Category Archives: Kevin Coughlin

How to Succeed as a Small Business

Beat the Big Box Store and Succeed When You Make it SPECIAL For Customers

By Dr. Kevin Coughlin

Most people are aware that the real economic engine in the United States is small business. In fact, most would agree that small businesses are the foundation of the economy.

Very little provides more satisfaction than building and running a successful small business, but many small businesses make a fatal mistake at the outset: they don’t understand what their customers really want. As a small business owner, to put your best foot forward for success you must create a dialogue with your customer base, and ensure that your customers and clientele understand that you’re looking out for their wants and needs. Small businesses are the foundation of the economy. Click To Tweet

But building a customer-driven small business can be a bit different from competing with the big box store on the corner. How do you fight a company or business that almost has an unlimited supply of money and expertise? In all truth, it can be extremely difficult and takes a lot of effort; but it can be done and is being done all across the country. Your customers want to feel connected, they want to feel special, and they don’t want to be just a number or another transaction.

Your customers are all looking for products and services that they believe in, like, and trust. That is the winning combination in competition, and you and your team will be on the way to beating The Big Box by making the experience S.P.E.C.I.A.L. for your customers.

S – Superior Service: What is it, and how do you attain it? You must put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Experiment with each type of interaction that will occur between your company and the customer. A great starting point is to assess the quality of phone etiquette and your employees’ ability to address your customers’ questions. Ensure that you are receiving really good information that is timely and accurate. Really evaluate your website and email responses. Take an honest look at your products and services to make sure they are the best they can be.

P – Products: Evaluate your products and or services to see how they stand up against the competition. Take a hard look at the processes and procedures you can implement to make those products and or services most appealing and cost-effective to your customer base.

E – Education: This means training, training and more training with everyone from your sales people through your HR department; and perhaps most importantly, training for yourself. Many times as CEO or business owner you are the last to recognize that you may need and benefit from training more than anyone else. Success starts at the top, and without positive business training you and your company along with your customers will suffer.

C – Consistency: Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your processes and procedures to make sure they are simple, repeatable, and trainable. Delivering consistent products and services are paramount to successful long-term success. Anyone can do something well once or twice, but when you can do it consistently you know your company is running well.

I – Ideal Customer Experience: You must look at and review to see if your customers are repeating purchases. Are they coming back to your company for additional products and services? If not, it’s imperative that you ascertain why.

A – Approachable: Do your employees and customers have access to you? If not, why? Determine how to create an environment that allows information to reach leadership so team members and customers know that their concerns will be addressed and not overlooked.

L – Lighthearted: When it stops being fun for you, your team, or your customers, you have started your company in a downward direction and action steps must be taken to change that culture. When your customers and team members have an enjoyable experience there is no better marketing plan available.

Most business wants to and dreams of becoming larger. The reasons are many, but the main reasons are that success is equated many times with more or bigger; however, more doesn’t always mean better; it simply means more.

If your desire is to make your company or business larger, be careful what you wish for. The vast majority of small business entrepreneurs like the risks, controls, and the building of their business many times more than the results. As has been stated many times, it is the journey more than the destination that brings real satisfaction.

For those who are wise enough to realize this, you must understand that all the things that can make the big box stores great are also the things that can be seen as negatives. This provides business owners an opportunity to compete and win over a customer base that eventually is overlooked by so many big box stores.

In the end, all business owners are unique but most entrepreneurs have common traits. They are competitive; they like the action and want to win. They are motivated, work hard, and have an undeniable desire to succeed and make sacrifices to accomplish their goals.

Whatever your goals and aspirations are, stick with them. There is plenty of room for the small, medium, and large companies. The market place needs all three groups. Find out what motivates you and what you really love about your business; pursue that passion with all your heart and you will receive much more than financial reward, but self-satisfaction that what you set out to do you accomplished.

Kevin Coughlin, DMD, MBA, MAGD is an accomplished dentist, author and speaker. With his unique and powerful message, Kevin provides small businesses with actionable solutions when considering strategic change, as well as keys to compete in an expansive market.


