Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Is it getting to be 1980 all over again? - This one might scare you. I'm not sure if I agree with all Jeff says, but it's sound advice to be considered in this economy.
If you can't tie your tie, show up at Starbucks - You'll see that customer service isn't dead and the little things still mean a lot.
YES! CBS goes whiteboard - This is a good post that shows the power of telling stories with pictures. This is a good one to view if you do presentations at schools or organizations. The book The Back of the Napkin will be a good read when it comes out.
Self-confidence is a must for business and personal success - This is just a good old fashioned reminder that we need to show confidence when we put ourselves in front of our customers and prospects.
I'll be back at it full steam next week. If you need me before then, just give me a call.
Monday, February 25, 2008
This topic has been on my mind because one of my friends in the sharpening industry was just told by his doctor he can no longer drive. Another had to have a special pace maker put in and now he can't run his sharpening equipment because of the electrical field.
I'm not trying to scare you or be pessimistic, but not being able to work is a real issue if you run a service business and you are the service! Investing is more than just buying stocks or bonds, Income Protection Insurance is an investment that all full time sharpeners should strongly consider.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Image: Bobby Huffman speaking at one of the Wolff/Huff Shows
Without a doubt, sharpening has got to be one of the best part time businesses on the planet! It can also be one heck of a full time businesses if you're willing to put some energy into it. The beauty of this business is you can start it in the evenings and weekends if your working, and you can work when you want if you're retired.
Scissor and Clipper Blade Sharpening
My favorite kinds of sharpening businesses are Scissor Sharpening and Clipper Blade Sharpening. You can add any others to that if you wish, but these two are my favorites. I like them for a number of reasons:
1. Most Styling Salons are open late, so you can work in the evening.
2. Many Dog Groomers are also open late.
3. Both of these potential customers work on the weekends.
4. There are many place you can go to sharpen shears...
Carpet Manufacturers5. All of these businesses NEED a good scissors or clipper blade sharpener!
and many more (e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of 140 Places to Sharpen Shears)
students that started out part time that now have booming full time businesses. I also have a lot of retired students that have built their sharpening businesses up to a comfortable level, and now just enjoy the relationships they've built with their customers.
One of my retired students just called me the other day and said...
"I love this business! I run around town three days a week, make a few hundred dollars a day and spend the rest of my time playing golf. I've never been happier!"
Sharpening = Freedom
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; my favorite thing about scissor and clipper blade sharpening is the freedom it can afford! If you want to talk more about this, or talk about ways you can get more bang for your buck and make more money with less time invested, shoot me an e-mail me at the address above.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Without the music or the camera work, this video wouldn't have been nearly as funny as it is; most likely it wouldn't even be funny at all. Selling shears is kind of like this. You can forget the camera work and music and just show the shears you carry, or you can foster an atmosphere of excitement around them.
Excitement sells! Be passionate about your product! Show what you have with gusto and then get out of the way!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Wonderful creatures aren't they? So much fun to sharpen! I just got off the phone with a nice fellow that had a run in with one of these little buggers, but you can add the fact that they were left-handed to the mix.
Needless to say, my caller was frustrated! He did everything right, sharpened them well, but when he was done they wouldn't cut for his customer. Can you guess why? Before I explain why they wouldn't cut, let me first tell you a few things about Pinkers you'll want to remember.
Points About Pinking Shears
1. They have a 25% failure rate brand new. This doesn't mean that 25% of them get out into the market place, but there are a number of them out there.
2. If they don't have a lap-line or someone has sharpened past the lap-line, they will not cut! (Click here and scroll to Page 15 for more info)
3. If they have poor tooth contact because the pivot hole was not drilled properly, they will never cut.
Why the Left-Handed Pinker wouldn't Cut
Now remember, everything was done correctly while sharpening the shear, so the edge was fine; but they still wouldn't cut. Have you figured out why yet? The customer was used to cutting with right-handed shears! When a lefty cuts with right-handed shears, they have to pull with their thumb to get the blades to make positive contact. If they do that with a true left-handed shear, it will cause the blades to spread apart and the shear won't cut. The shears belonged to the customers mother, so she wasn't used to cutting with them and was pulling with her thumb. Once the sharpener showed her what was happening, the shear cut fine. (This is true with ANY left-hand shear)
The Simple Solution
Always look for the simple solution first! Sometimes it's not your edge!
