Wednesday, June 29, 2011

5 Ways Great Managers Give Feedback

Managers have to give feedback. If you want your business to continuously learn and grow, you need to use feedback as a tool. The question is, how do you give that feedback? What do you say to an employee who is struggling? Pretend you want an employee to be more professional. You want him to try smiling when talking to customers. He was trying, but kept forgetting. Or, perhaps, his work is plagued by mistakes and followed by customer complaints. How do you approach the situation?

Opinions don’t matter – analysis does
  1. Basing observations on what has worked in the past, or in a similar situation, is a good way to give analysis. Analysis is a lot more difficult to give than an opinion because analysis isn’t personal. Opinions can be offensive, and make an employee defensive. Sound analysis, however, is easier to absorb. It takes the discussion from “personal” to “factual.”
  2. Say the right thing at the right time. If an employee is doing several things incorrectly, it’s a good idea to let them know that several things can be improved, but pick just one to work on for now. Trying to change more than a couple of things at once becomes overwhelming for anyone. Also, experiencing success in one area gives individuals confidence to press forward and continue improving.
  3. Focus on the positive. Be sure to point out what the employee is doing well. Being positive about someone’s work makes them, and you, feel good. It psychologically puts both of you on the same side of the table and helps make changes easier.
  4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Looking at things from a different perspective opens up a wider range of solutions. It will also help you communicate those solutions.
  5. Experiment. Try something new to break up the monotony. A bored employee is an employee who makes mistakes.
As you implement the above suggestions, your feedback will improve. Closely observing a situation can reveal small changes that may make a huge impact. For example if you notice a technician struggling to talk to a customer, you might suggest he focus on what he knows about your products or on asking open-ended questions to a customer.

Receiving Feedback and Improving 1% Everyday

Just as giving feedback is a skill, so is receiving it. Even if the feedback is correctly given as analysis, it can still feel personal to the person receiving it. It is difficult to be told you are doing something wrong. But, when feedback is given without criticism, it increases the chance that positive changes will take place. And make sure to remember, without feedback there would be no improvement.
As an employee, view feedback as an opportunity to improve and get better. You know you aren’t perfect. In fact, you probably know precisely what your strengths and weaknesses are. Feedback is simply a way for a superior to help you make changes.
You are probably familiar with Thomas Edison—he completed over 3,000 experiments in order to perfect the incandescent light bulb. He was using feedback, not failure, as his benchmark. This is the same principle in business today. With feedback everyone improves. Working on the feedback and making small, incremental improvements each day results in huge improvements within just one year. A 1% improvement each day produces a 3,700% improvement over a year.
Feedback given and received correctly = many small improvements. And small continuous improvements make a BIG difference.
ContactPoint Solutions NGA WDDA

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Value of Earned Media

Are you reaching your customers, and potential customers, in the most cost-efficient manner?  Are you pouring marketing dollars into advertising that may not be delivering enough bang for your buck? The NGA and WDDA understand the value of "earned media" -- favorable publicity generated by non-advertising such as public relations.

Champion Management - a partner of the NGA and WDDA - specializes in providing marketing and PR support to small- and mid-sized businesses that need outside expertise to support new product/service launches, lead generation, increased awareness and/or improved branding/image with contractors or the consumer public.  
We offer a package of services exclusively for members - tailored to the specific needs of glass and window & door companies.  Champion can also customize services to address your unique market challenges, starting with a comprehensive strategic assessment of your marketing/public relations approach.  Those services will be discounted at least 25% for members.
Contact me to get started today. Be sure to tell me you are an NGA or WDDA member to secure the special rate.
Ladd Biro
Champion Management WDDA NGA
Ladd Biro is president of Champion Management LLC, a leading marketing and public relations agency.  For more information about the NGA’s new PR services offered through Champion, please email or call 972.724.3039.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Focus on Your Customers' Needs

How are you doing answering my questions from last month?  Did you answer them? If not, you’ll need to answer these questions so you can take advantage of what I’m sharing with you in the blog posting and several more to come your way.
  • Do your employees have Action Plans that are specific, measurable and time framed?
  • Are all your employees working toward common company goals?
  • Are all your employees working on the right things?
  • Are all your employees on the same page?
For those of you who answered “yes” to these questions, here is the first of several Action Plan guidelines for you to implement: Always focus on meeting the wants and needs of the customers.
Hopefully, everyone at your company recognizes the need to serve external customers like general contractors, etc.  If not, you’ve got some basic educating to do.  What may not seem so obvious is serving “internal customers”.  Internal customers are the follow-employees and the various departments within the company.  Serving the internal customers is just as important as serving the external customers. In fact, by serving internal customers it’s easier to serve external customers.  That message needs to be conveyed to all employees.
There are many ways to enhance serving internal customers and Consulting Collaborative clients know all of them because we are tell them.
The Second Guideline: Listen to the “Voice of the Client” (Conduct Client Satisfaction Surveys)
If I asked your employees if the company had happy customers, most people would have a definite opinion.  They’d say either “yes” or “no”.

However, if your company does not conducted any customer satisfaction surveys, the answers are based upon personal feelings that may or may not represent how the customers really feel. Conducting formal surveys of your customers is essential and they should be conducted on a consistent basis.  This means the customer is speaking; thus, the term “Voice of the Customer”.

The “Voice of the Customer” satisfaction survey can be conducted via the telephone by a knowledgeable representative from the company.  Phone surveys (as many in-person surveys as possible) are the best way to get input and to insure input is received.  Mailed surveys will result in less than a 10% return rate, whereas phone or in-person surveys will essentially be 100%.

Richard Voreis Consulting Collaborative

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creative Marketing for Small Businesses

I just read an article in Fast Company that got my attention: Creative Marketing for Mom and Pop Shops
Effective branding and communication does not need to cost a gazillion dollars. It does, however, require a whole lot of creative thinking, great storytelling skills, and, of course, you’ve got to be doing a great job and offering impeccable service. With that in mind, here are three real examples of businesses that found creative solutions to their marketing problems.
No matter the size of your business, the glass and window & door industries have felt the impact of the economy over the last couple of years.  Have you changed your marketing strategy to creatively engage your customer base?
The NGA and WDDA would like to help you engage your potential customers.  We've partnered with three companies that can help you get the word out about your business (and you get a discount if you're a member):
  • Champion Management NGA WDDA
    Are you reaching your customers, and potential customers, in the most cost-efficient manner?  Are you pouring marketing dollars into advertising that may not be delivering enough bang for your buck? Champion Management has public relations services that can help you find your customers.
  • LocalBasix NGA WDDA
    LocalBasix consults with small and medium businesses to help them learn, understand, and navigate the quickly changing world of internet marketing. LocalBasix is prepared to train and empower your business by giving you insights into search marketing, social media, blogging, mobile and more.
  • Marketing Pilgrim NGA WDDA
    Can your customers find your business on Google? Are your competitors number one on Google, while your site languishes on the fifth page of results? Marketing Pilgrim can help you boost your web presence today with expert online reputation management.
Already have a creative strategy?  Let us know what you're doing!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 2011 News & Links

Here's what NGA and WDDA members (and the industry) should know this month.
  1. Connect with the industry on a local level by joining your local Chapter. 
  2. YKK AP America Inc. Sponsors 2011 Glazing Executives Forum.
  3. Register for GlassBuild America today for your chance to Win a Three Night Stay at the Omni CNN Center!
  4. An Industry Veteran Shares His Thoughts on LinkedIn and More.
  5. Getting Started: The Basics of Credit Card Processing for Small Businesses.
  6. NGA’s Glass Management Institute is comprehensive management training for glaziers. Why aren't you registered?
  7. 2011 Top 50 Glaziers: Challenging market conditions translate into decreased sales for most top U.S. glazing companies. 
  8. If you join the WDDA by August 31, 2011, or renew your 2010 WDDA Charter Membership,  your company will receive one free registration to the 2nd Annual Window & Door Dealers Forum – a $185 value.
  9. Auto Glass Week™ 2011 is right around the corner. If you haven't already registered to attend, you need to register now.
  10. NGA and WDDA Members save up to 26% off UPS Express air and international shipments and a minimum 70% discount with UPS Freight on qualifying LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) shipments.  Enroll Now. 
  11. NGA Membership Survey: Help Us Serve You 
  12. If ever there was evidence of the need to be vigilant on a policy issue, this is it: The EPA has placed review of the RRP issue on the fast track. 
  13. is the only provider of InstallationMasters training online. Get started today!
  14. Delivering Energy Efficiency with Style: With Energy Star almost a given, manufacturers put more focus on the look of their windows.
  15. Check The Talk and GlassBlog every week for insight into the window and door industry.
  16. Welcome new WDDA members and new NGA members!
What news did you think was most important in June? Share it in the comments!  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting Started: The Basics of Credit Card Processing for Small Businesses

Have you ever been overwhelmed with the thought of making a change for your small business?  The idea of accepting credit cards can seem like a difficult change for small businesses that have only accepted cash and checks as a form of payment.  Although it may seem like a complicated topic, it is important to take a look at it in bite size proportions.
Paying with a credit or debit card for most customers in America is easier than having cash on hand. Customers prefer to pay for items and services with either a credit or debit card.  This grants them the ease and convenience of payment flexibility. Before your business decides to accept credit cards, it is important to have an understanding of how the payment processing industry works.  Let’s take a look at the basics of credit card processing and answer some of the questions you may have.
What is PCI DSS? (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards)
“PCI DSS” is a major buzz word in the payment industry right now.  Many small business owners are wondering how this standard will impact their business.  The PCI Security Standards Council was established in 2001 by American Express, Discover Financial Services, JCB International, MasterCard Worldwide and Visa, Inc. The primary goal of this council is to protect cardholder information.  The council has defined six goals and 12 corresponding requirements that any business of any size is required to adhere to when accepting payment cards. 
What Happens Behind the Scenes When a Customer Pays With a Credit Card?
The credit card network consists of a couple of primary players.  The process begins when a card issuer provides credit or debit card to the customer.  The main card issuers are Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. When the customer pays with a credit or debit card in a store, the card information is gathered, either by swiping the card through a terminal, entering it into a gateway or keying it into a terminal.
The authorization system receives the card information and either approves or declines the transaction and notifies the merchant through the terminal or gateway.   All of the day’s transactions are sent to the settlement system and the movement of money from the cardholder’s credit card account into the merchant’s bank account begins.   The money from those credit card transactions is deposited into the merchant’s bank account within 2 business days.
How Are My Rates Determined?
The most important thing to understand with regard to pricing is that the credit card processing rate structure is based on risk.  The more information that is provided to the authorization system, the more likely you are to pay a lower rate. There are two main account types used in setting credit card processing rates: Retail and MOTO/Ecommerce. Retail accounts are for businesses who see their customers and are able to swipe their customers’ cards the majority of the time.  Retail accounts are generally the lowest priced accounts, as the maximum amount of cardholder data is captured through the magnetic strip on the back of the card.  This reduces the risk associated with the transaction and allows for a lower rate structure.
The other account type is MOTO/Ecommerce.  This works best for businesses who will not see the customer the majority of the time and will be keying the card information into a terminal or gathering information through a shopping cart.  Since the magnetic strip on the back of the card cannot be read, a minimal amount of cardholder data is captured and transmitted to the authorization system.  As a result, transactions under this account type usually have higher risk and higher rates.
How do I understand the fees on a statement?
Each month, you will receive a statement reflecting the previous month’s activity.  Credit card processing rates are often found to be confusing. Here are some miscellaneous fees that may be found on your monthly statement:
  • Annual fee
  • Monthly statement fee
  • Visa authorization fee
  • MasterCard authorization fee
It is important to watch out for a processor that lists the total discount expense without breaking down the associated fees. Also make sure that all fees were fully disclosed and explained to you. Some fees to question are:
  • Monthly minimum fee
  • AVS fee (Address Verification Service)
  • CVV fee (Card Verification Values)
  • Supplies fee
  • Batch fee
  • Customer service fee
  • Terminal support fee
  • Merchant club fee
  • PCI DSS Compliance fees
Now that you have a better understanding of credit card processing, when is the best time for your business to accept credit cards?  The answer is simple; when you believe it will improve your business.  Accepting credit cards may help to increase your number of customers, average sale amount and cash flow.  One way to help you determine if it would impact your business is to ask your current customers. Asking your customers can be a perfect and simple way to see if they would take advantage of this form of payment for your business.
Go with the NGA and WDDA endorsed provider
Electronic Data Payment Systems has been providing comprehensive payment processing solutions, valuable educational material and excellent service to NGA members since 2008.  All members are entitled to receive a complimentary savings analysis illustrating the savings available through this exclusive program.  To learn more about the NGA member credit card processing program and other services available to NGA members, call 866.578.9740 or visit us online at or

Already accepting credit cards?
Fax your statement to 866.528.3854 and a National Enrollment Specialist from Electronic Data Payment Systems will contact you with the results. 

Become our fan on Facebook or follow our blog to learn more about Electronic Data Payment Systems and the credit card processing industry!

Kelsey Tedeschi, Marketing Manager Electronic Data Payment Systems

Friday, June 10, 2011

Auto Glass Week: Register Now!

We know you're busy, we know you keep meaning to, but the truth is....there is no time left to procrastinate.
Auto Glass Week™ 2011 is right around the corner this upcoming September 15-17, 2011 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center and Memphis Marriott Downtown. If you haven't already registered to attend, you need to register now.
Early-bird registration closes next Wednesday, June 15.
Attendees can save $20 per employee if they register with this discount. Registration is available online at or call the event management staff at 540/720-5584 and they can mail/fax you a registration form. All registrations must be in by end of day June 15, 2011 to qualify for the early-bird registration discount. Pre-registration fees will apply to registrations receievd on June 16.
Auto Glass Week will bring together all of the major auto glass groups, including the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council (AGRSS), Independent Glass Association (IGA), National Glass Association (NGA), and the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA), along with AGRR magazine’s Pilkington Clear Advantage Auto Glass Technician Olympics and Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics. The International Window Film Tint-Off and Conference™ also will be held concurrently. The event is managed by AGRR magazine.
For more information, visit

Monday, June 6, 2011

NGA Members: Help Us Serve You!

At the NGA, we are always trying to improve how we serve the glass industry, and, more importantly, how we  serve our members.  As part of a new membership initiative, we will be sending out quarterly member surveys.  These surveys will help us ensure that we are serving your business the best that we can.
Please take a minute to complete our 10 question survey about your NGA membership.  If you complete the survey by June 15 and enter your contact information, you will be entered to win a free registration to one of the NGA's Educational Forums at this year's GlassBuild America in Atlanta September 12-14: Glazing Executives Forum, Architects Forum, or Window & Door Dealers Forum.
Please send us any additional comments at or call 703/442-4890 ext 190.
Alyssa KirkmanSr. Manager, Association Services

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What are your Social Media Do's and Don'ts?

At the NGA and WDDA, we try to have an active social media presence. We tweet and post articles on Facebook a couple of times each work day and we post on this blog almost every Monday and Wednesday. Just today I was reading a new White Paper from PR Newswire "Mastering Public Relations in Social Media" and trying to figure out ways we can improve our social media presence (you can sign-up for a free copy of the paper here).
We are always looking at ways to interact with our members on social media, and the list of dos and don'ts in this white paper mention a couple of things that we need to work on.  Here's the list:
  • Do... establish a set of social media principles
  • Don’t... forget to review/rethink them on a regular basis
  • Do... collaborate across departments
  • Don’t... put up too many internal roadblocks
  • Do... replenish the content flow early and often
  • Don’t... limit or frustrate transparency
  • Do... set goals and measure yourself against them
  • Don’t... be a jerk
How does your social media strategy stack up?
And don't forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter!
Alyssa Kirkman