New Year's Resolutions 2015

new years resolutions I just can’t help myself.  Despite my family’s pleas that I take some vacation time, I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to write my weekly blog post. This week I wanted to share with you a couple of great posts by other bloggers on the subject of New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Anatomy of a New Year’s Resolution
  2. Just 8% of people achieve their New Years’ Resolutions. Here’s how they did it.
  3. Interesting New Year’s Resolution Statistics
  4. 10 Tips Help you keep your New Year’s Resolution

You probably want to know what my New Year’s resolutions are for this year. Here are a couple personal and professional resolutions that I’d like to share with you:

  1. Write a guest blog post for a leading online publication by March 31, 2015
  2. Reduce my Body Mass Index 10% by June 30, 2015
  3. Write and post 52 blog posts on www.reverselogisticstoday.net; that’s one per week!
  4. Complete reading one fiction book each month; starting on January 30th
  5. Launch an online information product on service marketing by January 30, 2015

 

By the way, I also have made some very specific, quantifiable goals for my business which I chose to share only with key stakeholders in the company since we are privately owned.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of you resolutions for 2015?  One of the best ways to achieve your goal is to make a public commitment to achieve it.

Another way is to seek a mentor or coach on how to set and achieve your goals.  To that end, I highly recommend that you check out Michael Hyatt’s new course called 5 days to your Best Year Ever.  I met Michael a few years ago when we both attended a Tony Robbins course in Fiji and have been following Michael ever since.  I really value Michael’s pragmatic, down to earth approach.  So much so, that I decided to become an affiliate partner and share his new course with my social network as well. Whether you enroll in the course or not is totally up to you.

Of course, if you want to design achievable goals around issues specifically related to the Reverse Logistics and Aftermarket Service industry, I suggest you schedule a free consultation call with me.  We can have a conversation to determine whether or not I can provide a solution to your needs.  To schedule a call click here.

Last but not least…. Have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!!

Why do we need winter break?

holiday vacation

As children in school we had built in vacations. Long breaks for winter holidays, spring break, and summer, these were all times that we had no responsibilities and could just take time to play, sleep or just be a kid. Why did we need those long breaks from school? The entire summer, 2 weeks in the winter, was school that taxing that we could not keep going and going with only the weekend to unwind? Are adults in the “real” world any less stressed or lacking the need for that down time to recharge and rejuvenate? And just because we are adults, does that mean that vacations are any less important?

Many of us may choose to work long hours, work weekends and forgo taking any significant length of time away from our businesses for many reasons. Some people are working hard toward a promotion, to reach a sales goal, to build a client list, to earn a bonus. Small business owners and sole proprietors may not earn income if the office is closed or they may feel that the business cannot survive without them being there. Are we really doing ourselves and our businesses justice by not taking that time away from the everyday grind?

What is the purpose of a vacation? Does it mean we have to get on an airplane, train, or boat, take a long car ride, go far, far away, see the sights, sit on a beach, and stay in a hotel? What is the real purpose or meaning of a vacation? While traveling the world and relaxing at a resort are wonderful ways to spend time for ourselves and our families, taking any break to recharge can take many forms but we all need to take that time.  We need time away from our business lives in order to come back with a fresh set of eyes and renewed energy.

Did you ever try to proof read your own article or report only to have someone else find a mistake that you know you saw several times but did not catch?  Have you ever solved a problem or had a breakthrough in the middle of the night, while you were in the shower, or just doing something completely unrelated? While a long vacation affords us an opportunity to have a new and different experience, even a short break can be quite refreshing. Here are some ideas to help even those of us who are so busy and feel that we cannot take an extended break:

  1. Never eat lunch at your desk – always take at least 15 minutes away from your work area to nourish your body
  2. Take at least 30 minutes for yourself each day – whether it is to exercise, read, meditate or watch television, make it something for yourself
  3. Schedule time with family and friends – we all need that human contact so schedule it and keep the scheduled time just as if it were a meeting with a client
  4. Take a day off the grid – turn off your cell phone, don’t look at your email, don’t watch the news, just take a day away from the technology around us that keeps us in tuned but can also send us on overload
  5. Take that vacation – whether it is a day or a week, step away from the office, go away or don’t, just take some time to recharge your body, mind and soul

With the year winding down to a close and the holidays almost behind us, take the time now to relax and recharge as we all look forward to an outstanding 2015. Vacations aren’t just for kids in school, everybody deserves a break.  Have a great time!

By the way, there will be no new post next week, we are on vacation.  On behalf of Blumberg Advisory Group, we’d like to wish you Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year!!

