Creating Value – Part II

The BIG Idea.

As discussed in Creating Value – Part I, Chevy is using The Big Idea – patriotism – to sell their cars.

The Big Idea is often a value that is widely shared by your customers – hence the need to know them really well. Your Tribe, in Seth Godin’s phrase.

Here are a couple more:

Imagination!

The tag line for this baguette is, “ready to bake at home.” Comfort! Cosy nest!

Soroptimist International is committed to, “Improving the lives of women and girls, locally and around the world.” The Big Idea is Gender Equality.

Now here’s mine:

I personally need to feel like I am putting down roots in the place I live; I need to be connected to my community. I was telling a business coach about the toy store I used to co-own, in a small town where people wanted the small town feel. “Sure we were selling toys, but really we were selling the white picket fence.”

She said, “Isn’t that what you’re still selling?”

I slapped myself upside the head and went, “Oh duh! Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – it’s not just me, it’s everyone. I am selling a sense of belonging.”

Finding your Big Idea:

  • What is happening in your marketplace; What are the problems? At Soroptimist, we tackled 2 problems: young women who need to make their first home, and older people needing to downsize. So we created Anney’s Closet, and the mundane explanation is a free store, but the Big Idea is Passing The Torch.
  • What do your people want, that you can give them – adventure? Healthy food? Taking care of their parents or partners?
  • What idea hasn’t been pillaged (Being Green?) When in doubt, go with a classic.

I’ll leave you with a couple more I found:

The Future

The Future is the second big wagon to hitch your business to, in order to create big value. In The Art of War the Chinese general Sun Tzu said, “ Occupy the place of conflict early.” For example, water tables are dropping in the US Southwest. Therefore, water is a precious resource. I can associate with water conservation: occupying the high ground in the place of conflict.

Panasonic ads show the technology to its fullest potential, it brings you into Star Trek. This is the future of play, and Panasonic brings you there NOW.

The tagline for this annual biking event with over 10,000 participants is “Move the City.” You can be part of what cities will be like in the future.

One Soroptimist program is all about the future, based on research showing girls with access to mentoring are far more likely to achieve their dreams:

I’m taking a different approach, similar to Moleskine:

Moleskine is incredibly successful at mixing romance and history into their product. The future is one-world, one-size spandex spacesuits, and rush rush rush.

So my high ground is being ready to respond when people get fed up with the generic world. These paper calendars say, “My life is not disposable.” They are calendars for keeps, about a meaningful life.

Finding your Place in the Future:

What is our world coming to? More importantly, your customers’ world:

  • What’s in the future that you can identify with?
  • How can you advantage of what is going to happen?
  • Where can you take your customers that they want to go?

Your 60 Seconds of Fame

Here is a bit of glimpse to what it’s like at a Business for Business Networks meeting. We have 60 seconds in which to educate and captivate our fellow Business For Business Network members and guests.

60 seconds to help them understand what we can do, and how we can help them and their customers. To demonstrate we are the BEST at what we do, so they can recommend us with confidence.

Are you doing at that in your business? Do you have knowledge and practical tips that would improve the lives and businesses of other members? Do you have stories that give us insight into your world?

The point of Business for Business Networks is firstly to build relationships, and knowledge, and work through roadblocks we face with trusted business peers through round table conversation, to become better business owners and professionals. Second, it is to build our businesses by being recommended by others who trust us.

We gain and build trust by getting to know each other and watch each week, as everyone demonstrates how they are an expert in their field, and offer advice to one another at the round table.

Last week I let loose a bit of a rant in our Low Town Business for Business Networks meeting, which turned into a great discussion on our updates and infomercials and how to improvxe them. I thought I’d share the gist of it with you all.

The Problem: I don’t really know what you do and what sets you apart.

