Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Communication in the drive-through

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on June 9, 2010

picture of drive through speaker

The power of the guy with the headset

There are few things more affirming to me than the voice on the other end of the Starbucks drive-through speaker system.  When I place my order for a tall black eye, and the voice in the speaker repeats my order back to me, “that’s a tall black eye, coffee with 2 shots, right?”, all of the sudden I feel a sense of peace come over me.  I breathe a little easier knowing that they heard what I wanted, and that they’re in control.  I think this happens because our minds have been trained by poor drive-through service experiences to approach that speaker with a sense of trepidation.

I used to think I was the only one who dealt with this, but I’ve started to realize that almost everyone suffers from DTSAS (drive-through speaker abuse syndrome).  You can observe the symptoms of this condition by simply rolling down your window, and listening to the person in the car ahead of you placing their order.  You’ll notice someone suffering from this condition usually yells at the speaker the entire time they’re ordering.  They also talk slowly and over annunciate, often interjecting ‘did you get that!?’ every few seconds.

Here’s the quintessential expression used by DTSAS sufferers: “Can you read the whole thing back to me? I just want to make sure you got it”

Why do we do this?

We just told them what we wanted, and they process orders like this hundreds of times a day, right?  Why all the stress?  I think it’s because we crave validation.  It just takes one experience of asking headset guy to hold the pickles, and then biting into that juicy burger moments later, only to be struck with that undeniable vinegar ridden flavor to develop cynicism toward all drive-through speaker people on the planet.  Spending money is emotional, no matter how little the amount.  We want to feel good about our purchase; we want to be confident we’re getting what we paid for.  I love it when the guy with the headset just volunteers to read my order back to me.

What’s your validation process?

If our emotions go through this cycle in the drive-through, then how much more important is it for us to affirm our customers when they give us their money for OUR product or service?  I make sure each of our customers receive immediate confirmation of their purchase with a follow up email detailing the transaction, and an explanation of the next step so they can begin to shift their emotions from slightly nervous to extremely excited.  This is especially important when we’re selling tickets to an event – we have their money, but they don’t receive the product for several months.

I think validation is underrated.  We enjoy buying good products, but we want proof that we bought so we can start getting excited about it.  If the guy at the drive-through doesn’t read my order back to me, I’m not completely sure they won’t hand me an order for the car behind me.  When I ordered my iPad, I received an email update every 2 days regarding the status of my order – I loved it – and I told my friends about it every time I received an update.

If you have a product or service that ships later than the payment is processed, how do you validate your customers to keep them emotionally engaged in the transaction?

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Business advice from a math teacher

Posted in Business, Personal Development by elephanthunters on May 20, 2010

Mr. G

There wasn’t a seventh grader in the world who wasn’t scared of Mr. Garcia.  If our memories are crystallized in direct proportion to our fear, then I must have been especially afraid the day I walked into his classroom for the first time.  I remember every poster on the wall, the layout of the room, the notes on the chalk board. I can almost smell the pencil shavings that seemed helplessly out of place below the broken, wall mount pencil sharpener in the back of the room.  I sat next to Rachel Wilson.  She was scared too.

Mr. Garcia’s reputation preceded him.  Not only was he our math teacher, but he was the Jr. High principle, and a marine to boot.  I remember crying when I went home that night because Mr. Garcia told me that I would need a red pen for his class, and all I had was a red pencil.  His persona just seemed to carry an intimidating amount of weight.  There are many things I remember about Mr. Garcia, but one thing I will never forget is the speech he gave that first day of class to a room full of budding, naive seventh graders.  He told us to listen very closely, because over the next hour he was going to give us everything we needed to know about how to succeed in the seventh grade.  He went on to give a series of speeches, well, actually it was all one speech, just rehashed about 40 times.  This was the message:

Students! Know where you are going. Have what you need. Be on time.

If you can do this, you’re going to be just fine.

