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Posts tagged ‘Staff Training’

National Homes Network conferences – A short 47 second video-ette

Click the link –  National Homes Network conferences.




10 ways to become more customer focussed

10 ways to become more customer focussed

In the free-enterprise system, the customer is king. Those who please the customer best win.  The same is true with internal customers. Those who please them most will win. Winners are always customer orientated and responsive. Here are ten actions to help your organisation become more customer focussed.

1. Keep in high-quality touch. Pleasing the reasonable needs of customers is fairly straight-forward. First you need to know what they want and expect. The best way to do that is ask them. Then deliver that in a timely way at a price/value that’s justified. Find ways to keep in touch with a broad spectrum of your customers to get a balanced view: face-to-face, phone surveys, questionnaires, response cards etc.

2. Customers complain; it’s their job. Be ready for the good news and the bad news; don’t be defensive, just listen and respond to legitimate criticisms and note the rest. Vocal customers will usually complain more than compliment; you need to not get overwhelmed by the negative comments; people who have positive opinions speak up less.

3. Anticipate customer needs. Get in the habit of meeting with your internal or external customers on a regular basis to set up a dialogue; they need to feel free to contact you about problems and you need to be able to contact them for essential information. Use this understanding to get out in front of your customers; try and anticipate their needs and provide them with positive surprises.

4. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were a customer of yours, what would you expect; what kind of turnaround time would you tolerate; what price would you be willing to pay for the quality of product or service you provide; what would be the top three things you would complain about?

5. Think customer in. Always design your work and manage your time from a customer in, not from you out.  Your best will always be determined by your customers, not you; try not to design and arrange what you do only from your own view; try to always know and take the viewpoint of your customer first; you will always win following that rule.

6. Create an environment for experimentation and learning. One principle of these techniques is to drive continuous improvement. Never be satisfied. Always drive to improve all work processes so they deliver defect-free goods and services customers want. Don’t be afraid to fail.

7. Look at your own work habits. Are they designed for maximum effectiveness and efficiency for your customer or are they designed for your comfort? Is there room for some continuous improvement? Are you applying the principles you have learned to yourself? Remember, this is one of the major reasons why these efforts fail.

8. Think of yourself as a dissatisfied customer. Write down all of the unsatisfactory things that have happened to you as a customer during the past month. Things like delays, orders not right, cost not as promised, phone calls not returned, cold food, bad service, inattentive staff, out of stock items etc. Are any of these things happening to your customers?

9. Think of yourself as a satisfied customer. Write down all of the satisfactory things that have happened to you as a customer during the past month? What pleased you the most as a customer? Good value; on-time service; courtesy; returned calls?  Are any of your customers experiencing any of these satisfactory transactions with you and your organisation?

10. Play detective. Be a student of the workflows and processes around you at airports, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, government agencies etc. As a customer how would you design those things differently to make them more effective and efficient? What principles did you follow? Apply those same principles to your own work.

Thanks to William Montgomery of AskTen for this piece on becoming more customer focussed.

In business, we all need to be reminded from time-to-time that ‘the customer is king’! It is all too easy for some employees to see your customers as ‘an interruption’ to their day!

Regular sales/staff meetings (ideally morning meetings before the day begins) are a good opportunity to get the staff on board and re-iterate what it is the company is trying to achieve, and what rewards this may mean for the employees if they do their bit (commission, bonuses etc for hitting targets).

NHN Partners Day Conference – May 2011


I was very proud and very pleased to get great feedback from the delegates who attended the Partners Day Conference I organised on behalf of NHN (National Homes Network) this month.

“The best conference I’ve attended for 3 years” was one comment!

There will be another conference in the autumn for property professionals, so stay tuned for further news on that if you don’t want to miss out next time!



Some years ago THE business guru was Tom Peters, through his books such as “In Search of Excellence” and “A Passion of Excellence”. One of his ideas was the concept of “Management by Walking About”.

