A few months ago, I hired someone to help me man my booth at The Rental Show in Atlanta. I decided upon Don Neely, who has worked with many consultants and is very familiar with my work. I told him that I wanted a "fresh set of eyes" to see how I can improve. At a booth, as in your rental operation, you have a brief amount of time with clients and prospects to deliver your message about all the ways you can help them.
Well, his "fresh set of eyes" were well worth the investment. I was very surprised to hear his observations! For example, he said that I scowled when I discussed my fee with prospects. I had no idea! I believe that my rates are very fair, but unknowingly, I was making a face when discussing price. Perhaps I don't usually do this - but I took the construction criticism well and need to assume that this is something I should be aware of and do something about. This is exactly what I paid for.
Another little example of how objective analysis helped my business at the tradeshow deals with a giveaway. I had a very unique giveaway item for those who stopped by my booth to visit. It's a combination tape measure, carpenter's level, sticky note pad and miniature pen - and it clips securely on your belt. Each was gift boxed. At first, I was simply handing the gift in the box to each visitor. They would drop the box into their bag of literature like a trick-or-treater getting just another piece of candy. The "fresh set of eyes" observed how the visitors to my booth didn't realize the value and thougtfulness of my gift because of how I was delivering it. He suggested that I throw away the boxes and quickly show each recipient this useful and unique gift. I tried this simple approach and found the recipients were now thrilled with this little gift.
This experience really reinforced my belief in the importance of having someone take an objective view of my business. We are all just too close to our businesses to see some of the opportunities to improve.
Here are a few other thoughts:
- Don't coast. The most successful companies are those who strive the hardest to improve already very successful operations. They don't become complacent.
- Try not to take it personally. Don't be offended when you hear what you're doing now is not the best way. It's natural for smart, hardworking people with the best of intentions to feel a little defensive when criticized.
- Use the service of a professional. Don't ask a friend, relative or another business person to do this for you. They won't have the objectivity and correct methods to analyze your unique situation.
- Have a plan. Be sure to have a plan to implement the changes.
- Focus on priorities and the "biggest bang for your buck" items. Your "fresh set of eyes" will help with identifying these.
- Follow up on a regular basis. Consider an "annual physical." This will help you to track progress and to set new priorities.
Remember, no matter how good your products and services are, it pays to hire a new set of eyes to view what you are doing to find hidden opportunities and to suggest ways to capitalize on them.