The Solution: Use your 60 seconds to tell us:

  • What’s one aspect of your business? Capson Electric is the top rated installer of NEST systems: what is NEST, that you are such an expert at?
  • How do you do stuff? I described part of my digital painting technique at Blue Heron Art to show how complicated it is.
  • How have you been a hero? I still remember how Iris Mayfair saved a marriage with eyeglasses.
  • What have you done for a customer? Vancouver Island Osteopathy has “fixed” all kinds of joints and muscles and ailments.
  • What sets you apart? Comfort Keepers uses iPads for up-to-the-minute communication.
  • What do you know? Kristen Yarker constantly gives dietary tips that proves she is the number one in knowledge.
  • Who loves you? Share a testimonial.

In other words:

  • Assume I know nothing about what you can do or how smart you are, but I WANT to.
  • Tell me, piece by piece, not just once, but repeat in a few months, because I forget.
  • Take the time to plan and practise – will it fit in 60 seconds? What is the important bit?

Tell me a story, week by week, that shows how awesome you are, and I will recommend you whenever I get the chance.

This is how businesses grow naturally and form loyal customers, be proud of your business because you are working hard to be the best at it.

Don’t be scared to ask for recommended and testimonials from happy clients and customers – you earned them!

If this post makes you want to drop into a Business for Business Networks morning meeting contact one of the leadership team of the group nearest you!

Creating Value – Part I

Most of us in Business for Business Networks own or are a part of small business, with relatively low volumes. That means, to make money, we need to have high margins, fairly high prices. That means, in turn, that we have to offer our customer BIG value. How do we do it?

I started my business under the auspices of the government’s Self Employment Program, with stellar business coaching from The Reger Group. One of the presentations was on just this: Creating Value. It helped me to see how I was doing that in my business, and how I could do more.

By the way, I am also a Soroptimist, meaning I belong to the best women’s organization in the world, dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls. I’ve seen how Soroptimist offers members, volunteers and donors BIG value for their time and money. I thought other Business for Business Networkers might get something out of the ideas, so over the course of a few blogs, I’ll share what I’ve learned.

Here’s one example, the one David Bell at Reger started with:

What is Chevy actually selling?

Patriotism!  If you own a Chevy, you are a full-blooded American.

There was even a song – the theme song to NBC’s “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show” (1957 – 1962):

See the USA in your Chevrolet

America is asking you to call

Drive your Chevrolet through the USA

America’s the greatest land of all

Etc etc for 3 more verses/ refrains . . .  Isn’t that priceless? No matter what we think of the Excited States of America at the moment, you have to admit that in 1957 – this was brilliant. A business can hitch themselves to a much bigger wagon than selling cars, and elevate what they are selling to a much higher level of value – and price.

Stay tuned for “The Big Idea” in part II – of which patriotism is one.

Are You Eating the Right Breakfast?

I don’t know if the old saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is true. It may not be the most important meal. But it certainly is an important one.

Starting off with the right breakfast raises your blood sugar gradually and keeps you full for hours. It’s like armour protecting you from the tempting, junky foods that surround us all day.

The great news is that there isn’t just one perfect breakfast. Many foods can make up the “right” breakfast. Here are the 4 important characteristics of the “right” breakfast (and some food ideas):

1. Produce. I highly doubt that you’re surprised at me wanting you to include fruit or vegetables in your breakfast. Most of us could use to eat more produce. So why not get a serving or two in at the start of the day? Eat a piece of fruit, top your oatmeal with berries, add some spinach in your omelet, or warm up last night’s stir-fry leftovers.

2. Protein. Here’s something that toast or cereal eaters often miss. Including protein will help your blood sugar be stable for longer, which means no mid-morning crashes and cravings for donuts. Sprinkle hemp hearts or chia seeds on your cereal, spread nut butter on your toast, or enjoy a couple of eggs.

3. Real whole grains. This one is optional. You may just want to include
protein and produce and you’ll be doing great. Others (me included) do better with some real whole grains at breakfast. What do I mean by “real” whole grains? I mean minimally processed grains. Something that you really have to chew.

There’s a lot of highly processed breakfast foods that claim to be whole grain and/or high fibre. I recommend avoiding anything that’s super light-weight, like a lot of breads and puffed cereals. They digest really fast and your blood sugar starts to drop quickly. Instead look for something that needs a lot of chewing, like steel-cut oats or is heavy to hold, like many sprouted grain breads.