How often do you spot something that needs doing and then forget about it? How often do you put something right yourself?

How often do you delegate by telling a colleague precisely what needs to be done?

How about a different approach? Look at your premises, outside and in, with a fresh eye. What needs to be done? If a light bulb is out, tell the manager, or whoever is senior in the office that a light bulb is out. If a window card needs changing say “A window card needs changing”. Don’t say which one and don’t fix it yourself. The aim is to get others to look with a fresh eye too. Note down when you say something and record how long it takes to be put right. Later, comment on the time taken.

It is right to lead from the front, but the trick is to ensure that everyone on your team shares the passion to be the best and strive for it just as you do.

Get a friend to look at your premises and comment frankly on the good and the bad. People who work in a place every day don’t notice gradual change. Familiarity breeds apathy.

In front of the negotiators’ desks do your guest chairs have arms or not? No arms on chairs cause people to fold their arms and put up psychological barriers to discussions. Arms on chairs help people to relax and be more receptive.

With the closures of businesses the secondhand furniture places have bargains available. Is it time for a freshen up?

When did you last change your Fluorescent light tubes. You know that they lose brightness with age, don’t you? Has the change been so gradual you haven’t noticed? They should be changed after a year. Change a couple and see the difference!

Could this principle apply to your housing stock too?

How about a drive around to see what could be done to enhance the properties you have for sale? Are all the “For Sale” boards in the best location and as visible as they can be? Are the gardens tidy, hedges trimmed and paths swept? Are your photographs up to date with the season? Are your clients sharing your commitment to present the “product” to best advantage?

Or are you telling potential customers that you are sloppy about detail and houses take months to sell? If so, why would they instruct you?

Try walking about and looking at the details, then get them right. When all the details are right, the business will be right and all your colleagues will share your passion for excellence.

Acknowledgement: Nick Marsh FRICS, FAAV. Partner, Frank Marshall Chartered Surveyors, Auctioneers & Estate Agents. (National Homes Network Member Estate Agent).



Just a quick reminder that . . .

The “No” you just heard

The obstacle you are now facing

The difficult client you are dealing with

Even that moment when you ask yourself . . .

“Will I make it happen?”

Is just life performing some soul surgery . . .

You can’t see it

You can’t feel it . . .

But it’s making you better!

Think about that one and go back out there and seize the day!

And don’t forget to bring your “soul”!

Acknowledgement: Paul Castain (Good Old ‘Uncle Paul’!) (

BUSINESS & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT TIP: 5 ways to go from Drone to Dynamo!

5 ways to go from Drone to Dynamo!

Here are five ways that you can escalate your ability to stop being considered a drone and become recognised as a leader of ideas:

1. Change something about your daily routine so that your brain begins to work a little harder.   Our brains send messages along the same neuro-pathways, literally creating “ruts” when we do one thing on a regular basis. To get your brain refreshed, be sure that you do something different that forces the synapse to fire in a different direction, literally getting you out of the “rut.” Daily changes could include:

Read a new type of book

Start to learn a new language

Take a new route to work

Listen to a different radio station

Read a different newspaper

2. Block out 20 minutes for at least one brain workout per day.  You do that for your body, don’t you?  Well, if you don’t, you should.

3. Write down a current challenge you are currently working on.   Select a challenge that is frustrating you or that is highly visible. Coming up with ideas will help generate your energy around the challenge. This “challenge” could be a co-worker or team member (and often is).

Example: Jane Smith is not interacting in my sales meetings.

4. Every day, in your 20 minutes, write down five new ideas concerning how you will solve your current challenge.  Having a certain amount of ideas will help you actively generate new ideas and solutions rather than feel overwhelmed. The ideas should have no boundaries like “how” or “what if.” Just write them down.

Example: 1. Give Jane an active role in the meeting, asking her to share one idea of how she’s increased sales. 2. Take Jane to lunch and ask her why she’s not interacting. 3. Think about past interactions and performance appraisals – is she being demotivated by something? 4. Leave a note on her desk thanking her for her hard work. 5. Change the meeting – have 3 salespeople at one and 3 at another and make it more interactive.

