Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

The FIVE Keys to Business Success

Success

 

 

 

 

Several years ago I wrote about this business success list, but I just have to share it with you again because it’s so incredibly powerful and vitally important. 

I can count on one hand, with several fingers left over, the number of businesses that I deal with that deliver consistently superior customer service.  On the other hand, I do have a list as long as my arm… down to the ground… and about a mile down the street, of businesses that consistently disappoint me.  I will bet that you do to: the service repair person who says they will be at my home between nine and five… what, am I supposed to spend the entire day waiting around for them?  I’m the customer, I’m trying to give them money and they treat me like this?  Or the restaurant waiter who is rude and inattentive and then angry when they don’t get a 20% or greater tip?  The doctor who keeps you in their waiting room for three hours then only spends 10 minutes with you; the real estate agent who does not return your calls; the hotel maid who bangs on your door even though you have the “Do NOT Disturb” sign out; and don’t even get me started on cell phone companies. 

So let me tell you the secret of how to dominate your marketplace, how to do something so outlandishly different, unique and special that you will be loved by your customers and they will tell everyone they know to do business with you.  I got this little nugget from one of the most expensive books I’ve ever bought ($50.00 for a 29 or so page book) called: “How The Best Get Better,” by  Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan.  It may have been quite expensive on a per-page basis, but it was worth every penny because this idea can make you rich.

If you want to drive lots of positive referrals to your business you need to do only FIVE things (Dan recommended four – but I added a fifth):

1.  Show up on time.

2.  Do what you say you will do.

3.  Finish what you start.

4.  Say “Please” and “Thank You.”

And added by me…

5.  Give a little more than expected.

Now you’re probably asking yourself?  “Why did Spence get me so excited about this amazing success formula and then disappoint me with such a pathetic list?” Let me tell, that if you consistently did these five things for every customer, every time…you would need to invest in a dump truck to bring your cash deposits to the bank. 

Just five things…it is so awesomely simple, but incredibly powerful.

So I challenge you to take a good, hard, honest look at your business and see how well you truly deliver these five things…consistently.  I promise you that if you work hard in improving each of these five areas, you will look up and in several months your business will be doing dramatically better, your customers will be much happier, you will have lots of new customers, and you will be making much, much more money.

Let me know how it turns out – I wish you great success — John

The Ten Biggest Issues in Business Today

During the past 45 days I have presented workshops to more than 1,000 CEOs, business owners and senior executives in several states in the US and across New Zealand and Australia and have been amazed to see an extremely clear pattern emerge about what this widely diverse group of businesses all agree are key areas they must focus on more intently in their organizations. 

Read this list carefully and consider whether these might also be areas that you need to spend more time, effort and resources on in your business.

 

  1. Lack of a vivid, compelling and well-communicated a vision and strategy for growth.
  2. Lack of specific, measurable, binary metrics that support the vision and strategy.  
  3. Lack of disciplined execution / culture of high accountability.
  4. Do not truly listen to, and deeply understand, the voice of the customer (VOC).
  5. Do not understand our “Moments Of Truth” and therefore do not have processes in place to execute them flawlessly every single time, with every single customer.
  6. Do not do a superb job in talent development.
  7. Do not deal decisively with mediocrity and poor accountability.
  8. Have not invested enough time and energy in building a high-performance/winning culture. 
  9. Not focused enough on innovation.
  10. Lack of trust and true teamwork across the entire organization.

I would say that in the last year, talking to literally thousands of business owners and CEOs that nearly every one of them struggled with at least a few of the things on this list.  It would be my suggestion that you sit down with your top people and score the above items on this scale:

1 = Strongly Agree that this describes our organization.

3 = Agree Somewhat that this describes our organization.

5 = Not Sure if this describes our organization.

 7= Disagree Somewhat that this describes our organization.

10 = Strongly Disagree that this describes our organization.

Anyplace you score a 7 or less should be an area of concern and any score below a 5 should get you very worried.

