Category: AVN Insights

When it comes to customer service only remarkable service will do…


Why you need to deliver ‘Remarkable’ customer service and why does it matter?

  • It will help you in an ever increasingly competitive market, if you aren’t delivering a ‘Remarkable’ service then somebody else will
  • Give people something to talk about…Spread the word…’YOU ARE REMARKABLE’
  • Help you stand out among competitors and get it right, every time, with every customer
  • Likeminded customers will be drawn towards you and get people talking about the great things you do
  • Builds strong customer and team loyalty; a great place to work and great people to work alongside

You need to start going the extra mile: you can’t just decide you want to be ‘REMARKABLE’ you have to act like it too. Start doing and create an experience for your clients … every time

It’s a talking point: to be remarkable, you need to be remarked on, so think about how you’ll do this:

  • What are they going to talk about?
  • What are your USPs?
  • Do you go above what other business in your sector in your area?
  • Are you the go to person in your area/sector?

Be different, be BOLD, you may not have an endless marketing budget or time but you can play a different game

  • Be unconventional, be real, and be different – Why not?
  • Stay true to your promise and your passion, but don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and experiment with new ideas.
  • Above all, think of your customers, service with a smile is great, but you want to be remarkable, It has to be in in everything you and your team – do, say, think, and offer

 You first need to define what is your ‘Remarkable’ ?

Using this 5 step approach will give you a robust and structured process to start and continue to enhance your customer service each and every time:

  1. Team – Enthused, pulling the same direction, focused on the customers experience

An engaged Team pulling in the same direction is key, creating a great team ethos and culture can have an equal impact for you and your clients’ experience.

Benefits –

  • When a team member is motivated they do a better job, their workload will become easier, fun and become more enthusiastic
  • Build your businesses culture and live by your values, keep your team engaged and working together
  • Give your team a platform to gather ideas, nominate each other on a job well done
  • In order to motivate your team to succeed, you have to be a great leader and give everybody a sense of purpose
  • Understanding that you need to deliver a remarkable customer service experience every time!


  1. Systems – Don’t leave anything to chance, a step by step for every task

How can you ensure your remarkable service happens every time and not left to chance?

 This is where a systemised approach is key, Michael Gerber the author of The E-Myth books wrote that up to 80% of a business can be systemised. With the right systems in place alongside an engaged team every task can be carried out with the same level of expertise and the outcome be the same, no matter who is carrying out the task.

 Benefits –

  • Increasing standards, saves time and allows you all to work smarter – will give great customer service every time
  • Empowers your team, rather than having to ask you
  • Builds a culture – culture blame a system not a person
  • Each customer will get the same remarkable service every time!


  1. Wows – Exceeding your clients expectations every time

Wows in customer service and their experiences are about meaningful details, they are unique, and an expression of your company’s culture and shared values.

When a customer experiences a ‘wow’:-

  • You are exceeding their expectations in an unexpected way
  • It shows you are interest in building rapport and not just purchase a service or product
  • It is about making personal emotional connections with empathy

 Let’s look at ‘wows’ that our clients experience when attending a training event and why:-

  • All our car park space free and clearing marked with our company logo

Why: To help the clients clearly see the designated parking

  • Football table

Why: to interactive with the clients in a fun way

  • Charity donation to B1G1

Why: to help our clients see we care about others

  • Toiletries and toilet twinning

Why: To refreshes themselves and see the poster that (2.4 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo. That’s more than a third of the people on the planet) shows we care about others around the world

  • Retro sweets

Why: Take the clients back to 1980’s and either eat themselves or take home for their children

With any wow its import to remember –

  • Your client relationship is paramount, clients will remember and perhaps more importantly talk about, the ‘little things’ that you do more than the products you deliver.
  • What was once remarkable becomes the standard very quickly, so it’s important to keep evolving and enhancing!
  • If you forget a wow you have done with a client in the past, your client may notice!


  1. Learning from others – Do not reinvent the wheel, what have been your experiences and read about what are other credible experts doing

We also experience good and bad customer service in our everyday life and taking the good and adapting it for your business is a great way of passing on what and how it made you feel.

Learning from others gives you a different perspective and it will gives you an insight to sectors and ideas for your business.

A great exercise is to brain storm with your team and all think of great customer service each of you have experienced and in true brain storming session pick the best idea which you and the team can implement.

