Friday, December 30, 2011


A New Year is coming so let's all lose weight, get taller, grow hair in places we want hair to be and become more disciplined.

Every day, every minute starts a new year. If it's such a good thing to do, why not start today?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Asking questions versus questioning things

Questions, questions, questions. Some of us ask them because it makes us look smart, others of us ask them because it puts the onus on the questionee, and once in a while we ask because we want to learn.

Asking questions, a lot of them, is not all that good if it allows the questioner to be passive. A passive questioner is not contributing, they are making noise, they are avoiding getting in the fray with everyone else. So what's the answer? We need the questioner to contribute.

So don't ask endless questions, rather, question things. Question why something is happening and why not something else. Question your usual approach and consider another.

It may seem like semantics, but a barrage of questions fired at someone versus some thought-out questioning of specific issues is very different. The former is noise, the latter can bring engaging discussion and energizing results.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Being stupid versus playing stupid

Stupid is not a nice word. A person with a learning disability should never be laughed at or belittled. They can't control their situation.

But when an intelligent person plays dumb, that's inexcusable. It's tempting to act "stupid" or ignorant, but there is no room for that in any good team or organization.

Whether we're manufacturing things, selling things or servicing things, playing stupid is just plain stupid.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Genius ain't all that smart

I watched a boys baseball game the other day--most of the players were 13 or 14 years old. Both teams had former major leaguers as coaches. But the two teams had totally different approaches.

One coach was pretty laid back and played a conservative game. He was good, but firm with the boys.

The other team had a self-proclaimed genius as its coach. He was berating his kids for screwing up, he'd turn away if they did something wrong and he proved how brilliant he was by his assortment of trick plays that he taught his team.

Barely an inning would go by without some foolery from the coach and his team and sometimes it worked. But much of the time his reliance on the trick plays actually hurt his team. Plus, it was a statement that his team was about him, not the boys.

Sometimes you can outsmart yourself, and in this case, that's just what he did. He not only lost the game, but his players lost confidence in themselves. Genius ain't so smart.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Passion runs both ways

If you represent or manufacture a passion product, congratulations! Nothing is more exciting or fulfilling to see a customer thrilled with your product, enjoying it, coveting it, etc.

But passion runs both ways. No customer will be more disappointed, betrayed or insulted by a poor experience or poorly made product than that very same customer, which is why the more your product inspires passion, the more critical the need to ensure the quality of your product. And the experience of purchasing and owning it must fit the expectations of that passion purchaser.

The fall from the peak of passion is a treacherous one.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Connecting the dots

A great talent for a dealer salesperson is connecting the dots. How often does a salesperson get fragments of info? I'd say 99% of the time.

Seldom does a customer walk in and run down what they want, when they want it and what price they will pay. I'm sure some salespeople will say it happens a lot, but truthfully, much of the time, aren't there always a scattering of issues and needs that even that customer has? Whether it has to do with the product (features, color, size, model, etc) or personal issues (timing, terms, etc), there are always numerous dots that can connected.

The salesperson who connects the dots quicker and better, always wins. The one who waits for them to be connected by the customer or by fate, will be disappointed.  Get the picture?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, December 19, 2011

Throw away the crutches

When we break our leg, we have to use a crutch for support, with the idea that the sooner we can throw the crutches away, the sooner we can stand on our two feet.

We store our invisible crutches all over the place, they're at home, at work, at church, everywhere. We pull them out when we are challenged. Crutches are our way of pleading ignorance or playing the victim or just our way to deflect taking responsibility.

Some of us never throw away our crutches and can't stand on our own two feet. Throw them away, allow a few missteps and a stumble.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stop, then stop, then stop and think one more time

It's not enough to stop and think and move on. With the speed of info shooting at us from all directions, we'll need to stop and think numerous times through the decisions and days of our business lives.

We can't go with the flow without the daily current pulling us down.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond
LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Doctors are in business, too

We look at doctors in many ways: as saviors, necessary evils, irritations, servants, pain-inflictors, etc. My mom was terrified of doctors, so she always made friends with them in hopes of gaining leniency from them. It usually worked.

The best doctors are like the best small-business people, they care about their customers (patients) and they show it.  99% of the time, our doctor is not needed to perform a miracle (fortunately), so it’s his or her personality that will make the experience great or depressing or forgettable.

Think about it: the success of the typical doctor lies not in what was studied in school; it is firmly based on how he or she treats patients and staff. You can tell a doctor who is great with people by the way the staff treats the patients and the doctor. Lousy treatment shows a lousy relationship with the doctor.

As more practices are being bought by health systems, the lone doctor or small doctor group is disappearing. So is the expectation for that doctor to be all-knowing. Why? Because now that doctor is part of a 100-, 200- or even 300-physician group with specialists that the doctor can direct patients to (actually the doctor is all but mandated to do so).

So all of this means that today it is more important than ever the doctor to be the caregiver who really cares.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lip Service

We say we want to grow our manufacturing business, our dealership, our stores, our sales, etc. But then why do we:

Neglect to call back the customer who inquired about that $80k car?
Not listen attentively to any supplier who challenges the way we think?
Ignore our current customers to focus on the kind of customers that don’t fit us?
Choose to not reply to an opportunity that might be a total game-changer?

We need to decide if we really want to grow and progress or just say the right things that sound good.  Commit to growth or bite your lip.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

That being said...

A buddy of mine is very closed minded. It’s his idea or no idea. When he hears someone else’s thoughts or recommendations, he spends the first minute or so praising them and then adds, “That being said, my answer is U.” Kerplunk--concept smashed, destroyed--- game over.

Maybe it’s too hard for him to open his mind or to even openly express why he doesn’t like a particular concept. Maybe he’s smarter than anyone else in the room at all times—that being said

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, December 12, 2011

In the name of the customer

There is no more sacred word than customer in any great organization. But the word customer can be a curse.

How often do organizations panic when there is a customer demand or need? How often are other customers’ deadlines ignored to satisfy a last-minute demand? How often are people intolerant or insensitive of each other because, after all, it’s all about pleasing the customer this moment?

In truth, no decent customer expects a company to disappoint another customer or disrupt employee lives at their expense. So often, it’s we, the customer-facing people who create this situation.

If we decided to live up to every promise, every day, we’d have to sometimes say no or figure out how to do two or three things at once or, heaven forbid, ask one of our associates for help.

 It’s far tougher to figure out how to do the right thing than to do the thing of the moment.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Best Job in the World

It’s great to feel you have the best job in the world, but why do so many people with the best job in the world quit or sabotage themselves into being fired or let go?

Maybe the person loses perspective or gets complacent. Maybe they get greedy and expect way too much. Or maybe they don’t feel they can really live up to the position anymore, it’s too much. It’s also possible that they don’t feel they deserve the position.

