12 Disciplines Of Every Successful Company

October 14, 2011

A common daily question that business owners have is:  What should our company be doing better?  I literally hear this every time I meet a business owner.  Initially, I thought the answer to this question depended on what that business did, or their industry, or maybe several other factors that were unique to that business…  BUT what I’ve found after studying this for several years now is that almost everything you need to do to improve your business will fall into the following 12 Disciplines.  If your company can master these and constantly work on them, you will see tremendous results.

So here are the disciplines and a brief outline of what I’m talking about for each.  More info to come on each of these in the future….

1. Optimizing – Most people are great at starting new things or doing stuff the same way forever.  But to build a truly amazing company, you must have a focus on improving and optimizing what you are doing.  I like to focus on a couple of areas first.  I like to work on current promotions, tracking leads and opportunities, and expenses.  These areas can have a fast impact and boost your bottom line quickly.

2. Team Building – If you want a strong company that operates with or without you, you need a team.  The foundation of the team is your leadership team.  The core of your leadership team is built on communication, mindset and beliefs.  Your building blocks for making it all work together are your Vision, Culture, Integrity, Accountability, and Systems.

3. Sales Process – Map it out from first impression to a closed sale.  Use a CRM!  This is a nonnegotiable.

4. Sales Scripts – What do you say and when do you say it in the process?  What phrases work and which ones cause problems during a sale?  Know this stuff and teach it to EVERYONE on your team!

5. Overcoming Objections – Start by making a list of common objections.  Address common objections during the sales process to minimize them at the end.  Position all your interactions with the prospects so they expect the sale…

6. Customer Service – How do you treat your customers?  Do you survey them?  Do you have standard response times?  How about WOW factors?  What information do you gather about your clients so you can impress them?

7. Knowing Your Ideal Client – Know who you like to work with and who you don’t.  Know who’s a good fit for your company and when you are forcing a round peg into a square hole just for a dollar.  Have a set of criteria that you use to accept a client.

8. Telling Your Story – What makes your company special?  What problems does your company address for the industry.  What makes your product/service better than the rest?  What are the real intangible benefits to working with you?

9. Perfecting Your Follow Up To Current Customers – The first sale is only the beginning of the relationship.  How can you keep your customers coming back over and over again?

10. Hiring – A bad hire will cost you as much as 60K.  Learn how to find, recruit, screen, and train good talent.  It will change your business from the inside out.  Very powerful.

11. Strategy – This is the long-term piece of your planning.  Thinking and planning 5 years or more out, creating a roadmap, milestones, and targets.  Involves thinking about what you want to accomplish and working your way backwards to the present day.  Also includes thinking of ways to accomplish more with each move you make.

12. 90 Day Planning – The strategy is great, but if you don’t get out the business every 90 days and clear your mind, review where you are, and get down in the details, you are going to be in trouble.  This is a key part of growing and maintaining an amazing business.

Want to know more about these 12 disciplines?  Want to Master them?  I have a 6 month training series coming up on this soon.  Email me  michael@michaellejeune.com and set you up with all info…


Your Net Has a Hole – A Story About How To Optimize Your Business For the Holidays

September 24, 2011

Did you know that for some businesses, the holiday season is where they generate 60 to 75% of their income for the year as well as 50% or more of their new customers?  I was a little shocked at first when I learned this, but when you think about it, it’s very accurate.  The main holiday season in the United States is about to kick off and will run right into the first week of January.  After that, business usually slows down for many industries right through spring time.

In a traditional business model, most people are gearing up for the holiday season and looking at ways to make it better than last year.  But let me challenge you with this.  How many of you are looking past the holiday season and how you can make the hard winter months of January, February, and March more successful?  I’ll bet the answer is very few.

If I could show you a way to make your slowest months of the year better, would you take me up on the advice?  What if that advice could set you up to generate 20 to 50% more sales in those months?  Would you listen then?  What if I told you that some people will double or triple their business in those months next year if they continue to take this advice year after year?  Do I have your attention now?

