Competition? There is no such thing!

I’ve told many business owners that there is no such thing as competition.  They will usually look at me kind of cross-eyed and they think that I’m on some sort of drug or something.  They go on and say things like, “You have NO idea!”  I would then ask the client “Do you think the largest and most successful business in the area that does what you do sits around and worries about competition?  They answer no.  They still don’t believe me, but after a while, once they learn how to expand their business and gain more control over the business, they come to me and say, “You know, you were right – there isn’t any such thing as competition.  That’s just a bunch of hooey.”   You simply need to be known for your results and not necessarily how well trained you happen to be.  Let me ask you a question, if you needed surgery would it matter to you just how many advanced certifications your surgeon has if you knew of his excellent results in clinical practice rather well?  Have you ever hired a staff member based upon a resume that is filled with credentials who was an incompetent as all get out?  I have.  Have you ever hired a new graduate who blew you away?  I have.  The staff member may have the training but where are the RESULTS.  That is determined in the eyes of the client and NOT anyone else.  Handling competition is done by effectively selling the results and not necessarily the service.  I want you to know there I know that with certain professions that there are rules and regulations about how you may promote to get new clients and new patients.  There is a way to do this effectively in any profession and create, in your respective public, a demand for YOUR services versus another company in your area.

Results are what I keep saying throughout this book thus far as a very key way to build a business.  However, it is VITAL to survey your potential public to get their idea of or their definition of what a “result” truly is. If you are an accountant or financial planner or what have you, try asking your clients how they determine if you have done a good job for them.  You may get an answer that is quite different than what you expected.  Now if you were to continue survey a couple hundred businesses owners or people and rank their responses you would KNOW exactly how you would need to promote your “results” message and market your business and attract attention and get more clients.

Let’s take one profession and look it over as an example that I have worked as a consultant for many years and that is private practice physical therapists.  Doctors do the referring for the most part to physical therapists so they are the public that most physical therapists promote to versus the direct customer, the patient.  A physical therapist thinks that a “result” is a patient with full mobility, strength, walks normally, etc.  They are absolutely correct – that is a result. The physical therapist will usually send reports to the doctor on the patient results and consider that ought to do it, which is also correct.  If the physical therapists would simply survey the physicians to determine how THEY determine if their patient got a result from physical therapy they would have learned a wealth of marketing data and they could then put a message out that would attract attention and more referrals.  Please make sure you understand that the correct application of this paragraph alone has made many millions for my clients.  There really is no such thing as too much competition.  A carefully crafted message promoted correctly can boom any business that provides a high quality service or product.

Shaun Kirk www.measurable-solutions.com

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Beating the Competition

One of the first steps needed to beat the competition is knowing how to play the game.  I am sure you can do whatever services you provide rather well – you’ve gone to college or got trained extensively, invested money and time on being an expert on getting that aspect of the job completely understood.  Now that you are a business owner and not just an accountant, financial planner, medical billing specialist, physical therapist, dentist or other professional, you have also inherited a multitude of other tasks or “hats” that you must become a professional in handling in your business.  Some business owners have so many “hats” that you wear that they are stacked up to the ceiling.

Unfortunately there is little that you learned in your training to become a professional in your craft that would help you succeed as a business owner.  You paid probably over $100,000 to be very proficient in your profession.  How much money have you spent becoming the CEO of your business or in learning how to market your practice and create word of mouth?  How much know-how do you have there?  You can be the most competent professional in your area and still go broke if you don’t learn how to get that “secret” out.

The problem is this:  your community, your various referral sources and even your clients and your patients don’t truly know what you do; they don’t know what kind of results you get.  If you were to grab a clipboard and go walking down the street or contact other business owners who could refer you business and ask, “What do you think an accountant or financial planner or physical therapist or your profession DOES?”  Do you know what you would find?  You may be shocked to find that most people do not know what you do or what your profession is capable of delivering.  They have a minimal view of your profession and they generally do not think that what you do is for them.  What if everybody in your town knew what results you could get and what kind of services your company was capable of delivering?  Do you think you’d have any problem getting new business?  I don’t think so.

Shaun Kirk www.measurable-solutions.com

Do you get blamed when your clients do not know how to run their own business?

Our company started out working with physical therapists that are in private practice.  One thing that we commonly saw was that those who were poor business owners would continually blame any professional that they worked with for their lack of results.

I’ll give you some examples: 

A healthcare practice owner who cannot increase his new patients coming into the practice and his numbers are dwindling will blame his billing company for his lack of revenue.

A business owner who does not know how to manage his or her finances effectively will have difficulty paying the tax man and thus blame his CPA for poor tax advice or by suddenly surprising him with a “huge” tax bill.  He should have known it was coming.

A business owner who can never make enough money to put any reserves aside will sometimes criticize his Financial Advisor claiming that he is only after his money, yet he doesn’t have any.

The best way to not get blamed for your clients’ inability to manage their business is to make sure that they are tackling their problems head-on.  When you interview a would-be client find out as much as you can about their business.  Find out the company’s rate of expansion or decline.  If you find he is doing well then find out how he does it.  If you find out he is doing poorly then find out his plans to handle it.

I’m not saying that you wouldn’t work with business owner who wasn’t doing well or seems to be somewhat ineffective in managing his business; I’m just saying that you would more than likely know if he would blame you later if he were to experience even more difficulty.  If you were able to figure out how to help him not only with your services but somehow with his business you may likely have this client forever.

