Tag Archives: Blog

Performance Management and your YMCA Program Directors

Attention:  Our Blog has been transferred to our new website.  Our new website will go live late next week.  We are excited to present it to you and all our clients. Back to the YMCA…

Does your Fitness, Aquatics, Youth, Camps, Special Programs, etc have a tendency to end up in their own silo’s? In many Y’s these program directors tend to get bogged down in their own world and do not see the other departments around them.  Break free and Climb Higher!

Side Note:  In a larger YMCA (even with a single location) the importance of a Chief Operating Officer is critical for managing performance and communications across the program boundaries.

Performance Management aligns the actions and plans of program departments to that of the CEO and Board’s Strategic Plan.  And provides performance measures, systems of accountability, communications, and how to manage the process to achieve the strategic objectives of the Y.

Many organizations do not review the foundation and structure of their Y before creating a strategic plan.  Once they try to execute a strategic plan they discover that the organization structure does not support the plan needs and demands.  The plan must be built on the strengths of the organization structure.  Many times we adjust the organization structure for maximum performance, THEN design the plan, THEN guide our clients through successfully executing the plan, and THEN complete the objectives successfully.

Performance Management will help to better communication in your organization, increase production, boost member satisfaction and solidify teamwork.

If you are interested in speaking with us about our Performance Management system and how it provides your YMCA with a break-through method for managing and executing, please email us at:  info@theoctopussolution.com

YMCA Happy Members come from Your Welcome Center

ATTENTION:  OUR BLOG MAY BE DOWN TOMORROW (FRIDAY) MORNING FOR SEVERAL HOURS.  Our Amazing Website Developers are Embedding our Blog into our NEW WEBSITE which may cause our Business at your Best Blog to be down.  Our New Website will be going live in the next several days and will have all the content you need!  We are Excited to introduce our new Website to YOU! Back to YMCA’s….

“The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.” -Peter Drucker

The employees that deal with your YMCA members the most frequent are the ones that get paid minimum wage, have high turnover, are younger in age, or are not always fully trained.  YOUR WELCOME CENTER.  They “have to” know everything going on in the organization because that is where all members are going to go for information.  That is where all questions are going from inbound phone calls.

Think about the complexity of your program structure and the constantly changing dynamics: Schedules, cancelled classes, pool closings, emergency announcements, and the list goes on.  All of this, the welcome center staff needs to be able to handle.  If the staff can not handle it, it will lead to member confusion, frustration, anger and eventually dissatisfaction with the organizations service.  Then your members leave the YMCA and join another provider.

If the welcome center staff does not know the details of the daily happenings at the YMCA then chaos and mutiny will pursue.  A communication system needs to be built and it must be able to communicate with your members and amongst your employees.

Too many times we have seen frustration and arguments with members and a staff person that “should have known about…”  Fill in the blank.  It is very difficult for staff to be the all-knowing wizards of the YMCA.  However, we can arm the staff with as much information, organized in a method that levels the playing field of communication.

Contact us for our communication and operating method for your YMCA Welcome Center:  info@theoctopussolution.com

Have a Party!!!!

Events can be boring, formal, crap!  Throw a PARTY!

I do not like going to dull, formal, stuffy events just to meet other dull, boring, stuffy people.  I want to have fun on my time out of the office and meet exciting people that elevate my game and recharge my batteries.  You can build these amazing relationships for your company by hosting and attending events (good ones).  We have very busy schedules these days, so let’s make sure we are maximizing our time.

Currently, we are inundated with too much advertising, communications and marketing noise (like this blog!!! Run!) and it is hard for ads in traditional media to stick with someone anymore.  There is only so much space available in our brains and I have enough difficulty trying to remember to take out the trash on Mondays so my wife doesn’t yell at me, let alone remember all the emails and phone calls I have to return.  Stop, take a breath and slow life down to a pace that allows us to develop REAL IN-PERSON RELATIONSHIPS!!! Do you remember real relationship building, not on facebook or match.com or the thousands of other social sites?

Events are one huge way we can get directly in-front of customers. Many major marketing consulting firms are directing their clients to market to the “customer experience” as a means of building those in-person relationships. The customer experience is the active interaction between a potential customer and a company during an activity, event, or a time when people are socially interacting.  For example:  Every year the city of Boston hosts a festival/party on Earth Day and thousands of people show up to listen to music, hang out with friends and enjoy a great day…it is memorable.  Big name bands, free give-aways, a party atmosphere makes it something sponsoring companies want to be part of to take advantage of the experience the attendee’s are having.  This event develops a relationship with the attendees because of the fun, emotion and personal attachment to the special day.  People remember that they had a great time and wait for the event the following year. This emotional attachment is the customer experience.  Companies realize that there is an opportunity to be present or a sponsor of the event and have their company’s name associated with the emotions and fun happenings that people have during the day.  This creates brand association which is people relating the experience they have at the event with the vendors being represented at the event.

