Tag Archives: ceo

Find Your YMCA MoJo

The MoJo of your YMCA is the energy it admits on a daily basis.  The energy level of your staff and environment can make or break a YMCA.  Y employees will tell you that “if you know one YMCA, then you know only that one YMCA!”

All YMCA’s are different and each have their own personality and character.  Each have their own MoJo!  The MoJo is that little special energy that gives a YMCA that positive spirit that connects with staff and members.

Your YMCA Mojo starts with your employees.  If your YMCA has a personality it is because of leadership and staff character, energy and passion.  YMCA employees are special because most have a higher purpose given the type of organization they work for.  When employees are YMCA Mission driven it shows in their performance and action.

At the front desk-Welcome Center, do you have high spirit employees that are service driven with the ability to get things done?  Does your fitness staff know how to provide the personal attention and touch for members?  Is your CEO and upper management actively engaged in setting the tone and leading by example?

The only way to generate a higher level of MoJo at your YMCA is to lead by example.  Raise your bar for what you bring to your office, job, organization and live a higher purpose.

Email us for information on our Leadership Training:  info@theoctopussolution.com

The 1st Step in Increasing YMCA Member Retention

Many YMCA’s suffer from low member retention rates.  This is due to many reasons: poor customer service, bad procedures, competition, and lack of understand of how retention is calculated.  Many Y’s use Daxko or Trinexum software as their point of sale and CRM software and the retention rates are all calculated on an annual basis.

YMCA CEO’s have to report member retention numbers to the board of directors and many of these numbers are wrong.  These Y’s should be using their CRM software to compute the member retention by comparing apples-to-apples, but what is happening is that they are comparing apples-to-oranges.

If the software computes member retention on a 13 month basis and all memberships are used in the calculation such as 3 month, 6 month and month-to-month memberships, then apples are being compared to oranges.

For example:  If a member signs up for a membership at their local YMCA the softwares will compute if that person is still a member at the beginning of the 13th month.  The applications will track all the members on an annual basis to see how many are still members after a year.  So what about those memberships that are under one year mixed in the calculations?

A 3 month, 6 month and other customer short term memberships will have a 0% retention rate measured on an annual basis.  If the members sign up 2-4 times you may capture a 5-10% retention rate on short-term memberships, but it will not be much higher than that.

So if your YMCA is measuring retention on an annual basis then you can only compare it to annual memberships.  If you include any memberships on a time frame less than that then you are not using the same units of measurement in a mathematical formula.   For example:  5 Inches +4 Centimeters = What type of unit?  You need to convert the units to one single unit of measurement before solving.

Before you assume you have a low or high retention rate, make sure you and your YMCA are comparing apples to apples!  Contact us for the 10 steps any YMCA can take to increase member retention:  info@theoctopussolution.com

Got Skills? Got Talent?

Do you have the skills and talent to be able to run a business?  Many people are hired for positions or apply for positions they are not qualified for, but they get the job?  How does this happen?  Companies demand they hire from within the organization, they do not have a process of matching strengths of a person to the needs of the job, and the list goes on.

The board of directors can truly kill a business if they do not have clarity around the job needs and organization needs.  A while back IBM was looking for a CEO to help turn the company around and the hunt was on for a CEO that has the Skill set for being able to turn a business around.  They hired Lou Gerstner, a man with no experience in the tech sector!  Experience in technology was not the skill needed for the company!  They needed a turn-around Guru and that he was!  Lou turned IBM around and made this dying giant into an awaken monster.

Many CEO’s and Business Owners may not have the skills or talent to be in the position they hold OR they need help better understanding their strengths and weaknesses.  Everyone has stronger skills and characteristics than others and it is critical to the role that their weakness are not requirements of the position.  Great leaders fill their weaknesses with other peoples strengths and manage them.  Board of directors need to be less PC and more brutally honest for the benefit of the businesses they oversee.

These boards have started to put the executives feelings above the commitment to the business.  If these boards can not have honest, confronting, truthful conversations with the executives or themselves, then remove the board and do what is right for your business.  It is not about Ego, it is about Commitment and the dedication to your employees and ensuring they have jobs and creating new ones.

