Insights Blog

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

Have You Checked Your Business Report Cards?

We can talk about systems and marketing and all those exciting things to achieve double-digit growth. But in this video I explain that the health of two documents in your business – your “report cards” – are the most important things.

When you really take the time to fully understand every line of your balance sheet and your profit and loss statement, that is when you start to really take control of your business.

You don’t need to become a chartered accountant, you just need to know the right questions to ask your bookkeeper and be on top of exactly who in your organisation is accountable for every pound going in and out.

Then your business can truly become an asset rather than just another job for yourself.

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

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 your report card. Now over the last 10 years or so working with hundreds of businesses across different sectors, helping them achieve significant growth for themselves. I constantly remind my team and our clients that, yes, we can do all exciting things. We can talk about systems, we can talk about marketing, we can talk about sales. All the things you can think of in the business, but at the end of the day what really matters is the report card and how healthy the report card is looking.

What is your business report card?

Now what I mean by that is the report card that you have at the end of the month, at the end of the quarter, at the end of the year is your profit and loss statement and your balance sheet. And what really matters is that how healthy those two statements are looking because all the activities, all the strategies that is being looked at and talked about and acted on should culminate into producing the desirable healthy the report card.

One of the simple things that I want to talk about today is actually what is it that you can do and leverage your other team players to make sure that we all are moving in the same direction to achieve that end result. Now, most of the business owners they focus on the sales, they focus on maybe the GM net profit and yes the cash in the bank, as far as the balance sheet is concerned, though there is so much more detail that needs to be looked at. But just keeping things at a very very basic level and these are the key things which people look at. But the point is that there’s so many variables that come into the picture to determine that there is the right level of net profit, there is the right level of the cash in the bank and of course the overall value of the business.

Who is responsible for each line?

Now what you need to do is that if you look at your profit loss statement and balance sheet you will see different items sitting there. And the question that you’ve to ask is “Who is accountable for this line item in my profit and loss statement?” What I mean by that is, for example, who’s accountable to make sure that your cost of goods or services is in control? Who’s the person who should be accountable for making sure we’re not spending too much on stationery or on vehicles or on parking costs. 

There are so many line items and you need to have clear accountability for each line item because what I have seen many times is that by the time that your line finishes, there are leaks happening at different levels which look so small but when they come together it can have a significant impact on the hard work and on the report card.

Do it – draw out your business report card!

I would really like you to draw out your report cards, have a look at each line that’s sitting there, and ask yourself a question. Do I need to make someone accountable? Or the person who’s accountable, is he or she doing the right job that you are happy with, which will ensure that, yes, we are making the most of the things that we’re doing in our business, the efforts they’ve been putting in to have a successful business.

And look, one more thing, if you want someone from outside to look at things in a very objective way then maybe you should think about coaching. If you want someone to give you the strategies to actually make sure there are no leaks, strong consistent growth, with good profits and good cash flow, and so you can do the things that you absolutely love to do in your personal life, then please feel free to reach out. We will be very happy and privileged to serve you.

Want to start scoring A*s?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionIt can be overwhelming at first, realising all the facets of your business you need to become aware of as growth starts happening.

If you book a complimentary initial strategic review of your business, we can explore whether our business coaching strategies would actually be useful for your business.


3 Steps to Turn Actively Angry Customers into Raving Fans

london-business-coaching-angry-to-raving-fans

You come into the office and the phone rings. You quickly realise the person on the other end of the phone is absolutely furious with something associated with your business. It feels like you’re now wrestling with a monster and a misstep could be a stab of insecurity about your business and the service you are providing. How do you handle it?

You are not going to be liked by everyone. That’s just a truth of the world, let alone specifically in business contexts. Realistically, it therefore makes sense to have strategies to handle those inevitably unhappy customers.

I recently attended the Business Excellence Forum (where our clients picked up another record-breaking number of awards) and during that forum, Michael Heppel covered a framework that I think is extremely useful for this. Below is a picture of that framework I’ve gotten my team to put together:

london-business-coaching-customer-satisfaction

This diagram is a way for you to segment your customers according to how much they like you (which is the x-axis) and according to how active they are about expressing those feelings (the y-axis).

