No-compromise leadership is an either/or proposition

October 27, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

I received the following in an email from Dr. Lew Losoncy, “Clearly stated in the title, your book is the right concept for our times. No compromise is an either/or proposition that forces leaders to act decisively or accept the alternative – fear of compromising themselves and their companies.”
Either/or. Compromise or no compromise. Get it done or procrastinate. Address the problem or allow it to fester and grow. Take control of your business or be a “hostage.” Be tenacious and courageous or live in fear. Experience the fulfillment of racking up wins or the anxiety of allowing time and opportunities to slip away.
Going no compromise is tough work. It doesn’t matter if your business is wildly successful or confronting major challenges, no compromise is the work of leadership.
Since my No-Compromise Leadership book was released a few weeks ago, I’ve had some pretty interesting reactions from readers. One reader said, “I’m into Chapter 3 and suffering acute anxiety. I’ve been seriously compromising. Do you ever feel this way?” My response was a simple, “Yes, I feel the pressure of living no compromise every day. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the success or failure of my company.”
What I’m learning is that Part One of the book really hit its mark. It calls leaders on their compromising thinking and behaviors. So if it’s tough reading for some, it’s precisely what they need to read because compromise destroys businesses from within. Just a hint of compromise is toxic enough to create drag in a company.
Here are three simple rules to keep you in the no-compromise leadership zone.
1. Stay engaged in the business of your business: Don’t get lost in projects or distractions. Disconnecting from customers, your employees and what drives the bottom line is a compromise. Simply put, be where the action is.
2. Priorities rule: Getting stuck in busy work is a compromise. Identify and tackle priorities with determination. Heck, attack them with a vengeance.
3. Information flow never flows fast enough: Communication and the flow of information is fast and furious in the no-compromise zone. Information flow keeps everyone on the same page. It’s like glue, the more you drive information flow, the more locked into the no-compromise zone you get.
Either/or … compromise or no compromise. Which path will you take?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

I received the following in an email from Dr. Lew Losoncy, “Clearly stated in the title, your book is the right concept for our times. No compromise is an either/or proposition that forces leaders to act decisively or accept the alternative – fear of compromising themselves and their companies.”... Read More

I received the following in an email from Dr. Lew Losoncy, “Clearly stated in the title, your book is the right concept for our times. No compromise is an either/or proposition that forces leaders to act decisively or accept the alternative – fear of compromising themselves and their companies.” Either/or. Compromise or no compromise. Get it done or procrastinate. Address the problem or allow it to fester and grow. Take…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Are you throwing Alka-Seltzer in your St. Helens?

October 20, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

‘ve been teaching a lot of seminars and doing a considerable amount of coaching these past few months. If I had to use one word to describe the emotional state most often encountered, I’d have to use the word “stress.” In these crazy economic times, it just seems like owners are stressed to some degree over the uncertainty of how their business will fair. The constant barrage of bad news doesn’t help much either. The question is, what are you going to do right now to ensure that your business will weather the storm and emerge rock-solid? If there is any cure for stress, it’s taking action, being proactive and kicking some business butt. There’s little or no time for stress when you’re taking action. Sitting around worrying or obsessing over what to do and doing nothing, feeds and deepens stress.
I’ve spent the better part of my career teaching and helping entrepreneurs work through their challenges and grow successful businesses. Just about every business owner knows what the problems are in his or her business. They know who the unproductive employees are. They know what’s undermining teamwork and fueling all that senseless drama. They know payroll is too high and which expenses need to be contained. They know that cash-flow plans either don’t exist, and if they do, they’re not living their plans. Simply put, they know. You know.
If owners know what the problems are, why don’t they – why don’t you – fix them? The answer is actually quite simple. It’s the fear of making big changes and how badly those big changes will rock the boat. Productive employees may leave. The changes will be unpopular and create discontent. Maybe the changes won’t work. So, rather than implement a cure that may rock the boat, owners create some short-term discomfort or require the learning of new business skills, and small, largely ineffective solutions are attempted instead. It’s like throwing an Alka-Seltzer in Mount St. Helens. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz – the eruption rages on.
I received the following email from an owner who just returned from a Strategies course on no-compromise leadership. The business has been struggling financially and she just completed performance reviews that she described as “crucial conversations.” She wrote:
“I feel empowered and I keep these words in mind. At night when I tuck my son into bed, how will I explain that he won’t have his bedroom in the house that he loves, in the neighborhood he feels safe in, or go to the school where he feels confident and loved? The likelihood of loosing it all is a respected fear that I am no longer willing to ignore or sweep under the rug. Going no compromise is really hard, but the alternative is much more uncomfortable and scary. Neil, I finally get it.”
Those are some pretty powerful words from an owner who traded in her bottle of Alka-Seltzer to do the tough work of a no-compromise leader. She gets it that rocking the boat is part of change. She knows that her decisions may not be popular with her team and some may leave, but she has the respect and loyalty of those that want to build something special together.
In these times, never forget that business problems are like icebergs. You see only a small piece of the problem while the real danger looms large below the surface. As the leader, you must not only be strategic, you must be decisive. If you need to cut expenses, cut decisively. If you need to address performance issues, address them decisively. If you need to give certain toxic employees a career opportunity, do so decisively.
Becoming a no-compromise leader is truly a road less traveled. Not because it’s necessarily long or difficult, but because of the unwavering commitment and perseverance to be such a leader. Is it time for you to allow the no-compromise leader in you to emerge?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