5.  At the end of the week, select the ideas that are implementable with the resources at hand.  Review your ideas, and use the ones that will really work. What you’ve probably found is that during the week the idea session has already generated a new thought that you’ve taken action on.

Acknowledgement: Donna Highfill. Highfill Performance Group

How to Solve Work Overload for Small Businesses

How to Solve Work Overload for Small Businesses

by Marcus Sheridan (

One of the biggest problems for a small business is to get ends to meet, both in matters of time and in money.

When I started my first company back in 2006 I had no idea how much work it would be, but the more I did and the more I learned, the more things I realized needed to be done and improved.

I started to understand why companies have so many employees, and before long I was working 15 hours/day, including weekends.

Although I knew this wasn’t going to work in the long run, what I didn’t know was what to do about it.

That was until I started reading everything I could regarding personal development and time management, and the lessons I gleaned from these studies gave me the knowledge and freedom to start improving my business and ultimately enable it to start running itself.

So here’s what I learned, I hope they can help you as well:

1.  Focus on the 20% of your activities that stand for 80% of the value

The 80/20 rule states that 20% of the activities you perform will contribute 80% of the value to you and your business.

Your job is to focus as much time as possible on these activities and try to get rid of the other 80% that provide little to no value to yourself and your business.

How do you find the 20%?

  • Start by listing all the activities you do for your business.
  • Look at which activities provide significant value to your business and which don’t.
  • Prioritize the list in order of importance.

What do you have to do?

  • Go through the list again and see what really requires you to actually get done.
  • Can something be delegated? Can someone else perform a task as well or better?
  • Which activities can be eliminated?
  • What can be bunched?

2.  Delegating/Outsourcing – Too expensive for a small business?

This is a regular question and a just one for a small business struggling to find success.

This is why it’s always better to look at the question not in the form of, “How much does it cost?”, but rather by asking “How much can our company make?”

If you look at your list of activities you will see that some will provide a lot more value to you and your business. By focusing on them you will significantly improve your income, which will in-turn make up for any extra money you’ve spent on outsourcing.

3.  Bunching Activities

We often have a habit of checking our email every few minutes (I know I do!), but if we instead can limit that to only once or twice a day we would save a lot of time that could be put into significantly better use.

This can be done with pretty much every activity you perform.

What activities can you do only once a week or month versus ones you’re currently doing every day? By spending more quality time on these activities instead of quantity time, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting into “the zone”—thus allowing you to work faster and more efficiently. Using myself as an example, the first 100 words of this article took as long time to write as the rest of the article, 700 words.

What can the results be?

Well first of all you might be spending more money on outsourcing.

Although you may spend more on outsourcing, you’ll also spend a lot more time on what is important and brings value to your business, which will lead to your income increasing exponentially over time.

Action Exercise

1.  Right down all the activities you do for your company.

2.  Prioritize the list by importance (value brought to the company).

3.  Go through the list to see if anything can be delegated, bunched or eliminated.

4.  Take action. Don’t sit idle with this information, do something with it!



This weeks tip was to look again at the applicant list in each office and ensure that anyone living in the area of any of our own offices is registered as ‘Gold’ and has been offered a marketing appraisal.

We refer to theses as our Gold applicants and they stay on our electronic lists for years if necessary. There is no cost to this and we can keep them informed of what is happening in the market, at least they see what is selling in their area, occasionally they see something to tempt them and they get a very regular reminder that we are the main agent to talk to long term.

If the applicant registers in one office but lives in the area of another we need to ensure that the ‘home’ office gets details as well as the one in the area where they are looking. Obviously this also works for National Homes Network referrals but at the very least we are cross-selling around our own business.

Via National Homes Network Member Ian Perry at Perry Bishop & Chambers, Cirencester