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Don’t Bite the Hands that Feed – Your Customers Deserve Better

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It has been a tough couple of years out on the high street. We are still managing to survive yet we have had to make some changes into how we operate. Cutting back on spending has been our focus along with improving our sales through marketing, excellent customer service and reliable products. One of the ways we have managed to keep trading while others around us have closed is by being flexible and making cutbacks, such as moving into a cheaper property.

Moving to a smaller shop was never going to be easy for us but it was a step we needed to make in order to keep our doors open. The reduced cost in utility bills and rent have meant we could afford to cut back on our prices to keep serving the customers excellent quality goods while they also struggle to keep their heads above water. It’s a war out on the high street but one that can be won with careful planning and even more careful spending.

The Doorway Caused Instant Problems

Sadly when we moved to the new premises we noticed that there were some problems that needed to be fixed right away. The door to the shop was a huge problem as it was small with a step up to it. We serve items to everyone and there is no way we want to turn anyone away from our store so we had to address the issue of access so that all our customers, new and old, would be able to enter and exit the shop without any problems. The door was a problem and so we set about sorting it out right away.

We contacted some access consultants and spoke to our landlord. Thankfully the agent was more than willing to help us to make improvements. We were given permission to replace the door and add a small ramp to the exterior of the property. The landlord even chipped in with some of the costs which was not something that we were expecting to happen.

Why go to so much Trouble?

Why did we go to the trouble of sorting out the access? You may think we were silly spending our money that we didn’t need to while making cutbacks everywhere else. When you think about it carefully it does make perfect sense. We make our living by selling to the public. Our product range includes items for men and women of all ages, so we have to be able to welcome men and women into our store. Without them we can’t make sales, which would result in us having to close down and only focus on online sales.

The new doorway and ramp now meant that everyone had the ability to access our store. People that use wheelchairs, mobility scooters, mums with pushchairs and prams and anyone else who might have problems with a small door and a step can now come and go without any problems. The door only needs a slight nudge for it to then open on its own, meaning it’s easy for everyone to open. Shoppers overloaded with bags don’t have to battle with the door anymore!

Your Customers are Your Lifeline

Providing excellent customer service includes welcoming people from all walks of life into your shop. Investing in making your property more accessible makes perfect sense. We saw an increase in footfall immediately and all of our old customers who couldn’t access our new shop were thrilled that we went to the effort to welcome them in. A simple change to the entrance can result in a dramatic rise in sales, something worth considering I think you’ll agree.

Aki Hashimoto specialises in writing, providing DDA Audit and disabled access news to businesses in the UK. Find out more by following @EqualityAct2010 on Twitter.

 

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Why Big Leaders need to have Small Egos

christLeaders are very important to the success of a business, as they are the ones who inspire others, drive movement forward and provide the company with a goal. However, a leader with a larger than life ego can actually be a detriment to a company, holding it back and causing problems rather than encouraging success.

There is a huge difference between ego and confidence. Self-confidence is an essential trait in a strong leader as they need to be able to believe in themselves and confidently stride towards their dreams. Rather than the calm self-assuredness that confidence brings, a big ego manifests itself in pride, boastfulness, self-centeredness and an inability to admit when one is wrong.

Here are a few reasons why having a big ego is not a very good trait in a successful leader.

Leaders Need to Be Able to Admit When they are Wrong

Even though they might be put in charge because they have the most education or experience, leaders are not always right. In fact, sometimes they can make big mistakes, totally misjudge situations or get things completely wrong. This is nothing to be ashamed about, after all everyone is human and will make a mistake once in a while.

However, sometimes big leaders are afraid to admit that they have got it wrong. They are so unwilling to show any weaknesses that they will follow through with things even though all signs are indicating that they have got it wrong. They will lead their company towards disaster while pretending that they are doing the right thing, rather than admitting their blunder and asking for help.

A good leader should never let their own ego get in the way of realising when they are making a mistake. A confident leader is never afraid of confessing to a mistake and taking a new approach and if this is done with grace it will make your employees respect you even more.

Leaders Need to Be Able To Let the Achievements of Others Shine

Another trait of someone with a big ego is that they are quick to snap up all the credit when it comes to the group’s accomplishments. You’ve probably seen it before, the team leader whose team puts in plenty of effort to achieve something and then when it comes time to receive accolades, he speaks like he did all of the work himself. These are also the types of people who are likely to choose team members who are less competent than themselves because their primary motivation is making themselves look good. In the thinking of an egotistical person, another person’s success means that they have failed so they will feel better about themselves when others achieve and earn less.

