Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another Excerpt From the Book "Hiring and the Potter's Wheel"

Here is another excerpt from my new book. You can buy it here.

Chapter 6 Lesson #2 Wedging
“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” – Gloria Steinem

Mary was ready when Dr. Scott entered the deli.

“So, what did you learn last night?”

“I learned that even if you have the right raw ingredients, you can still make two mistakes that will keep your pottery from turning out right. First, you have to select the right amount. Too much and you can’t work with it, too little and you can’t get anything done.

“The same is true about hiring new people. If we hire too many people they won’t have enough to do. They’ll get bored, complacent or lazy. Too few and we run the risk of burning them out by overwhelming them with too much to do, or worse yet, they can’t get the job done.

“I thought about this last night, and I think the company was right in choosing twenty. Based on the vision they have laid out, twenty should be perfect.”

“And what about the second lesson?” Dr. Scott asked.

“That was the fun part. We wedged our clay bodies by slamming them against the table. I still ache from that,” Mary said rubbing her arms.

“So are you saying you need to slam your trainees?” Dr. Scott queried.

“No, not slam them. But we do need to make sure we get all the impurities out, all of the air bubbles in their previous trainings. I guess I was thinking of the air bubbles as being bad habits they may have picked up, or even ways they were trained to do things that are different from our ways. We have to get rid of their bad habits before they crack,” Mary added with a smile.

Dr. Scott chuckled.

Mary continued, “It really comes down to setting the right expectations from the start. I know that the training program has to be clearly defined. In fact, I’m going to be working on the training manual this weekend to make sure our new vision is distinctly outlined.”

As they continued to talk and eat, Dr. Scott said, “I think you’re getting a handle on this. I’d love to keep meeting with you, but I’ve got a conference next week. Would you like to meet the week after that on Tuesday or Thursday?”

“Thursday’s fine. I’ve got plenty to do until then. Oh, Dr. Scott, thank you again. You’ve been such a big help.”

Transform your staff into a work of art. Buy a copy of the book today.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Excerpt From the Book "Hiring and the Potter's Wheel"

Here is an excerpt from my new book, "Hiring and the Potter's Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art"

Flipping through her Rolodex, Mary knew she needed help. And there it was. Dr. Scott, of all people, her least favorite professor. Mary could still picture Dr. Scott peering over his wire-rim reading glasses as he handed back her assignments each time saying his catch phrase, “You can do better.” Although hard on every student, Dr. Scott had been especially tough on Mary. No matter how much effort she put into her work, Dr. Scott would still say, “You can do better.” The students often laughed that he should tattoo the phrase on his forehead and save his breath. Yet, each time he said it, Mary became more resolved to show him improvement. The more he pushed her, the more she did. Mary always felt that Dr. Scott disliked her immensely. She couldn’t have been more surprised on graduation day when he told her how proud he was of what she had accomplished – first in her class, Summa Cum Laude. Beaming like a proud father, he handed her his business card saying, “I push hardest on those I believe have the most potential. You certainly lived up to my expectations. Call me if you ever need help.”

Mary laughed at the memory, thinking at the time that this was one card she’d be glad to toss. But she found a pocket beneath her graduation gown and tucked it away. When she bought her first Rolodex, somehow his card found its way in.

Now she looked at the card. Should she call? Mary feared that all he would say was, “You can do better,” and she had no response. Doubts and fears battled across her mind.

She was muddled on what to do. Mary glanced at the memo staring back at her. Twenty great sales reps in three months. She had to find them, hire them, and train them with no room for error.

Mary picked up the phone and dialed. “He’s probably not even there,” she thought.

To her surprise, Dr. Scott picked up on the third ring...

Would you like an easy-to-follow method that takes your hiring and training to a new level? The book is an enjoyable read and will produce results for you immediately.

Here are a couple testimonials from the first batch of books sold...

I just read the book last night, cover to cover--I loved it! As a store owner, I thought the information was invaluable. I struggle with the correct steps to take in hiring and training new staff. The steps laid out in this book are so easy to follow...common sense really. The story was one that you didn't want to put ...down. Following the process of someone learning pottery, was a beautiful way of describing just how we are to create a "work of art" staff. Thanks Phil!

-Julie Wells, Imagination Station, Franklin, IN

I just received Phil's book yesterday. If you didn't purchase it at market you should order it. It is a easy read and worth the money if you struggle with hiring good employees. Phil, great job on the book, I started it this morning and didn't want to put it down.

-Connie Hoeft, CR Toys, Kearney, NB

Buy it today right here. Happy hiring!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who is Your BFF?

Had lunch today with one of my best friends. Good food, good conversation, and more than a few laughs.

Got me thinking about why he's my friend. We certainly have common interests - go to the same church, hang out with the same people, have boys of a similar age. But there are more than a few people that fit that profile with whom I am not close friends.

Why him over others?

Two reasons come to mind...
  1. Shared experiences
  2. Insider information
Shared Experiences

We've done a lot together over the past 15 years - parties, kid events, Red Wings games, travel. Just the proximity of doing things together builds a bond of friendship. Taking our kids to the fireworks, grilling in the backyard, and spending New Year's Eve together bring us even closer.

Insider Information

You can't do that much together and not know a little more about a person than the average public knows. Yeah, we share some secrets. More importantly, because we know how each other ticks, we know how to act and react appropriately to keep the friendship humming. Those insights are part of the glue that holds our friendship together.

