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

The Retention Formula: R x R

“Business growth is all about lead generation.” I’ve heard marketers say this a lot.

Developing a sales and marketing machine to get a predictable and sustainable lead flow is important. But if you really want to grow a sustainable business, then it’s not just about getting new clients. It’s about retaining the clients that we already have.

In this video, I’m going to explain a formula to help you create some focus and help you do this even better.

So how are you going to improve your customer retention strategy? Will you communicate your results to your clients better? Will you foster your relationships more strongly?

Maybe 2018 should be the year that you create a calendar of relationship touch points to keep more of your customers than any year before.

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.

What I want to talk about today is how to have a sustainable growth in your business. Now when I’m working with my clients there is a lot of focus on sales and marketing machine and how to systemized their growth. So as you can see on the chart here we have a lot of discussion going around the whole topic of acquisition. How do we make sure that the pipeline is buzzing with the right kind of leads? And obviously there is a good conversion process in place, but at the same time there is a lot of focus on this topic as well which is retention because I totally believe in this. That to grow a sustainable business, to have a sustainable business, it’s not just about acquiring new clients but it’s really important that we retain the clients that we have.

Now I want to talk a little bit about this one, which is the retention of clients and how does that happen? How can you do that effectively in your business? So you might want to write this down, it’s a very simple formula which is Retention = R x R, okay? And it’s times. So it’s a powerful formula. Now the first R stands for results and it’s in no order of priority, it’s just to say that the first R stands for results and the second R stands for relationship.

So what we’re really talking about here is Retention = Results x Relationships and what that means is that if you want to retain your clients it’s really important that you deliver on the promises that you have made to them, which is about the results. And what I’ve seen many times in the business world is that business owners are very passionate, very hard working, and they’re trying their very best to actually deliver the results for their clients. But what goes missing is the communication, the right kind of communication to the clients and also the second thing which is actually seeking constructive feedback from their client saying how can they do better. You know what’s what is it that the clients are actually liking about them.

So under results if you could just make two notes which is, how are you communicating enough? Are you communicating the results that you’re getting for your clients to them? And the second thing is are you actually consciously seeking constructive feedback in a structured way for your clients? Everything might be great, but you need to give them a platform to communicate any concerns any thoughts or any well done is to you.

Now talking about the second one which is the relationship and again I’ll say the way I see it which is a lot of good intentions out there. Business owners want to actually take care of their clients. They feel good about them. You know they think about them a lot. But the point really here again is that how are you showing it? How are you expressing it? What are you doing in a very concrete in a granular way to strengthen that relationship again and again and again and again, because remember if you’re not doing that then there are many competitors out there who want to have an entry with your client and it just takes, you know, one bad servicing or someone just making an extra effort. And there you go just getting that client back is such a hard job. So make sure that you’re not just thinking about strengthening the relationship, but actually you have some form of hospitality calendar. And again for all clients we truly as I’m working with clients we really focus on the 80-20 clients who are the top 20 percent of the clients who are contributing to 80 percent of their business. And especially for them the whole idea is to have a have a hospitality calendar quarter by quarter where all the touch points. It could be just a phone call. It could be a nice postcard. You know a book, a game, just going out for lunch or dinner.

It’s not about how expensive or inexpensive the act is. It’s about actually making an effort and translating that into the real thing for your client to show that yes that relationship means a lot to you and you are really the best. At the things that you are doing for them. Because remember, Retention = Results x Relationship.

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How to Use Behavioural Styles to Unite Your Team

How to Use Personalities

Three dominant people walk into a meeting room. They all know exactly how to get the job done and are equally vocal about what should be done while struggling to find a way to actually get any work done. They leave the meeting with a decision to just get on and get the work done independently. Sound like a piece from a certain reality TV show? Or have you seen it happen in your own team?

You can avoid this situation on your team easily, by focusing on their behavioural style. Once you know what behavioural style they use, you then need to know what styles are best suited to the roles required in your business. Then you need to match people with the correct behavioural style into those roles.

Dominant behaviours have a place and purpose in your business – they just often need the treated the right way. The ideal environment for a dominant-type is probably not paired with other dominants.

So, if you want your business to be a well-oiled machine, you need to take a look under the skin. Identify what the ideal environment and working partners are for your team, and put them in a position where they have all the right ingredients to become your next superstar.

