Short Term Planning in Uncertain Times

We are coming up on Quarter 2. But regardless if it’s Q2, Q3, or Q4, it’s all the same.

This is a great time to create your 90 day plan. 

If you are a business owner who typically doesn’t like to plan too far ahead. This weeks podcast creates space for you to think about how you want to plan for the uncertainty that lies ahead. 

You ready?

Growth Check in for 2020

At the time of releasing this episode, we are a month into the year.

The question is, “How are you doing?”

Are you achieving the growth as a leader that you wanted to achieve

Is your team achieving the goals you set?

This is a great time to assess where you are at and make the necessary course correction. 

Pay specific attention to my 3-level assessment tool I share in this episode!

Ep 259- What is Your Identity?

 

“The problem with self-identity is not just a problem for the young. It is a problem all the time. Perhaps the problem. It should haunt old age, and when it no longer does it should tell you that you are dead.” ~ Norman Maclean

Is there a more difficult thing for human beings than the process of discovering who you are?  The only thing more difficult than that is embracing who you are and being it once you figure out who you are.  Now take that same process and apply it to your business.  This process is not for the faint of heart.  Today’s question is, what is your identity?

My own coaching process with my coach has forced me to do some further introspection. I had to call people and ask them about how I show up.  The process evoked some fear but what came out of that was a list of five traits that come into a room when I do.  Those traits are: Connection, Brilliance, Wit, Integrity and Stand.  I am not sure I would have guessed all of those so I found the exercise to be incredibly helpful.

Getting clearer on my personal identity has helped me to shape my businesses’ identity.  The most unique thing about my business is the guy who owns it.  I would suspect that this is true about you as well.

Check out this week’s episode by clicking the player above.  Subscribe in iTunes and make sure you rate the show!

 

Ep 254- Clear Thinking, Winning Action

clear thinking for clear action

clear thinking for clear actionMost people go through their lives without a clear intention and purpose for the things they do and the decisions they make.  Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you make decisions based upon limiting beliefs of the past.  Maybe you make decisions based upon what your mom or dad would want you to do.  Perhaps you do the things you are currently doing because it’s what you’ve always done.  Taking time to think clearly about the things you are doing helping to ensure that you are engaging in activities that feed your purpose and your ability to create value.

It’s easy to dismiss thinking and the process of discovering your purpose.  In the moment, it probably doesn’t feel valuable to you. The more you step back and assess the things you are doing, the more you will move forward with efficiency and effectiveness because you are working on, and in, purpose.

Clear thinking makes you a better communicator and a better director and participant in action.  For this week, ask yourself “what am I doing?” and “why am I doing these things?”

Check out the podcast by clicking the player above, you can also listen and subscribe in iTunes.

Ep 251- How to Create Great Quarterly Goals

How to set Quarterly goalsHaving a well organized and empowered team is your path to growth and freedom.  Growth and freedom are two outcomes that I strive to achieve with every leader that I work with.  Goal setting helps to achieve growth and freedom by orchestrating the work that needs to be done by giving the team specific direction with which to operate.  In light of how valuable goal setting is, I wanted to create this week’s podcast on how to create great quarterly goals so that you have some dos and donts to take back to your business.

Total Experience Design (TXD) is about creating a business by design and not one by default. Planning is one of the primary ways that you create a business by design.  Goals are one of the outcomes of the planning process. Planning and goal setting are simple concepts.  Most people know of them and understand the concept of doing.  The challenge with goal setting and planning is that they are really easy to ignore and not pay attention to on a regular basis.  Great experiences happen through the commitment to consistent, time tested fundamentals. Fundamentals aren’t sexy but they create aggregate success that looks and feels amazing when you look at the finished product.

Here’s the link to run your objectives through to assess: Quarterly Goal Tool.

When the authors of the book Beyond Default dropped by the show a few months ago, they talked about trajectory and changing your default trajectory.  Take a look at where your business is headed and ask yourself how goal setting can change and improve the trajectory of your own business.

This week’s podcast explores the power of goal setting and staying plugged into the goal setting process. You can listen by clicking the player above or you can subscribe in iTunes.  Ratings and sharing are always appreciated as well.

Talk with you again soon.

 

The #1 Reason businesses fail! And how to avoid it

Why do 90% of Small Businesses Fail?

You often hear that the vast majority of small businesses fail – something like 9 out of 10 won’t last 5 years (or whatever the current buzz statistic is).  Regardless of accuracy, there is no question that entrepreneurship and small business are difficult endeavors.  There are many pitfalls that you should watch out for – but what is the #1 reason? The big nasty pitfall that is most common?

According to some pretty smart folks (like Nathan Furr, Eric Reis, Steve Blank, and others), that honor falls to… drum roll…

Failure to get to know your customer at a deep level

Yessir, you heard it here first folks, your business, just like your marriage (or other loving relationship),  will be stronger and more successful if you build deep, understanding relationships. Understanding your customer’s real needs and wants. Okay, that may sound oversimplified – so let’s unpack this monster…

Not easy – at least, don’t assume

“Yeah yeah, but I know my customer! I’ve been in this industry for 20 years!”

Well my friend, unfortunately, you probably have been standing on the wrong side of this coin for that time.  As the industry expert practitioner, not the end-user, you bring a different perspective to the table. It’s still very valuable but not the only perspective we need here.

So don’t start by assuming you know your customer. Don’t simply draw from your own well of experience as it is all tainted by your own perspective. Just like you shouldn’t assume you know how to fix your spouse! (good luck with that one).

Far-reaching impact

So how does this qualify as #1? Well, largely due to how far-reaching its effects are felt.  There is a ripple effect that may cause all sorts of other issues and this is getting at the root cause where other issues are actually a symptom of this cause! Ultimately, a deeper understanding of your customers, their challenges and wants, and their context could shift everything – not always by a lot – but sometimes a few millimeters can make all the difference.

It changes marketing

Your marketing message may change – the tone you use, what you offer as a free bonus, the problem you talk about, the nature of the outcomes to be expected, etc.

it changes sales

Offering to solve real, felt problems and challenges in a way that fits will be a much easier sell with much stronger lifetime value (even if the initial sales pricing shrinks) as they become repeat, long term customers.

It changes branding

How you position your product or service and to whom may shift. You might focus on becoming the known expert in a niche instead of an industry generalist.

It changes product development

The use case of your products and services may shift – how they are used and by whom. The process to roll out and deliver the product/service can change to better accommodate your customer and deliver a more “referable” experience, improving repeat buyers as well as organic growth.

It all adds up

As you can guess by this point, all those little adjustments can add up to a lot and completely shift the tide from failure to success! Sometimes the shifts might be significant changes but they don’t have to be to change the course of your business.

Now, Let me introduce my Plumber

I have a small bathroom at the top level of my home that we rarely used and the shower didn’t function properly. We decided a few months ago that we would remodel the top level to include our master bedroom. This would be a big project and happen in phases over the course of a few years likely.  The bathroom was to be expanded and completely redone but would be the last “phase” of the project.  First, we needed to simply make it usable by fixing the shower.

I called a couple of plumbers to come look at it and give me a quote to replace the shower (valve, fixture, etc.).

The first plumber was very professional and polite, put booties on his shoes to walk in, explained everything on how it worked, told me to replace the valve and get a new fixture would be X and they could do it in a day or two. He gave me a full written breakdown of options and was excellent to work with.

The second plumber didn’t put booties on his feet. He didn’t have a nice uniform, didn’t give me the full rundown on how it worked and didn’t give me a written quote.  In fact, he kept saying that it would be difficult and a lot of work to do it due to the position in the wall, etc.  He was still very nice but not nearly as buttoned up and professional.

Which did I choose?

Well, I chose the 2nd plumber! (and not due to price though I’ll discuss further) Surprised?

Well, I left out a key detail here so unfair contest.  The 2nd plumber after looking it over and hearing me out began asking some simple questions.  He asked me what my plan was for the bathroom and upstairs long term. I explained the full long-term remodel plan. He then looked at everything closer and instead of offering what I initially asked, he proposed an alternative!

Due to our plans, we would eventually be ripping out the shower and redoing it anyway so instead of replacing it, he suggested to simply repair the valve and replace shower head with one I already had (just an extra lying around from previous things) which would make it fully usable while we prepared for the larger renovation when we could roll the time and money saved into the bigger project and get what we really want.  His price to fix ended up being 1/5th the cost of a full replacement and met our needs much better!

Was it cheaper? Yes, it was but that isn’t the point. When we redo the whole bathroom which will be thousands more than either bid, guess who is getting the work!?

I now consider him “my” plumber. Is the professional polish not needed? Well, It is definitely a big win to have a professional, clean experience and I would highly recommend it (even to my plumber) BUT it’s not the most important part.   The key is understanding – a real relationship.

So what do we do about it? Some solutions…

So how do we get to know our customers and not simply assume all the time?