I want you to imagine something for a minute.  Imagine you are fisherman and you are using a net to catch fish.  Your whole livelihood depends on you catching as much fish as you can, selling some at market, and feeding your family with your catch.  Now imagine that your net has a TON of holes in it.  Some big holes, some little holes, but just a ton of holes in it.  Now remember, this net is how you catch your fish and your whole world is depending you catching fish.  Before you take off to sea for your fishing trip, wouldn’t mend the net and fix all the holes?  I know I would.

This is a problem that most business owners have.  Their net is full of holes.  Some big, some small.  The problem is that most people don’t even know there’s a problem.  I’m here today to tell you, THERE’S A PROBLEM!

Here’s the problem…  You are thinking short-term sale instead of lifetime value.  You see, in the winter months people are thinking how they can close each sale and how if they just do a good job that will bring the customers back.  WRONG!  It will bring some back, but let’s get real for a minute, how many people come back over and over again.  If you are really honest, very few unless you have a system in place to bring them back time and time again.

So without any more delay, here’s how you should be thinking.  Yes, the short-term sale is great, but what can I do at the point of purchase to (1.) Position the client to come back soon and (2.) Get them to tell their friends.  After all, the power of the referral is something you really want.

So let’s take a retail jewelry store for example.  If someone comes in your store and places a custom order for a piece, how do you normally handle this?  You make a sale and then tell them you will call them when it’s in.  If you are good at what you do, you send them a thank you card.  But MOST people don’t even do that.  When the piece is in, you call them, they come check it out, pay the rest of the fee and then they are off and possibly out of your life.

If you are superstar, this is what you WOULD do.  Someone comes into your store and while they are making a purchase, you strike up a conversation about them, their family, and eventually get into other pieces they would like to have some day.  You even help them build a wish list with their 2 or 3 favorite items on it.  You ask about birthdays, anniversaries, kids, etc and if there’s a significant other, you get their details so you can “remind” them of those special occasions.  When you are wrapping up the sale, you give your new client a simple postcard that asks them to rate their experience on yahoo or google under your business profile [note to self, make sure you have a business profile on both] and that their review will entitle them to a free cleaning/or other service if they bring the card back with a date of the review on it.   [Please note that this is just the beginning  J]

Next, you do send a thank you card.  Make sure it is hand written, in your authentic style, says more than “thank you”, and DOES NOT promote your business [i.e. and here’s a gift certificate for xyz].  [By the way, you can pick up boxes of these for pennies at discount stores, close out sales, and end of season clearance – requires you to think ahead…  See the theme here?]

Here’s a cool step.  When their piece comes in, call them and tell them you can show it to them online in an interactive fashion.  Tell them you do this for your customers so they don’t have to fight the traffic and the mall/parking lots, etc and view this in the comfort of their home.  Build up the benefits of this and how cool it is and customers will love it!  At the end of the online presentation ask them if they would do you a favor.  You can do it like this.  “So what do you think about using the internet to see your piece?”  Most will say that it was awesome.  Your next question should then be, “It would mean the world to us if you would share this experience with your friends.  Would you help us out by spreading the word?”  Again most would say, “sure”.    You say great, and then ask them to “like” your Facebook page and put a quick comment about the online presentation.  [Note to self, Facebook isn’t a joke and I need to create a page immediately…]

But it doesn’t stop here.  This is just where the relationship starts.  From here you can start a whole plethora of contacts and touches about their wish list, new pieces in your store, and even interacting with them and their friends via Facebook.  But that’s a story for another day…

To wrap this up, let’s bullet point what we accomplished here for our new client by thinking ahead.

  • We learned about them, their family, what they like, and key dates
  • We thanked them for their business in a super nice way
  • We made an impression on them that we are unique
  • We introduced them to a time-saving way to interact with you through the internet
  • We got them to rate our website via google or yahoo
  • We got them to like our Facebook page
  • We got them to tell their friends about us
  • We set ourselves up to speak to them again and again

If you want more cool ideas for your business, you can email me directly at michael@michaellejeune.com

I also want to hear your success stories from using these ideas.  Please send them so I can share them with the world!


The 7 Reasons People Don’t Follow Through and What To DO About It

May 20, 2011

After working with hundreds of business owners and countless business coaches, I’ve found a common thread in all of them that stops people from following through on their word or plans.  Now most so called “experts” will tell you that its because of FEAR or Self Sabotage and that sort of thing.  But its really easier than that.  Fear and that sort of classic excuse is what people use to fall back on when they don’t really know the real reason people don’t follow through. 

To be very clear, I don’t share these things so that you can have a new set of excuses.  I share these things because once you know the ROOT cause for the behavior, you can get the proper prescription to help cure this problem.  But understanding the root cause (or psychology behind the actions) is essential in fixing the problem.  That said, here are the reasons I’ve found that are the most common. 

  1. Lack of understanding – What I often find is that people don’t know how to do some of the simplest tasks in their business.  Like getting their financials in order, putting together an email blast, writing a sales script, meeting with an employee, etc.  This lack of understanding quite often stops or at a minimum delays them from taking action and ultimately they will just get distracted by other things.
  2. Don’t know where to start – This is one of the first questions clients usually ask me…  “where do we start?”.  The reason is because even simple tasks usually have multiple moving parts.  And when you are making decisions in a business or even in a household for that matter, you have to consider other people and the impact of your decision on external forces.  So not knowing where to start will often stop people from ever starting at all.
  3. Overwhelmed with details – So let’s say someone understands what to do and even knows where to start… Some people get that far, but get bogged down in the details of how much there is to do and wanting it to be perfect.  Perfectionist are quite often only perfect at one thing…  Being late to the party.
  4. Lack of Value and Expectations – Here’s a massive one.  If someone doesn’t understand the value of doing something they just won’t do it or they will stop.  The classic example is the karate kid.  Young Danielson didn’t see any value in wax on, wax off.  He expected to learn karate not how to wax a car.  So he was very frustrated with the experience.  Now because it was a movie, he put up with the training (also because he had his coach watching over him all day).  But in real life, people just walk away from the task or never start it.  The other part of this one is expectations.  By taking on a task, you have to have expectations around it.  What do you want the outcome to be?  If you aren’t clear on the outcome it makes it hard to pursue the task.
  5. Priorities – A lot things happen in a business every day and knowing your priorities is very important.  This spills over from item 4, but realize if you don’t know the value and expectations of the task you are about to take on, it makes it hard to prioritize in your day.
  6. Out of control with their time – This is one of the ROOT causes I see a lot.  When I work with people I always look for ways to fine tune their schedule.  Even if they don’t ask for that…  Reason being is that this is often the first excuse… “I didn’t have enough time”.  And for that person — in that moment, that’s a fact.  So it has to be addressed.
  7. Stress – While this is just an excuse, stress is very real and often debilitating.  And it is often compounded by items 1 through 6 on this list not being answered for the individual and that ultimately creates more stress.  Stress is not only a distraction it can result in a depression and other paralyzing behavior that makes a person stop caring.

 9 things you can apply right away to overcome this…

  1. Make sure you set clear goals and objectives for each task you take on.  And if multiple people are involved, make sure they are CLEAR and can repeat it back to you.
  2. If assigning the task to a client, make sure they understand the task.  To do this, don’t just ask them if they understand, I ask them to explain it back to me so that I am SURE they understand.
  3. Have a clear starting point and milestones.  Getting started is the hardest part.  Once you get someone started, its much easier to direct them.  It also gets them involved and its hard to quit once you invest your time into something.
  4. Get them involved in the creative process.  Thanks to Brendon Burchard for this quote, “People support what they create”.  If you want someone enrolled in the process and to take ownership of it, get them to help create it.  You can’t just assign tasks to people, they need to be involved in coming up with the tasks.
  5. Get clear on the value of the task at hand.  Attach it to their goals and dreams and HOW this task plays a pivotal role in accomplishing those goals and dreams no matter how small a part it may be.  The bigger the task, the more time you need to invest in understanding the value.
  6. Set expectations…  Not just for the task, but what you expect will come from this short and long term.
  7. Be clear how important this task is.  If you need to, make a list of other things going on this week and rank where this task lands on that list.  Know how important it is.
  8. Get control of your time by making lists.  Break down tasks on your list by categories.  I have 3 categories.  The first is money making activities (represented by a $ sign), the second is client relationship activities (represented by a smiley face) and the third is just “stuff” (I don’t have a sign for that one).  Money making activities are first, followed by client relationship activities and then finally all other “stuff”. (My thanks to Mike Michalowicz – The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur for that one.)
  9. Talk about and deal with the stress.  It’s real and you have to deal with it.  Just addressing it can make a big difference.

