Archive for category Excellence!

Congratulations, you win

As you relax into  your well earned early retirement you recall some of the challenging moments, as well as the good ones, but in the end you made it.

It took a while, long hours occasionally, staffing issues, just a few, and of course customers from hell! But you made it, well done… If you could go back and tell yourself starting out in business what to avoid and what to focus more on you would probably be better off, but you are happy with things so far.

You were able to get out early, thanks to good planning, you still have a fair amount of good health to enjoy your retirement time and the good sense to really check out the details when something sounds too good to be true!

You can feel the warm sun on your face as you relax doing what you love best. The people that helped you get to where you’re at have come and gone, a few still about. You are revelling in your good fortune and know that amongst all that goes on in this mysterious world, things turned out ok because you put in a top effort. You listened to all the advice that was given and made clear decisions based on solid facts, ok so you occasionally messed up, but you learnt.

Then there was the other things that can get in the way, your personal life, family and friends and finding time to fit all the things you wanted to do and indeed some of those things that you needed to do into a tight time frame. Sure you may have been exasperated at the time but in the end you got there.


Relax it’s all under control, you did what you did and still came out on top.

You know it wasn’t plain sailing, and that the road ahead had very changeable scenery, but you managed somehow and when the tough times faded by you learnt but didn’t hold on to the emotional baggage for too long, you knew that life was too short.

You wanted things to go smoothly, you wanted the plans to all be good, profitable, effective and easy to implement. But in the end you knew better, and that to reap the long term rewards rewards that there would be risks.

The late afternoon sun shining through the trees cast beautiful dappled light on all before you, it all feels right.

So what made all this possible? Was it good Marketing, good service from you and your staff or rock solid management and operational strategies? You know it was a mix of these, of course it was, all off these things made the difference to the end outcome. As well as this the people you chose and trained, followed by environment you created all fed the culture of excellence that so elegantly seemed to happen with ease, just like you wanted it to be.

The sun sinks that bit lower as you now head inside, ready to enjoy life’s next fascinating chapter as you continue to plan and enjoy the fruits of your labour, congratulations, it’s all been well worth it!

Is Your Business a Destination?

If you read the heading and thought of a holiday destination you love, even briefly… then I have done the right thing.IMG_2871

Now imagine if your customers thought of your business as a fabulous destination, a place they love to hang out even if it is breifly to get some suplies and head off again. Think about that, you business as a fabulous place to hang out.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

One of my Sisters in law has a fantastic quirky gift/art store and in the front they have a cafe. It’s a fabulous destination, they hold events, have pop up food stores out the front from time to time and people love the place… It’s a bit out of the way for some, but people come from far and wide. I know why they do, because they love it.

I like to brag about the place to others and let them know if they are in that area they can drop in and might just be delighted by what’s on offer.

People seem to readily sign up for their email newsletter, like them on social media and follow their events and antics, their Christmas window display will be the buzz around town each year if the first year is anything to go by and they manage to get rave reviews in weekend magazines, newspapers and the like.

But what about your business?

I want you to now think about your business, even if it’s an online one, is it a destination people really want to go to? Perhaps they will get to the business and be excited by what you have to offer, what you have planned, and or the way you treat them so they feel special.

Many years ago my wife and I went to a shop that have created a wonderful atmosphere by creating a rainforest to wander through, with lots of soft toys and quirky items that hikers, environmentalists and wanderers would purchase. I loved it, each turn revealed another wonderful array of gifts to surprise and delight.

Okay, so you can imagine people being drawn to this magical place, and figure that somehow you would like to entice your customers in some way, by creating a positive destination. So what do you need to consider?

First off, ask yourself why do you want your business to be a destination, is it… More customers, better customer satisfaction, boost turnover, create a promotional buzz, get more Public Relations exposure, to put more pep into the business you love. Whatever the reason you have to appreciate that this reason is the motivation or driver for the idea of creating a better destination.

The key is, enticing people to buy from you more often, by providing an environment conducive to  connecting with them emotionally so they want to be part of what you offer. This is where some key points come in, let’s explore:

Be the best – People will seek you out if you are the best at what you do, your business is the destination, due to the fact no other business can match your quality

You want to be the best – Maybe you need to tweak a few things to get to this point, go on start making a list of the changes you need to make

You want to create an atmosphere people will love – Perhaps your business is the best at what it does but people don’t know it yet. Like the examples given, you can imagine making your business more exciting and enticing to do business with

You want people to sense you are authentic in what you offer – You want to show you can think outside of the square and come up with ideas to keep customers coming back for more.

