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A lot of information this month: credit card changes; solving customer issues; a book that can help with problems and leaderships; a calculator to help with markdowns
Tom Shay
Profits Plus Solutions
May 2017
Volume 18 Issue 6

MasterCard's #2 and airlines

Thanks to our friends at MMBA for the heads up on a change in the credit card system that can affect everyone. As you accept credit cards, you have always seen that American Express cards begin with a 3; MasterCard with a 5; Discover cards with a 6 and Visa with a 4. Now MasterCard can begin with a 2. Before that first "2" card is presented to you for a transaction, you should be checking with your credit card processor to make sure the appropriate updates have been done to the system so that the card will process correctly.

A person has to be "off the grid" to not have heard about the challenges that United and American Airlines have had in the past few weeks. Most of us would see this as a news story with little chance of it affecting us. However, on an American flight last week it happened.

Sitting near the back of the plane, all the way from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia I and everyone else if the back third of the plane rode through a storm and were unwilling participants in overhearing a conversation as one flight attendant was telling another flight attendant all about their job.

In short the commentary was, "I don't have to put up with this anymore". It was followed by the details of their age, 62, along with how much their social security would be along with the amount of their monthly pension check. We also got to hear the details of what is going to be a union contract negotiation to occur in 2018.

The bottom line? A problem can go a lot further and last a long longer than we might initially believe. In this case, employees are dragging out what has already been a bad experience for the airline. It can happen in our businesses as well.
Here are our eight steps for solving a problem before it gets out of hand:

1. Tell the customer, "Thank you" for telling you about the problem. Most won't but will instead post it on Facebook, Yelp, Google or Trip Advisor.
2. Ask the customer to explain their concern.
3. Let them "Vent"; research shows the average length of venting is 45 seconds.
4. Take notes. It shows you are interested.
5. Ask questions. If the customer is going on and on, asking a question requires them to pause.
6. Ask what you can do to resolve the situation. Experimentation has shown that the customer will ask for less than what you are willing to offer as a solution.
7. Take care of it immediately.
8. Follow up - a call or written note.

Article of the Month - Assumed Sales

The article for May is about the need to focus on sales skills. As business owners we spend plenty of money on various forms of advertising. Unfortunately for many, when the customer responds we do not actively engage the sales skills necessary to close the deal. If we are not going to have our people use sales skills then we should consider diminishing the number of employees we have to those who are just "cashiers".

This article shows how a few techniques can make a big difference.

Book of the Month - Boundaries for Leaders

During the month of April I had the opportunity to visit many business owners as a part of my working with a Main Street community. There was a frequently stated concern among business owners; being overworked with the challenge having a very direct relation to their employees. During each visit you could see situations of employers doing jobs the employees should do; lack of responsibility by employees; and lack of buy in by employees.

This month's book suggestion can help address these concerns. Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud. This book can help with helping you as a leader know where and how to establish the guidelines and boundaries for your employees.

Internet Tool for Your Business - Planned markdowns
The Internet tool for May is one we created based on observations we had of mass merchants. While the mass merchant buyer buyer determines the initial margin just as we do, they take an extra step. They think about what the price will be when they want to take a markdown to move out the balance of the inventory as well as deciding at what quantity on hand they are going to take that markdown.

Put all of these numbers together and that buyer knows what will be the maintained margin as they sell through all of the inventory as well as what the gross profit will be. Knowing the margin allows the buyer to make adjustments to either selling price or margin so as to influence the gross profit.

The calculator we created goes one step better; we allow you to create as many as three markdowns. Experience shows that using this calculator can improve  your bottom line.
Staff Incentive for Your Business - Just a word

Thinking about the businesses I have visited over the last two weeks, I heard from many about the issues and concerns with their staff. Rightfully so; these owners of product and service businesses have challenges with their staff.

However, it is not all a problem. Even with the employee that is the biggest concern, what happens when you catch them doing something right? Is it a thought of, "Finally they are doing what I tell them"?

If the only word they hear from an owner is when you catch them doing something wrong, they must think there is no way they can win.

Just a word (or two); as small as the achievement may be, tell the employee thanks; tell them you appreciate the effort. This may not turn someone into a superstar in your business, but both of you will feel better with just a word.

We want to recognize A Carrot A Day by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, whose book provides the basis for each month's incentive idea.

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(727) 464-2182
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