Employees quit leaders not companies

August 11, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Yeah, this is going to be one of those tough to read Wake-Ups. From the calls we’ve been getting at Strategies, it seems like the employee revolving door is spinning a bit faster this summer. It sounds something like, “My salon/spa lost $160,000 in sales because these technicians quit and went down the street.” And then there’s all the drama, ugly words and feelings of betrayal. It’s like that voice in your head keeps saying, “How could they do this to me after all I did for them?” These situations can get so out of hand that I was recently asked to be an expert witness in a lawsuit where an owner is suing his attorney for failing to properly calculate the extent of the damages. Yes, you’re hurt, frustrated and angry – but this isn’t about what the dearly departed did to you and your business, it’s about you taking ownership for the part you played in this saga.
Employees quit leaders not companies. Personally, every job I ever quit had more to do with quitting the leader than work itself. In fact, I once quite a job I truly loved and would have stayed at for years had the leader not compromised my trust in him. Likewise, I know and accept that people quit me because of my action, inaction or behavior. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but taking ownership in an employee relationship gone bad is part of being a no-compromise leader. The question is, will you learn from your mistakes?
Here are some red-hot strategies to make sure employees don’t quit you:
* Communication, dialog and understanding: Every employee wants and needs to know where they stand with you and the company. There is no such thing as communicating too much. If you have any employee who hasn’t had a thorough performance evaluation in the past three months, you’re part of the problem.
* Never avoid performance and behavior issues: The most serious relationship damage occurs when issues surface and conversations, because they may be tough to do, are avoided. Like any infection, performance and behavior issues only get worse – and often spread to other employees.
* Leave nothing unsaid: It’s difficult enough to engage in a fierce conversation, so why end it without getting everything out? Leaving things unsaid is simply giving permission for problems to continue. Read the book, Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson. You’ll learn how to control tough conversations that become emotionally charged.
* Agreement on expectations and next steps: Never end a conversation without clarity on what the expectations and next steps are – even if that means parting ways. Set timelines and check-in points to coach, reinforce and ensure progress is being made. If you think that one crucial conversation is going to cure everything, you’re clearly part of the problem.
* Tunnel vision is short sighted: Leaders are notorious for charging forward or heading off on rabbit trails. They stop paying attention to what’s really going on. They become disconnected with their employees until something snaps. No-compromise leaders never disconnect from the people they lead and the customers they service.
* Culture is everything: A contaminated business culture fuels turnover. It makes it tough to come to work. It creates resentment. The no-compromise leader is the keeper and protector of the business culture. Is there contamination in your culture?
* Everyone seeks appreciation: “Great job.” These two little words can brighten someone’s day and inspire great performance. Make the time to show and demonstrate your sincere appreciation for a job well done.
* Sometimes, it’s just over: Employees come and go. Just like you, their needs and desires change and evolve. Sometimes they move on. Other times they quit and stay. As absurd as “quit and stay” sounds, if it’s over, acknowledge it and help them move on – even if it means walking them to the door. It’s all part of protecting your culture and keeping the drama outside of your company.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Yeah, this is going to be one of those tough to read Wake-Ups. From the calls we’ve been getting at Strategies, it seems like the employee revolving door is spinning a bit faster this summer. It sounds something like, “My salon/spa lost $160,000 in sales because these technicians quit and went down the street.” And then there’s all the drama, ugly words and feelings of betrayal. It’s like that voice in your head keeps saying, “How could they do this to me after all I did for them?” These situations can get so out of hand that I was recently asked to be an expert witness in a lawsuit where an owner is suing his attorney for failing to properly calculate the extent of the damages. Yes, you’re hurt, frustrated and angry – but this isn’t about what the dearly departed did to you and your business, it’s about you taking ownership for the part you played in this saga.... Read More

Yeah, this is going to be one of those tough to read Wake-Ups. From the calls we’ve been getting at Strategies, it seems like the employee revolving door is spinning a bit faster this summer. It sounds something like, “My salon/spa lost $160,000 in sales because these technicians quit and went down the street.” And then there’s all the drama, ugly words and feelings of betrayal. It’s like that voice…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

