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Tip Sheet

Create a Selfie Wall for Clients and More March Tips

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marketingCreate a Selfie Wall

If your idea of a testimonial gallery is a series of 8×12 framed portraits hanging from a wall, it’s probably time for a rethink. The Vision Source Kingwood in Kingswood, TX, has a nine-monitor social media wall that features selfies of patients in their new glasses, as well as community events and activities, and eyecare/eyewear updates. “Patients have fallen in love with it,” says the practice’s social media manager, Alysia Gradney.

motivationWrite at Day’s End

Is your staff unmotivated or showing signs of stress? Ask them to do this simple act: spend 10 minutes at the end of each day writing about three things (work-related or personal) that had gone well that day. A University of Florida study found that a gratitude exercise like this lowered stress levels and physical complaints by roughly 15 percent. 

rewardsTit for Tattoo

Yes, a good bonus should be memorable, but indelible? The management at The Bent Lens in Bozeman, MT, believes so. They sprung for tattoos for the whole team as a Christmas bonus. 

DowntimeDay Tripper

Nobel laureate psychologist Danny Kahneman showed that when it comes to experiences, our memories of events are dominated by what they were like at their peak (for positive events) and at their nadir (for negative events) — and what they were like at the very end. In terms of vacations, that suggests it’s often better to plan more frequent, short breaks, rather than two weeks all at once. So if you haven’t done any planning yet this year, don’t worry. Even if you go somewhere just three hours away, treat it like a real vacation. Splurge, take pictures, and go offline. Enjoy!

Doing GoodBuy One, Give One

D’Ambrosio Eye Care in Lancaster, MA, does a nice charitable twist on BOGO offers, replacing the Get with Give “where for every high end frame sale, the owner buys and donates frames and lenses and we finish them in our office,” says Francis A. D’Ambrosio Jr., MD.

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Morale Booster Will Work for Food

It doesn’t sound particularly motivating but works just fine at Bay Optical Lab, in North Bend, OR. When the staff hits a certain day’s sales goal, it’s a pizza day! “Actually we very seldom have pizza,” says Gayla Mitchell, manager. “It’s more of a pick your own lunch day. Everyone looks forward to that.”

Marketing
Contact Sport

“Anyone want to take a guess what this means? ‘S.W., S.W., S.W., N.!’ The answer, according to David Fischer, owner of a Sandler Training sales-instruction franchise, is “Some will. Some won’t. So what, next!” That, he told The New Yorker, is the approach to take when telephone prospecting. “There’s a group of people who, even if I call with the winning lotto numbers, they don’t want to hear from me.” Cold-calling is about technique, mindset and numbers, he says. It helps if you don’t take rejection personally.


This article originally appeared in the March 2017 edition of INVISION.

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Tip Sheet

Practice Your Loan Pitch With a Bank You DON’T Want to Work With and More Tips for April

Forget bonuses, give pizza and stop saying ‘No.’

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FINANCINGSharpen Your Pitch

Need a business loan or some other form of financing? Then don’t go to your best prospect first. You’re better off working out the rough spots in your presentation with the financing sources that are least likely to give you funding, say Lyle Maul and Diane Craig Mayfield in The Entrepreneur’s Road Map to Business Success. And if/when you do get the thumbs down, find out why the financing source rejected you and if they have any suggestions about other banks or institutions you should try.

LEGAL MATTERSDo What Lawyers Do

Like the sound (not to mention tax benefits) of those letters “Inc.” or “LLC” behind the name of your business but not so crazy about the legal costs? Eva Rosenberg, author of Small Business Taxes Made Easy, suggests you do what lawyers do and outsource some of the work. When setting up a corporate entity, attorneys generally provide about an hour of advice before passing the job to an outside service to create the document kit. Your attorney will then hand the bundle of paperwork back to you for your tax pro to clean up — along with a bill for $2,000. A better idea, Rosenberg says, is to pay your attorney for the hour of consultation time and then use an online site like incorporate.com to take care of the paperwork, just like your attorney would. Remember though that you do need your attorney’s guidance. Bring your tax advisor along for that meeting, too.

STAFFINGListen, Watch, Hire

When interviewing a job candidate put all your initial questions on the table up front. This accomplishes two things, says Pierre Mornell, author of Hiring Smart! First, you put the spotlight on the candidate. He or she must step up and respond. It shouldn’t be you who is trying to sell yourself or the organization. Second, it tackles the most common problem in interviewing: the employer talking too much. With this technique you are forced to listen and watch the candidate’s behavior.

CUSTOMER SERVICETry to AVoid “No”

In 2020, people are used to getting what they want. Do whatever you have to in order not to give customers a flat “no.” At popular New York City drink spot Please Don’t Tell, staff are instructed to always try to find a way to say “No, but ….” “No, we are all booked up at 8:30, unfortunately, but how about 11?” or “No, we don’t have brand X, but we have brand Y. Would you like to try it?”

STAFF INCENTIVESThe Power of Appreciation

To be sure, salespeople like performance-based pay incentives, especially when the fish are biting during peak selling periods, but to maintain drive and focus throughout the year, don’t overlook the power of appreciation, says Wharton professor Adam Grant. “Extrinsic motivators can stop having much meaning — your bonus gets spent, your raise in pay feels like your just due, your new title doesn’t sound so important once you have it,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “But the sense that other people appreciate what you do sticks with you.” So, give the people what they want: compliments and pizza.

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How to Keep Improving as a Manager and More Questions for April

Including ways to get over that embarrassing customer encounter.

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My husband is conservative by nature, but it can be hard when your partner is so pessimistic about every new project you suggest. How can I convince him that growing a business involves risk?