4. Sugar. Again no surprises here (except where it can be hidden). Have as little added sugar as you can (ideally none). Watch out for it in “healthy” cereals, take-out smoothies made with fruit drink concentrates, and in “fruit”-on-the-bottom yogurt.

Start with the right breakfast and enjoy the benefits all day!

How WCB Claims Impact Your Bottom Line

Pamela Stover WCB Claims Health care costs are only the beginning of the financial impact of a worker’s injury. Lost time claims and mismanaged claims cost businesses in productivity and profits.

Some common issues that affect your bottom line:

  • Internal mismanagement of claims: Untrained or generalists may make internal errors which have a lasting impact on your bottom line as well as missed opportunities.
  • Failure to review claims for cost saving opportunities: Claims should be reviewed by an experienced professional that is versed in law, policy and procedures in order to mitigate claim costs and ensure proper management of a claim. After all, claims costs impact a businesses bottom line that has a lasting effect.
  • Fraudulent misrepresentation claims: Some claims are not as obvious as to the origin of the disability and/or work-related injury and therefore require deeper examination. Unfortunately, some workers are reluctant to RTW or are non-compliant in the process.
  • Improper claim reporting: Lack of information on the Accident Investigation Form and/or Form 7.
  • Late reporting: Cost employers in fines and delayed reporting takes away the ability to properly investigate a claim which can impact your claim costs.
  • No Return to Work Plan: A formal RTW program will assist with getting your injured worker back to work by providing them with meaningful work that allows them to stay involved and is proven to assist in their recovery. It also assists with reducing the overall claim cost and returns skilled workers to productivity.
  • Lack of sustained employer involvement: Some employers believe that once a claim has been established with WorkSafe BC that they can become a passive participant. Whereas, quite the opposite is required.

Effective and consistent claims management reflect ultimately in lower costs of a claim and subsequently lower premiums/surcharges. Our extensive knowledge, expertise and commitment drives us to achieve the best outcomes for our clients.

 

 

Tips for Reducing Sugar

It’s hardly breaking news that sugar isn’t healthy. You don’t need to eat zero sugar to be healthy. However, the reality is that most people eat too much sugar. I’m all about being practical. And, enjoying what you eat. So today, I’m sharing with you my favourite tips for reducing sugar intake.   

Before I jump in to the tips, I want to clarify a few things. First, today I’m talking about added sugar. I’m not talking about the natural sugar in foods like fruit and dairy. Second, I’m talking about all added sugars – white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, coconut sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.

While there are some differences amongst these regarding their healthfulness, they all contribute calories without adequate nutrients. They also all create a spike in blood sugar that isn’t healthy for our bodies. I’m not using this post to debate which one is the best added sugar.

This post is about practical ways to reduce your overall intake of added sugars.

Another thing that I want to bring up before I share my tips for reducing sugar, is our bodies’ amazing ability to adapt. Including our taste buds. Taste buds are influenced by what we eat. If you eat a lot of sugar, then a highly sweet taste will become your ‘normal’. This gets in the way of enjoying foods that have a less-sweet flavour profile, such as vegetables, whole grains, beans/lentils and plain water.

The key strategy behind most of my tips is to take control over how much sugar you’re eating. Then, gradually decrease the amount of sugar that you add. As you do so, your taste buds will adjust. Eventually, unsweetened foods will taste good to you and you’ll enjoy eating them.

Also read: Healthcare plans; Reasonable and Customary Charges

You will notice that none of my lower-sugar tips involves switching to artificial sweeteners. I don’t take stock in the fear tactics that many people spread about them. However, I’m still not a fan for two reasons:

  1. They allow the continuance of having a highly sweet taste being your norm. Thus, they interfere with enjoying healthy foods that don’t naturally have a sweet flavour profile, such as plain water and vegetables.
  2. History has taught us that foods closest to the way Nature made them are our healthiest choices. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses, and real whole grains; these foods, eaten close to their natural state, are the foundation of a healthy diet. Moving from added sugar to artificial sugar is moving further away from Mother Nature. What I recommend is to take steps to move towards foods in their natural state.  

