As of this month, I am 100 percent retired, and this will be my last blog. I can say that I am enjoying this new phase of life, but what is right for one may not be right for another. I'd like to share the following checklist of things to consider when planning retirement at any age.
You may be familiar with one of several versions of the following story; the original author is unknown. It carries a powerful message that I want to share. Look for the employees like "Jim" in this message and you might find your successor and certainly employees that are keepers.
Celebrate your wins, create a positive work environment and make your workplace fun. It makes good business sense and pays dividends. Don't ignore the losses either. We certainly don't want to celebrate them, but we should put plans in place to fix them.
I think we can agree that positive word-of-mouth is one of the best marketing tools any business can have. To get this to work, you need what I like to call "war stories" that are affirming. These are customer experiences about doing business with you that are so compelling they want to share the story with their friends and colleagues.
Too often I find many small-business people to be too conservative. I don’t mean in the political sense. I mean they become too risk-adverse and afraid to take on new things because they are "too busy."
I believe that there are many firms that are unable or unwilling to pay the price to hire and attract the caliber of person that can succeed in today’s marketplace. Many more sales hires fail than succeed. I set up an equity program for a young person and eventually sold the entire business to him. The entire process took about 15 years. He had no cash but lots of talent and willingness.
There are many football and sports analogies that apply to business, but how does this one apply? In our fast-changing environment with all of the talk about diversification and "becoming marketing services providers," we often leave the basics to chance and assume they will take care of themselves. Not true. The fundamentals are something that must be constantly practiced and inspected.
I’ve heard the following seven words a time or two when visiting our franchise members: "We have never done it that way." It’s human nature to continue doing the things we believe will work rather than something that requires taking a risk...or something suggested by a staff member, a fellow shop owner or business advisor.
We often spend big money on sophisticated marketing plans to attract new customers. If we fall down on quick, professional response to quotes, we end up making this the weakest link in the marketing chain. We leave the low hanging fruit on the tree for a more aggressive competitor to pick.
In the last blog, I talked about the “Deadly Law of Inflation” and the toll it has taken on our industry. In my opinion, it has also caused merger and acquisition activity to accelerate as though on steroids. The following list identifies the top 10 needs to ensure a successful purchase/sale and transition.
I think too many of us in this industry are lulled into thinking that because we have had relatively low inflation in the past decade, that it does not have an impact. Wrong!
I have said often that I think there is more fun and opportunity in this industry now than when I started in 1985; it’s just different. You have a big advantage in owning your own business and understanding this market. It simply takes action, hard work and the willingness to get some help and to think differently than in the past.
In recent months, I have been reminded a couple of times how disaster can strike our businesses. Over the holidays one of our franchise members had a break-in that caused a fire, burning the center to the ground. Disaster struck, but fortunately, the owner had good insurance coverage, a second location that allowed for minimal business interruption and a franchise network for support.
We are always nervous about informing our customers that our services will cost more. However, I have always looked on paper price increases as more of an opportunity than a problem.
Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up somewhere else.” The need for planning was never greater, but planning for volatility has never been more difficult.