Simple metrics can put you and your company on the road to continuous improvement. Bulwark Exterminating’s Adam Seever shares how.

Business Sign X

Business Sign X (Photo credits: http://www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

Big firms save millions by reducing errors and waste through Six Sigma, Kaizen and Lean Management. But for small and mid-size companies, these principles can be hard to apply. It’s easy to get lost in the jargon, said Adam Seever, CEO of Bulwark Exterminating in Mesa, Ariz.
His suggestion? Keep it simple: Focus on measurement.

Commit to the power of metrics.

First, your organization must embrace three key values:

Hamilton path in graph. Arrow: edge of graph, ...

Hamilton path in graph. Arrow: edge of graph, Blue dot: vertex of graph, red arrows show Hamilton Path. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. Measurement is good.
  2. If it is measured, it will improve.
  3. If it is not measured, quality will not exist.

“You have to accept that measurement is necessary for improvement,” said Seever. “You may have great employees, but if the systems they work in aren’t measured, they can’t see how they’re doing compared with each other and you can’t see how the systems relate to the overall money-making capacity of the business.”

Take a reality check.

Get managers together and discuss what employees should be doing but aren’t. Write these “shoulds” down. “That’s a success in and of itself,” said Seever.

This process is all about discovering reality, which is “whatever your average employee is doing when no one is looking,” he said.

Here’s an example: You want your technicians to start the day’s first service in the first 20 minutes of the 8 to11 a.m. time block. Your average technician, however, isn’t showing up until after 10 a.m. Technically he’s not late, but delaying this first service can throw his entire day behind schedule.

Should you fire this employee? Give him more training? Neither, said Seever. “You just can’t throw the axe every time the average person isn’t doing what you want them to do,” he said. And lecturing is useless, especially when the employee is protected by the work habits of the majority. “They will not change. You will not find increased productivity,” he said.

According to Seever, “They’re not the inadequate one. You are.” When you have the mean of individuals in your system acting contrary to what the management team thinks should happen, that’s the fault of management not employees. The goals you’ve developed and the systems you built are insufficient.

Prioritize and measure.

rel-author-tagIdentify one or two of the “shoulds” and brainstorm how to measure them. Start with something you easily
can get your arms around.

“It’s a learning process for everyone in the company.” If you’ve collected people who like to ride the gravy train, there’s going to be friction. Bulwark Exterminating put GPS devices in service trucks to monitor when technicians arrived at their first call. A simple spreadsheet — check yes or no — recorded whether employees showed up in the first 20 minutes of the time block.

Do the math.

Calculate the economic impact if the majority of employees changed their behavior. This can be a little involved, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated, said Seever.
What would happen if the average technician showed up 95 percent of the time in the first 20 minutes to his first appointment? How much more money per day would he generate if he could service more accounts by 5 p.m.? Would you have new capacity to handle emergency calls? Would customers be more satisfied?

Pay for it.

Develop a bonus system to reward employees who change behavior. Bulwark Exterminating found it could save $200 per month per technician if employees showed up to the first service call within the first 20 minutes. Technicians who do this 95 percent of the time get a $100 monthly bonus. The bonus helped employees accept the GPS monitoring.
Some business owners have a problem with splitting the difference with employees, said Seever. They figure, why should I pay them more to do something they’re already supposed to be doing?
“You are paying exactly for what your average employee is doing right now,” he explained. Say you have 100 employees and 70 are not doing something to your expectation. You can’t expect one of those 70 people to change when 69 of them are protected by the norm.The employees who do meet your expectation are getting robbed. “It’s all about putting your money where your mouth is,” he said.

This approach can make annual pay reviews obsolete, as salary and hourly wage increases are based on increased productivity. Without real measurement, annual reviews are subjective and vague, and metrics almost always prove managers play favorites, said Seever. The human element is important — Do customers compliment him, is he personable, does he smile? — but without real
measurements, how do you really know?

Watch culture change.