A great leader needs to be able to step out of the spotlight and be gratified by the achievements of others. They must realise that they cannot accomplish or control everything, so they need to invest in fantastic team members and value their contribution to the organisation. Good leaders will know how to let another employee shine.

Leaders Need to Be Able to Unite Rather Than Divide

One of the most important roles of a leader is to be able to make each and every person working with them feel like they are valued and appreciated. They need to create a positive and optimistic working environment which makes employees feel engaged and motivated.

Unfortunately, a leader with a big ego will be too focused on themselves to make this happen. The people working with them will become increasingly fed up with their egotistical behaviour and will not be inspired to do their best. They might even cause conflict in the workplace, which further distracts people from doing a good job at work.

Instead of a big leader with an even bigger ego, it is better to have someone who does not deny reality even when it is negative and is able to admit their own mistakes. They will be able to help people get through difficult times, let the achievements of others shine and encourage everyone that they work with to put their best performance in.  You will be amazed at the different that a calm and confident leader without a big ego can make on your organisation.

Having a big ego can really get in the way of providing excellent leadership and here are some of the reasons why. To find out more about our leadership programs, visit Cirrus today.

 

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Building Strong Teams in the Workplace

49ersIn a team-oriented environment, workers contribute to the overall success of the organization. They work with fellow members of the organization to produce these results. Even though they have a specific job function and belong to a specific department, people on a team are unified with other organization members to accomplish big picture objectives.

There are a lot of people in business who want their employees to work wholeheartedly together as a team, but struggle with team building execution. Trying to have people come together as a group with a common goal and strive to achieve it can be very challenging. Team building is not as easy as you think, and the workers we manage are sometime not as apt to join and collaborate with a team as we would hope.

Benefits of Teamwork

We all inherently understand the benefits of teamwork. A group of skilled individuals putting all their brainpower together to work for an innovative and quick solution to a problem is excellent. The sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts.

When the workload is shared throughout the group, dealing with pressure and stress is much easier for everyone, usually making the final product much better than if if was done individually. I’ve learned in business that if you want to get something done on time put together a crack team of motivated people to take it down.

Teamwork is not always easy

Teamwork is not always easy to implement. Sure the benefits of teamwork can easily be explained, but actually making it work within a group is much different. From an early age we were set on the path of individualism. Think about going to school, you did not go through school as a group. You participated in school with peers, however you worked individually to achieve your test scores.

Of course many of us participated in team sports or group projects in classes, but the majority of our social experience through our childhood and young adulthood was all centered around being an individual. When we shift from school into the workplace, and employers want to implement a strong culture of teamwork and collaboration in the workplace, it’s hard for people to adjust to the new collaborative style.

Japan‘s Stark Teamwork Contrast

Japan is an example of a culture which socializes it’s individuals to be more of a cohesive team rather than a lone individual. There are many metaphors which explain the Japanese mindset of community and teamwork but one that sticks out is the weak link in the chain metaphor. I had a Japanese Businessmen explain this to me some time ago.

He told me that his company, and more specifically the group within his company that he was a part of, was like a chain. Together they were strong and could weather any storm, but if there was a defect in the chain then the whole apparatus became worthless. Everyone worked hard to not be that weak link.

Upon completion of college, when the Japanese worker is introduced to a company, they are completely indoctrinated as a member of the company. They actually go to an extended boot camp to learn everything about the company and officially become a member. This process further builds on the teamwork mindset that is so special in Japan.

The only western groups that I can associate the same mentality with is the military. The military goes to boot camp together and is completely engrossed and indoctrinated as a member of a larger whole. Japanese workers also go to a quasi Boot Camp to endure the same type of mental and physical indoctrination for the sake of their prospective company.

In the west, we don’t do anything of the sort. When is the last time you sent your new hires to a four-week intensive boot camp to learn the ins and outs of your company? Sure we may send our employees to a weekend team building seminar, but that’s nothing like the team building training courses for joining a Japanese corporation.

I’m trying to illustrate, with this example, that teamwork is not an inherently God given trade. It’s a learned behavior that we can teach employees of the company to exemplify. We may not go to the extent of military or Japanese-style boot camp, but we can take away some strategies to make our teams better.

