Tuesday, 18 November 2014

New Customers are not just for Christmas!!! Have you already sown the seeds for a poor January??

So you've finished your review of 2015/16 marketing plan, humming the John Lewis annual hit, had your fill of mince pies and it’s not even December!

Are your new customers just for Christmas, will you be losing loyal customers whilst servicing the Christmas spike? Have you already sown the seeds of a poor January?

We’re not suggesting that businesses should not capitalise from the opportunities that Christmas presents; we’re just hoping they will resist the temptation to drop to the lowest possible standards of service and choice in order to cram in those extra punters.

The Christmas period is great. Many enterprises can expect an increase of customers to their business by 300% or more. If the overall experience for these new customers is positive and memorable half of these could become regulars helping you to ensure January and February make a contribution to profit and helping to create less troughs throughout the following year.

At Barsby Associates Ltd we strongly advise all businesses to ensure their focus on customer satisfaction during the Christmas period will drive loyalty during the first three months of 2015. Far too many businesses see the Christmas period and New Year’s Eve as a bonanza during which “cramming them in” is the name of the game inadvertently undermining the careful positioning and marketing carried out during the year.

Our top tips are;
  • ·         Stand out for great service, value and overall experience
  • ·         Ensure your team has exceptional product and company knowledge
  • ·         Make sure your suppliers and partners understand your market positioning
  • ·         Merchandise, point of sale material, video etc all to be “on message”
  • ·         Devise a hook to entice customers to visit you during January
  • ·         Understand your “target customer” likes, “must haves”  and latest trends
  • ·         Start each shift with a briefing “imagine a successful session” set and agree targets
  • ·         Make time for a debrief, listen to employees feedback as much as customer feedback
  • ·         Clean, tidy and restock before you go home… what-ever the time!
  • ·         Never forget “this is the season of goodwill and party” make sure you and your team enjoy it
  • ·         Start planning for Yuletide 2015 during January and link it to your calendar of events

Most people celebrating Christmas will expect to see a Yuletide offer that is unique to the time of year. The Christmas experience can and should be provided with panache and style by well trained and motivated employees. In the best cases employees are fully aware of what the anticipated average spend per customer the business marketing plan has envisaged thus helping confident employees to deliver their part of a unique overall experience that is good for your business too!

Adrian Barsby, 07921787668, adrian@barsbyassociates.com  Barsby Associates Ltd 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Head in the sand or enthusiastic embrace… how are you planning for impact of the new law?

Allergen Legislation; Food Information Regulations 2013

Head in the sand or enthusiastic embrace… how are you planning for impact of the new law?

You may be aware that from December 13th 2014, yet more legislation will impact on all organisations selling food. Please don’t let the current anti EU wave allow you to become emboldened to ignore this EU directive becoming British Law for the fines are heavy and be assured enforcement agencies and lawyers are busy preparing targets for criminal and civil prosecutions.

However uncomfortable you may feel at being forced to comply, spare a thought for those plus their family and friends who cannot and do not dine out regularly due to their allergies. In the aftermath of the horse meat scandal most consumers want more not less information and enhanced confidence that we are eating what is says on the label. I think more and more of us will be unsettled by companies moaning that they have to specify what is in their products; I for one react favourably to reference of ingredients with provenance and will buy with increased confidence from those who can readily list ingredients and their properties.

There are many areas where we can quite justifiably campaign for less government and administrative burden, this is not one we can or should fight. As vendors we have both a moral and legal responsibility to our customers and this law will help enshrine best practice by some into basic practice by everyone, benefiting not only customers but all who work in food; processing, manufacturing and service as improved training, better supplier relationships and more informed customers lead to increased confidence and sales.

Having worked with organisations of all sizes throughout the UK and mainland Europe, Barsby Associates has experience of intertwining new legislation into business practice so you can embrace new legislation whilst enhancing your company’s core values;  adrian@barsbyassociates.com  

Barsby Associates Ltd; When you know you could be doing better but just can’t get there… let us help extract that extra value for your hard work and investment!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Busy fool for 2012?

Welcome 2012!

Well let’s hope for better than 2011 but being prepared for worse is likely to pay dividends.

We had grown used to being confident that circumstances beyond our control aside to expecting our hard work and diligence will be rewarded during the oncoming year. The past couple of years have probably put paid to that level of optimism however there is though nothing sadder than to witness people working their fingers to the bone but failing to recognise they are mining the wrong seam especially those locked into doing things a certain way because it bought them past success. Becoming a busy fool can happen to almost anyone and perhaps we are most at risk during periods such as the uncertain times we currently navigate.

