Why Your Business Back Stage Is As Critical As Your Front Stage

It’s critical that you execute on your promises and deliver what customers expect. If they expect something great and receive something mediocre, their perception of you plummets.

Systems must be in place to ensure perfect delivery. If you don’t execute and keep your promises, these customers will tell everyone about it, and they have the web to spread their bad experience. In my small business marketing firm, we call this “front stage” versus “back stage.” It doesn’t matter how pretty and flashy your front stage is if your back stage doesn’t deliver.

Front stage is your high-profile executives and spokespersons, events, website, materials, and media. Back stage is your people and systems-the inner workings of your company that customers don’t see, but the results of which they experience.

I once purchased a training course from a company with an excellent front stage. The speakers were persuasive. The events were flawless. The results seemed inevitable. However, after engaging with them for about a month, it quickly became apparent that their back stage was a mess.

They wouldn’t return phone calls. They never delivered on their promises. What looked like a golden opportunity was quickly exposed as fool’s gold.

I wasn’t the only one with a bad experience. The company went out of business a couple years after opening.

My business partner Carl once had a conversation of the leader of the execution team for a major self-help author. The author had written many books and had phenomenal success. He had the ability to speak magically to the hearts of the audiences to whom he regularly spoke. He put on his own events where he offered and sold a number of in-depth solutions for personal growth and financial success.

Unfortunately, he had the bad habit of biting off more than he could chew. In other words, he over-promised on stage and his staff had no other option than under-delivering. They couldn’t create nearly as fast as he promised. In the end, customers felt slighted. His staff felt the pressure and ended up leaving.

Most marketing and advertising firms focus solely on your “front stage” messaging. But you must also build your “back stage” so that it supports and synchronizes with your front stage.

From Red To Black – Black Friday And Cyber Monday Bring Businesses Back

Retailers, shopaholics, and Web surfers unite every year for their trip to mecca: the paradise that awaits is a celebration known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The days commence the frenzy of online and offline shopping that will shift businesses profitability through to Christmas.

Historically the two busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday fall on the Thursday after Thanksgiving and the following Monday, respectively. These two days pack the most punch into retailers’ pockets around the globe, and put the biggest bang for the buck into shoppers’ bags.

Black Friday became known as such because it’s the day brick-and-mortar retailers often go from being unprofitable or “in the red,” to back in the black. Cyber Monday, a technical spillover of Black Friday was named more recently in the 21st century when it was discovered that many hungry virtual shoppers skipped the malls and shopped in the comfort of their own cozy offices, bringing online businesses back to black. In addition, many holiday revelers return to work o n Monday but are inclined to take an extended vacation by shopping online on company time.

A pivotal weekend for e-commerce sites, in recent years Black Friday and Cyber Monday have earned the title of the biggest online spending days in the year. Some will say that Cyber Monday isn’t as profitable as Black Friday, and some will say Black Friday should be called Green Friday; but the proof is in the pennies of virtual cash registers.

Indeed, in 2006 Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day on record according to comScore Networks, an e-commerce tracking firm. Cyber-happy shoppers spent $485 million on Cyber Monday in 2006. Likewise, comScore Networks also reports that Black Friday profits last year reached a close $430 million.

In another online market, e-card season is about to flourish, too. As holiday revelers gear up, American Greetings offers a convenient reminder service for sending out Christmas e-cards. Users can set up the service and schedule delivery dates. By tackling this task during other Cyber Monday activities, users can take multi-tasking and organization to a whole new level.

Online retailers generally endorse this crucial shopping season with special promotions that add to the shoppers’ anticipation. Online and offline shoppers can expect awesome price discounts, free shipping, “doorbuster” sales and incentive prizes. Adding to the anticipation, most retailers don’t announce their specials until special Black Friday ads circulate in the Thanksgiving Day newspapers and mail lists online.

Retail trends show that most people are as dedicated to the onslaught of holiday shopping as they are to the actual holiday of Thanksgiving. The potential for increased revenue, brand awareness and holiday sales profitability is endless. Driving the boost in profits in 2007, at least 40% of adults are reporting they plan to do all of their holiday shopping online this year. According to ForeSee Results, an online customer satisfaction and measurement company, online retailers can do two things to guarantee success this cyber-season:

1. Be sure to manage and meet customer expectations. Follow through with online-only discounts and free or discount shopping options. ForeSee’s 2006 studies showed that customers were disappointed last year because they didn’t get the free shipping or price discounts they expected. Research also showed that transactional costs, not product costs are the actual source of dissatisfaction.

2. Be aware of the impact your website has on multichannel operations, i.e. understand the impact that your website has on brand and overall profitability during not only the holiday shopping season, but also on overall sales.