I’ve been teaching a lot of seminars and doing a considerable amount of coaching these past few months. If I had to use one word to describe the emotional state most often encountered, I’d have to use the word “stress.” In these crazy economic times, it just seems like owners are stressed to some degree over the uncertainty of how their business will fair. The constant barrage of bad news doesn’t help much either. The question is, what are you going to do right now to ensure that your business will weather the storm and emerge rock-solid? If there is any cure for stress, it’s taking action, being proactive and kicking some business butt. There’s little or no time for stress when you’re taking action. Sitting around worrying or obsessing over what to do and doing nothing, feeds and deepens stress.... Read More

‘ve been teaching a lot of seminars and doing a considerable amount of coaching these past few months. If I had to use one word to describe the emotional state most often encountered, I’d have to use the word “stress.” In these crazy economic times, it just seems like owners are stressed to some degree over the uncertainty of how their business will fair. The constant barrage of bad news…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Accountability (No Compromise!)

October 13, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Greetings fellow entrepreneurs. Did you receive your government bailout check yet? I’m talking about the bailout check that will cover all those questionable and utterly bad business decisions you’ve made. All kidding aside, there are no bailout checks for entrepreneurs.
Unlike AIG and the other investment banks that failed to be accountable and knowingly compromised their financial integrity, there is one absolute that we entrepreneurs live by; when we mess up, we’re on our own and can lose everything. And unlike chief executives at major corporations that continue to receive million-dollar paychecks as their companies crumble beneath them, we entrepreneurs surrender our paychecks so our employees can get theirs. For entrepreneurs, when the well is dry – it’s over. No bailouts. No Lone Ranger to the rescue.
Am I angry at the events of recent weeks? You bet I am. I’m angry because the leaders of our banking system, major corporations and especially our leaders in Washington, DC, don’t get it. They don’t get what accountability and no compromise is all about. They don’t get that doing what’s right is the tough stuff of leadership – that respect for people comes before profit. Moreover, the bailout doesn’t fix the fundamental fact that compromise created this mess; it “forgives” it and enables compromising thinking and behavior to continue.
Roseanne Klementisz, one of our Certified Strategies Coaches, emailed me after last week’s presidential debate. McCain’s frequent use of the word “transparency” inspired her to write the following words:
“Given the current economic crisis, there is a renewed urgency for fierce, effective leadership at all levels of our financial lives. Leadership at the corporate and political levels can no longer preside with mediocrity and deceit.
The curtain is rising and employees, shareholders and citizens alike are demanding a revolutionary transparency. It’s essential to restore the massive degree of lost trust.
Entrepreneurs can no longer avoid the challenges that their companies are facing and neither can the average Americans that are accountable for the financial well-being of their families.
Compromise at the leadership level equals failure at best and devastation at worst. Safety nets have deteriorated and the call for no compromise must be heeded to restore the strength of our country’s economy.”
Roseanne’s words are a powerful call to action for everyone in business and government. In my new book, No-Compromise Leadership, I wrote, “When leaders compromise, or look the other way when compromise occurs, it’s the equivalent of a captain drilling holes in the bottom of a ship. A business can sink just as quickly as a ship.” Now is the time for all leaders to practice accountability and to live the no-compromise mantra.
Salons and spas touch and communicate with millions of people every day. Let’s show America and the world what no-compromise leadership looks like. Let’s spread the word that no compromise and accountability is a non-negotiable in business and government. By doing so, we can all emerge from this mess as strong and vibrant businesses.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Greetings fellow entrepreneurs. Did you receive your government bailout check yet? I’m talking about the bailout check that will cover all those questionable and utterly bad business decisions you’ve made. All kidding aside, there are no bailout checks for entrepreneurs.... Read More