One More Tip
To sharpen the Left-Handed Pinker, the sharpener switched his wheels on the Twice as Sharp. This is the easiest way to sharpen left-handed shears.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Anyway. They sell for just $19.95 and the part number is FH-50500. Call 1-800-888-3832 to order or click on the link to order online.
Sorry for not posting yesterday, I was sick. I should be back to full speed by tomorrow.
Friday, February 15, 2008
The name of the blog is Wife Advice. It's a beautiful blog written by a husband and wife with an obvious sense of humor. The Wife Advice Blog recently underwent a makeover through ProBlogger's Community Blog Consulting Project. The transformation was incredible!
I want you to take a moment and click here and take a look at what Wife Advice looked like before the make over. Do this before you read on in this post...
Now that you've seen what the blog used to look like, click here to see the new and improved Wife Advice Blog. Big difference huh?
The content in this blog has always been great, but with a few simple enhancements, they took their blog to a whole new level. The cartoons help people to realize that this is a fun site, not a serious one! The header bar over each post now makes it perfectly clear who is writing each post, the Donkey or the Wife. These two additions alone make it easier for their audience to "get it". The blog is not about a struggling marriage, it's about a couple that loves each other and is willing to laugh at each others shortcomings.
So what is the point of all this. Well, other than introducing you to a new blog that is flat out hilarious, the same principals Wife Advice used to enhance their site should also be used when you review your literature. When your customers see your brochure or business card, do they get it? Is it visually appealing? Does the background or graphics complement the product? Is the content clear? These are all questions you should be asking yourself AND your best customers. Wife Advice learned a lot from the feedback they received from the Community Blog Consulting Project. (read here to see what they learned) We all need to remember that impressions count (first and otherwise), and if done right, good impressions will lead to better results!
Image: Wife Advice
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Selling is not a perfect business. There is emotion, fear, desire, and need involved. People buy for many different reasons. It would be nice if we could just walk up to a customer, show them our product and they write a check. Does it happen? Sure! Just not very often!
Instead of looking at sales as a one time thing, we need to look at selling as a process. Similar to how a farmer sows seeds into a field, you need to sow an interest in your products into your customers. Not every seed will sprout, just like some of your customers won't be interested in what you sell. That's why farmers sow so many seeds, they expect a percentage to fail.
Every time you show your products to a potential customer, they start to travel down your sales pipeline. Some slide right through and buy right away, some won't even consider going in the pipe and others meander down the pipe as they make their decision.
It often takes time for your customer to get to the end of your pipe. It could take days, it could take weeks. It doesn't matter! The point is to keep the pipeline full.
So how can you feed the people in your pipeline so they don't turn and walk out the way they came in? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Thank you cards. When someone shows interest in one of your products, but doesn't buy, send them a nice thank you card for considering what you're selling and let them know you will follow up at a later date, or offer a buying incentive. (so much off, free case, something like that)
2. If it's a trusted customer, offer to leave the product with them to test for a few days. This is called the "Puppy Dog Close". Once you get it in their hand and they get used to using it, they'll want to keep it.
3. Be sure to mention the product each time you see the customer. This is not being pushy. This simply gives them another opportunity to buy. Remember! We live in a busy world. We all need reminders from time-to-time.
While on the road, I take some time and ride with a few of my students when I can. Almost all the shear sales I see them make are not impulse buys, but the result of sowing interest in the shear over time.
How do you keep guiding customers into your pipeline? Well for starters, be sure your customers know you sell shears and other products. Then be sure you have some to show! You can't sell from an empty wagon and people like to touch and feel before they buy. Give them something to touch and feel!
One thing is certain, your customers WILL buy what you're selling from SOMEBODY. If you TAKE THE TIME to show them what you have, and remind them of it, they will eventually buy from YOU!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I've been asked a number of times how many of the 300 and 400 series Ookami Beauty Shears we have left. Here is the run down:
320 - 8
403 - 1
404 - 26
426 - 25
427L - 50
The majority we have left at thinners and the K-Blades. Let me know if you have any questions concerning what we have left. 1-800-888-3832
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Some think it's dumb, but it is important to remember! How you look makes an impression!
Lee Wolff always said, "You're a professional. Dress like one."