Since the average customer is probably not going to come knocking at your front door to see how the company has progressed in the last quarter, it is important to directly interact with your customer and the general public.

Be an active force within your industrial niche. Any sort of event where people gather with a common interest in relation to your company’s targeted demographic is the perfect marketing opportunity for your business to gain awareness.

For example, if you were to publicize the opening of a new retail store specializing in selling running shoes, attending a local foot race and passing out free drinks with a coupon or flyer advertising certain shoes in your store would be an ideal way to connect with a target audience that has a higher probability of need.

Stop with the boring social gatherings and start sexing life up and become BOLD!!! Think of what is most memorable in your life?  BOLD Things, Right?  Blockbuster movie, an amazing date, a huge deal closed, etc.  This is what we remember…the big stuff.  So get event marketing working for you.  It will build community, involvement, excitement, and memorable experienced attached to your business.

Tell us about the greatest event you have ever attended!

50 Ways To Help Run Your Business

There are approximately 30,000,000 small businesses in this country representing approximately 70% of the jobs.  It is what we do.  We are a nation of small business owners and employees working in the small business arena.  Big business may get the spotlight, but small business is the heartbeat of this country.

What does this mean and what can we learn from this?

We are born to compete.  Small business is were we do it.  Unfortunately we tend to do it by ourselves, alone without help, guidance, or support, isolated, committed and focused on our daily tasks.

I therefore offer you these guidelines, what I have learned from other business owners as they figure out what works and what doesn’t work.Here are some of  those ideas  that works that we have learned from our clients.american-flag

50 ways to run you business more effectively:

1. Get guidance and direction from other men, your own board of directors.  You will do better if you do. You cannot do it as well alone.

2. Numbers are the language of business, learn to use them and understand them, enough with the excuses.

3. Flat management is better then pyramidal organization, divest authority, grant responsibility and nurture leadership. Inspect but delegate.

4. Teams work best, far better then individual efforts, create teams, support them and let them succeed.

5. Key indicators are crucial to tracking, monitoring and thus managing your business succesfully. Use them.

6. Systems are critical for success at every level.  Create them, write them down, use them…No oral legacies.

7. Training is critical, accept this mandate and never stop training your employees. Create a career path based on training.

8. Have a business plan before you start up a new business or buy an existing business and make certain you have a cash flow proforma.  If you have not raised enough capital to launch your business, do not launch.  Wait, raise more, change your plan or cease the effort.

9. Incentive based reward systems work  very well and increase productivity and success.

10. Quality is king.

11. Be careful not to waste money on ineffective advertising.  Test before a full launch.

12. Use a web site and a blog, create relationships.  Web 2.0   blogging, video, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

13. Productivity is the key to profit, monitor it and make certain it is maintained at a very high level. Too much employment is self defeating.  Forget the concept of overtime, increase productivity first.

14. Profit over gross revenue.

15. Do not continue in business if you cannot figure out how to earn a profit as well as  take home a paycheck both are necessary.

16. Avoid personal guaranties at all costs.

17. Never allow your wife or family to sign anything.

18. Protect your home from business debt, there are many ways but the best is to not be in title on your home, or organize your assets effectively.

19. Make certain you always pay your payroll taxes, use a payroll service to force compliance.  Cease operations or make drastic changes if you cannot pay them.

20. Repeat business is incredibly important and very valuable.

21. Word of mouth promotion and marketing is the best form of advertising. References and testimonials are supreme.

22. Salespeople should always be compensated by commission.

23. Manage through action, set examples by doing.

24. Appreciate your employees, thank them for their effort and loyalty, support  their mistakes, errors and failed risks, it will pay you back many fold.

25. Quickbooks is most often the answer to effective accounting management systems.

26. Define your market niche and capitalize on it.

27. Ask your employees, customers and vendors how you are doing, take their advice seriously.

28. Leave your ego out of your business decisions.

29. Accept responsibility for your own errors, and reward and recognize the success and achievement of your employees.

30. Successful business is built around high quality employees, find them, keep them, train them,  build around them.

31. Take vacations often.

32. Keep your word…always.

33. Be generous.

34. Have a sales and marketing plan, review it often and make changes when necessary.

35. A successful business is successful because the owner knows how to run a successful business, not because of how good the product or service offered is.

36. Enjoy yourself, laugh, do not take yourself too seriously.

37. Give back, pay forward for those that dug the well for you to drink out of.

38. Debt can be dangerous, manage it effectively.

39. Do  not allow debt to upend your business or personal life.

40. As soon as you believe your debt will eventually bury you, do a pre-emptive workout.

41. Any debt can be worked out…any!

42. Always pay your payroll taxes but if you fail to, it too can be worked out.

43. If your revenues have declined, downsize your operation immediately. Excess payroll will kill you quickly and everyone will be out of work.