As you look at this list you might think the items I’ve listed are fairly mundane –just fundamental business practices that you know are important, however there is a big difference between knowing something – and actually doing it every single day.  Most business people I talk to clearly understand that on a scale of 1 to 10 they should be a 9 or 10 on all of the items I’ve listed above, yet very few truly are.  While having lunch with a client yesterday in Auckland, he asked me why this was and I replied that from my experience is because most people are too busy putting out fires and taking care of emergencies to focus on these critical fundamentals, or they do not have the will to enforce them as non-negotiable standards of performance across every part of their business.

Look for more blogs on these topics in the coming months as I will be building several new training classes to address these issues and adding them as chapters in the new book I’m writing.  If you have any specific questions on these issues please send me a note or post it here on the blog and I will do my best to address them.

Hope you are doing fantastic — John

 

PS – all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy, so I did make sure to take a few days off to go fly fishing while on the south island of NZ!! (And yes, I released it – I release ALL of the trout I catch)

John Spence

Business Success Advice for 2013

As I sit here in my office surrounded by more than 2,000 business books it’s pretty tough to narrow it down to just a handful of the very best. However, if I were going to pick the top 50 books that I feel give the very best information, the most useful ideas and tools for how to run a business successfully this would be my list.

** In no particular order**

1. In Search of Excellence — Tom Peters
2. The Little BIG Things – Tom Peters
3. Good to Great — Jim Collins
4. Built to Last — Jim Collins
5. What Really Works — Joyce, Nohria, Roberson
6. The Leadership Challenge — Kouzes and Posner
7. Authentic Leadership — Bill George
8. Indispensable – Joe Callaway
9. Becoming a Category of One – Joe Calloway
10. The Discipline of Teams — Katzenbach and Smith
11. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team — Patrick Lencioni
12. Team Building (fourth edition) — Dyer, Dyer and Dyer
13. Lessons in Excellence from Charlie Trotter — Paul Clarke
14. Kiss Theory Goodbye — Bob Prosen
15. Mavericks at Work — Taylor and LaBarre
16. On Becoming a Leader — Warren Bennis
17. The Great Game of Business — Jack stack
18. The Starbucks Experience — Joseph Michelli
19. The New Gold Standard — Joseph Michelli
20. Customers for Life – Carl Sewell
21. At America’s Service — Karl Albrecht
22. The Northbound Train — Karl Albrecht
23. Leading People — Robert Rosen
24. The Definitive Drucker — Elizabeth Edersheim
25. What the Best CEOs know – Krames
26. Teaching the Elephant to Dance — James Belasco
27. If Aristotle ran General Motors — Tom Morris
28. The Rockefeller Habits – Vern Harnish
29. The Orange Revolution – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
30. All In – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
31. Nobel Enterprise – Darwin Gillette
32. Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
33. Primal Leadership – Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
34. The Leader of the Future – Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith and Richard Beckhard
35. Execution – Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
36. Love is the Killer App — Tim Sanders
37. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
38. Up Your Business — Dave Anderson
39. The 100 Best Business Books of All Time – Jack Covert and Todd Stattersten
40. Simply Better – Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan
41. Referral Engine – John Jantsch
42. Duct Tape Marketing – John Jantsch
43. Managing with a Conscience – Frank Sonnenberg
44. Six Disciplines Execution Revolution – Gary Harpst
45. Repeatability – James Allen and Chris Zook
46. The Lean Startup – Eric Ries
47. The Thank You Economy – Gary Vaynerchuck
48. Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk
49. Firms of Endearment – Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe, Jagdish N. Sheth
50. Leading in a Culture of Change — Michael Fullan
51. Awesomely Simple — John Spence :-)

I could easily recommend 75 or 80 more, but I think that if you were to read these books they would give you the best overall view on how to build, lead and grow a highly successful organization. If you do not see one of your VERY favorites, please send me a note in case I have not read it yet!!