The Four Behavioural Styles in DiSC

Before we can talk about how behavioural styles are used by business coaches, business consultants and business owners alike to optimise productivity, let me first introduce you to the 4 styles of the DiSC behavioural assessment.

D is for Dominance

These are those who like to take control and dislike inactivity. They are competitive, self-motivated, independent and measured. They don’t tend to factor in “feelings” in their decisions, and often fail to accept advice from team members. They will get a lot done without direction, but usually need their relationships with team members to be managed well.

They are best suited to: administration, decision-making roles.

They’re the ones who say, “Here’s how we do it.”

I is for Influence

The influence styles are people who are spontaneous and are able to make quick decisions. They’re the social lubricant of an office – which means they prefer working with people and shouldn’t be left to work alone. They may get over-excited, generalise and may tend towards dreaming. They may get distracted easily, but they will work exceptionally well in a team and will be naturally persuasive.

They are best suited to: sales and marketing, team roles, client-facing roles.

They’re the ones who say, “Let’s have a meeting to figure out how to do it.”

S is for Steadiness

Slow and steady wins the race is the S behavioural style’s motto. They will take their time in making decisions, so be careful pairing them with an I or D! However, another good S word for these people is “supportive” – they can be an excellent right-hand and can bring a lot of cohesion to a team since they will naturally be empathetic and responsive. They are rarely ambitious or creative, however, so may need pointing in the right direction.

They are best suited to: account management, HR, non-creative roles

They’re the ones who say, “Let’s copy an example.”

C is for Compliance

The C behavioural types are careful and cautious. They will play it safe and only do things when they are sure of the result. They are generally happier to be working in isolation and if they do have to work with people, they will need to be given specifics. Telling a C to “wing it” is how you send them into a panic attack. But ask them to give a detailed analysis and you’ll get the best report you’ve ever seen. They are task-oriented and process-driven. C people are the kinds who will always insist they are correct, and they’ll provide you with a full breakdown of exactly why they’re right – maybe even a pie chart.

They are best suited to: Editing, quality control, roles that require precision and attention-to-detail

They’re the ones who say, “We should only do it according to these projections.”

How to Test for the DiSC Behavioural Types

One of the reasons that I am a fan of the DiSC Behavioural Assessments is that the testing process is extremely easy and speedy. In fact, it only takes about 10 minutes for the participant to fill out the form itself, and you could have the results within an hour.

The test is extremely simple – each question gives 4 collections of adjectives and the participant needs to choose 1 set that is most like them, and 1 set that is least like them. After answering just 24 questions, our system will deliver a full report that will give the person’s ‘natural’ style and their ‘adaptive’ style – i.e. the way they behave in personal contexts, and the way they adjust when they are in work mode.

Optimise Your Team By Blending Behavioural Styles

Now that you understand the behavioural types, it should become easy to see how so many team management issues can often be resolved simply by understanding the behavioural types of the ‘offending’ team members. And then learning how to position your various team members in such a way that they are more comfortable, more satisfied, and more productive.

Do you have a ‘high I’ complaining about someone in the office being rude and abrasive? It’s probably because you’ve put a ‘high D’ with that high I – maybe you should move them into a role where they interact more with a ‘high S’ instead?

But there is so much more than just balancing out the behavioural tendencies in your team that can be gained from understanding the DiSC behavioural styles…

How We Make Use of DiSC Behavioural Styles to Improve Productivity

In coaching businesses over the last few years – and in running our own businesses – I have found there are a number of ways in which DiSC behavioural tests can be used to truly optimise for growth and overall satisfaction.

Here are a few ways that we use the DiSC assessments:

  • Our own team: The most obvious way we use it is to assess our actual team members. Every team member, new and old, has taken a DiSC assessment and that assessment has been shared with everyone else on the team. This ensures that we are all aware of each other’s style and can be understanding of one another’s way of doing things.
  • Our clients: Whenever a new client comes on board, we have all the decision-makers in the business take a DiSC behavioural assessment. This helps dramatically with coaching them to be the best they can be.
  • Clients’ recruitment: When our clients are looking to hire a new team member, we almost always go through the 4-hour recruitment process. A part of that process is getting the recruits to fill out the DiSC assessment to ensure their behavioural type is suited to the role. While we have all of them fill out the assessment, it is the ones who stand out from the other criteria that are processed, so that we can use it as an additional factor (not the determining factor) in the final decision.
  • Non-Clients Independent Assessments: Occasionally, we also have people who are not (yet) clients who request DiSC assessments – along with other core assessments – conducted for themselves or their teams. These can be incredibly helpful as a first step towards galvanising teams that have ground to a halt from unmanaged friction.