Reducing Sugar Tip #1:

Switch from pop to flavoured sparkling water. Did you know that a can of pop has approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar in it?  Sports drinks and energy drinks have about the same.

If you’re a pop drinker, this is where I recommend starting because it’ll be the biggest bang for your buck. Many people I’ve met who are regular pop drinkers tell me that they find water disgusting. Water isn’t disgusting. It’s neutral. These folks are experiencing a super sweet taste bud calibration. Adding a splash of citrus or fruits or herbs to plain or sparkling water is a great way to get flavour without all that sugar.

Companies are seeing that there is customer demand for flavourful, no added sugar drink options and there are now many flavoured (sugar- and artificial sweetener-free) sparkling waters. The big soda companies make them. As do many smaller companies. It’s a trend that I’m loving.

Reducing Sugar Tip #2:

Fruit flavoured yoghurt may have a touch of fruit, but it’s mostly sugar in there. If you find plain yoghurt too sour, buy plain yoghurt and add your own jam, honey, or maple syrup. Slowly decrease the amount of jam/honey/maple syrup that you add until you’ve gotten accustomed to plain yoghurt. Also, it’s worth trying different brands of plain yoghurt. Some are sourer than others.

Reducing Sugar Tip #3:

Many healthy-seeming cereals contain quite a lot of sugar. Read the labels of your favourite brands and chose the one that has the least amount of sugar. Mix your favourite cereal with one that has zero (or almost zero) added sugar. Slowly alter the ratio until you’re eating a full bowl of the zero sugar cereal.

The same technique works with instant oatmeal. Buy one box of plain and one box of flavoured. Mix one packet of plain with your packet of flavoured oatmeal. Even better, make your own hot oatmeal or overnight oats. Add as much honey/ maple syrup brown sugar as you need. Then slowly cut back on it until you enjoy your oats with just fruit.

Reducing Sugar Tip #4:

I recently learned that Canadians have the highest consumption rate of food bars. Read closely the labels on granola and energy bars. All of them have some sugar. But the amount of sugar can really skyrocket. The sugar content can be highly variable amongst the different flavours by the same brand. So reading labels is the only way to spot lower and higher sugar choices.

Again, be practical. If you don’t like the lowest sugar bars, switch to a bar that you do like that has less sugar than your usual choice. Once your taste buds become accustomed to your new bar, stitch to a bar with even lower sugar. Homemade power spheres can be a great choice because you can control how much added sweetener you use in the recipe.

I hope these tips help you to start reducing your sugar intake today!

Health Care Plans: Reasonable and Customary Charges

medical insurance coverage benefits

Have you ever wondered what your Extended Health Care plan actually covers?

Typically, Extended Health Care plans include coverage for the services of several types of healthcare practitioners, such as chiropractors and massage therapists.

There is a range of usual fees practitioners in each province charge for services.

Insurance companies use these “reasonable and customary” fees as the basis for pricing their benefit plans and determining the maximum eligible amount that they will reimburse. Most provider associations publish a suggested fee schedule for their practitioners.  

However, there is no requirement for them to charge according to this and fees for similar services can sometimes differ substantially from one practitioner to another.

Most paramedical expenses claimed by plan members fall within the reasonable and customary fee range. If a healthcare practitioner chooses to charge more, the member is responsible for the extra cost. Does this make the current system outdated?

Below, are the reasonable and customary charges for each type of practitioner in British Columbia, Canada (note: Some carriers do not publish their listing as they believe it helps protect the plan member, as some service providers will then charge the maximum allowable rate, as well as limit any fraudulent or excessive service fees.)

Your plan may not cover all the practitioners listed below, so make sure to check your contract or contact your group benefits representative if you are unsure.