English: Bulwark Exterminating

English: Bulwark Exterminating (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eventually, employees will embrace the expected behavior. Almost all of Bulwark Exterminating’s technicians now show up to their first call as expected and receive the $100 bonus each month.
If you get the average to comply, it’s easy to isolate a minority 20 percent not meeting expectations and train or terminate them, Seever said.
This approach cannot be accomplished by one person, he cautioned. At Bulwark Exterminating, a team of believers makes metric-based management happen.

And don’t expect results if you merely have the “warm and fuzzy” need to make your financial statements look better. “That type of engagement in any program, especially in regards to metrics, won’t work,” he said.

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Someone asked me for advice on “HOW TO CLOSE”

Plain simple and sweet, here is my response.

English: Picture of an example of a cardboard ...

English: Picture of an example of a cardboard sign used to advertise tag sales. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sales Tip on How to Close

Ask for the close. Ask again. Ask again. So many people are ready to buy, but never get asked to close the deal. Be direct and ask. They may say “No”. Then you ask “why”. Solve their problem and ask again.

Asking for a close doesn’t end the conversation… unless they say “Yes”.

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I updated my Google+ App on my iPhone and found this..

Google Plus Checkin for iPhones

Google Plus Check-Ins

I have never know google to not use information they collect to better their search results. I foresee Google+ checkins becoming a major part of Google’s Local Search algorithm. The Google+ Check In will add the user data that google is craving to make search results relevant to users. Google places has come a long way. At one time Google scrapped the internet trying to create it’s local directory. They abused Yelp trying to add in reviews. They indexed foursquare to make sure the results were relevant. Now they have their own system to do all this themselves. From reviews to location data, Google+ answers the local directory call.

Can Google+ capture the foodies?  As for the foodies, I am not sure, but I do believe Google has the means and drive to eventually beat down Yelp and Foursquare. While Yelp will have a long life and will still hold on to much of it’s elite foodie following, the annoyance and frustration from both businesses and the non-elite users will erode Yelp’s base. But what do I know.. I am just a pest control guy.

Facebook-Birthday-Sponsor-spot

I am not going to lie, it’s pretty freaking ingenious. Especially if Starbucks is paying on a per click base. I’m guessing that this little ad is worth it’s weight for both facebook and Starbucks. If only pest control were as cool as coffee. Unless… maybe… do you think customers would buy pest control for their friends??? Uh… Nevermind. Snap out of it. Wake up and smell the coffee!

Facebook Birthday Targeting

Apparently at one point they had birthday targeting. Then it seems they relinquished it. Perhaps now it has a 2nd life in this new ad layout.  Facebook birthday ads are back. Perhaps this time to stay since they may actually be targeting the birthday present buyers rather than the birthday present receivers??

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As the New Year begins many will spend time reflecting upon the year prior and setting New Year’s Resolutions for the year to come. Why?

“If its measured it will improve.” – Adam Seever

Sun Dial

Sun Dial (Photo credit: Khirol Amir)

The New Year is a measurement of Time. As such, the act of measuring the passing of time causes us to reflect on how our time is spent. We evaluate what we did or did not do in the year past. We then look to the new year ahead of us and vow to do better. We set goals based on our reflection of where we are and where we want to be. In science, the Observer Effect states that the act of observing something changes it. While this is debated within certain sciences by the likes of Heisenberg and Einstein, the business world and human nature make the Observer Effect very real. Making employees aware of business measurement will cause the employees to act differently. Emphasizing the importance of those measurements by tying it to pay multiplies the effect. When it comes to human nature and observing consistent measurements, with few exceptions, “if it is measured it will improve.”

Life Improves

Measuring a year means consistently measuring time. Time is Life. Therefore, the New Year brings with it the measurement of Life, of our life. We then make adjustments to improve that life. Measuring each New Year leads us to improving life.

Improvement is relative to each observer. Some may look back and determine the goal they achieved was not worth the work and that they would be happier not trying so hard. Or they may opt to simply not set goals, because a goal is another form of measurement and they fear failure. Others look at themselves in the mirror and decided that their life would be better if they were healthier. Hence, the first 2 weeks of each New Year are the busiest weeks any given gym will see. Improvement is aligned to each individual’s ideals.

