Yesterday a good friend (and client) and I celebrated the 3 year anniversary of the day he came to the realization his business was a complete failure!

 

You see, my friend had a successful printing business for many years.  A combination of a slowdown in sales, excessive personal spending, and the dream to be one of the ‘big boys’ which led him to finance expensive printing equipment, had him running around trying to catch his tail.  He started borrowing heavily from friends and family.  When that dried up, he charged his own credit cards to his business (a huge no-no!) to be able to cover his payroll expenses.  He was deep in the mud and couldn’t see a way out.

 

A dedicated caring employee suggested they bring in an outsider with business experience to do a real assessment of the situation.

 

Some very tough measures had to be taken.  For starters he had to sit down with his wife and share with her their true financial situation.  He gave up his luxury cars, vacations, and put a complete stop to online (impulsive) shopping.

 

He reached out to all his creditors and humiliatingly admitted the truth and asked for time and terms to slowly pay back.

 

They focused on what his core strengths were and soon realized that his business model of doing all the printing in-house was actually costing him more than brokering out the jobs.  He laid off most of his staff and restructured his business as a full-service business (graphics, design, printing) while brokering out the actual printing.

 

Thankfully, he was able to repay most of his old debt and is continuing to do so.  He has rebuilt his company and reputation, and is able to look back and see the good in what once looked like a very bleak situation.

 

There is a lot to be learned from his experiences, but here are the 2 points that are really important:

 

  1. Sometimes it takes an outsider to assess your business.  A business owner may be stuck in the box and cannot see what others might see.

 

  1. While giving up is not a virtue, sometimes you need to abort and take a new path.

 

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!
Kevin

A Complete Failure!

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Last week I received an email from a member of my team with the following words:  “We got a bad review on Google”.

 

Turns out, it was even worse than I thought.  Much worse.

 

It was the one and only review our company had on Google (we never had any reviews at all) giving us a rating of 1 not-so-shiny star (out of 5).  Additionally, the review went on and on (over 1000 words), listing some of my employees by full name alleging every imaginable wrong committed.

 

Obviously, this was something we had to correct from every angle. We immediately tried reaching out to the upset client to see how we can make things right but he refused to take our call.

 

(After taking my head out of the oven) I sat down to do some research on how to best mitigate the damage.  After all, 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative reviews online.

 

The first and most important step is to respond to the review online.  Here is what we posted:

 

Dear XYZ,

We are deeply sorry to hear about the issues you’ve experienced.  Nothing pains us more, than even one unhappy client.  Please reach out to me directly and I will do my utmost to right the wrong.

Sincerely,

Shoshi Miller

Client Relations Manager

855.323.8300 Ext. 2155

 

The next thing we did was advise our customer service team to ask the clients they were working with to leave us a positive review.  Hopefully we would outweigh the one negative review with many positive ones.

 

This story has an happy ending, but one that is totally unpredictable.  That evening an old friend (and current client) knocked on my door.  He lives about 100 miles away but was in the area and stopped in to say Hello.  After a bit of catching up I shared with him the above story.  We chatted a bit more and he left.

 

The next day I get a voice note from my friend saying “I just finished a 2 hour lunch with Mr. XYZ at his house and the review will be removed shortly”.  I was completely floored!  My friend had looked up and tracked down the negative reviewer, drove an hour out of his way, bought lunch, and spent over 2 hours hearing out the client and communicating another side of the story. This was a whole new definition of the word SELFLESS!!!

 

So now the review is gone but the lessons learned are everlasting:

  1. Make sure the customer has a platform to voice their grievances.
  2. There are selfless people in this world!
  3. (Most Important!) Do not wait for the bad review to start getting good reviews.

 

On that note, I turn to you dear reader with a personal request: If you are satisfied with our company, please go to Google.com leave a positive review for us.

 

@Michael Greenfield = SELFLESS    May you be blessed!

 

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!
Kevin

We got a bad review…

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Yes, I’m back!  After a 2 month hiatus I return to my weekly blog to ask you, my dear readers, for advice.

