Systemize the Routine, Humanize the Exception

You can’t change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction. -Jim Rohn.

Called a tradesman last week and scheduled some service for yesterday. I moved some appointments and stayed home to let him in. He didn’t show up. All day. Didn’t call. Didn’t respond to my messages. So I didn’t get the work done and wasted the day, getting more frustrated every hour.

You need a plan to succeed.

You need a plan to succeed.

This has happened to you, hasn’t it?

Hearing the story, you know the frustration and you have to ask: “How can a business run like that?” Don’t people know that there are competitors just waiting for our call? You don’t get a second chance at a first impression.

Unfortunately, we’ve probably done it to our customers, as well. For whatever reasons, whatever excuses.

So how can a business avoid these issues? Well, we can all get better memories or just try harder, but the best way is to review our systems. Well defined systems in a business can identify standard procedures for common situations and put them on auto-pilot. Make an appointment with a customer, have a way to communicate with them automatically. Reminders in the cell phone, answering service to contact you about urgent calls, etc. The answers aren’t rocket science, but consistency requires solid systems to “systemize the routine”. Done well, that allows you to “humanize the exceptions” – allowing businesses to react to truly unique situations quickly.

Take an hour this month to consider how solid your systems are. Make this subject a topic for your Team meeting, ask a staff member to prepare a review and proposal on how your business can improve in this area. It can make a world of difference in your customer service.

Wondering how to get started? Let’s meet – I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

My free Business Health Check can show you other areas your business could improve.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Start A New Habit

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. -Jim Rohn

This week I’m helping business people build a clear, detailed plan for the final weeks of 2013. Most business owners don’t do this – they will enter each day unprepared and react to whatever crises present themselves. A few know where they are going and what they need to do to get there. I’m wondering which type you are.

At ActionCOACH, we focus on helping business owners get in a habit of laying out 90 Day Plans, with specific actions they will take to achieve the goals they’ve set. I want owners to be able to focus on 2 or 3 tasks each week that will add up to achieving significant improvements in their business.

I’d like to invite you to join us this week for 90-Day Planning. It’s time you started designing your future instead of circumstances designing it for you. Bring your team, learn from others, do some networking. I promise a fun day with huge value!

  • When: Friday, October 18, from 9am to 3pm
  • Where: Regency Lodge, 909 S. 107th Ave
  • Who: Business Owners and their Team
  • Investment: $99 for Business Owners, $29 per Team Member. Includes lunch and materials.


I hope you can join us – it’s a great habit to start!

Can’t come but would like to start the planning habit? Let’s meet! I’ll buy the coffee if you’ll bring the topic.

Don’t need a plan? Take my free Business Health Check to make sure you’ve covered all the bases.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you Successful? Or just Lucky?

True success is not related to the owner’s work.

This provocative statement probably makes your hackles rise. You’re the owner, you work hard. If you aren’t working hard, who is? You may say your employees aren’t looking out for you – they are looking out for themselves.

Role of Business Owner

What’s your role?

Fact is, this statement isn’t true – the owner does need to contribute deeply to the success of the business. But it’s the definition of “work” that is confusing.

Many business owners see their role as an expert in some part of the operation of the business. Perhaps Sales or a specific technical knowledge. Some might see their role as support for the team – running deliveries or helping unload the truck. Sort of a temporary help position. If this is what the owner does, the business is just lucky, not successful.

True success is the result of your Team’s work and the role of the owner is to create a strong, powerful and focused Team. You are the coach! Your value is training the team, not playing the game. Calling the plays, not running the ball.

Here are 3 key systems that will help your Team be successful:

  1. Well-defined culture that can be communicated to employees, new and existing. Every business has a culture – you need to design yours. We’ll look at this next week.
  2. Clearly defined roles for all positions – not just Job Descriptions, but Contracts that outline functions, expected results, skills expected and other requirements for the position.
  3. RICHuals” – two or three things your team does to form a shared experience. Think “123 – Break” leaving the huddle, slapping the horseshoe in the Tunnel Walk, letting the balloons go when you make a sale. This type of activity will build a team from a group of employees.

Have fun with these – it can mean the difference between Luck and Success.

Not sure how to get started with these? Let’s meet or a free coaching session. I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

See what else you’re missing – take my free Business Health Check.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Second Verse, Same As The First


It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

I meet a lot of business owners. They are always wildly busy. I’ve never met a bored business owner, one with time on their hands. Even if their business is failing, the owners are sprinting to keep up. I’m pretty sure you’re really busy, too.

The interesting thing is that owners need some ‘unbusy’ time because planning and thinking are their key role. If you aren’t taking 5 hours a week to just observe, think about and plan your business, you are not an effective leader.

I can hear you – “5 HOURS! In what fantasy land do you live? I can’t keep up as it is – employees sucking my brain, customers demanding my time, vendors causing me grief. I don’t have time to sit back and watch!” And that’s the problem with almost all business owners. They think they must be in motion or something bad will happen. The employees will think they’re lazy. The customers won’t be served.