One of my favorite pictures I show in my sharpening classes is this one. Note the nicely kept hair and the shirt that's two sizes too small. Chicks love hairy bellybuttons! :) (Click on the picture to get a better view)
I thought about writing this when I read this post by Jason Jacobsohn. It is geared toward dressing for events, but what he has to say applies to sharpeners as well. Take a look at his suggestions.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I don't want anyone to get discouraged about this sales series I've started writing. You REALLY CAN make MORE MONEY if you add sales to your business plan! Just to help get you a little more excited about the possibilities sales can bring, I want to share a story.
A few months ago, I had to visit the other side of our great country. While there, I set up some training time with a couple of Hira-To owners. One of these students lived in one of the larger cities on the west coast. Part way through the day we had to stop the class so he could take care of some of his customers in the area. We set aside about an hour and a half for this.
To make a short story shorter, the bugger sold two shears and picked up enough sharpening to add up to just under $900 dollars! All in just an hour and a half!!! Now this was NOT a normal hour and a half! So don't start growing really big dollar signs in your eyes! But the point I wanted to make was a full 50% of this high dollar hour and a half was because of the shear sales.
Now it's not like this fellow just sold these shears out of the blue. The lady that bought them expressed an interest in one of them the week before, and that was one of the main motivators that pulled us out of class. She was already in his pipeline! (I'll be writing more about pipelines soon) What he didn't expect was to sell two shears! A nice surprise!
Now you may be thinking that this can happen only in a big city. NOT TRUE! I've personally witnessed similar results all over the country. So don't think sales can't add up for you! A shear sale can turn a good day into a spectacular day in the time it takes your customer to write a check! If you want to add to your bottom line, add sales! I'll share more about pipelines later this week.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
We live in an information age. We have more facts and data available to us through printed material, TV and especially the internet than ever before! We even hear the term "information overload" from time-to-time. So this provides us an opportunity to be storytellers instead of salespeople (information givers).
Jeffrey Gitomer often says, "People love to buy, but they hate to be sold." He and all the other sales professionals suggest that we create a buying "atmosphere", and not just offer a sales pitch. One of the most effective ways I found to do this is with storytelling.
While we live in an information age, we also live in a conceptual age. Too often we focus on the information side (left-side of the brain) and we don't focus enough on the conceptual side (right-side of the brain). Remember! Most healthy people use both sides of their noggin! With all the "information" available to us, the left side of the brain gets a workout, but the right side is left wanting.
While facts and data are important, we need to remember that we are all born storytellers and storylisteners. We all looked forward to show-and-tell when we were kids and we all spent time on the playground exchanging stories. But somewhere along the line, "story" became synonymous with fiction or even falsehood. So most salespeople shy away from them and focus on the facts. Bad move!
So what can we do with good stories? Let's give an example:
You walk into a salon with a display case of shears. You open it and the stylists are checking them out while you're sharpening. When you finish, you return the sharpened shears to your customers and ask if anyone has any questions about your samples. You hear, "Tell me about your shears."
You can respond with all the "facts" like 440 Stainless, 59 rockwell, ball bearing assembly, different metal mixes and watch your customers eyes glaze over. Or you can start telling stories about the ones you've sold. Like that customer that called just to tell you that she is so proud of her new shears and the way they make her feel when she cuts. The edge seems to last forever, they are super smooth and her hands don't hurt anymore when she goes home at night.
Which do you think will make a better impression? The facts or the story? The Story! The facts are good, and they can and should be woven into the story, but they shouldn't be the focus.
This is called "narrative imaging" and it helps to feed both sides of the brain. The left-side will pick up on the facts and the right-side will apply the mental images of those facts to the story. So be a story collector and a storyteller. Don't worry if you've never sold a shear before in your life! If this is your first time selling a shear, there's nothing wrong with telling your customer a story based on the "facts" you know about that shear and how you believe it will help them.
Bar none, the best book I've found on the subject of storytelling and how it relates to sales and marketing is Seth Godin's book, All Marketers are Liars. If this is a method you think you'd like to use in your sales, pick up a copy at Amazon, your local library or your local bookstore. It is well worth the investment and will give you much more detail than I can give in a post like this.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Sorry for being so quiet over the past couple of days. Mia, my 7 year old daughter, ended up with a pretty bad kidney infection, so I've been at home helping my wife with my two boys. Mia is fine now, but she gave us a good scare.
I'll be back posting tomorrow. :)
PS - Parenting has it moments doesn't it!
Monday, February 4, 2008
I found this interesting site today. Take a look and see each presidential candidates position on different tax plans.
As small business people, we need to vote responsibly. Be sure to research all the candidates positions before you decide. Tax is just one of them!
Friday, February 1, 2008
This post is the first in of series of sales posts I told you I'd be writing. If you have points you'd like to add, let me know in the comments section. Here we go...
A quote by Niccolo Machiavelli ~
"All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it's impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer."
A brilliant point! And it begs a question that any sharpener (or salesperson for that matter) should be asking. What kind of actions are we taking?
Too often we are afraid to start our businesses or take them to the next level. "How do I file my sales tax?" "What will happen if I buy a bunch of inventory and it doesn't sell?" "How will I ever be able to sell myself" "I have to cold call?!!" "I'm not a salesman!" "They won't want my shears!"
It's easy for us to come up with excuses to NOT take action. Starting a business, or taking it to another level, is rarely a comfortable process. This is because it forces us to step out of our comfort zones. Every part of it "feels" risky. This leads to fear! But that fear is often unfounded. Mark Twain said this ~
"I am an old man and have known many troubles, but most of them never happened."
All of the concerns I've heard above aren't real; they're perceived. Let's answer each:
"How do I file my sales tax?" - Just call your county offices. In ever town and state I've lived I've found the people that work in county administration helpful and knowledgeable. Most if this can also be done online or through an accountant. I'm embarrassed to tell all of you that one of the first questions I asked Lee Wolff when I started my sharpening business in the early nineties was, "How will I pay my taxes?" He said, "Why don't you worry about making some money before you worry about paying taxes?" I've applied this kind of advise to every "perceived" obstacle in my life ever since.
"What will happen if I buy a bunch of inventory and it doesn't sell?" - The great part about the kind of inventory we typically stock as sharpeners is it doesn't spoil! A husband and wife team called just the other day and were lamenting over whether to buy 12 shears from a supplier because they had to order 12 of each shear to meet their minimum. I asked, "Why are you worried about this?" They said, "What if we can't sell them?" I then pointed out that the shears don't spoil, they are buying them a 50% off list and if worst comes to worst, they can always sell them for what they paid for them. This is a classic case of VERY little risk and LOTS of potential reward.
"How will I ever be able to sell myself" or "I have to cold call?!!" - Putting yourself in front of people and facing rejection can be scary. The best advise I can give is just force yourself to do it. It is always hard to do the first few times you do it. But the more you knock on doors and ask for business, the easier it gets. Before you know it your confidence level will grow and so will your business. Don't get too hung up on this though! I could point you to all kinds of great books and videos online, but NOTHING teaches like DOING!
"I'm not a salesman!" and "They won't want my shears!" You can be if you work at it! And how do you KNOW no one will be interested in the shears you're carrying?
Part of starting a business is overcoming fear. This is a risk, but the right KIND if risk! So here are a few exercises I want you to start working on.
1. If you haven't started your business yet, go to OfficeMax or www.vistaprint.com and order some cards. Set a goal to visit 5 to 10 customers each day for the next 2 weeks if your starting part-time or 30 to 40 if full-time. Do more if you can! Don't worry if they say no, just keep knocking and don't quit!
2. If you're already sharpening and having trouble selling shears, start taking you display case into the shops with you EVERY TIME! Lay them out when you say hello. Leave it open while you're sharpening. And before you leave, ask if anyone has any questions about the shears they looked at. Sometimes they'll be too busy to look, but if they have any free time, people that work with shears LOVE to try new ones! Give them the opportunity! You will sell more of them I promise!
The next sales post in this series will be based on a quote about how to succeed. Keep your eyes open! It will be coming soon!
Image: Freedom of Expression
Andrew wrote me and asked that a post all of you that Kenchii is headed to the west coast to do a show. Many of our friends on the other side of our great country have wanted to see the Kenchii Line, and now you all have a chance! Here is the run down of where they will be:
Kenchii will be at 2008 the Groom and Kennel Expo. It will be held in Burbank California at the Marriott Burbank. The hotel address is:
2500 Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505
This show is put on by Barkleigh Productions and their website is:
The trade show dates are:
February 8th through the 10th
Admission is only $25.00 for all 3 days or $10.00 per day ($15.00) at the door. If you can, you should attend! It will give you a chance to see Kenchii's Line and all their newest stuff. The shows are also a learning experience in themselves. If you go, let me know what you thought!