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