"...keeping you great" Ten Minutes with the Growth Guy
HEADLINES: (vacation week thus the short insight) Print-Friendly Version
Dell Gets Leaner -- it's no big secret that I'm a Michael Dell fan and so far his turnaround is beating Wall Street expectations. Yesterday they reported 9% revenue growth from last year and their earnings were higher than expected (operating margin of 5.6%) as they've taken advantage of cost cutting measures and consumers/companies wanting lower-priced PCs amidst the downturn in the U.S. economy. Here's an excellent summary of their efforts and results -- Dell is increasing margins while facing increasing costs and price pressure -- it takes real management discipline to pull that off. AND the Dell problems you report to me get sent right to a top guy at Dell for him to respond -- they are trying to increase customer service at the same time (see John DiJulius's new customer service book What's the Secret noted below).
Questions About Pricing and Wage Pressures -- please share your quick feedback. I'm getting called almost daily by the media asking what I'm hearing from the mid-market segment of the economy. With increased food and fuel costs they are asking two specific questions: 1) are you feeling the pressure to raise your own prices and by how much; and 2) are your employees asking for increased wages to offset their own increased costs of putting food on the table and commuting to work? I'll keep your responses anonymous unless I get your permission to share with the media that contact me.
Do You Have Any Quirky Ways You Measure the Health of the Economy -- FORTUNE Small Business magazine is looking for rather quirky, unusual metrics any of you might use to gauge the health of the economy i.e. one CEO noted "I like to attend boat shows to see the ratio of new vs. used boats for sale. It shows the outlook for the market. At the recent Palm Beach Boat Show it was mostly used. Makers are afraid buyers won't be able to get loans." Please send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: My Economic Indicator.
WHAT'S THE SECRET: TO PROVIDING A WORLD-CLASS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE -- this is the title of John DiJulius's new book released just a few weeks ago. It's a sequel to his best--selling book Secret Service and is timely given that we're in the midst of a customer service crisis given cost pressures. The key is delivering this customized service (which creates an "experience") for little or no cost! What I particularly like is John's new format driven around his X Commandments:
- Having a Service Vision that articulates why your business exists
- Creating a World-Class Internal Culture: Attract, hire, and retain only the people who have the Service DNA
- Having Nonnegotiable Experiential standards everyone must follow
- Secret Service Systems: Utilizing customer intelligence to personalize their experience and engage and anticipate their needs
to Provide a World-Class Customer Experience: Systems and processes
that remove variation and provide a consistent customer experience
- Implementation and Execution: How to go from ideas on a paper to being consistently executed
- Zero Risk: Anticipating your service defects and having protocols in place to make it right
- Creating an Above-and-Beyond Culture: Constant awareness and branding of how to be a hero
- Measuring Your Customer's Experience: What gets measured gets managed
- World-Class Leadership: Walking the talk
There is also a demo of John's new four hour training DVD -- perfect for reviewing one commandment per week at your brown-bag learning lunch or weekly meeting. And the DVD includes his famous opening piece about his son peeing in the pool and his closing video where his son wins his first national wrestling championship. Go to www.gazelles.tv and scroll down the left column -- the DVD demo's are in alphabetical order thus his is last.
Do I Want to Feed the Media Frenzy -- entrepreneurs are optimists (and the profiles in our IntroNetworks community support this) though we're also realists. The key is to keep making forward--moving decisions that take advantage of the higher fuel and food costs (entrepreneurs find advantages in EVERYTHING!) while using this period to tighten up expenses while pushing hard on strategy to drive revenues. "Going Global, Getting Lean" is our mantra for 2008 -- and a key focus of our Growth Summit this fall. It's time to grab market share!!! Go, Go, Go!!