The economy is NOT an excuse

August 4, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

July was a month of non-stop travel for presentations and seminars. From the PBA Combat Compensation Learning Lounge in Las Vegas, a keynote presentation at the Harms User Group Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a day of training at the Tanworld Conference in Omaha, Neb., to a three-day Strategies’ SBS/4.0 course, I could see concern escalating among salon and spa owners over the economy. Just last Thursday, I got a call from a major distributor to set up a two-day training course to help their sales consultants effectively respond to owners that are “freaking out” over the economy. His exact words were, “My sales consultants are getting beat up – they need solutions to help owners.”
Yes, we’re getting hammered daily with bad economic news. Just this morning, the first headline I read said, “Jobless rate highest in four years.” Bad economic news and rising costs is enough to squelch any morsels of positive thinking. Being bombarded with bad business news can wear you down and get you second guessing just how well your business is doing. Before you know it, you’re concerns and fears can infect your leadership to the point where sluggish sales, every cancelled appointment or drop in pre-books is blamed on the economy.
Using the state of economy is NOT an excuse for flat sales. In every class and speech I’ve given in the past few months, I ask owners to allow the no-compromise leader inside them to emerge. Hunkering down and cutting back is like burying your head in the sand. It’s like dialing down the energy and intensity of how you play the business game.
Of course you need to be cautious, but buying into the “it’s the economy” that’s creating white space on the books is avoiding the real issue at hand. It’s your leadership thinking that needs to change and adapt to the new reality of higher costs and consumer uncertainty. Simply put, how you lead your business last year isn’t going to work today. Yesterday’s systems and spotty accountability won’t keep you competitive and profitable tomorrow.
Here’s some inspiration for you. Micki Stirsman, owner of Salon 01 in Carmel, Ind., runs a disciplined and systematized salon. In June, Salon 01’s pre-book ratio averaged 72% in her multi-million dollar location – up from their running average of 68%. Salon 01 is busy because they hold themselves accountable to their systems. The economy is not an issue at Salon 01.
Mark Luikart, owner of Mark’s Place in New Philadelphia, Ohio, is located in a low-income area that has been economically depressed for years. Last year, Mark’s Place broke $2 million in sales and is on pace for another record-breaking year in 2008. Retail sales are averaging 25%. Luikart says, “We just work harder to create value for our customers. We don’t close our eyes to opportunities to grow – or to be our very best.”
If you’re feeling the effects of the economy, you can do something about it – but only if you shift into no-compromise mode and lead your company with confidence and some out-of-the-box thinking. This is no time to hunker down. It’s time to adapt and grow. No compromise.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

July was a month of non-stop travel for presentations and seminars. From the PBA Combat Compensation Learning Lounge in Las Vegas, a keynote presentation at the Harms User Group Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a day of training at the Tanworld Conference in Omaha, Neb., to a three-day Strategies’ SBS/4.0 course, I could see concern escalating among salon and spa owners over the economy. Just last Thursday, I got a call from a major distributor to set up a two-day training course to help their sales consultants effectively respond to owners that are “freaking out” over the economy. His exact words were, “My sales consultants are getting beat up – they need solutions to help owners.”... Read More

July was a month of non-stop travel for presentations and seminars. From the PBA Combat Compensation Learning Lounge in Las Vegas, a keynote presentation at the Harms User Group Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a day of training at the Tanworld Conference in Omaha, Neb., to a three-day Strategies’ SBS/4.0 course, I could see concern escalating among salon and spa owners over the economy. Just last Thursday, I got a…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

