Posts Tagged ‘Growth’

6 Ways to Strengthen Your Connection with Your Customers

10-14 Customer relationships smallYour first sale may feel like a huge validation of your vision, and your first passel of sales may leave you feeling confident. As much as you treasure sales though, it’s your customers that make your business run smoothly. While many of your customers will only buy from you once, other customers will give you repeat business. And once you establish a relationship, they will happily buy from you again and again as long as you continue to deliver great service and products.  So what can you do as a small business owner to build, support, and encourage a long-lasting relationship with your customers? Here are six habits that guarantee they’ll keep coming back for more of what you offer.

1. Make Good on Your Promises

If you promise to fulfill an order, you must complete it in the timeframe you promised. If you said the product will be delivered in a pink box by a bear, and it gets there in red box delivered by an ox, you have failed. Yes, the delivery made it and most customers will appreciate that, but by not following through as you promised, you’ve already damaged trust.

2. Find a Balance Between Value and Profit

When you undervalue your product or service, the quality of your offering will be questioned. Also, if you set the bar too high, you may miss part of your market by charging too much. As a business owner, it is important to fine tune this balance; charge too little and you won’t make any profit; charge too much and people will go elsewhere for the same product at a lower price.

3. Focus on Quality

Whatever specialty you offer, be it goods or services, the quality of your offering will deepen devotion. Yes, you can obsess about details that make you lose focus on the big picture, but you rarely will go wrong when you improve the quality of your product. Ask your customers how you can improve their experience and take action on her suggestions.

4. Stay in Front of Difficulties When They Occur

Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, you will make mistakes. The more quickly you acknowledge them, the more quickly you can correct them. Never let your customer tell you about a problem that you already know about. Reach out to your customer and alert her if you know your shipment is late or you’ve sent the wrong item. Don’t depend on the customer’s lack of attention to amend the situation. You will gain respect and appear extra reliable.

5. Show Appreciation

It really is as easy as saying or writing “thank you for your business.” Of course, if you want to do more, I don't think there is a customer alive who will discourage that. Create a loyalty program, special flash sales, discounts on large orders, gifts with sales, and referral benefits are all ways to show your appreciation. Birthday specials, trunk shows, or exclusive benefits are extra ways to say “Thank you!”

6. Keep in Touch

Don’t just close the sale and move on. Your follow-up after a completed transaction is key to repeat business. You need to find out how everything went. But if a customer hasn’t purchased in a while reach out to them. You don’t even have to bring up future business. You can thank them for past order or share a tidbit of information to reconnect. Just touching base can motivate a past customer to think about your brand again.

Making the effort to build a relationship with a customer will pay off long term. It takes such a small amount of effort to keep a customer happy and buying, just make the effort.

Flexible Work Environments: Today’s Workforce Wants Them

The standard 9-to-5 job is no longer the norm, it’s the exception. People want to be able to work when they want, where they want without sacrificing productivity. In order to do this, your business needs to utilize a variety of communications tools that allow for real-time communication between employees, teams and customers, no matter where they are that day.

Below are four communications tools I rely on, and your business can benefit from implementing, to stay productive and get work done whether you’re in the office, working from a coffee shop or on a flight.

Email Access from Anywhere

Can you imagine conducting business without email? It seems impossible in today’s world. Email allows you to communicate and share information with people across the world. On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was able to work from my hotel room, from the back seat of my Uber, and while waiting for a delayed flight at the airport all thanks to email access on my cell phone. This type of flexibility and mobility wasn’t available a few years ago, but now I can’t imagine working without it.

Instant messenger/Chat

Instant messaging (or chat) is to email what a phone call is to sending a letter. It allows for real-time communication between employees and customers. If your business doesn’t currently use a company-wide instant messaging system, you’re missing out on an easy and effective communication channel. There are a ton of free instant messenger options out there, but for more advanced features and usability, you may need to pay a small fee (worth it!). An added bonus, many solutions come with mobile apps so you can chat with co-workers even when you’re away from your computer.

Business cloud phone system

There are times when email and instant massager aren’t enough; you need to actually speak with a colleague or customer on the phone. Business cloud phone systems, such as Nextiva, allow you to take your business phone with you anywhere. There’s no need for two different phones or to provide people with an office and cell number anymore. Think of your phone number as any “anywhere” number when you have a cloud phone system. People can call one number and reach you in the office, on your home office phone or on your mobile device via the Nextiva App—really any device that has your number assigned to it. Even if you don’t have the mobile app, you can forward calls to a device of your choice based on a schedule or number of rings.