44. Your banker is the opposition when in default, do not listen to his demands or instructions. Get help.

45. Do not invade your IRA or 401k to pay down debt, no matter what your banker insists you do.

46. Do not hesitate to do a workout because of fear of credit blemishes, it can be rehabilitated.

47. Renegotiate everything, leases, vendor pricing, everything, this recession will last a long long time. Make adjustments now.

48. Re-define your business equation, the economy has changed you must change as well.

49. There are no employee issues, train your employees to be as good as you want them to be.

50. Enjoy your business life, you made the decision to be a small business owner, it can and should be very rewarding. Remember entrepreneurs  are unemployable, you had best make it work.

This is part of what we have learned  from our clients, we expect to learn much more.  We thank all our clients for showing us the way to succeed.

Get Organization, then Make More Money!

Before stepping into the fast and complex world of marketing you may want to make sure your ducks are in a row and that the proper foundation is laid to build on for marketing success.  Implementing an organizational board may seem simple and obvious because it is; however, the management system that relies upon its basic outline is more complex. The entire success of your business can rely on something as simple as an org board and chain of command.  Before any kind of change can be made within your business, the Org Board must first be designed.

A typical organizational chart, like the ones found in many companies throughout the world typically only shows name, rank, title, and branch. What do these words even mean in terms of actual responsibility or execution or clarity?

Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.” – Colin Powell (Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff: 1989-93 )

Thank you Mr. Powell. We couldn’t agree more. An organizational chart filled with meaningless names serves as nothing more than an office decoration. Within The Octopus Solution Performance Management Board, each department of your business is controlled by one personn: an employee responsible for the people and duties within that department.  Each position on the org board has been assigned the following: Name, Chain of Command, Objective(s), Responsibilities, and Statistics.

Director: This person is responsible for completing the objectives and fulfilling the responsibilities of the designated department.  In your business, if you are a single owner, you may be the Director of each and every department.   Each Director is equal to another because each job is just as important as the next.

Objective: The objective of the department represents the goal. For example, the objective of the Marketing may be to bring new customers into the business.   (Sales is responsible for the close)

Responsibilities: Each and every responsibility for Every position in the organization for each person will be listed on the Org Board.  This will drastically reduce confusion and poor communication.  It will also help people clearly see where they fit in the business and how there rolls impact the rest of the organization.

Performance Measures: To remove emotion from decision making abut performance you want to define what the business wants a specific job to product as a product.  For example:  you may want to receive statistics from your sales team on number of outgoing correspondence vs. number of meetings vs. proposals  vs. closed deals.  This will help you forecast and measure employees and determine where they need help.

The second part is communication.  We have talked about this in past blog, but the most important part is to keep a single means of agreed upon communication among all staff so that there is no miss understanding.

We have touched on the high level of an Organization Board, which we call an Executable Organization Board because you can see action being taken place with this ever-changing board.

50 Ways to Succeed….What Works

There are approximately 30,000,000 small businesses in this country representing approximately 70% of the jobs.  It is what we do.  We are a nation of small business owners and employees working in the small business arena.  Big business may get the spotlight, but small business is the heartbeat of this country.

What does this mean and what can we learn from this?

We are born to compete.  Small business is were we do it.  Unfortunately we tend to do it by ourselves, alone without help, guidance, or support, isolated, committed and focused on our daily tasks.

I therefore offer you these guidelines, what I have learned from other business owners as they figure out what works and what doesn’t work.

Here are some of  those ideas  that works that I have learned from my clients.american-flag

50 ways to run you business more effectively:

1. Get guidance and direction from other men, your own board of directors.  You will do better if you do. You cannot do it as well alone.

2. Numbers are the language of business, learn to use them and understand them, enough with the excuses.

3. Flat management is better then pyramidal organization, divest authority, grant responsibility and nurture leadership. Inspect but delegate.

4. Teams work best, far better then individual efforts, create teams, support them and let them succeed.

5. Key indicators are crucial to tracking, monitoring and thus managing your business succesfully. Use them.

6. Systems are critical for success at every level.  Create them, write them down, use them…No oral legacies.

7. Training is critical, accept this mandate and never stop training your employees. Create a career path based on training.

8. Have a business plan before you start up a new business or buy an existing business and make certain you have a cash flow proforma.  If you have not raised enough capital to launch your business, do not launch.  Wait, raise more, change your plan or cease the effort.

9. Incentive based reward systems work  very well and increase productivity and success.

10. Quality is king.

11. Be careful not to waste money on ineffective advertising.  Test before a full launch.

12. Use a web site and a blog, create relationships.  Web 2.0   blogging, video, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

13. Productivity is the key to profit, monitor it and make certain it is maintained at a very high level. Too much employment is self defeating.  Forget the concept of overtime, increase productivity first.

