Category: Passengers

The conversations you need to be having

It’s impossible to be in business without being in conversation. One person, alone in a room, talking to nobody simply isn’t a business (or at least, it’s not a business yet!)

There are a number of conversations you need to be having on a regular basis to ensure that your business runs as effectively as possible.

Outside of your business:

The most important conversations you need to be having outside of your business are with customers. Whether these are existing customers or potential customers, you need to be talking.

The essential thing here is to be engaged in conversation. Writing a blog or delivering a monthly newsletter isn’t effective if there is no engagement. Encourage discussion about the topics you’re talking about and be a vocal part of the business community.

Make sure you are having new conversations as well as maintaining old ones; it’s important to both maintain and strengthen relationships, and create new ones where there is potential waiting to be discovered.

Within your business:

Inside your business, it’s important that the stakeholders are talking regularly. No matter the size of your business, all parties have to know what they are aiming for and what success looks like for the business. Having regular monthly meetings to catch up on all targets and strategies is an essential part of this. Even if you are a sole trader, you will most likely have suppliers, and making your needs known to them and feeding back how you find their service adds value to the relationship.

Around your business:

It is always useful to find out about the experiences of others, so talking to people in the same industry as you can be valuable. Perhaps there is a shared interest which you can combine forces on, or a relationship which might be useful in the future. Don’t be too focussed on personal gain, and at the very least, you will have reached out to another person who now knows about your skills and can judge when they might be needed.

A blog about conversations wouldn’t be complete without starting one. Do you need to have these conversations more often? Or are there other discussions you feel are more important? Leave us a comment below or email alexh@businesscopilot.co.uk with your views!

Get motivated: find your purpose

One of our clients sent us a video about workplace motivation (see the bottom of this page) last week. It got us thinking about what motivates us and those around us to do their best work, and how we can ensure we’re all working towards the ultimate goals of happiness and fulfilment.

The video is an illustrated version of Dan Pink’s talk at RSA which takes us on a quick spin around the subject of one of his pet topics, motivation. Studies have shown that being offered more money to do a better job makes no difference when we are dealing with any tasks which require anything other than manual/physical work. So, motivation for cognitive tasks can’t be linked to more money, and in fact, being offered more money actually leads to poorer performance.

What it is it that we need to do our best work? The video concludes that it’s autonomy, mastery and above all, purpose. But what exactly does ‘purpose’ mean? We (like Dan) think it means doing something which you have a natural talent for, and not always for monetary reward, but also for satisfaction and enjoyment, and the feeling of doing something to help the wider community.

So how do we go about achieving these things? Some choose to do community work, or work for free which advances their field. The digital and tech sectors are particularly well known for their commitment to developing things simply for the love of it rather than commercial gain.

The one thing you need for all of this is a passion for what you are doing, enough to go out there and do it not just when you’re getting paid, but the rest of the time too. Perhaps you could volunteer your services to those who need it, through charities or community initiatives. Perhaps you could work on developing those ideas that pop up during the working day in your spare time. Whatever form your purpose takes, do as much of it as you can.

So here comes the big question; do you love what you do enough to spend your free time on it? And if not, what do you love that much?


This is a talk for RSA given by Dan Pink, author of bestselling books Drive and A Whole New Mind.

View from the Cockpit: Search Star

Dan Fallon is MD at Search Star, a Bath-based Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising company. They employ the largest team of qualified Google Advertising Professionals in the South West and work with clients across the UK. They work with clients of all sizes, from multinational brands to niche start-ups. If you’d like to learn more about how PPC could contribute to your advertising, visit their website.

Search StarSearch Star have recently started sponsoring the Bath & Bristol Marketing Network Group, a local group where marketers have the opportunity to meet and stay up to date with news and advances in marketing, through networking and talks.

We asked Dan some questions about his plans for the future of Search Star:

What is the vision for Search Star?

To keep making our clients happy by delivering great results from online advertising.

MD of Search Star, Dan FallonWhere would you love to see your business go? 

We’ve been going 7.5 years and are starting to gain confidence in our abilities. We’ve nearly doubled in size in the last 12 months and will probably do similarly well over the next 12 months. Our market is incredibly exciting with our plans for 2013 having us expanding from our Search PPC heartland into other forms of online advertising.

We are in the fortunate position that at present 100% of our business comes in by referral. We don’t have a sales team. We get our work by delivering great results to happy clients and long may this continue.

Our challenge is to manage this growth whilst retaining the customer “love” that drove it. We work in a market where customer demand is huge but customer scepticism is also high. Our clients are typically ‘telesaled’ every day by hit-and-run “we’ll get you to #1 on Google” sharks and we need to keep differentiating ourselves.

 What might prevent you from achieving this?

We could grow too quickly, recruit sloppily and fail to build solid teams to manage client business. Good PPC is labour intensive and needs numerate, literate and articulate account managers. The current team we have is our best ever. We need to keep them, grow them and build around them.

Additionally, like many businesses in Bath, we are on the hunt for quality city centre premises. We are a team of 11 at present and will need to move this year. The team are young and need to stay in the centre and there doesn’t seem to be enough quality space for c. 20 person firms.

How do you plan to resolve these issues? 

We’ll keep our focus on client service, quality recruitment and staff training and put some time aside to go house hunting!

What should you be doing all day?

“You’re a first-time CEO. You’ve built your team, hired kick-ass employees, brought on strong leaders, so… now what?”  Making the transition from going it alone to having the power to delegate can leave a void of activity in your working day. Ring any bells?

A recent blog by Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Scott Weiss might just give you the direction you need to make the most productive use of your time. He has created a weekly CEO’s checklist to help you make the most of your time:

Sell your vision

You need to be able to talk about the company in a really compelling way, and not just for potential customers. PR firms, employees, investors – these groups all need to be convinced by your passion and vision to really work hard for you. 

Push your team

A few ways which Scott suggests for pushing your team for their very best work are:

  • Setting aggressive goals, and reviewing regularly
  • Giving frequent feedback so employees know what’s expected and how they’re doing
  • Holding weekly staff meetings to keep on track with projects and goals, and give a forum for suggestions

Arbitrate disagreements

Sometimes a wealth of excellent people means a wealth of excellent ideas, some of which will naturally oppose each other. Compromising every time will mean that the biggest and best decisions are never allowed their full potential, so don’t be afraid to back whichever you think is the better idea.

Management by walking around

Self-explanatory, really. Walking around your office gives you the chance to catch up with employees and stay connected with what’s happening in on a day-to-day basis in your business. Sitting in your office won’t tell you half as much about your company as getting amongst it will.

Talk to customers

Customers are the most important people to get feedback from. If you can spend time talking to them about what they like and don’t like, you’ll stay current, relevant, and in touch with their needs – which you really do need to be.

So, if you are a new CEO and are wondering what to do with your day now that you have the provision of delegation, don’t stay in your office, get out there and immerse yourself in your business.

View from the cockpit: Mubaloo

Bristol and Bath are regional hubs of enterprise and excel in areas as diverse as aviation, creative and tourism. We thought it would be a good idea to talk to some of the most prominent business leaders in the area about their own experiences and advice.

Mark Mason seemed like a great person to kick the series off. His company, Mubaloo, is a leading mobile app developer with offices here in Bristol. It has grown considerably since it started in 2009, and continues to do so, recently having acquired the Bristol app development company Always On Message.

As with all success stories, there is a compelling vision that drives the business forward, engages staff and enhances customer experience. Mubaloo’s vision is, in Mark’s own words, “to be the largest and most respected B2B/B2C app development business in the world.”

We asked what might hold them back from achieving these aggressive goals and perhaps more importantly, how they’ll clear the hurdles to growth.

Mark’s view is that Mubaloo’s growth will depend on correctly navigating these 4 things:

  1. Issue: Recruiting and retaining the right people

Solution: Mubaloo succeed in finding really good people. Mubaloo has a policy of never settling for second best when it comes to selection. Having found them the next task is to keep them. Loyalty to Mubaloo is not a given and they work hard to retain their global teams interest in what they are doing.

  1. Issue: Continually refining the proposition

Solution: Continually evolving the proposition to meet the needs of the market. The market is never still and Mubaloo need to ensure they are at the very centre of what is happening in their markets. In a global context this is even more important. Mubaloo needs to be agile and nimble enough to meet the ever demanding needs of the clients.

  1. Issue: Beating the competition

Solution: staying ahead of the competition by continually exceeding the expectations of their clients. The competitors in the global village are working tirelessly to get first mover advantage. Mubaloo needs to be able to respond instantaneously to ensure clients spend their hard earned income on them rather than on the competitors. By developing, evolving and meeting the needs of their clients Mubaloo will stay ahead of the competition.

  1. Issue: Exercising Commercial Control

Solution: keeping the business administration efficient and effective to speed up response times. That demands tight, strict financial and management control but in a way that is embedded in what they do, not just as an afterthought. Mubaloo stay in control by putting in place the right management processes and procedures and maintaining strict financial controls.

Amazing insights from a very successful company. How do you assess the obstacles which might prevent your business vision from becoming reality? What is hampering your growth and how are you going to clear these hurdles? Some food for thought.

Finally, we hope you have enjoyed reading this. You might be able to help us by suggesting business leaders who you think have a similar success story to share? If so, please let us know on 0117 230 3166 or email us on alexh@businesscopilot.co.uk.

One action a day builds a consistent marketing presence

What will your marketing task be today?Thinking up an entire marketing strategy, and then putting it into practice can seem like a daunting prospect.

But what if you set aside time every single day to complete just one task?

Breaking the vast concept of ‘marketing’ down into manageable chunks may well turn it into a much more approachable and appealing idea. Marketing expert Seth Godin suggests that doing one of these tasks or something similar every day will in itself accumulate to a substantial marketing presence:

  • Send a handwritten and personal thank you note to a customer
  • Write a blog post about how someone uses your product or service
  • Research and post a short article about how an aspect of your industry works
  • Introduce one colleague to another in a significant way that benefits them both
  • Read the first three chapters of a business or other how-to book
  • Record a video teaching your customers how to do something
  • Teach at least one of your employees a new skill
  • Change something on your website and record how it changes interactions
  • Help a non-profit in a significant way (make a fundraising call or do outreach)

And if none of those capture your imagination, maybe you could spend a few minutes searching for useful LinkedIn connections and groups, or posting a relevant link to Twitter if you have an account?

With the vast amount of options like social media, email marketing and traditional communication methods available to businesses today, the possibilities are endless. Communication is such a broad area that there’s bound to be a method out there which suits you and your business. If you haven’t found it yet, why not try something from the list above? You could soon see a simple but effective communication strategy forming.

Do you have one bite-sized piece of marketing which you could do each day? Could breaking the larger strategy up into smaller pieces help make the task less daunting?

Apologies from P&O Ferries

business coaching on customer service

When was the last time good customer service made you say, “Wow”?

For most of us, it can be be difficult to remember a recent example of excellent customer service. Well, for me it was only the other day, when P&O Ferries exceeded my expectations as a customer by miles.

Having been on a wonderful holiday to France, we arrived at the port in Calais to wave goodbye to our holiday and travel home. Our boat was delayed by an hour or so, which, while nothing too disastrous, was a nuisance all the same. Then the boat we eventually travelled on was without a shop, which robbed us of an opportunity to buy duty-free.

A few days after arriving home, I received an email from P&O offering me a complete refund for the crossing, plus 20% off my next Dover-to-Calais route crossing.

Wow!

Not only had P&O offered me a refund for my inconvenience, they had turned it into an opportunity for more business. In doing this, they had been quick to prevent any possibility of a diminished reputation or loss of future business. It was a perfect example of service recovery, turning my disappointment into an opportunity to show their excellent customer-service skills.

And as a result, I’m writing this blog, which presents the company in a positive light. I’ve told upwards of ten people this story already, giving P&O the benefit of one of the world’s oldest forms of advertising—word of mouth.

Customers expect good customer service, and providing that should come as standard in your business. However, when they get bad service, it’s likely they’ll tell people about it. The trick is turning that potential bad-mouthing into a “wow” that people will be keen to share.

In your business, how do you deal with customers when things go wrong? Are you quick to put things right, and is there anything you could learn from P&O’s example?

Business Coaching in Bristol and Bath

Expand the Marketing Mix to Include Intangibles

Traditional marketing centres on controlling the elements used to satisfy or communicate with customers: Product, Place, Promotion, and Price. This model of marketing—known as the Marketing Mix or 4 Ps—was fine until the upsurge in the service-based economy started. It was then found wanting as it didn’t cover the intangibles of delivering services to customers.

To complement and enhance the Marketing Mix model, service marketers have adopted an expanded version that includes three more essential elements:

  1. People – the human actors playing a part in service delivery who could in turn significantly influence buyer behaviour. This takes into consideration both sides of the transaction. Employees deliver the service, so they should be skilled, trained, motivated, rewarded, and work as a team. Customers receive the service, so they should be educated on how best to receive it and trained to smooth the transactional pathway.
  2. Physical Evidence – the environment in which the service is delivered and where the customer and organisation interact—the touch points, if you like. Consider facility design and appearance. Does the equipment on show reflect the organisation’s vision and goals? Does the staff’s dress code, for that matter? Even something as mundane as signage can significantly improve service delivery.
  3. Process – the procedures, mechanisms, and flow of activities by which the service is delivered. Care should be taken to ensure people can do what the organisation wants them to do. Are the bits needed to deliver the service in the right location, easy to access, and easy to use? Is the number of required steps the minimum needed to delight customers? And do customers understand the part they play in all this?

Take the following example of service delivery that went badly yet should have gone so well. At our local supermarket, they installed a number self-service tills. On day one, there was no one showing customers how to use them, so the People element failed. And as it wasn’t obvious how to use the tills, the equipment failed on Physical Evidence. Finally, the steps to complete the transaction were unclear, so the tills likewise failed on Process.

Yet after using them a number of times, it’s clear they’re a significant enhancement to transactional retail exchanges. They’re quick, accurate, and easy to use, thus simplifying the overall shopping experience, especially if you only want to buy a few items.

Have you considered your organisation’s service delivery in light of these three additional elements of the Marketing Mix? If so, you’ll be surprised how even small changes can yield huge improvements in customer satisfaction ratings. If not, you might find these ratings don’t reflect just how highly you really do think of your customers.

For more information, I recommend you read Services Marketing by clicking this link.

Business Coaching in Bristol and Bath

Have You Found Wally Yet?

Have you found Wally? If you don’t know who Wally is, he’s a character in a series of children’s books created by British illustrator Martin Handford. The books consist of pages of detailed illustrations depicting massed ranks of people, and the reader is challenged to find Wally hidden in the group. Fortunately, Handford makes it easier by dressing Wally in a distinctive red-and-white striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses.

And that’s the clue for today’s blog.

How do you find your ideal client or clients? If you deliver a service to consumers, then there are something like 60 million of them in the UK alone to aim your marketing bucks at. If you deliver your service or product to businesses, the number is smaller yet still in the hundreds of thousands. With the advent of social media, some gurus advocate that all you need to do is write a few well-chosen words, pop them into a blog, and customers will be beating down your door to do business with you.

Our advice is: don’t bother. Broadcasting to the masses just doesn’t work. The key is to identify some distinguishing feature that your ideal clients all possess so you can scan a crowd and easily make out your target. Having done that, you can then aim your marketing message at them, knowing it will be of real interest to them.

Like finding Wally, this isn’t always easy, especially if you currently work with a small number of existing clients—it can be difficult to extrapolate from such a small segment the unifying traits for your larger target audience. But you need to persevere, because spending time and energy generating the wrong sort of clients can cost you dearly. Everyone has experienced the woes of dealing with that one mare of a client who uses up 90% of your emotional energy whilst generating 1% of your margin.

Here’s how to start the process: take a long, hard look at who you are, your vision for the business, and your existing clients, and begin to pick out those distinctive characteristics that make them stand out from the crowd. It could be the size of their turnover or staff, geographical location, the legal status of the business, whether they’re private or public sector, and so forth. Keep going until you have a list of traits that are unique to the people you want to work with.

As business coaches in Bristol and Bath, we, for example, seek to work with entrepreneurs in helping them create a business model; we also work with established businesses that need to get past a blockage or otherwise overcome a hurdle to business growth.

Don’t yet know what your ideal client looks like? Have a look through your past successes and just keep whittling them down until you can pick your target out in a crowd as easily as you can pick out Wally.

Business Coaching in Bath and Bristol