“It’s Not My Job” Is a Waste of an Opportunity

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“I’m too busy.”

“I’m not sure how.”

“I don’t have permission.”

I believe it. I really do. Most of us are too busy. There are a lot of things we don’t know how to do. And God knows we don’t have permission to do a lot of things we’d like to.

But still. In the end, we have customers and clients and patients that need us. So here’s what I propose:

Find a way. If we don’t have time for our clients, we may lose the opportunity to serve them. If we don’t know how, let’s get the training we need or figure it out as we go along. And if we don’t have permission, maybe we should dare to do it anyway.

Selling Crap

You know what I hate? Crap. And more specifically, the people that knowingly sell crap to unsuspecting people, just because they can get away with it. Maybe I shouldn’t hate them. The jury’s still out.

Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I’m always interested in how people are making money these days. Millions of ideas out there, and you never know when you might see something that resonates.

A friend suggested selling ebooks on Kindle, so I thought I’d take a look at the idea. Most of the stigma is off of self-publishing (and thank goodness for that), and readers are snapping up Kindle ebooks at an astonishing rate. Maybe there’s an opportunity there for me or the people I help?

To find out more about selling ebooks on Kindle, I started nosing around the web. There’s a ton of stuff out there, most of it pretty basic. Eventually I found a course on Udemy.com and signed up. (If you don’t know Udemy, you’re missing out, but that’s a different subject for another day.)

Today I started the course. I was hoping for insight, revelation, an epiphany. Do you know what they suggested? Find a hot topic, pay someone $25 on elance.com to write your ebook (20 pages or so), pay someone $5 on fivver.com to design the cover, then publish. Voilà.

Ouch. Has it really come to this? Are we so desperate to make money that we don’t care who we hurt or whose money we take in the process? 

ebook

I started looking at Amazon through a different lens, the way this Udemy course instructor recommends, to see if people are actually doing this. They are. Lots of them.

As a physical therapist who specializes in working with seniors, I speak to a lot of community groups. Next month I’m leading a discussion on caregiving for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, so today I searched “Alzheimer’s caregivers” in the Kindle store. Turns out there are dozens of Kindle books about Alzheimer’s that seem to follow the 20 pages + a cover format. Here are some of my favorite authors’ descriptions of their books:

  • These are all typical a sign of Alzheimer’s since it causes a lot of mental confusion. It is important to get help as soon as you can!
  • This like all my books I cover the disease or problem so the reader has an understanding of the disease or problem!! So in this book you will learn about Alzheimer’s/Dementia, but Most Importantly you will learn how to care for Your parent or Loved one with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. This might be one of the hardest tests in a person’s life, to care for a Parent with Alzheimer’s. I always remember my Grandmother as a strong independent woman. That is how I think of her, but when she got this disease she was no longer that person that I remember, THAT in itself is hard, but caring for her was a mountainous problem…… I didn’t even know where to start!!
  • Have you ever forgotten something important ant then swore up and down you must have Alzheimer’s? Usually we’re laughing at the time, but it is not a laughing matter when symptoms start to appear. Alzheimer’s attacks the memory and can start as young as 30 years old!

Scintillating, I know! And a healthy use of exclamation points, too!!!!

Here are a couple reviews of these types of books:

  • This seemed like an outline for a high school term paper…just a few sentences about each of the seven types and stages of dementia. Can be read in less than five minutes. I could have gotten more information about dementia just by glancing at a Wikipedia page.
  • I’m disturbed. I was hoping for expert advice…. I’m saddened that there are people trying to make money from Kindle technology, for naught…

It may be the way of the world, but it still sucks. If you feel like it’s ok to sell crap to unsuspecting people, you need confess, repent and sin no more. It’s just wrong. It’s an affront to humanity.

Is there hope for humanity? Yes! Today I had a handyman out to my house to fix some drywall problems the previous handyman made worse (I know I should probably learn to do this sort of thing but I’m just not motivated). We were talking about his business and he told me about some of the ethical choices he has to make. He said contractors call him in to help with a job and they’ll ask him to cut corners and do things that are potentially unsafe. He told me, “My name is on my truck. My name is on my shirt. There’s no way in hell I’m going to risk my reputation to make a quick buck.”

That’s a guy I like. That’s a guy I want to do business with. He may never sell a crap book on Kindle, but he can sleep at night and doesn’t have to worry that his name is on his truck.

Rant over. Carry on.

Dear Apple: I Love You Less When Your Quality Sucks

520157-apple_logo_dec07I just ordered a new MagSafe plug for my MacBook Pro. Because I had $80 burning a hole in my pocket? Nope. Because the one I got with my laptop (you know, the laptop I bought less than a year ago for $2500+), is already frayed.

Already frayed. Seriously? Even now, I’m wondering if I am going to finish this blog post before my computer surrenders itself to sleep.

I know I am hard on things. I wear out the tires on my car. Eventually, I will wear out my car. But that’s not today, or even this year. That’s tens of thousands of miles from now for the tires, hundreds of thousands of miles for the car. Can you imagine if you bought a car and had to replace the entire fuel system within the first year, just because the manufacturer didn’t care enough about quality? That’s sorta what it feels like Apple is doing to me.