Teamwork Success

Regardless of how individualistic and nonconformist our mentality is we can still build great teams in our companies. Every team needs a leader. The duties and expectations of the team also need to be clearly defined. Everyone’s going to have different and unique talents, and they should be utilized to the fullest extent for the betterment of the team. Communication must be open and honest.

The most important aspect of achieving great teamwork success in my humble opinion, is withholding judgment of the teams performance until after the project is completed. If a team wins the NBA championships with a buzzer beater shot they still win right? It’s not right to write them off as losers 10 seconds before the game is over just because they are a few points down. On the same token, don’t write your team off before the buzzer ends just because everything isn’t going perfectly.

Team members deserve regular and honest positive reinforcement. When they achieve success they deserve rewards. Rewarding team members for effectively managing their tasks and going above and beyond what’s expected is a good habit to practice. It also cultivates a culture of teamwork within the organization.

About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finances. He has received many accolades for his work in teaching methods of reducing employee turnover.

 

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Welcome To Narnia? Easier Ways to Create Space for Your Business

empty-business-spaceWith overheads high and businesses seeking to save money on any and all fronts, the idea of installing a complete additional country in the Facilities Management cupboard may seem like an attractive concept. However the options for businesses needing to expand are somewhat limited. Moving premises is all very well, but the cost, inconvenience and disruption to the actual day to day running of the firm make it impractical in many cases. However, installing a mezzanine floor can offer considerable advantages without the inconvenience of removal expenses – or goblins, witches and great big annoying lions messing around with the photocopier. A mezzanine floor is normally a semi-permanent additional floor, which in a commercial or retail setting can be used for extending the floor space of a building for a number of purposes.

Double Capacity, Half the Hassle

Retail businesses have faced some challenging times recently with a number of famous High Street names going online or, failing that, into administration. For those that have bravely remained on the High Street itself, the likelihood of upgrading to newer bigger premises is pretty remote. A mezzanine floor can offer additional retail space, without the costs associated with a move or the danger of losing customers during a change of address. Existing space can be freed up, or new areas for retail developed, allowing you to expand or add to your range of goods.

In industrial premises, or warehousing premises, a mezzanine floor is one of the most commonly used tricks to keep rental low and maximise the use of space. At a tiny percentage of the cost of moving, a mezzanine can be installed quickly. Most mezzanine floor suppliers and installers offer systems that can be installed at high speed, minimising the disruption to your business activities. By their nature a mezzanine is normally self-supporting and does not require large, disruptive and inconvenient levels of structural alteration.

For mixed use premises where an office space needs to be extended (or even created) a mezzanine offers the perfect solution. For a rapidly growing firm, which does not want to risk the additional outlay on new premises, a mezzanine can again offer a quick turn around on a doubling of space. This can make your existing office space far more flexible, allowing for expansion in staff numbers during seasonal peaks in business.

Low Cost Conversions

In most cases a mezzanine floor will be designed for your building – making it a highly tailored solution. Mezzanine floor suppliers can create a range of standard sized sections which can be used to create a bespoke solution for your specific building and to suit the use of the new floor. In terms of planning regulations there are no requirements when it comes to fitting a new mezzanine structure, but compliance with Building Regulations (and in some cases fire regulations) will be necessary. Again, these factors can normally be dealt with by mezzanine floor suppliers and where building and fire regulations need to be met suppliers will normally have an off-the-shelf solution to hand. In terms of costs most suppliers will offer a range of options, but the price is rarely above £120 per square meter. In general, industry experts suggest that the cost of a mezzanine is around 80 per cent cheaper than moving premises and this doesn’t take into consideration the associated disruption and potential loss of business on the way.

You can’t take it with you

Fair point, if we’re talking about your worldly wealth on that last great journey. However, when it comes to moving business premises it’s possible that you could take your mezzanine with you. The mostly likely bar to this easy option is simply that your mezzanine is likely to be designed with your existing premises in mind. A bespoke design for your mezzanine will mean that it may not fit easily into the new premises, but if you’ve planned carefully then there’s no reason why you couldn’t take your additional space with you. The cost of moving the structure may seem expensive, but as with the original installation, it could well be cheaper than buying or renting the extra space.

For expanding businesses the inconvenience of moving premises can often be removed by installing a mezzanine floor.  Mezzanine floor suppliers offer a range of tailored solutions to suit most businesses and can help create the additional space for your business to grow.

 

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