Category

Book Reviews

Love Works – Book Review

By | Book Reviews, Business

Love Works. by Joel ManbyLove Works. Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders, by Joel Manby, breaks down his overriding leadership code: leading with love. Each chapter focuses on one quality that love exhibits. Love is:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Trusting
  • Unselfish
  • Truthful
  • Forgiving
  • Dedicated

Manby is the CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, which owns Silver Dollar City and many other properties. He was also featured on an episode of the TV series Undercover Boss.

Aire-Master CEO, Douglas McCauley, recommended Love Works at our National Franchise Conference a few years ago. The book really resonated with our franchisees. Phil Canipe, Aire-Master of Charleston, even led a book club discussion on our internal forum about it. Rather than write a traditional book review, we are sharing some of the reactions and thoughts that our franchisees posted about the principles of Love Works, as they read through the book.

Note that these comments are very candid. Following these principles doesn’t always come naturally, and we all have to work hard to do our best.

I probably have the hardest time trusting. Outwardly, it would appear I’m extremely trusting (I probably am more than I think). Inwardly, I’m a super control freak. I’m constantly at war with myself.

***

I maybe a little too trusting, but it has worked for me with very little regrets. I can most improve on patience. Once I decide to get something done, and it may involve others, my patience is what I have to work on. I can always do better.

***

I remember being publicly admonished in a college class for giving a poor speech. It did nothing but upset me and caused me to resent the instructor. Ironically, a classmate of mine saw my frustration and publicly praised my efforts the following week in front of everyone. Even the professor was moved! It completely changed my attitude toward the class and eventually led to an “A”.

***

It’s all about our walk and our love and respect for each other. I truly am a very blessed man for being a part of this organization. The great saying, that people don’t care what you know until they know you care, is where it’s at. Thank you all of my fellow franchisees, you are best.

***

I do what I can for my employees so they enjoy their job. I try to empower them so they feel like their customers are THEIR customers. That way they can get excited about working and the way they treat them. I try to make them feel that it is not just a job.

***

Leading with love requires trust. That does not necessarily mean we have to gain the trust of others. But giving our trust rather, is a requisite if we are going to lead effective teams. Another way if saying it, is that if you want someone’s trust, you must first learn to give trust.

***

Trust is not earned. It is given. In this business I feel you have no choice but to trust your employees. I give them large amounts of product and a stack of invoices. I trust they are going out there and servicing when and where they are supposed to. And doing a good job of it. They understand that they have been given this trust and perform admirably for it. I’m not constantly telling them what to do and how to do it. I think it helps.

***

This new way of thinking about trust totally upsets conventional wisdom. I think it allows for a greater responsibility on the leader and less upon the follower trying to “earn” his/her way into the circle of decision makers.

***

We like to allow the service techs to feel a sense of ownership on some level, and always answer “what should I do about X” questions with a “what do you think is the best way to handle it” response. Invariably, the guys make the decision I would have made, and I let them know that.

***

I firmly believe that when you find the right people and empower them, it pays back tenfold. I don’t want to be a micromanager. I think of myself less when I know that my employees have everything covered. Basically, I’ve empowered them so I don’t have to think of myself. I think most of us think we can do it better because it is our business and we know it better than they do. However, I’ve given each employee a piece that I think they can do just as well, if not better than me. They are doing what they do day in and day out.

***

While it may be hard to find a good employee, there are good employees at all levels, and not all the good ones necessarily want to climb up the ladder or be the boss. Some are happy being where they are, doing what they have to, and doing it well. I have seen it a number of times. Maybe they don’t want the responsibility, the stress, whatever the reason may be. And it’s OK. What really matters is that they do their job, do it right, and all is good.

***

In Chapter 6, Manby mentions that a good leader thinks of themselves less, while not thinking less of themselves. This can be a challenge for Aire-Master franchisees, knowing that we are ultimately responsible for our own successes.

***

Love is Truthful. This was, in my mind, the most relevant chapter to small business owners. Often we don’t have the accountability that many leaders of large organizations do. As franchisees, many of us don’t have business mentors. We don’t have whistleblowers. And we certainly don’t have board members to keep us in check. I found this chapter to be a very useful tool in making sure we stay grounded and accountable.

***

I have learned that when an employee, fellow franchisee, or even a long time customer tells me something that frustrates me it usually means they are right and I’m mad at myself for not seeing it sooner. It’s a difficult process, but I’m learning to use these methods to help better myself and my business.