The Four Customer Categories

Let’s first go through the profile of each of these ‘types’ of customer.

A.) Quiet Customers – These are in the bottom left quadrant. They are ones that don’t like you, but aren’t talking about it. These people are quite dangerous because they are dissatisfied but you have no idea why.

B.) Content Customers – These are in the bottom right quadrant. These are customers who are happy with what you do and your services but aren’t talking about it to the wider world (yet).

C.) Actively Angry – The top left quadrant is the one where you are usually paying most attention. These customers are voracious in vocalising their discontent with you and you often have no choice but to deal with them – and, really, you definitely want to address these people before they start impacting your reputation.

D.) Raving Fan – And, of course, the top right quadrant are your favourite people. These are the ones who love what you are doing, and are actively telling you and others about how happy they are. You want to keep these people where they are on this diagram.

Actively Angry: The Biggest Mistake Business Owners Make

Let’s start with the most problematic customers: the actively angry ones. The huge mistake that most business owners make it trying shift Actively Angry customers along the x-axis – i.e. trying to make them like you more.

Unfortunately, that’s going to be an extremely difficult thing to do. Once someone has become active in their anger towards you, you’re going to struggle to make them happy in a single, immediate action.

Instead, let’s take them on a journey. Here’s how to take that phone call from the angry person and turn them into a raving fan.

1. First, hear out your Actively Angry customer, so they become less active.

Instead of immediately making the angry person really happy with you, get them to talk to you rather than anyone else.

Actively angry people usually want to be heard, so listen to them. Go about this by starting with empathising – use the phrase, “Oh that sounds awful.” Repeat their issue to demonstrate you understand it, and express agreement that their experience has been awful.

Follow this up with, “This is what we are going to do about it.” Keep it forward moving and express what you will do to address the issue. Even if you will not fix it right away, make sure they know you will be doing something about it – passing it to the right team member, or give them a date when you will follow up with them.

While they are probably still simmering and not entirely happy with you, you have taken the first step in preventing them ranting and raving about it.

2. Now take that Quiet customer to contentment.

Now that they aren’t being loudly angry, you are in a much better place to give real value to your customer and give them the satisfaction they are seeking from your services.

The strategy to take here is to ask them the right kinds of questions. What is it that you currently ask your customer following a quiet spell from them? Do you say something like, “Is everything ok?” – if that’s the case then that’s your problem.

Make your questions active and encourage a specific answer by narrowing your questions as much as possible.

Examples of good questions:

“Is there something we can change?”
“What is one thing you would like us to do for you?”
“What did our customer representative say to you on the day you came in?”

3. Finally, just a nudge upwards to Raving Fans

With customers who feel content with what you do, all they need is just a small push to move them up the loyalty ladder to start raving about you. Compared to the dramatic act you’d need to move them directly from Actively Angry to this space.

So how exactly do you get this person who is satisfied with your work to start talking about it? Get them to tell a story – and do that by giving them a moment to describe.

The key here is to create poignant moments that stick in their minds. A surprise is one of the best ways to do that – give them something they weren’t expecting. And timing is everything. If they are distracted by something else, your surprise will be lost.

Point of sale, or when you’re delivering the fix to the issue, are some of the best times to surprise them. That’s when they are feeling best, so make them feel even better and nudge them upwards.

When you create those moments, you need to be ready to ask – directly – for them to tell that story (if it makes sense to do so). This might be by recording a video testimonial or getting them to leave you a review on Google or Facebook, or even just a share on their social media channels.

Set up a process like this within your business for handling your most angry customers and suddenly your Actively Angry customer on the phone isn’t quite a terrifying monster, and could actually end up being one of your best customers.

Do you have any strategies for dealing with unhappy customers that work well for your business? Share it in the comments below!

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London Business Coaching Strategy SessionShweta will be sitting down with a very small number of businesses she hasn’t worked with before to deep-dive into their businesses and uncover potential for growth.

These will be carefully curated so that each business can contribute to the discussion in a meaningful way.