How to get more done in less time

July 7, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Surprise! There just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. But you already knew that. Like virtually everyone in business today, you begin each day jammed-packed with stuff that needs to get done – then find yourself bombarded with new stuff all labeled “urgent.” Checking and responding to the emails that accumulated overnight takes an immediate bite out of your day. Then come the phone calls, meetings, interruptions, questions and cries for help. Of course, we can’t forget time spent consoling that one employee who meanders from one life crisis to the next. Isn’t it amazing how something like breaking up with a boyfriend can bring an entire department’s productivity to a grinding halt? At the end of the day, your to-do list not only looks the same – it got bigger. If I captured a day in your life, read on.
I always like to use the phrase, “manage what’s on your plate” as a means of avoiding the stress that comes living in a perpetual state of feeling “overwhelmed.” For most leaders, that’s easier said than done. Overcoming bad work habits, poor time management and the inability to quickly filter out priorities, gotta-do’s and hot opportunities from the busy work, nice-to-do’s and rabbit trails, requires more than good intentions.
Here are some red-hot strategies to take control of your time and get more done:
* Step off the hamster wheel: Give yourself some time to gain perspective on what needs to change in your daily approach to work. You can’t do this while you’re immersed in your self-inflected chaos. This may require a few hours or a few days of self-discovery. It all depends on how chaotic your days are. Simply put, if you’re not getting stuff done now, stepping back for a bit to reorganize is a better use of time to become more productive.
* Filtering and processing your plates: It’s so easy to have projects and problems creep onto your plate. So why not think in terms of two plates? There’s your main course plate that contains high-value, high-priority projects and tasks. This plate contains the gotta-do’s. Nothing gets added to this plate if it doesn’t fit the high-value, high-priority criteria. The second plate is dessert with low-value, low priority projects and tasks. Like dessert, you may not always have room or you just may pass on it entirely. Finishing what’s on the main plate is non-negotiable. Dessert can wait.
* Organize and prioritize tomorrow’s work: The brain does amazing work while you sleep – as long as you give it stuff to work on. If you organize and prioritize your plates at the end of the day, your brain essentially begins working on tomorrow’s tasks. The next day, this subliminal head start gets you into a productivity mode quickly. The key is working your plan. Yes, interruptions will occur. It’s your job to filter them into high or low priorities to avoid heading off on rabbit trails.
* Assess your progress: At the end of the day, your reward for getting organized and focused is being able to assess what you’ve accomplished. View assessing progress as your commitment to personal accountability. Simply put, your goal is to achieve measureable progress at the end of every day.
Sure, there will be days you’ll find yourself back on the hamster wheel. It happens to the best leaders. No-compromise leaders regain focus and quickly shift back into productivity mode.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Surprise! There just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. But you already knew that. Like virtually everyone in business today, you begin each day jammed-packed with stuff that needs to get done – then find yourself bombarded with new stuff all labeled “urgent.” Checking and responding to the emails that accumulated overnight takes an immediate bite out of your day. Then come the phone calls, meetings, interruptions, questions and cries for help. Of course, we can’t forget time spent consoling that one employee who meanders from one life crisis to the next. Isn’t it amazing how something like breaking up with a boyfriend can bring an entire department’s productivity to a grinding halt? At the end of the day, your to-do list not only looks the same – it got bigger. If I captured a day in your life, read on.... Read More

Surprise! There just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that needs to get done. But you already knew that. Like virtually everyone in business today, you begin each day jammed-packed with stuff that needs to get done – then find yourself bombarded with new stuff all labeled “urgent.” Checking and responding to the emails that accumulated overnight takes an immediate bite out of your day. Then come…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Gotta take care of you

June 30, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Being the leader of a business pretty much means that you live in a perpetual pressure cooker. You’ve got stuff coming at you from all sides while juggling a dozen business balls. You’re constantly thinking about cash flow, making sales goals, employee issues and delivering world-class service to customers. You’re even trying to understand the thinking of that one employee who invests more time and energy figuring out how to avoid work – and is still looking for a raise. Yes, it’s controlled craziness and it’s all part of the leadership game.
But here’s the catch. When all this day-in-day-out craziness eventually becomes the norm, the stress can take its toll on both your mental and physical health. I know because it happened to me last year. I was fried and out of gas. I needed a break. So much so, with the support of my team, I took a three-month sabbatical from June through August. The very first thing I did was read a book called Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, MD. Following the book’s recommendations, I committed to going to the gym every day rather than my usual every other day. Wow, within a week I could feel a difference.
After a few weeks, I decided to kick it up a notch and started doing spin class in addition to weight training. I thought I was going to die at that first spin class – but kept going back. Since I live in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley and Long Island Sound area, I decided to buy a road bike to enjoy my workouts outside. I did 10 miles, then 20, and worked up to 30 miles per ride. Six months later on New Year’s Eve, I had racked up 901 miles on that bike. During the winter, I did spin class four to five times a week. On weekends, I worked out on my bike mounted on a trainer. And if the temperature went over 40 degrees, I’d go for a 30-mile ride.
I was hooked. Last April, I bought a carbon fiber road bike. Three weeks ago, I did my first 75-mile ride. Tomorrow, July 28th, at 7:30am, I’ll begin a 150-mile ride for MS from Boston Harbor to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. (In the process, I raised $5,600 for MS.) As you read this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I hope to be basking in the glory of my personal victory of completing a successful ride.
So what’s the point of all this? At 58 years old, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m more productive and more on top of my game than at any other time in my career. My thinking is clear and I have the energy to do what ever comes my way. My attitude is purely positive. Strategies is having our best year in its 15-year history. Problems don’t wreck me – I wreck them with action.
It all began with a commitment to take care of me so I can take care of everyone and everything else. Working out is key to managing stress. (A fine wine or a Bombay Sapphire doesn’t hurt either.) If you say that you don’t have the time to workout, my response is simple, “Stop compromising. You’ll have the time if you make time.” No compromise.
And here’s what makes it all worth the effort. In the past year, more people have said to me, “You look great, you look younger.” Younger next year – that was my goal. This no-compromise stuff works.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Being the leader of a business pretty much means that you live in a perpetual pressure cooker. You’ve got stuff coming at you from all sides while juggling a dozen business balls. You’re constantly thinking about cash flow, making sales goals, employee issues and delivering world-class service to customers. You’re even trying to understand the thinking of that one employee who invests more time and energy figuring out how to avoid work – and is still looking for a raise. Yes, it’s controlled craziness and it’s all part of the leadership game.... Read More