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Do You Know Your LVC?

A Powerful Customer Relationship Tool

If you would like learn more about how John can assist you in facilitating a Customer Review Panel — simply call our offices at: 352-339-0142.

High-Performance Teams, Clear Expectations and Courage

This is a short montage from a recent seminar I taught in Auckland, NZ with a wonderful company called RESULTS.com (you ought to check out their website – they do cool stuff!). I hope you enjoy this clip and share it with anyone you feel would find value in the ideas I share…

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John Spence is the author of “Awesomely Simple – Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas into Action.” He is an award-wining professional speaker and corporate trainer, and has twice been recognized as one of the Top 100 Business Thought Leaders in America and also as one of the most admired Small Business Experts in the nation along with Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin and Apple.

VOC + MOT + WOM = Success

Here is a video from my Udemy Lecture Series with some key ideas I feel will truly help your business. Please share the link with anyone you think might find value in these ideas…

 

What Do You Worry About?

A few days ago I was talking to one of my clients, a brilliant young man (it hurts me to say that since I believe he’s in his late 30’s) who runs a great little company out in California. Things are going very well for his firm, he has a lot of business booked, and was really feeling pretty secure. So I decided to ask him one of my “secret weapon” questions: In terms of the business, what keeps you up at night? What are the top two or three things that worry you?” He answered that the first one was compensation; he was concerned as to whether or not his business had done an adequate job of building a fair and equitable compensation system for their top performers. He thought a little bit longer and said the second issue was hiring talent. Their firm was growing fast, he needed to hire super talented people for his team that had the ability to hit the ground running fast and start working with clients immediately. After a little more deliberation he said, “Those are the only two things that keep me up at night right now.” I told him that those are both important – but that he had missed the absolute most important thing that should be keeping him – and every single business owner in the world – up at night.

The single most important thing to worry about is… are your customers totally enthralled with the products and services you are providing to them? Do they love your business? Are they crazy about what you sell them? Do they truly enjoy interacting with your employees? What do your customers honestly think about your firm right now?

This hit him like a ton of bricks. He was very apologetic, saying that he should have thought of that, and I assured him that very, very few people have ever answered that question the way I hoped they would. Most business people I know are so inwardly focused on their processes, their systems, their people, and their issues…that they forget that the person who pays ALL the bills is the customer. Without happy, engaged, loyal and fanatic customers – eventually you will go out of business.

So to my mind, the most important thing for you to focus on is owning the voice of the customer (VOC), getting as close to your customers as possible and deeply understanding what their expectations are, what will make them very happy, what will make them angry, what would make them give you lots more of their business, what would make them take their business away from you. And the ONLY way to do this is to ask them… in 100 different ways… and then listen, listen, listen, listen. They will tell you exactly what it takes to be successful – actually, they are the ONLY ones that can tell you what it takes to be successful in your business – because they are the ones that decide whether or not to GIVE you their business!!

NOTE: Yes, you need absolutely fantastic employees who are highly engaged, loyal and motivated – because that is the single most important driver of happy, loyal and engaged customers. And of course you need quality products and services delivered at a reasonable price, that is a given. However, it is completely possible to have great people, great products, superb service and fair prices – and go out of business – because you do not have enough customers.

So my suggestion to you is that although you have lots of things to be concerned about in your business, and several of them that likely keep you up at night, if there is anything that should stay at the forefront of your mind as the single most important thing to think about, worry about, fret about, be totally and completely obsessive about…is:  What are your customers saying/thinking about your business?

That, my friends, is definitely the $64,000+++ question!

What Do You Expect?

During the past several months I have delivered numerous workshops and speeches for clients who were all struggling with the same basic issue: Lack of Clear Expectations. Regardless of the size of the company or the industry in which they competed, I’ve noticed a pattern of three critical areas where failure to set clear expectations has had a significant negative impact on the organization. Continue reading “What Do You Expect?” »