Goal Setting: The key to future treasure

Key with Treasure Chest

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the importance of using the month of December to plan for all the results you want to achieve over the next year. I even gave some very practical advice on how to plan effectively.   Hopefully by now you’ve made some progress in creating your plan or have even completed it. I am interested in what you’ve come up with. Will this be the year that you achieve phenomenal results in your business and personal life?

One of the great things about planning is that it gives us the opportunity to dream big and put into motion the strategies, tactics, and programs we need to achieve our desired outcomes. It is important that we never miss this opportunity.   The truth is that we often get caught up in the demands of the moment, hour, and day and that we often fail to set aside time for planning. Fortunately, there are natural breaks in the calendar which remind us that it is time to plan for the future and the last month of the year is a great time to do this.

If the present is a gift, then planning for the future is like holding a key to a treasure chest. Unfortunately, many people fail to unlock the chest.   While they may set aside time to plan, they never feel that they achieve the results they really want. It is as if each year is a repetition of the previous; a rerun of their favorite television show. Their businesses go on automatic and they start telling themselves a story about why things aren’t any better. In other words, they get stuck and accept the current state as just the way things are.

The truth is that this does not have to be our lot in life. We do not have to remain stuck. We can overcome the status quo if we are prepared to do a little work on goal setting.   Ultimately, goal setting is the foundation on which all great plans are based. Goal setting is both an art and a science. It’s powerful stuff!

How would like a new perspective on goal setting?   Let me introduce you to Michael Hyatt. Michael is the former president and CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing, a best-selling author and entrepreneur. Michael recently released a series of videos that will give you a fresh perspective on goal setting. In fact, in Video #1, Michael shares the four strategies you need to create a solid foundation for success with your goals. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate partner for his new program 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. Whether you sign up of the course or not, there is a lot of great, practical advice in his video series.

The video series is free but only for a limited time. Sign up here to receive Video #1 right away. http://bestyearever.me/WLG6VO/secrets

Strategy: The difference between surviving and thriving

Survival

As many of you know, I have been very interested in how Disruptive Technology (i.e., Cloud, Mobility, Big Data, etc.) impacts businesses involved in service and support. Several months ago I conducted a survey on this topic.  The survey was designed to examine which technologies are causing the greatest disruption to service businesses and identify strategies and tactics that companies are using to overcome these challenges. The survey findings reveal that the two technologies that are having the most disruptive impact are Cloud Computing and Mobility.  Over one-half (52%) of respondents expressed this concern.   Big Data/BI and the Internet of Things (IoT) are having less of an impact as expressed by over one third (38%) and one-quarter (25%) of the respondents respectively.

 

On face value, this data makes sense. While not quite considered a mature market, a large percentage of businesses have implemented Cloud and Mobility platforms whereas Big Data and IoT are in an early stage of market development.   Chances are that you feel reasonably certain how your company will respond to these challenges and continue to grow, or you are struggling to find an answer and are concerned about your own survival. The survey results suggest that companies who feel confident about the future have implemented one or more of the following strategies:

 

  • New Service Development: A majority of companies surveyed are generating new sources of revenue through the provision of new services offered to current customers. They are achieving this result by developing new capabilities or exploiting existing ones. Examples include strategy consulting, asset disposal and remarketing, network management, and cloud based services.

 

  • Market Expansion: On the other hand, many on the respondents have a service delivery infrastructure that is optimized toward the delivery of break-fix services. As a result, these companies are pursuing opportunities in market segments that will continue to require break fix services such as ATMs, Kiosks, Retail Digital Signage, etc.

 

  • Operational Improvements: A number of respondents indicated that they are making investments in their service delivery infrastructure that will enable them to operate at a higher level of productivity and efficiency, thus improving the quality and becoming more competitive in the market.

 

  • Market Penetration: These respondents indicated that they will continue to pursue business within their current market with their existing service portfolio. Granted, some of these respondents are providers of solutions which incorporate disruptive technology. However, others are traditional break-fix vendors who believe that beefing up their sales and marketing efforts will result in new sales.

 

I’ve also found from direct interviews with service executives, that companies who pursue a strategy of new services development tend to have a higher growth rate than those who pursued other strategies. My research also suggests that companies who follow a well-defined strategy have experienced service revenue growth rates in excess of 10% over the last two years. However, those without a clear strategy have experienced stagnant or negative growth in services revenue over this same timeframe.   And that’s the difference between having a thriving business and merely surviving.  Companies in survival mode find it difficult to achieve any traction in the market and experience a lot of uncertainty about the future. This is not a great place to be.

 

Unfortunately, companies in survival mode can get stuck there unless management takes the necessary actions to transform the business. This requires a shift in thinking, from tactical to strategic. It is not an easy task because it requires management to set aside the time to analyze the current situation, conduct market research, and plan for the future. It might feel uncomfortable if you don’t do it very often. Furthermore, the desire for immediate results often prevents companies from investing the time and resources to plan effectively. However, if you don’t exercise your strategic planning muscles you’ll likely remain stuck where you are for a very long time and possibly risk business failure. On the other hand, you’ll be in much better shape 90 days from now if you take the time to today to plan your work and then work your plan.