There are many ‘customer service’ books which are recommend a couple:

  • Feargal Quinn – Crowning the customeris a hands-on guide written in a simple jargon-free style
  • Ken Blanchard – Raving fans that will help everyone, in every kind of organisation or business, deliver stunning customer service and achieve miraculous bottom-line results.


  1. Gathering feedback – Ask and reflect to know you are remarkable and ensure you get candid feedback

How do you know that your clients think you are remarkable? What are other saying about you?

  • The easiest way is to ask, many people don’t like to ask and if they do would you get an honest answer or would they just say the nice things!
  • Think about using an App or software – these can be automated throughout the year or after each job.
  • Don’t be put off sending a manual feedback questionnaire. You could sent in a bright coloured envelope, so it stands out and also printed on different colour paper e.g. yellow or green and you could also add a gift like a biscuit, tea bag. If sending through the post you must always enclose a SAE or a free post envelope.
  • Social proof and what others say about you and your services, so gathering Testimonials is a must these can be used whole to display in your office or on your website and social media.


With any feedback good or bad ensure you share with your team, if good to celebrate, since we all like recognition or if negative think about and implement, what system needs changing? Do the team need training?

Your Client happiness should be measured either after each meeting, project or periodically throughout the year. Research shows that only 4% of dissatisfied customers will ever complain. The other 96% will quietly go away and 91% of those will never come back. Furthermore, a dissatisfied customer will tell 8-10 people about it. Asking your clients for feedback gives you an opportunity to address any issues before they become a problem.

A few thoughts…

Deliver a remarkable customer service and your clients will become your advocates and tell others!

Be the business that people know because of what you do – not because of what you don’t!

Please let me know is this approach has enhanced your customer service

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog

Laura Newby



Article Source: Laura Newby

Fantastic Teams #5 – Passion needs patient zero


Everybody wants their teams to be more engaged and passionate about what they do but passion is contagious, it’s infectious. In order for it to spread, it has to be present in the first place.  It has to be present in you.

Are you, the leader/business owners truly engaged and passionate about what you do and what the business is striving to achieve.

It really doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if you don’t have the passion you have a job.  This is unfulfilling, even if it pays well.  How can you expect to exude energy into your team if you don’t have it yourself?

So, are you truly passionate about what you’re doing?

I work with accountants, many of whom had exhausted their passion.  No longer did they enjoy producing compliance accounts for their clients.  This has become an under valued service, a commodity, it had become unfulfilling.

They began working with me and my business AVN where we re-ignited that passion by sharing with them how their skills with numbers can make a profound difference by simply making a change in how they utilise those skills.

People are most passionate when they’re making a difference.  Having a bigger impact than simply making a profit.  Changing lives in a positive way.

In your business are you changing lives in a positive way?  I expect that if you really thought about it, it is or it could be.

Perhaps it’s not always obvious, many focus on the main features of the function of the business whether it’s installing radiators as a plumber would, putting fires out as a fireman would or working with numbers as an accountant would.

But for every function, there’s a bigger picture.

  • A Plumber changes lives by providing comfort and warmth.
  • A Fireman allows a future to happen through the lives he or she saves.
  • An Accountant, using their skills with numbers can help businesses grow and develop and help the people behind those businesses get their lives back.

Do you really have clarity about the bigger impact your business can make?  If you do, does your team?

What’s the emotional impact that comes with what you deliver?

Take some time out, take a walk, go for a drive, get some solitude and really think about what you’re doing, what’s the bigger picture.  Is what you’re doing floating your boat?  Do you look forward to Friday or Monday?

In what way does or can your business affect lives?

If you’d like some help and guidance with this let me know via the comments box.

If you’ve enjoyed this article please let me know by clicking like and as always, if you feel others would benefit from reading this then click share.

Shane Lukas – Best selling author of What’s Next for Accountants; How to make the biggest threat facing the profession your biggest opportunity.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Team #4 – Whose fault is it anyway?


When things go wrong in your business are you quick to blame others?  Or do you take responsibility yourself?

In my blog about the Initiative Ladder (Fantastic Teams #1) I explained that mistakes must be allowed to happen – on the understanding that the team member who made the mistake is ready to take the responsibility to rectify any mistakes they make; with your support.

That’s relating to using initiative, to deal with the exceptions that typically send your team members in to you, telling you about a problem that you are expected to deal with.

Sometimes however things can go wrong in routine stuff too.