But here’s the deal – as owner, the future of the business depends on you. Only you. Where the company is going, who you are going to hire, the skills you will train to your employees are on your plate. And if you don’t do them, you will continue to operate your business the same way, year after year. Same song, second verse. You won’t see competition coming, you won’t see new product opportunities, you won’t develop a team that can support you.

I believe you need to begin to devote time to your most important function as a business owner and carve out those 5 hours. The Next 90 days can transform you and your business. To change your business, change yourself – new skills, new dreams. What would you like to accomplish in the next 90 days?

Business coaching isn’t for everyone. Only those who want to change something. I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic!

Would you like to have a clear and concise plan for the Next 90 days? Let me show you how to do it.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Did The Customers Go?

You will never lose a client because of price – you’ll only lose a client because they are stroke deprived. –Dave Sandler

Have you ever lost a client? I have. What a massive letdown. Losing a sale is cake compared to having someone you’ve worked with say goodbye. So I looked into why customers leave.

Do you know what is the #1 reason clients leave? Here are some statistics:

Lost customer

Will she be back?

  • 1%  Death
  • 3%  Move house
  • 5%  Buy from a friend
  • 9%  Sold by competitor
  • 14%  Product/Price
  • 68%  Perceived indifference

So I’d say 77% of lost customers could have been saved (sold by competitor/indifference) with a little TLC.

That’s a lot! And it represents a huge amount of lost sales. Think of the work you had to do to get the lead, convert them and then encourage the relationship. So much wasted effort.

So how do you keep your customers feeling loved? Well, communication is the first line of defense. Even an email newsletter can provide some connection. But more personal contact – regular calls, mail, or notes can go a very long way.

Increase your knowledge of your customers likes and dislikes. I’ve written about this before. If you can tap into this knowledge to make your customers life easier or more complete, then do it. If you demonstrate your interest in them, you will be ahead of the competition.

Finally, reward their loyalty. Yes, the loyalty cards are useful, but go beyond that. The more you can communicate the value of your relationship (to them!), the less likely you’ll lose them. How do you do this? Well, that’s the stuff of legend! Bring your whole team into the discussion to find unique and exciting ways to keep your customers talking about how cool you are. That will keep them coming back for more!

How good is your business at this concept? Want a free idea? Let’s meet. I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

Maybe this isn’t your issue – take my free Business Health Check to find your opportunity.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Too Big To Fail?

Of course not.

Your business is at risk of failing every day. There are things that can happen that will kill it instantly. Customer or Employee injuries. A natural disaster. Bad publicity. All of these can end it all.

Road To Success

Need to change directions?

But generally, you don’t fail overnight. Failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day. Many of these are unnoticeable. Sometimes it’s just a creeping inattention to detail.

Perhaps your facility isn’t as clean as it was. Maybe you’ve cut staffing so service is a little slower or less sharp. Possibly your product quality has slipped. When we’re busy, it’s very easy to miss this process. And we become ‘store blind’ as it happens, so we don’t even notice it over time.

I’m guessing your business is suffering from this incremental deterioration. And the best remedy is to step back – Way back – to take a fresh look at what’s really going on. I recommend a whole day away with key personnel and possibly an outside observer. Spend some time on SWOT and revisit your Vision, Mission and Culture. If you were starting over today with a fresh yellow pad, would your business look different?

If so, you need to change something. And that’s not easy. But neither is failure!

Remember, without a plan, it’s just work. Let’s meet for a cup of coffee to discuss what change looks like for you.

A great way to get started reviewing your business is my free Business Diagnostic.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn


Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amateur or Pro? What’s the difference?

Hey! It’s football season once again! I admit I’m always happier once it starts. Watching the games, cheering (and jeering) my team, and, of course, Fantasy Plumbing Team! What fun!

How do you build your team?

How do you build your Team?

It all reminds me of a question I pose to business owners as we discuss how they manage and build their teams: What’s the difference between a Pro and College football team?

Or a better question, What’s the difference between a Pro and College Coach?

I believe it is a crucial and determining difference. A college coach takes the athletes he can recruit and builds a strategy around them. Recruit a great option quarterback, we’ll run the option. Recruit super wide receivers, we’ll build a passing offense.

But Pro coaches do the opposite. They identify a strategy and hire team members who can execute the strategy. If a player can’t contribute to the plan, they are waived and the coach recruits someone who can.

Bo Pelini takes the best players he can get and crafts a gameplan around them. Bill Belichick creates a plan based on a drop-back passer and brings in Tom Brady to make it happen.

I believe business owners need to be Pros. They need to clearly define what their business is, how it will be done and what positions are needed. Then recruit quality team members to fill those positions and execute the plan.

How’s your team looking? Have you structured your business based on who you’ve got or what you need? Let’s meet and discuss it. I’ll buy the coffee if you bring the topic.

Want to see how your Team is doing? Take my free Team Questionnaire.

View Jim Barger | Business Coach's profile on LinkedIn

Posted in Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Leadership, Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment