A new year brings a sense of renewal, both personally and professionally. Just as personal resolutions abound this time of year, some business people make resolutions for their work lives.
For business owners looking to make 2007 a better year, Suzanne Russell, clinical therapist at St. Dominic Counseling Center in Jackson, recommends one of the habits from Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” — Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
“If a customer is unhappy about a product, performance or service, using empathy to truly see and understand the situation from the customer’s perspective will enable the employee to compassionately address the problem,” Russell said. “When a person is upset, what they most want is to be heard. Often the average person is in such a hurry to give a quick response that the opportunity to fully express the grievance is denied.”
She adds that if employees and business owners will take the time to genuinely listen to the customer and “seek to understand” their concern, that time will be an investment that should reap benefits for years to come.
“I dare say that most people will gladly pay a bit more for an item if they are treated with respect and understanding,” she said. “Needless to say, this habit applies not only in the business world but in all of our relationships and is priceless in building strong familial and personal relationships.”
Staying on top
Pam Joiner owns Padgett Business Services, along with her husband Jim, and they provide accounting, tax and payroll services to owner-operated small businesses in the Jackson metro area.
Her advice to business owners? “Stay on top of things. Don’t let things get behind,” she answered. “We attempt to cut some of that paperwork to minimize the amount our clients have to deal with. If they will take five to 10 minutes a day or a half-hour block of time per week, at the end of the month they won’t have as much to do.”
The Joiners’ service provides clients with a new envelope each month as a place to keep paperwork that’s easily accessible. “Having everything all in one place is important and is one of the tools we provide, but it will work for everyone,” she said. “Our clients keep that envelope in sight and that triggers their mind to put paperwork there.”
They also provide clients with financial reports in a timely manner, another important thing for business owners. “That allows them to make better business decisions,” she said. “They see trends on a month-to-month basis and that affects the bottom line. Businesses can address issues in a more efficient way.”
As for this husband-wife team, their business resolution is to better analyze their client base as it relates to efficiency. “There are clients that won’t allow us to get them on our system, and we need to let them go,” Pam Joiner said. “We must be better at analyzing who those are because we can’t be as efficient with our time, and it is true that time is money.”
‘Planning is key’
For Cody Harrell and Matthews Dunn, 2007 should be a banner year. They’re the developers behind the Tunica National Master Planned Community and this is the year the first set of houses is being built.
“This is definitely a new start for us and for Tunica,” Harrell said. “We’ve been working on this for two years, but we will have a product that people can go in and see and buy this year.”
This year around 20 houses will go up in the Gallery Walk area of garden homes consisting of 1,700 to 2,200 square feet. Several other neighborhoods are planned in the community that’s built around the Tunica National Golf Course, a lake and other amenities.
“Timing is everything and we’re very optimistic about the New Year,” Harrell said. “We want to get it right so planning is key. Everything is at the beginning point so there’s not any change or resolution other than we would like to speed up the process.”
Harrell says the development will give the 16,000 casino employees working in the Tunica area better living alternatives. “There’s nothing to choose from now,” he said. “Now they must work here and live somewhere else. We’ve had a great response to our project.”
Business owners choosing to look for advice online might want to check out www.score.org, where many sets of tips are provided by SCORE, counselors to America’s small businesses.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.