Greetings fellow entrepreneurs. Did you receive your government bailout check yet? I’m talking about the bailout check that will cover all those questionable and utterly bad business decisions you’ve made. All kidding aside, there are no bailout checks for entrepreneurs. Unlike AIG and the other investment banks that failed to be accountable and knowingly compromised their financial integrity, there is one absolute that we entrepreneurs live by; when we mess…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Now is the time for No-Compromise Leadership

October 6, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

We are all getting a real-time and sobering lesson in compromise. The economic events of this past week on Wall Street and Washington DC have been fed by compromise at every step. In what seems like a heartbeat, the economy went from sluggish to serious talk of recession. The question we’ve been asking, “Can it get any worse?” now has an answer, “Yes it can.” Compromise in Washington and Wall Street has driven America to the lowest point I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.
As entrepreneurs, we risk it all for our businesses. And when we make bad decisions and compromise, we know that the government will not step in and write an insanely massive check to bail us out. Simply put, we pay a price to play the business game. When we win, there’s no better feeling of personal pride and accomplishment. When we lose, it hurts in every conceivable way imaginable.
It is in economic times like these that our entrepreneurial grit is put to the test. From all indications, this economic mess will get worse before it gets better. And if it hasn’t already, it is going to impact your business. The question is, will the no-compromise leader in you rise to the challenge? The best mindset is to prepare for what is shaping up to be an extended period of economic uncertainty.
No-compromise leadership means doing what needs to be done. No excuses. No procrastination. To get you going, here are some do-it-now no-compromise strategies:
* Forget “Salons are recession proof” thinking: These are different and extremely complex times. That old “recession proof” thinking enables inaction. It creates a mindset that nothing needs to change. Today, salons are NOT recession proof. Many can already attest to that.
* Turn your systems on: This simply means, everyone on your team plays according to the rules. Our coaching clients that are reporting growing or steady sales and profits are the ones that have a no-compromise culture where everyone is accountable. From up-selling on the phones and adhering to service procedures, to consultations, recommendations and pre-booking, they execute their systems.
* Lift or drag: Do you have employees on your team that live by their own rules? That’s compromise. Absenteeism, lateness, missing huddles, avoiding retail recommendations, not pre-booking, no teamwork, always an excuse… you get the picture. If an employee is not creating lift, he or she is creating drag. The no-compromise leader doesn’t tolerate drag of any kind.
* Information flow: In times like these, information flow throughout the business is crucial. The no-compromise leader is a communicator. Huddles, scoreboards, one-on-ones, constant cheerleading – that’s how to maintain urgency, consistency and focus.
* Cash-flow planning: I know I beat this topic to death. I do so because too many entrepreneurs don’t pay attention to their financial reports. Even more fail to create and live a cash-flow plan. Today, and most certainly in the months ahead, there is no margin for error when it comes to cash flow. Most certainly, there is no bailout waiting for you should you run out of cash. The no-compromise leader is engaged in cash-flow planning.
You need to go no compromise. America needs to go no compromise. No doubt we are in uncertain and fearful economic times. It’s time for no-compromise leadership. Heck, I wrote the book on it and I need to adhere to no-compromise thinking and behavior, too. Let’s weather this storm by doing what needs to be done. Like all storms, there is sunshine and blue skies on the other side.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