How do you react to this?

Do you chastise the person who erred? Do you continue to hold a grudge against that person, continually reflecting over the mistake they made that led to negative consequences?

How do you think that person felt?

And continues to feel?

Do you think it was deliberate?

What really went wrong?

Do you know?

Or do you just hold them responsible?

What if, instead of responding to something like this with anger and/or disciplinary procedure you work with the team member to identify what led to the mistake happening with a view to ensuring that it can’t ever happen again; either by that person or any other person filling the same or a similar role?

Was the problem down to training or are they generally proficient and something was simply missed?

Did they miss something in a series of checks?

Was it something that’s simply left to memory?  A process that has to be carried out and a part of it forgotten?

Work with your team member to find out the cause and find out how it can be avoided in the future.

Don’t simply leave it at taking the assurance from your team member that they’ll do better to remember everything next time.  That’s unfair and quite frankly, it’s abdication. Anything left to memory is likely to be forgotten at some point especially when there are many steps in a process.

Do you have a system in place that acts as a reminder of the steps that must be taken every time that particular routine job is completed?

A system that includes the ‘bells and whistles’ of additional customer wows that reflect your personality and uniqueness that when followed means those wows happen consistently, every single time.

If you do have systems, do you provide detailed training on every system that you have in place so that there’s no assumption that because a system exists, people can simply follow it?  if not, this too is a form of abdication.

Even if you have these things in place and a mistake occurred it’s important to understand what went wrong, was a step in the system mis-understood? Perhaps it needs re-wording.

Finally, was the system simply not followed?

If so, did you fail to convey the importance of following the systems? This is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of following the systems that are in place and to demonstrate the consequences of not following them.

It’s rare that a team member will deliberately sabotage.  Most people want to do a good job.  Putting a step by step system in place for each function of their job is the best way to ensure consistency and avert mistakes.

If you take a car for MOT, the mechanic, despite having performed MOTs countless times, completes a check list.  This acts as a reminder to ensure no stone was left unturned.

If you go to McDonalds, you’re asked the same questions every time, you’re presented with the same burger every time, the fries taste the same, never burned or undercooked.  The experience that you get from any McDonalds, anywhere in the world is exactly the same.  Because they use systems and the train people to understand them and follow.  Not just for making burgers but in management, marketing and every other function the business needs to be successful.

Having systems in place helps reduce mistakes happening.  Mistakes are inevitable and mistake must be accepted.  When you blame people they feel demotivated.  Investigate the cause.

If the cause of the problem is owing to the system not being followed then understand why.  Not every person enjoys following systems.  If this is the case, then perhaps you’ve employed the wrong person for the job.

So, before blaming others, look in the mirror.  What can you do to ensure that any mistake only occurs once.

If you’d like to get a free resource from me on how to put systems in place in to a business then send me a message either via the comments section below or via a direct message and I’ll happily send one to you.

As always, if you enjoyed this blog please let me know by clicking LIKE.  If you think others will benefit please SHARE it.


Article Source: Shane Lukas

The 7 mistakes stopping you earning £200,000 annual profit

At AVN we regularly carry out benchmarking studies of the UK accounting profession. And since 1998 we've worked with hundreds and hundreds of accountants in the UK and seen what works - and what doesn't. One of the things that's really interesting about our profession is that accountants are not performing very well.

The average profit per partner in the UK is about £68,706.

And this is about £10,000 less than our comparative study in 2007. So life's getting harder and harder for many UK accountants. And bearing in mind of course that this is £68,706 is not a true profit. It's not a 'true profit' because most accountants trade as sole practitioners or as partnerships. Consequently we don't put through a commercial salary for the owners' own time. In other words, the costs for the time we put in. At a recent seminar for accountants (partners and sole practitioners) we asked what their time was worth. In other words, thinking about all the work they do, their responsibilities and their experience, what would they expect to be paid if they were doing exactly the same things - and working the same ours - working for larger accounting firm. The answers ranged from £70,000 to well over £100,000. What does this mean? Simple. If we were to put a commercial salary through for the partners of most firms, of accountants in the UK are making a loss. And that's simply not good enough. Particularly when you bear in mind that the top performing  firms, despite recent difficult times, are performing better than ever. In the past few years, AVN has twice held a 'summit' meeting of 6 of the best performing firms in the UK (with partners earning in excess of £200,000 profit per year). Whilst on the surface their practices look very different (for example, there were more differences in their service offerings) at the very heart of what they do are a set of core underlying principles and best practice concepts. Things that every great business has in place and yet are often lacking in others. And here's the great news. When you truly understand what these things are you have a roadmap for building a £1m accounting firm. This roadmap consists of seven key things. Seven things, that when you get them right, can transform your results. Seven things which are missing in most accounting firms we come across.

