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Employee motivation idea!

Here is a great, FREE, employee motivation idea that was posted on LinkedIn

"Create a simple online program where employees can award other employees "stars". You can create a simple form for this using google docs.Whenever an employee "catches" another employee doing something they can award a "star" by filling out the online form.

Employees have a limited number of stars they can award per year, but can award more then one star at a time if they feel that they should. As employees hit levels (50, 100, 200) provide appropriate rewards.It’s simple to do and allows everyone in the organization to get involved! "

If you have an employee motivation - please let us know!

Posted under What’s New, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Training Ideas by Stewart on Feb 27, 2009 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Talent: The Key to Rebuilding Ford's Brand? Tom Peters might agree.

As many of you know, Tom Peters speaks constantly about finding, cultivating and keeping talented people. Tom defines Talent pretty broadly. He says you shouldn’t always assume that a 4.0 grade point average is the answer. You should find people who think creatively, work well with others, and are innovative. This process works for the best baseball teams and symphony orchestras, so why shouldn’t it work for your organization?

To prove his point, Tom often uses former GE CEO Jack Welch as an example. Welch oversaw huge growth and success during his tenure at GE. Welch was a talent fanatic, and his obsession paid off in spades!

I thought about Tom’s ideas, as I was reading an article in Business Week about Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company’s new Marketing Czar. Farley, a veteran from Toyota, is trying to revive the Ford brand ("brand power" is another of Tom Peters’ favorite topics).

One of Farley’s comments struck me (and I thought it could easily have come from Tom Peters mouth). The article was talking about pulling together a team of top people. The team could come from anywhere and have a variety of skills: Here is the paragraph:

In early December, Farley sat down with Toby Barlow and George Rogers, respectively executive creative director and CEO of Team Detroit, the WPP agency that handles Ford’s ad business. Farley got right to the point. "Do you guys play Fantasy Baseball?" he asked. Both men had heard of the virtual leagues put together by baseball fanatics, but neither belonged to one. Farley said he wanted Team Detroit to put together a kind of fantasy league, scouring the planet for the most forward-thinking and creative talent. Farley didn’t care where the people came from. They could come from WPP, PR firms, universities, or digital agencies. They could be freelancers. They could be from Detroit or Dubai. "Team Detroit should be like a general manager of a baseball team," he says. "I’m looking to them to find me the best players for every game."

Reviving Ford’s brand will be a huge challenge and who knows if Farley can achieve his goal. But if you ask me (or Tom Peters), he is certainly going about it in the right way. The idea is simple: good people can find answers and help keep your organization ahead of the pack.

You can read the entire article in Business Week by clicking here.

Posted under Talent, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Tom Peters by Stewart on Jul 31, 2008 | Comments: 1 | Post a comment»

A cost analysis of your training expense...errr...rather a "non numbers" discussion of how much you're spending and for what benefit?

As customers tell me all the time, training is expensive. Of course, everything is expensive these days and costs are continuing to rise! So that raises the question, can you afford to train your employees? I think the better question is this; can you afford NOT to train them?

I was sitting here at my desk in true accountant style, just having heard a customer tell me for what feels like the hundredth time this week "It’s simply not in budget for us this year". I blink in silence after I hang up. Why? Because I’m remembering the awful customer service I received from a retailer the last time I purchased a $1,200 mattress set. I won’t ever go there again. That just cost them another $1,200 sale. The average cost of a training video on customer service is $895. I put on my accountant hat and think - that seems worth it.

Putting that can you figure the average cost of training? The simple, easy, back of the envelope way is to take the cost of the training and divide that by the number of employees you are training. If a training video costs $895 and you are training 30 employees, then your cost of training per employee is $29.84. Let’s say $30 to keep it simple. Now - is that worth it? What is your average sale? If you are training employees in a grocery store - it’s certainly worth it where the average sale is more than $30.00. So...if your average sale/contract/transaction/what-have-you revenue stream comes in higher than that per person cost - you’re a winner! It makes sense! Run it by your controller or CFO - they’ll agree. If that ONE employee who sat in on the training session then walked out and completed a new sale/contract/transaction/what-have-you - you have just recouped the cost of training. You can’t afford NOT to.

Let’s get away from retail/sales/customer service though. The average cost of hiring and training a new employee to replace the one who just can’t seem to get along with the rest of the team or has poor communication skills can be in the thousands of dollars. How about the employee who was woefully unaware of how poorly his email joke would go over and your company now has a lawsuit? We all know how expensive a sexual harassment lawsuit can be.

Using videos in your training turns out to make sense. It helps your team deliver important messages in a fun and engaging manner. It can also help to inspire and motivate while you’re teaching. Simply put, video training is a very economical choice.

Posted under Corporate, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Training Ideas by Stewart on Jul 22, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

What's Hot and What's Not?

I have noticed a lot of articles in magazines outlining what is "hot" and what’s "not hot." These articles can be on a variety of topics like fashion, automobiles, home furniture, or movies...

We have also found over the years that certain topics are hot in our industry while others become much less popular. So what is hot and what’s not hot in training videos and DVDs? Here is a list that we’ve pulled together. Most of the trends come from our own discussions with our customers, but we’ve also had some informal chats with other distributors as well.


Communication - we have seen a big increase in customers who are seeking communication training in all forms. They are particularly interested in programs that will help people work well together on teams.

Working with people from different generations - Generational conflicts must be on people’s minds. We have seen a real increase in the past few years in training tools to help employees from different generations work better together.

Customer Service - This topic is a perennial HOT area. Many of our customers regularly train on customer service and they are always looking for new customer service training programs. Fortunately, there are a number of terrific programs in this area.

Motivation - I think motivation has picked up recently because of the challenging economic situation. Our customers are always looking for ways to inspire and motivate their associates.

Change - Recently we’ve seen this topic shoot up in interest. Our training customers need tools to help employees understand the changes that are happening. They also need tools to help every employee navigate these changes.


Quality - About a decade ago, quality training was very hot. We have seen interest in quality drop way down over the years.

Innovation - We used to get a lot of requests for programs focusing on creativity and innovation. Our customer’s interest in this training area has also fallen off in the past few years.

Sexual Harassment - When the State of California mandated Sexual Harassment training for every employee, this topic was very HOT. Recently however, customer interest in this topic has also diminished... That is until sexual harassment cases make the evening news again.

Posted under Lists, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Training Ideas by Stewart on May 22, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Customer Service Experiences - Good and Bad

Before I tell you this story, I have to confess, that I don’t know much about wall-to-wall carpet. But despite this shortcoming, I need to purchase new wall-to-wall carpet for my home. Since I have to replace all the carpet in my condo, I consider this a big sale (at least it is big for me)! So I set out to purchase some new carpeting and had two totally different customer service experiences - and I think they provide good lessons about customer service. Here’s what happened:

The first place I tried is a trendy carpet company in Boston called Landry and Arkari. They have all kinds of fancy carpets. I went there because my sister told me that they often have special sales. I walked into their store one Saturday about two weeks ago. There were several people working in the store and one other customer (I think the other customer was an interior decorator). I walked over to the carpet rack (clearly clueless) and started poking around. After a while a sales rep came up to me (the same sales rep was also helping the decorator). She asked one or two questions and then pointed to a few racks of samples and said, "The wool carpets are here and the sale carpets are over there." I didn’t get any advice, assistance, or help on pricing.

Now, I really needed some advice because I don’t even know where to begin. Carpet selection can be overwhelming! What kind of carpet? Wool or synthetic --- pattern or plain??? But the sales rep wasn’t interested in helping me. It was clear she was interested in helping the decorator. She didn’t want to answer my (clearly very basic) questions. So, after about 20 minutes of poking around (and waiting for help) I left the store with no better idea of what I wanted or how to proceed.

Fortunately, I had the name of another carpet company, Harry’s Carpet One in Quincy Mass. This store was a referral from some friends who had purchased their wall-to-wall carpet there last year and I even had the name of their sales rep. I walked in this store last Saturday... and wow! What a difference! Phil, the sales rep was incredibly helpful. He explained the different kinds of carpet to me, the difference between wool and synthetic, and the difference between different brands. He offered to send me samples and was patient with my questions. I left the store with a good idea of what I wanted, what everything cost, and how to proceed. I was a very happy customer!

My friends had the same experience at Harry’s when they purchased their carpet last year. They even told me that when a seam started to appear in one of their rooms last month, the people from Harry’s came right over to fix the problem. That customer service follow-up closed the deal for me... Harry’s really cares about its customers.

So needless to say I’ll be buying my carpet from Harry’s. I know they deliver great service, and I know they are interested in me as a customer.

So what are the lessons from this story:

  1. Every customer counts - even if they are just a "walk in".
  2. If you have lots of sales reps in the store, maybe they should approach a customer.
  3. Ask the customer questions and give them advice. Be patient.
  4. Good customer service leads to referrals. My friends had a good experience at Harry’s and told me and probably many others about their positive experience so I went there and will buy my carpet from them too!

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts by Stewart on Mar 27, 2008 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment» X

Fresh, delicious, crisp...

Yes, we do still include a popcorn package with each DVD purchase. It’s our way of saying "thank you" for being our customer!