 

Earlier today I was sitting in on a weekly sales meeting at one of the companies I’m involved with. I listened to the sales team lament about the difficulties they were experiencing closing sales.  They told me how the prospects love the service, they all agree it would be a great system, the price was right, but for some reason they can’t seem to get the prospects to cross the finish line.  No one was in a rush to sign up.  The sales guys would walk out of the meetings with the words “Let me think about it” echoing in their ears.

 

The issue was clearly a lack of urgency on the prospects side, which would cause them to delay making a decision and ultimately put the whole thing out of their mind.

 

My first thought was to create a sense of urgency by using the age-old tool of scarcity.  Tell the prospects we are only taking on a limited amount of new clients and there are only a few slots left.  Or, perhaps, offer special pricing incentives which expires after a certain amount of time.

 

An example of successful use of this tool would be Amazon’s “Lightning Deals”:

is it urgent - amazon

However, after spending some time doing research on this topic I have learned that perhaps the real sense of urgency does not come just from external motivators.

 

Take this real life example:  I am long overdue a new suit.  I keep pushing it off due to my busy schedule and wishing to avoid the painful process of shopping at the crowded local stores.  I have turned the page on “SALE 80% OFF” and “3 DAYS ONLY” time and time again.  It was only when my suit ripped that I picked myself up and went out to buy a new suit.  What changed – the need was clear – now it was urgent.

 

By really listening to the prospect, understanding their current operations and pain points, asking probing questions like “is there room for improvement” “are you committed to resolve this issue”, getting the prospect to clearly see what they are lacking, and then showing them how the solution will help them – once that is crystal clear – then it’s urgent.

 

Do you agree?  Reply and share your thoughts.

 

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!
Kevin

Is It Really Urgent?

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21 years old, having just left the Army, Michael Newby started out as a route driver for a small uniform company in Bayside NY. Knowing nothing about the industry, his job was to pick up soiled clothing and deliver fresh cleaned uniforms. Now a young 67-year-old, he is President & CEO of Superior Uniform Services and is joined by 3 of his sons in running the operation.

Is your business primarily a laundry service or uniform business?
Many people mistake us for a laundry service. We do actually launder the uniforms but that is incidental. We are a uniform rental service. Automotive, manufacturing, laboratories, etc., come to us to create uniform programs for
them. It is our responsibility to make sure the employees look clean and professional. If you have service technicians meeting with your customers, you want them to look presentable.

How do you deal with a client whose employees destroy their uniforms more often than normal?
We charge a monthly fee per uniform. Our goal is to maintain the uniforms in top condition as long as possible. We do take some risks and, in some cases, such as the one you describe, we will have a lower ROI.

So how did you go from a route driver to being the owner of your own uniform company?
After 4 years as a route driver I was offered a position at another uniform company, where after undergoing psychological testing (things were different in the 70’s!), they gave me my first taste of management. A few years later I joined my current company which was owned by a very hands-off CEO. He sat me down and said “it’s yours son” and walked out. That forced me to learn it on my own – literally opening drawers, reading everything in the file cabinet, which turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me.

And then you married the boss’s daughter?
No 🙂 For 40 years I was content to run his company and move up the ranks. I became President in 2005. I’m a blue-collar guy and am close to all my employees. As my children got older and joined the company they gave me
the push to take the one giant step I never took in my life – buy the company!

Since you were President of the company and knew the finances prior to buying, why was it such a big step for you to take?
There is always the fear of taking on the responsibility. I was an employee. I vacationed whenever I wanted. I traveled the world. I even went to Jerusalem and stood at the Wailing Wall! (This is probably a sin, but I put a note in the
wall for my dog who was undergoing an operation at that time. He came through fine!!) Owning your own business always carries a risk and can be scary.

With the advance of new laundering technology are you afraid companies will do this service in-house?
History has shown that most times when the companies and/or employees are responsible for their own uniforms they are not maintained properly. The larger companies would never do this on their own.

How has technology helped you in your own business?
The industry has definitely been getting more automated. The washing machines are now fully computerized and automated. Detergents are injected automatically during the entire wash cycle. Another place where technology has helped us, is with our payments. Banquest set us up with a beautiful easy-to-use system for automatic monthly billing which ensures our cashflow always remains positive.

That’s it folks for this week.

Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling (and a very Happy Purim)!

Kevin

 

Banquest Client Spotlight: Superior Uniform Services

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