Shaun Kirk www.measurable-solutions.com

The “Endurance Method” Doesn’t Work Any Longer

Many business owners are specialists in their chosen profession.  If you are an accountant, financial planner, physical therapist, medical billing specialist, dentist, doctor or even run a lawn service then you are likely more trained to provide these services than you were trained to run a business successfully.  It is unfortunate, but I believe that there are more factors working against business owners than for them.  The school of hard knocks has a very high tuition.  The “endurance method” of business survival is more a thing of the past.  What I mean by the “endurance model” is that those who can just hang in there long enough will eventually learn the necessary skills to make it by trial and error.  Who has time for that these days?

I am a physical therapist who started out in business attempting to grow my own private practice.  I truly thought that simply being the best physical therapist I could be was all that I needed to succeed in private practice.  I was wrong.  I was on a quest to add as many letters after my name so that I would stand above others.  I knew THAT would work.  I again was wrong.  I am not knocking any professional who is working on any advanced certification or degree as long as you are doing it for the right reasons – to become the best professional you can and not to consider that that alone will get you more new business or patients.

Unfortunately, in my job as a management consultant I have spoken to thousands of business owners across the US and Canada and there are some (and you know if it is you) that sought advanced degrees, training or certification hoping that that would make you or your business more desirable and that that would boom your business. If that was you I imagine you too were disappointed that that did not create a well-beaten path of new clients, patients or referrals to your door.  Something was missing.  Others have certainly found it and it is time you did.

Enjoy reading the other articles.  I hope they enlighten you and can help you to easier reach your goals.

Shaun Kirk

How do Clients Evaluate You?

A few years ago our accountant referred us to a Financial Advisor who helped us set up a new 401K.  I cannot say that this guy was incompetent but what he really lacked was an ability to enlighten my partner and me on his services.  We decided to work with him ONLY from the advice of our CPA and not because this guy was able to impress upon us his value to our organization and our staff.

One year later we meet with our accountant and this Financial Advisor to review this 401K.  This Financial Advisor talked for 30 full minutes covering indices of this and that and standards of this and that and just before my partner and I fell into a very deep unconsciousness, I gave a knowing glance to our CPA who immediately took the ball.

The CPA interrupted and said, “Harvey, all they want to know is rate of expansion of this plan over the past year.”  The Financial Advisor said, “Oh, I’m sorry it grew by __ percent over the past year.”

We were happy with the result of this plan but this guy would commonly miss the boat of what we needed and wanted and how WE would evaluate if his firm did a good job on this plan.  We no longer work with him.

You really need to find out from your clients precisely how they honestly evaluate your services.  You may find it may be entirely different than what benchmarks you use to determine if you are servicing your client or clients well.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Financial Advisor, a CPA, a medical billing company or any business for that matter, you will not know what is truly expected of your firm and how they will evaluate whether you have achieved that expectation unless you ask.

Ask all of your clients this simple question: 

We use many methods to evaluate just how effective we are in handling your account but there is one very important question that I would like to ask you.  How do you evaluate our services?”

You will want to find out if there is something objective that can be measured versus a “feeling” about things.  While working with your client; be sure to ALWAYS refer back to the agreed upon tool to evaluate your success.  If you are good at keeping THAT agreed upon tool used to measure performance you will be far less likely to lose that client because you both now understand one another.

Shaun Kirk

Measurable Solutions Client Voted best PT

Mark Bengtson, the owner of  Pinnacle Physical Therapy

Measurable Solutions client voted best Physical Therapist in north IdahoMr Bengtson started with Measurable solutions in 2006. We congratulate him for the recognition and wish him best of success in the future too.

Categories: Practice Expansion

I Can’t Sign Them Up

Marketing is one thing and sales is something entirely different. If you are good at marketing potential customers and can get them to contact your company you can still go broke if you can’t close them to buy your services, become a client or even accept your offer of employment.

Successful marketing can be defined as the actions your company takes on to create a broad demand for your services. Effective marketing is not determined by hit and miss actions but by careful survey of what your potential customers and clients need and want in regard to the services you have to offer. Knowing this surveyed data can make the sales cycle go much more smoothly.

Many people identify sales with marketing so intimately that they consider that they are the same and lump sales and its technology into the subject of marketing. This is wrong.

Sales as a subject are the actions that strengthens the demand that marketing creates and moves your client over to the point where he is willing to exchange funds for the services you have to offer.

Many people believe that price is greatest determining factor on a sale. It is not. The greatest determining factor is not your rates or fees. It is truly determined in the eyes of your prospect in their confidence that YOU can deliver what you promise. That’s all.

How you inspire the confidence in your prospect that your firm can deliver what is needed and wanted is the true mark of a good salesman. The actual delivery of a very high quality service is the true test of the long-term viability of any organization. I’ll cover more on that subject later. Let’s get back to the subject of sales.

Sales is simply a series of agreements made between the prospect and the salesman who may also play the role of a CFP, a CPA, a medical biller, dentist or whatever professional. During your first encounter with a would-be client you most likely will cover the full scope of what your company can do to help the client in the attainment of his or her goals. You will answer all their questions and if all goes according to plan you will leave with a signed contract and a new client which is the finale in the series of agreements. You now have another new client. It’s all about agreements big and small.

Have you ever noticed when you failed to sign up a potential client you can usually spot something that you had said that the would-be client did not necessarily agree with your view? You broke the series of agreements and that’s why you failed to get a new client.

Here is an important thing to walk away with here: If you go over something with a prospect and by what they say or how they act you perceive they are not in agreement DO NOT continue on with your presentation. It will likely be in this area that holds the reason the prospect did not sigh up. What you should do instead if this happens is to get the would-be client’s views about the disagreement and do all you can to handle it. If you learn how to gain maximum agreement you will significantly increase your client base.

To your success!