What are KPI’s and why are they important?

May 12, 2011

One of the most important factors in running a business is actually one of the most overlooked areas of business. I know this because I talk to hundreds of business owners every year and I only find about 5% of them that have a clue about KPI’s.

So what are KPI’s?    KPI’s are Key Performance Indicators. These are the specific numbers that tell you what’s going on in your business and enable you to make educated strategic decisions to improve your business.

An example of KPI’s could be: sales, number of calls received, close ratio, amount of sales per product or service, amount of hits on your website, average AR days, etc. These are just some of the KPI’s you should be tracking in your business. Some of these should be tracked daily, some weekly, some monthly, and some quarterly.

Each business needs to customize their KPI’s to fit their business and start by selecting the most important 5 or 6 to start tracking immediately. Over time your list will grow as you learn what numbers you need to know.

So why do you want to pay attention and implement KPI’s? Simple… If you want to learn the fastest and most effortless way to grow your business, you need to master KPI’s.

Here’s a simple example of KPI’s for a Hair Salon.  For this example we will use just two KPI’s:  Average clients serviced per day and average sale per client.

Now those are just 2 KPI’s, but let’s see how this could be helpful to that business….

Let’s assume that the average clients serviced per day is 4 with an average sale of $45.  If this person works 5 days a week we can come up with estimated revenues of $900 per week (4 clients per day times 5 days in a week times $45 average sale per client).  Let’s also assume that these numbers are the same for 10 stylist that you have in your business.  So now the revenues are $9,000 per week ($900 times 10 stylists).

Now to put these KPI’s to work for you, let’s assume you can come up with 1 strategy for each KPI that will increase it by just 10%.  That brings your average clients serviced per day to 4.4 and your average sale to $49.50.  Doesn’t look like much until we multiply it out.  Now our weekly revenues per stylist are 4.4 customers times $49.50 in average sales for a new total of $1,089 per stylist or 10,890 for your whole team of 10.  When you look at it over time it’s even more attractive.  That extra 1,089 per week turns into 56,628 over the course of just 52 weeks (1 year) and over $283K over 5 years.  That’s a lot of money if you ask me.

But here’s the fun part.  If you know your average client visits per day and your average sale, it doesn’t have to stop here.  You could continue to work these numbers and improve them dramatically just by adding a single strategy here and there that will increase both areas.

Another KPI for this type of business is called, “Frequency of Purchase”.  To some people it can be referred to as average number of transactions per year, but I like frequency of purchase.  Think about this for a minute.  If your client visits you once every 8 weeks that winds up being about 6.5 visits per year.  Not bad, but if I know this number I can now work to improve it by implementing simple strategies.  So lets say I can reduce this to visiting me every 7 weeks.  I now go from 6.5 visits per year to 7.4 visits a year.  Again it doesn’t sound like much, but what if you have 1,000 clients like most hair salons?  You’ve just added over 900 visits at about $50 each to your bottom line.  That’s another $45K just by getting clients to come back a little more often.

These are some great practical examples that I actually use for a hair salon client of mine. 

Just remember to start small with a couple of KPI’s and build from there.  I like to start with 5 to 6 KPI’s at first and build up from there.  Just think about the numbers you need to know to manage your business and over time others will show up.  Also, be sure to monitor these weekly.  After all, you don’t want to wait until the end of the month or end of a quarter to spot a trend and make adjustments.  You want to make adjustments quickly so you can maximize your efforts and reduce loss of possible revenues.

If you have questions or want help setting up your KPI’s, just send me an email at michael@michaellejeune.com and I’ll setup a free KPI coaching session for you.  Just act fast because I only have 3 to 4 sessions like this open per week and they will fill up.


Why Should I Hire a Coach?