You want to add spice to the way your business does things – Add events or program promotional activities to make your business a special place to be even if it is for just a short time

So how do you do it?

Evaluate what you have, if you fit into one of the specific categories outlined earlier then you have a starting point to go from. Now make a list of the changes that want to make in each of those areas, Maybe you want to break things down further. Here are some exploration points to consider.

Perhaps it is a marketing thing – You already have a rgreat business, with wonderful things on offer and good quality service, so if it’s a marketing thing to let more people know how wonderful your business destination is then pull out the felt markers gather the team and brainstorm ways to tweak the marketing and then get out the calendar and pick suitable dates for things to happen that will miss the public holidays, festivals etc. Now make a list of the types of things you can program in to make the most of what you have to offer.

Perhaps it’s a strategic management issue – You wanted to do more of the right things, but have not planned a strategy to support the good things that are already happening, what strategies do you have in place to explore and promote excellence which will create a culture to underpin your fabulous destination?

Perhaps it’s the decor that works – The store layout, the training of staff on how to create and maintain the right decor,

Perhaps its the quality outcomes you produce – the way you promote (is it creative, interesting or just a list of what you offer?)

Perhaps it’s some form of event – an in store demonstration, an exhibition,  a meet and greet with a local specialist in your field or a famous personality. Try and consider ways to make the event fun and engaging so people want to come back for more.

You could have

  • VIP events for your top customers and clients
  • Educational events
  • Games and contests
  • Cultural events

Start the ball rolling in some practical way to show your team you want to have a business destination which is a fantastic place to be. Then you can start to measure the effect of the things  you implement.

Remember all of the above points are about getting people in the door, calling to find out more or trolling your website for more information, going the next step is about how you will convert their action into sales. Let’s save that for another time.


Steve Gray

You need these five things for business success

Business people need these five points to ensure they can be on top of their game, especially in highly competitive markets. Do you have or can you develop these five things?

1. I know it’s good, but will others like it?5 business

What you offer to the world that they will pay you for, is probably the ‘best thing since sliced bread’… You might know or believe that, but how will you find out if others believe it too?

Find ways to connect to your prospects

People are the target market, robots don’t buy, yet… and specific people from within the billions of people on the planet, are who you are after. If what you have to offer is only available to people in a small area, then you need to get in front of more of those people to ask them if they like it.

This could be in social media groups, where you are a member and can post a poll, it could be in a shopping centre where you survey people, it could be via a phone call to specific businesses where  you survey them, perhaps you take what you have to them to discuss it.

Doing this kind of research is vital to ensure you are able to get valid feedback from the target audience, otherwise you could spend a lot of time and money creating something no one wants.

2. My development is vital

And so is yours… Your personal and professional development may mean reading a few books on business, attending seminars, short courses, doing whatever it takes to learn more and sharpen your mind.

One idea can really set your business apart

But where can you get the idea? Learning more about things can give you vital mental connections to a whole range of options and possibilities, you might explore five ideas and then settle on one that provides you with the solution to your challenge. Make time to learn more, so you can do more, be more and have more.

3. There’s only one me…

You can’t do everything, as much as you might like to. You can however work smarter and not harder. Outsource some of the work you currently do that you don’t want or need to do, to ensure you have the time and energy to do what you need to do properly.

Teams can do more than an individual

The internet has given us Virtual Assistants, and a range of ways to utilise the services of others by contracting various services out and of course you could always hire a staff member to do the things your business needs to do.

4. What do I do with all the ideas I have?

You have got your brain into action and the ideas are flowing thick and fast. Know that you will only be able to make a few of the ideas become reality

Start a journal

I have a Journal to keep track of a range of insights and key information I have learnt along the way, the same can be done for ideas. It could be a simple word file on the computer that you add to and review from time to time, or it could be a wish list on a whiteboard in your office. Whatever it is, start recording the ideas, prioritise them and then work to take action on the key ones.

5. Me time, business time and them time, how will I juggle all this?

There is only one you right, this can create a range of pressures on your time, business, family and yourself. Finding time for each is very useful to keep a balance and keep you happy. So schedule time for everyone, including yourself in your diary.

Time is in short supply use it wisely

While this is easy enough to say, it’s not necessarily easy to do. Outsource tasks to free yourself up, delegate tasks to your staff, even if you feel you might have to check it later on and tweak some details. Of all the things business people say is important, it’s having a balance in their lives, now you need to make sure it happens.