We can help, email us to schedule a two-day Performance Bases Management Consult for your Business: info@theoctopussolution.com

Production…The Key to Morale!

Have you ever worked a job and it started to get boring, negative and you were having trouble producing?  Did you ever end up in a hole so deep that you could not perform your way out of?

So many employees and managers do not understand that production in any job is the basis of morale and motivation.  If you are not producing or having specific wins on the job then you start to lose small pieces of morale.  As all those small pieces continually add up into large ones you may find that you have lost all motivation for your job and want to do something else.

For example: Think about a coach for a professional sports team.  You may have a coach that has been with a team for 10-15 years and at the end of their career with that team they can not get out of a losing streak.  But then they get fired and move to another team and all of a sudden have the drive and performance to win championships.  What happened?

Coaches that get a fresh start or business owners who bring in an outside “kick in the pants” firm to help them suddenly start producing both see their attitudes change.  The importance of building employee morale as well as paying attention to your own is critical for the success and production of your business, team or job.  Find little successes and wins everyday no matter how big or small.  The small successes will add up to big ones and you will start to feel the joy in your job and how attitude is everything.  Your employees could use coaching on this too.

This is not just a motivational blog today, this is a really money discussion.  We have helped several CEO’s get out of their own head and find the motivation again to increase their company’s performance by 6 figures.  That is what makes our job fun and productive!

We need more Leadership!

Definition of Leader:  A leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and
influences people to accomplish organizational goals.  Leaders motivate people both inside and
outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking, and shape decisions for the greater
good of the organization.  -US Army Leadership Manual

We all want to lead and we all want to follow at certain points in our lives, but I am worried about the types of leaders we have in our society.  We see this is small business.  Political correctness has taken over much of our society which means that we can no longer have frank and blunt discussions with people.  It also means that when you do have those types of discussions the other person can’t handle confrontation so things go bad.

Definition of Leadership:  “Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.”

I am tired of seeing small businesses fail or watching business owners struggle.  I am tired of CEO’s not stepping up to fulfill the obligation, privilege and gift they have been given to lead others.  Step up and lead your team and if you don’t know how to; that’s okay to as long as you ask for help.  I do not want to see great businesses fail because of leadership.

I will leave you with this, again from the Army Leadership Manual:

Stepping Up to Lead
In the early days of Operation Anaconda, members of the 10th Mountain Division
were sent into the Shah-e-kot Valley in eastern Afghanistan. Their mission was to
seal off and destroy pockets of Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces. Members of the Afghan
National Army assisted by U.S. Special Forces would attack from the north.
CPT Nelson Kraft and his Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry
Regiment were part of the group that would land in the south and wait for them. As
soon as the Chinooks carrying the troops landed, the unit found itself in the midst of
100 or more enemy fighters, heavily armed and dug into the cragged mountainsides.
First Platoon was sent up the ridgeline. From their position above the valley, they
could hear the mortars advancing closer with each volley. One round hit close to the
platoon leader, Lieutenant Brad Maroyka, and wounded him. He gave the order to
move, but the next round hit his platoon sergeant. With both leaders out of
commission, Kraft radioed SSG Randal Perez, a supply sergeant turned infantryman,
and the senior Soldier left standing and told him to take charge.
Reconnaissance photos and intelligence reports had failed to identify this enemy
stronghold, but the men of Charlie Company knew they could not run, so they dug in
and continued to fight.
Perez did a quick assessment, finding nine of his 26 men wounded. He knew he
needed to get them out of the area where they were pinned down. He and five others
laid down heavy fire to allow the rest of the team to move to safer ground.
Even though he too was injured, the company first sergeant watched from his
position below to see how Perez was handling the pressure. He was glad that the
many hours spent at Fort Drum mentoring Perez and teaching him infantry tactics
were paying off.
All during the fight, the newly appointed leader controlled his rates of fire, called in
targets and kept his men reassured by going helmet to helmet. He rose to the
challenge, doing the job of an officer with years of training.

You never know what leadership ability is in you until you step up and try.