Tourism & Leisure finds it self in a unique place in that the “end product” is enhanced by advances in IT through increasing assessability as the possibilities of social media, the integration of electronic platforms, PMS and software developments enhance management performance, improve customer feedback and heighten expectations of customers whilst at the same time the fundamentals remain the same i.e. good service, cleanliness etc. Ultimately our customers are looking for and expecting quality employee contact to complete their leisure / tourism experience.

There are many ways in which the advantages of social media and electronic distribution can be managed in order individual businesses can retain control over reputation, customer history and reduce costs whilst enhancing loyalty and repeat business. The starting point is to set targets for distribution channels, commission ratio and repeat business. It may also require some painful decisions to be taken regarding whether you are chasing profit or revenue? All too often we’ve seen revenue being sought in order to maintain a historic cost base; managers kept in post who have long since been effective, food service and styles in keeping with previous customer needs as apposed to contemporary expectations, these “fixed” costs robbing the business of financial resources and driving decisions to open availability to who ever can provide customers. It is sad to see those within tourism and leisure who have lost sight of their distribution channels thus becoming dangerously dependant on internet retailing, losing direct contact with customers and increasing cost per booking and driving down yield in the process.

Engaging external expertise is one way of helping you to see the wood for the trees. I am not suggesting we have the answer to every situation but we can help to create a viable plan to enthuse all involved with the business to commit to delivering the basics of service matched to qualitative research. As with most medicine there is no quick fix and as previously mentioned sometimes the solution has been known for a while but too painfully personal to implement.

Some key questions to help you decide if your current strategy will bring you success in 2012;

v  How many customers book direct via your website

v  Who “manages” your top 25 performing customers

v  Have you mapped your distribution network and costed commission fees

v  What is your sleeper diner ratio / conversion to enquiry ratio

v  What percentage drop in revenue would wipe out any profit

v  How many good ideas from your team have you endorsed in the past six months

v  Are you exceeding your customer satisfaction benchmark rating

v  Has any of your suppliers offered better prices, increased quality and guaranteed deliveries

If you have difficulty answering any if these don’t despair… but do take action as 2012 will be tough but with the right strategy and effective, decisive implementation you could well be feeling very proud of you and your teams performance this time next year.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Visitor Economy learning from the Royal Wedding

Learning from the Royal Wedding
Even the most ardent of cynics will accept that the organisation and execution of the royal wedding was a resounding success. An estimated 2 billion watched enthralled as the British Royal Family demonstrated pageantry at its very best, exuding the fine qualities for organisation, precision, occasion, spectacle set in unique historic buildings with huge orderly public support and safe clean streets associated with our nation for generations.
For our tourism businesses these positive images are a timely reminder to the world of the reasons to visit Great Britain and Northern Ireland, next years Olympics and Queens Jubilee providing yet more reasons to come and see first hand our unique mix of modernity and history.
We are all aware of the need to meet customer expectations through delivering quality and value for money. Anyone involve with the visitor economy needs to pay special attention to the recent imagery broadcasted throughout the world in recent weeks as indicators of what our customers are going to expect from us.
Lets all work a little bit harder to ensure we do at least meet these expectations but hopefully in many cases exceed expectations of international and indigenous visitors especially in the following areas:
·         Be smart, tidy up those uniforms and clean, clean, clean
·         Be organised, ensure everyone fully understands your product range and up sell
·         Spend time practicing and refining service and products, pay your staff for training and “dry runs”
·         Ensure it is British, regional and good value by learning sense of place
·         Promote the whole of the UK
·         Design and create great aftercare print, include customer feedback and referral programmes
·         Get a smile, be confident but modest, professional and welcoming
·         Act like ambassadors of the UK
Finally make it fun and rewarding for customers, employees, suppliers and colleagues!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Are colleges meeting the needs of rural enterprises?