We are all getting a real-time and sobering lesson in compromise. The economic events of this past week on Wall Street and Washington DC have been fed by compromise at every step. In what seems like a heartbeat, the economy went from sluggish to serious talk of recession. The question we’ve been asking, “Can it get any worse?” now has an answer, “Yes it can.” Compromise in Washington and Wall Street has driven America to the lowest point I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.... Read More

We are all getting a real-time and sobering lesson in compromise. The economic events of this past week on Wall Street and Washington DC have been fed by compromise at every step. In what seems like a heartbeat, the economy went from sluggish to serious talk of recession. The question we’ve been asking, “Can it get any worse?” now has an answer, “Yes it can.” Compromise in Washington and Wall…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Pricing in today’s uncertain economy

September 22, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Pricing services at salons and spas is a topic that’s always steeped in controversy. At one extreme, owners take an artistic and emotional approach that relies heavily on what the market will bear. At the other extreme, owners take a more strategic approach that factors in costs, profit margins and competitor pricing. In the middle resides a mixed bag consisting of multi-level pricing, incentive pricing, service packaging and other similar strategies with the intention of appealing to the broadest range of consumer price preferences.
Suffice it to say, pricing strategies at salons and spas are clearly more art than science. Yet, while the debate rages on, only one line item on your profit and loss statement truly matters – net profit. Did your business generate enough revenue and control its expenses to make a profit? And, at the end of the day, was that profit significant enough to be worth all the effort? In these uncertain economic times, these two simple questions must guide any and all pricing decisions and strategies.
To keep your thinking clear on your pricing strategies, consider the following:
* The problem may be your spending – not your pricing: Before you rush into a price increase or a discount strategy, get real about your spending habits. I’ve seen more owners crying the blues about profits while refusing to confront their spending and avoidance of cash-flow planning disciplines. If this describes you, it’s time to confront reality and take accountability for managing expense. Messing with pricing is not going to fix a spending behavior problem.
* The problem may be “not up-selling” – not your pricing: It’s a safe bet that you’re letting sales walk out the door simply because your front desk and service providers are not up-selling. Does your front desk and call center staff have scripts for up-selling? If not, why not? If they do, are they using those scripts? The same goes for service providers. Scripts make up-selling easier and more natural. Too many salons and spas have the systems but fail to train and hold employees accountable for using them.
* Know your cost-per-hour: You cannot effectively price a service without knowing your cost-per-hour that includes labor, product cost and overhead. Knowing your cost-per-hour is like knowing the cost of a retail product. It allows you to effectively “mark-up” that cost sufficiently to ensure a profit. Without knowing cost-per-hour, you’re simply guessing. You can read more about cost-per-hour in the Strategies’ archive by clicking this link: Service Pricing
* Discounting has its place – or not: Discounts do help influence buying decisions. Discounts allow you to focus attention on new services or time slots that need attention. Used strategically, discounting can and should boost revenues. And if the term “discount” brings shivers to your artistic and professional demeanor, you can easily package services into one attractive price and avoid the use of the term entirely. Needless to say, overusing discounts can create customer expectations to seek incentives.
* If you must raise prices: If you’ve managed your selling efforts and expenses to where a price increase is now warranted, go for it. Applying a viable and justified price increase is part of business. No need for apologies or detailed explanations. Just be honest with clients and say, “It was necessary to raise our prices.” I also suggest just doing it. Attempts to inform all clients of the impending increase just delays the inevitable. Some will complain, many will not and a few may decide to go elsewhere. That’s business.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Pricing services at salons and spas is a topic that’s always steeped in controversy. At one extreme, owners take an artistic and emotional approach that relies heavily on what the market will bear. At the other extreme, owners take a more strategic approach that factors in costs, profit margins and competitor pricing. In the middle resides a mixed bag consisting of multi-level pricing, incentive pricing, service packaging and other similar strategies with the intention of appealing to the broadest range of consumer price preferences.... Read More

Pricing services at salons and spas is a topic that’s always steeped in controversy. At one extreme, owners take an artistic and emotional approach that relies heavily on what the market will bear. At the other extreme, owners take a more strategic approach that factors in costs, profit margins and competitor pricing. In the middle resides a mixed bag consisting of multi-level pricing, incentive pricing, service packaging and other similar…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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