The DiSC Platinum Rule

There is an over-arching learning to be gained from DiSC that you may have clued into as you see how we use these assessments.

When you were growing up, your parents (or guardians) may have advised you to follow ‘The Golden Rule’. That is, treat others as we would wish to be treated. And while this sounds like a reasonable sentiment, it is surprisingly ineffective in forming good relationships with the people around you.

The DiSC behavioural assessments give us a way to upgrade this rule to the Platinum Rule – treat others as they wish to be treated.

If you look back at the way we use DiSC assessments with this platinum rule in mind, you can see the paradigm shift that DiSC can give you when it comes to team management. Instead of “finding a way for your team to work together effectively”, you need to shift your thinking to “finding a way to understand how your team will be able to work together effectively.”

Once you understand this subtle, but critical, mind shift, you will most likely find opportunities to build a team that is happier and more productive than ever before.

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Should You Promote Your Best Employees?

We were recently doing a deep dive analysis of the specific reasons that had driven our client to their best year ever in 2017. One of the key reasons was that their top performing sales superstar had been bringing in a consistent flow of new business. As further growth was part of their 2018 plans, they were considering hiring more salespeople. 

More critically, to keep their star salesperson motivated, they thought it makes perfect sense to reward her with more responsibility by promoting her to sales manager to manage the incoming employees.

Here’s why that may be a really bad idea and could actually be doing their superstar a disservice.

Before you consider promoting someone to a new position in your business, be very clear that the person you’re promoting actually has the know-how, the understanding, the skill set, and the desire to actually do the job you are now setting them to do.

Remember, you don’t manage people, you manage the activities of your people. And if you are unclear about what activities they can and cannot do, you could be cutting off your own legs.

There are important decisions you need to make as the leader of your business – and filling the roles in your business are the pivotal ones that can make or break your business. Take your time with it, and be careful with it. It will be more than worth the effort.

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. What I want to talk about today is this whole ‘promoting-within’ culture.

Now I totally understand that for our people to be excited, they should know that they have chances of progressing within the company. And as the owner of the business, yes, that’s the first place where you should look at when there are promotions or vacancies within the business. But at the same time what I’m seeing very often is that many business owners think that that’s the only option.

In fact it’s a lazy option. And many of the business owners take that route, where a person is doing well, business is growing and now they want to actually have someone to supervise, say, multiple sites or multiple team members. They will look at that superstar or they look at their most loyal person and actually promote them.

Now a couple of things could happen. You could actually have the superstar become a super-superstar and actually release time and room within the business for yourself. But generally what happens is that when it’s done in a lazy way, and I’m being very upfront about it, when it’s done in a lazy way and not enough thought has been put into it, then you simply end up promoting your superstar to his or her level of incompetence. Now that’s a very key point that I’m just mentioning here – that you end up holding people to their level of incompetence.

Think about it like this. If there’s a sales superstar and the person is doing well and now they want to grow in the organization. The temptation is to promote them to sales manager, who can manage a set of other salespeople. But then it could be that that’s not the right profile that the sales superstar has. It could be that they’re actually not good at managing activities of people.

So what I’m really trying to explain here is that when you are promoting people within, be very clear that the personalities fit the requirements of that position, and that the person will actually do well. Make sure you’re not converting your feelings towards a member into an overhead for the business just because you think that’s the option you should be going for.

I have had many such instances where the costs have shot up and the performance has gone down with such simple decisions. At the same time I’ve had situations with clients where this was the best decision. So please be very mindful when you promote within because it has to be a strategic decision and not a lazy decision.

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And How About You?

Here is an exercise I have done with clients who have children. You don’t need to have children to do this exercise – you just need to have an idea of what is involved.

I’ve found that comparing two simple numbers can often lead to the significant mind-shift you need to accelerate your progress as a business owner.

The cost of raising a child in the UK has been rising steadily for years. And education is almost always the biggest expense.

But what happens when you leave the schooling and university system? Do both education and the investment in education stop there? If you find that you aren’t spending any time or money on your education as a business owner, then you are doing a disservice to yourself.

It’s easy to see how education is an investment when you put in the context of children. It is critical to have that same mindset about your education as a business owner – investment in yourself is the best investment you can make.

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 give you a very simple task today.