For Black Friday:

  1. Eat plenty of carbs on Thanksgiving. Tryptophan will slow you down on the big day, so pass on the turkey and get a second helping of mashed potatoes.
  2. Pack a lunch. Efficiency is the key. If you need to stop to eat, you may miss out on that hot item that your loved one is dying for.
  3. Call for reinforcement. Send an American Greetings e-card invitation to all your friends to meet up together. Then, dole out your shopping lists together for a “divide and conquer” strategy.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep. If you want to take advantage of the “early bird” deals, then you’ll need to wake up at the crack of dawn and hit the stores.
  5. Make sure you have a full tank of gas. To find the best deals, you may have to drive from store to store and you won’t want to waste precious moments filling up.

For Cyber Monday:

  1. Build hand strength. Get those fingers in shape for the multiple click-thrus, filling out of forms, and shopping comparison you will be undertaking. Do some strength training and schedule a massage for the following day.
  2. Get your list down now. Preferably, this should be in Word format so you can click back and forth between views to get everything accomplished.
  3. Bookmark all your shopping sites now. The less surfing, the less time wasted. Do the research today to save you some time on Cyber Monday. While you’re online, note the animated Christmas e-cards you want to send to friends this season.
  4. If you have to work on Monday, then pack a lunch and use your lunch hour to start shopping.
  5. Use a designated credit card for online shopping only. That way if anything questionable occurs with your account, you can track purchases back to a single card.

Business Cracks Will Break Your Business’ Back

Do you remember what we used to say as kids, “step on a crack, and break your mamas’ back!”? Well, now that we are all grown up, the old adage still rings true – to an extent. As adults in the business world, we are discovering that actually stepping on your business cracks without repairing them can really break its back.

Are there cracks in your business? Not just your foundation, but in other areas, as well?

Business cracks come from errors. Errors come from a lack of knowledge, a lack of resources and a lack of cash. In all honestly though, errors can result from a variety of things.

The problem occurs when we focus on quick fixing the crack. Quick fixes happen when we fail to determine the true cause of the crack (error, problem, challenge, etc.). It all boils down to re-learning the simple equation of cause and effect related to your business.

We spend so much time on fixating on the error rather than actually eliminating the cause of the error that our businesses begin failing.

Try to imagine it this way. Imagine your business is the earth and you are out in space orbiting your “business earth,” looking for rough areas, soft areas and smooth areas. The smooth areas are good to go but the rough and soft areas need work. Taking a birds-eye view of your business is ok but taking the “business earth” view of your business is taking how you operate your business to a completely strategic level.

For example, a rough area indicates a bumpy path or a bumpy area of your Small Business System.™ So, maybe the way you are going about managing your daily administrative tasks takes up all your time and you never get a chance to actually do what you planned to do on any given day. You answer phone calls, you check emails, you create your to do lists, and so on. All these administrative tasks are getting done but they are the only things getting done. The marketing, selling, planning, managing and other strategic work is being pushed to the side. As a result, goals are not being met, existing customers are not being serviced, new customers are not being acquired, important deadlines are being pushed back, and before you know it, it is the end of the year and your cash flow is still in the red.

This is a business crack that needs fixing. But do not begin repairing this crack by changing your hours or turning off your email. Rather, begin repairing the crack by determining the root cause of the crack.

Attack the cause first – not the effect of the cause.

Begin repairing the cause of your business cracks with these four steps:

1. Determine if it is the rough areas that need to be worked on first or if it is the soft areas that are ready to cave in and that need the attention immediately. How do you know which crack need your immediate attention? It is based on your culture and strategic goals. Are you meeting your own expectations? Are your strategic goals set and are you on track to meet them? Only you can decide what needs immediate attention first; think long-term versus short-term fixes.

2. Begin breaking down the soft and rough areas within the key functions of your business and rank accordingly, based on what you need to work on first.
Compare these to the goals you have already set; are you doing what you say you are going to do or do you keep doing the same things over and over again and getting less than stellar results? Are you the main cause of the cracks in your business?

3. Make a list of your top five business cracks and prioritize them.
Take your list and put your business cracks in order of importance and emergency. There may be some cracks that need fixing in order for you to stay in business! Put those at the top of your list.

4. Take on each crack one at a time.
Determine the cause of these cracks and create a strategy to alleviate them. This will take a little time but not too much. The best way to do this is to list out the action steps that need to happen to fix the cause of the cracks – put them in order and determine a schedule of completion.

Stop quick fixing your business errors and start with correcting the root cause of the error. Your business backbone will thank you with consistent cash flow and profits!

Remember, business cracks can break you business’ back!

Copyright Efficio, Inc.

by Sherese Duncan, president & CEO, Efficio, Inc.