Category Archives: Tron Jordheim

Craft a Customer-Centric Culture in Your Business

By Tron JordheimTron Jordheim

There are plenty of places to rent tools and equipment in any town, anywhere. When people need to rent a post-hole auger or a trencher, many go to the local, family-owned equipment rental shop—because of the experience. It is not a sparkling clean place. In fact, it looks a bit like a glorified tool shed, with all the grease and dust one might expect. They haven’t built their business and retained their customers for decades because of the décor; their regulars return because of the staff-customer relationship that makes renting at their business an enjoyable, personal experience. They appreciate that when they walk through those dusty doors, the employees know their name and their needs.

We all have our own shopping styles and preferences. No matter how you slice it, shopping and buying comes down to basic pain and pleasure stimuli and responses—we are subject to conditioning. Places and actions that we associate with pleasure we seek to experience again, and we seek to avoid experiences that cause us pain. Your customers go through this process during every contact they have with you, and it’s paramount that when they leave your establishment, they leave glowing with a desire to return.

Craft a customer-centric culture: focus on their experience from point-of-entry to point-of-sale to increase growth and retention.

There are five touchstones to establishing a customer-centric culture, and putting them into practice will give you a leg up on your competition.

Audit Your Customers’ Experience: An experience-audit aids in identifying your customer type, and allows you to model your business based on their needs. When you put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you know best how to serve them—and build a profitable business in the process.

Put yourself in the mind of your customer by conducting a simple audit of the pains and pleasures involved in your business. Make two columns on a piece of paper and title one Pain and the other Pleasure and walk through the entire process your customer walks through while dealing with you. Track each individual perception of pain or pleasure—you may be surprised at the number of negatives. Do the pains and pleasures correspond with the type of business or service you provide and with the types of customers you have?

Learn Your Regulars: Local, family owned equipment shops have become a staple because the owners and staff created relationships with their regulars. They built a culture and environment of ‘the neighborhood rental shop,’ where their customers knew they could go for their equipment needs, but also friendly conversation, teasing and jokes from the staff—where you’re expected, as the customer, to engage in the banter and give it right back.

Your regulars become your mouthpiece in the market: recruiting new business and customers simply by word-of-mouth praise. When you form longstanding relationships with your regulars and recognize their individual likes and dislikes, you can tailor an experience that feels distinctly personalized and negates any inherent pain that accompanies your industry—which will generate business success with increased customer growth.

Hire Staff That Mirror Your Culture: All the time and effort that you exert to make your business a one-of-a-kind, individualized experience is negated if your staff does not mirror these values and ideals. Your employees are the keepers of your culture: the ones who maintain your operating standards, customer-service practices and the atmosphere that distinguishes you from a similar shop down the street.

You must be meticulous with your hiring practices to ensure you’re bringing the correct people onboard. Reject candidates that do not parallel your customer-centric model. Instill in your new hires the magnitude of your business philosophy.

Don’t Overcomplicate and Trust in Feedback: There are occasions when business owners actually diminish their customers’ experience in an attempt to overcomplicate their service practices. A prime example of this occurred at a local grocery store during their first year in business. Customers would often leave their carts throughout the parking lot. The owners and staff did not have return racks for carts because they did not want to convey an obligation for their customers to return them to the store—they wanted them to leave them in the lot for the employees’ to collect. While a nice sentiment in theory, in practice they were creating a parking lot situation full of obstacles and potential damage to their customers’ vehicles.

After receiving feedback throughout the year, they decided to install permanent return racks in the parking lot, and while it requires a bit more effort on the part of their customers, they no longer have to navigate a minefield of carts or risk damage when they come to shop.

Considering any and all feedback is a paramount component to running a thriving business. Your experience-audit will assist in determining their validity, but you should always take heed to what your customers are saying. Your customer service practices should be organic and seamless and never overcomplicate their shopping experience.

The Product and Service Parallel: If the product you sell or the service you provide does not live up to your customer service, than your patrons will not return. All of the perks of choosing your business over your competition go out the window when what you offer fails to live up to expectations.

There must be a direct parallel between the way you treat your customers and what you provide them—if you don’t, your base will begin to dwindle. They may head to the shop down the road that doesn’t nail the customer service aspect, but they always receive the service or product they expect once they leave.

Shopping or conducting business should not feel like a chore best avoided: it should be an enjoyable experience, one that your customers desire to repeat. A customer-centric culture defines you, and will carve out your share in the market as the place to go—and put you ahead of the competition.

