Monday, December 22, 2008

Ho Ho Holidays

It is the time for miracles. People smile, laugh and generally are in good moods during the holidays. We all eat too much, drink too much, laugh too hard, and then come, January resolve to take all the pounds we gained off.

This holiday season look around to see who you can give a smile to, who you can make laugh, who you can help, and who you can share your goodwill with.

I wish you all a holiday season filled with gratitude for what you have, desire to earn what you want, and passion to share your talents with all around you. May you have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Years and all the other national holidays there are this season!

Anne Warfield

Pleasantville, is not a place but a way of doing business

Well you have probably been wanting to know the sequel to my Ultimate Electronics purchase. Did it really all turn out well?

On Thursday Josh Aubart drove the TV out to our house to personally set it up. He brought the audio guy, Ryen with him so Ryen could set up the audio for us.(Remember the audio was not included in the hook up.) They precede to set up the TV, Blue Ray, Bose and Cable. When I ask if my Ipod can be hooked up as well, they gladly tackle that challenge. Matter-of-fact, Ryen says, "this is fun. I love a challenge!"

Once they have it all hooked up, they look down at the four remotes we will be left with. They shake their heads and say, "do you really want to work with four remotes? We have a cool Logitech remote that we can program to do everything with one touch of a button. If you want we will run back to the store, pick it up and drive back out to program it for free. Usually the programing of this remote is $100." (Okay by now you are figuring this remote does all but make you French Toast in the morning.)

It sounds cool so we go for it. They drive all the way back to the store, buy the remote and bring it back to program it. They are smiling, whistling, and telling us they are "off work" so they don't mind doing this for us after hours.

Okay, so I have gone from "I will never step foot in there again" to "I have got to let people know about this." So if you too are looking for a great home theatre set up or audio set up, I encourage you to call the Ultimate Electronics in Edina Minnesota and ask for Josh Aubart. No matter where you are I bet he will take care of you! Pleasantville does exist and I love it!!

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pleasantville Lives: Ultimate Electronics Has Customer Service That Truly Warms You

10 years ago I walked in to an Audio King Store. Three sales people stood chewing gum behind a counter. One yelled out, "Can I help you?" I walked over to the counter, told him what I needed and watched him laugh, look at his two co-workers and say, "sweetheart good luck finding that!" Needless to say in 10 years I have never stepped foot back in one of their stores.

10 years of business lost due to one sales person.

So yesterday, my husband and I went to our favorite electronic store. On Sunday they had run an ad for a big screen TV, blue ray player and set up. We decided that would be our Christmas Present to each other along with surround sound. When we got to the store the sales person said, "we are out of that TV.We have been out of that TV for months. I don't know why corporate even ran that ad. I have a waiting list of 7 people and I don't even think they will get the deal so I wouldn't even put you on the list. We do have other TVs if you would like to look at them." It felt like the old bait and switch. It didn't feel good.

When we got back home my husband went on line to see if any one else would offer the same deal. He called Ultimate Electronics (used to be Audio King) and Josh said he had one TV and that he would beat the other company's deal by $50. So my husband dragged me out with him. I went dreading the experience because I knew what it was like 10 years ago but I would sacrifice because I really wanted the TV. On the way we joked that they would probably tell us that one TV sold in the half hour it took us to get there and they would try to sell us another TV.

We get to the Ultimate Electronics in Edina and there are two guys out front shoveling. Both say, "Merry Christmas" to us. When we walk in all the sales people are smiling and saying hello. We ask for Josh and a guy that had his coat on, turns around and says, "that's me." We explained we were the ones that just called him and he said, "that's right! I remember you wanted the TV with the blue ray player. Let's go look at it." I said, we could work with someone else if he needed to be going and he said, "No I was just going to go out and help the guys shovel."

He brought us back and showed us the TV and the blue ray player. He then asked if we had a surge protector for our new TV set. When we said no he showed us options. No high pressure. Just told us what he liked and why. Then I mentioned surround sound. He asked how big our room was and if we had any specific needs with surround sound. When my husband said "wireless" Josh said, "I have two options for you." He brought us over and showed us the Bose systems.

Now I am adding up in my mind how our purchase is growing. So I said, "I realize you only have 18 month financing but if we can do 36 month we will do the surround sound." He comes back with the 36 month financing. As he is adding up our purchase, he ask me when I want delivery. Now I am used to being told when I can get delivery and making a choice of those dates, not selecting a date that fits me. I asked him what they had available. Josh said they could send one out from the warehouse on Friday, but if I wanted it sooner he would personally drive one out from the store to my house. He also labeled all the cables for us so we would know how to hook them up. Then he gave us his card and said if we needed any assistance to hook up the surround sound (the TV hook up is being done by their company but they don't hook up the surround sound) he would personally come out and hook it up for us.

I took a look around. Did I fall into the rabbit hole like Alice? Was I back in 1960 when customer service truly meant making the customer successful rather than just satisfying the customer?

Josh went on to tell us that at the store they insist who ever is available answer the phone rather than have it go to a "for electronics hit one, for cameras hit two..." system.

All I have to say is, "WOW" I went from, I will never step foot in here again to I want to try this again and see if this miracle is not a miracle but truly a company's dedication to servicing the customer. Josh, my hat is off to you! Thanks for a Winter Wonderland Experience!

Anne Warfield

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cliff Clavin or Thomas Edison: Which are you?