I wasn’t expecting to have to replace my MagSafe cord in less than a year. It’s disappointing. And frustrating. And makes me love Apple less because their MagSafe cord quality sucks. And, if Apple can’t figure out how to do better, then maybe they shouldn’t charge me for the replacement like it’s made out of gold. Maybe they should say, “We can’t make a high quality one, but we don’t want to punish you, our loyal consumer, for our crappy ineptitude. When you buy the inevitable replacement we won’t gouge you quite as much as we normally do.” That sort of honesty would make me love you lots, Tim Cook. In the meanwhile…

Dear Apple: I Love You Less When Your Quality Sucks. Maybe, someday, I will love you less enough to love somebody more.

If You’re Going to Surprise Your Customers, Don’t Do It Like This

Tonight I went to one of my favorite places to eat—a hole in the wall that serves inexpensive but tasty Tex-Mex. I ordered the Beef Fajita Salad like I always do. Always. I like to think it’s because I’m sure of myself and know what I like, but maybe it’s because I don’t like surprises, and I’m afraid of change.

Why am I telling you this? Because the salad I ordered, the salad I always order, was different tonight, and not in a good way. Surprise!

where's the beef

As I looked down at the sad little pile of lettuce, I was thinking: Did they hire someone and not train him? Did they run out of ingredients? Did they forget to care? I actually dug to the bottom of the bowl, thinking maybe my salad had been tossed, and the “good” ingredients had migrated down beneath the lettuce leaves. No such luck.

Michael E. Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, shares a story about his barber and the importance of systems to deliver consistent, repeatable positive customer experiences. Gerber went to the barber the first time and had a wonderful experience. He told friends, he went back. The second time things were still good, but not quite as good. What might have been a good experience (without any reference to the past experience) was a little disappointing by comparison. He didn’t tell any of his friends. The next time, things were a little different again, a little worse, and the fourth time was Gerber’s last. His experience kept changing, kept disappointing, and eventually he found another barber.

What can we learn from this? A few things:

Be careful how you craft and create your customer experience. If you don’t have a system to deliver the same positive experience consistently, you will disappoint your customers. The restaurant has a recipe for Beef Fajita Salad, but they don’t have a system for making and delivering my dinner consistently.

Even if you’ve created a system, you need to establish a minimum standard of service experience below which your employees will not go. That standard should include honesty. It would have been better for the waiter or cook to tell me they were out of the ingredients, rather than try to sneak one by me.

Be careful who gets to control your customer experience. I can pretty much guarantee the owner of that Mexican restaurant wouldn’t have tried to sneak anything by me. I’m a good customer, a loyal customer. I’ve spent a lot of money there, and I’ve introduced a lot of my friends to that place. But tonight my relationship with that restaurant was in the hands of someone who didn’t care that much. As a business owner, that’s scary.

In The E-Myth Revisited, Gerber recommends business owners eliminate discretion or choice at the operating level of the business. When I first read that it seemed harsh to me—I used to love to give people lots of discretion about how they do their jobs. I like to think it’s because I trust people, which I do. I also think it’s because I was lazy and didn’t want to create a system or hold people accountable, which is unfortunate.

That turns out badly more often than I care to admit. The truth is that if you want to build a profitable, sustainable business you need to deliver consistently positive experiences to your customers. If you don’t have a system for doing that, you don’t have much of a business.

If you’d like some help figuring out how to create the systems you need to deliver consistently great experiences for your customers, call me. I can help. My mobile is 214-850-7911.

Also, if you want to help me put my kids through college, you can click on my affiliate link and buy The E-Myth Revisited. If you don’t want to, that’s ok, but go down to your local library or borrow the book from your Uncle Frank. It’s one of the best books for small business owners I’ve ever read. And I’ve read almost all of them.

Outrageous Customer Service—Really?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was visiting my mom recently when I noticed that the senior living apartments she lives in has two taglines. One, “Building Healthy Communities,” is nice, a little innocuous. The other, “Outrageous Customer Service,” made me laugh.

Can you see the problems with “Outrageous Customer Service?” First, “Outrageous” could be good or bad. If I ask my son how skydiving went, he might tell me it was epic, or he might say it was outrageous. Either way, I understand that to be positive. Conversely, if I ask my son how much Valentine’s dinner cost and he tells me the bill was “outrageous,” I assume he doesn’t mean that in a good way.

When you open yourself and your company up to ridicule, you’d better be extra vigilant in managing your brand. Otherwise, you may go from attempting to provide “outrageous” customer service to providing “outrageous” service.

Another problem with “Outrageous” customer service is it sets the bar very high. That can be a good thing, but unless your business model supports the delivery of “outrageous” service, you are setting your customers up for disappointment. It’s sort of like naming your company, “Spotless Carpet Cleaning” and leaving big stains on the carpet. If you don’t measure up to your name, you invite extra scorn.

Today’s lesson: be careful how you position yourself and your business. Pick descriptive words that don’t mean both great and terrible, and be sure you have the business model to support your positioning. Otherwise, you look like a braggart and a buffoon.