Being the leader of a business pretty much means that you live in a perpetual pressure cooker. You’ve got stuff coming at you from all sides while juggling a dozen business balls. You’re constantly thinking about cash flow, making sales goals, employee issues and delivering world-class service to customers. You’re even trying to understand the thinking of that one employee who invests more time and energy figuring out how to…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Are you keeping your promise to the customer?

June 23, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

These days, terms like “brand promise,” “exceeding customer expectations” and “the customer is always right” are so overused that their message is barely audible above the daily activities and routines at your business. Of course you and the rest of your team know how essential it is to deliver amazing customer experiences all day, every day. In fact, strategically placed at the core of your business thinking there is a promise you’ve made to your customer. That promise is something special and unique that only your business can deliver. That promise says your business is committed to delivering extreme value with extraordinary consistency. It doesn’t really matter what your price point is or what segment of the market you cater to, it just matters that you deliver on your promise to the customer to be your best.
The question I pose to you is simple. Is your business keeping its promise to your customers? It’s a “yes” or “no” answer. An answer like, “Most of the time,” is unacceptable because it’s a compromise to your promise. Actually, the reality at your business may be that some people believe in and deliver on the promise – the rest of your team delivers something less. That’s breaking your promise. That’s compromise.
Here are three red-hot strategies to keep your promise to the customer:
1. You need to commit first: If your business has compromised on its promise, as the leader, you watched it happen. It will take a major initiative and a lot of pushing to get your entire team up to speed. You must be resolute.
2. Define your promise: Create a two- or three-person team charged with the responsibility to define every aspect of your promise. What does it look like, feel like and sound like from a customer perspective?
3. Skill certify EVERYONE: Build skill-certification training modules that address phone skills, greetings, consultations, client interaction, service closing procedures, client assistance procedures, problem procedures, ending-the-visit procedures… you name it, train and skill certify everyone how to do it all perfectly.
4. Across the board accountability: This is where no-compromise leadership needs to engage and stay engaged. It’s 100% keep the promise or it’s compromise.
All too often, customers are at the receiving end of a company’s indifference and apathy. And sadly, too many customers have gotten used to inconsistent service and breaching of a company’s promise to deliver amazing experiences. The winners invest the time and energy to master the disciplines of customer service and respect. By doing so, the no-compromise winners stand out like shining stars in a sea of compromising mediocrity. Can you deliver on your promise?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

These days, terms like “brand promise,” “exceeding customer expectations” and “the customer is always right” are so overused that their message is barely audible above the daily activities and routines at your business. Of course you and the rest of your team know how essential it is to deliver amazing customer experiences all day, every day. In fact, strategically placed at the core of your business thinking there is a promise you’ve made to your customer. That promise is something special and unique that only your business can deliver. That promise says your business is committed to delivering extreme value with extraordinary consistency. It doesn’t really matter what your price point is or what segment of the market you cater to, it just matters that you deliver on your promise to the customer to be your best.... Read More

These days, terms like “brand promise,” “exceeding customer expectations” and “the customer is always right” are so overused that their message is barely audible above the daily activities and routines at your business. Of course you and the rest of your team know how essential it is to deliver amazing customer experiences all day, every day. In fact, strategically placed at the core of your business thinking there is a…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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