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A r t i c l e 'The Difference'
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By Dave Balch, 'The Stay-at-Home CEO(tm)'

My wife recently went to a car wash and came home just
raving about the place.  Mainly, she talked about the man
that detailed the car after it comes out of the washing
line; he dried all of the water droplets, polished the
dashboard, cleaned the windows, used Armoral on the tires,
etc.  He worked long and hard, gave her a big smile when she
came to claim her car, and then proceeded to make sure that
she looked at everything and was completely satisfied.  She
couldn't say enough nice things about the service and would
certainly be back.

I have had a similar experience with Scott, the man who
delivers the feed for our horses.  He is always personable,
friendly, and remembers our names and the names of our dogs
and horses.  He'll do just about anything to make sure that
we are happy; for example the last delivery he brought 2,000
pounds of pellets, which we use in automatic feeders.  They
come in 50-pound bags, and he has to carefully stack them in
the barn so that they stay neat and don't fall over.  As it
happened, we still had about 10 bags left from the previous
delivery and I didn't want them on the bottom of the stack
because they were already several months old.

Scott says, 'No problem!  I'll just move them out of the
way, stack the new bags, and then put the older bags on top
of the new stack.'  That's ten 50-pound bags, and he moved
them twice.  He was genuinely happy to do it.

We always use the same feed store, mainly because of Scott.

Do you see a pattern forming here?  It only takes one good
employee to make the difference for your customers, the
difference between buying from you or buying from your
competitor.  When you find such an employee, do whatever it
takes to keep them happy; they are making a huge difference
in your business.

I have been blessed with two such people in the history of
my business.  The first was Andy, a salesman who worked the
phones tirelessly and was as charming a fellow as you have
ever met.  People loved to talk to him even if they weren't
interested in my software, just because he was, well, Andy.
Many of them eventually made a purchase because of the
personal relationships that Andy had made.

The other is Kate, my assistant.  Fiercely loyal,
hardworking, and always willing to do whatever has to be
done, Kate has been with me since 1990.  She is delightful
on the phone and callers always enjoy talking to her, plus
she is usually even more excited that I am when something
good happens!

They both did so much for me, that I included them in my
pension plan even though I didn't have to.  Andy was
actually a 'leased' employee and Kate is part-time, so
neither were eligible for the plan the way it was written.
I changed the rules of the plan, though, to include them
because I valued and appreciated their hard work and great
attitudes.

The opposite is also true; a bad employee can quickly drive
away a good customer.  Permanently.  Plus, consider all of
the people that that unhappy customer will tell about their
bad experience.  Just the mood that an employee is in can
make a significant difference in the customer experience,
and if they can't put on a smile even when they don't feel
like it, either let them go or put them in a position where
they don't interact with customers.  When my wife worked at
a supermarket, there was a sign in the break room that the
employees saw when they left the room to go back to work:
'Smile.  You're On!'

Your employees are arguably some of the most valuable assets
of your business.  Handle with care.

______________________________________________________________

Setting & Achieving Your Business Goals

 

There's no time like the present to review the past year and make some solid goals for your growing business. Here are a few tips for setting and achieving those goals:

1. Brainstorm - Start writing a list of things you'd like to accomplish. At first, you might think you don't have any ideas, but soon they will come pouring out. You may even end up with too many goals that you could realistically accomplish. Prioritize and decide which are most important.

2. Write your goals down in one central place and record any changes you make to your goals - This way you can track your progress and will be become even better at setting goals for yourself in the future.

3. Make sure your goals are challenging, yet attainable - In other words, don't make them all too easy, but then again, don't list a bunch that you will never achieve. If you make them too easy, you will feel like you haven't accomplished much and if you make them too difficult, you'll feel defeated.

4. Set a realistic timeframe for your goals - Remember, you can't do everything at once. If you have short and simple goals, set short timeframes. For your more involved goals, analyze the steps needed to complete them and be realistic about how much time you will need to accomplish your goals.

5. As you write down your goals, ask why is this my goal? - If your goal is to set up an affiliate program for your site, you will motivate yourself better if you understand and remind yourself why you are doing this. It may be to increase your website traffic, to earn more income or to create brand recognition for your product. It could be any number of things, but make sure you know what they are.

6. Make your goals measurable - Don't just say, you want to learn about graphics. Make a specific plan. Perhaps, you want to learn about Flash graphics and you want to be able to make your own Flash movie. Or perhaps, you're happy just being able to design your own animated gif. You need to be able to see when you've achieved your goals.

7. Identify what "tools" you will use and how will obtain the "tools" to achieve your goals - Perhaps, your goal is to build your own web page for the first time. You need to think about what you need to do that. Two of the many things you might need are software and a tutorial or the help of knowledgeable friend. You'll need to purchase the software or find the freeware. You'll also need to look around for the tutorial or see when your friend might have time to help you.

8. Don't overload yourself - We all want to get everything done and to be as perfect as possible, but don't give yourself too much. Remember, time with family is why you have a home business. It's okay to have a larger number of small, easily attainable goals, but do limit the number of major goals that require a number of resources and significant time to achieve. Remember, as in a previous step, you can always revisit and revise your goals if need be.

9. Divide your goals into short term and long term goals - If you keep this list separate, you can better organize yourself to complete them. Short term goals usually can be completed at anytime with not much time commitment. Your long term goals will require more involvement and you don't likely want to take on too many long term goals at one time.

10. Revisit and revise your goals when necessary - This doesn't mean that if you're a procrastinator, you can just come back and push all your dates back. This exercise is to see if you are on track with your goals. Perhaps, you're a little ahead of schedule and you can add a goal or two. Maybe, you're falling behind, and that's okay. You need to look at why you're falling behind. Is it because you didn't dedicate the time necessary, you didn't have the tools to accomplish your goals or was it just unrealistic planning? You can learn from all these things and set better goals in the future. If you do extend a deadline, make a new plan on how you will meet that new timeframe.

Always, congratulate yourself on a job well done. Share your successes with your family and peers. Then start working on the next goal...

______________________
Alice Seba is the editor of http://www.internetbasedmoms.com. Fire up your online business with business ideas, web page building advice & marketing tips. Subscribe to the newsletter by sending a blank email to internetbasedmom-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.