The standing joke on Cheers was Cliff Clavin spewing forth some unknown fact. He knew something about everything. One of those people that would talk your ear off while leaving you bored to tears.

On the flip side, you have Thomas Edison- a man who tinkered with everything from light bulbs to phonographs to create new products and services. He held a record 1093 patents! This is a man that took any bit of knowledge he had and put it to good use.

So here is my question for you, which are you? Cliff Clavin- you know a lot but don't necessarily do anything with it? Or Thomas Edison- where you put to use what you know immediately?

I see the difference between these two types of people in our programs. The Cliff Calvin's are excited to learn and years later they can recite all they learned but they aren't doing anything differently because of what they learned. The Thomas Edison's quiz you in class and when you talk to them years later they have not only implemented what they learned but they have modified and adapted it to fit them and their situation.

Take Action: May you make 2009 a year in which you are a Thomas Edison who constantly adds value to all you touch!

Anne Warfield

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Job Performance: Is Your's Worthy of an Encore?

Is your performance worthy of an encore?

An encore is something we only ask for if the performance we have seen or experienced overwhelms us, moves us, and we want more of it. In Mark Sanborn’s new book, the Encore Effect he asks, is your job performance worthy of an encore?

In other words, do people come back and only want you? Does your boss think you do such a great job that she gives you new challenging projects? Do your clients love you so much and feel your quality that price is not an issue?

No matter what you do in life you should do it with passion, gusto, and to the best of your ability. You should be constantly stretching what you do and how you do it.

I have a friend, Nido Qubein, who says that “excellence is what you strive for; it is the base from which you work.” In other words give your all at all times.

When someone does that we stop and notice. Whether it be an athlete, a grocery store clerk, a traffic cop or a co-worker. It is the one ingredient that makes people unstoppable.

Take Action: Take time today to excel. With each thing you do make it just 5% better. If you do that every day you will improve significantly by the end of the year. If you struggle with this, stop and list all the objections and then take each one and resolve it. You will find that the vast majority of objections are things we hide behind rather than being real blockers.

Go forth and get your Encore Performance today!

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Execution: Do your policies endear your clients or do your clients endure your policies

My two girls belong to a dance studio. Love the teachers. Love the center. Hate their communication execution.

Every month they send me a reminder to pay tuition even though I paid both girl's tuition in full for the full year. Each month the reminder comes with a late fee on it even though it is the first time you are receiving it. When I emailed them to say I paid in full and please stop sending me the emails, they responded, "It is a general email we send to all parents. Just delete it each month you receive it." Now really, do you want your customer annoyed each month they get the email from you?

Each year they tack on new payments for costumes, recital, etc. Each year it is about the same amount. Why not bundle it ahead and let parent's pay one payment and be done with it? I asked if I could pay the tuition, costume and recital all together but was told they couldn't process it so I had to wait until they invoiced for costumes and recitals before I could pay for those. With how I travel that means I may miss the week they send the notice home and then my kids are told they are "late" with the payment.

Really, let's be clear here. As the customer, I am trying to give them my money EARLY so I am all paid up and they are telling me it is not "convenient" for their processes.

So I ask you, are your policies endearing your clients to you or are they enduring your policies? If they are enduring your policies then you are prime for them to have one little thing send them over the edge and you lose their business for ever. For this little dance studio, figuring that each girl dances for about 10 years, that means a $14,000 dollar loss if the business of two dancers walks away.

Take Action: Take a moment to look at your policies from your client's eyes, not yours. Get rid of any that make it hard for your client to do business with you.

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What does Winter, Pro Sports and Magicians have in common?

Renew. Regrowth. Repair. That is what nature uses winter for. Just like all good things you need time off to fix, change or finesse what you are doing so you come out at a higher level. It is not enough during times like this, to just put your nose to the grindstone and work harder. When you are doing that, your vision is limited because it only sees what is right in front of your nose.

Instead you have to operate like a magician. You need to see what others don't. You need to open your eyes so you see more. You need to move so the view you take in is different. You need to use the time, like a professional athlete. During their "off season" they work on perfecting their game, not just being in the game.

So take this winter to reinvent, repair, and recharge so you are renewed for the new year! May you have many blessings this holiday season and may you notice and appreciate them!

Anne Warfield

Monday, December 1, 2008

Economy or Creativity? Which is it?

Wii. IPhone. ITouch. Rock Band. Last year brought us novel and new gifts we had to get our hands on. We didn't want to be left behind or to have our children left behind.

So what is new this year? Nothing. There is really no new gift that we have to have. In today's economy that is a death knoll. Even TVs aren't flying this year as many people are choosing until February to see what happens with HDTV before they buy a new TV.

Unfortunately I think many people will look at the slowing sales this Christmas and say it is due to the economy. I think that innovation is as much at fault. I found last years Best Buy ads for December under a pile of magazines at my house (okay so know you have an idea of how good of a house cleaner I am!) and I started to thumb through them to see what items were new. Unfortunately if I put last year's ads down next to this year, you would be hard pressed to tell which was from 2007 and which was from 2008.

So, in today's times, let's not lose our opportunity to be innovative and creative. The time is now to re-invent you , your business, and your life! Don't become stale like this year's Christmas offerings!

Action Plan: Look at what you have done in the last 90 days to change your routine, improve your processes or re-invent you! Challenge yourself to change three things over the next 30 days and see what happens.

Anne Warfield