Good Profits versus Bad Profits

What’s the True Cost of Only Focusing on the Bottom Line?

By Dr. Kevin Coughlin

Is there really such a thing as bad profits? With business getting larger and more powerful, and investors feeling and expecting ever-greater ROI, wouldn’t that imply that all profits are good?

It is an important question to ask.

Bad profits are those profits that are earned at the expense of customer relationships. Whenever customers feel misled, mistreated, ignored, or coerced, then the result is a bad profit. Bad profits arise when a company saves money by delivering a lousy customer experience. Essentially it means that leadership or the company extracts value from their customers instead of adding overall value.

Your goal is to focus on good profits from good products or services. Click To TweetThose of you in leadership positions, those of you that run companies and manage people, understand that the culture you present to your team may lay the foundation for success not just in the short term but hopefully in the long term. The leaders who have exceptional core values and focus on good profits—and eliminate bad profits—will not only create companies with long term success, but will provide products and services that your customers will crave, want and need.

When companies don’t understand the difference between good and bad profits, the result is that growth suffers in the long term, reputations are hurt, customers become alienated, and employees become demoralized. You and your business become vulnerable to competition. Your business may achieve short-term success—but will always fail in the long term.

Steps to Eliminate Bad Profits: Bad profits create detractors. These are people that hurt your company and team members. They hurt your company’s reputation; they strangle growth and demoralize an organization. These detractors can be leaders, managers, employees, and customers.

The first step in avoiding bad profits is to recognize they exist, and the second step is to recognize the detractors. The third step involves deciding if you can convert your company’s detractors into enthusiastic advocates for your company. This is accomplished with top-shelf internal communication, and sterling customer service.

Create Customers that Promote: Your goal is to focus on good profits from good products and/or services. Good profits are earned with customer’s enthusiastic cooperation. They occur when their customers come back time and time again for your products and services. They want to tell their friends family and acquaintances about their exceptional experience. When this occurs they become the best promotional arm for your business.

As promotors, these individuals provide positive marketing for your company; they are loyal and provide the most cost-effective growth for you and your company.

It has been estimated that most companies have about 42-82% of promotors receiving products and/or services. Your focus should be to improve that percentage as much as possible to boost your good profits, and this is done by training—and more training—that is backed up by outstanding leadership and communication. This is not only smart business, but good business.

Perform a Companywide Internal Evaluation: One of the main keys to eliminating bad profits is recognizing the business behaviors that create them in the first place. To effectively identify the areas of your company that bring harmful returns, you must perform an evaluation of your entire operation.

Before you start re-evaluating your company, consider evaluating yourself or the leadership of your business. That may be the board, partnership or an individual. Look at those who are influencers and find out about their core values. This may be easier than you think.

Spending time with people can tell you quite a bit about that person. If it is a dinner meeting, observe how they treat the wait staff; if it’s a golf match, see how they handle a bad shot; if it’s at a dinner party, see if they include other people in their conversation, or does the conversation just revolve around them? Do they provide solutions and the action steps to create them, or are they afraid to speak up and state what they feel and why? Are they good listeners?

In the end, would you believe, like, and trust this individual, and if the answer is “yes,” you have defined a good set of core values. You should be honest and straightforward. You shouldn’t put profits before people. You should do what’s right and not just easy. You should put your customer and employees first, and make sure your team members know you’re always trying to do what is right.

Once you have the correct core values, the next step is simply putting the correct processes and procedures in place to make your business succeed.

Making good profits simply means you constantly re-evaluate yourself, your team, your customer service processes, and your products and services and constantly try to make improvement. These improvements do not necessarily have to be major changes; they can be minor tweaks that provide major improvement

In order for business to succeed longer, a company’s leadership must have a laser focus on good profits, and create the correct processes and procedures that eliminate bad profits.