I want you to jot down the amount that you intend to spend on your kid’s education or that you are already spending on your kid’s education. Plus also the amount that you intend to spend or are already spending on their extracurricular activities and clubs and all that stuff, right. Just give me a guess estimate for the year. And obviously, it’s relevant if you have kids or you plan to have kids.

So just think of the total. Now, I’ll give you five seconds.

After that I want you to jot down the amount that you are actually spending in a very active form of learning for yourself, okay. I want you to jot that down, saying “this is the amount that I am spending on coaching, on learning, on books, on going to some activities conferences”, jot that down. On an annual basis, what is the amount that you’re spending.

For some of you would be like “What? Really? No, I’m not spending anything, I’ve done all that schooling”. Remember that learning is a constant process. Now when you look at these two figures and by the way, I do that sometimes with my clients, especially when I look at their goals for their kids and for their loved ones, my question is, “And how about you?”

So the point is, your learning cannot stop. If you are not investing in yourself, if you’re not spending on resources which can help you make better then your earning is pretty much a reflection of your learning. And if you want to do more, if you want to become more, if you want to achieve more, then you have to learn more. As simple as that.

So I really hope that gives you some food for thought and this is something that you will consciously push you going forward because it’s an investment in yourself and you’re the best person to be invested in.

Asking the Hard Questions

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIt is the job of a business coach to sometimes ask business owners the harder questions – about their business, and about their behaviours and attitudes when it comes to their business practice.

Book a complimentary session with us and find out whether having someone ask you the right questions could lead to even greater business success for your business.


A Simple Business Toolbox Part 2: Team, Time & Money

Last week we covered the marketing productivity tools that can fit into your most basic business toolbox – and I was really pleased to receive such positive feedback. It is always great to find out how business owners are gaining tangible benefit from these blogs.

In this part, we will help to demystify some further tools in a few other critical areas of business, which may help you lighten the load, or increase the result from the effort put in.

Let’s jump in with the area where almost every business owner of larger, successful businesses want to improve…

Team Management (or more, Leadership) Tools

If your business is growing to a size where systemisation and leverage are becoming important, you should ensure that your team have clear direction in where they should be headed, and what they are aiming for.

And there are two main areas of leadership where systems and tools can help. The first is task management.

As I’ve said before, you shouldn’t manage your team, you should manage their activities.

A system we use for task management is Asana. This is a reasonably ‘safe bet’ tool, coming from the minds of tech maestros who co-founded Facebook and were integral to the development of essential features of both Facebook and Google. It’s also free for what most businesses need (you would only need to start paying for it if you are an enterprise with significantly large teams of 15 or more).

The platform lets you create tasks for yourself or delegate tasks to one of your team members. You can create a full range of ‘tasks’ from simple reminders, to very detailed plans in complex ‘projects’. You will be notified when a task is complete or when a task is due. You can also comment on tasks – keeping communication all in one place for a project or campaign – and you can even give little heart ‘likes’ to tasks and comments to give small bursts of positive feedback. It has a very friendly interface and does not require spending lengthy amounts of time to get used to it, though as with any tool does require some getting used to at first. There is also a mobile app, allowing you to plan and respond to tasks on the go.

Another productivity app to consider is Trello. This one is more ‘board’ focused (although Asana does have a ‘boards’ feature as well) and is typically more useful to businesses that have a clearly delineated workflow – especially, we’ve noticed, IT services. If your project moves from stage to stage in your business really definitively, you may find Trello perfect for your needs.

The world of task management systems is a pretty extensive one. You could quite literally spend weeks trying out different platforms – and I do not recommend doing that to any business owner. These are two that are tried and tested to work well for many businesses. Of course, do your due diligence before diving in, but remember to keep yourself in check as it’s easy to get caught up in chasing ‘shiny things’.

Before we move on from task management, I should also mention that sometimes you don’t need one of these more complex dedicated task management tools. Sometimes, and this is true in my own team as well as many of our clients’ teams, quarterly planning on a simple Excel Spreadsheet is sufficient – and often preferable for its simplicity – to track weekly activities and get a quick, simple and clear communication of the plans for the quarter. Task management systems can be great for day-to-day task lists, but strategic planning can often be much simpler.

The second area where you can get leverage in leading and managing your team is in communication. And while this isn’t a software solution, I think it’s an important productivity tool, so I’ve included it in this list.

