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Keep Your “Frenemies” Close, and More Tips for Sign Pros in June

Also, seek out your shop’s contrarian for collaboration.

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COMPETITION Embrace your “Frenemies”

Stop viewing your local competition as enemies to be vanquished, said Mike Thomas of Valley Sign in Orting, WA. Instead, look for opportunities to cooperate. Thomas said, “There’s plenty of work out there for everybody. You can gain a lot of knowledge and insight by partnering with other shops instead of viewing them as an enemy.”

SALES An Unfortunate Turn of Phrase

An anecdote from Doug Stephens’ book Retail Revival reveals how Apple store employees were instructed to never use the word “unfortunately.” The reasoning is that “unfortunately” is a negative word that causes pain by making people feel a sense of loss. Instead, staff were instructed to use the words as it turns out, as in “As it turns out, we don’t have that item in stock.” Try it next time you’re in an “unfortunately” situation.

STRATEGY Shorten Your Years

Consultants Brian Moran and Michael Lennington aren’t big believers in the value of a year, at least when it comes to setting goals. A year’s too big to get your head around, they argue in their book The 12-Week Year, and there’s too much unpredictability involved in planning for 10 or 11 months in the future. In its place, they advocate dividing your year into quarters, and to think of each 12 weeks as a stand-alone “year” — a stretch long enough to make significant progress on a few fronts, yet short enough to stay focused.

MANAGEMENT On the Contrary

When it’s time to plan strategically for your sign business, don’t have too many “yes people” at the table. Include one or two of your company contrarians, said Jan Griffioen of the Griffioen Consulting Group in West Bloomfield, MI. “You don’t want people who think exactly in lockstep to work together on [a] strategic plan. You can accomplish more in less time because you can share assignments and you can split up assignments, but there’s more opportunity, hopefully, for discussion.”

STRATEGIC FOLLOW-UP Come on Back

For time-starved businesses, execution can be the hardest part of planning because consultants are no longer onsite, attention spans are focused elsewhere and there is a sense that with the initial (long, tiring) meetings done, the plan is more or less complete. Come back to your plan at least quarterly to check that assigned tasks have been completed, and to adjust as needed.

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CITIZENSHIP Repair Your Relationships

If you’re renovating, Entrepreneur magazine’s “Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide” says that you shouldn’t forget about the impact of your project on your neighbors. Drop off cards that read, “Pardon our mess and thanks for understanding!” Cookies help, too.

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