An Ode To Julia – My Hairdresser for the Last 20 Years.

In a piece of sad news, my hairdresser Julia has just retired. She didn’t tell me; not even 50 and retired – good on her. I was told by her apprentice when I went in for my regularly scheduled haircut and the apprentice cut my hair. I am in mourning, I never got to  say ‘goodbye’ I’ve dreamed of riding silently into the sunset but now I couldn’t do it to my customers –there will have to be a farewell party.

I’ve been going to Julia since I was 11 or 12. And in a moment of ‘what am I going to do now?’ I am kind of lost.

I’m pretty sure my hair will get cut again. It’s more the sense of loss I felt at no longer being one of Julia’s. The last time she changed salons, she called me and told me and I followed her right out the door. I think she’s worked at three or four I followed her out the door each time.

I know a lot of salons have retention problems when a stylist leaves – they take your customers with them. And I can finally empathise, there was a part of me that cringed at the idea of not getting Julia to cut my hair. During the writing last sentence I entertained the thought that getting Julia’s home number and making her cut my hair might be a good move.

The Power of Relationship

I am by no means a valuable customer for any hairdresser. I get a basic haircut 5 times a year – probably 1 out 10 on the hairdresser interest scale and degree of difficulty. Almost no money in me – no one would bat an eyelid if I left.

I will show up like clockwork until I have a reason not to. In fact the last time Julia took an extended leave form haircuts, I shaved my head, bought a set of clippers and self administered head shavings until my mum mentioned that Julia was back.

Why I kept going to Julia was because for the 20 or so minutes I was there we could talk all sorts of ‘weird rubbish’ – my idea of paradise. It was the experience of getting my haircut with her. Not the haircut, that kept me coming back. It was the fun. I was entertained and she was entertained. It worked.

If there is a risk of your customers following a staff member out the door you need to be counteracting that by building a relationship with them too. But this article is about my feelings not marketing advice.

Julia was the one who tended my lovely long locks to fully grown twice now. (every hairdresser I’ve ever seen has said they would kill for my hair). My hair has two lengths where it is good. Shaved and so long it can be tied back. Anything in between and it is a ‘choose your own adventure in styling.’ There is no product short of super glue that can keep it styled for longer than an hour.

The first time I grew my hair long in high school, Julia coaxed me to turn it into a style lab for her to keep it interesting for her. Starting with blond highlights, it progressed to every imaginable colour under the sun, midnight blue, red, orange, black.

For the last day of school everyone expected I would finally shave my head – I rocked up with red hair and a spiral perm, one of Julia’s ideas. My friends said I looked like Slash from Guns and Roses (I was mortified – I hate 80’s music barring Operation Ivy and about 5 other bands known as 90s bands that actually formed in the 80s. ).

Julia was there when I did finally cut my hair short when I was at Uni. Because of a man crush on Danny Glass the drummer from the Royal Crown Revue (the band in The Mask). Julia was back cutting hair again when I decided to grow my hair long again. I had gotten sick of short hair and working for myself I finally felt okay with not looking like ‘Da Man.’

Good bye Juila where ever you are.

The Entrepreneur’s Nightmare: Where is the next sale coming from?

The worst feeling in business is where you don’t know where the next sale is coming from. I know, I’ve felt it. Nowadays the panic sets in from time to time, but usually it is irrational.

But I remember what it is like when it was real and I had every right to be panicked – from days selling roof restorations. Lying awake staring at ceiling. Panic creeping in from the darkest recesses of your sub conscious. Wondering what would happen if I got sick and couldn’t work for a week. You feel like you’ve got nobody to turn to. You know tomorrow you’ve got to put it all aside, go and knock on doors and beg for work until you’ve gotten your 3 appointments booked…

I don’t know which is worse, knowing that if you want to stay in the game, you need to be out there knocking on doors. Or actual knocking on doors, hour after hour, wondering which one would be the one that finally relented and gave me that last appointment so I could go home.

Back then I operated in a very limited way. You knocked on doors, sold a roof restoration, then knocked on some more doors. Rinse and Repeat until death – I couldn’t see a way to get rich doing this.

Most of us live some form of this nightmare at some point. And breaking the cycle should be a priority for every entrepreneur. Lead generation systems are one of the ways to do it. But there is a better one.

What I didn’t know then that I understand better now is that existing customers are also a source of sales. If you set your business up correctly then you’ve got a second avenue to generate your next sale.

It is far easier to get an existing customer to buy something from you than to get a new customer to make a first purchase with you. You can thank Bain and Company for that factoid. It is vital to understand that distinction because if you are wondering where your next sale is coming from I can guarantee you that most people think in terms of new customers and that sales from existing customers are ignored.

What opportunities can you think of to get your next sale from an existing customer? I’ve come up with a short list of ideas from my existing customers.


“I am in Your Base Killing YOUR D00dz (dudes).”

d00dzWhy every business person should be familiar with “I am in Your Base Killing YOUR D00dz (dudes).”

Along with the AFL football joke “Such-and-Such has brought their own football today.” That line about D00dz never fails to raise a chuckle from me.

There is a story to here it is. Once in the dim dark ages of online video games (the late 90s early 00s), two people were playing one of those real time strategy games head to head. (one of the ones where you have to take over the map to win)

Player 1 asks player 2 where is he?

Player 2 responds with I am in Your Base Killing YOUR D00dz.

If you have no ‘D00dz’ it is hard to defend your base. And when you lose your base you lose the game. Obviously player 1 has not been paying attention.

There was a civility to this. Player 2 was kind enough to let Player 1 know they had messed up big time.

What has this got to do with my business?

Unfortunately the competition to your business will not be so generous. If they find a way to take your existing customers one by one off of you they are not going to tell you.

They will sit and take your customers until there are none left. And YOU ARE BROKE.

This can be stopped – the first step to this is awareness. You need to acknowledge you are losing customers even if the loss is small. Then you have a chance to stop the losses.

Customer satisfaction research conducted by Bain And Company found that 68% of customers left simply because they felt unappreciated. Which means you can cut your defection rate by a third just by making your existing customers feel welcome and appreciated.

I know it isn’t logical. Which makes sense – people aren’t logical, they are emotional. When they feel like a valued member of your community, they will forgive the odd mistake or bad experience in order to remain part of the community.

Creating that community through constant communication is one of the easiest and lowest cost way. Having a sense of community with your past present and future customers means your competition can’t start stealing your ‘D00dz.’

What Does Inaction Cost You?

inactionFrom time to time when talking to potential clients about the suitability of them doing a newsletter, Ben and I are often left wondering what the costs of not doing a newsletter are for the client.

The worst case scenario is you do nothing. Nothing changes – if you are looking at doing a newsletter then you are obviously interested in growing your business by one means or another. Nothing changing means your current trajectory continues. Which, as we just discussed, is the worst possible scenario because you are unhappy with the current situation and you’ve changed absolutely nothing.

Now if you want to grow and you are exploring options then all well and good if you can manage to find another way to spend the same amount of money to make a better return. We’ve had a client track a 504% return from doing a newsletter with us. There aren’t too many places where you can get 5 times the return on investment over 12 months in a business or in investing for that matter.

If you do have an alternative avenue to place that investment that outperforms a newsletter – terrific use it. Manage your business by the numbers. We are not going to discourage you from being that ruthless.

The Back End of your Business Is Where the Magic Happens.

Prosperity, Equity and stability in business have less to do with customer acquisition and more to do with customer retention and how you monetise your customers once you have them.

It’s not how many customers you have but how good they are.

Groupon’s Death Spiral

How many of you would like Groupon’s customer list. Personally you’d have to pay me to use it. Groupon’s customer list is the list of all the price shoppers. The idea sounded better in principle than in reality.

The Groupon pitch to business is – ‘put an irresistible offer to our database and you get new customers.’

Good deal?

Not when the customers you get sent are highly unlikely to come back to your business and pay full price. Odds are the only time you’ll see them again is when you run another Groupon special.

The businesses using Groupon have wised up. The offer quality being made to Groupon are going down, the response rates are going down which means the businesses that next use Groupon are going to make a worse offer because they know the response rates are low, further lowering response rate.

Soon Groupon will be dead – punished for being the piece of idiocy that it is.

You challenge is to get good quality customers who keep buying from you again and again and again. There is stability and equity in that. A newsletter does exactly that.

It helps you keep those customers coming again and again and again. It lets you promote your other products and services to them. You can get those good quality customers to refer other customers of similar quality to you. It means that you can promote allied product and service providers to them through your newsletter.

It means that because your customers are spending more with you that you can go out and spend more to get more customers.

Why is everyone selling more leads?

I don’t know why but almost every business owner just wants more leads. You ask almost any business owner what will solve all their business problems and they will tell you, “more leads.”

If I could just ‘pour more water into the leaky bucket I might be able to fill it up one day.’

I just finished a consulting day with a client who started out by asking for more leads. Yes, they genuinely needed to put together a lead generation system and conversion system.

However, it turned out that they needed a whole lot more than that. They just didn’t know it. By the end of the day we had addressed his business’s issues in customer retention, and conversion.

If you have an effective conversion system and systems to retain existing customers, grow their value and to get them to refer, you need an awful lot less leads to make the same amount of money – but you can afford to buy a whole lot more.

Everybody in the Guru Space is Hell Bent on ignoring what You ‘need’ and giving You what You ‘want.’

If you go and get any education on business ,what does every marketing guru sell?

More leads.


If you peer under the hood, most businesses are not capable of handling more leads effectively. However all anyone ever promises is more leads from the internet or from print or from speaking or doing a book.

They are selling what the market says it wants. Cool toys. Results are far harder to get. Good marketing for making a quick dollar, but not for building anything of sustainable and lasting value. But unless you have the ability to improve more than just lead generation you often leave the customer with a sour taste in their mouth.

Think about how the guru’s sales pitch goes – “if you just have enough leads you’ll be a business success.” Every business is unique. It has its own problems that need to be solved. There is a sequence of how to implement changes in order to get the best possible return.

However it is human nature not to want to do all the hard work to fix a business. And it is a lot of hard work. That is the truth. Lots of leads are only the part of the solution. How well you can convert them determines how much you can spend on getting those leads and how well you can retain and, grow your customers while getting them to refer is a much stronger influence on your business’s success.

You’ve just had your first glimpse into what a complete sales and marketing system does. Welcome to the real business world away from marketing gurus getting you to trade your hard earned money for magic beans.

Go From Sale, To Life Time Customer In Three Easy Steps

Anything is easy once you know how to do it. Transforming a first time sale to a loyal lifetime customer is just as easy once you know how to do it.

Step 1: Realise that you are in this beyond that first transaction.

Yes I know this sounds obvious but it is the first step. But most sales people and business owners get a bit over excited about the first sale and neglect the super important question of what next?

So know that you are in it with the long haul with the customer and be sure not to jeopardise that first sale.

Step 2: Keep Building that relationship

If somebody buys from your business understand that if they are happy with what you deliver – (yes, you have to have a good product and you need to be able to sell it too) then they know firsthand that you do good work.

Know your main focus in your marketing needs to shift from getting them to buy to making sure that they remember you and want to come back.

Repeat purchasing is largely driven by whether or not the customer likes you. Which is based on their first purchasing experience – so if you delivered good value with your products and services and are working at being liked then you are on to a winner.

Being liked is about making you personally interesting to them as well as being interested in what they are doing. What could be considered high touch – being present without the goal of overtly making a sale. Greeting Cards, Newsletters and interesting and useful information would all be examples of ‘high touch.’

Step 3: Give Them More To Buy From you

Finally, on top of your relationship building you need to be sending your existing clients offers. Good offers to existing customers should be aiming to get them to buy larger value items and to buy from you more often.

The third dimension of customer lifetime value – the length of their lifetime is largely influenced by the quality of what you deliver and how well you do step 2. Build the relationship.

Like I said, easy once you know how isn’t it?


Is Customer Loyalty Dead?


Mythbusters are on the Case!

Is Customer Loyalty is Dead?

While it is true that the consumer has more options than ever, all the gurus claiming that customer loyalty is dead is total lie.

Believing this myth will create a death spiral in your business. What happens is if you believe that a customer won’t come back then it means you can afford to spend less on getting a customer – your marketing becomes less effective.

The customers that do come in will be treated the way the Vikings treated countries they invaded – pillage the land and take everything of value right now and then move on.

The customer feels used and abused and is less likely to come back. So they look to buy from whoever has the cheapest – after all, the product is the same everywhere, right? The service is just as crappy everywhere, they may as well buy on price.

With lots of businesses fighting to be the cheapest in every product category the consumer knows to shop around and to get the lowest price because they know most businesses now operate with a short-term mindset.

See every business that operates this way is getting treated how they get treat their customer.

Just because everyone else is this short sighted doesn’t mean that you need to be.

I will tell you that everybody yearns to be respected and valued. They want a relationship. A genuine real relationship. They are a rare thing these days.

Everybody reminisces about the good ole days when customer service was a real thing, not the job of some snotty teenager with 5 piercings, visible tattoos and a hair colour that looks like it was gotten off a paint chart who clearly would rather be plugged into their iPhone than talking to you. (Yeah, you probably know more about what they are selling than they do too).

The fact they are reminiscing about the good ole days means they still want that experience. You can give it to them. Build a relationship. Offer service, value and reward customer loyalty.

It will make you unique. There always were and always will be disloyal price shoppers. Who needs a client whose sole purpose is to get the best deal?

There is no point to appealing to them. Bunnings, Kmart and their ilk look after that market. Don’t believe the myth that customer loyalty is dead. Realistically there are so few things that are worth being loyal to, that if you go down that path then you are in a league of your own.

Myth: Busted.