What To Do With Employees Who Give You Attitude

When your business and team start growing, you may find a ‘problem employee’ emerge. They are usually great at what they do, but their attitude causes some disruption and a reasonable amount of frustration in yourself and the team.

What can you do about it?

There’s a simple framework that helps you get into a slightly unusual way of thinking in business contexts. But if you master it, it can guide you to a faster and easier solution than trying to adjust your employee’s character or attitude.

Before you either leap at firing the person or resign yourself to the fact that this is “just their attitude”, try thinking it through in the order I’ve given you.

Focus on your systems first, then consider how you might be able to adjust the skills involved. Remember, you don’t manage your team you manage your team’s activities – and when you do this effectively, you will see the change in attitude.

Often ‘bad’ attitude doesn’t come from a ‘bad’ character or bad person – often it is a lack of clear direction and passion for what they do. That means you need to set a better culture and introduce better systems.

So step up your leadership, step up your management and give your employees your best so they can give you their best.

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 a very recent conversation that I had with one of our clients. And you could make out that the person is not very happy with one of the team members. The client’s frustration was pretty evident.

My Team Member Has An Attitude Problem

The comments I was hearing were things like:
“He’s got an attitude problem.”
“He always behaves like that.
“You know we’ve given him feedback but this is his character and I’m very frustrated.”
“I just don’t know how to go about it though he has been there with us for three years. But everything is falling on deaf ears.”

Now these statements might be familiar to you because of your own situation or from what you hear from other business owners and it actually is very common – this is nothing very unusual. But what I really want to talk about and share with you is a little unusual way of thinking in the business context. And what I mean by that is that when these situations arise rather than gravitating towards people’s character and attitude what is the right way to think through the problem. So you can actually identify relatively easier and faster solution to that problem and move the business forward. 

The Framework for Managing Team Attitudes

Let me share with you a framework which I shared with the client and he found it very useful gave him a perspective. And obviously now he has gone back to review certain things which hopefully will take care of the problem and streamline the overall business. So let’s focus on that, okay.

This is a very straightforward principle which I’ve actually taken from the book called “Principles” by Ray Dalio – a very powerful book. What the framework talks about is that you have set certain goals, right? And obviously you want to have the outcomes at the right level or you can call it results.

Now, what’s in between these two things is your business machine. This is your business machine. Now, your business machine has got two components. One component is People. The other one is Systems. These are structures with which people are working, hopefully.

And then within people there are two broad things. And again it’s just to understand the logic the framework. So within people you have Skills and then their Attitudes, you know their character, their habits. That’s what we’re talking about here.

The First Thing to Focus On: Systems

Now, as I said what people do when there is a problem with a team member is that they straight away go here, to Attitudes. They start talking about the character and the habits of the person. What you need to understand is that it’s very, very, very difficult to change habits, to change characters. It’s very tricky to transform people because these are old habits. It doesn’t work like that. So rather than getting frustrated and trying things which are going to take a long time, ideally what one needs to do is look at the cause of actions in the right order.

The first thing that you as a business owner need to focus on whenever there’s a problem with a person or the performance is to look at Systems. This should be number on. Say to yourself, “What structural change can I make in the business that will take care of this problem?” You’ll be surprised to find that once you start looking at things from that perspective, you do come up with some really simple tweaks and simple structures or system integrations which actually streamline the business. So, that should be the first point of call.

The Second Thing: Skills

Then if you feel the Systems are fine then the second place to look at is the Skills level. It could be that yes we have systems but, actually, the person is not properly skilled or skilled enough to actually deliver the work or the results that you’re after. So look at the training and look at the Skills. This is a relatively easily transferable or a coachable thing to do.

And THEN if the Team Member’s Problem Persists…

So then what happens when you believe that yes, there is a system, and there is proper support and training provided to the team member and still the problem is persisting?

Then it is time to go deeper into it. But in most of the cases that I’ve seen is that if the System and Skills are in place and the problem still persists, this does mean the person’s attitude is not right, and then you might have to let go of this person so they can find the right job for themselves and you can find the right talent for your business.