4 Steps to Marketing

Marketing is risky and there are no sure things; I mean look at the guy that invented New Coke to replace Coke Classic.  How did that go?  Terrible!  So they fired him, but they eventually realized that his ideas were very creative, although risky, and many were successful, so they hired him back.  Risk needs to be managed and calculated.  Here is what we do for our clients in planning their marketing:coke

Step 1: Define the overall objectives of the owner or CEO.  We must know where the CEO of the company wants to guide the business otherwise we have to guess and increase the risk.  If we can extrapolate that information as step one then we can deliver inline with the client’s plans for growth.

Step 2: Find out what is going on through research.  Our clients have their opinions, we have ours and the opinions that really matter are those of the customer…so we ask’em.  The customers can tell us the good, bad and ugly and from that we can determine what is working and what is not.  We will also look to see how the competition is doing and assemble a positioning strategy that differentiates our clients in the market.  Business is a game of survival and anyone that says otherwise has never owned a company before!  Competition is inevitable so a plan is required.

We also utilize industry reports and research in our analysis as well to get a broad view of the landscape as a whole and try to discover key metrics of comparison and growth trends from the reports.  These reports can help you compare your customer profile to industry average and fine tune or get corroborate data to support your demographics and target markets.

Step 3: Branding, Image and Communication are the next step.  We wrote a blog about brand and image yesterday is you want so more detail, but in step 3 we are talking about communicating values.  What are the values your customers look for in your product or service and what values is your branding and image communicating.  For example, research was done with a large pool of mothers many years ago asking them “why do you brush your childrens teeth?” and researchers has to get through 4-6 layers of questioning to get to the “real” answer.  When first asked they said “so their child would have clear teeth” and then they ask why is that important, and finally after rounds of questioning the final answer amoung many women was; “to look like a good mother”.  Why is this important?  If you are marketing to mother between the ages of 30-45 with children and you are promoting clean teeth, then you are going to dastically reduce the success of the advertising.  If you market to the image of: “When you use my company’s tooth paste you are showing the world how much you as a mother cares about the dental health of your child”…

Research is vital before you can make any decisions.

Step 4: Plan, Execute and Track ROI.  Put a plan in place to go after a target audience using: Media, PR, Events, Networking, Social Media, Advertising, Print, Internet, Direct Marketing, Cross Promotions, Alliances/Partnerships, Newsletters, and/or many other creative ways.  You need to utilize the research in step 3 to be able to make educated decisions on where to market, how and to whom.  Then define what the expected outcome of each marketing action should be and how to track your Return on Investment (ROI).  This is very important because as the statistics of your marketing campaign performance start to generate it will dictate where you continue to spend your marketing dollars and where to stop spending.  You do not want to waste money so track the ROI from what you do.

This in a nut shell is what we do in our marketing approach with clients.  As part of step 4 we will also do something that is vital to making money which is to communicate the marketing initatives with the sales department to educate them on what is being done so they are prepared to talk about each with potential customers.

Happy hunting and best of success!

7 Steps to Highly Effective Marketing Alliances

Knowing how to form marketing alliances effectively can be one of the most powerful weapons in your war chest.  When would you ever want to go into the world of business alone?  Don’t do it because it is a scary dog-eat-dog world out there and businesses can catapult growth by working together.  Together we have strength in numbers and can be more powerful and spend less money doing so.

An example of a successful alliance was with one of our Chiropractic clients and the marketing alliance we formed for them in partnering with Curves.  Curves is a workout facility that is for women who fit the target demographic of a Chiropractic office perfectly.  We creatively came up with a method for Curves customers to get immediate benefit from the relationship by providing chair massages at local Curves to all of their customers, in exchange for the opportunity for our client to pitch them an exploratory visit to experience their Chiropractic services.

This alliance was widely successful because it allowed our client exposure to hundreds of potential customers in their demographic pool and was a great method for establishing relationships in-person. It was a win-win for both companies because the Curves clients got value and our client got the opportunity to promote their company. The best part is that our client spent $0 for the alliance and was able to increase their revenue substantially.

This is a small example of the many marketing alliances that can be created.  Many Fortune 500 companies are looking to tap into the small business customer pool because of the more intimate relationships we have with our customers.  This fact gives us, the small business owners, leverage and opportunity to approach larger companies with ideas.

There are 7 Steps to follow when creating a marketing alliance:

Step 1 – Target

Step 2 – Partner Pool

Step 3 – Selection

Step 4 – Value Proposition

Step 5 – Alliance Proposal

Step 6 – Execution & Management

Step 7 – ROI Analysis

Step 1

You need a good understanding of who your customers are and have the ability to categorize them into some form of demographic(s).  Simply worded:  if 80% of your clients are men between the ages of 30-50 that live in the suburbs, then you can take that simple information into the next step of the process of locating another business or businesses to work with.

Step 2

Do some research and pull together a list of companies you think would be beneficial to work with.  Your list should be long for the purpose of allowing yourself to find multiple candidates.  Remember that we want to run honorable businesses, so if you are selecting two companies to put in that pool that are direct competitors you must make them aware of that issue if you decide to pick them both in the next step.  Our advice would be to avoid picking direct competitors to work.

Step 3

Take the pool of potential marketing alliance businesses and start doing some research, which could be as simple as walking into one of their locations and speaking with a manager or downloading an annual report if they are a public company.  In doing this you want to play the role of investigator to find out if their demographic closely matches yours.  We are not looking for a perfect match here, just a high percentage which will help in making a decision.  Select one or several that have the highest probability of your ideal customers being represented.

Step 4

If you did your homework in regards to the selection process then this step will be fun.  Think of interesting, creative, bold and innovative ideas for how you can work together.  Sometimes the more crazy the better.  Now remember this is the value proposition step which means you need to create a balancing equation to this alliance.  What ever you get out of the deal, the other side should be proposed something of similar value to demonstrate your interest in helping grow the other business too.  If you don’t care about your partnering business then you looking to create transactions instead of relationships.

In the value proposition should be benchmarks, milestones, metrics, and forecasts to use as a measurement of success.  Benchmark your past sales against future sales during the marketing alliance to see if there is growth.  Create expected results based on a timeline so that you can see forward progress, such as setting deliverables alone a timeline and evaluating when reaching that timeline where you stand.  Metrics will provide an analysis tool for you and your partner to use to compare sales, expenses, trends, etc.  Forecasting should be done to project what the expected sales will be generated from this project and will be a key selling point in step 5.

Step 5

To this point you have a good understanding of your ideal customer, have assembled a pool of candidates, you individually researched those candidates to narrow them down further, you picked a few and have come up with excellent ways to work together; now you must propose the deal.  This is where things get exciting because you have to call on a company, schedule time to meet with the CEO, pitch the deal and explore and entertain other ideas and options generated by the discussion.  The only advice at this point is that you must demonstrate your willingness and care for the other business to be successful.  Close the deal!

Some business partnerships sail on a good, old fashioned handshake, while others function on the inherent legality of pen and paper. Deciding whether or not you need a contract or a simple handshake is dependent open the amount of risk involved within the partnership. If part of the deal involves moving large quantities of money back and forth, you should have all roles and responsibilities dictated on paper. On the other hand, if the partnership simply involves the sharing of products or services, then a less formal agreement is appropriate.

Step 6

Your new partner just agreed to your deal, now what?  You need to deliver!  Did you make financial projections for the deal?  Well you need to exceed those.  Did you talk about the amount of time you would spend on the deal?  Well time to deliver!  You just made a deal that put your company’s reputation on the line to deliver something of value.  Like making any deal it is critical to the long-term success of the relationship that you Follow Through.


After 30 days in the marketing alliance you need to review the positives and negatives to determine whether to continue with the relationship or not.  Did the partnership help or hurt the growth of your company and your partners? The answer to these questions will inevitably dictate future plans with your alliance. This review process is important because it will allow you make improvements, if needed, within prospective alliances that could eventually propel your company to new levels of commerce.

We are in business to make money otherwise we are out of business living in a box.  Conducting frequent Return-On-Investment (ROI) analysis will give you the on-going insight to the success of the alliance and show if you should continue to waste money.  Make sure you are on target with regards to the benchmarks, milestones, metrics, and forecasts you created to monitor the project and look for warning signs or key indicators on an ongoing basis.

Now that you know the steps, comment with us about Strategic Marketing Alliances that have worked for You!!!