No matter, it’s sad. Sometimes we just don’t realize what have until we lose it.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Follow-up Foul-up

Dealership salespeople know that follow-up is important, yet why is it not done as a rule? If we crawl inside the salesperson's head, maybe it's because he/she no longer feels the customer is worth the effort:
1) They probably will never buy
2) They have already bought and will not be in the market soon
3) There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything, so follow-up will be sacrificed

Problem is, the customer may not know if they are going to buy or if they would be in the market to buy more, they haven't been "nudged" by the salesperson. But the salesperson's inactions will dictate that neither situation will happen. The only way to know for sure is to follow-up.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beware of claiming full responsibility, Part Two

In any earlier post, we discussed the danger of claiming full responsibility when indeed, it is not accurate. It is great drama to do so, but in business, that tactic will often backfire.

Why would a person take full responsibility instead of being accurate? A number of reasons:
  1. It is quicker and easier than truly analyzing and communicating
  2. It avoids confrontation
  3. There is confusion between feeling bad about something and saying it's all my fault (they are two different things)
  4. Often the person claiming full responsibility can do so without paying the price--his company and fellow co-workers will pay the price
The last point is key. If I say it's all my fault, am I saying I'll take money out of my wallet to pay for this problem or am I merely taking responsibility to look good, even at the risk of my company failing?

I believe if you really are 100% wrong, own up to it, now. However, if you are working with a customer that is disengaged and does not live up to their own promises, either decide 1) to take total responsibility and you pay for it (not recommended) or 2) be accurate and do the toughest thing: with respect, solve the issue.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Awards can be rewarding

I have never watched the ESPYs, the sports awards programs that ESPN created, but I love the concept and especially the name, since it is a great reinforcement of their brand.

So, inspired, my company has created the ELBEE awards. ELBEE, pronounced LB, support LaBov & Beyond's culture and brand. Every month, we choose the top performer in our company based on the recommendations of his or her fellow "Labovians." That recognition program (we call it Recognition Roadhouse) is the ONLY way a person can achieve an ELBEE, so it inspires our employees to contribute and to acknowledge great performances. On an average month, there are dozens of recommendations received.

So what? Well, I think it's a big deal. The winner each month receives a check for $100, plus they get the ELBEE trophy to adorn their workspace for the month. And it is no typical trophy. Standing almost three feet tall, ELBEE (the trophy), is a LaBov & Beyond branded mascot made by our own Marcus McMillen and our creative team. You simply cannot miss ELBEE when you walk past it.

The ELBEE has become a fun, positive program that feeds off employees recognizing each other and has become quite a morale lifter. Awards can be rewarding for all.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, December 5, 2011

Beware of claiming full responsibility, Part One

We all admire the courageous soul who steps and takes full responsibility for not only his actions, but the actions of others. It makes for great drama, it's impressive and sometimes it is indeed, the admirable, proper thing to do. But often, it is not smart, especially in business.

If a supplier takes full responsibility for a problem that the customer has primarily created, the customer will be happy and will share that with her superiors. The sad thing about this is that admission will take on a life of its own and will become reality: the supplier screwed up and did a sub-par job. That may be all it takes for the supplier to be fired. So much for for being courageous and taking full responsibility.

Perhaps the toughest and truly the most courageous thing to do is to be accurate in that situation. With great respect to the customer, communicate what role they played in this issue and of course, what role the supplier played. The truth requires real courage and sensitivity.

Being accurate and respectful is not as dramatic, but who needs more drama?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, December 2, 2011


As things change, as opportunities arise, as new products are created, as new stores are opened, as new employees are hired, as new competitors appear, as new expectations are presented:

We are exposed. For good, or not so good.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, December 1, 2011


It costs a little more to do the remarkable or the memorable. But it is almost always worth it. For this year's LaBov & Beyond Christmas Party, we are serving LaBov & Beyond branded wine, with custom labels created by our team. We worked in conjunction with a fantastic winery and my favorite wine maven, Deborah Serval, who was a great help.

We named the wines after the five locations we have:
Rocky Mountain Riesling (Colorado)
Sonoran Last Sirah (Arizona)
Speedway Viognier (Indianapolis, IN)
Mad Tony Merlot (honoring Mad Anthony Wayne, the namesake of Fort Wayne, IN )
Motor City Cab (Detroit)
It was a true team effort and it will reap benefits as we ordered enough wines to share throughout the next year with clients, employees and friends. It's inspirational, it supports our brand and it's fun. What else matters?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A LULU of an idea

At LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training, we're experimenting with an idea we call LULU. LULU stands for LaBov University of Learning and Utilization. It's different from the typical online university in that it is not mandatory for employees and it has a growing list of learning opportunities presented--most of those fed by the employees.

We've created a website where our employees can find modules, webinars or videos on any topic they are interested in. Plus, they are free to post the ones that they find themselves. We also are giving each employee a "bank account" of money they can spend any way they want on learning, no questions asked. All of this is on the honor system--if any employee says he used his learning bank account to buy a book, fine, we believe him.

The employee can choose to keep score of their learnings by logging what they read or viewed on a spreadsheet on the site. They can also receive more points by conducting a Lunch & Learn of that material for employees.

What does the company get for all this? A lot. We can refer to the points a person has at review time or when she is requesting to travel to a seminar, for example. If she has been a voracious learner, she will be rewarded. If she hasn't participated in learning for a year, maybe we discuss that.

But best of all, we get an environment of learning where our people are contributing to it. Will it last, who knows? But if we can offer a world of learning to great people, it will only help us be a better company internally and externally to our clients.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Preserving the culture

I met with an incredible individual who represents an iconic brand. He was gracious, opened his world up to me and shared his focus and vision. The number-one priority on his list? Preserving their culture.

His company's culture has been extraordinary for over a century. The values they have could be compromised if they don't watch out. And if those values disappear, so will his company. That simple.

To be clear, he was not saying he wanted everything to stay the same, far from it. He's very involved with new technology and they have very aggressive growth goals. Rather, he said, the only way to reach those goals is to protect the culture.

One insight he gave me was balance. He said he noticed the departments of the company that were challenging the culture the most were the ones that had an imbalance between long-term employees and new ones. He felt there needs to be a dominance of long-term employees in every department to make sure the culture didn't become weak or confused. That makes sense, it's entirely possible a department may have fifty new employees from forty different cultures from all over the world. A little of that is great, too much, he argues, will be damaging.

His iconic brand will live on beyond any of us, as long as the culture is preserved.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, November 28, 2011

Five Steps in No-Compromise Hiring

I was speaking with one of my favorite friends. She's a brilliant doctor who is trying to build a new business. She's struggled in vain as she's attempted to hire the perfect employee. She's also fallen short trying to find a business partner. It's been tough. As we talked, she asked about our company, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training. In the past, we, too, had struggled with finding the right people and have come to realize a few things:
  1. You're far better off NOT hiring the wrong person. It's worth the wait to find the right person.
  2. It is not about people, it's about quality people.
  3. You want to find people who already have what you need and/or value. Don't hire a person who will need to sprint to keep up with your company. Find a person who is hopefully better in her/his area than you are.
  4. You want people who inherently share your values. If you're a luxury brand, hiring an otherwise wonderful person who is a cheapskate simply will not fit.
  5. Don't be a savior. Don't hire a person who you think you can fix or mold. Hire a person who is ready to do great things. Support them and get out of their way.
And after you hire? Stay connected, especially in the beginning after you hire them. Be a sounding board. If they're good, they'll be irritated about things, which is good. You don't want them to assimilate, you want them to stand out and inspire others.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being thankful

It's never enough:
We want more (money, fame)
We want less (weight, hassles)
We want bigger (buildings, client lists)
We want smaller (risks, problems)
We want faster (results, sport cars)
We want slower (change, pulses)
We want much of what we don't have and don't realize or appreciate what we do have. Time to be thankful.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cheap versus making memories

For a couple extra bucks a month, you can get the car of your dreams or you can save those dollars and drive a four-wheeled piece of you-know-what.
For a little more money, you can buy the perfect gift for the person you love most in life, or you can compromise and get something decent that is nothing to get excited about.
For a little more time invested, you can make that project truly inspirational, or you can do the minimum and check it off your "things to do" list.
 We can cut corners and survive. We can invest less money, time, care or thought into something, but while we'll get away with it, we'll never make memories, we'll never do something remarkable.

And that robs us too, not just the recipient.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, November 21, 2011

Now You've Proven You Can Do It

There are daredevils who make a living doing dangerous things. That's their job. They know the risks, so do all the people in their lives.

Then there are everyday people who take risks. Their family, friends and associates didn't buy in to that, that's not part of their deal. That everyday person loves the thrill and exhilaration but is usually not equipped to handle the danger, because that's not their day job, it's their hobby.

Risks come in all shapes and sizes, some are obvious, some, not so. There are daredevils, pilots, big-game hunters, and even professional criminals who take calculated risks and more often than not, get away with them.

But to the everyday person, the question is: So, now that you've proven you can do it and survive, what's next?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fight for it

In this economy, there is no abundance of business opportunities. Each one is critical. It's no longer like the Lay's Potato Chip commercial telling you eat them up because, "Don't worry, we'll make more." If you lose a chance or a customer today, you lose. You can't go and make more. They're gone.

That's why we have to fight to keep customers and fight to make sure they know what we are bringing to them. The balance of power is in the customer's favor, they are more comfortable than ever dropping the bomb on their suppliers or vendors, because they know they can very easily "make more" vendor relationships.

So, what can we do? We fight, while showing respect to the customer. It may be exhilarating for them to see we care and we believe. That's rare, something they can't easily "make more" of.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tell 'em something they can't get on the web

There are plenty of training programs out there. Our company, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training, has seen them all. Here's what people will tell you they want in training:
Give me something I don't already know or can't easily find online
Think of how much training is merely taking what's already out there and dumping it into a module or a PowerPoint? Why waste time going over the same ground? Only two reasons, and neither are good: It's easy and it's safe.

One more reason to adopt our approach: not only will the salesperson have access to specs and materials online, but so will the customer.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Attention Span Opportunity: Communication Burst

It's a fact. Our attention span is shortening. Look at an old movie from thirty or more years ago and tell me you don't squirm in your seat at times, waiting for something to happen, for the scene to change, for the actor to stop talking and just get going. We want things faster and in shorter doses.

Then why do we prepare verbose reports or ramble on repeating the same thing two or three times? It's as if our presentation IQ has fallen way behind what our audiences need. The best way to communicate with today's audience is to assume they have attention issues and create a message that is short, high impact and to-the-point.

Think of it as a communication burst. It's loud, fast and gone in a few minutes.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Listen to corporations sharing their goals and they'll say they include:

Increase market share
New products
Engaged employees
Satisfied customers

Can't argue with all of that. But there is a missing ingredient, that if present will launch and maintain all of the above: adrenaline. They need the energy, the shot in the arm to get all of this accomplished or it will go the way of other pleasant goals that drop away over time.

Either they have the people who can do it, or they need an outside agency to at least quick start it, but either way, pleasant goals will only be achieved with adrenaline.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, November 14, 2011


Research comes in many packages, from informally experiencing something to a polished discovery document. Many times we fight doing research: it's a hassle, it takes time and of course we assume that we already know the answers.

At our company, LaBov & Beyond, we don't do research for just the answers, we do it for the intangibles: the energy and inspiration it provides us and for the look of surprise on the client's face.

Spending a few hours in their customers' shoes, experiencing what it's like to buy your client's product, will change everything, even if it's just a subtle change. That small change may be as simple as realizing the customer doesn't view your company as a design firm, but as an engineering genius. In the customer's mind, that's a huge difference. In the client's mind, the terms may be synonymous. It doesn't matter. The customer wins.

Good research brings data, great research provides energy.

Barry LaBov
LaBov and Beyond

Friday, November 11, 2011

Leverage what you've got

We were at our LaBov & Beyond offices with a new client and she shared that she wanted things to be figured out before she went forward on a large launch. That sounds logical, no marketing or training until things are in line.

But is it? The client's company had also invested millions of dollars in various activities that were bold, and in my opinion, would be perfect to communicate to the world. My answer is: follow the money.

If her company is placing millions on a couple initiatives, then what is better: doing nothing until everything is perfect, or at least leveraging what they are doing? I opt for the latter.

In reality, you are what you invest in. Communicate that or lose on that investment.

Barry LaBov website
LaBov and Beyond

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Leave me alone and I'll do great

The world is full of people begging to be left alone to do their jobs.

After all, if people didn't inflict their opinions, personalities or ideas on them, all would be just right.

There's a huge difference between interruptions and valuable input. Interruptions are noise, they are the result of nervous activity or disorganization.

Input can make you better, it can be at least considered, it can inspire and it just might be better than what you were thinking of doing.
Treat all interruptions as input and you'll be burned out.
Treat all input as an interruption and you'll end up with plenty of alone time, more than you want.
Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Earning Angry

Angry about something?
Your home life?
Your divorce?
Your marketshare?
Your sales?
Your golf game?
The environment?

If you're really working hard on any of the above and are totally committed, I'm OK with you being angry. It's understandable. You've earned it.

On the other hand, if you're frustrated because something hasn't come easy, something wasn't handed to you on a silver platter or you just feel uncomfortable, well then, that's tough. No sympathy. It's all posturing, bluster and indignation. Who needs that?

If you're dedicated, focused, tireless, if you're volunteering, changing, practicing--whatever you feel needs to be done to make this work out, then it's OK to be frustrated and show it. Anger is understandable but you have to earn it.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond
PS Thanks to John Robinson for inspiring this!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wanting it All

Why can't you want your dealership to increase sales, profit and customer satisfaction? Why can't you want your corporation to increase marketshare, morale and stock price?

What's wrong with wanting a great home life and a great work life?

We're too often caught up in the clever mantras you see in car repair shops or roadside diners:
We offer price, service and quality. Choose two.
The above is a funny approach to customer service, but it doesn't inspire and it doesn't stretch the minds of the people at that store or shop to perform smarter and better than before.

What have we got to lose? Want it all? Then figure out how to do it. At worst, we'll get two out of three. And that ain't all bad.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, November 7, 2011


How much does luck play in success? Many successful people say that you make your luck. Or if you're a blues singer you say, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."

Maybe you guessed right on the stock market or stumbled into a technology that makes your product unique. Maybe you randomly bumped into and befriended a person who ended up being your most profitable customer.That's luck.

And maybe, on the other hand, we don't acknowledge (good) luck enough because we feel it belittles our accomplishments. Let's admit it, luck is everywhere. Why not see it, run with it and enjoy it?

Feeling lucky?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, November 4, 2011

Six questions to predict success or failure

It's not all that hard to predict success or failure. We try to make it that way by using spreadsheets, data and trend analysis. And that stuff is valuable, but not in predicting success or lack of it.

90% of the time, you can predict whether a person or company will succeed by answering these questions:
  1. Do you really believe, are you totally committed?
  2. Are you learning, growing, and truly better than you were yesterday?
  3. Do you look at people as the answer, rather than the problem?
  4. Does fear rule your life or are you bold enough to be totally transparent?
  5. Do you believe you are making a positive difference in your customers' lives?
  6. Do you enjoy what you're doing?
If you pass the above test, then the data and spreadsheets will provide you tremendous value. If you flunk the test above, spreadsheets will only be used to mask your lack of energy and belief. And BTW, if you answer the first questions in the affirmative, your last question (Do you enjoy what you're doing?) can only be answered yes.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Give the emotions time to catch up

Most big ideas or decisions are initially received negatively by people. Why? Because our emotions automatically reject anything that is foreign, strange, different--all that scares us.

It's as if we have to turn-off our emotions and view change logically first. Once we become more comfortable with the change and we have analyzed it, the change isn't really as big a deal.

The more emotional a person or a company is, the more critical the need to give the emotions time to catch up to logic.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reactive, proactive

There are really only two approaches to business or to life in general:

Being reactive is a survival approach, you're dealing with what comes at you, you're living to face another day, you rationalize your shortcomings, you keep your head down and say as little as possible.

Being proactive is a success approach, you're focused on progress, on making things better, getting to the bottom of issues, you realize that you will make mistakes but you feel your body of work more than overcomes that.

At some point, the reactive person will face the fact their approach is, indeed, not a survival response at all, because it will be their demise.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

You're either reacting or you're taking initiative

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Folly of Follow-up

A salesperson talks to you about a product. You're interested. The sales guy is a bit stiff, stodgy and doesn't want to negotiate. You desperately want the product, but you need to feel good about the deal, you need to negotiate. Sales guy ignores your need and promise to call back and check on you in a few weeks.

You are irritated and check out competitive stores, find the product and a sales lady who is more than happen to negotiate. You buy, you feel good and you're happy. So is the sales lady.

But...the original sales guy keeps sending emails or phone messages to "follow-up" on your conversation. Think about it: he is calling, but for what reason? To really seal the deal? I think not. At best he's calling to repeat the previous discussion. At worst, he's just doing what he has been told: follow up after giving the customer a price. No more, no less.

Follow-up without a productive purpose is folly.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mixing it up can make things clear

Add a new person who is hungry and excited to help you sell to your dealership sales staff and a lot of good things happen:
You just might sell more units
The others on the staff will be influenced by the newbie who's fired up
You might see the other salespeople in a different, more accurate light
Your sales staff (and this applies to any department and to large and small companies) over time becomes its own world, it takes on its own personality and quite often, it becomes complacent. Adding someone new to the mix will open your eyes.

Unless, of course, the person you add is in the same mold as the rest of the people in that department... Then ignore the above. So, if you have a low-energy team, look for a firecracker. If you have a group of scattered, undisciplined salespeople, bring in a grounded, logical person who simply won't get caught up in the confusion.

Mix it up.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, October 28, 2011

Can it really happen?

Companies sit in their board rooms or offices or bars and commit to goals. Exciting goals. Big, profitable goals. And then they leave the board rooms, offices and bars and are alone in their car or at home and the moment of truth hits. They ask:

Can this really happen?

And if it's a no-brainer, Of course this can happen, then odds are good. But if the answer is I have no idea how this is going to happen, then it's not time to keep your head down, it's time to face the music. Figure it out, go ask for help, to do something other than...nothing.

We all need for all to believe to achieve. 

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What is my job?

A great question to ask from time to time is What is my job? A good follow-up to that one is another good question What am I spending my time on every day?

If the above two answers are the same, you're in good shape. If they're dramtically different, you have a lot of opportuntiy to refocus yourself. And get more results and simplify your life.

BTW, doing the above, may not be what those around you want you to do, because you may very well be doing their job(s).

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Got to be good looking cause she's so hard to see

The harder it is to see or to connect with someone, the more impressive they appear to be. That's unfortunate, but very true in business.

The tougher it is to get in and see that customer, the more important and brilliant she must be. She creates a mystique.

The very best people I've known or worked for were very accessible. They returned the call, they answered the email or text right away. They didn't need to create a mystique.

Barry LaBov

LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Words are not enough

Go in there and tell her what she needs to know
Send an email detailing the attitude we want
I think she needs a good, long talk
Here's a book that should help you with your issue

I love words. At my company, we use words to help clients inspire their sales channel and customers. But, they are words. Just words...

Words really can work if:
They are delivered well
They are crystal clear
The person receiving them cares to consider them

If the transmitter is sending our signals, but the receiver is off, nothing good is going to happen. No matter how eloquent or brilliant the wording is.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, October 24, 2011


At LaBov & Beyond, we have the opportunity to meet some wonderful clients. At the top of the list was Virgil Miller of Newmar RVs. Virgil, a devout, Amish man, served as a spiritual mentor for me and many others who worked for him.

He said he struggled for years with his profession--he was the president of an RV company. He felt he should have been a minister until he realized something. This is what he told me:

I've always wanted to be a minister and then one day it occurred to me that every minute of my work day, that I was ministering to the people here. I had 330 people who could be helped and influenced right in front of me.
When it comes to legacies, making a difference in people's lives, there is no job description that fits better than another. A foreman can influence people just as well as a priest, a teacher just as well as a politician, or a kid's Little League coach just as well as a rabbi.

We make our own legacies.

Barry LaBov
LaBov and Beyond

PS Thanks to Sonya for inspiring this blog from her post comment of a few weeks ago!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Steps to a Guaranteed Last Meeting with Your Customer

I just had my last meeting with a dealer as their customer. I have to thank them for giving me material for this message. If you want to guarantee that you will lose your customer, here's a list of how to do it:
  1. Nickel and dime them. Charge for every breath they take.
  2. Refuse to work and play with others--meaning that you are difficult for your customer's other suppliers and service providers to work with.
  3. Demand payment before you provide your promised services.
  4. Argue over small issues with the client and demand to get your way.
  5. Wait until your customer is so fed up with you that there is virtually no chance to salvage the relationship.
The above is exactly what the dealer did. BTW, the dealer is knowledgeable and they did do some good work. But they will never do business here again. And they will lose out on referrals as well. But they did receive their last payment in full, including payment for work that we felt they did not not do as promised. Hopefully, they will take that money and invest it well. They will need to.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The latest economic woes

It seems just as we're getting out of the economic hole we've been in, something else happens to pull us back down again. People everywhere are waiting for the economy to cooperate so everything will be back on a positive track.

Economies don't cooperate. But companies can capitalize. And that's just what is going to happen. A select group of companies will emerge stronger than ever. It always happens that way.

So, what's it going to be--hope for cooperation from the economy or identify the opportunities while the competition is waiting for the storm to clear?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Too much opportunity

Dealers want as many leads as possible. Doctors want as many patients as they can humanly handle. Manufacturers want to produce as many units as their capacity will allow. Service providers want more and more customers to serve.

But what if the dealer doesn't value the leads or the doctor shoves his patients to his assistants or the manufacturer produces flawed product or the service provider can't meet demand?
Opportunity is nothing unless it is valued and acted upon.
Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Loyal customer or terrorist?

I spoke with a long-time customer of a client of ours at LaBov & Beyond. He started off sharing his passion for the product, but quickly became animated and frustrated about the product and its brand. He felt discarded by the brand, not listened to--he was no longer a brand advocate, he was undermining it.

It is a double-edged sword often: the very customers who are with you the longest can also be the ones who are most critical. Not listening or paying attention to them or taking them for granted will backfire.

Two options: Listen and follow their advice, or fire them. There is no middle ground.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, October 17, 2011

Right doesn't always feel good

We go by gut feeling. We make decisions on what seems good or comfortable or right. We give up quickly if something doesn't work right away and we then go back to what's comfortable.

But if something isn't natural or easy, does that make it wrong or does it make it just different?

How often does a great idea seem strange at first? Or a gutsy move appear to be extreme? After a while those ideas or moves become comfortable to us.

Truth is, our comfort or gut feel are not the best judges of things. Often, if something feels strange, it just might be right.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond


Friday, October 14, 2011

Too much relating

Whether it's in our personal or business lives, we can relate too much. Meaning, it's good to empathize or even sympathize, but it can be hazardous to identify and possibly confuse your situation with someone else's.

If we treat a person as if they are us, then we're assuming they have the same motivations and needs as us. We're also assuming they have behaved as we behave. Not usually true or even possible.

If we treat a person as a person, we have to accept and see who they really are. Often, that's not as pleasant as we'd like it to be. But if we can do it, that's when we can really help that person.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Michael Iva says,

On your way to success and glory, as you pass through average everyday, stop. Take a real good look around. Realize that most people do not go any further. They lose their way by not making the right moves in the right direction. Keep moving onward and upward!

What a great insight. How often do we settle into Averageville and make a life there? As he says, it's making the right moves in the right direction, not the perfect moves in the right direction.

Thanks, Michael, maybe this will inspire many of us to venture outside of average and move, perhaps imperfectly, in the right direction.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Technology Gone Wild

We have a new, top-of-the-line dishwasher that has been malfunctioning. It keeps saying there's an error and it stops working.

My wife talked to the dealer who told us the answer: we must not rinse our dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Evidently the dishwasher needs to sense dirty dishes to fully function or it displays an error message. So that means we are to put the dirtiest dishes possible into the dishwasher, which goes against every fiber of my being.

Has technology gone too far??

Barry LaBov
LaBov & beyond

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Believe or not

We invest ourselves in many things every day: our company, our customers, our co-workers, our family, our church, our personal activities, etc. We are committing to a lot in many areas of our lives.

So when it comes time to decide if you should try to land that new customer, but in your heart you don't really believe you can, I say, "Move on. Don't do it."

Or when your product designers say that they don't really agree with the direction you want to go on that new product. I say, give up and have them do something else.

Hard to believe, but if you don't believe, you don't commit, you waste time (yours and others') and you take your eye off what you do believe, commit to and could succeed at.

So what happens when you realize you must succeed at something that you believe you can do? You find someone, some way--something that will help you overcome your lack of belief. Then, and only then, do you have even a chance of succeeding.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, October 10, 2011

Avalanche versus Analysis

Research is revealing. Metrics are marvelous. Findings are fine. As long as they are analysed and not an avalanche of numbers and inputs.

Need to make an informed decision? You need an analysis, not an avalanche.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, October 7, 2011

Here's the bad news, tag you're it

I played tag as a kid. It was fun. I don't play it any more. Most grown-ups don't, except in business.

Hey, we just found out the customer is unhappy, thought you'd want to know
Here's an email from the supplier saying they can't deliver
Here are the finacials on the investment we made, it looks like we lost a lot of money
My employee isn't happy here, I think she wants to transfer out

The above is common in business and it tears us down. Basically the message is: life sucks, I'm not doing a darn thing about it and now that I've told you, I'm clean--I have no more responsibility past that--and if you choose to try to solve this for me, good luck.

My mantra at business: We don't play tag anymore.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & beyond

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Power, Part Two: Speed

I have played golf with a reluctant golfer who just doesn't feel like playing unless he's playing well. When he isn't hitting it perfectly, he slows down, waaaaaay down. He barely makes it from the green to the next tee. He often says he'd rather not be playing and will leave early, before the round is over. Not a lot of fun.

He takes control by slowing down, not just himself, but everyone around him. He becomes the focal point, we now move at his extremely slow pace and consequently, the game is no longer fun for the rest of us. We will then want to leave early, too. He will have then gotten his way, he's in control.

Many a control freak is upset when someone else takes over their assignment and makes a decision and gets it done, now. That's because the world was moving at the control freak's pace and it felt good to him or her.

It is often the speed of making a decision that is a make-it or break-it situation in business--whether you make that sale or fix that problem. Control or power that slows down the response time, and in turn loses the opportunities, is not productive and is short-lived.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Power, Part One: Holding On

Power and control are very intoxicating. We read of power-hungry dictators, we know or claim to be control-freaks, and we admire or sometimes dismiss the megalomaniacs that have founded and run some of the most impressive companies in the world.

In the lives of most of us we are not third-world dictators or CEOs of the world's best-known conglomerates, but we deal with power and control daily. Hard feelings happen when someone loses control or it appears to be taken away. It's like a friend has been taken away from you or in some more extreme cases, like your street gang has been captured and put in jail. You're all alone and less powerful.

The more you hold onto power, the less powerful you are, It diminishes you. Power is a result of what you do, not the goal of what you do.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Some of us like to work to have fun

I went to a fancy, trendy restaurant with a bunch of friends. It was one those extremely loud, busy, clangy, noisy places. Then it came time to look at the menu and it was difficult to read, very complex and creative. Then it came time to learn that this was a family-style restaurant--you ordered a bunch of entrees for the table and had the challenge of making everyone happy. They did have a nice beer and wine selection, which made the pressure of dining there more bearable. And, the food was excellent.

But, I'll never go back there again. Too much work for me. But that doesn't mean I'm right. The restaurant was full, it has a great reputation. For those who love it, the atmosphere, the quirky design and menu and the energy (noise) are exciting. For some, the act of going through this is fun, for others it's a job. Kind of like at the workplace?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, October 3, 2011


It's not inspiration, it's perspiration.

The above is a great mantra that I overlook. Too often we look for that great idea or breakthrough that will solve it all, only to see it fail because there was no follow-through or the effort wasn't there.

It's the perspiration, the determination...the work that will make a great idea (or even a mediocre idea) come to life and succeed.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, September 30, 2011

Where is your value?

The simplest way to succeed is to be valuable. Valuable to your customers, your company, your friends and your family. Some of us choose which of these groups to value and then ignore the rest. Some of us are loved by the clients, but destroy our companies. Others are great family people, but don't put out at work. Some look out for the company and view the customer as a necessary evil.

The best life is when you actually are valuable to all of the constituents in your life: your customers love you, your fellow employees are inspired to work with you, your friends trust and enjoy you and your family knows that you are totally dedicated to them.

It's a tall order, but what a reward to be that valuable.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Old-school Communication

I'll stop by your office to chat about an issue
I'm waiting to see when the customer has time for me to drop by
I'm planning a trip to see my clients on the east coast
It's always better to talk in person
The customer is hard to reach, I've left a phone message
I asked when the customer will have a chance to come to our showroom

All of these statements sound sincere and logical. The goal is to see someone in person, to connect, to watch their body language, to shake their hand and feel the warmth. But all of this is old-school communication.

Today, most of us text, email, Skype, WebEx, and phone daily. Yet, often dealers or suppliers play the old- school game of waiting to have that in-person meeting where everything is perfect. I'd love to meet face-to-face, but 95% of the time it's not an option.

The 20-something generation prefers to text or Skype over talking on the phone. They don't feel that a person has to be in the room to be communicated with. It's time for all of us to learn this, that school (the new school of communication) is in session.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Duke

The Duke was quite a guy. Grew up dirt poor, had health problems, but was persistent in getting an education. He had what he termed a "lopsided personality" meaning he was socially awkward despite being brilliant. He got married, had a couple of kids and endured some unbelievable personal hardships along the way, but he kept pushing. He had a dream to retire and fix bicycles for fun. He never made it to retirement, the years of bad health, smoking and pent-up frustrations beat him down.

What the Duke did that was greatest was his belief in his children. He told one son that, "You can do anything you put your mind to." The son believed him and it altered his life for the better.

Thanks, Duke (Dad), for changing my life, and happy birthday up there.

LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, September 27, 2011



I'll get to it
I'll really focus on that one project
I'll have time to think
Will be a new day and everything will be just fine
We'll take advantage of that opportunity
I'll talk to my client and patch that thing up
I'll do what I promised to do today

The above is sometimes well-intentioned, other times not. But it doesn't take into context that sometimes tomorrow doesn't come as we expect it. There may be no chance to get it, patch it up. There may no longer be that opportunity. And tomorrow matters less if today was disregarded.

LaBov & Beyond

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ready to sell?

I'm trying to buy a fairly expensive product. I talk to a friend, a dealer, who sells it. He hands me off to his sales guy. That sales guy is nice, knowledgeable and responsive. He wants to delay the process until he can meet with me in-person. Problem is, I want that thing and I'm ready to buy. But the sales guy isn't ready to sell. I call back and talk money, he plays hardball, says he can't come close to prices I've seen elsewhere and is very friendly as he tells me to keep in touch.

I then research the product and find a dealer nearby, search their site and find they have the product, too. I call the place and talk to a sales guy who is friendly and knowledgeable, too. He also recommends another product (a cheaper one) that I should also consider.I stop by and within two hours check out all products of interest and find the one I want (the cheaper one he had recommended). he then tries to close me by matching the best price I can find online. He also throws in a few other things of small value and will deliver the product the next business day. I say "yes."

The winning sales person knew his stuff and was ready to sell. He negotiated (maybe a little more than he needed) and presented a great package to me. The other sales person? Well, I'm waiting for him to call me and ask when I can stop by. That won't be necessary now.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'll do my best

I'll do my best.

Is the above line a positive? I think it's a warning to expect less than your best. We are programmed to not say what's on our minds, so we spout stuff like this. But the truth is that often we don't want to or think we're not capable of doing something and instead of saying it, we say the above. The only response to it is:

I (or we) expect your best.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Throw a party

Need more sales, more traffic, more profit? Throw a party. Do something exciting, invite the right people (prospects), have the right entertainment (product) and be the perfect host (customer experience).

The better the party, the more people want to attend, the more memorable, the more fun (profit).

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Johnny, be good

Johnny is a good guy who has gone through unthinkable devastation in his personal life. But he says he feels lucky to be alive.

He has been unlucky, he’s been quick to fall in love and has lost, he has held on to a belief only to drop it too late, ending up paying a steep price.

But to meet him, you’d never know it. He’s inspiring, he’s fun, and he’s altered so many lives for the better.
Fortunately for us, something inside him keeps pushing, keeps moving forward, and every day he refuses to concede defeat is another day that he helps someone else.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The More, The Vaguer

The more people who share responsibility on a project, the clearer the picture of what’s going on:

People may not want responsibility
They may not care
They may not understand their job
They may not be organized

No matter the reason, too many people tackling responsibilities will lead to confusion, low performance and low morale.

The more, the vaguer, the less interesting. The fewer, the better, the more exciting.

Barry LaBov
Labov & Beyond 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weakness versus Communication

Cowboy movies and army movies are great—lots of action, tough guy heroes, etc. In True Grit, Rooster Cogburn was great, he hardly spoke, and when he did, it was pretty blunt, outlandish and hard-core.

In real life, that doesn’t work often. If you have an employee who is struggling, laying into him and berating him will not result in positive actions.

Dealing with the issues without playing hardball is a sign of strength, because you’re keeping the communication open, you’re allowing for hope, for progress.

Sure, once in a while you have to lay it on the line, but if that’s a frequent occurrence, there isn’t enough open communication going on. Changing that will takes guts and courageous.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, September 16, 2011

If you are in short supply, demand what you need

How often is our mantra that we need to sell more, grow more, get more, expand more, etc? That’s all good IF you have the resources to service that growth and expansion. If you don’t, why give away your precious resources in the name of growth?

No matter if it’s your time, your people’s time or your resources, if they are in short supply, you must price it, position it, and clarify it so that you can deliver with ease. Or, you’ll have less of all those and you have squandered an opportunity for more.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Don’t have money or resources? Collaborate

The demand for better product, better service, more options, and more offerings is colliding head-on with lower margins, shrinking markets and lower consumer and corporate confidence.

So what can a dealership, a manufacturer or a college do? You either raise cash and invest or…you turn to others, even competitors, and partner. You collaborate, you share, and you open yourself up to possibilities never before considered.

Universities that were previously enemies are now sharing campuses together and offering new programs together, manufacturers that were rivals are sharing factories and platforms. Everyone wins. When cash is in short supply, collaboration is king.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Today we have a multitude of reports at our fingertips that allow us to study our market penetration, profitability, morale, accuracy, etc.

Too often we are merely info-givers: we hand over the report, or better yet, share the link to the metrics. Our job is done. The info has been shared. Dust our hands off, on to the next project.

Our customers don't value info-giving for very long because they can bypass you and get those reporrts themselves. Our employees don't respond to info-giving, either. They can't be assured, corrected or motivated by a link to a spreadsheet.

We have to be interpeters, not just givers of information if we are to make real progress.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

1 + 1 = 1/2

The more the merrier. 1 + 1= 3 (that's on purpose).   It takes a village.

All of the above are things we hear and accept. But more often than not, they're not true in business. The more people involved in a creative brainstorm session the less creative it will be. Two people sharing ownership of a responsibility will cloud accountability. It doesn't have to take a lot of people to do something great.

The scariest thing is to be totally accountable for a result. That means you are responsible for success or failure. In baseball, the only athletes that make it as pitchers are the ones who want the ball--they understand that if the team wins or loses, they are the ones who will be held accountable.

In business, as in baseball, the good ones understand this, the all-time greats are the ones who totally embrace it.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, September 12, 2011

No money

Dealers run into this, so do suppliers every day:
I can't afford to buy this, it's more than my budget can bear.

We believe this when we hear it and we move on. We lose the sale, we lose the client. But there's one thing about that statement:
It's almost always 100% UNTRUE!

The same customer who says he has no money is the same customer who will find the money to buy something that excites him, something that is a great "deal." This is what separates the order-taker from the order-maker.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, September 9, 2011

Real Customer Service

I'm fortunate enough to experience some inspired customer service at two different golf clubs, one in the Midwest and one out west. What they do at those clubs serves as an example for me to follow at our company, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training.

Sycamore Hills Golf Club (Ft. Wayne, IN) and Desert Mountain (Scottsdale, AZ) boast of employees who treat the customers as both the "boss" and at the same time a "person." They approach customers with respect and informal, friendly warmth.

My company, candidly, and others may sometimes treat the customer as the boss or as a person, but to do both simultaneously is where the magic lies.

The end result as a customer is you feel that you're listened to and respected and that you actually like the people you're paying to serve you. What more can you ask for?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rebel at work

Children rebel against their parents, even later on in life. Some of us rebel against society or our church. Others of us rebel against our company and co-workers: Who are you to tell me what to do? Why do I need to listen to you, let alone work with you?

Being a rebel at work rings hollow. What are you fighting for (we know what you're fighting against)? Is the enemy the evil boss or the dominating manager or the overall structure of the company?

It, at first sounds romantic and virtuous to be a rebel. But we have to ask ourselves: Is it worth the dissonance and push-back for you and the co-workers? Is it solving something or perpetuating it?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fine wine is like...

Identify, judging and enjoying fine wine is like:

Choosing your ideal car
Hiring a financial advisor
Picking a lawyer or a puppy
Buying your dream home
Choosing your mate

It's very difficult, extremely personal and sometimes conflicting. It usually has nothing to do with pedigree or blood-line, it has to do with taste...yours.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Time to Focus on the Customer?

A manufacturer called my company, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training with a need: his industry is down 50%. They feel they need to focus on the customer experience ASAP.

Makes sense. Except, why now? Why haven't you been focusing on the customer? And, since you have less customers than ever, don't you think you also need to focus on bringing more of them into the dealerships?

Extraordinary customer service would've helped them get through the downturn, for sure, but now, that's just one area to focus on. They have bigger problems, like drumming up business right now. Otherwise, a new approach to customers will be wasted energy.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, September 2, 2011


I was speaking with the CEO, President of a huge manufacturing company. He was preparing to talk to dealers and apologize for his company's terrible performance in a particular area. He was very heartfelt in his embarrassment and said he was going to let the dealers know how bad they've been, and hopefully they'd accept his apology.

As I listened, it occurred to me that it is great to take responsibility, that's a sign of leadership. But, it's critical to have perspective, to be accurate. The shortcoming his company had was a commonplace problem in the industry, all the competitors fell short in that area, too. While it was not okay to dismiss their performance, it was also a potentially big mistake for him to publicly flog his company. Why?

Because by taking the position that his company failed, he would give the dealers positioning that was unwarranted, that might allow them to take advantage of his company and in the long run, hurt business both for the dealers and the manufacturer.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What if they threw a recession and no one came?

Just like the book from a long time ago: What If They Threw A War and No One Came, what if we didn't know that we were supposed to be in the middle of a downturn? Would we invest, hire, grow and progress?

I know an RV dealer that is having the greatest year in their decades-long history. They merely invested and focused themselves as if this were a boom economy. They can't keep up the pace, there's simply too much business. Their competitors are weeping and gnashing their teeth as they cut back and prepare their Business Stinks speeches for their commiseration discussions with other dealers.

All while the frustrated dealers are cutting back and complaining, the booming RV dealer is hiring top people from those dealers.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Fight Against Simplicity

We fight simplicity because:

  1. It exposes good and bad
  2. It may take work from me
  3. It may give work to me
  4. It may take power from me
  5. It won't make everyone happy at this moment
  6. It makes me have to stop and think
  7. It scares me

We fear simplicity because in many cases, we think we'll lose something--freedom, power, love, glory, ease, etc. But like a lot of things that you commit to, once you accept it and dedicate yourself to it, after a while it becomes apparent you're not missing anything of value.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Youth Gets Old

Advertising agencies, especially the huge ones, have a model that they've worked for years: they hire brilliant young people straight out of college and throw them into the cauldron of business. Those young people, filled with energy, work endless hours, travel constantly and get to see the world. Very exciting. And very draining.

After a few years most of these promising young people get tired of the grind, they get tired of not seeing their friends or loved ones. And they drop out of the business, sometimes forever. They are then replaced by a new crop of hungry young people ready to jump into the cauldron. And the cycle repeats.

What's lost in all of this is the client. Too often the client, who hired the agency after meeting with more mature (older) and experienced professionals, is then given a team of 20-somethings who are in charge of the account. Those 20-somethings are often very brilliant, but they don't have the extra decade or two of experience that the client also yearns for.

Youth can get old quickly. A balanced team of young and not-so-young may be the best answer for the agency and the client.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, August 29, 2011

Simple is our friend

We have a friend, but we don’t always pay attention to her. She’s not as flamboyant or attention-grabbing. She doesn’t make everyone happy all the time. She is sometimes very blunt, but she is very clear.

Simple. Simple should be our friend, but we reject her because we get lost in the moment, in all the whirlwind of activity. But after the dust settles, the answer is always simple. We waste a lot of time avoiding our friend. 

Maybe it’s because we like the adrenaline of complex stuff flying around, maybe it’s because simplicity can hit you between the eyes and sometimes that hurts.

Make friends with simple.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & beyond

Friday, August 26, 2011

Forget ideal

Our dealership isn’t firing on all cylinders. Our customer retention should be better. Our morale has to improve.

Too often, we compare ourselves to the ideal—to what is close to perfect in some cases. It’s bad to compare ourselves to ourselves—that’s a waste, but, if we’re going to compare ourselves, let’s look for similar situations that are reasonable.

Ideal is just that, ideal. Real or reasonable is the only thing to measure against.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let’s Expand

An option to mediocre sales and low momentum is expansion. Yes, that’s true. Is your product old in the tooth? Is your sales force complacent? Is your market sluggish? Expand.

Build products that are better, hire energized salespeople in new markets, expand the business. Of course, in order to expand intelligently, you have to make sure you have the right team, the right pricing, and the right product.

Expansion beats the alternative…

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crazy Ted

Crazy Ted never shuts up. He talks all the time, just won’t leave you alone. Ted runs a construction business. He wins and loses business for exactly the same reason: his personality. You either love him or you run from him.

He’s obsessive, wacky, embarrassing, and yet, endearing. You trust him, you believe him. He’ll worry more about the work he’s doing for you than you will.

Ted has a very simple business model: I’m obsessed with doing a great job for you and may drive you nuts while I’m doing it.

That model doesn’t work when the product or service that’s provided is commonplace. But it can work if you’re a heart surgeon or a fighter pilot, because customers can set aside the personality when it’s do or die. And that’s where Ted’s intensity and energy come in: he makes you feel that painting your building or roofing your home is that critical—you have to have him….even if he drives you nuts.

Barrry LaBov
LaBov & beyond

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gimme Traffic

Dealers want a product to sell to their customers. They want loyal customers. They want to make a profit. But most of all, today, they need traffic.

They need people walking through the door, people with cash in their pocket, people who actually are interested in their product(s). The manufacturer that understands that traffic trumps product will win. The best product in the world needs traffic. A mediocre product with tons of traffic will win every time.

So the answer is give the dealer a great product and generate tons of traffic for them. And sit back and count the money.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, August 22, 2011

Julian the golfer

I’m a member and co-owner of a fantastic golf club, Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We just hosted the Junior PGA Championship where 156 of the world’s best young golfers competed. There were only going to be one winner in the boy’s competition and one winner in the girl’s competition, and those players were tremendous. But then there was a 16-year old boy named Julian.

Born in Thailand and now living in Nevada, he and his mom (his father passed away a couple years ago) travel the country as he competes in tourneys. I had the opportunity to host Julian at my home for the week of the championship.

He did not win. He did not break par. He did not make the cut after the third round. He did make more friends with people of all ages than I thought possible. He was open, vulnerable about his game, his talent and lack of talent. He truly enjoyed his life, even when his golf deserted him.

One boy golfer walked away with the trophy and deserved it, he was great. Another boy walked away with experiences, laughs and a lot of friends.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, August 19, 2011

Economic Fears

With the economy looking bleak again, where does that put us? Of course, we’ll hear the same things we heard a couple of years ago. The question is, have we learned from it?

The naysayers will tell of gloom. Others will be upbeat and predict it is a very short-lived situation.

No one knows. All we have is our response, which will affect the very situation. All we know is that it won’t last forever…and it won’t be the last time.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, August 18, 2011

There comes a time

There comes a time when:
You do what you believe even it’s not universally received
You realize that what you feared losing isn’t worth that much anyway
You realize that you have more control in some aspects of your life
You realize you have less control in some aspects of your life
You enjoy what used to be invisible to you

Those are pretty good times…

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Say no, say yes or bring an idea to the table

It’s pretty exciting to tell the customer “yes” to whatever they want. Equally exciting is playing hardball and laying a “no” on them. A lot of times “yes” or “no” work, but not always.
How about the next time you’re tempted to say the “y” or the “n” words, you stop and think—maybe there’s an answer that is for superior? It takes time, thought and guts (because you might be rejected) but it sure will be exciting not only for you, but the customer.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There comes a time

There comes a time when:

You do what you believe even if it’s not universally received

You realize that what you feared losing isn’t worth that much anyway

You realize that you have more control in some aspects of your life

You realize you have less control in some aspects of your life

You enjoy what used to be invisible to you

Those are pretty good times…

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, August 12, 2011

Too close brings comfort

Our children tell us as they grow up to leave them alone, let them do things on their own. They need to stand on their own, take a few falls and pick themselves back up.
Ditto for our businesses. We can be too involved, too available, too “always there.” A little distance can be pretty healthy. It exposes the good and the not good. It enables the employee to think first before giving up.

I have the problem of being too “always there” and have tried to improve on that. I have to actually work on not automatically helping or solving. Whether it’s in business or personal life, we must realize that people were given legs to stand up on their own.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Best of Barry: Fear the right stuff

Originally posted FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2009

In business, it's easy to be afraid of what the customer might think or what the boss might think or how you look to your fellow employees.

But if we need to be fearful of anything (other than fear itself), we need to fear:

Not doing what we believe is right
Not taking complete responsibility or ownership
Not being honest and vulnerable
Not taking action
If we have to feel fear, the other stuff, such as how you look or appear to others, shouldn't even be a thought. Fear the right stuff.

Barry LaBov
LaBov and Beyond

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Best of Barry: The War of the Words

Originally posted MONDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2009

With all the corporate speak and acronyms that we face everyday, we have to focus on simplicity. Even the best intentions will be undermined if we use different words and acronyms to say similar things.

Picture this:

1) You're a manufacturer and you have created 40 different programs that your sales channel uses for training their employees, to improve their performance, and to market to their customers.
2) You have 10 different suppliers as well a half dozen internal teams dealing with that sales channel daily, weekly and/or monthly.
3) The various programs are not stand-alones, they have connection with each other and in many cases, deal with the exact same issues.

Let's assume all 40 programs are smart and they are not redundant. Let's say, in fact, they are brilliant programs, invaluable to the sales channel. Then why aren't they working? Why aren't they a rousing success?

The answer: The War of the Words. If we aren't obsessively focused on clarity and simplicity, those numerous programs will each contain their own language. In some cases they also create new acronyms, sometimes clever and catchy ones. For example: we might call our customers: end-users, clients, consumers, buyers, purchasers, commiters, loyalists, and the list goes on.

There must be a common, simple language communicated when there are so many programs being sent out. In fact, I have a challenge for any of us involved with such activities:

Let's NOT add to the confusion--let's create no more acronyms or catch-words to the communications. Go even farther and ask, can we reduce the terms used by 20%?

Put yourself in the shoes of the sales channel in this instance. How would you feel if there were no more additional acronyms and instead, there were fewer terms, no redundancy, and a simpler message? It could only help.

It's time to win the War of the Words.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond