an email to her.”
So my question to my finance person was, “Is the job done?”
And she said, “No, I’ve sent an e-mail to her.”
I simply listened and observed and said, “Alright, fine, we’ll talk about it later on.”

Then I moved on and interestingly, pretty much in the same meeting, there was another person, and again we were just having a quick discussion.
He said, “Yeah, my top goal for the last week was XYZ. But then I couldn’t really complete it because, actually, it’s sitting with another director for approval.”
So just listening and observing, I had to share this with my team and I thought this would be of interest to you as well.

Our Business Culture is Not About Proxies

What I told my team, was our culture is not a culture of making systems a proxy. It is not about ticking boxes and I’ve seen many times, subconsciously and consciously, team members do that. Sometimes you and I do that and it’s something to be aware of, that we’re not here to tick boxes. We’re here to focus on the outcomes, the deliverables, the progress, the movement forward.

Many times I’ve seen people saying, “Oh, I gave it to you to check, but it didn’t really happen.” Or, “I sent an email, but I’ve not heard back.” This is a different mindset compared to a mindset where one totally owns that particular job, that task, that outcome. Even if your team member has to follow up with you two or three times, then they should do it. I said this directly to my team members: if you have to pick up the phone and follow up with your director, please do that because you are the owner of that particular task. Whatever is required, you do it, because it’s possible that for the other director, this is not on his top priority list. But it is for you, so you have to own it and prioritize it for yourself and the same for the finance person.

It’s not about sending an email and saying I’ve ticked that box, but it is actually about picking up the phone, chasing, and following up, because business is a contact sport. If you and your team member (and it is more often your team members I have seen) think you are doing your role by ticking boxes and doing the next step and the next step, you may feel like you are getting closer to your outcome, but there is a distinction you need to help your team members make here. That it is that total ownership of that task is what is required. Because ticked boxes are not the actual way to achieve the outcome.

Immediate Implementation

Obviously, I take a huge amount of pride in my team members. Once I gave this constructive feedback to them, within a few minutes I would say, after the meeting, both team members sent me an email confirming that they have picked up the phone and talked to the person and things are actually moving forward in the right direction.

So, look, we all need reminders. We all need to help each other stay accountable. Just make sure that your business and your culture is not about ticking boxes. Even if you’re ticking boxes we’re totally owning the task and we’re actually making sure that the outcome is being achieved.

Culture is easier observed from the outside

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionWhen you’re too close to something, it’s always a little difficult to really see the big picture. Having a trained, outside eye review and observe your business can help you make the smartest plays for your business.

If you’re unsure whether you are seeing the whole picture, why not request a complimentary review from our team? The worst case scenario is that you realise you’ve already got that perspective and you reaffirm you’re on the right track!

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2 Strategies to Beat Competition in the Price Race

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Many of my clients are premium service providers. Their expertise is unrivalled and the services they provide are truly top of their field. However, sometimes they find themselves trapped in a race of price.

How do you win the customer when your competition offers a price that is unacceptably low for the service you offer?

Here are two strategies that I give to our clients so that they can retain their premium price tag and exceptional standards.

Strategy 1: Prioritise being the best athlete, not the most attractive one

One of my clients used a very clever phrase on one of our group coaching calls: “You can have fast, brilliant, cheap. Choose 2.”

That quite succinctly summarises this first strategy: you need to get them to see that the value you are offering is worth compromising on the “cheap” part, by showing you are actually giving the best results.

The fastest runners haven’t become champions by cutting costs. They’ve trained hard, and they’ve invested in their equipment, their coaching, and their personal health. They recognise that the value of buying the best shoes is worth the monetary cost. They recognise that the value of training every day is worth the cost of spending that time becoming stronger instead of watching TV or playing a video game. They recognise that the value of eating healthy is worth the cost of not satisfying the immediate gratification that less-than-healthy food would offer.

Here’s a framework that may give some additional clarity:

Value = Benefits – Costs

The benefits here are all the services you are providing to your clients. The issues that you are pre-empting for them and solving for them.

The costs here are what they have to give you or give up to receive those benefits. This can come in the form of money but could also be other ways – time, effort, headspace etc.

When you can demonstrate clearly that you understand your customers emotionally, what they are suffering with, and that your solution will resolve it, it becomes clear to them why you are better than any cheaper competition.

A clear understanding of the costs from their point of view demonstrates understanding of the customer’s position, and then they are more willing to accept that the value of what you are offering is worth that cost.

What’s the bottom line? Demonstrate that the benefits you offer are worth the cost. Focus on value, not price.

Strategy 2: Take yourself out of the running

The 500m relay runners won’t be compared to a 100m sprinter and neither of them will be compared to a marathon runner.

So, when you think you are locked in a battle of price with your competition, then maybe it’s not about proving you are better than them, but that you are something else entirely.

Change the frame of reference – show you are not actually running the same race as the competition they are comparing you to.

Your prospect’s previous service provider – and your competition – have been working within a certain framework. They have set up certain ‘service level agreements’ (SLAs).

If you want to distinguish yourself from them, then detail out the benefits of your service and lay out an SLA that is something entirely above and beyond anything your competition offers.

This then takes your prospect away from comparing you to the competition and instead allows you to have an independent conversation with your prospect.

The decision from the customer point of view is then no longer centred on the price, but instead on what you are actually offering them. This makes it easier, really, to engage in the first strategy above – because they are focused on the “benefits”, not the “costs” part of the equation already.

What’s the bottom line? Show how different your service is so that comparing you to the ‘competition’ looks like comparing apples and oranges.

Are you ready now to strap on your running shoes and get ahead of your competition? Do you have any other ideas on how to stand out against cheaper competition? Let us know in the comments below.

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