Not just for seventh graders

Looking back now, I realize that Mr. Garcia was actually a very caring and compassionate man.  I suppose it is possible for a seventh grader to over dramatize the appropriate level of fear to experience when meeting a new math teacher.  Little did I know the nugget of advice Mr. Garcia gave me that day would become one of the most useful tools in my journey through life.  This mantra is simple enough for a seventh grader to understand.  Be in your seat when the bell rings isn’t really that complicated.  However, it’s amazing how many grown ups still haven’t ingested these simple truths into their approach to life.

  1. Know where you’re going. You have to know where you’re going before you can get there.  I’ve always set goals.  I haven’t always hit them, but as long as I can remember I’ve set them in each area of my life.  I’m certain that if I skipped this step, I would have very few accomplishments to show for it. If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll still end up somewhere – you just won’t be the one driving.
  2. Have what you need. Knowledge is everywhere for the taking.  In our world today, there are no excuse for being unprepared.  Telling the teacher you left your book in the locker might not have been that detrimental in the seventh grade, but you don’t get many second chances on legitimate opportunities when your 34 years old.
  3. Be on time. Not just on time for work each day.  On time for life.  Wayne Gretzky spoke of his strategy to skate to where the puck was going to be, instead of where it is.  When opportunity arises, it’s too late to prepare.  In other words, you better know how long the walk is to the next class down the hall before you stop to chat with your friends.

Take a look at anyone who is consistently struggling to move forward in life, and chances are they’re missing the mark on at least one of these key pillars. I’m thankful for the Mr. Garcias in my life who took the time to mentor me, and teach me life lessons before I even understood what they were.  We can never fully appreciate the sacrifices people like this make, so that we can become something more than we ever would have on our own.

EntreLeadership Atlantis: Quick interview with Debbie LoCurto

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 25, 2010

Dynamic Interaction

One of the best things about our EntreLeadership Master Series event is the dynamic interaction.  We keep this event limited in attendance so the environment is set up for plenty of dialogue beyond the class room time. Several members of Dave Ramsey’s Leadership Council join us for the week, just to be available for 1-on-1 coaching.

Our leaders are the embodiment of the EntreLeadership content

Dave Ramsey never wanted employees.  In his mind, “Employees were just people who came in late, left early, and stole from you while they’re at work”.  Instead, Dave set up the organization to bring on team members, other entreprenuers who could come in and run profit centers as their own micro business within the company.  Today we have 14 different P & L leaders, and over 300 team members who are passionate about our mission, and to this day, we still don’t have a single ’employee’.

I’m pumped that Debbie LoCurto’s here this week!

Debbie LoCurto runs one of the largest P & L departments in our company, Financial Peace University Church.  I caught her in the lobby last night on the way to dinner…she had about 7 seconds warning that I was doing this:

During this event, our attendees get access to some of the sharpest business minds I’ve ever known.  Everyone’s business is different, so we do our best to spend time with them throughout the week to help tailor fit the content to tier particular business model.  It’s not uncommon for someone to tell us they received as much value from interacting with our team as they did from the general session time.

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Welcome to EMS: Atlantis!

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 25, 2010

This week we’re going to do things a little bit different…

I’m going to give you a backstage pass into my world during one of the greatest weeks of my entire year.  Each day I’m going to be blogging on site from the Atlantis Resort, where we’re hosting our EntreLeadership Master Series event.  Dave Ramsey personally teaches this event twice each year to small business owners and leaders who join us from all across the country.

I have an incredible job!

  • I get to work with one of the greatest leaders and speakers on the planet: Dave Ramsey
  • I work along side a gifted team of event coordinators and marketing minds, many of whom I am hoping to introduce you to this week
  • My product, EntreLeadership, is hands down the greatest practical leadership event taught by an actual small business leader.   (Sorry for the commercial, but frankly I wouldn’t be promoting this event if this part wasn’t true).
  • My clients are some of the brightest, most creative entrepreneurs our country has to offer.  Their stories are amazing.
  • I get to travel to some sick destinations for our events, and bring my wife, Emily, along for the ride.