April 25, 2011

Quite often when I’m interviewing a prospective client I get asked in one way or another why they should hire someone to do what I do.  And simply put there are a lot of reasons why you should hire a coach or consultant to help you grow your business.  But before I get into the reasons why you should hire a coach, I think its important to know what kind of questions you may be asking yourself during this process and some answers you should be looking for.

Questions you might ask yourself while deciding to hire a coach or consultant:

  1. Do I really need help?  Do you really want to take your business to the next level?  If the growth of your business has not been what you wanted or you feel like there is so much more you can accomplish but just don’t know how… Guess what?  It’s time to hire a coach or a consultant to help step up your game.
  2. Can’t I do this on my own?  The short answer is: If you could have, you would have!  It’s OK to ask for help.  But unfortunately most people are so proud that they can’t bear the thought of asking for help.  And think of it this way, two heads are better than one. Don’t you usually get more done when you have help?
  3. I’ve already had several of these ideas.  Why do I need this guy?  So you’ve had the ideas before… What have you implemented?  It’s one thing to be an idea guy.  It’s another to be an idea guy that implements things.  Most people have a ton of ideas, but just don’t get things put in place, effectively measured, and optimized for maximum results.  That’s what a coach does for any organization.
  4. It’s a lot of money, wouldn’t it be better to hire someone to implement the ideas?  It’s not a lot of money when you look at the output.  For example, my coaching produces more than a 10 to 1 ratio on every dollar you invest.  So for every dollar you invest with me, you get AT LEAST 10 back.  My goal is even higher than that.  Who else produces that kind of return in your company?  One more thing on this, it costs a lot more to hire someone to do all of this for you than it does to work with a coach who will teach you how to be more effective and how to run your whole company like a machine.
  5. Is a coach really going to help me?  The success rates are through the roof with coaching and consulting clients.  A recent Harvard study says that companies that have a coach are 725% more likely to succeed that companies who don’t.  That same study also showed that 87% of the fortune 500 companies use coaches and consultants at one time or another.
  6. How am I going to make the time for this?  The great news here is that most coaches are highly trained on time management and can actually help you make more free time to implement new strategies and have more free time to do the things you enjoy in life.
  7. How am I going to pay for this?  More great news…  Coaching and consulting services are self funding.  What that means is that you may have to cover the first 90 days of the service in some cases, but after that your results should be paying for the coaching and turning you additional profits.

And now… 

The top 7 reasons Why You Should Hire a Coach…

1. Strategy – Most companies I run into are just doing “stuff” all day long.  They don’t focus on an overall strategy that accomplishes many things at once.  Imagine having a business strategy for every aspect of your business that allows you to achieve multiple business objectives with every move you make.  This saves a ton of time, builds brand and customer loyalty, and makes you more money than you know what to do with.  A coach can also bring up important things you need to consider that you would have never thought of and how these things can play into long-term decisions.

2. Experience – Ask yourself this… Have you ever grown a company to the levels you want to?  If the answer is no or if the answer is not on your own, then you’re in luck.  A coach has done this over and over again and has so much experience implementing strategies and growing companies that you are sure to succeed.  Experience is much cheaper than learning by trial and error…

3. Accountability – Who do you have pushing you each week to get things done?  For most business owners I talk to, the answer is no one.  Life is much different when you have a coach.  A coach is not only going to push you and hold you accountable each week, they are also going to be the most honest person in your business.  So if something needs to change, they are going to tell you… Especially when everyone else is afraid to speak up… Your coach will be right there to speak the truth.

4. Guidance – How many times have you needed to make an important decision about the business and not had anyone you could call for advice?  And I’m talking about real advice here.  Not the kind of advice that you get from your unemployed neighbor who has never run a business but happens to be your buddy.  I’m talking about great advice from a mentor who can see you through this decision?  That’s what a coach does for you.

5. If you could have, you would have – This one is kind of blunt but to the point.  If you could have grown your company to 1, 5 or even 10 million dollars by now, you would have!  So don’t sit around thinking about what you could do, get off your rear and hire a coach that will force the growth in you company and help you to enjoy your business and life like never before.