In the end, each goal we set requires time. If we choose to set no goals the time will pass and we will once again be reminded of our time spent a year from now. Each New Year measures our time. Time is limited by life. I implore you to consider this as you set your New Year’s resolutions. Each moment is life and death. We gain another moment of life as we approach an ever pending death. Choose what is worth living for. Know what is worth dying for. Invest time in both, for you are doing so each moment. A year from now you will once again observe your standing in life. Choose to make each year as a whole better than the last.

Happy New Year to all.

The new year is almost here. Now about setting my Broken Alarm clock.

800am

Modified image of http://www.flickr.com/photos/30271205@N02/2862719142

The good the bad and the ugly… Batman Smells… Or at least stinks at Reputation Management20121221-091434.jpg

Jingle Bells… Batman smells…

We all know that Batman has been stinking it up for years! Well the caped crusader has had enough of these shenanigans. It has finally gotten to him and he has taken action.

POW!

Whack!

Batman’s Christmas Reputation Management

Who knows when it happened, or even why. Perhaps it was innocent enough. Maybe Batman had a long rough day and really did smell.. But does one bad deed warrant this onslaught of Christmas Caroling abuse? I think not. Think of all the good deeds he has done. I have another very good source that confirms he is on the “Nice List”. Perhaps his foes are secretly chanting this tune below the dark of night to bring Batman crumbling down! And YOU… YOU take part of it every time you make mention to this fake Ripped OFF Jingle Reprise. Your curiosity is helping the bad guys win! Darn you unbiased algorithm that wants diversified results without checking your facts, or at least giving the poor Batman a gold star rating where legitimate first account individuals can attest to Batman’s overall stinkage. I know that Batman could easily overcome some of this if he would just list his location, but there are some negatives in his case for giving away his whereabouts. So for good reason, his secret lair remains unlisted. But that is no excuse for the this abuse…. PLEASE ISN’T THERE ANYONE OVER THERE THAT CARES?

So Smacking Your Side Kick Around May Not Be An Appropriate Response…

I must say, you would think that Batman was above smacking Robin around, but an identity is being crushed here.. And even a super hero has a breaking point. One can sympathize with Batman’s frustration. I mean, how does one go about retracting unwritten lyrics? How can Batman even begin to fight a foe that he does not know? One that hides behind the singing mouths of innocent children… Batman finally let it get to him and let loose on poor Robin. Heck, Robin freaking laid an egg… Maybe it was Robin’s fault that Batman was even in the mess. Maybe his association with Robin, and Robin’s guilt in laying the stinky egg, has destroyed Batman. But smacking Robin around for it, probably isn’t going to win back the hearts of the masses. Really, Batman just needs to take a breath and find a real online reputation management company. A company that perhaps could right this whole thing by weaving a magical jingle of their own that replaces the bells of yesterday.

For all of you onlookers… STOP

Stop and consider the damage you maybe causing Batman before singing that verse. Stop and ask yourself if it really is warranted. Take advice from the cat..

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And if you need pest control don’t call Batman!… He’s not even real!

Call Bulwark Exterminating. This message is brought to from the pest control guy.

Don’t Yelp Unless You Mean It

Posted: December 17, 2012 by SteveOnTheBike in Marketing
Tags: , , ,

A Fairfax, VA woman was recently ordered to pay a fine of $750,000 after a judge ruled she not only left a fictitious review on Yelp, but that it also cost the contractor she hired north of $300,000 in lost business.

In the summer of 2011, Jane Perez hired Christopher Dietz to perform construction on her home. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! According to Perez’s user reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List, Dietz actually damaged her home rather than repaired it. She also claims he billed her for work that he did not perform at all. Oh yeah, she also accused him of stealing jewelry because he was “the only one with a key”. And somewhere in between all that, she accused him of trespassing. And, (yes, there’s more) to top it all off, they are old high school classmates.

Dietz Development’s Yelp Profile

It’s nice to see that at least one of them graduated.

Classmates aside, the judge’s ruling poses an interesting precedent in the online review world going forward. Will more businesses try to defend themselves against what they feel are false reviews? Do they only have a legitimate defense if they can prove there are a significant amount of lost wages? What is considered admissible evidence for both parties? And what really happened in history class between Perez and Dietz?

Hind sight is always 20-20, but you have to hand it to Dietz for sticking up for himself and seeking damages. Would Dietz have sought retribution had there been no financial loss? Probably not. When it comes down to dollars, especially 300,000 of them, people will usually get serious about protecting it. It seems like the most realistic and easiest way to get rid of a negative review would be to ask the customers who actually like, and would recommend you, to write more positive reviews in order to bury the others.

At the very least a business owner should feel obligated to respond to any unfavorable post in a timely and professional manner. While that customer may have a legitimate argument, it bodes well for a business when it faces the music and appropriate, and publicly, addresses any concerns. If you’re a business, and going to compete in the big-kid world, you can’t be childish when a grumpy customer decides to throw a tantrum. Even a non-response can be viewed as more disingenuous than responding unprofessionally.

It is against rules to pay or offer incentives to customers to write positive reviews online. That certainly makes sense. If a customer is going to write a review it should be because they want to share their experience with your company, for better or worse. But I say business owners should be making their customers aware of their online profiles, even encouraging them to leave a review at their discretion.

As a word of advice, just assume that every single one of your customers intends to leave an online review of your business. Assume they are all Yelp addicts. Assume that right after you leave their house, or they walk out of your office, they plan on going straight to Google to leave a review on your profile. And, if you’ve never thought about it, assume that for one reason or another, their experience with your brand or employees is going to find its way on to either Facebook or Twitter. Probably both. (In fact, just right now on my Facebook timeline I spotted a picture that is going viral right now of a dentist that allowed his patient’s dog to be present in the room during the procedure. If there’s one thing I know about the animal kingdom, it’s don’t mess with dog lovers.)

But DO deal with angry Yelpers. That’s good business.

If you check out the search terms that are being used to find your WordPress blog you may come across this phrase “encrypted_search_terms”. Why? Has your site been hacked? Or are you a sneaky SEO that has been hiding something and you’ve been caught by Google. If you are worried about this term showing up in your wordpress dashboard read on.

WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

Encrypted_Search_Terms is now my all time biggest traffic term!

It is nice to know what people are finding your site for, so I keep track using wordpresses traffic tools. “Christmas Lights Ditto” has been one of my best search terms ever, but it and others were just passed by “encrypted_search_terms”. But it’s not that I rank for “encrypted_search_terms”, it’s because the search terms the googler searched are actually being encrypted. If you use Google Analytics you will find these terms labeled, “Not Provided”. Per Google it is only going to effect about 10% of your traffic. That was the stat they gave when they first launched this encryption, “to protect the user.” But there are many that report this impact is far greater than 10% and that it is only expected to grow.

Should I be worried about “encrypted_search_terms” showing up on my dashboard?

The term showing up does not indicate anything about your site. You are most likely not being found for that term. This term is now showing up for everyone using WordPress’s site tracking. If you care about knowing how you are being found, then yes you should be a little more than worried about this. Google is taking away search data. If you have been trying to watch your search terms trends then this will be a problem. Your data from year to year will now be flawed, especially if the percentages continue to change.

Here are a few more sources for you to really dive into this discussion:

Can I get this data back?

No. Sorry, but there is no real solution for you to get the data back. You can run analysis on which pages are being seen most frequently and make inferences as to what terms brought them to those pages. You can pay for pay-per-clicks to find terms that may become hidden. You can ask users to share the data. But there will be no going back to the days that Google shared openly with the webmaster this information.

With the announcement of Twinkies potential death,

there are those who stood not idle but moved quickly.

Alas, some people know opportunity when they see it.

And as for junk food, may everybody enjoy a glorious round of pies after their thanksgiving turkey. Happy feast to all, and to all a good night.

Every wonder what bugs your turkey eats?

But news has it that Bimbo may pick-up these Blondies.

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