 

Building your strategic planning muscles is a lot like weight training. The more systematic, precise, and diligent you are about it the more likely you are to achieve excellent results.   Unlike weight training, which is a lifestyle choice, strategic planning is an absolute must if you are going to build a thriving business. To help facilitate the right environment for achieving a positive outcome, I’ve created a new online coaching program. You can learn more about it through this link. Please also feel free to schedule a strategy session with me if you have questions or need a personal trainer to help you achieve better results.

A Baker's Dozen: Getting an extra month out of your year

Baker's Dozen of Donuts

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of a “baker’s dozen”. Buy twelve (12) donuts and get the thirteenth one free. A great concept! Did you know that this business policy was created thousands of years ago to prevent bakers from cheating their customers? It was a way for bakers to ensure that they never undercounted their customers’ orders by adding one more. Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply this same concept to other aspects of our business? For example, having one extra month in the year? Just think about what you could accomplish.

Why cheat yourself out of the best year ever? You can have a 13th month year and it starts this month. That’s right the way to having an extra month in 2015 is to use this December to plan for next year.  Sure, you are probably thinking that you’ll just wait until December 31st to write your New Year’s resolutions. And you’ve kept these resolutions every year? According a study from the University of Bristol, almost 90% of people who set New Year’s resolutions fail to achieve them. The reason is because their goals are too general and lack focus. More importantly, they lack a plan for achieving their goals.

What’s that? You’ve already developed an annual business plan. That’s great you are doing better than 80% of businesses. However, writing a business plan does not guarantee success. Unfortunately, too many plans become static documents that sit on a shelf and collect dust. To excel, you’ve got to take action. So let me give you a framework for creating a dynamic business plan, one that will get a jump start on 2015 and give you the extra month you need to meet and even exceed your goals.

In order to develop a good plan that leads to measurable results you must ask good questions; ones that are relevant and produce rigorous answers. Here are some examples of the questions that I like to ask:

  • What was great about the last year?  I think it is important that you start off any planning session by celebrating your successes over the past year.   This allows us to build upon our strengths and move to our next level of success.  The best part of this past year for me was creating new online courses on the subject of service marketing and disruptive technology. I’ve also established a couple of partnerships which other industry consultants that will allow us to better serve the Aftermarket Service and Reverse Logistics community. What about you? Did you develop any new service offerings, implement any new improvements, or win any new clients?
  • What do you still need to complete next year from the previous year? To make 2015 a success, I still have to leverage my accomplishments from 2014. This means that I must implement a consistent marketing program as well as institute an effective customer service policy to respond to issues that emerge from my new offerings. What are the things that you need to follow-up on? Maybe you’ve built a case for acquiring a new software system but now you’ve got to develop a well thought-out implementation plan with a manageable timeline and budget.
  • What are the game changes in your industry that you need to focus on? While still an emerging technology, industry analysts are predicting an upsurge in connected devices. That’s right, over the next 2 years we are expecting to see a 40% increase in the number of sensors that are connected to products. Not just fixed electronic devices but wearables! This will likely place new demands on the Service Supply Chain. One of my objectives for 2015 is to help industry participants anticipate these requirements and implement new profitable business models. I expect to accomplish this outcome through my new online course, “Thriving Disruptive Tech”.
  • What are the small things that you must do consistently? In Orson Wells’ great radio show, “The War of the Worlds”, tanks and guns could not destroy the aliens. They died because they could not survive earth’s environment. The lesson… not paying attention to the small things can kill you every time! Contract renewals and new service sales are two of those areas. Renewals maintain your base and new sales enable growth. Without the two, your business is facing possible death. That’s why we are continuing to help our clients with customer satisfaction measurement and improvement. I will also be launching a new online course in a few weeks, “Successful Service Marketing”, which will provide you with the knowledge, strategies, and tools to achieve exponential growth in your service revenues.

 

Once you have these answers you can start working on your plans for 2015. I recommend you start with writing out your year-end goals, followed by a list of your 9 month achievements, 6 month milestones, and 90 day action plan. Continue to update you action plan every 90 days. Work backwards to plan forward! The first 90 days are crucial in this industry and will set the stage for future results, so make sure they are aligned.

I recommend that you and all the members of your team follow this process on an individual and collective level, even if you already have a formal business plan. It’s easy to become complacent this time of the year. Stay sharp during the holidays and keep your winning edge intact for the new year. If you feel you are lacking resources or need some extra guidance; contact me today for a strategy session.