Tron Jordheim is the CMO of StorageMart, one of the world’s largest privately held self-storage companies with locations across the U.S. and Canada. He has helped lead the company to double-digit revenue growth for the last four years by embracing digital marketing and call center support. Jordheim has consulted for companies and spoken at trade events in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Spain and Mexico. Prior to StorageMart, Jordheim managed one of Culligan Water’s top U.S. bottled water franchises. With 40+ years of experience in sales, marketing and training, he continues to be sought after as a public speaker, sales trainer and consultant. For more information, visit www.tronjordheim.com.

What Sort Of Executive Are You?

By Tron JordheimExecutive Style, by Tron Jordheim

You may know your business or your industry well. But do you know anything about yourself? Forward thinking executives and business leaders evaluate their employees and clients to help better understand work styles and personality types.

Sales trainers try to understand the types of buyers their sales people are talking to and how those buyers will make purchasing decisions. Marketers try to understand the personality types that one can reach out to and how those personalities will receive a message. Understanding the types of people one works with is important knowledge especially for executives.

Peter F. Drucker put forward a simple and basic mission for executives: “get the right things done.” Knowing what motivates clients and employees makes it possible to know what those right things might be. Being an effective leader is what makes it possible to know how to get those right things done. Successful executives look at their own leadership styles and examine how those styles impact the ability to get the right things done.

Depending on what needs to be done and depending on who needs to take action, an executive’s leadership style could be quite different from moment to moment. If an organization is preparing to launch a new service offering to its client base, a good leader would make sure the offering is crafted correctly and talked about effectively.

If that same executive is taking a group of sales people to a trade show in order to attract new clients, then he or she would need to cheer on the team as it tries to win against competitors for the orders of clients. In the normal day to day course of business, executives tend to default to their most comfortable or most natural personal style. What sort of executive are you?

Executive Style 1: The General

The General likes organizational discipline and a rigid and sensible approach to managing the workforce, defining missions and conquering objectives. He or she likes to spend time strategizing, studying the competitors and the surrounding business environment for signs of weakness or opportunity. The General sees business as war, the competitors as enemies and sees his employees as troops.

This may seem like an antiquated idea in an era where war is no longer one nation versus another, but there are many important aspects of the general persona that can help executives. Sun Tzu’s advice in The Art of War is still being well used by business strategists. Carl von Clausewitz’s Principles of War is still a best seller. An executive who understands organizational discipline, cohesive and consistent training processes, supply-line management, contingency planning and the collection of intelligence is going to be successful.

Doesn’t every business leader want to plant their flag on their enemy’s hill? The downfall to the General is that there is no experimentation, innovation or discussion allowed. If a change or initiative is to take shape, it must come from the top down.

Executive Style 2: The Tribal Chief

The tribal chief is not just a political or military leader as the general is, but is also a leader in culture, lifestyle and belief systems. A tribe does not just have to be an extended family group, but it often feels like one. A tribal leader usually is intertwined with legend.

There are some great examples in American history of how impactful tribal leaders can be. Think of Tecumseh of the Shawnee. He quickly inspired a large number of people to move with great intensity towards a common goal. Look at some of the modern tribes in present-day American popular culture: Jerry Garcia and his friends in the Grateful Dead created a tribe that followed them around the world supporting their jam philosophy. George Clinton of the Funkadelics still leads a tribe of funk fans who support his idea of outrageous enjoyments. Steve Jobs became a tribal leader of Apple product devotees.

Wouldn’t every business executive want to lead a company with a following like Apple’s? The difficulty with being a tribal chief is that chiefs fall out of fashion and tribal members often leave to follow other interests. Tribes break up as easily as they form sometimes.

Executive Style3: The Sports Coach

Whether you are a sports’ fan or not, you have seen one coach or another become the figurehead and leader of a school or a city. The idea of gathering your team for a quick tactical review huddle before putting them back out on the field where they make the big play in the last seconds of the game to win the big trophy is very appealing.

The hard fact about coaching is that for every second of point-scoring exhilaration, there are hours and hours of recruiting, training, practice, study, research, discussion, preparation and anxiety. Sports and business do share some commonalities. Recruiting, training, research, preparation and anxiety are some of them.

Sport coaches know their business is all about the fun and the thrill of victory, but they also understand clearly how that all relates to cash flow and asset appreciation. A sports coach can fall short when people in the organization do not relate to sports analogies or are not driven by team competition.

Executive Style 4: The Spoiled Brat

Sometimes a boss always wants to get his or her own way. There are some executives who not are interested in the talent their people bring, but only in production. These types of executives usually like to bark orders and berate people who don’t complete tasks exactly the way the executive wanted them done.

There are times the Spoiled Brat will have a temper tantrum or suddenly change his or her mind about a task just to throw people off balance. There are times the Spoiled Brat will confuse himself or herself with the General. But, the General will hold composure and keep the battle plan in mind even under pressure. When under pressure, the Spoiled Brat overreacts and lashes out until someone offers a pacifier.

The advantage the Spoiled Brat has is that people do react quickly and try to make this type of executive happy in order to avoid those tantrums. The downside of the Spoiled Brat is just that: a spoiled brat!

Conclusion

There are many personas one could imagine to describe your default executive style. The keys to being an effective executive are to know the strengths and weaknesses of your default executive style or persona and then to be able to adopt a different persona as conditions or circumstances require.

You may need to be the strategizing general today while you prepare for a long range planning retreat with your board and tomorrow you might need to be the sports coach cheering for your company at a meeting of mid level managers. Which persona is going to get the right things done in which set of circumstances? That is the executive you should be.

Tron Jordheim is the CMO of StorageMart, one of the world’s largest privately held self-storage companies with locations across the U.S. and Canada. He has helped lead the company to double-digit revenue growth for the last four years by embracing digital marketing and call center support. Jordheim has consulted for companies and spoken at trade events in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Spain and Mexico. Prior to StorageMart, Jordheim managed one of Culligan Water’s top U.S. bottled water franchises. With 40+ years of experience in sales, marketing and training, he continues to be sought after as a public speaker, sales trainer and consultant. For more information, visit www.tronjordheim.com.

There Is No Good Way to Manage People, But We Have To Try Anyway

By Tron JordheimTron Jordheim

“People are people” the old saying goes. That means everyone brings their own personal baggage with them to work. People make poor choices, act rashly and defend their own comfort zones. People have agendas all their own that often have nothing to do with the work agenda that you, as the manager, are promoting.

Sometimes the selfish and petty things people do are no surprise. Some employees repeat a behavior that has been seen before many times if you let them. Infighting, jealousy, jockeying for position and defending turf are pretty normal behaviors. Sometimes the selfish and petty behavior is quite a surprise.

In contrast, every workplace has people who perform well, take care of themselves, are supportive of others on the team when needed and keep below the radar.

The best managers try hard to motivate and guide their people to meet agreed-upon goals. Procedures, protocols and guidelines are put in place to help keep things fair and organized. Feedback, motivation and direction are given. But at the end of the day, good managers realize that there is no good way to manage people.

But since managing people is the key to any business success, you have to try anyway.

There are many books on people management, and you may have practiced all the different styles. If you boil all down the great people management advice as much as you can, there are really only two things to do. One is to make sure your staff is getting ongoing training, feedback, correction and motivation for all their work related behaviors. The other thing you can do is to leave your people alone and let them work. The trick is to know what to do with with each person.

Here are some ways you can try:

Best Practices: Try to create models of best performance and best practices for employees to learn, to copy and to aspire to. You can create goals, requirements and performance thresholds to use as measurement tools. Be fair and consistent in enforcing performance requirements and work rules and be honest with them in your assessment of business conditions, in your communication of company policies and your feelings about their performance.

Know Your People: Try to get to know each of your people so you can find the right way to approach them, motivate and correct each of them. Spend a little time with each of your direct reports and encourage them to spend time with each of their direct reports. Spending time together helps solidify team-work, helps clarify any issues and helps to make sure you and your people are being accountable to each other.

Communicate: Stop relying on email and memos; have personal conversations with the people in your group. Allow your people to be honest with you. Spend at least a little personal time with each person every month if you can. Learn to be a good listener. Your will learn a lot about how to deal with your people if you hear what they say.

Leave Well Enough Alone: Sometimes managers feel that people can perform better and can produce more, but if employees have found a comfortable and satisfactory balance it is best not to disturb. Resist the temptation to over mange them.

There are times your people just need to be left alone to do their jobs. Some days you will work hard to mold people’s behavior and performance when what they really needed was to be left alone to do their jobs. Some days you will leave people alone when what they really needed was to be working with someone. Try to ask yourself each day, who needs time from me today? Ask yourself who needs to be left alone?

If you allow yourself to admit that there is no good way to manage people, you can do your company a lot of good by trying to be a better manager every day. Work on best practices, get to know your people, communicate personally, and above all leave well enough alone. If you try too hard to manage people or if you go too far in attempting to manage behavior, you’ll end up throwing your hands up in the air and declaring there is no good way to manage people!

Tron Jordheim is the CMO of StorageMart, one of the world’s largest privately held self-storage companies with locations across the U.S. and Canada. He has helped lead the company to double digit revenue growth for the last four years by embracing digital marketing and call center support. Jordheim has consulted for companies and spoken at trade events in the U.S., Canada, The U.K., Spain and Mexico. Prior to StorageMart, Jordheim managed one of Culligan Water’s top U.S. bottled water franchises. With 40+ years of experience in sales, marketing and training, he continues to be sought after as a public speaker, sales trainer and consultant. For more information, visit www.tronjordheim.com.