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