Monday, July 18, 2011

5 Business Lessons I Learned By Digging A Hole At The Beach


by Jim Roddy, President, Jameson Publishing

I try to read as much as I can about customer service because that's the core of any business. And I learned a ton about that subject over the weekend at the beach -- despite not having any reading material on my blanket. My 5-year-old daughter reminded me of several fundamental business lessons when she dug a hole in the sand at the beach. Let me tell you the story and share the lessons:

Lesson #1: Do something you enjoy.
Every day, some people follow this pattern: go to work, come home, and gripe about work. That's no way to live. Do what makes you happy -- not the job that pays the most money or has the most status. My daughter was happy to dig a hole and fill it with water over and over. You might be happy with an outside sales job even if your neighbors say they couldn't take the windshield time. You might enjoy the challenge of generating new business even if most of your buddies can't take the rejection. Do something you enjoy.

Lesson #2: Provide service that thrills your customers.
During one of my daughter's water runs, she came back to find a 1-year-old sitting in the pool she had created. The kid was having a blast splashing about in the shallow water. So, back to the water my daughter went to get more water to cool the kid off.

Lesson #3: Partner with the right people.
My daughter wasn't the only one lugging buckets of water from the lake. Another girl, who was about 4 years old, started helping out. But her only qualification was that she had her own bucket. One of her buckets was 6 parts water and 1 part sand ... and she promptly dumped that sand on the head of the 1-year-old, displeasing the baby and her mother. Fortunately a clean bucket of water soon followed, and the 1-year-old was back to laughing.

Lesson #4: Keep an eye on the competition.
If you have a good product or service, you'd expect all your customers to stay and your company to attract new customers, right? In reality, your competition is continually evolving, so don't rest on your laurels. My daughter's "bathing pool" was a couple feet in diameter, but just down the shore a couple older boys had built giant pools that were quickly being filled by the lapping waves. They were offering a better product that didn't require bucket lugging to keep it fresh.

Lesson #5: Continue innovating.
My daughter wanted the attention of the other kids at the beach, so she adjusted to provide something the "competition" couldn't: she began cooling off kids who were standing near her pool by dumping buckets of water on their head. The new idea led to more happy customers.

We're often running so fast trying to arrive at every meeting on time, finishing reports that are due, and putting out fires. But take a minute now to compare your business or sales territory against the 5 lessons listed above to see how well you're doing with each. You might just learn something where you least expected.

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of three leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, and VertMarkets.

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