Business Blog for Company Owners

by Jim Stein
February 20, 2013

How well does your team work together? We know that teamwork in sports—or lack thereof—is usually the difference between a win and a loss: the muffed handoff to the fullback (ouch), the perfect execution of blocking in a 20-yard run (first down), the pick-and-roll pass inside for the bucket or the grounder to the right side to score the runner from third (high five!). Each are critical plays that, when well executed, propel a team to victory. In your business, processes are even more complex, and the difference between creating a satisfied and dissatisfied customer often comes down to teamwork: the promised return call that’s made (trust), the detailed notes on special materials (quality), bringing in a specialist team member at the right time (expertise), Read more

by Jim Stein
January 14, 2013

A few months ago, I booked a flight to the east coast for my wife and told her she would get a confirming email. She smiled and said, “I hope the email says I’ve been upgraded for free.” I thought, “Well, who doesn’t wish that?” That thought stuck with me as our team began planning extra benefits for 2013. From day one, our core philosophy has been to improve the Diamond Certified Program every year, and this year is no exception. So, I’m very pleased to say that for 2013, all Diamond Certified companies have been UPGRADED! Read more

by Joy Lanzaro
January 07, 2013

California has recently eliminated any ambiguity concerning “construction consultants”—per Assembly Bill No. 2237, they’re now defined as contractors who must adhere to the same requirements that apply to all licensed contractors. In other states, construction consultants market their services to DIYers and owner-builders who have skill gaps and choose not to hire general contractors to manage their home improvement projects. Construction consultants offer a wide range of à la carte support opinions, from planning to project management, but they don’t assume any responsibilities for safety, best practices, code compliance, performance expectations or warranties. Read more

by Jim Stein
December 17, 2012

We published a lot of business tips in 2012 that covered a wide variety of topics, but here are the 10 we think are most important for ensuring your company’s success in 2013.

1. Restoring faith
If you notice your customers can’t say what they want but definitely don’t want anything you’ve suggested, it’s time to restore the team. Focus solely on the decision-making rationale they find meaningful without judging them. Brainstorm an idea and tell them they’re free to respond in one of three ways: acceptance, acceptance with conditions (list the conditions), or rejection of the product or proposal along with the documented and measurable criterion used to reject this option. Read more

by Joy Lanzaro
November 29, 2012

Contractors: Have you ever presented a client with a perfectly rational approach to fixing a problem only to have them reject it without any concrete reason? Things grind to a halt, you think they simply can’t be satisfied and you’re ready to give up…except that means taking a financial hit. Here are some strategies for avoiding the friction of indecision.

When your customers just aren’t “feeling it”
Every decision is a product of weighing both logic and feeling. If a reasonable and logical proposal gets rejected, that means it’s not appealing to the customer on another level. Try tuning in to the customer’s impressions. You might say, “I notice you’re having difficulty switching gears. Read more

by Joy Lanzaro
November 19, 2012

Contractors, mechanics and other consumer service providers are in the Trust business. Every time a service professional breaks from expectations, the customer is confronted with a choice between trust and self-preservation. While missed appointments and failure to call might seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, these breaches in social contracts confront customers in a significant way. Once compromised, the cost of restoring trust can exceed time and materials and may be the difference between profit and loss.

Let’s use the example of my 3/4 Arabian mare, Sasha. Her cooperation is reliable under a specific set of conditions for which she’s been prepared and tested. My job is to continually earn Sasha’s trust over an ever-widening range of conditions. Read more

by Jim Stein
November 15, 2012

Our entire team at American Ratings Corporation wishes you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving season. For me, this is the time of year to give thanks to special people and reflect on outstanding deeds—an ideal precursor for personal and business planning.

Besides focusing on family members and friends, I’d like to take stock of what we’ve achieved in the Diamond Certified Program this year. I’m thrilled that, despite a sluggish economy, both consumer awareness of and preference for Diamond Certified companies increased in 2012. To accomplish this, we:

  • Employed a team of writers to add more than 30,000 “How To” expert articles to our website’s industry category pages,
  • Read more

by Jim Stein
October 18, 2012

Ask most company managers and they’ll tell you the key to satisfying customers is to “do what the customer wants.” Although this is a reasonable answer, I believe in embracing the philosophy of “doing what the customer needs” instead. Although it takes extra time to educate a customer and merge their wants with newly learned needs, it leads to a more satisfied customer and it’s the right thing to do.

You are an expert in your field and your customer is not. You’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. How you discover what your customer wants and how you make recommendations on what your customer really needs can be the difference between success and failure. Read more

by Jim Stein
October 04, 2012

If you want to boost your business in 2013, you’ll need to reserve your page in the Diamond Certified Directory now. If you qualify, we guarantee your page will bring you a flow of new customers who care about quality and are willing to pay for it.

How can we guarantee your satisfaction when that isn’t done by any other directory? Because ours is unlike any other you’ve been in. The Diamond Certified Directory works in the exact opposite way of other directories that are primarily used for price shopping. By design, our directory gives you a flow of the better type of customers: families that are seeking a quality local company.

That’s why the Diamond Certified Directory is the most requested directory in Northern California. Read more

by Jim Stein
September 17, 2012

How your team delivers on your customers’ expectations forms the basis for their satisfaction. So, it’s worth reviewing the implications of this basic fact and relooking at your internal customer-related processes to ensure they’re having the desired effect.

What expectations do your customers have? First, before they even contact your company, they bring all their past experiences with services that they consider similar to yours. The other day, I was helping my wife do an online check-in and add a new frequent flyer number to her airline reservation. There was a problem with the exact spelling of her name, and the airline website kept rejecting both the check-in and the new frequent flyer number. Read more