6. Ambition – If you really want more out of your business and out of life but aren’t sure how to get it… You need a coach.  Even if you know how to get it, but want to accelerate the timeline, hire a coach immediately!

7. Self Funding – This one is already mentioned a few times, but consider this.  If it pays for itself, why not do it?  You’ve eliminate most if not all the risk and the opportunity to double, triple or even quadruple your company is what’s at stake.

 All this said, I suggest whether you are in the market for a coach or not, you should take the time to meet with one.  At the very minimum, you’ll get more ideas and strategies to grow your business than you can imagine and get a sense for how working with a coach can help you.


How to get an extra 3 weeks of work done without killing yourself

March 29, 2011

One of my keys to success in business is getting more done in a day than most do in a week. One of my secret weapons is a 10 minute task list. While this doesn’t sound like a revolutionary idea or have any type of WOW factor to it, you will find out that it is effective.

Here’s what I noticed before I used this method. There are about a dozen or more time wasters that each person has. We are all different, but here’s a list of some of my old ones.

Top Time Wasters List:

Online News, Online Sports, Facebook, Twitter,  Video games, Texting, and a Quick call to family or friends.

Here’s how I tackle this and how you can to. I am always evaluating what I need to get done. From there, I pick out tasks that only take 10 minutes or less to complete. I then keep a list of those tasks handy for times when I only have 10 minutes free. Here’s how it works. Next time I end a meeting early but only have 10 minutes before my next appointment, I break out my list and knock out a 10 minute task. Another big one for me is wrapping up lunch early. If I’m back early and have 20 minutes before my next call, I’ll knock out two tasks from my list.

You see, I understand very clearly that TIME is the only asset I have that I can’t control. No matter what I do, at the end of the day, that 8 hours is gone! There’s no way to get it back. So I have to make the most of it. On any given day I may knock out 3 to 5 of my 10 minute tasks. That’s a half hour to 50 minutes of solid work completed. That’s huge if you are like me and need every minute of the day to get things done.

Just for the sake of math, lets look closer at the numbers here. Assume you just get 3 tasks done a day. That’s 30 minutes of extra work complete per day or 2.5 hours per week. Here’s the real shocker. That amounts to 125 hours per YEAR of extra work that you could get done. That’s over 3 weeks! That’s a lot of time you don’t want to waste.

So next time you notice you are falling behind or don’t have enough hours in the day, take 10 minutes to create your own 10 minute task list and watch your productivity soar!


Do you have a plan B?

March 23, 2011

Below is a response I gave to an old client of mine.  Let me catch you up on what led to this.  I found them getting into a panic cycle and reaching out to me about every 6 months.  They weren’t ready to commit to getting help for the problems they were having so I gave them this advice that I believe will benefit you as well.

What is it that causes you to panic every couple of months?  Maybe instead of just looking at strategies to improve your situation “NOW”, you may want to consider strategies that would put an end to the panic situations popping up.

Here’s what I’ve found that causes this type of panic for most people…

They find themselves in a cycle of up and down in the business. A bit like a wave coming in with business and then going out with the work. As the waves get bigger, something shifts in the business and they have a harder time focusing on bringing in more sales. Business is up and down and up and down and it’s never stable. This creates times of panic as things are down and so we tend to focus on bringing it back up again. The trick is planning for these times.

Some people will confuse planning for these times with focusing on something bad happening in the business. While they are easily confused, understand that there is a very clear difference. If you know your business runs in cycles, plan for the cycle. Having an action plan for day-to-day operations is critical to your success, but having an action plan for bad times is an absolute must!

Think about pilots for a minute. They plan and plan for a spectacular flight each and every time. But what we don’t realize is that they have hours and hours of constant training on what to do when something goes wrong. In their case, they may only have seconds to adjust course, fix a problem, or communicate countermeasures with their entire team. They don’t have time to waste coming up with a plan or panicking. So have a plan A for day-to-day and more importantly, create a plan B for those rough times that may make you panic. It will change everything in your business to always have a plan B handy if you are willing to implement it.

And here’s a little secret… Some of the most successful business leaders in the world have kept a plan B and even plan C and D in their desk for years. The minute plan A was clearly not the correct course, they whipped out plan B and went to that.