Practitioners’ reasonable and customary charges:

  • Acupuncturist (For Initial assessment and Subsequent visit) – $100
  • Audiologist (per hour) – $125 
  • Chiropodist or Podiatrist – (For Initial assessment and Subsequent visit) – $100
  • Chiropractor – Initial assessment $135; Subsequent visit $60 
  • Dietician (per hour) – $150 
  • Massage Therapist (per hour) – $100
  • Naturopath – Initial assessment $210;  Subsequent visit $155 
  • Occupational Therapist (per hour) – $140
  • Optometrist (For Initial assessment and Subsequent visit) – $120 
  • Ophthalmologist (For Initial assessment and Subsequent visit) – $200
  • Osteopath – (For Initial assessment and Subsequent visit) – $120
  • Physiotherapist – Initial assessment $80;  Subsequent visit $135
  • Psychologist (per hour) – $190
  • Social Worker (per hour) – $175
  • Speech Therapist (per hour) – $120

This list only reflects the maximum Reasonable and Customary amount allowed per treatment. Claims will still be subject to the terms of your policy.

Also read: Tips For Reducing Sugar

Usually, a plan limits paramedical services to one treatment, per service, per person, per day. It is the plan member’s responsibility to ensure their paramedical providers possess the credentials accepted by their insurance carrier.

We hope this guide helps you to better understand your Extended Health Care Plan.

If you’re an employer perhaps it will encourage you to review your plan, and whether change could potentially be beneficial for your employees Extended Health Care Plan.

The Value Of Employee Benefits

employee benefits by ly siu consulting

Why Should You Consider Offering Benefits To Your Employees?

As a small business owner, you understand how important your employees are to you. The company wouldn’t be where it is without them. Simply put, employees can make or break the company.

Besides wanting to treat your employees well and making sure they have everything they need to do the best job they can, you want them in good health. Employee benefits are the only way you will be able to ensure and enforce that your employees maintain the best of health.

This can be even more critical if your employees are operating machinery and vehicles or performing any task that could potentially put themselves or others at risk.

Employee benefits plans have numerous advantages:

  • Attract and retain high-quality employees; studies show better compensation and benefits is the number one reason candidates cite for accepting a job.
  • Creates a healthy culture; having healthy employees’ results in increased productivity and reduced absenteeism. This mitigates some of the cost of providing the benefits plan.
  • Tax Deduction; they are a tax efficient way to increase a compensation package for both employee and the employer.
  • Cost Effective protection for employees and their families; there are no requirements to pay into CPP or EI and the employee gets tax free medical benefits.
  • Increased morale; it helps establishes the company policy on health and sickness, employees feel that their well being matters.
  • And last but not least… Employees value employee benefits! For some people it can mean the difference in whether or not they or their child can get something like braces or glasses.

Today, top employees demand a comprehensive health insurance plan.  In fact, in a 2016 Canada health survey, 77% of respondents say they wouldn’t move to a job that didn’t include some health benefits.

As an employer that gives some solid reasoning as to why you should implement benefits (if you don’t offer them already). Employees are looking for a company that takes care of them and their needs, just as much as employers are looking for someone who takes care of the company and puts their best foot forward every day.

Employee benefits are just another reminder that you give what you get. In life and business it is doing things differently or better than everyone else that sets you apart. The truth of employee benefits is that offering them at all can help you rise above the competition when it comes to recruiting your next star employee.

5 Languages of Appreciation (Adapted from the 5 Languages of Love)

Have you heard of the five languages of love? You know, how to show that heartfelt deep commitment to the ones your love. Now, lets put a business spin on that. Did you know there are also five languages of appreciation?

One quote from Clemens Rettich is, “If every single day is not customer appreciation day you may as well close your doors.” Sounds exhausting, right? More so because as we know, good businesses treat their customers well but better businesses also treat their employees – and suppliers – well.

The subject  of appreciation came up in our B4B Low Town Round Table a few weeks ago and a guest shared this list. I have pulled it off www.appreciationatwork.com, the website of Drs Paul White & Gary Chapman.

This list might apply more to the workplace than customers, though I certainly give customers a hug, a coffee or lunch, help out with a silent auction item, high fives in public.