Steve Gray

Ignorance in business

If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.

—David Dunning

Is ignorance killing us?

Ok ignorance can’t kill us per se, after all they say that “ignorance is bliss” and while that old cliche stays to haunt us I need you to think about the issue a little deeper.

Ignorance, or lack of knowledge, might well ‘strangle us to death’, in business this can certainly be the case. People who have not taken up technology as an aid to doing business, may well have survived the early years of computers, but now the grip is much firmer from the competitors who did take it on, thus they lose out to those with the ability to use social media, research more effectively and generally find information to cause their business to grow.

But let’s get deeper and move away from the obvious to the details of the challenge, let’s take a look at what should happen and what does happen


In an ideal world a business would have effective startup capital behind it, the research would be thorough, the implementation phase would be solid and the business idea would move into action with ease, the customers would buy, become raving fans and more business would come your way. To top that off you make useful profit margins to grow the organisation and do some good along the way. The team you hire will be using best practice principles and be doing the utmost to ensure the values and beliefs of the organisation are upheld. To top that off you make an even better profit and do some more good.


Many businesses seem to fail the research bit, been there and done that myself, and many also start without much capital. Sue others have done it but it may not make for the easiest start up. Implementing a flawed plan with an awkward product or service might also add to the woes of the business, did no one read the E-Myth? Oh and you wanted to make a profit, phooey to that, because you probably now realise that making ends meet is hard enough.

The difference

Both models can happen but mostly the reality model seems to be the order of the day, as proven by the number of businesses that fail in the first 12 months, followed by the number that don’t do well after startup. The difference is the knowledge, followed by the implementation phase.

What do you do?

For me it would have been more research in the early days of the business I wanted to run, it was a franchise and I had a bunch of people I could have sat with and discussed the nitty gritty details, heck I could have even gone out on the road with them and discover first hand what the reality would have been like. I could have saved myself over $40 thousand dollars in the losses in the first year or two and probably the same in lost income over the next two years.

For start ups the notion of starting is often an emotional charged series of events where the business you want to go into will look fantastic, the logic will probably only look like a stumbling block and “who am I to compare against the competition, they are doing things wrong anyway…” well it might seem like that but the reality can be very different.

I have created many articles in here to give people solid starting points that can hopefully lead to some degree of success rather than falling on a sword and dying a slow painful death.

Please avoid death by ignorance, it can be so messy and end up costing a fortune.


Steve Gray

People who get results

Two Business WomenYou run a business or a project and your HR or advisory people want to give you people you know will fail, something in your ‘gut’ says so… So what is that gut feeling and just how do you find people that will get results in the role you have to fill? Try these pointers;

Selecting people that get results

An Attitude of gratitude – They have it, they might not say it but you can see and feel it, if you include them on a project you know they are seriously pleased to be there and take part, if not you might want to ditch them fast.

Ability to visualise – They see the bigger picture, they see the smaller picture too, in fact they see the whole movie right through to standing ovation… Not only do they star in the picture they direct is as well

They work smart, not hard – Do it, delegate it or drop it. If someone else can do it smarter than they can let them do it

They take responsibility – They will own up to an issue if they caused it, ethics are high on their value list

Great at time management – Emails get dealt with after the first hour, meetings, only if they are of value and the agenda is clear and achievable 

Clear head, clear planning – To do list written at the end of the day for instance cal ears a results focused peoples heads, they sleep better and when they get to the office, they can then tackle what needs to be done.

Brilliant at customer service – They can elegantly handle ‘nay sayers’ and are kept grounded in reality by those who scam, spam and complain. With internal customers, they service them well, they manage by wandering around, ask questions, delve into the real issues facing the troops, in short they are on the ball finding all the little things that make the big things matter

They can focus – They can see what needs to be done and can do it or get someone to do it. They can focus on major goals

They can lead – They can plan, delegate and make people feel fantastic that they can serve the leader, because they feel like a leader themselves

They have a system for passion – Most people say they are passionate about something these guys have a system to get and keep the passion going

They know their strengths – We are all good at some things, these guys know specifically what that is and how to use it to their advantage, the rest they delegate to people with the right skills

They have the skills and abilities for the job – They know their subject inside and out, they know the latest trends for that subject. They are then able to use that knowledge too

Respect, it’s their middle name – It doesn’t take much effort most of the time to have respect for everyone they come in contact with. It goes a long way to having people onside and keeps them happy

These pointers could create some interesting questions for interview and or review… Go looking for the type of person you want and see what shows up in their Linked in profile or facebook posts.