Online project management system

If you frequently collaborate on projects with different team members or departments, an online project management system will be a game changer. Emails are easy to miss, but housing all communication related to a project within a single system (Asana and Slack are popular, low-cost options), ensures nothing is missed. You can receive alerts for projects you are a part of when team members comment or add attachments. You can create tasks and sub-tasks that need to be completed for a project and they will all be housed within the larger project, keeping everything organized an in one place. Also, assign tasks to different team members and set due dates to keep people accountable and on track. Since the project management system is hosted online, you can access documents and see progress anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Moving everyday work systems to the cloud has not only cut down on expensive IT costs, but it enables employees to be productive wherever and whenever they want.

What is your favorite communications tool to use when working outside of the office?

How to Implement Goal Setting in Your Small Business

I know what you’re thinking: I am tired of not moving things forward enough in my business. I’m here to tell you that the reason why this is happening is because you are not measuring yourself against business goals. Are you one of these people who says, “Why set goals if you never end up meeting them?” Or you know you should set goals, but you haven't quite gotten around to it (like backing up your data or keeping your antivirus software up to date). I encourage you to shift your thinking about goal setting. When you take the time to set goals and follow through on those, it is an investment that pays. Here are six ways to look realistically at your business and create meaningful business goals.

1. Analyze the Current Situation

Look at where you are right now and ask yourself: are you where you want to be? It is imperative that you are clear with yourself about your current circumstance regarding money in the bank, accounts payables, your sales pipeline, and your processes. Once you have established what the present looks like, only then can you plan for the big picture and set goals against it.

2. Create a Roadmap

Focus on long-term goals in a five-year benchmark when you develop your goal roadmap. These reach goals have a place in your overall goal setting, but it is essential to set some clear, attainable milestone goals in the short term . Just as an undergraduate sets a goal toward earning a bachelor's degree before applying to grad school, your road map should include goals you can achieve sooner rather than later that will help you accomplish those long term goals. You may even find that creating yearly measurable goals helps you clarify your vision even further.

3. Break It Into Small Bites

Create short-term tasks to achieve your goals for the next year. Creating monthly and weekly sales goals will help you move the needle on your revenue goals. Need to increase sales? Set a goal for increasing cold calls, social posts and direct outreach such as attending meetings. Need to get people to your website? Establish a content development system and start an editorial calendar. Need better subscription numbers? Work on developing a new free download for your website. Remember: you can’t achieve your goals if you don’t take steps toward making them happen.

4. Stay Focused

It’s not enough to set goals. Now you must make substantial efforts to attain those goals. For example, if you are going to be developing content, set aside one day a week to do that. Be proactive and set deadlines for your milestones in order to achieve those goals. It’s easy to get distracted or discouraged, so keep trying even if you miss a milestone. One of the best ways to stay focued is to avoid or eliminate distractions whenever possible.

5. Work Hard

This is a time when hard work determines your outcome. So many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time working on their day-to-day activities and don’t allocate enough time and resources to commit to achieving their professional goals, and then they wonder why they failed to accomplish those goals. There is a direct correlation between the amount of energy you put toward a goal and its results. Set your biggest goals first, they the annual goals, then the monthly and weekly goals. Once your organize your time this way, you will see a difference in your business.

Is Speed the Best Way for Small Businesses to Attract Customers?

The fast casual business model enjoys continued success for a reason that goes beyond low prices: customers are busy people who see time as money. Every minute that they spend waiting for service is a minute lost to other daily activities. This same concept holds true for any business — from store-fronts to consulting services. But in some cases, faster service can cause a speedy customer exit. Before taking action to accelerate your operations, you have to ask three basic questions to make sure that your changes attract customers, rather than deter them.

1. Will Speed Reduce Quality?

The first question may seem obvious, but you really need to carefully forecast the product or service outcome before you decide how to go into high gear. Maybe speeding up will give you advertising bragging rights because you can deliver custom widgets in half the time of your competitors. If you save time because of a unique manufacturing process that continues to deliver high-quality widgets, you'll have loyal customers. If you reduce production time by eliminating time-consuming (but important) quality assurance checks, however, former loyal customers will stay away in droves when their widgets break down moments after their purchase.

2. Does Speed Require that One Size Fits All?

Next, ask yourself if you can deliver the precise product or service that your customers need at high speeds. Just about every product requires some degree of customization; grocery stores even offer potatoes in a range of types and sizes. The real question is whether your product or service lends itself to offering the right variety right off the shelf or if you need to customize the product to make every sale.

To make this decision, you have to carefully analyze your customer needs. If you sell vinyl siding, for example, sky blue might be a perfect choice for some homeowners, but others may need gray mixed in to blend more naturally with the roof color. Offering stock colors allows you to complete installations more quickly, but it will send many customers to other vendors. If you can speed up the color customization process, however, you offer the kind of speed and flexibility that can attract a broader range of customers.

3. Can Speed Alienate Customers?

Not all time is created equal. Customers don't want to waste time, but they often view the time that you spend with them as a commodity. Service businesses are often particularly tied to time, with medical offices being a primary example. Patients typically (and correctly) place more trust in doctors who spend more time with them. Time is as much a part of the product as a cure. Cut down on that time and patients may feel like they are part of an assembly line. Unless you have no competition, they will look for another doctor who shows greater respect for patients.

Waiting time, on the other hand, is dead time for customers and there are usually any number of ways that you can provide services more quickly. Medical offices show respect for patients by getting them out of the waiting room and into treatment rooms more quickly by providing nurses who handle preliminary tests before the doctor walks in. If they are located in shopping centers, they may provide patients with 15-minute warning pagers. Auto parts stores can dedicate a separate line for customers with time-consuming questions. Customers ordering specific parts can zip through the process — order-takers at the counter quickly deliver a list of parts to order-pickers, who rapidly fulfill customer needs from a well-organized warehouse.

Efficiency is Always a Worthwhile Goal

Time is money for your customers and for your business, so it makes sense to constantly look for ways to deliver high-quality products and services as efficiently as possible. Even if you can't advertise "the world's fastest service" or "customized wedding gowns while you wait," your customers will recognize your company's value and pass the word along to others. Remember that word-of-mouth is often the best advertising of all.

Grow Your Business by Facilitating Social Sharing

In most commercial arenas today, sharing by customers is the order of the day.  Before a purchase decision is being made, while it is being made, after it has been made. In the travel industry, this change is particularly striking: there’s no longer a clear before, during and after. It’s all “during,” and the “during” is spent with your friends and loved ones, wherever in the world they may be. Friends are, in a sense, always along for the ride: kibitzing, advising and being advised by you as they plan their own trips while you’re taking yours. Boston Consulting Group has attempted to quantify this: “For a four-day leisure trip, the average consumer spends 42 hours online … dreaming about, researching, planning and making reservations, and then sharing their experiences while they travel or when they get back home.”

This holds true as well for retail, where girlfriends share selfies from the dressing room so offsite friends can help with fit and style. In dining, customers share course-by-course photos of their meals (“foodographs”) in real time. In live entertainment, fans attend concerts and switch perspectives throughout, between the unmediated live experience and viewing or streaming it on their video camera’s tiny screen.

Even in healthcare, tweets and status updates from inside the ER are not unheard of, notably from professional athletes who suffer serious game-time injuries. Getting medical opinions from offsite friends and family members before and even during some procedures is far from rare to boot.

This is a multigenerational phenomenon: Even the venerable Silent Generation has long moved on from shooting slides and loading them into carousels, often thanks to the influence of their younger, more tapped-in family members. Customers today of all ages shop, dine and travel socially, thanks in no small part to smartphones.

Other technological factors include customers’ now effortless ability to share their experiences and reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, as well as the ease of organizing friends, families and unaffiliated interest groups online in ways that result in real-life meet-ups, dinners, dates, drinks and events.

 This socialization of consumption extends beyond what might traditionally be considered friends. Even ostensible strangers—online followers and brands’ online reviewers—are in many cases trusted by younger customers more than the information that comes directly from even well-established brands

Customers today live and consume in a world of search and social. People look for authority online and from acquaintances with similar experiences, perspectives and backgrounds. This is quite a shift in how customers end up making their buying decisions. Buyers include their circle of acquaintances, both the physical and virtual kinds, in practically all their commercial activities—which has a real effect on what ends up getting purchased, and how it ends up being experienced.


Since social consumption is a fact of life for and with today's customers, why not build it right into your product or service? Here are two inspiring examples:

• Hotel 1888 in Sydney, better known as the “Instagram Hotel,” facilitates social sharing throughout its customer experience, with predetermined “selfie spaces” and an “Instagram walk” that they’ve mapped out for you. By celebrating the role of the hotel and its environs as a backdrop, 1888 makes sure it gets in the picture as well.

•   Drybar, the “blowout bar”  that has transformed the haircare industry with its runaway success (they’ve grown from 4 locations when I first encountered them to nearly 40 in the U.S. and London opening soon)  encourages relationships between its customers in several ways. With permission, Drybar posts before-and-after photos of customer blowouts on Facebook and Instagram, whereupon fans critique and comment on the transformations, in some cases selecting certain winners to “hang” on Drybar’s Facebook-based wall of fame. The Drybar mobile app has sharing functionalities built right into it as well. When a customer makes an appointment, she’s invited to share it with friends (who may parlay this originally solo invitation into a real-life Drybar meetup). And offering these social media features works especially well for Drybar because the company follows through by making its physical space conducive to gatherings beyond the solo flyby or two friends catching up. The comfortable, open yet sound-level-aware layout in Drybar makes it a natural choice for birthday parties for nearly all ages as well as for girls’ nights out, bachelorette parties, sweet 16s and more.


So start thinking about how you can turn your business into a stage for customers to share, online and offline, with the people who matter to them.  It will help your business matter more to them–which will matter a lot, in the end, for the success of your business.

10 Key Features & Advantages of Hosted Call Centers

Call centers are a key component of many large organizations, especially those that provide support to their customers. Traditional call centers are extremely costly to implement, with large capital investments and significant IT support required. Additionally, making changes to the system can be time consuming and extremely complicated.

Businesses are always looking for ways to decrease their operational expenses and increase their productivity so they can better serve their customers, and a hosted call center is the answer for today’s businesses.

Whether your company currently utilizes a call center environment, or is looking to implement one in the future as your business grows, moving it to the cloud will significantly reduce your operating costs and increase your business flexibility.

So what are the benefits of moving your call center to the cloud?

  • Financial Savings: Minimal upfront costs, reduced maintenance fees, and a “pay as you go” model make it an ideal choice for today’s businesses.
  • Flexible Work Options & Virtualization:  The ease of provisioning and managing on-site and remote agents, and the ability to use a single central queue which routes calls to agents regardless of their physical location allows for flexibility that was previously unavailable.  
  • Enhanced Operational Flexibility: The ability to rapidly scale up and down and handle unexpected or fluctuating call volume quickly, without disrupting or changing infrastructure, will change the way your business operates.
  • Access to Latest Technologies: Low risk and cost to access cutting edge features e.g. video call centers ensures your business always has the best communications tools available.
  • Business Continuity: With hosted architecture, calls are queued and can be re-routed to alternate locations in the case of service disruption. You always have a business back up plan no matter what is thrown your way.

What are the key features of hosted (cloud) call centers, and what are their business benefits?

  • Call Recording: Record agents’ calls for training purposes and to improve the customer experience. This also provides you with a record of what was said on a call if there is ever a dispute with a customer or agent.
  • Automatic Call Distribution: You decide how you want incoming calls to be routed and the level of importance of each type of call. Route to the appropriate agent based on department, skill level and purpose of the call.
  • Call Queues: Organize users, teams and departments by queues. Callers will be routed to the next available agent in the appropriate queue based on the call distribution policy you specify.
  • Agent Status Display: See the status of every active agent from the web-based client. See agents who are available, on a call, have an incoming call, or are set to an alternate status. This helps to access call volume levels and agent status.
  • Call Center Reporting: Monitor real-time activity, as well as generate in-depth historical data and trends to improve performance and ensure that calls are handled efficiently. You can create customized reports based on your business needs to support unique process and monitoring requirements. Then, use the information to make informed business and staffing decisions.

To learn more about hosted call centers and the positive impact implementing one will have on at your business, please visit

The Power of 90% Customer Loyalty

9-10 Customer Loyalty smallCustomers today have more purchasing options than ever before as well as fewer obstacles afterward if they want to switch to a different supplier. This embarrassment of riches strains traditional notions of loyalty. But it hardly spells the end for loyalty, not for customers in general and certainly not for millennials, despite what many claim. In fact, even in the supposedly loyalty-averse millennial generation, things aren’t really moving in the direction that you might imagine.  Boston Consulting Group research has shown that younger millennials (ages 18 to 24 at the time of the study), “are three times more likely to report strong brand loyalty than their non-millennial counterparts.”

If my take on this sounds more hopeful than what you’ve heard elsewhere, it’s partly because my definition of customer loyalty differs from most. In everything I do, I aim for what I call “90% loyal” customers—the ones who will stick with you through thick or thin, good times or bad, most of the time.

This 10% wiggle room makes the loyalty goal a bit more achievable by bringing the concept of loyalty more in line with what’s achievable in reality. Because every one of us in business knows the score: If a sexy new restaurant or shop opens across the street from ours, even our best customers are going to want to try it—once. But they’ll be back once their itch for novelty, their fleeting need to cheat on their main squeeze, has passed.

And sometimes, it’s not this need for novelty that makes customers stray from you periodically. Practicality may demand it. A 90% loyal Whole Foods mom or dad may do some shopping at Trader Joe’s or Wegmans when she or he is stuck in a different part of town. And if Mom or Dad's preferred airline doesn’t have a direct flight while another carrier does, this otherwise loyal passenger will most likely take the direct flight if that’s what it takes to get home in time for her or his kid’s soccer game.

Even the ever-competitive Richard Branson once recommended his customers use his archrival British Airways—if only to remind themselves all the more of why they love Branson’s Virgin Airlines. Of course, Branson being Branson, he timed his recommendation for the day British Airways offered a fire sale that he knew Virgin couldn’t affordably counter, and on which British Airways was sure to lose money.

Two more loyalty trends

A couple of trends are complicating the loyalty landscape.

Portfolio loyalty: This occurs when customers are equally loyal to every brand in a small portfolio of trusted brands in a particular category. This behavior wouldn’t be possible without the surfeit of choices consumers now have in almost every consumer category. Consumers have the globalization of commerce, improvements in many companies’ return policies due to competitive pressure, and the various defect-reduction campaigns in manufacturing of the past several decades to thank for all these offerings. (Formerly an automotive punchline, Ford is an impressively reliable manufacturer today. Even a Jaguar—should you be so lucky—will rarely leave you stranded these days.)

Micro-loyalty.  Customers today can have micro loyalties, loyalties for very specific parts of a company’s product line, for example, they can be loyal to Apple for this but Google for that, to Reebok for this but Nike for that, and so forth. They don’t buy an overall identity related to a single brand; they mix and match. They still consider themselves loyal, but it’s a more targeted type of loyalty.

How did this come about? Younger customers today were raised with a lot of support for individuation: They were allowed to make their own choices and work with the results. From mismatched socks (ultimately commercialized by Little Miss Match) to tattoos and piercings to control over hairstyles and how they dress for school, this generation was empowered by its parents to shape its own identity. As marketers and generational researchers Van den Bergh and Behre point out, the Internet has further fostered such mix-and-match identities, at least in the commercial sphere of their lives. Easy-to-find product review sites like Gizmodo make it far easier to sample and choose brands, comparison shopping on mobile phones has long been a reality, and thanks to iTunes and many other sites, even the playlists they listen to are easily stitched together song by song from their own choices rather than relying on the decision of any single artist or record label’s vision for their music.

When Will the Next Recession Be?

9-4 recession smallThe next recession may have started on August 24, 2015 when the Chinese stock market dropped another 7% and for a total of a 40% loss from its peak. That day, U.S. stock markets followed suit and plunged 1,089 points within minutes of the start of trading. The markets slightly recovered, but are still down 12% year for 2015.

This is a troublesome indicator since many times the stock market predicts the coming of the next recession. Although as Economist Paul Samuelson retorts, "The stock market has predicted nine of the last five recessions". Even so, from March 1961 to now, the average growth period following a recession has been about five to six years. If the last recession ended June 2009, the economy is now past the six year mark and is in one of the longest periods of expansion ever. This may also mean that a new recession is about to start.

After the stock market crash, most economists publically said not to panic. A conference call that I listened to with financial advisors repeated that all signs of the U.S economy are strong. Ron Lieber at The New York Times wrote that the average investor should take a deep breath and do nothing. But for most small business owners, it’s hard to do nothing when their investment portfolio loses 10% of its value in a week. Investment savings is what many times “backs up” the owner’s confidence if their company fails.

