Author Archive

Living Your “Ideal Calendar”

Written by Earl Hadden on . Posted in Planning, Productivity

Do you start each day with a plan in place?  If you are like most business owners,  you spend each day in a reactive mode, responding to whatever events, tasks, and problems come your way.   By 5:00, you are exhausted, yet cannot really say you accomplished any of your goals.  That’s why the concept of an ideal calendar is so important to understand and implement.

The objectives of the ideal calendar are to:

  • Double our productivity
  • Focus on our most important activities
  • Get more done in less time

Start by creating and building your ideal calendar, which centers around your values and your big dreams and goals for your business. When we are clear about those, the scheduling of time becomes much easier.  No  longer are we reacting to what arrives in our inbox and the requests from others; rather we are in control and making conscious decisions to get more done in less time (and that means less stress!)

What if you could double your productivity, focus on your most important activities, and get more done in less time? Read on to learn how.

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Here’s the simple process for building your Ideal Calendar and using it every day.

  1. Identify your Core Values, BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and other long-term goals.  Note: Your BHAG is a three to five year goal.  It should be significant enough that you are a little embarrassed to tell your best friend.
  2. Define the two or three Strategies that you are going to pursue that will lead to achieving your BHAG.  Remember, these must be aligned with your Core Values.
  3. Establish your Tactical (one year) plan and the goals that you intend to accomplish during the year.
  4. Identify monthly goals, weekly and daily targets.  Daily and weekly activities are called IPA’s or Income Producing Activities.  They are the building blocks of your Ideal Calendar.

You are now ready to build your calendar. Here are the simple steps.

  • Put mandatory commitments on your weekly calendar first.  These might include networking group meetings, team phone calls, personal events that must happen at a fixed time.  Note: If you can adjust the time of an appointment, don’t put it on your calendar.
  • Block time for your IPA’s.  If you have determined that you need to spend 10 hours on in person meetings with prospects, put blocks of time – usually at least two hour blocks – on your calendar.  Note: It is important to keep blocks of time together; experience has shown that productivity drops off when the blocks of time are too short (or too long).
  • Put other appointments on the calendar around you IPA blocks.  If someone asks for a time in the middle of an IPA block, try to schedule them in an open time.  Say something like “Tuesday morning is full.  How does Thursday morning or Friday afternoon work?”  This usually works with doctors, hair appointments, etc.  If the other party is unable to change, you may have to move part of your IPA block to a different time – but don’t just let it disappear, reschedule it so you get your IPA time every week!
  • Review your Ideal Calendar every week.  How did you do on your objectives last week?  Do you need to adjust your calendar to meet some demand on your time that you didn’t anticipate.
  • Keep a scorecard of your IPA’s to ensure that you are meeting your goals.  Having an accountability partner for your IPA’s is a great way to stay on track.

Remember today: “If you don’t manage your calendar, it will manage you.”


RFM – Key Measurements for Successful Small Businesses

Written by Earl Hadden on . Posted in Local Marketing, Marketing

In addition to basic measurements like the number of customers that come through the door, RFM – Recency, Frequency and Monetary Value – are three of the keys to success for almost every business.  Recency is the measure of how recently someone has done business with us.  The more recently a customer has done business with us, the more likely he or she will do business with us in the future.  The question we ask when looking at this metric is: how can we motivate customers to come back to us?  Techniques like “we’ve missed you” cards with a coupon, newsletters, seasonal specials, etc., are very effective in getting people back to our business.

Frequency measures just what it says, how frequently a client does business with us.  The more frequently we interact with our customers, the more money that relationship is worth and the more loyal the client is.  An example of Frequency is the number of times a dentist recommends that we have our teeth cleaned.  In the past, dentists recommended a yearly check-up and cleaning.  Recently, many recommend an annual check-up and quarterly or semi-annual cleanings.  Some ways to increase Frequency are:

  • Membership or subscription programs (think health club memberships or oil change discount booklets),
  • Coupons for return visits that have expiration dates sooner than most customers would ordinarily return, and
  • Direct mail with special, time-sensitive offers.

A variation on Frequency that improves customer loyalty and “life-time value” (LTV) is the number of our products that a customer buys or uses.  Banks have done extensive research that shows that a customer with only one product (for example a checking account) is five times more likely to switch to another financial institution than one who uses three or more products.  The research also indicated that it was five times more expensive to sell a product to a new customer than to sell an additional product to an existing one.

Monetary Value measures how much a customer spends with us in each transaction.  An important way to improve the LTV of our customers is to increase the value of the product or service our customer buys (“up selling”) or to add an additional product to what our customer is planning to buy (“cross selling”).  Large retailers have done research to let them understand buying patterns of various demographic groups.  Their goal is to get each customer to buy one more product than they would ordinarily buy as a member of their group.  Many chains now use data captured via loyalty cards to create custom coupons for each shopper based on their buying patterns.  Some companies provide incentives that will add an extra item or two to the cart resulting in major improvements to LTV and profits.

By evaluating RFM and working on ways to increase each area by as little as 10%, the overall improvement can be significant in terms of customer loyalty and increased profits!