Mistake 1 - No Clear Strategy

Mistake 2 - Wrong Pricing

Mistake 3 - Average Service

Mistake 4 - Poor Marketing

Mistake 5 - No Written System

Mistake 6 - Measuring The Wrong Things

Mistake 7 - Inadequate People

In later articles we will expand on these mistakes, so please follow us on FaceBook, LinkedIn or Twitter or return to our AVN  Insights to expand your knowledge and help you develop your practice. Thanks for reading. The AVN Team DSC_0180    

Fantastic Teams #3 – Defining Leadership


When I made the decision to write this blog about the definition of leadership I had a flashback to my youth.  I was a Star Trek fan (well, I still am!) and I remembered an episode where Spock reminded Captain Kirk that he would lose faith and command of the crew if he were seen as vulnerable in any way and perceived as less than perfect.

Since all of these series are now available on Netflix I decided it was pertinent research to look up and watch the episode again.

Throughout the episode, all of the crew were looking to the captain for guidance, orders and decision making.  No recommendations were sought but plenty of dilemmas were brought his way and he was expected to know the answers and give the orders.

The episode was created in the 1960’s and although was intended to represent a perfect future including a perfect hierarchy of command chain, it represented an outdated ideology, even in the military this method of leadership is realised to be ineffective.  And yet it’s still applied in many businesses.

I’m certainly not infallible and I don’t profess to be in any way. I don’t know everything there is to know and If I tried to then I’d be making my strengths weaker by making my weaknesses stronger and this would be a mistake.  Between my team, we make stuff happen together, we all have different strengths and we play to them.

My definition of Leadership: Sharing a vision that inspires others and then creating the environment where everybody in your team can become the best they can be at playing their part in helping that vision become a reality.

I would suggest that a leader is more like a gardener.  A gardener will develop an idea of what they want their garden to look like and the experience they want visitors to have.  They put in the plants and flowers that will help their vision come true.  And then that gardener waters and feeds the plants, keeps the weeds out that could damage the plants or would prevent the vision becoming a reality.  Always continuing to ensure that the environment for each plant and flower is just right so that the plant can flourish and become the best that it can be.

People are the same, people need to be in the right environment where they’re encouraged and are free to become the best they can be.  Where a genuine interest is taken in them. Where their needs are met.

If they’re not enthusiastic about your vision then they simply aren’t right for your team – find the people who are inspired by your vision.  Use the initiative ladder concept I referred to in Fantastic Teams blog #1 Get your team to step up and allow to them to make the decisions that ultimately fit with your values and beliefs.

Just as with flowers and plants, if people aren’t performing, there’s a very high chance it’s down to the leader who hasn’t created a performance environment.

3 things that really help create the right environment, Equality, Camaraderie and a Sense of Achievement.  Here’s a brief insight to each.


Equality can apply in many ways, fair reward, fair conditions, fair attention from you. In this case I’ll focus on the latter, who do you give most of your time to?  We often take for granted the great performers in the business, internally pleased that they’re just getting on with doing a great job and forget to tell them and show them the gratitude they deserve.  Conversely, we often spend more time with the people who simply aren’t right for the business, trying to get them onboard. Trying to get them to do better.  This demoralises the better performers. Great leaders hire slow and fire fast.  I’ve been guilty of spending too much time trying to bring someone on when in my heart I knew within a few days that I’d hired the wrong person. It’s harsh but hiring the wrong people is like planting weeds in the garden, they’ll stifle and negatively affect the other team members and the overall vision.


A lack of camaraderie can also inhibit performance.  Create a buzz, set goals that everyone is involved in.  Be careful not to set goals that ‘tunnel vision’ the team on the result of the goal and at the expense of everything else.  Carefully consider your goals, set milestones and create camaraderie in achieving them. Celebrate every win – together.

Sense of achievement.