Repeat Business – Book Review

By | Book Reviews, Business

Repeat Business, by Larry W. DennisRepeat Business: 6 Steps to Superior Customer Service, by Larry W. Dennis, was originally published in 1992. At Aire-Master, we consider it a classic. We have been using this book in presentations and training programs for years.

Our founder, Jerry McCauley, originally came across Repeat Business in a small bookstore on the Oregon coast. The title immediately caught Jerry’s eye, as Aire-Master service is all about repeat business — forming long lasting relationships with our customers.

Jerry thought the book was terrific. In 1994, we invited Larry Dennis to speak and conduct a workshop at our National Franchise Conference. Twenty-two years later, we still recommend the book.

R.E.P.E.A.T.

Dennis uses the word REPEAT as an acronym to spell out six customer service principles:

  • Reliability
  • Extra Mile
  • Pleasant Personality
  • Enthusiasm
  • Action
  • Thank You

Each chapter in the book is devoted to one of these principles. Dennis uses common sense language and story after story to get his points across clearly. The book itself is a quick read at just over 130 pages.

What Do Customers Want?

Throughout, Dennis places the emphasis on the customer. He explains why customers stop buying, which is usually because they feel a salesperson treated them poorly. Dennis gives plenty of examples of applying the REPEAT principles to keep customers coming back.

It all comes down to treating people right. Make your customers feel important — because they are. They sign your paycheck, after all. If you read and apply this book, you can turn customers into loyal, REPEAT customers. In fact, Larry Dennis has made Aire-Master a repeat customer. We keep several copies of his books in our library at all times!

Buy the book on Amazon.

The E-Myth Revisited Review

By | Book Reviews, Business

By Phil Canipe

Imagine yourself at the heart of a good story. You’re on a long journey. You’ve come a great distance. You’re fighting, clawing, inching toward your goal. You’re at a point when you feel like you might be actually doing something noble; the stuff legends are made of. And for a long time, you’ve done alright battling your antagonists. But after a while, you begin to grow weary. The days are long and the nights are cold. Your goal is slipping away and you question everything. Worst of all, you are begin to lose hope. This is the life of an entrepreneur.

E-Myth RevisitedContrary to public opinion, our lives often look more like long days and cold nights than they do noble and legendary. This is why I read Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited. The E-Myth, or the myth of an entrepreneur, is about what life is really like for small business owners. We’re not always battling giants or slaying dragons, but we are trying to balance the budget, serve customers, meet sales goals, pay purchase orders, manage human resources, and the list goes on.

The problem, according to Gerber, has very little to do with the fact that all of the aforementioned tasks are being done at the same time. No, the problem is that they are all being done by the same person. Let’s go back to our story. Only this time, imagine it is being directed by David Fincher from Fight Club. As it turns out, in a mighty David Fincher-like way, the protagonist and the antagonist are actually the same person. And with devastatingly good story writing, your mind is blown.

Gerber highlights that every business has three operators: the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician. As the owner, you are the entrepreneur. You’re the visionary—the sails to the organization. You are the dreams behind your business. You provide direction to the manager by saying, “This is where we’re going. And this is how we’re going to do it.” The manager then takes the vision of the entrepreneur and puts it into practice. Without the manager, your business wouldn’t have the ability to function. If the entrepreneur is the sails, the manager is the hull. And finally, the technician is the one who gets the work done in order for your business to make money. He is the one who serves the guests and who the manager relies on to keep customers happy. Unfortunately, most small business owners try to be all three operators at once. And the results are often crushing.

This is why Gerber’s book is such a powerful read. It not only identifies the core differences between the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician; it also underlines effective ways to separate them. If you’re like me, you’ll find The E-Myth Revisited to be a foundational resource for your business. It has changed the way I do things. It helped me understand why I do what I do and how I can make it better. It gave me perspective. In short, it changed my life. I hope it does the same for you.

Phil Canipe is the Aire-Master of Charleston franchisee.

Why Start with Why?

By | Book Reviews, Business

Book Review

by Dale Gehris

Start With Why - the golden circle

We are all able to explain what we do and how we do it. But the more challenging conversation to have is why we do what we do. Why does our company or business exist? When we can answer that, the what-we-do and how-we-do-it are not neglected, but easily follow.

In the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek, the main thesis is about understanding the importance of why your business exists. In other words, why are you doing what you’re doing? It also features The Golden Circle, a simple visual tool, to help embed this concept deep in your brain. Once you grasp it and operate on its truth (with consistency), all other things fall neatly into place.

