(Time to read this Blog is about 3 minutes)
Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking or smiling:
- My Biz Quote of the week:
“As a business owner, leader or manager, you are the source of passion, energy and joy in your business or department. No one will love the business and your customers more than you do. If you don’t love it anymore, do everyone a favour and move on!”
- Quick Biz Tip:
A ‘world class’ mind set will affect every part of your business.
Even though they’re based in a small rural town, Home Hardware, Canada’s largest retail hardware chain, has a ‘world class’ mindset about everything they do.
Their fleet of 148 trucks and 605 trailers just won the Private Motor Truck Council’s large fleet ‘Top Trucking Safety Award’ for the 10th time.
So, here’s the question…is being world class (the best) at everything you do part of your culture and commitment? Mediocrity is no longer an option!
- Emojis aren’t just cute…they’re legal. A Canadian judge has just ruled that a ‘thumbs up’ emoji (👍) can actually validate a contract. The case involved a grain buyer looking to purchase flax from a farmer by texting the farmer a Contract and asking the farmer to confirm it.
The farmer replied with a thumbs-up emoji, but never shipped the grain. The farmer argued that the emoji was merely a confirmation that he received the text, not that he had accepted it. But the court ruled that the ‘thumbs up’ emoji signified acceptance of the contract and ordered the farmer to pay $82,200.
- The ‘Cranky Corner’. Toronto just elected a new mayor, Olivia Chow…a strident socialist. We had 102 candidates on the ballot, making Toronto its own little 3rd world country. Other than their own family, no one would vote for most of these ‘non-contenders’. But they confused voters and messed up the race for the real contenders. So, the non-socialist vote was beyond split. It was fractured.
Each of Olivia Chow’s opponents said they were running because they love our city and wanted to make it better. But none of them had the common sense to together, pick two or three really viable contenders, with the rest dropping out. Another case of ego over logic! Business works the same way. Be a top contender or get out!
- Three Canadian cities are the world’s most livable. In The Economist Magazine’s 2023 Survey on ‘The world’s most livable cities’, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto are all in the Top 10. Montreal is just out of the Top 10 by a bit. Vienna is #1 in the survey and Damascus, Syria is the least livable out of 173 cities studied. To access the complete study, Click Here.
Now, to this week’s important topic:
Are you spending enough time listening to and learning from your customers?
A few years ago, I worked with a company that became the clear market leader in their field. They were also incredibly customer-focused and extremely profitable.
How did they do it? The business owner hired a Chief Operating Officer to run the business day-to-day so that he, the owner, could spend half his time traveling across the country visiting, ‘thanking’, listening to and learning from customers. He became ‘The Chief Listening Officer’.
This may seem a bit extreme for you and your business, but I’m pretty sure that you’re not spending enough time listening to and learning from your customers right now. Who’s ‘The Chief Listening Officer’ in your business?
When we listen to our customers, two wonderful things happen. First, we learn from them and, second, we honour them. Both are important. But don’t just drop by for a visit. Prepare a list of specific questions to determine what you’re doing right, what needs fixing and how to fix it.
Years ago, Eaton’s Department Store, Canada’s national retail icon, installed a helicopter pad on the roof of their downtown Toronto head office so that their President could fly in from his country estate, land on the roof, descend a flight of ‘secret’ stairs to his office and never have to encounter a customer or front-line employee. When I heard that, I predicted that they’d be out of business within 10 years and, sadly, I was right.
Many businesses, even relatively small ones, have lost that all-important connection with customers…or, they’ve stopped caring. How much time do you spend listening to and learning from customers? Do you have a Customer Advisory Board that meets every four to six months? Do you get out from behind your desk and spend some quality time in the real world? Do you ever call your business when you’re out of the office, just to see how the phone is answered?
And, if you can’t get out as often as you’d like, do you listen to your front-line people? They deal with customers all day, every day. They know stuff…and they hate it when you don’t ask for their insights and help.
Bonus thought: While you’re in a listening mood, listen to your suppliers. They know stuff too and almost nobody listens to them. Ask them what you could do better from their perspective. Ask them if your company is taking advantage of all the knowledge, training, support or special deals that are available? How could you work together more effectively in a true ‘win-win’ relationship?
So, what will be your commitment and specific Action Plan to spend more time listening to customers, or listening to those who serve customers in your business…and to your suppliers?
That’s it for this week…
Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability. He can be reached by email at email@example.com in Toronto, Canada.