business

A very murky crystal ball

A Very Murky Crystal Ball

January is generally a time to take stock and review the year ahead; to try and foresee what factors may affect our businesses, either positively, or negatively. We assess risk, i.e. what is the probability of an event occurring and what is the consequence if it does.

As Residual Value (RV) forecasters we go through the same process but our horizon is further out and we look at the factors influencing both sides of the market equation, supply and demand.

Supply:
­ Will last year’s sales boom continue?
­ Will impending deflation/stagflation in Europe tempt OEMs to push even more cars into the UK?
­ Will the economic climate prevent OEMs from increasing prices or, at least, reduce their size?

Where do all the used cars go?

Where do all the used cars go?

788,424 new cars have been registered in the European Union within the first 6 months of 2014. This is the lowest number since the European Automobile Manufacturers Association started keeping track of this statistic. Nevertheless, the sheer number is still impressive. The question I ask myself, though, is what happens to all the used cars, because they aren’t all sold in their home countries?

We can understand why people buy new cars; they are not only more luxurious and safer but, also, more environmentally friendly. About the last point, however, you can have a long discussion. Is buying a new car actually beneficial for the environment? On one hand the average fuel consumption improves, while on the other the energy and resource-intensive production process has to be taken into consideration as well. The cars that disappear from our streets either go for scrap, or they are exported to another country. Exact figures, though, are not available. And yet those statistics are of great interest, if you think of our efforts to have a high retention of cars in the used market. The figures that are available show that, within the European Union, Germany is by far the biggest exporter of used cars. Where these used cars will be exported to is a matter of price.

To sell or not to sell -That is the question!

I want to stir things up!

Selling and Networking do not go together!

Networking 

But that is the reason to network, some people will say.

No it is not.

You are there to meet get to know people and build relationships.

From building a relationship business will follow.

It may start with someone asking your advice.

Give it freely.

Mastermind your way to success

MastermindI belong to a Mastermind group and I’m surprised at how few people know about this as a means of developing your business.  Everyone I know who has taken part in a Mastermind group over a period of time has got enormous value from them, so I thought I enlighten those of you who don’t know about them, or have heard about them and only have a vague idea of what they’re about.

What value do you put on the advice you get from your business mentor?

And how do you show respect to your business mentor?

 

I was very interested to read the James Caan article in the Guardian newspaper recently (http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/aug/28/business-mentor-tips-james-caan) about taking notice of your business mentor.

The first thing that sprang to mind is “I wonder how he defines mentor”. So many people seem to use the term interchangeably with coach and business advisor. (See my take on the differences here http://www.thebusinessbloggingnetwork.com/2011/03/should-you-choose-a-mentor-an-advisor-or-a-consultant-to-help-you-in-your-business-or-all-3/

It always amazes me how some businesses invest a lot of time, effort and their hard earned cash in paying for help/ support/ advice and then completely ignore it. Or don’t share the knowledge throughout the organisation, so one area will be making great changes and the rest of the business fails to keep up with them. 

 

So who or what qualities make a good mentor for you or your business?

Outsourcing, a good idea?

Outsourcing can be a great way to grow your business or it could be a way to destroy your business.  Selecting the right people or company to outsource is important. You can take more work on by using contractors or temp staff, or offer more services by working with other companies. This can increase your business and is good for the people or businesses that you outsource to.

The business of business

OrganigramIf you’ve ever been promoted you have probably found yourself doing a job that wasn’t what you set out to do – and may be a job you don’t have the skills for.  

Sprats and Prats!

I thought this Blog posting I would share some of the frustrations that we all must feel when running and Building a Business, the problem of the Sprats and Prats!

What do I mean by Sprats and Prats? Well, especially if you are growing a new business, or a new area of your business, often at the beginning and the early stages you get lots of people who …well waste your time.

Either they are looking for something for nothing, or if you can get any money out of them, its like catching sprats when fishing, small, minuscule and below your true value leading you to think was it really worth it?

Documents represent your business as well

Have you opened the post to find a letter from a company and thought how terrible it looked? Maybe it looked like the letterhead was photocopied or the paper was cheap and like tissue paper. Or it could have been monotone (black print on the paper no colour). The print looked like the ink or toner was low.

Whatever it was you may have tossed the paper without reading or just gave a cursory glance. Any business has many faces, the people, the website, if there is a shop how the shop looks. People spend a lot of money on those things, but what about the paper that is send out or the presentations that are created?

What does your documents and presentations say about your business? Think about:

  • Letterhead
  • Reports
  • Quotations
  • Invoices
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Proposals

60 Seconds to make an Impression!

Yes, we all do it, some dread it, others relish it, but its a necessary part of promoting our business, the 60 second “Elevator” pitch!

This is probably a topic that there have been millions of articles written about, so you may have heard some of this before, but in terms of communication if something is worth sharing, its certainly worth repeating.

Do You Want to Build Your Business?

This may seem a strange question to pose on this site, especially when most of the blogs posted are on topics which will help you to Build your Business.

However, I have come across hundreds of business in the past 12 months and I have to say that I question around 75% of them in relation to this question, because I see little evidence that they want to grow and build their Business!

It may seem a strange statement to make, but honestly, I have come across more “social” businesses in the last twelve months than I have actual trading functioning businesses, especially in the networking circuit.

What I mean by a “social” business, is one where the owner is aspiring to run a business, but not needing to make it pay as their partner is out working and paying all the bills. 

Therefore they are using the “business’ as a social gathering tool and going round networking meetings making contacts. or rather harvesting business cards to populate their e-mail lists, but really NOT running a business.

In these circumstances I question if they want to grow their business at all – and I am not alone in this view, just ask the networking event organisers!

But then the other businesses which I have to question their intention and will to grow, are usually established businesses.

Most are in the service sectors and have been around for years.

They have enjoyed the monopoly of their service, and seen many come and go in terms of competition, but they tick over, they don’t really grow.

Is that because they don’t have the ingredients to grow? Probably not and let me give you an example:

I had to take my car to the garage to get the back brakes replaced. I rang up the garage and the first piece of information they asked me for was my vehicle registration. This allowed them to bring up all my details and history on their database.

I took my car in at the booked in time and left them to run up a bill for me! When I came to collect the car and pay the bill I asked when my MOT was due as I was sure it was around this time.

The man tapped into the database and informed me it was due in two weeks according to their records. I said to him, if I had known that sooner I could have got the MOT done at the same time as the work on my brakes.

Now this doesn’t seem like a big deal and it was only £45 for the MOT, but the principle here is that this garage lost out on £45 of business where it could and should have cross sold me the MOT as well as the brakes!

What should have happened was that the garage should have an adopted mailing policy where they inform customers, via the information on the database, at least 6 weeks before an MOT is due to remind them and to get the booking / business.

If they didnt do that the least they should have done was have the MOT flagged on the system that when they accessed the database to book me in for the brakes, they should have said at the time on the phone, “would you like us to do the MOT at the same time” and they would have had an additional £45!

the reason they did not cross sell or up-sell to me was NOT because they didn’t have the tools – all the information was on the database. it was because they had no systems or processes in place to utilise the information to look for additional work / sales and therefore they didnt get the additional business.

But more of a worry is the fact that the owner of the business has not made the time, or had the inclination to put these things in place, and I question how much he wants to grow and Build his Business. Perhaps he doesn’t want to, or he’s too busy to look at this.

It is probably the classic business mistake of working too much IN the business rather than ON the business development at play here. The owner is in overalls with the other mechanics fixing the cars at this garage! So who’s driving his business forward???

Not every Business wants to Grow! Every Business has the potential to grow and be built, but lack of knowledge, understanding and most of all vision and desire to grow is what stops most businesses achieving their potential.

Perhaps these ramblings will help you to look at where you are with your business, do you actually WANT to Build your Business? Are you making the TIME to Build your Business and get in place the systems and processes to allow you to grow?

Internet rage – is your business at risk?

My website was hacked recently. I’m really quite ignorant when it comes to all things about my website, so when I received an email from my host telling me that they’d had to pull the site down until I fixed it (me, fix it? are you kidding?) I confess to being quite shocked and upset. Particularly as the wording of the email went along the lines of “you agreed when you signed up to being hosted that you would not cause any disrepute to our site”. Of course I agreed that and was rather upset that they felt I had knowingly done something that would. Anyway…

I duly spent a small amount of money to subscribe to a security firm in the US that was affiliated with the host, then a larger amount of money to pay to have the malicious code (“malware”) removed line by line, which apparently wasn’t part of the smaller subscription.

Two days after I had been assured that it was now over and I could breathe a sigh of relief, I received an email from a young guy in the UK that he had sent through the “contact us” capture on the website. Let’s call him Josh, since that was his name. His email went along the lines of, “stop sending me emails” and signed off by referring to me as a “c*!%”.

Most language doesn’t offend me, I’ve worked in heavy industry for too long. Of course when it’s directed at me it’s never pleasant, but the “c” word really does bother me whenever it’s used. So, I duly responded to Josh, asking if it was really necessary to use that language and apologising that he had received spam but my website had been hacked.

Is a LinkedIn endorsement as valuable as a recommendation?

LinkedIn has recently introduced the endorsement feature making it very easy for your connections to endorse you for the skills you have in your profile, which raises the issue of having a great profile and making sure your skills are complete and prioritised but we’ll talk about that in another post.

Now I use LinkedIn to source leads for my businesses, but it is also one of my major sources of good suppliers for me. And I use it to find out more about he businesses I work with before a project starts.  So I’m a little sceptical about the benefit of these endorsements on your profile.

I am a huge fan of good recommendations. Not the ones that say “I met Philippa at a meeting and she was lovely” – which are great for the ego, but they don’t really help me when I want to find a new service provider, or to learn about the people I work with. 

Managing employee behaviour – video

For something different I thought I’d pop in a video interview that gives a very brief overview of performance / behaviour management in the workplace. Please click on the link below.

[sz-youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjt4Z83ZDgU” cover=”Employees behaving badly – performance management” /]

 Employees behaving badly – performance management

Please let me know if the idea works for you as an occasional blog entry!

Is motivation all you need?

In my last blog I wrote about keeping motivation up for long periods of time.  But is this going to guarantee success? No.

There was an article in the business insider online magazine that was quite blunt about it, if motivation or visualisation was all we needed why was everyone not millionaires and happy? Because if you don’t have something else then your chances of making it are slim.

I have been talking about this thing for years, it is skill.  You can have all the motivation in the world but if you do not have the skills you need you are probably not going to make it.  I say probably because there are a very few cases in which someone makes it by chance but can they replicate that success over and over again, no. Those who can replicate success are those who have both the drive and skill.  Drive is just another way of saying that their motivation is high.