Sunday, January 29, 2006

Salt Lake Tribune - Business

Salt Lake Tribune - Business

Another interesting article can provide usefull information to business owners.

One question I have is McDonalds using call centers for the drive through windows. Using a call center to take drive through orders does not seem to be very customer friendly and could be an outstanding opportunity for competitors.

Salt Lake Tribune - Business

Salt Lake Tribune - Business

Interesting article discussing the issues facing Supervalu as it takes over many Albertston's stores.

The article also gives important insight on some of the problems at Albertsons that will be important lessons for all business owners plus talks about the actions of today's consumers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Zions opens business resource center | Zions opens business resource center: "Zions opens business resource center
By Jenifer K. Nii
Deseret Morning News
Zions Bank this week will launch its Business Resource Center, a free service for business owners and prospective entrepreneurs who are working on a business plan, trying to get an idea off the ground or growing to the next level."

Here is a great new resource for those in northern Utah. Zions has been active in trying to help small businesses succeed and this consolidates multiple resources in one spot. Take a look at it if your in that area.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Amazon Customer Service

We talked about return policies in a previous post. Here is a customer's opinion of Amazon's return policy. Would your customer blog about you???

Forma Line: "I love
When I arrived home from work last Monday, I couldn't connect to my wireless network. I assumed it was Comcast crapping out again, but a call to their customer service (which has generally been good) identified the problem as being my wireless router.

I spent the next two nights performing all sorts of resets, hard resets, and firmware uploads, but I couldn't get the router to respond. I spoke with a nice guy in India and we determined that the router was defective. This was Thursday night.

I bought the router from back in late November, so I knew I could reprint a copy of the invoice. When I looked up the order in my purchase history, I saw a link next to the record which said 'return this item.' That's what I wanted to do. It took less than 2 minutes to fill out the form.

The next morning, I received an email message from Amazon. They told me they were shipping a new router to me via 2-day UPS and that I needed to send the faulty router back to them within 30 days. They included a prepaid label for the box.

The router arrived at my office this morning. My old router is on the way back. My wireless network is up and running again. It didn't cost me anything and it couldn't have been much more convenient.

A few weeks ago, I bought a moderately expensive coffee maker from them. When it arrived, it was too tall to fit under my kitchen cupboards. I should have measured it, but I didn't. It was my own stupid fault. But they refunded me the entire purchase price and reimbursed me for the shipping costs I paid to send it back.

That's why I love Amazon. I probably would have put up with a bit of hassle on both of these transactions and continued to do business with them. But, they made it ridiculously easy.

So, I'll continue to spend more money with them than I can possibly justify.

posted by Simon J. at 6:20 PM 0 comments links to this post"

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Employee Performance

You hire employees to perform the functions necessary of the position. It takes both the employee and the employer to put together the program that will allow that employee to succeed.

When you first hire an employee you should have a basic job description for that person and the expectations of the position. You also should have a basic training program set up to get the employee up and running.

For example with a new employee you give them a period to learn the position. At this point it is your responsibility to give them the training they need to perform in the duties assigned. One of the best ways to ensure that employee is learning what they need what they need to know is to have a check off list of training needed for the position. Also remember that most people learn best by actually doing what is being trained so make sure the employee is getting the hands on experience they will need.

As the employee becomes more experienced, the expectations of that employee should grow as their experience and talents in the position grows. Remember in the previous post I talked about finding out what motivates the person, this is where this becomes important. You must find out what will motivate the employee to increase their performance and give them new challenges.

Once the employee has learned the basic skills necessary to handle the position, is to gradually increase the expectations and performance requirements.

One of the things that you have to watch out for is giving the person so many performance requirements that they decide the job is not worth it anymore.

However there are some employees who just will not meet the performance standards set up. At this point you need to evaluate whether the employee has received all the necessary training for the position. Then you will need to talk to the employee and see what can be done in order to increase performance. However, there are just some employees who are just meant to be someplace else. If you have done everything possible to give the employee tools to succeed and they will not it is time for them to find another job.

While no one likes to be fired there are also few managers who like to fire someone. However, there are times when being fired is the best thing for the person. The position they are in may not be the right one for them and letting them go will give an opportunity for the person to find their passion. Your ultimate responsibility is to the business, you cannot have someone who will bring the company and their fellow workers down. While it is the action of last resort, when the time comes it must be done.

Remember the most important aspects of putting together performance requirements:
1. Make sure the employees are properly trained.
2. The performance requirements are reasonable and achievable.
3. You have adequate one on ones with employees to ensure the employee can get a feel for how they are performing and look at areas of improvement.

While the thought of having performance requirements may make some people uncomfortable, they are designed to help your business and insure that your employees are giving the best possible service to your customers.

The more successful you help your employee to be, the more successful you business will be.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Motivating Employees

One of the biggest problem many retailers and especially small business retailers have is the hiring, training, and keeping good employees.

Your employees are one of your most valuable assets along with your customers. How they treat your customers will greatly depend on your success.

You must keep your employees motivated and wanting to come to work.

The first part of the equation is actually pretty easy. Threat your employees with respect and they will respect you and the company. If you treat them like dirt or a slave, then they will have no respect for you, your company, or your customers.

To motivate your employee you must first find out what is their motivation. We cannot motivate employees on what motivates us, but we must find their motivation. To make matters more complicated, all employees are going to have different motivators, so you will have to find out the motivator of each employee.

The best way to find out what motivates them is to get to know them. Find out where they have been and where they want to go. You can either find this out through talking to them or what I have done is give each employee a survey that asks what their goals, dreams and aspirations are. I also tried to find out any other hidden talents they have that will benefit the company and make their work more enjoyable.

Once you find out their motivators you have to come up with ways to get them motivated using their motivators. How you do this us up to you but one of the best way is to get the employee involved with their development and give them opportunities to showcase their talents. Also, once you find out their goals you to work out ways for them to reach their goals. There is a good chance that their goals will eventually lead them away from your business, but if you help them along the way, not only will they be a better employee, they will have loyalty toward you and your company plus may actually be able to find people to take their place when their time to leave comes.

A motivated employee will build your business, an unmotivated employee will kill your business.

In a future entry I will discuss performance standards and employees