What I’m talking about is the Monday Morning Meeting. Every Monday our team has a meeting with all team members where we cover our business goals and personal goals and a learning from the previous week. The team fills out the goals sheet every morning (you can get the word and PDF versions emailed to you by clicking here) and then we go through each person one and a time. We start by reviewing goals from the previous week and then talking about the goals for this week.

This is not only a great way to ensure that everyone on the team is aligned with each other’s work, but it is also a great way to get your team to focus on themselves. Meaning you aren’t the heavy hand taking control of them nor being a helicopter “got-a-minute” boss, but instead your team are periodically reminding themselves of what they need to do and what they have forgotten to do.

Adding personal goals has also proven to be a great way to ensure that your team understand each other on a personal level – creating a more pleasant and actually more efficient work environment. It also helps you know when to be sensitive with your team when you know what is happening in their personal lives – and allows you to support them in every way, which will encourage your superstars to stay with you.

Time Management

Another key area where I have noticed most business owners typically struggle is managing their time. Of course, this often comes hand-in-hand with team management – when you better structure the way you communicate with your team, the more time you leverage for yourself.

However, if you run a business where you need to book appointments (that could be anything from providing services in time slots to booking in client meetings, training sessions or complimentary ‘taste testers’) then there is some technology that could help.

The first appointment-booking app I want to mention, TimeTrade, I have actually talked about before – in some detail – although that article is perhaps a bit dated now. TimeTrade has since refreshed its brand and its technology. It has a pretty wide breadth of features and customisation – but that also comes with a bit a learning curve for you and your team. If you need a robust system with more advanced functions like queue management and more intensive analytics, then you should consider TimeTrade.

However, a simpler solution for automating your calendar, which we have used recently is Calendly.

Calendly integrates with most calendar platforms – including Google, Outlook, Office 365 and iCal. It is a great way to ensure you’re never double booked, and so that you don’t have to keep aligning calendars – it can be used both internally and externally.

A really great use for this is in sales – instead of having to constantly hand your off-site telesales teams time slots that they can book appointments in for your salespeople, they can all book directly through Calendly, which is synched up to the salesperson’s calendar. That way you can also have all your telesales people working with the same time slots, as it will be updated in real time.

A major flaw our team has noticed, however, is that there’s no calendar view for Calendly. You cannot have a weekly or monthly view of your appointments or appointment slots. You can only see your events in a list. This can be a bit frustrating and difficult to make it clear what’s going on. A workaround is to use it alongside your calendar so you can view the appointments as they’re booked in – not the most convenient thing, but it works.

Calendly is free for the basic plan – so you can test whether it’s a match for you before paying.

TimeTrade has a 30-day free trial and then you can choose one of their custom plans. It is usually my recommendation that if you do need appointment booking software, that you start with Calendly – it’s easy to set up and get started. If you then feel like your needs are more complex than Calendly can handle, then you can look to switch to Time Trade.

Money Management

Finally, one of the most important areas that must be working totally correctly but would benefit from getting leverage is finances.

Invoicing can be such a headache, but we use Xero and it’s made the whole process a lot less painful. Xero can help you keep track of your inventory, payroll and invoicing in a visual way. You can also perform bank reconciliations – so you can connect to your bank for automatic updates and simple bank reconciliation.

The site has an intuitive dashboard where your cash flow is displayed using analytics-style visual aids. You can also use Xero to pay your bills and record, manage, and claim your expenses.

Xero is also available on your mobile if you’re the kind of tech-savvy business owner who likes manage things on-the-go!

It has a 30-day trial to see if it works for you, and then membership plans start from £10/month. It should be noted there are additional costs for things like extra employees on the payroll.

Another accounting software of note for your bookkeeping needs is FreeAgent. In most respects, FreeAgent and Xero are equally matched in facility and function. However, where FreeAgent falls down is in detailed reporting and more advanced functionality. Where it excels, however, is simplicity and essential functions for freelancers/contractors. If you are a growing or bigger business, Xero is probably a better option, but if you require something that’s simple and easier to use FreeAgent is probably a better choice – especially at the generally lower price point.  QuickBooks is another option to consider as well which has different tiers of complexity according to your needs.

As with the marketing tools from the first article, these software options don’t cover everything you need for every area of your business. They also may not be the perfect solution for your individual niche needs. However, these are almost certainly the best place to start and will hopefully help lead you to the tools that will streamline your activities and get you the double-digit growth that you may be leaving on the table.

Want to learn more tools and frameworks?

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