The Goal:

Since I’m kind of on the fly here, things will be a little less polished than my usual approach. Please forgive the ‘cameo style’ on everything.  My hope is that you will get to learn more about the event that our team works so hard to build, and more importantly that you’ll benifit from getting a peak behind the curtain on some of the information that is presented here this week.

So thanks for joining me for the trip!

Let me know what you’d like to see some footage of, and I’ll do my best to work it in throughout the week.

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Kick the week off right

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 12, 2010

shoot for this:

not this:

The dreaded ‘M’ word

“Our meetings are held to discuss many problems which would never arise if we held fewer meetings”

Ashleigh Brilliant

Sadly, this is often true.  However, I propose that meetings themselves are not the culprit as much as the  lack of  purpose, leadership and effective communication IN the meetings.

Someone does it right

Here at The Lampo Group (more popularly known as Dave Ramsey’s company), we start every week with staff meeting on Monday morning.  In many organizations, staff meetings rank in popularity somewhere between root canals and waiting in line at the DMV.

Our staff meetings are actually pretty fun as far as meetings go, not to mention extremely valuable.

Dave’s philosophy on staff meeting is all about over communication.  He’ll often remind us, ‘We do these weekly meetings so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing’.  Around here, it’s kind of like the last minute pep talk in the locker room before everyone runs out on the field.

How’s it work?

Dave typically leads the meeting, and asks each department leader to stand and update the group on  key things going on.  Team leaders will share or call on someone on their team to share:

  • Victories, wins, high points, brags on team members
  • New team member introductions
  • Prayer requests, updates on things we’ve been praying for
  • Information to be aware of that might benefit the group i.e. upcoming media appearances
  • Drawings for hockey tickets, other  fun giveaways, awards and recognitions

Where to start?

Our EntreLeadership clients will often ask me how they should start implementing a staff meeting in their business.  Here’s a few tips to get started:

  1. Do it Monday morning: If your set up allows for a staff meeting at the beginning of the week, this is the best time to schedule it.  It sets the tone, and gets everyone’s mind engaged right out of the gate.  Make it mandatory for everyone to come.
  2. Keep it brief: We rarely go more than an hour.  If everything has been covered after just 20 minutes, we finish up and go to work.
  3. Make it fun: This is a great time to recognize your team and their accomplishments from the week before.  Catch people doing things right, then praise them in front of the team. This is a great way to define what winning looks like without having to ‘lecture’.
  4. Be personal: As a leader, you have a tremendous opportunity to share how you’re processing things that are going on in the company.  Maybe a certain area is struggling, and you read an encouraging quote or article that helped you see it in a new light.  Share this with the team – they appreciate seeing you humanity.  Just be sure that it’s not presented in a way that’s pessimistic.
  5. When in doubt, share. Don’t assume everyone on the team observes things that seem apparent to you.  You may feel like some of the concepts you’re sharing are elementary, but your team will appreciate being included.  Teach them to think like leaders.  Help them understand how the organization works.  Over time you will notice them taking on a greater sense of ownership in their work.

What works for you?

I’d love to hear some techniques and ideas for better staff meetings.  What’s working for you?  Please leave a comment with your favorite meeting tip.

Fear and Transparency

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 5, 2010

Fear

I recently witnessed a leader experiencing a melt down in front of their team members.  They were emotional, irrational, and everything about their body language communicated desperation.  Clearly, they were afraid of something.  They were having a bad day.

We all have bad days, and we all need people in our lives that we can turn to for support when we’ve been kicked in the teeth.  As a leader, look outside of your team for support when you’re afraid.

Fear doesn’t lead well.

  • The team will amplify your fear
  • Fear darkens the spirit of the organization
  • Fear Paralyzes: Productive activity stops until the leader’s drama is resolved

Dave Ramsey has often told me,

It’s OK to be afraid… just don’t make decisions based on fear.