Are colleges fulfilling their role for businesses located in rural regions?
Further education and life long learning are both crucial components of continuous improvement in business and personal development. Over time provision of post school learning has evolved into a complex myriad of competing organisations including; 6th form, technical colleges, polytechnics, universities, unions, trade bodies and businesses.
Cities and large conurbations have a distinct advantage over rural areas in providing international standards, ease and mobility of employees to gain a multitude of experiences, skills and opportunities aligned to the international dimension of all strands of commerce. This mobility and flexibility is a major benefit to most enterprises as the competition for employment and customers becomes a virtuous cycle constantly improving standards; companies become better employees, employees become more productive, customers expect more. Compare the availability of investment, international benchmarks, employee mobility and choice with rural areas and the gap is staggering.
If we develop this further and examine the opportunity for learning provided to individuals of similar abilities and interest say with a privately owned 3 / 4 star hotel located in a provincial town or village with that offered to someone working in an international chain of 3 / 4 star hotels based in a city once again the difference between range of experiences offered is staggering.  
Availability and flexibility of employees is harming the potential of rural areas with many businesses forced to accept “Hobson’s choice” when recruiting and it is this lack of choice available to employees which is potentially the greatest underlying reason as to why so many enterprises remain marginal with minimum investment.
Colleges provide the environment in which many people will receive further education after leaving school and they provide a natural partner to business, as such should they play a greater role in providing the environment in which privately owned businesses located in rural areas can compete with urban employers with regards to the range of experience, mobility and opportunities? As publically funded bodies surely colleges should be tasked with correcting systemic failures especially those identified as being of strategic consequence.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Does practice make it more fun?

Are you lucky ?
I think it was Gary Player who during a winning streak in the 1970’s when asked by a reporter if he felt he had been lucky to have won a tournament replied with; “the harder I practice, the luckier I get!” Famous for his nonchalance this response was in-part a brilliant put down as well as a revealing insight into his psychology. It is easy to mistake confidence for arrogance, nonchalance for complacency however in a place of work where your every move and decision is under close scrutiny such qualities are only achievable after reaching a state of self confidence born from practice, practice and practice.  
Most of us working in the hospitality and leisure sector are, by definition in public view our actions constantly being evaluated against customer expectations. A confident demeanour, easy smile and pride in the place of work and region are all qualities we are expected to exude. Key to being able to appear as such is understanding and anticipating customer needs and “being lucky” to know what the soup of the day is or what time the last bus departs. Of course it is not always our fault if we don’t know but we will be accused of not caring or being tardy and lazy if we don’t find out.
We can take responsibility for being lucky by working to the maxim; “no one should be in a position to reply I don’t know to a question from a customer or colleague”
A simple enough premise but one that takes time and practice to deliver, steps to consider taking to help gain a reputation for being lucky include;
·         Recruit for attitude
·         Ensure effective and interactive induction
·         Inspire professionalism and encourage time for listening
·         Keep rewarding good practice
·         Anticipate customer and colleague needs
·         Train, retrain and train again
·         Gain feedback but remember you are the quality controller, not the customer
·         Foster trust and confidence
·         Create an environment that  customers and employees want to be part of
Good Luck and have lots of FUN

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Managing Customer Experience

Managing customer experience
Contact points will dictate your customer experiences. How many do you need to ensure your company does what it says on your tin?
Do you know how many contact points are necessary for the success of your business what measures do you undertake to ensure these are managed to maximise your customers experience? Traditional hospitality and leisure businesses are being squeezed by “home experience cuisine” offered by supermarkets and “stripped down service models” where customer contact is kept to  a minimum. Price points are dictating levels of service customers want, are you one of those operators who has confused levels of service with quality?
If you are reducing the “human” contact by definition you are also reducing the opportunities to react to customer needs and provide a personalised service. A key consequence of this is the utmost necessity to get every contact “spot on”. Only well trained, informed and motivated employees can provide consistent quality experiences.
It might sound complicated but without some form of brand filter to evaluate everything you do you are exposing your customers to inconsistent service and products. Careful and diligent use of a brand filter will ensure your personal values can be fully represented by all who engage with your business; suppliers will get their products to you having been quality checked, employees will maximise each contact point upholding your values and your community will drive recommendations.
Ten top things to help ensure your actions to match what you say on your tin:
1.       Decide on your brand values
2.       Research highest price points
3.       Imagine being a customer, love them, attract them
4.       Recruit suppliers, employees, agents etc with a ruthless adherance to your brand values
5.       Be bold, make clear promises and try to exceed them through quality training
6.       Ensure every contact point is needed and adds value
7.       Be personally linked to your company and be part of the community
8.       Don’t expect your customers to pay for your inefficiencies
9.       Make it look, feel and be fun
10.   Have an exit strategy right at the beginning