That's why we're BFF's.

Here's a question for you...

How do you turn your customers into BFF's?

I believe it's the same way - Shared Experiences & Insider Information. When you actively get involved in their visits by getting to know more about them and sharing more about yourself, you will quickly find those customers becoming more loyal and more vocal about you.

There are thousands of people who fit the profile of what your perfect customer should be, but few of them are loyal, vocal customers. Put your focus on getting to know them and sharing experiences in your store with them and that will change. They will soon be your new BFF's.


Friday, June 18, 2010

New eBook on Inventory Management

Cash is King.

And in retail, your cash is primarily tied up in your inventory.

But what would happen if you earned an extra 20 cents for every dollar you have in inventory? Multiply your average inventory times 0.2. What do you get? Extra money to play with. Extra money to pay yourself, to invest in your business, to spend attracting new customers.

Is that number worth 30 minutes of your time?

That's how long it will take for you to read my new free eBook - Inventory Management: Cash is King.

And in those 1800 seconds you'll learn simple easy ways to unlock the money tied up in your inventory.

What are you waiting for?


Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Easy Way to Solve a Tough Problem

Finding solutions to tough problems is not as hard as you think, especially when you understand Business Problem Topology.

Roy H. Williams first taught me the concept of Business Problem Topology through his trilogy of "Wizard of Ads" books.

Then he taught it to me again during a visit to Wizard Academy in May 2005.

And when I applied it to a problem I had, it worked!

Business Problem Topology is when you take a problem you are having and look where a problem with similar characteristics may have already been solved. Solomon tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. Therefore, any problem you have is nothing new. Someone once had a problem like it.

I had a problem. Mine was hiring good people. In the toy business we hire a large number of temporary workers for the Christmas season. They need to be trained and ready to go in short order.

For years I struggled with this problem - until I applied Business Problem Topology. My problem? Trying to create a finished product that was strong, useful and beautiful - a work of art - in a small window of time. I needed a process that consistently turned out a beautiful, useful finished product. So I asked myself... What art is consistently strong, useful and beautiful?


So I began exploring how to craft pottery. And there lay the answer. The steps a potter takes to create a work of art to last centuries are the same steps a business owner can take to hire and train a staff that is a work of art. (I already showed you the first step here.)

Now I have a book that shows you how to apply all of the steps of a potter to your hiring and training.

The book is titled, "Hiring & the Potter's Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art". You can buy it online at my website. (or at Toy House for you local readers)

It is an easy read. The nine steps I outline are told in a story about a young HR person named Mary hired by a start-up company that is experiencing growing pains. As Mary learns, so will you. And if you apply these same techniques in your business, you'll see a huge change in the quality and skills of the people you hire and train. I know. I use it every day. It's my dirty little secret for having awesome customer service. And I'm sharing it with you.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm Going to Learn

Next week I'll be attending the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy 2010 in Providence, RI. Four days of workshops, keynotes, small group discussions, panels and a mini-trade show.

I'm going to learn.

I'm going to learn new ways to improve my marketing.

I'm going to learn new ways to train and motivate my staff.

I'm going to learn how to increase our profit so that we can weather tough economic times and grow in the good times.

I'm going to learn about new games and new activities and new toys.

I'm going to meet new people, network with old friends, hear interesting stories.

I'm going to give a presentation on Inventory Management to help others learn from what I know.

Yes, I'm going to learn, because when you stop learning, you start dying. And I'm in no mood to stop learning.

What have you learned recently?


PS The most observant of you reading this post probably got the double meaning of the phrase "I'm going..."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Stand Up and Be Accounted!

Two nights ago I watched one of the most painful moments in baseball history. Yeah, I'm talking about my beloved Detroit Tigers and their pitcher getting robbed of a historic Perfect Game because of a blown call by the umpire on the final out.

That night, like a whole lot of Tigers fans and players, I was really angry at that ump. But a few hours later something happened that changed my mind.

Jim Joyce, the umpire, stood up and said, "I blew it. I kicked the (bleep) out of that call. I cost that kid a perfect game." He went into the Tigers' locker room and apologized to the face of both the pitcher and the manager. He went on radio and TV interviews and admitted his mistake and took his medicine.

Speaking of medicine, there were a lot of people expecting him to get roundly booed out of town when he took his place behind home plate for the following game.

Funny thing happened on the way to field, though... Instead of yelling nasty things at him, the fans shouted encouragement. Instead of booing, they clapped. Even he was shocked at the response which brought a tear to his eyes. Instead of ripping him, the fans embraced him.

All because he stood up and admitted his mistake.

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. How we handle them, however, is both a testament to our character and show of our beliefs and values. Jim Joyce showed that he was a man of honor and integrity, and instead of being run out of town on a rail, he was praised for his accountability.

The same is true about your business. When you make a mistake, no matter how big or small, take responsibility for it. Stand up and be accountable. You'll be amazed at how quickly those whom you have wronged will be to forgive you. I know. I saw it happen yesterday in Detroit.


PS Kudos to Detroit Pitcher Armando Gallaraga and Manager Jim Leyland for the class they displayed in handling this situation, too. Both showed incredible restraint and dignity throughout the last couple of days.

Amazing what happens when you show a little class and character, isn't it?