I would add:  Don’t vent your fear to the team without a solution…there’s little up side.

Transparency

Transparency has tremendous upside.  When you talk openly about issues with your team, positive or negative, they will appreciate you’re candidness:

  • Everyone wants to be treated like an adult
  • Adults understand that no one is perfect, and they respect a leader who doesn’t act like they have it all together
  • Fear doesn’t thrive when everyone understands what’s really going on

When being transparent on negative issues, you will do well to lead your team in exercises that allow them to see the issue objectively.  Don’t the hide negative realities from your team, help them process through it.  Get their feedback.

Let your team know that while you may not have all the answers yet, you are not going to be motivated by fear.

Gut Check

  • Do you have a place to unpack fearful situations outside of your subordinate team?
  • What are practical ways you express transparency without becoming demoralizing?
  • Do you have a tendency to keep people in the dark on information that might help them?

5 Tips For a Zero Based Inbox

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on March 31, 2010

My email inbox is my daily to do list

I even email myself reminders when I’m out since I have trained myself to regularly read and respond to every – single – one.  (Notice I said respond and not reply).

As I write this post there are only 2 emails in my inbox.  This is fairly normal even though my inbox sees anywhere between 50 to 150 new messages per day.  I travel quite a bit, attend meetings and make phone calls just like everyone else.

It is not easy or natural for me to keep my inbox cleaned out, but thanks to encouraging posts like this one from 43 Folders, I have become relentless in the discipline of staying on top of email correspondence.  I’ve learned that if you don’t manage your email, it will manage own you.

You have the tools – use them

Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up that help me grease the bearings on the revolving email door:

  1. Use your calendar: I specifically schedule time for email.  If a meeting request comes in for that time, I’m just simply not available.  I start each day with 30 minutes of email time where I scan my inbox and hit some quick forwards and replies.  Emails that involve projects or lengthier responses get dropped into a calendar appointment specifically scheduled for working on that task.  The last 30 minutes of every day is blocked off to clear out my inbox at all cost.  I leave the office almost every single day with zero emails lurking behind.
  2. Use your team: A lot of times I receive an email that would be better handled by other players on my team.  Rather than feeling obligated to answer someone’s question, I reply and copy 2-3 other people and simply ask, “Hey Guys, What are your thoughts on this?” or “What can we do to help with this?”.  Many times a dialogue will ensue that results in everyone else resolving the issue while I just observe the exchange.  The result will often be better than if I had tried to tackle it on my own.
  3. Use your folders: If I’m gathering data or doing research for a project, I don’t let emails related to that project just set up camp in my inbox while they’re waiting around to be executed on.  I drop them in a ‘project folder’, and I put a reminder on my calendar for a time when I need to work on that project.  This way everything is in one place when I’m ready to focus on that project.
  4. Use your backbone: When I get emails that are social in nature or involve looking at something that’s not relevant to my responsibilities to my organization, I’m not above replying with a simple “I’m sorry but I don’t have time to look at this”.  I usually don’t get a reply back to that one.
  5. Use questions: Typically people don’t email us questions because we have the answers and they don’t, but because they’re hoping that we will do the thinking for them.  If I get the sense that someone is being lazy then I like to reply with a question such as: “Do we have enough time to do this?”or,”What are you hoping to accomplish with this information?”or,”What’s our plan if we can’t get this part figured out”or,”Can we chat about this in person?”…you get the idea.  More often than not they’ll reply with a more thought out response that many times ends up resolving their original issue.  The key is getting them to engage!

You can do it

Keeping your inbox clean is difficult, but with some practice you can do it.  You might not be able to do this overnight either because it takes time to implement the right tools that are needed to stay on top of it.  You’ll find yourself adjusting and correcting your processes as you go, but stick with it.  It’s just like surfing – you have to swim your tail off to get on top of the wave but once you’re up, you can ride with just a little effort.  Getting to zero the first time is the hardest part.

Since I’ve adopted this practice I’ve noticed several benefits:

  • I don’t lose emails
  • With few exceptions, I’m able to get back to everyone within a 24 hour period
  • I don’t stress about wondering if there’s something important buried in my inbox that I’m not getting too soon enough
  • I’ve developed a reputation for being dependable in this area
  • I have a greater sense of control of my work throughout the day

What other tips do you have for managing your email flow?  I’d love to hear them!

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Sell the launch

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on March 22, 2010

Most amateur product life cycles look like this:

Apple, Hollywood and Ticket Master do it different:

  • The iPad doesn’t come out until April 3rd, 2010, but a Google search on ‘iPad’ currently returns over 35 million results.  I’m pre-ordering mine this week.
  • The Gulliver’s Travels film will come to theaters on December 22, 2010.  (You could have a baby between now and then).  Marketing campaigns are already rolling out for this film.
  • George Strait & Reba are coming to Nashville, TN on April 28th.  I’ve heard commercials for weeks promoting the event? Nope.  Promoting the ‘Tickets go on sale’ date: Sat, 03/20/10 at precisely 10:00 AM CDT.

Emotion Creates Motion

Many organizations like these are learning to create an event around the product launch.  Events allow marketers to rally their campaigns around two key motivators in human behaviour:

  1. A sense of urgency
  2. A fear of loss

Sales are the natural next step when marketing causes one of these emotions to be stirred up in the mind of the consumer.

BUT…

  • You can’t market the launch if you don’t have a date
  • You can’t set a date without a product (or at least a product development time line) in place
  • Good products don’t happen without market research

What if you don’t have events?

But Daniel…

I’m in retail.

We just service HVAC units.

My business is different because we’re just consultants.

I recommend brainstorming ways to incorporate events into your business model.  They are the only thing left that customers can miss out on.

Sales, Specials, VIP days, Open Houses, Company Picnics, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays, April 15th :-(, Grand Opening, Try our new __________ day, Marathons…

These are all events.

How can you weave them into the marketing fabric of your brand?

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No one cares about your snow.

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on February 17, 2010

Most of the country has been experiencing more winter weather than usual.

Weather changes things

  • It’s a hassle
  • Things get wet
  • ER rooms & body shops get busy
  • People run late
  • Flights get canceled

Guess what?

It snows in the winter.  This should not come as a surprise.  Dave Ramsey led our staff in a great thinking exercise this week about staying focused midst of a storm.  He reminded us that while it’s snowing here in Nashville, our 8:30 am conference call with Tampa Bay doesn’t care.

We tend to let off the gas on our commitments when we feel like we have a ‘legitimate excuse’ (legitimate defined as something out of our control).

Sure, people will understand.  They just don’t care.

It snows every week

This week it’s snow.  Next week the kids are sick.  Then it’s tax season and, and, and…

Our customers want us to bat 1,000.  Our lack of service doesn’t become resolved in their mind when we inform them that we’ve had a crazy day.  Excellence may seem like an ambitious mantra in the midst of distractions beyond our control.

Well, your competition certainly hopes you feel this way.

We’ve all used this one:

“My dog ate my homework.”

When I tried using this line, my algebra teacher told me I shouldn’t keep a pet that caused me to fail an assignment, then pulled out her grade book and wrote F.

Customers don’t write F, they just leave.

‘Switch’ comes out today!

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on February 16, 2010

Switch goes on sale today!  Chip and Dan Heath have put together a great study on what causes change to take place.

You’ll find this book insightful on the necessary ingredients that cause change to occur.  I was planning on writing an extensive review, but since you hear from me all the time I want you to have a chance to hear from some other change agents today.  I’ve asked several friends to help me out by reading an advance copy of this book and commenting on this post today with their own summary thoughts.

Check back throughout the day to watch the conversation unfold!

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