It’s actually pretty simple and not even necessarily difficult. The biggest challenge (which can be a pain in the @$$) is we get in our own way.  It’s just too darn easy to default to our own assumptions (I mean, they are experience-based educated assumptions after all).  In the end, the goal is really to develop our understanding on an ongoing basis so when we do need to make some decisions, those assumptions may have some accuracy to them. And, over time, become more and more accurate.

Also, this ritual of customer conversations as a key secondary benefit of keeping you close to shifts and changes in your market.  You have the opportunity to be more agile, to adjust to changing market conditions and take advantage of opportunities.

Weekly “market-of-one” interviews

A powerful solution we use is called “Market-of-one” interviews as it is simply a customer interview with the idea that they represent a market you serve. It is an alternative to methods like focus groups which tend to be expensive, have group think issues, and introduce unintentional fabricated responses (people want to help even if they don’t know so they make stuff up). Here is how it works.

Have real conversations with your customers! Set a goal to call 2 customers a week and ask them simple questions like:

  • ​​how things are going?
  • Why did you buy?
  • Why did you choose our service over others?
  • Did you look at other alternatives?
  • Did it take you a while to make a decision? if so, what was the hold-up?
  • Any issues with the process? confusion? concerns?
  • What did you expect from working with us? Any missed expectations?​

The key here is to probe a bit. Ask “why” up to 5 times to get at root causes. Generally, the interview should be fairly free-form. Rundown a rabbit hole or two, allow the feedback to guide the questioning to gain deeper insights.

Explore the 4 forces

Look specifically for insights around the 4 forces that are at play in decision making (2 positive, 2 negative) –

  • Negative Force – pushing away from your business
    • The resistance to change a habit – easier to do what we’ve always done
    • The axiety of learning something new
  • Positive Forces – pulling toward your business
    • The current problem and pain causing them to look for solutions
    • the draw and attraction of your solution

Also, these interviews really should be performed by the owner/CEO, or as close to the top as possible. This allows better leadership-driven decision making as well as a much stronger market awareness.  It is a great antidote to “ivory tower” syndrome that can occur as organizations grow.

Surveys

As an addition to Market-of-One interviews, broader reaching surveys should be used throughout the customer experience.  During signup and on-boarding, ask a few common questions to note trends and market needs. Throughout the delivery or use of your product/service, ask for feedback.  And following completion, ask again.  The medium isn’t important, whether email, written, verbal, etc. just make sure you can record and note the response and collect them for analysis and review.

Keep them short generally – just a few questions.  Use similar questions to the interviews but feel free to seed in others that may be more honestly answered without being awkward. Net Promoter Score may be a good one to include here.

Get Contextual Clarity

Gaining a clear contextual view of your customer is a key point that cannot be over-emphasized. What does this mean? Essentially, if we don’t understand the context of the situation, we can grossly misunderstand the feedback and insights we get!

example: If you see someone give a dollar to child on the street, you could derive several drastically different conclusions. Is this an altruistic stranger just helping out a homeless child? Does he owe the child a dollar previously borrowed for some reason? Is he buying something? Is this a parent giving their own child a dollar? We need to know more about the situation to make the right call.

Context around your customer’s problems and their use of your solution make drastically shift how you offer it, how you discuss it, and how you even deliver it.  Questions like these should be understood:

  • When/where does my customer experience the problem?
    • are they home, on the go? traveling?
  • Is the situation positive or negative? falling on hard times or happy life events?
  • When/where does my customer use my offering?
  • When/Where does my customer interact with me? with others like me? with alternatives?
  • Who is my customer? Is the buyer/user different?
  • Are there multiple decision-makers involved?

Let’s wrap this up quick!

At the end of the day, your business’ success largely rides on how well you understand your customer – their pains, aspirations, desires, and the context around it all of that.

Don’t fall prey to the number 1 business killer – make it a ritual to know your customer.

At New Work Revolution, we utilize a process called “Total Experience Design” to help businesses build better relationships with their customers and teams alike.  As part of our own efforts to learn about our clients and their needs, we offer a limited number of free reviews each month. These not only help us learn from you but allows us to give our perspective on how you can implement better Customer Learning strategies. This may include developing solutions, discussing survey and interview questions, and more.  If you’d like to apply for a free review, click here.

Ep 240- Are You Being a Steward of Your Mission

What is your mission? Do you have one? For every time you are faced with a challenge there is a mission that drives you to working through the problem.  You know that there is a bigger purpose to the work that you do.