So with this framework whenever you are having issues with your team person rather than going straight to the Attitude and getting frustrated and getting into personal comments, try to look at things objectively. Focus on Systems first, then look at the Skill levels of the person and what training or support that they need, and only then take a decision as to whether this person needs to stay or leave the business.

I hope you find that useful and in case you need help from someone who understands what she or he is talking about and can help you with your systems and structures and the right organization structure. Please feel free to reach out. Sometimes an outside perspective can really make a huge difference in the business.

Is your team still being disrupted?

As a leader in your business, it really is your responsibility to ensure that the culture, systems and environment are optimal for your team.

If you need to explore some of the strategies we have to offer, consider requesting a strategy session and one of our consultants can read your application and offer some practical advice on what could help your business.


4 Steps to the Systemisation of Your Business

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As a successful business owner, you may have gotten to a point where you feel like your business is actually just another job you’ve created. While you have the satisfaction of working for yourself, you are working harder and longer hours than you ever have before.

It can feel great, at first, running around and fighting fires, being the superhero, and doing something that is truly for yourself. But no matter how much you love the work, it does get tiring, and it’s just not sustainable in the longer term.

So how do you turn your business into an ongoing asset that will continue to operate effectively even when you aren’t pouring all your energy into it?

The answer is that you need to have effective systems.

The Basic Rule of Systems

It’s easy to get caught up in creating system after system to try and account for every situation. This is not the correct approach. The thing you have to remind yourself is:

“Systemise the routine, humanise the exception.”

Systems in your business are not necessarily done independently of your team – ultimately, people run your systems. And those people are there not just to ensure the system runs correctly, but also to catch anything that isn’t systemised.

Your systems are not designed to replace people, but instead to ensure that they don’t need to waste their focus on repetitive tasks. Systems should free their headspace to do higher-level tasks that require thought and consideration.

In order to achieve effective systemisation, there are four basic steps to follow.

Step 1: Flowchart Your Process

The first step in systemisation is to lay out all the steps of your system. While you could just write out a list (and some people definitely work well that way), I’m a visual person. I like to see the process laid out in a visual format that’s easy to understand.

And while you may work better with lists, it’s quite likely that the team member you are working with will understand it better if you flowchart it. Remember, as a leader you need to follow the platinum rule – not ‘treat people as you want to be treated’, but instead ‘treat people the way they want to be treated’.

Step 2: Create Clear Documentation

As you complete a task that you are hoping to systemise, note down each step of the process. Lay this out in explicit detail.

Once you have this written out the first time, get someone else to follow the system, watching them closely.

If at any point you need to step in and explain it to the new person, make sure that that information is added to the process document.

Then get someone else to do it again. Repeat as many times as you need to until you have a clear document that can be used to do the task without any intervention.

You now have an independent process document.

Step 3: Measure Results

Most business owners stop at the end of step 2, satisfied with a process well-systemised.

It may be systemised, but you don’t really know if it’s well-systemised yet, unless you are measuring how well it’s doing.

The first thing you need to do is figure out what are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are associated with this process. What metric(s) best indicate how well this process is successfully being executed?

For sales processes, these would often be hard numbers like the number of leads, conversion rates, cost per result etc.

However, the KPIs associated with a process may not always be statistics like that but may be a number of deliverables – for example, a social media post being published each week, or the number of invoices processed each week.

You should build a dashboard around this process and be quite closely monitoring the success around these metrics, especially immediately after the handover of the process.

Step 4: Update Systems As Your Business Changes

Unfortunately, there are few systems in this world that last forever. The market is constantly changing, and if your business is to continue to survive, eventually your processes will need to change too. Your system needs to have a course-correction function built into it.

As you have been in your business since you conceived it you should have some idea of the ‘rhythm’ of your business. How quickly does your business evolve? How often have you found yourself adjusting the way you work? When have the growth spurts been?

Ensure that any system you build has a longevity that matches that rhythm. Perhaps set up checks to ensure processes that you have systemised are still working correctly at intervals that match the flow of your business growth.