14. Profit over gross revenue.

15. Do not continue in business if you cannot figure out how to earn a profit as well as  take home a paycheck both are necessary.

16. Avoid personal guaranties at all costs.

17. Never allow your wife or family to sign anything.

18. Protect your home from business debt, there are many ways but the best is to not be in title on your home, or organize your assets effectively.

19. Make certain you always pay your payroll taxes, use a payroll service to force compliance.  Cease operations or make drastic changes if you cannot pay them.

20. Repeat business is incredibly important and very valuable.

21. Word of mouth promotion and marketing is the best form of advertising. References and testimonials are supreme.

22. Salespeople should always be compensated by commission.

23. Manage through action, set examples by doing.

24. Appreciate your employees, thank them for their effort and loyalty, support  their mistakes, errors and failed risks, it will pay you back many fold.

25. Quickbooks is most often the answer to effective accounting management systems.

26. Define your market niche and capitalize on it.

27. Ask your employees, customers and vendors how you are doing, take their advice seriously.

28. Leave your ego out of your business decisions.

29. Accept responsibility for your own errors, and reward and recognize the success and achievement of your employees.

30. Successful business is built around high quality employees, find them, keep them, train them,  build around them.

31. Take vacations often.

32. Keep your word…always.

33. Be generous.

34. Have a sales and marketing plan, review it often and make changes when necessary.

35. A successful business is successful because the owner knows how to run a successful business, not because of how good the product or service offered is.

36. Enjoy yourself, laugh, do not take yourself too seriously.

37. Give back, pay forward for those that dug the well for you to drink out of.

38. Debt can be dangerous, manage it effectively.

39. Do  not allow debt to upend your business or personal life.

40. As soon as you believe your debt will eventually bury you, do a pre-emptive workout.

41. Any debt can be worked out…any!

42. Always pay your payroll taxes but if you fail to, it too can be worked out.

43. If your revenues have declined, downsize your operation immediately. Excess payroll will kill you quickly and everyone will be out of work.

44. Your banker is the opposition when in default, do not listen to his demands or instructions. Get help.

45. Do not invade your IRA or 401k to pay down debt, no matter what your banker insists you do.

46. Do not hesitate to do a workout because of fear of credit blemishes, it can be rehabilitated.

47. Renegotiate everything, leases, vendor pricing, everything, this recession will last a long long time. Make adjustments now.

48. Re-define your business equation, the economy has changed you must change as well.

49. There are no employee issues, train your employees to be as good as you want them to be.

50. Enjoy your business life, you made the decision to be a small business owner, it can and should be very rewarding. Remember entrepreneurs  are unemployable, you had best make it work.

This is part of what we have learned  from our clients, we expect to learn much more.  We thank all our clients for showing us the way to succeed.

If you love them, you will keep them!

I can’t begin to tell you how many clients we meet with that say “I want to do more marketing to increase my revenue”…well no kidding!  Too many people are feeling the pressure of a tightening market and the brutal competition that is out there fighting for every last dollar.  There is a lot of attrition with small business right now and we hate to see the pain owners go through with closing their doors and the impact it has on their confidence, families, and ability to rebound.  With that said we have real concern when hearing general statements like the one above.love

Let’s work through the basics around marketing which may seem like common sense, but once used and implemented consistently deliver results.  Here we go:

Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?  Otherwise known as Research.  Until you spend the time to find out what is going on around you, who your customers are, where they live, who the competition is, how to best communicate with potential customers, etc, then you will be flying blind.

I am sure you have heard this before and there is a good reason for that…It is Critical to your Success!  Use your customer database to sort out commonality and trends among your customers and if you do not have a customer database…shame on you!  ZoHo is a free online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that works very well if you do not already have a program, so there is no excuse.  We have mentioned multiply times that Organization and Teamwork are the two major reasons companies go out of business.  A customer database gives you an organizational tool, a research tool and quick and easy access to conducting sales and marketing campaigns.

Once the hard work of research is done it is time to go full speed into the sexy world of marketing.  First thing first.  What is the look and feel of your business (i.e. brand, image, etc)?  These terms are vague, but we can explain them in an easy and simple way to understand.  Do you have a good friend in your life?

Describe how they look and act…that is image.  When you think of their name or an experience with them, what comes to mind?  That is brand association.  Does their name stand out? Were they memorable? Did you relate to them?  That is brand.  Bring your thinking back to how we relate to each other because that is what you are doing in marketing.  Marketing is connecting/relating your business to an audience.

Once you have the brand ready to rock you need to think about the many things you can do as action steps in getting customers in the door…Marketing Campaigns!  We will talk about the marketing campaigns in tomorrow’s Blog…Get Ready!

You comments on this Blog are welcome.  Please talk about what has worked and not worked for you.