Stewardship and mission go hand in hand.  When I am being a leader, I am being a steward and caretaker for the mission of the business. In Total Experience Design we teach business owners that the experience they develop creates meaning for all the stakeholders of the business.  For some of our clients that reach is in the millions of people.  That is a huge responsibility.

The question is, are you ready for it? Every day business owners fail to answer the call to stewardship and believe me when I say that it is a calling.

Perhaps you are unknowingly, neglecting your stewardship.  You will know it if:

  • Your books are behind.
  • You are an established business with no emergency fund.
  • You don’t have a management system and have no process for maintaining your culture.
  • You piss away time and waste it with no intention for how you will use it.

If that convicts you at all then check out this week’s podcast episode on being a steward of your mission. Enjoy the show and make sure you subscribe to and rate and the show in iTunes.

Ep 238- Beyond Default Interview

Beyond Default Book Interview

Beyond Default Book Interview

 

Great strategy is essential to sustainable business.  Unfortunately, strategy isn’t something that come naturally to many people, business owners included. Don’t despair.  I have brought in experts who live, eat and breath strategy to talk about how to change the trajectory of your business to the outcome that you want versus the outcome that you are currently headed towards.

David Trafford and Peter Boggis wrote the book Beyond Default to assist leaders in creating the thought process and the implementation of their strategic direction.

The topic resonated with me from the standpoint of intentionality.  In our concept and model, Total Experience Design (TXD), we teach business owners to create a business by design versus one by default.  Beyond Default does much of the same with respect to strategy.  Whether you are aware or not, your business is headed towards a specific direction and outcome.

The question is, is it the outcome you want?

Beyond poking at Blockbuster video a bit we also touch on:

  • Leading new strategic direction in your business
  • How to keep employees from burning out in the change process.
  • What companies get wrong and why when it come to setting their direction.

Check out the book and other things that the authors have to offer at Beyond Default.  The book is smart, insightful and will make you a better strategist for having read it.

In addition to the book, make sure you subscribe to the podcast and rate the show in iTunes.

Ep 230- Increasing Your Business Profits Through Quarterly Planning

When is it good to take the visionary, free spirited entrepreneur and put them in a box? That’s a tough question. In the initial stages of a business, it’s a good idea to say yes more often to get a feel for what your business is and the best way for it to create value. I know my business does not look like the same business it was when I started out nine years ago. As your business grows and matures, you do too.

Off the cuff decisions start to get replaced with budgeting and planning.  I don’t want this to sound too depressing but it’s a reality of the needs that a growing business has.

Quarterly planning is a simple, effective way to boost business profits through focused direction, better communication and tying the what to the why of your business for every person that is involved.

It’s time to ditch the excuses of time, that’s not the way I work, etc. and embrace a powerful next step in your business.

This week’s podcast is about how to do quarterly planning right. Here’s the tool that I promised you to assess your goals each quarter as well, click here to get it.  Show the podcast some love and rate and subscribe in iTunes as well.

If you want to learn more about what we are doing with the Business Accelerator Membership (BAM) and get access to this Thursday’s training, click here for more info.

5 Most Important Factors that Help Sell a Chiropractic Practice

Editors Note:  Don’t let the fact that the title contains the word chiropractic get in your way of seeing the value that this article has for all different types of businesses. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions.

Maybe you’ve invested the last 30 years of your life to your practice and community. Maybe you’re looking at bringing in your first associate or dare I say, parting with a partner.

All of these are reasons to know where you stand financially with your practice.

Before you look into getting an appraisal for your chiropractic practice, you want to ensure you are doing everything in your power to maximize the value.

So what are the top factors that will move the needle that you can implement immediately?

At Full Circle Coaching and Consulting, we have helped hundreds of chiropractors sell their practice or appraise it for the next step of the journey.

We have found a common trend among most of these practices and have collated the top 5 factors you can implement in your practice.

 

#1 – TEAM TRAINING

Somehow, you’ve found the time to read this article. The reason you have this time is likely because you have a team behind you that can handle the front desk activities, support on financials, and keeping the practice running efficiently.

The team that you have hired to help you run the practice is also the team that can help you get more out of the valuation.

Ask yourself the following:

Do you have a written system and protocol for how to train your team?

Do you train regularly or just wing it?

How often do you do evaluations against a standard protocol for practice?

To have a clean transition, an incoming doc will want a team that runs the show for the doctor and has the systems beautifully articulated on a day to day basis.

Start to build an operations manual, training module, team evaluation module and create team systems.

No, this won’t happen overnight, but start with a step in the right direction. Make these actions a daily practice and it will become second nature.