The second most important philosophy Sinek shares is the value of building relationships with your customers. Using examples like Apple and Harley Davidson, he explains simply how loyalty is built between you and your customer and why they will stick with your products and services over your competitors’ — who try and steal them away with cheaper prices.

In the 30-plus years I have been in the advertising and marketing fields, I have learned one simple, invaluable thing: it is NEVER about you! It is ALWAYS about your customer — knowing them, understanding them, and keeping them as your focus. In fact, it is the only way to success. Start with Why consistently applies this principle throughout its pages in an easy-to-read style for any experienced businessman or layperson. Easily devoured in two sittings for an avid reader, this book gets you back to forgotten marketing basics and could help set you up for success and put you heads above your competitors.

Dale Gehris is the Creative Director at Aire-Master of America.

Get Customers by Creating Value

By | Book Reviews, Business

What is the most important thing a business needs to be successful? Good products? Great service? Startup capital? Reliable employees? Those are all important, but the number one thing a business needs is: customers! Businesses get and keep customers by creating value. They offer customers something they will value more than the money they’ll part with to get it. So, how do you create value?

The Discipline of Market Leaders

The Discipline of Market LeadersCreating value is the subject of The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema. This book was first published 20 years ago and is still in print. It is something of a business classic now. At Aire-Master, we still present the core ideas from the book in our franchise training program.

Treacy and Wiersema identify three distinct ways that market leading companies deliver value to customers, calling them value disciplines:

  1. Operational Excellence
  2. Product Leadership
  3. Customer Intimacy

The authors devote a large section of the book to each value discipline, describing its characteristics and giving numerous examples. Some of the examples are a bit dated now, of course, but the points are still valid.

Operational Excellence

Companies that focus on Operational Excellence offer their customers lowest overall cost (not necessarily lowest price), convenience, and fast, hassle-free service. Examples include McDonalds, Walmart, and Southwest Airlines.

You don’t expect gourmet food at McDonald’s; you aren’t going there for your anniversary. McDonald’s is where you go when you want something inexpensive, fast, and easy. There’s usually one on the way to wherever you’re going. It’s the least amount of trouble to go there.

Walmart doesn’t specialize in top-of-the line goods, fashions, or foods. They often carry name brands in order to drive sales of their store brands.

Today, we would probably add Amazon to the list of operationally excellent companies. Whatever you want, Amazon has it — at a great price — and they can ship it immediately.

Product Leadership

Product Leadership companies focus on making the best product, period. They push performance boundaries, making their own products obsolete before their competitors can. Examples in the book include Intel and Nike. These days, we would also think of Apple, Samsung, and maybe Under Armour in this category.

Product leaders create entire categories and markets. Nobody knew they wanted a smartphone until Apple introduced the iPhone. When they introduced the App Store, they created the mobile application development industry practically overnight. Part of the frustration of owning an Apple product is that you know it will be obsolete in a year or two when they come out with the new model. And you’ll want that new model when you see it!

Product leaders face fierce competition; staying ahead of the pack is a constant struggle. Samsung is putting a lot of competitive pressure on Apple in the smartphone and tablet market, for example. Bigger screens, higher resolution cameras, more, better, faster!

Customer Intimacy

Customer Intimate companies focus on cultivating long-term relationships with customers. They provide the best total solution, not an isolated service or product. With customer intimacy, the emphasis is on solving problems rather than conducting transactions. As examples, the authors include Home Depot, IBM (in the 1970s), and Airborne Express. (DHL bought Airborne Express in 2003.)

Aire-Master is also an example of a customer intimate company. We focus on building relationships with customers, getting to know their challenges, solving problems, and providing the right combination of services and products for each customer.

Aire-Master provides excellent service and top quality products, but those are tools for solving problems. Not every customer needs everything we offer, so every customer gets a custom-tailored program.

Achieving Market Leadership

Focusing on one of the value disciplines doesn’t mean that you can ignore the other two. It does mean that you have a clear vision of what your brand stands for.

Treacy and Wiersema give businesses four rules for market leadership:

  1. Focus on one type of value
  2. Maintain standards in the others
  3. Improve value year after year
  4. Develop a superior operating system for delivering value

We would add one more thing about market leadership: even if your business is relatively new and small, and you aren’t the number one company in your market, you can still be a market leader. You can lead, you can inspire others to follow you, to share your vision. If customers believe in your brand, they will follow you. (More about this in a future post.)

We have been reading and recommending The Discipline of Market Leaders since 1995, and we still do. In fact, part of the fun of reading it all these years later is thinking of current examples for each of the value disciplines.