I teach business skills every day. There are people that I deal with who have many more years of experience in business and have many more degrees from prestigious colleges, but there is always something that I can suggest that has merit to adding customers and sales or reducing costs. Business, like some of our readers have noticed, has many angles and can be approached with a new view even after centuries of sales.
The reason I mention this is that I had my finest achievement recently and it involved a businessman that is headstrong, stubborn, and doesn’t listen to me most of the time. I guess I need to restate a few things. He does listen. He just never let me know he was paying attention. Business skills are learned as much as they are a part of a person’s personality. I would rate his skills before this past weekend as high in personality but low in business acumen.
Once the weekend hit, I learned how wrong I was. He had learned the lessons I taught about how to build a brand and I learned a few things myself.
To say that I saw the best businessman in any industry at work is an understatement. I saw him stop traffic…I mean he stopped traffic! People got out of their cars and spent money right there at the street. He is beyond a doubt the very best.
- I saw him stand at the front counter and grab people’s attention with a wave and smile.
- He was charming and polite.
- He asked customers for the sale and then asked them if they wanted more. He asked enough questions until he got to the word “No”.
- He was fast serving them.
- He was quick to close the sale.
- He mentioned that they could stop back for more later…for an additional fee.
- He thanked them warmly and continued to be polite.
- He knew the sale did not end the relationship with the customer.
- He asked them to mention the products to friends.
I was proud. I was very proud.
The “man” is my 8 year old son. He asked me a few weeks ago to help him start his own business. Knowing that an 8 year old doesn’t think small and would want to lease space for a store front if I let him, I worked a deal with him to build a lemonade stand if he was willing to follow my rules for business. Little man has heard me talk about business since before he could talk, so I knew he heard the Bulldog Rules for Business, but I did not realize how much he had taken them to heart and was able to demonstrate them and make money.
I built the lemonade stand and he paid for the cups and the lemonade mix. We were going to freshly squeeze the lemons, but we decided to make profits instead. There is always an element of profitability that every good businessman must take into account. The task of running the booth was his alone. I stood by and ended up assisting (I filled cups with ice), but I did not engage the customers. That was his job and I did not want to artificially increase sales by stepping over his management.
To say that I was stressed in watching my son run a small business in my driveway is an understatement. I wanted to help, take over, manage the station, and control the sales. That is what “Type A” personalities do…we jump in and get it done. This, however, was my chance to see if I am a good coach. I wanted to see if the lessons I preach can be lived on a very small scale and make a big impact. It worked!
Little man was amazing. He did stop traffic. He even sold lemonade to the lady driving that infernal ice cream truck with the horrible music. She stopped right in front of his stand and bought from him. She was impressed with his sales ability (He asked her if she wanted two cups since it was such a hot day). He sold to neighbors, his friends, and anyone who happened down our street that morning. He started selling lemonade at 9:00am. I can’t drink lemonade that early. I still taste toothpaste at 9:00am, but people bought and loved it.
Like I do in every article on Business Bulldog, I want to know if your team is following the rules that an eight year old made look easy. The Bulldog Rules for Business are common sense, but powerful when followed. Can you have the enthusiasm of an eight year old every day and with every sale? Can you speak clearly and ask for the sale and then ask for more from the customers without sounding like you are selling to them? Do you ask your customers to send friends to your store? Do you ask how they like your products and service? My son did and now he has a following of people who want to come back for more.
As for using a powdered mix instead of fresh lemons, the customers loved the experience, so it didn’t matter. It isn’t all about the product. The best situations to get a sale involve the product, the engagement, and the environment. Get these things right and the sales will come. The drink was good enough leaving room for profits without cheating customers. The engagement of the sale to the customers was better than they would have gotten at 100 times the price. Finally, he maintained a clean, good looking environment for customers to feel confident they were getting a good product. How about your store?
That old saying, “When life gives you lemons – make lemonade” is a good one. A better saying is “Start with the lemons and make money”.