Don’t be too hard on pessimism — it has its uses, especially in business. The key is to know when a situation warrants caution and when it calls for take-that-leap bravado. Ask yourself, “What’s the cost of being wrong here?” If it’s high, such as you’ll lose a lot of money, be sued or someone will possibly get hurt, then optimism is the wrong strategy. If it’s simply a loss of your time, energy or even a threat to your self-view as someone who never makes mistakes, then go for it. We expect that when you put it like that, your husband will get behind most projects. And if he still can’t stop worrying, suggest he learn worry postponement techniques, which often involve setting a later time and space to think about these worries (just not now when there’s work to be done).

How do I keep improving as a manager?

Set smart, achievable goals (progress is a huge motivator), keep learning, and finally, get feedback, even if it’s self-generated. In his timeless classic on management, The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker argued monitoring yourself was the best way to gauge how you are progressing. “Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the actual results with your expectations … Practiced consistently, this simple method will show you within a fairly short period of time, maybe two or three years, where your strengths lie — and this is the most important thing to know,” he wrote.

e I’m thinking about doing a pop-up at a seasonal shopping fair about 20 miles away this spring. It’s not all that cheap but I figure it’s an easy way to meet new customers, raise brand awareness and maybe make some money. Am I being too optimistic?
Perhaps only about the work involved. That’s the first thing to appreciate about pop-ups. They seem like an almost spur-of-the-moment thing — throw up a tent or park a container and have some fun under the spring sun — but they can involve some serious work, both in the preparation and staffing. There are also lots of extra costs aside from rent — such as advertising, promotional giveaways and possibly extra employee costs. If the fair is in the common area of a mall don’t expect the competition to welcome this blow-in with open arms.
Still, at INVISION we never like to discourage anyone looking to get out of the store and out of their comfort zone. So, if you can avoid a tar and feathering, do your marketing correctly and get the product and the demographics right, pop-ups can reap you nice rewards. They are also an effective way to test the local market if you’re thinking of expanding or have started as a primarily online business.

What should I look for in a mentor?

The most important thing is you and your mentor click on a personal level. Such a relationship should be undertaken with a long-term view and you need to want to spend time together. As for more specific things to look for, Daniel Coyle’s excellent book The Little Book Of Talent: 52 Tips For Improving Your Skills, suggests the following:

  1. Avoid someone who reminds you of a courteous waiter. You want someone who pushes you to take risks.
  2. Seek someone who scares you a little.
  3. Seek someone who gives short, clear directions.
  4. Seek someone who loves teaching fundamentals.
  5. Other things being equal, pick the older person.

And when it comes to asking for help, don’t be too backward. Advice-seeking is a powerful way to make a connection with someone. Most people love to help and to know they’ve made a difference in someone else’s life. Of course, know there are limits to people’s time and generosity. Don’t exhaust them.

I had an excruciatingly embarrassing encounter with a customer earlier this week and now can’t get it out of my mind. It’s tormenting me. Help!

The psychoanalyst in us says we need to revisit this in punishing detail (These thoughts of perfection, where do they come from?) but it doesn’t sound like you want to go there. Instead, we recommend substitution (come up with a funny version of the story) or distraction. The latter gets a bad rap but studies show it’s pretty effective. Want to forget that screw-up? Do data entry for 30 minutes. Or start plotting dinner. Your brain has trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time so a new action interferes with recollection. And running the same scene over and over in your head really helps no one.

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Tip Sheet

Don’t Let Your Entreprenurial Bravery Lead You Into an Expensive Con Job

Also, some tips on productivity that will help shake up your routine.

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SECURITYEntrepreneur Beware

Every so often you’ll read a news story about a street-smart businessperson who does something inexplicable, like wiring money to a man peddling hidden gold. The reason, as the psychology writer Maria Konnikova points out in her podcast, is that entrepreneurial types are actually more susceptible to being conned. They’re risk-takers who trust their own judgment and shun excess caution. But the trait can spell their undoing. As we move through tax scam season, take care if you’re an entrepreneur whose boldness and lack of skepticism has aided your success.

PRODUCTIVITYMix Fun and Uggh

Have items on your to-do list that never get done? Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian has a hack: “Spend an hour or two alternating between the most and least enticing items on your list, then the next most and least enticing, and so on, each time sugaring the pill of an important task with a pleasant one.”

STAFF MANAGEMENTGive Hours Off

In The Small Business Bible, Steven D. Strauss suggests pooling holidays and vacation time into a single bank of hours that employees can use as they see fit. Instead of giving employees 11 holidays and five vacation days a year, give everyone 100 hours a year off to use how and when they want. This sort of plan promotes honesty, and shows you respect your staff as adults.

PRODUCTIVITY Narrate Your Life

Having trouble staying focused on a mundane task? Charles Duhigg, author of Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets Of Being Productive in Life and Business, suggests explaining to yourself what you’re going to do, as if it were a story. “Take a moment to visualize, with as much detail as possible, what you are about to do. It is easier to know what’s ahead when there’s a well-rounded script in your head,” he explained to Science OF Life. Then it’s just a matter of going through the motions.

CUSTOMER RELATIONS Eyeball to Eyeball

Have you ever wondered how much eye contact is too much and how much is too little? Here’s the answer from Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time. “If you maintain an unblinking stare 100 percent of the time, that qualifies as leering. If you keep eye contact less than 70 percent of the time, you’ll seem disinterested and rude. Somewhere in between is the balance you’re looking for.”

FACILITIESHumor Me

One of the constant challenges of being a small business owner is how to respond to bad customer behavior. In the face of senseless vandalism, humor is often best, a la the manager at Bonez restaurant in Crested Butte, CO.

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