Keep the grass closest to you – Green

Have you ever noticed that many times the grass immediately surrounding a sprinkler head is brown? Laurie Beth Jones calls this the Sprinkler Phenomenon of Management. So much energy and drive is going to the outer reaches of the yard that the grass closes to the source of the water is left dry.

We often ignore the people closest to us. In our personal relationships that might include siblings, parents, children and spouses. In a business setting we may fail to acknowledge those people who we perceive as “little”: the security guard, the receptionist, the parking attendant.  Today it’s even more likely that others close to us will be ignored because we are too busy “berrying” or simply caught up in trying to make sense of the turmoil in our heads.

I read of a case where someone was hired to conduct a series of seminars at an osteopathic hospital in Texas. Apparently 75% of the staff did not know what the term osteopathic meant! This hospital had spent nearly $500,000 educating the public through television and newspaper ads, yet the cooks, clerks, cleaning crew and admitting staff STILL did not know what osteopathic meant. Are you assuming that all your staff are aware of what you are offering? In this same case study, a security guard, upon learning what osteopathic meant, asked enthusiastically for flyers to pass out to his friends. Before when people asked him, he simply said that he did not know. According to research, every person is acquainted with at least 250 people. Each person employed by you is ruling a little empire. Are you leveraging this in your favour? Even if you think that the people “they know” are not your customers, these employees can contribute positively to your company’s influence and reputation which can directly affect your growth positively.

‘Punctuality is non negotiable. Chronic lateness is a form of arrogance – “I’m important enough to make others wait for me” – and it puts other team members in a bind because they have to cover for the tardy person’…so read one of my recent Facebook updates on my business page http://www.facebook.com/WomenInLeadership to which one of my followers responded – “tell that to some doctors, girlfriend.”

Interestingly I came across the top seven reasons patients leave their doctors (none of which included the docs tardiness but I do have a point.) Number one was the inability to trust the physician’s staff. (Number five was outdated magazines in the waiting room, and number seven was disputes over billing.) If a patient does not like or trust the receptionist they may leave and NEVER tell the doctor why. If the doctor does not care to give an explanation for lateness or is ALWAYS late, why should the receptionist care? You have not even seen the patient, and already this “customer” (yes patients are customers) is already feeling disrespected. Why should they stay?

I guess specialists don’t have to worry too much because well, they are in demand. General Practitioners might have a challenge but I am not sure. Even if you aren’t a doctor, you need to pay attention. As the leader, (boss, doctor, manager) everyone will follow what you do. Make sure what you’re doing, is what you wish to be communicated. Remember the ripple is always in effect, starting in small circles and then spreading into much bigger ones.

Just about anybody can figure out how to sell things. But there’s genius in creating customers for life. While there’s terrific income to be had from making sales, wealth is most certain by developing CUSTOMERS FOR LIFE! But there we go again in hot pursuit of new business, taking for granted the business already on our books. In other words, ignoring the ‘grass’ closest to us in search of better ‘grass’ seeds to grow! Most businesses after making the first sale, never try to sell that customer anything else. Car sales executives are masters of this. They are just interested in selling that next new car. But what else is there to sell – you might ask? Well if you kept in touch, you might sell one of your customer’s friends a car. Remember the 250 earlier?

Think about how ludicrous this is. You prefer to spend time, effort and expense trying to convince/persuade potential customers to change their minds and buy from you while you already have customers who have basically said “we trust you, and HAVE bought from you.” Which group is easier to sell to? Stop wasting your money only trying to attract new business.  Doing so is like being a farmer who insists on scattering his seeds on concrete, then complaining when he has nothing to harvest!

You need to manage your business from the inside out. You need to ensure that your staff know about your business and what’s going on at all times. The questions to ask are: “Do I sometimes overlook the people/customers closest to me? If so, what can I do to correct that?” If you keep the grass closest to you green – you will not lose money, nor will you fail!

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