Help each member of your team develop a sense of achievement.  Is their workload realistic? Do they finish the day feeling like they’ve achieved stuff or finish the day 3/4 through a list of jobs that were unreasonable in the first place? This can lead to worry and stress and an ever increasing catch-up list. I often find that my team members take too much on themselves. I have to convince them to reduce the list to just the most important stuff in order to feel they’re achieving what they need to.  Stuff can creep in to workloads that’s all important.  Deciding the most important and feeling comfortable about eliminating items can be difficult to do alone.

Spend good quality time with all of your team.  Understand them as individuals, learn their strengths and their motivations. (it’s most often not financial).  Work with them to play to their strengths and create the environment that motivates them.

All of this contributes to creating a high performance environment that will inevitably take the business toward your vision.  Your job as leader is to be the gardener who works to ensure the environment is the best you can make it.

Go be a gardener.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

How to make money while you’re on the beach


Imagine this…a two week Caribbean cruise with your family. No internet access. No telephones. No access to your business. But you are completely relaxed, just enjoying the sights and sounds around you, and making memories with those people that you love the most. Back home you know that your business is thriving – you have an amazing team of people that will ensure that the work is done and that the business is continuing to make money, and that all of the customers are truly delighted. How fantastic would this be?

I’d never really thought about the power of systems within businesses until I read ‘The E-Myth’ by Michael Gerber, and watched his video Small Business Success. Even after working for almost 10 years for a bank, the word ‘system’ had never been mentioned, although there was lots of training around ‘how we do things at the bank’.

Michael Gerber really opened my eyes into understanding the difference between working for yourself and truly running a business that works without you, and about the type of business that I want. For many people the idea of having a business that not only works without you, but is incredibly successful without your day to day involvement would be a dream come true. And for many people that is all it will ever be – a dream!

But why is that? I know only too well. As a business owner, and self confessed control freak, I know how difficult it is ‘letting go’ and giving people the authority and responsibility to make decisions about your business. Not only that, but there is the desire in all of us to feel needed and important, and having people asking you for help, guidance and support fulfills that need.

It is entirely possible to create this business, allowing you to take time off to go on holiday and to spend with your family, and to take the time to work ON the business rather than always working IN it. Over the coming weeks and months I will be explaining how this can be done and by taking small steps how you can make the changes to your business.

To get you started, for the next few days make a list of every task that you do. Which of these do you do repeatedly and are repetitive? Which could, with the help of some guidance be passed onto someone else in your business so that you have more time to work on some of the other tasks on your ‘to do list’? I’m sure with some thought, you might be able to pass on 10% of your tasks. This could potentially free up half a day a week. What difference could that make to you?

Article Source: Jenny Lukas

Fantastic Teams #2 Kill the staff…



I’ve always hated the word ‘staff’.

It immediately infers an ‘us’ the employer/manager and ‘them’ the employed.  It puts people in their place. it’s derogatory, it dates back to a time of command and control and it’s not conducive to developing a team of people who all feel a sense of ownership to the purpose of the business.

Let me share a couple of very recent examples of the difference between staff and team.

An example of staff: Last night I joined some of my friends at the local 10 pin bowling centre, as a friend was getting a round of drinks in at the bar a group of people came in through the main entrance; presumably wishing to have a game of 10 pin bowling.  The bar-man grumbled almost furiously to my friend about it.  After all, he’d just tidied the empty bowling lanes and now someone else has the audacity to come.  Clearly this barman made no connection to people coming in and buying stuff = him getting paid!  He is a member of staff, he has his duties, one is serving drinks, another is tidying the bowling alleys for the evening. He now has to put additional effort in before the end of the evening and he’s not happy about it and he has no problem letting other customers know how unhappy he is about it too.

An example of team:  Earlier that same day – Friday, Tracy Clow an AVN Team member was in the process of organising an upcoming event that we’re running which included evening meals.  As it’s a 2 day event we use the local pub for 1 of the days and the local hotel for another.  The hotel is more expensive but it makes for a change in environment.  On this occasion the pub couldn’t accommodate us meaning that the hotel would need to for both days.  Tracy decided to nip across the road to the hotel and see the manager, she successfully negotiated him down on the price of the meals for us and the drinks then came back and shared her success with me.  Tracy has no accountabilities around this, organising these events doesn’t fall within her typical remit, had she had the ‘staff’ mentality she would simply have booked the hotel for 2 nights.  But she didn’t, Tracy treats the business like it’s her own and looks out the businesses best interests as do the rest of the team.  She also ensured in her negotiations that although the price was discounted, the customer experience of our delegates would remain outstanding.