When you follow through on these four steps, you’ll have robust, dynamic systems in your business that allow you get on with the work of working ‘on’ your business. That way, you can use all that time that you would typically have been stuck working ‘in’ the business and instead apply yourself to taking the business in new directions and scaling at the rate that you desire.

Still Struggling to Systemise Your Business?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionOur brand of business coaching is all about growth through systemisation. If your business is at a point of success where you think it’s time to start scaling by introducing better systems, then that’s exactly the point where our business coaching strategies can help you.

Request a complimentary session below and we can do a review of your business to find out if your business is the kind that will benefit from our strategies.

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3 Tips to Recruit Employees With Specific Skills

Sifting through candidates in a recruitment process can be a tiresome process.

Too often you end up with someone who talked the talk during the interview but within a month proved that they can’t actually walk the walk.

So how do you pick out the best apples in the bunch during the recruitment itself, rather than having to wait until they’re already working for you to find out what’s under that shiny skin?

Tip 1: Discover Behavioural Styles

We make sure that every new team member, client, and even client’s team member does a DISC profile. It is an integral part of our recruitment process to get them to do a DiSC Behavioural Style assessment. This has proven time and again to be an effective way to match people to a job that suits their style.

Understanding the 4 DiSC styles is important for you as a leader. Once you become familiar with them, you can know what kind of behavioural styles will be important for the skills you are seeking in the role you are trying to fill. Not only that, but you will also be more sensitive to creating an environment that is optimised for your employee’s working preferences.

For example, when one of our clients was looking to hire a new salesperson, they needed to be looking for someone high in “I” – an “influencer” who can think and decide quickly and prefer to work with people. On the other hand, when our client who had grown quickly needed someone to help with the administration of the business, they’re looking more for someone high in “C” and “S”. These styles pay close attention to detail and take things at a careful, steady pace.

Tip 2: Pop Quiz!

The benefit of having your recruits do a specific quiz in the area you are hiring is two-fold.

First, you get the obvious benefit of assessing their expertise right away. When our clients want to hire a marketing person, we give them a Marketing Technology Quiz and the marketing expert at London Coaching Group can give these a quick look and immediately he can see whether or not this person actually knows what they’re doing. We have a Microsoft Office quiz for anyone who is interviewing for an admin role, and a Finance Quiz for accounting or financial roles, and we make this available to all our clients.

The second benefit is that you also gain insight into their work ethic and ability to follow instructions. Did they miss any crucial parts of the questions by not reading properly? Did they follow the instructions on where to put their answers? Did they circle or did they X when they were told to circle? How did they react to being told they had a questionnaire to do? How specific and detailed are they in their answers?

This more ‘meta’ assessment of their answers gives you a much better idea of what they are like as a worker – much more than simply speaking to them. You also get an idea of their clarity in written communication, spelling and grammar.

Tip 3: Give Them A Test Task

Before you began recruiting, you should first have made sure you were explicitly clear about the key activities this person will be doing in your business. If you didn’t, you may need to rewind a little bit and ask yourself the right questions to set yourself up for a better recruitment process.

If you are clear on a single most important task that you need them to be good at, then you should be able to give them that task to do as a part of your interviewing process.

For example, if you’re hiring a marketing person, then perhaps the key skill they need to have is writing – text on your website, social media posts, sales letters and so on. Then why not have them write a sales letter during your interview for one of your products or services?

If you are hiring a new project manager, then maybe give them a small explanation of a real project within your organisation, and ask them to write on the back of that paper a rough sketch of how they’d tackle the project.

For a finance manager, maybe you need them to be able to carefully comb through financial reports – give them one where you know there are clear errors and ask them to audit it.

Ultimately, both the pop quiz and the test task are how you nullify smooth talkers and highlight the hard workers!

Do you have any further ideas on how to recruit for specific skills? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

Struggling With Lengthy Recruitment Processes?

If you find that recruitment is starting to feel like a huge waste of time, you probably just need to get more efficient with it.

Our process maps out 4 hours of work that is all you really need in order to sift out the wheat from the chaff.

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