Kevin Coughlin, DMD, MBA, MAGD is an accomplished dentist, author and speaker. With his unique and powerful message, Kevin provides small businesses with actionable solutions when considering strategic change, as well as keys to compete in an expansive market.

The 12 Factors that Build Phenomenal Leaders

By Dr. Kevin Coughlin

Dr Kevin Coughlin

When you think of leadership you are actually thinking about influence. At its core, leadership is really about the influences on the people around you, and the ability to move them in certain direction to obtain certain goals or objectives.

When looking for leadership in your business or organization—perhaps in yourself—there are several factors that are part of all great leaders. Consider the following 12 factors to improve your leadership skills or help you identify those individuals in your organization that can take over leadership positions.

  1. Motivation: Motivation is a huge key to any successful enterprise. Remember what motivates one person may not motivate another. True leaders can quickly identify motivating factors in an individual, in order to move them or influence them in a certain direction. Some of the strongest motivators include money, fear, time and power. In most cases individuals will be motivated by several factors, however one factor will prove to be the dominant one. When you find out what it is and how to use it your ability to influence will be greatly improved.
  2. Tolerance: Tolerance is really the ability to respect others views, without selling yourself out. It is of utmost importance to understand where the people or organization are coming from and to realize that they may not understand your position. In order to accomplish this you must be an excellent communicator.
  3. Trust: Trust is necessary to create the right environment. Consider the three sides of a triangle—or the BLT, which stands for Believe, Like, and Trust. Your goal is always to attempt to have individuals and businesses Believe, Like and Trust you and your organization. When you accomplish this you are well on your way to professional and personal success.
  4. Purpose: Purpose is your mission—the driving forces behind your business. You should clearly know and understand your purpose and the purpose of the individuals around you. In some cases, your team may not fully understand the real purpose of their job or their organization. It is a leader’s job to effectively convey their mission and purpose to others. Leaders know their purpose and the purpose of those around them.
  5. Vision: All leaders have a clear vision, which is really what the ideal future will look like. It is important that a vision include values, and it is critical that good leadership make sure that the people and organization agree with your vision. When a leader’s vision does not match the organizational vision in you will have problems.
  6. Attitude: This may seem like a small thing, but a positive attitude can make a big difference and conversely a negative attitude can also make a big difference—but not in a good way. People and organizations feed off of leaders, and those with positive attitudes will receive the best response.
  7. Awareness: A leader’s awareness is the understanding of not just their own identity, but the identity of the people around them and their organization they represent. Each and every individual has a core identity, and the awareness to understand that core will improve your leadership.
  8. Determination: It is impossible to become an effectual leader without this trait. Failure often accompanies leadership, and those who are not determined will never get off the mat and pull themselves back up. When determination start to disappear, leadership will begin to fail. Determination never takes a vacation or gets sick; it should be working every day.
  9. Faith: A great leader must have faith that they will succeed, but equally as important is that they have faith in the people and organization around them. The best leaders believe in themselves, and it is critical that in order for your organization and the people around you to believe in you, you first believe in yourself.
  10. Inspiration: Leaders are always looking for new ideas and different places to find them. Leaders are not afraid to solicit new ideas from others. Businesses constantly need new ideas to improve their products and or services, and some of the best ideas are inspired by something or someone.
  11. Willpower: Effective leaders know how to control their emotions and do not allow others to control their emotions or dictate their reactions. Willpower is critical for all leaders and is absolutely necessary to succeed. Life and business are very similar things will almost never go as planned so be prepared.
  12. Patience: Patience means that no matter what the challenge is a leader never gives up. Your business and people around you sense this and respond to it. Patience goes hand-in-hand with commitment, which means that when a leader says something, they do something. They take action steps, they set examples and when this is done people and organizations respond.

It’s interesting how patience appears last on the list, however success and effective leadership happen over time and not overnight.

Kevin Coughlin, DMD, MBA, MAGD is an accomplished dentist, author and speaker. With his unique and powerful message, Kevin provides small businesses with actionable solutions when considering strategic change, as well as keys to compete in an expansive market.