Here’s the list; how can you make it work for you?

The language of physical touch:

  • Spontaneous, celebratory displays (high five’s, fist bumps, a pat on the back)

Quality time:

  • Stop by to see how they’re doing. Spend a few minutes just chatting and checking in
  • “Hanging out” together with colleagues, working on tasks together collegially, having coffee or lunch together
  • Having different types of experiences together to deepen relationships

Acts of service:

  • Ask if the other person wants assistance, if they need anything done
  • Do the service in the way the recipient wants it done

Verbal praise:

  • Words of affirmation communicated in front of others
  • Tell them, “I’m glad you are part of the team.”
  • Written communication through hand written notes, email, texting
  • Write a Thank You email; “I just wanted to let you know …; “It is really helpful to me when you ….”

Tangible gifts:

  • Less about the “thing” and more about reflecting that the giver knows what is important or valued by the recipient
  • The financial value doesn’t matter; can be as small as a card or a single flower

Try one of these great methods of appreciation in the workplace, be it with a co-worker or a customer! Leave a comment to let us know how it worked out!

Customer Service And The 80/20 Rule

During our Round Table Conversation at Business for Business Nanaimo North this week, we discussed the importance of quality customer service, and building customer relations.

  • How do you define customer service for your business?
  • Do you have a system and skilled people in place to provide quality service?
  • Do you treat your customers like you would like to be treated?

There are various definitions of quality customer service, but I like this one by Paul Mckinney in Study.Com:

“Customer service is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met. Customer service is meeting the needs and desires of any customer.”

What are some of the key elements of quality Customer Service that are important to your clients?

If you want to be proactive I suggest that you talk with your present customers who continually buy your products and/or services, and ask them what are their expectations and why do they continually buy from you.

Why guess – go directly to them and ask pertinent questions for their honest feedback.

What are some of the characteristics of quality customer service?

  • Promptness: Answer promptly and deliver promptly. Under promise and over perform.
  • Listening: Customers need to feel that you have listened to them and heard their needs. Even if you cannot solve their problem they have been heard.
  • Patience: when dealing with their problems take the time to ask questions and ensure that they agree with your interpretation of their needs. Provide competent service instead of rushed service.
  • Politeness: Saying ‘hello,’ ‘good afternoon,’ and ‘thank you very much’ are a part of good customer service. For any business, using good manners is appropriate whether the customer makes a purchase or not.
  • Product knowledge: Know your products/and or services in depth. Then you can best help solve your customer’s problems.
  • Be positive: Your tone and words need to convey positive actions. Statements like “I can’t or I will not” are negative in nature and reduce confidence in you resolving their issues. “I can or I will” convey positive actions and reduce customer anxiety.
  • Professionalism: Training your staff in quality customer care skills and monitoring their progress will ensure a level of professionalism. Professionalism shows the customer they’re cared for.
  • Personalization: using the customer’s name provides recognition and a personal touch. Customers feel that you are focusing on them and their needs.

Social Media

And then there is social media.

Social media can be a great way to expand your business but it can also be a curse. In today’s internet world of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. you want to ensure that you have more positive reviews than negative reviews.

Since this is a critical area these days I suggest that you contract or hire the experts who live and breathe in this part of the world. People are people and you do not know what side of the bed they got up on that day.

They could have a valid reason for a complaint and you need to hear it, recognize it and verify it clearly with them. Having a skilled customer service rep on top of it every day is critical in controlling a positive image and showing your ideal customers that you take action.

Pareto Customers

You may have heard of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) that states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

In business, roughly 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.

In your social media relationships, you want more than 80% positives and less than 20% negatives. Even when people read negative comments about your company, your ideal customers need to see that you are actively trying to resolve problems that really do apply to your company’s products and /or services.

Also keep in mind that there are good customers and bad customers. Drop your bad customers (or send them to your competition) and attract more good customers with your words and actions.

Positive actions retain and attract customers and negative actions or inaction cause customers and potential customers to leave.

Happy customers are your future! Take care of them to ensure future growth.

John Boudreau, Nanaimo North