This psychological fear creates havoc in the life of the small business owner. Their lack of confidence in the economy drives them naturally to pull back from hiring people and making new investments. Bad news reports can also make a recession a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If the next recession is coming this year, how can you prepare?

1. Grow profitably. Make sure that any sales growth has the same profitability as the rest of the business. Don’t sacrifice profitability for sales growth. This will help to ensure strong cash flow which is the bedrock of survival during any recession.

2. Preserve cash. Recession proof companies always have positive cash flow positions. Don’t let investments in the company get too far ahead of sales. Focus on reducing credit given to customers and getting them to pay on time. Keep stock levels as low as possible and inventory turns as high as practical.

3. Get a bank credit line now. Secure a line now before the company needs it.  Draw on it as low rates to ensure the business has six months' worth of cash in the bank.

4. Boost the gross margin. Ask if business can be done another way. Cockroaches thrive during disasters because they know how to adapt or die. For example, if margins had to increase by 10%, how would this be accomplished now?

5. Cut costs even if revenue is stable. Don’t be lazy. No owner ever regrets cutting costs too soon. Examine where the value does not exceed the expense.  

According to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc, since 1950, the U.S. has experienced a recession at the start of every decade except the current one. He states that “If that bit of economic astrology holds, the next one will be in 2020…and I wouldn’t argue with that.”

We should only be so lucky.

Seven Steps Toward Customer-Focused Culture Change

Changing the culture at your company isn’t easy (It’s not that it’s necessarily complicated, it’s just an awful lot of work). But culture change done right can transform your company into a customer-centric and employee-embracing company. Here are seven steps that will help get you there.

  1. Make the decision.  If you don’t make the decision to drive cultural change at your company, make it loudly, proudly, and in a way that’s hard to turn back from, it’s not going to happen.
  2. Spell it out. Take a very, very few words–really, just a handful!–to say what your decision looks like. For example Mayo Clinic’s “The needs of the patient comes first.”  Seven words, none of them consultantese, only one of them longer than a syllable.  If you need more words than this, that’s OK.  The Ritz-Carlton not only has the timeless “We are ladies and gentlement serving ladies and gentlemen” but also “The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.
  3. Start talking about the change at every orientation. If you waste orientation talking about the employee fridge and how it’s emptied out on Fridays, how to file for vacation time or sick leave and such, you’re blowing it.  Orientation is a time when employees are (ironically), disoriented, and as such it’s a crucial time to have someone at the very highest level in the organization (at the Ritz-Carlton it’s the CEO, every time a new hotel opens; at Danny Meyer’s restaurants it’s Danny Meyer) talk about what is central and immutable in the organization’s culture.  Its purpose, in other words.
  4. Overhaul your hiring and personnel practices. Every single employee, from this moment forward, needs to be hired for reasons that are congruent with your newly stated values.  This is very, very important. And as far as personnel policies, no more docking people for coming in late from the lunch break to assist a customer they found in distress.  No more ranking based on average handle time on phone calls.  And so forth.  The CEO can make the highest of high-minded values statements, but here is where the rubber hits the road, where your culture can be supported or sabotaged
  5. Standardize (in the right way). Everything that can reasonably be expected to occur between you and your customers deserves to be standardized, explaining (to your employees) both what to do and the reason behind the suggested behavior (so that they can deviate from it when the situation calls for a different approach)
  6. Commit yourself to employee empowerment, including employee-directed job design. Jobs should not by default be considered activities that are done by employees but designed by their so-called superiors.  While, of course, to some extent this has to be true, especially in life-threatening situations–your employee can lead an evacuation down a fire escape but can't necessarily design standards for what is an acceptable or unacceptable level of smoke inhalation–it's important to simultaneously push against it, to let your employees know what they need to get done but not necessarily how they should go about designing their day and carrying out their duties.
  7. Keep the momentum going. Ongoing reinforcement is crucial.  Consider how the Ritz-Carlton has maintained its culture for decades, even in the face of leadership changes and some very challenging economic times.  The centerpiece is daily lineup approach:  a few minutes every day discussing just one of your list of cultural values or service standards, with the meeting led by a different employee every time. The result, added up over a year or years, is a lot of reinforcement. And it makes every single one of those days of that year or years better on its own.

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