Steve Gray Free Business Tips

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Reputations Matter

ReputationYour organisations reputation can be a major key in making sure your business succeeds, lousy reputation and you could go ‘down the gurgler’ unless you have some sort of monopoly.

In a competitive world you are up against competitors who don’t need to run your business down, if you are already losing points by not attending to some key attributes of reputation.

Take a look at the list below, and think about if you even have a small handle on any of these pointers, let alone the whole list.

Nine Key Attributes of Reputation

  • Innovation
  • People management
  • Use of corporate assets
  • Social responsibility
  • Quality of management
  • Financial soundness
  • Long-term investment value (for those with investors of some kind)
  • Quality of products / services
  • Competitiveness – Local and or global

Want people to love your business and therefore buy more, partner with you more, get excited about what you have to offer? Then work on the key traits, learn more about them, work the list until your organisations reputation is where it needs to be.

You will also note in working on your organisations reputation that your business will flourish as you make steps into each area and develop the enterprise more.

Which one will you and your team tackle first?


Steve Gray free business tips

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I was shocked, and then I realised…

Image courtesy of jscreationzs from

Image courtesy of jscreationzs from

I watched in horror at first, then they simply continued!

On reflection they did the best possible thing, so simple yet it worked a treat! I was witnessing what I had come to see, a team that had a rock solid induction program for new employees. Their drop out rate was low, their success rate post induction very high.

The secret was very simple, although I was told it took them a long while to figure out what needed to be done. The aim was good, to make sure the induction program gave new employees the best chance of success going into their role in a new company.

One of the best things they did was the early research, those that didn’t do so well were solidly interviewed to find out why. The answers ranged from, the recruitment process right through to the induction program. Some of it was a clash with the approach the Trainers used, for others it was the lack of depth in the training.

Identifying and consistently working on the program gave them a best practice approach to work with.

Here are just some of the big changes they made.

  • Make the new people feel fantastic – They made sure that the arrival of the new people was as stress free and openly welcoming as possible, hand shaking, warm smile, a top notch training room, equipment and facilities. The start time was purposely 1/2 an hour later than normal, parking had been paid for and made seemless, lunch provided and any details not quite right were adjusted post haste
  • No nasties – The training program had been worked on to ensure it was direct and punchy, the speakers were coached and stayed within their time frames and followed the outline of what they had to say
  • Repetition works – When the program got underway the details of company wide tasks such as answering the phone were clearly outlined, then practiced over and over in ways that defied the old ‘rote learning’ miserable repetition. The training team had developed a simple video, worked out a series of small team coaching approaches and worked with each person to ensure they got the basic message and clarified the details. Each new employee was then given a link to an in house video to follow up with and practice in their own time
  • Real people with real feedback – At various times team memebers from various parts of the organisation came in and gave a few minutes of their view of the organisation and why they were believed they were part of a fantastic winning team. They spoke in glowing terms about the organisation as well as giving real world examples of challenges they faced and how their supervisors coached and mentored them through the challenges
  • Day two begins… – A review of the previous days highlights soon got the room energised and up to speed and ready to tackle new material. The training crew had also checked out how many views the online in house training video had, they were pleased to report the view number was high. Discussion took place about details of the video which lead into more hot topics on ways things were done company wide
  • Interactive – The new recruits were given ample opportunity to interact with each other and discuss what they had learnt, reviewing the material presented. They then had the chance to discuss any challenges with the trainers and speakers
  • Practical points and conecpts too – While the practicalities of the organisation and the role were discussed, so too were the underlying concepts and notions that caused the organisation to be what it is. The mission and vision with a full values list were put forward. The group then explored the values in action, with examples given from current employees and training staff alike. Another link was provided to a slide show with narration on how the values could be worked on, develop and explored
  • Catch up time – The whole group was given a time to get together again in a few weeks to discuss how things were going and ways to make the next induction process even more effective. Of courrse they were also given details of their “support buddy” in their area and a HR contact to chat to as well.

You can imagine how thrilled I was to witness all of this, clearly a first class organisation that cares about it’s team members and the vital role they play in the organisations success. Shocked, yes because this level of care they were willing to show, and clearly how they wanted their external paying customers to feel as well.. I smiled widely!

It was about then the alarm went off and I woke up.

Hope you enjoyed my outline, I can only hope that one day most mid to large organsiations actually do this as a matter of course.


Steve Gray

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