Moving from Staff to Team isn’t just about changing a word but it’s a really good starting point.  I know that to many it seems very alien to suddenly start using the word team in place of staff but it doesn’t take long before it feels natural.

Making this change is a necessary step in the process.  It begins to change the mindset. ‘Team’ means something very different to ‘staff’ and so in order to use the word in our language, our behaviour has to, and begins to reflect its definition.

It’s always been considered a swear word within AVN and although it seems odd to a new employee, it doesn’t take long before they understand the difference.

Make the ‘staff’ word a swear word in your business and kill the culture it represents.  As this series progresses I’ll continue to share different concepts that help develop a true team culture.

If you need to catch up and start from the beginning of my series you can do that by going to my blog site at

If you’ve found this useful please let me know by clicking like.  if you know others in business that would find this useful please do share it now.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Fantastic Teams #1 – Get your team to step up

Shane Lukas, AVN
AVN Practice Growth Experts

What do I mean by stepping up? Let’s look at a scenario and forgive me, it’s a negative scenario but it’s a common one…

A scenario

Lets say a customer has reported a problem; they have a complaint.

An employee of yours takes the call, makes a note of the problem and tells the customer they’ll get you to call them back to deal with it.  Sound familiar?

That employee then comes to see you and explains the problem, you might well have been deep in concentration working on something really important, but this customer complaint has to take priority so you give it your attention.

As you listen to the problem, you feel the onus is on you to come up with the solution and because your employee has told the customer you’ll call them back, the problem has become yours to deal with.

Your employee leaves and resumes their daily routine whilst yet another problem has landed on your shoulders.  You’re now fighting yet another metaphorical fire.  But you’re the boss, the oracle of knowledge in your business and you have all the answers.  Right?

Is that really the case? Could that employee have dealt with it? If only they’d taken the time to think through the solution and dealt with the problem in a way that you’d feel happy about?  So why don’t they?

The problem

Well, largely the problem is that many people have been ‘trained’ to not think for themselves; many employers are control freaks and/or power hungry.

In both cases they feel that unless they make the decisions things will go wrong.  This quells the energy and enthusiasm of people almost the moment they get their first job and the mindset sticks – they’re paid to do as they’re told, not to think!  They’ll take the problem to their boss, keep their heads down and do what’s expected of them and little more.

This is sad because the spark of human ingenuity is suppressed, the whole is not greater than the sum of it’s parts and too much relies on you.  Let’s change this.

A better way

I’m privileged to work with amazing people who deal with problems that come in quickly, effectively and in many cases, ingeniously.  It’s not just about dealing with problems of course, they bring and implement great ideas to prevent problems happening in the first place. They bring and implement great ideas for making the business better.  And I get to focus on the important stuff that I need to that also makes my business stronger rather than be continually interrupted and reacting to day to day operational stuff that crops up.

I have a team of people that feel empowered to express themselves in the business and because of this they feel valued and have a deep sense of worth.  And rightly so.

I didn’t recruit this team from the ‘Super heroes recruitment centre’  These are ordinary people who do extraordinary stuff and you can develop your team in the same way.

Stepping up in visual context

steps of initiative
The steps to take your employees through to reignite their initiative that in turn will help you grow your business

Let me put stepping up in to visual context. This diagram of ‘steps’ illustrates the stages where people can be at in using their own initiative. Many people reside on the lower or next rung up.  Either they’re ‘Go for’s’ – They’ll simply wait to be told what to do; “Go for this”, “go do that”.  Or they get on with their day to day stuff but anything  outside of that remit, they’ll bring the problem to you.  We call this ‘Ask’ because they’re not thinking for themselves.

The next rung up is entitled ‘Recommend’ this is the equivalent of ‘Bring me a solution, not a problem’.  This is the first target rung.  I set an expectation that I’m not expecting the perfect solution to be presented every time.  Just take a few moments to think about what would be the best course of action to remedy the problem or to make a situation better and then bring that to me.  I explain this ladder and set expectation that ‘Recommend’ is the minimum level I expect of everyone who works at AVN when I recruit people.

It’s also the maximum level until I believe they’re ready.  I explain later.

This is about breaking habits.  For many, it’s a habit to come and ask rather than think first.  Also fear of bringing a recommendation that’s not right can prohibit people.  It’s your job to encourage and remind; every time someone brings a problem to you, ask the question:  “What do you recommend?”.  If their immediate response is “I don’t know!” then have patience, ask the question, “If you did know, what would it be?”.  Reassure them that there’s no such thing as a bad recommendation. Be patient and wait.

Whatever response they give, work with them on it.

First of all, provide positive encouragement, it’s great they’ve put forward a recommendation.

If you feel that the recommendation isn’t quite right, question yourself first, why isn’t it.  What would the outcome be of that recommendation, is it simply that the method is different to what you might do or might it have negative connotations?  If it’s simply a different method but the outcome gets the right result then as long as it fits with your values and how you want your business to be perceived then let them run with it.  If it doesn’t fit with your values then explain why and keep it positive and work with them to develop the recommendation so that it fits.

If you foresee negative connotations then give them the scenario…”I wonder what would happen if…”

Work with your employee to come up with the right recommendation, not by telling them; but by asking thought provoking questions that help them come to a better solution themselves.

This takes patience, there’s no magic wand solution to building a great team overnight but the rewards and benefits of taking the extra time now to develop your team now are worth it.

The more your team bring recommendations forward and you work with them to shape the recommendations to fit with the way you want your business to be perceived the more the recommendations will be presented in that way.

Be the support

Of course, in every situation, don’t take the solution and run with it yourself, your employee has developed the solution so let them run with it.  Give them the assurance that you’ll support them and that you trust them to run with it. If things go wrong, support them and encourage them, don’t take it off of them.

Time to trust

The next rung up is ‘Do it and report immediately’.  Sooner or later, members of your team will be bringing recommendations that – most of the time – fit.  It’s time to now to take that trust to the next level.  This is a one to one conversation as each member of your team reaches this stage.

Tell them that their judgement and recommendations are spot on.  Let them know that you feel they’re ready to go to the next level now.

Encourage them to trust their own judgement because you do and to deal with situations themselves.  Ask them to come and see you afterwards to let you know what happened and what they did about it.

This is important.

You have to allow for mistakes to happen.  No one is perfect and what might seem like a good idea can go wrong.  If something does go wrong, you must not chastise.  Doing so will put that employee right back to the bottom rung.  Be there for support but don’t take the problem back.

Encourage the employee to take the responsibility to resolve the situation and support them every step of the way. This will make them stronger.

At this stage in the ladder you may have to remind people who come to you with the recommendation that you trust their judgement to get on and do it.

Provide genuine praise

Always provide the praise, it’s too easy to simply begin to take for granted that members of your team are dealing with these situations and forget to appreciate them.  Everyone likes/wants and needs to feel appreciated and a “thank you!”, a “well done!”, a “you’re doing a great job!” expressed genuinely, goes a long way.

Time to reduce your interruptions 

At the appropriate time, encourage your team members to move to the next step ‘Do it and report routinely’ and simply report on a weekly or monthly basis in a team meeting.  This way, you get uninterrupted time to focus on the stuff you need to focus on that’s improving your business.

Don’t let fear stop you

I’ve shared this concept with many business owners and sometimes they’ve expressed their concern that if they develop their team members too much they’ll probably end up leaving and starting their own business in competition rather than continuing as an employee.

That may of course happen, but in my experience it’s incredibly rare.  Most people leave a business because they feel undervalued.  Starting a business is not a walk in the park and is a very daunting notion.  Creating an environment where people can express their creativity, can make decisions and feel supported and appreciated will improve loyalty and a feeling of ownership and commitment to the success of the business.

Action to take.

Talk to each member of your team about the initiative ladder.  Explain to them the impact it has on you every time a problem is brought your way.  Explain that you want to help them to develop themselves and how doing so will free up your time in the long run to make the business stronger which will benefit everyone.

Get in to the habit of asking for a recommendation rather than listening to the problem.

If you’ve found this useful, let me know by clicking like, if you feel others would benefit, share it.

Article Source: Shane Lukas

Why blowing your Trumpet is a must…


Many people do not take the credit or shout about what a great service, experience or what difference they may have made to a person’s life.

We are all guilty of this and we really need to accept the recognition of this and ‘Blow our own trumpet’ and be proud of our many achievements; this can be metaphorically speaking, or in the case of one of my clients who has a visual, literal anchor from which he can now blow his own trumpet!

My client wrote, ‘Tracy went one step beyond just encouraging and believing in me: she sent me an actual trumpet! To say it made me smile is an understatement. Within our recent call, one action that came up was basically about confidence within ourselves and this can be defined as ‘Blowing [our] own trumpet’. I’ve now placed it on the top of my cabinet, so whenever I am looking at seizing opportunities. I will now use this as a prompt to ensure that I remember to take credit and recognition for my hard work. We all go on a journey when we are in business, but my biggest journey has been the building of confidence within myself, so I will carry on ‘Blowing my trumpet!’

I hope you, like my client can take the time to blow your own trumpet! Take the time to reflect and recognise your achievements… you too can seize every opportunity!

Take the time to reflect and recognise your achievements… you too can seize every opportunity!

Please let me know if you too have blown your trumpet after reading my post!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog



Article Source: Tracy Clow

When is the best time to plant a tree?


What to consider when taking the plunge to grow an online presence…

It is often very scary when you are faced with a blank page and you have to fill it. It can be terrifying to try to find the right words to express your thoughts and experiences to fill up that white space.

As a new blogger, I am feeling the very same panic right now. What do I say? What if nobody is interested? Do I have anything of value to offer the world?  It is enough to make you want to switch off your devices and head for the hills!

Anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear that I am lost for words – I am often described as a chatterbox, in fact most people will attest that it is getting me to shut up that is the trick!  But in all seriousness, I often hear from the people that I speak to on a daily basis that I am not alone in struggling to find my voice.

In today’s social climate, it seems to be more and more important to be seen to be connecting online, and as a business professional I am sure you will have been told that you need to have an ‘online presence’. The truth of the matter is that it can be a struggle to find the time and the energy to commit to ‘putting yourself out there’ in the virtual world to build a reputation as a thought leader. Even more tricky is making yourself heard above the chatter. Technological advances mean that it is ever easier to connect and share your thoughts and experiences, but with everyone doing the same thing it is hard to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

So where do you start?

The old adage The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now applies when deciding to try your hand at building an online profile. There is no time like the present so be brave, commit some time and take the plunge. It can be scary but there are a few things to take into account to give yourself the best chance to succeed:

Know your limits – don’t try to set up or contribute to too many social profiles or blogs. It is better to pick one platform to focus your energy on getting right than spreading yourself too thin.

Set yourself some goals – what do you want to achieve? How much time do you want to commit to focus on doing it?

Set a timeline – give yourself a timeframe to work in, and at the end of the timeframe review your progress in relation to the goals you set yourself. Is there anything that is working well, or anything you can stop doing?

Plan your postings – Whether you are creating your own blogs, contributing to online groups or sharing and commenting on existing content over social media, it is important to properly plan what you post and when for maximum impact and manageability.

Know your audience – who do you want to engage with? What is relevant to them? What challenges do they face? How can you help?

Stick to what you know – demonstrate your strengths, knowledge and expertise by sharing, creating and commenting on subjects that you are good at. Remember that you ultimately want to generate connections and conversations around the content you share, so make sure that you are comfortable with the subject.

Write about what you are passionate about, what inspires you. It follows that your enthusiasm for your subject will shine through in your writing and make it more engaging for readers. Who knows, you may even inspire someone else!

Quality, not quantity is best. Remember – the goal is to connect and start a conversation, not to spam the marketplace with irrelevant content that nobody will want to read, let alone share.

Make sure that what you share is valuable – you want to be associated with knowledge and wisdom. Remember your audience and what you can do to help them with their challenges and interests. They will appreciate and engage more often with content that ‘speaks to them’.

Resist the urge to ‘sell’ – there is nothing that is more of a turn off than a pushy salesman. Remember when entering into conversations with potential connections, that the goal is to highlight how you can help them, not to over face them with an aggressive sales pitch. If what you can offer is appealing, people will come to you.

And most important of all…

Be yourself – don’t try to be something you are not when building an online presence. For one it is exhausting, and secondly, people will often see that you are not what you profess to be. If you want to grow your connections and followers it is important that you show them the ‘real you’ so that they can begin to get to know you, to like you and ultimately to trust you. Because when you earn someone’s trust, they will be delighted to work with you, to share your content and to recommend you to their friends.

So that is my first blog post, and it wasn’t as scary as I thought! Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments so please feel free to post below.


Ellen Woodbine – Practice Growth Expert, AVN




Article Source: Ellen Woodbine



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