Positive Inspirational Stories

Positive Featured Inspirational Story - July 1 to July 31, 2011 

If you look like a duck, walk like a duck and talk like a duck - guess what!

There is a famous Italian saying that a good friend of mine, Ray, once told me, some years ago. It is something I have carried around, and I use on regular occasions.

Ray was always impeccably dressed, spoke very well, but like myself came from a lower middle class upbringing in the western suburbs of Sydney, a grounding that served us well to appreciate the things that most come to expect.

I am proud to say, that this friend of mine, made great in life, a successful career, beautiful family, and living in a classy upper class suburb, driving a vehicle that most only aspire to. He said all those years ago, -

'e assomigliate ad un'anatra, camminate come un'anatra e comunicate come un'anatra, dovete essere un'anatra'

'If you look like a duck, walk like a duck and you talk like a duck . . . you must be a duck.'

At first I didn't understand it . . . . I don't speak Italian.

But translated into English it still took a while for the true meaning to materialise and sink in. What a defining statement about others and particularly yourself . . . but a statement that is concise in its meaning. It was also an inspiring statement about portrayal of image and something that can relate to everyday business, yours and mine.

Sure you can duck the issues (WARNING . . . future lame play on words may be experienced throughout this column), or you might think I am bit of a quack (I warned you), but people are judging every aspect of your equipment hire business and in doing so are making assumptions about your business and its possible performance.

Never judge a book by its cover I here you say. And sure you are right ethically and morally, but potential customers are not choosing your business on a moral or ethical basis, they want somebody to perform and supply a service and/or product that will make their job easier.

Existing and potential customers are making judgements about your business every day, every minute, every second. Unfortunately we sometimes loose sight of this fact in our everyday concerns.

How can you address this as a business?

Every morning ask your staff when they walk into your business, to start their work with their 'customer eyes' in place.

As they enter through the front gate - see for the first time what a customer would see for the first time. The unpainted gate, the faded signs, the disorganised car park, the dirty glass doors as they enter the showroom, the dusty machine display at the rear of the showroom, the unkempt staff milling around the sales counter.

Over time you and your staff become blind to these small elements, yet to a first time or regular customer, these little items add up to create their overall perspective.

If they don't use their 'customer eyes' regularly, your business could get to a point where it begins to look like a duck. Just like my friend being always impeccably dressed - it did not always represent the financial position he was experiencing, yet sent a clear and undeniably message of what and where he aspired to be.

He chose not to look like a duck.

Michael Gerber in the E-Myth revisited states:

'A business that looks orderly says to your customer that he can trust in the result delivered . . . '

Your staff, your product and the combination of both relating to the service you provide says a great deal about your business. Your business walks through its staff and its products.

Poorly trained staff, from your sales personnel to your delivery drivers and operators, is constantly relaying a message to your potential clientele. The same could be said about your products. If the items presented are not clean, well maintained, continually upgraded, meet rigorous OH&S responsibilities, the message you are sending to your clients is clear.

You business might be walking like a duck.

Ongoing training is essential for all businesses. After 14 years of business I know I am still learning everyday. A business colleague recently suggested that training staff was a waste of time and money, staff leave all the time. My response to him was 'but what if they stay'. Just as is important to reinvest in your product, is the reinvestment in your staff. Your staff and your products make your business. Each goes hand in hand to a successful Equipment Hire company. Great staff poor products, you're going nowhere and vice versa.

I have seen first hand, by visiting a number of companies around Australia, the vast majority of them are not making money. Sure they tell me that their turnover is great. But the true witness is their failure to reinvest in their products, a core essential of their business. Their quality of products deteriorates as they fail to budget for new stock. Charging the right price for your product and service is paramount. They suffer from a plight called shorterminism. Sure short term you might win the job on price, but eventually that will catch up to you in the long run, and I see proof of that in many companies across Australia.

What does your marketing message say to your customers and potential clientele? Your marketing is the talk of your business. Are the price lists you send to customers photocopied slips of paper or are they glossy catalogues? What does your web site, general advertising, building and truck and machinery signage portray to the outside world.

It doesn't matter how much advertising you a doing, or how much you are spending, a nasal sounding quack message, is duck speak.

If your market niche is ducks, you're on a winner. The message you are sending is important and is significant to the customer you are getting. The question is 'is your marketing generating you the customers that you want or is it generating you customers who are just price orientated?' Take a subjective look at your message today.

My friend, Ray, always made sure he was well spoken in every circumstance. The combination of articulate speech and immaculate grooming portrayed a congruent message that enabled him to reach the successes he currently enjoys. The way he spoke allowed him to mix and associate with the right people.

So I ask you . . . Is your business a lame duck or can you transform it to the goose that is laying the golden egg.

Written by David Caruso

David Caruso has been a successful SME Business owner for 17 years. His business has been the recipient of many local and international awards including: Business Swap International Business of The Year 2006, NSW and ACT Business of the Year 2004 and 2006, Blacktown Business Awards 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. David is a paid advisor to the NSW Government and sits on the Board of The Small Business Development Corporation of NSW, a body that advises the NSW Government on Small Business issues, policies and initiatives. David has written countless articles that have featured in local and international magazines, as well as being an engaging and educational business speaker. To learn more about David and his work as a speaker and trainer in helping people to master the growth and development of their business and websites, please visit . . . Positive Inspirational Links >>>

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