Having this all in place means you can slip out the back and someone can easily walk into the practice without interrupting your client’s experience.

 

 

#2 – PATIENT EDUCATION

You know those big golden arches? Pretty famous, right?

How has McDonald’s been able to carry on so successfully without their founder since 1984?

I’m talkin’ goodwill here!

The odds of duplicating the profitability of your practice are directly correlated with goodwill.

The higher the goodwill percentage, the greater chance a doc can walk off the streets and create the same or higher profitability as you.

So how can we ensure your practice maximizes goodwill?

Two words: Patient Education.

Patient education is one of the most crucial aspects to creating a life long practice member, a high PVA, and therefore predictable income month over month, year over year.

When your patients are educated and have “buy in”, they not only keep coming back but they tell other people too! This is going to be in high demand for people looking to buy a practice, and they’ll be willing to pay for the predictability.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Invest the time to repeatedly educate the members of your practice.
  2. Document and implement these systems. Anything you are doing to educate your patients should be documented.
  3. Could any Dr. Tom, Dick or Harry come into your practice and effectively execute? If the answer is no, create templates or written scripts so they can.

 

Having your educational system structured and documented will add HUGE value to your practice’s valuation. And as a bonus, it makes it easy to transition new staff when necessary.

 

#3 – SYSTEMS

Alright, what’s next? More about systems.

Systems are the glue that hold your practice together. They are what allows your practice to run smoothly while you’re on some beach, some where.

A quality team is key, but a practice built on systems removes the risk of human error and you can be less dependent on the quality of your team.

Do you have the systems in place that creates the same profitability whether you are the practicing doc or a hired locum?

The most successful practices seem to have one thing in common – they are team driven rather than doctor driven.

Remember earlier when you slipped out the back door? Ya, you can do this when your team works as a unit to keep things running smoothly.

Now you can do what you do best, be a chiropractor! Find out whether you are a doc driven or team driven practice by asking yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Do you “run the show”?
  2. Do you have a written manual that documents every last detail of running your practice?
  3. Do you have “rules” for the practice? (who you do or do not work with, for example).

The easiest way to guarantee reproducibility of income to prospective buyers is by showing them exactly how you operate so they can kick you aside and take the helm all while maintaining similar profits.

 

#4 – MARKETING

The second biggest hole in chiropractic practices across the profession…MARKETING.

We get it, marketing can be a daunting and overwhelming task.

The fact is that marketing in its simplest form is just the ability to share your gifts and talents with those who will benefit from it most.

We aren’t going to spill all the beans on HOW to market your practice, but we will tell you it could get you an extra $10,000 when you are selling your practice.

Not to mention the increased revenue by pulling in more patients! WOAH.

What marketing systems can maximize this area of the valuation? Let me tell you about two of them.

  1. A well documented marketing planner. Plan, document, reflect, etc. Think of all the ways you can market your practice (promos, newsletters, community events, and the like) and plan for them so you’re ready to go!
  2. A tracker for return on investment (ROI).  You must know where your patients are coming from. Track what efforts are producing new patients and what those efforts cost. This is how to make marketing predictable and manageable.

With these in place, you can confidently show prospective buyers that your marketing systems are producing results that are repeatable!

 

#5 – CONTROL THAT OVERHEAD!

Last but, stereotypically, not least – controlling overhead.

We’ve completed hundreds of appraisals in the past and the biggest difference maker in the selling price of a chiropractic practice is percentage of overhead!

It is unfortunate, but we see docs with expenses that are consuming 60-80% of revenues! Talk about insane.

You’ve got to hone in on what is causing your practice to bleed that much money in overhead.

Take the time to sit down and really understand what your overhead is and if there is any opportunity to reduce it in areas where it’s not required. Even if you have a million dollar/year practice, but spend $900K in overhead, your practice’s valuation is going to be inline with the person down the road bringing in an easy $150,000/year with low and controlled overhead, and much more time with their family.

Every 1% you can bring down your overhead equals thousands in your pocket in the long run when you sell it, but also in yearly profitability leading up to the sale.

So, sit down with your favorite bean counter to look at the books, create a monthly rhythm to look for opportunities to reduce overhead and get creative with ways to maximize your money by minimizing your expenses.

 

All of these are manageable steps you can take today to start to create a more systemized, repeatable practice. This helps the eventual sale, but watch as your team becomes more efficient, more effective and more profitable in the process.

 

Author: Mike Tielemans, Appraisal Director at Full Circle Coaching and Consulting. Having 100’s of appraisals over the past 2 decades.