Team With a Dream

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With 2016 close to wrapping up and 2017 on the horizon, I am taking inventory of who we’ll need to keep up with the incredible growth.  Finding the best people to work within our vision has always been a big challenge.  It doesn’t help that I already work with a dream team, which makes it difficult to add ‘just anybody’ to our team.   Our team ‘fits’ together and this ‘fit’ has easily become one of our greatest success factors.  As we head into 2017 we’ll be looking to add to our dream team and here are some of the qualities we look for in potential team members:

Passion

Finding passionate employees can be tricky but when you find them you will know.  They’re happy, they love coming to work, they believe in the vision and they know what they bring to the table to help us get there.

Strong Communicators

Our team’s been built on strong communication and it really works.  We are comfortable expressing ideas, listening to each other, responding effectively and saying the truth even when our voices shake.  We all understand our vision and we speak the same message when it comes to it!

Goal Oriented

To reach our goals we need goal-oriented people.  Those are the employees who don’t engage in office politics or start drama.  They are committed to getting their job done and are happy to share the credit amongst the team.

Attention to Detail and Organized

Being able to stay organized while paying attention to details allows everybody on our team to get their job done exceptionally well.  Also, our clients know that their best interest is our top priority.  I truly believe that attention to detail is one of those things that businesses overlook today.

Adaptable

Life in our office is unpredictable and our circumstances are constantly changing. Our business is evolving, growing and maturing quickly. Good employees need to be able to adapt to new situations and be able to grow with the business.  It’s difficult to work with team members who are stuck in their ways.

Creativity

Creativity in your position, whatever that may be, is such an asset to your company.  We’re always looking at ways to make things better, faster and cheaper and those solutions take creativity.  One of the benefits of new hires is new ideas, but to make sure you get new ideas you need to be willing to listen, implement and improve.

Finding people with the above qualities will ensure you are on your way to building a strong team.  Be true to your corporate culture and make sure applicants feel like a good fit for it. Remember, finding great talent is one thing, but keeping it is another. So treat your great employees like the great people they are and your team will do just fine!

SheriSignature

 

The Little Company That Could

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One week ago today, I got to stand on a stage in front of 200+ delegates, decision makers and CEOs, all of which are people who understand the pain point we solve and who fully understand the relevance of our product. I was honoured to be tasked with representing StaffStat, 1 of the 5 companies pitching at the OLTCA’s Innovators’ Den which capped off the This Is Long Term Care Conference. I drew the number one spot which meant I had no clue what was coming after me but here’s what I did know: our product has an amazing story.

The first line I delivered was: “Three minutes, three slides… no pressure!” (cue the slight chuckle from the crowd). However, the next line was, in my opinion, the difference in framing the next 180 seconds.  I told the attendees that I wanted to tell them a story. Sure, I had a pitch deck on the screen but what would everyone remember more? Would it serve us better to provide the audience with stats, figures and analysis or would it be best to tell the story of why it is that we do what we do? I will suggest that every single time, it serves any company best to come back to the story and inevitably explain why it is you exist.

Here’s the thing: we have a great story! Our Founder is an entrepreneur visionary who had a light bulb moment when she felt a pain point in her first company.  She connected with the right people to build what she saw in her head as a solution. Initially, this product would be our secret sauce. It’s what we would use to allow us to grow. One year later, a second company was born when we realized that anyone suffering from the same problem could relate and would want what we now realized we could provide to the market. What’s more, we would be offering a real solution to a huge problem.

I was left with about a minute to explain the ground we’ve broken, the strides we’ve made and of course I took the time to share some of the improvements our solution brings to our customers each and every single day. I then answered the questions posed by the ‘Dragons’ (some impressive people who’ve gained experience and knowledge building the very corporations we serve).

What went well?

  • My experience as a Toastmaster allowed me to deliver a speech that was within the allotted time, paced and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not shy when using a microphone.

What could have gone better?

  • My conclusion – I think this has always been one of my weaknesses as a speaker. I’m not one to ‘practice’ and that means that I’m usually speaking off the cuff. It also means that I don’t usually have a formatted, edited and polished ‘finale’.

What made the difference?

  • The first 2 minutes spent telling our story was relatable to everyone in the room. Everyone understood where we came from and what it is that we spend every single day working on.

After everyone was done presenting, everyone in the room picked up a remote and cast their vote. A total of 34% of those who listened to our pitch felt that we were the innovation that would have the strongest impact in their environment. I get that it wasn’t only due to that 3 minute delivery. It was a result of several things: the product itself, the team that’s brought it to the market over the course of the last 18 months and the fact that we’ve been branded “The Little Company That Could”. At the same time, I think our win was largely due to the impact that our story has when people hear it. Whether we give a 2 minute abbreviated version of what we do at a conference, a full on 30-45 minute demo remotely, a presentation in front of a group of decision makers or a pitch to win a title, our story is the most impactful thing we can tell.

The end.

melblog

5 Ways to Build Customer Trust

trustIf you’re trying to build a business with a great reputation and a loyal following, it’s important to be as real as possible; real matters. Consumers appreciate brands who are honest, trustworthy, and—you guessed it—real.  As a business, what you put out on the internet (especially social media) directly reflects upon your reputation and impacts your credibility with consumers. A simple Tweet or comment can become a business’ worst nightmare if the content is perceived negatively. So, how do you establish credibility online and build a loyal following? Keep reading!

  1. Always be relevant. It may be easier (or more tempting) to simply copy what’s trending (or what your competitors are doing) than to figure out what works best for your business, however, it’s critical that you don’t go down this path. The majority of people are generally great at detecting what’s phoney and recognizing when they’ve seen something similar before. Instead, be true to your own brand. Before hopping on a #trendingtopic bandwagon, posting a piece of content, or retweeting something that you find funny, make sure that what your posting has value for your target market and accurately portrays your brand in a positive light.
  2. Display your expertise. Solely relying on others’ content won’t make your brand seem special to others. Show your audience you are an expert in your industry, or with your product/service—as you should be! Post content about new product features, upcoming events/news relevant to your industry  (and share your opinions), or speak about a solution to a problem you’ve recently encountered. Developing a blog is a great and effective method for sharing your knowledge and positioning yourself as an expert.
  3. Engage with your following. How many times have you personally sent an email, Facebook message or Tweet to a brand for customer service and it went unanswered or you felt the response was unsatisfactory? How did it make you feel? If you want your customers to trust you, you must be as authentic as possible. If someone comments on a Facebook post, take the time to address them—whether the message is good or bad. Want to improve your social customer service and tackle problems online? Check out this post: 6 Tips for Providing Exceptional Social Customer Service
  4. Easy-to-view customer reviews/testimonials. According to recent studies, 92% of consumers trust the recommendations from other individuals (family and friends) over all other forms of advertisements. Wow! With this in mind, you should definitely use testimonials and reviews to your advantage; place them on the homepage of your website, and share them across your social media platforms, place them in emails to prospects and current customers. No matter your business, you should aim to make it easy for your customers to leave reviews (such as utilizing Facebook’s Reviews tab) and encourage your customers to do so. Don’t forget to refer back to step 3 once reviews start populating; review and respond, and right any wrongs!
  5. Post awards/memberships. If you belong to any associations, organizations, etcetera, be sure to highlight them on your website. Individuals, business and organizations generally enjoy speaking to and doing business with those in groups they are personally a part of or are familiar with. Similarly, displaying any relevant and reputable awards that your business has won will only help strengthen the confidence in potential and current consumers by positioning you as an expert in your industry and setting you apart from your competition.

I hope these tips help you to build trust within your customers and ultimately take your business to the next level. Remember, trust is not built overnight. Be patient. Good luck!

MeganSignature

6 Ways to Build Your Confidence

believe-in-yourself.jpgConfidence is a mindset and while it may seem difficult to achieve, there are tips and tricks you can use to increase your confidence. Being authentic and yourself is the best self you can be. Accepting your weaknesses and knowing your strengths will place you one step closer to having the confidence needed to feel great in every situation you enter. Incorporating just a few of these tips and tricks will keep your confidence up:

  1. Push yourself. Comfort zones are safe zones and do not breed confidence. Comfort zones breed complacency and stagnant individuals. When we push ourselves it feels uncomfortable but that only means something great is about to happen. If we don’t try and don’t push our limits, life is sure to become quite boring. When you see the rewards of your efforts, your confidence is certainly boosted!
  1. Increase your knowledge. As you increase your knowledge your confidence will increase as well. You will feel confident starting and maintaining conversations during networking events. You will build a trusted audience when you are confident while speaking about your product, service or industry. When you plan and prepare you will enter unknown situations with confidence.
  1. Smile. Confident people appear positive, friendly and approachable. When we smile, our attitude, mindset, and mood instantly changes. We can’t help but feel happy when we smile and when we feel happy we share that energy with those around us. People will be attracted to your energy, thus boosting that confidence once again.
  1. Dress the part. When you feel confident in your appearance you will present yourself better. Maintain a healthy balance so you feel comfortable not only in your clothes but in your own skin. Feeling great improves our self-esteem which in turn can boost confidence.
  1. Have a positive attitude. A positive, optimistic attitude helps increase confidence. When we celebrate our successes, play up our strengths, all the while learning from our failures and weaknesses, we create an environment in which healthy confidence can easily be created.
  1. Work with others who boost you up. When you surround yourself with others who build one another up, you cannot help but feel great. Work with a team and spend time with family and friends who consistently fuel your positive energy. Let their energy, confidence and positive outlook rub off on you.

Cheers!

mandyblog

Banging Out a Boast-Worthy Booth!

Last week was our last conference and trade show of the year, and I have to (proudly) say our team knocked it out of the park! Our goal was to stand out in a sea of booths and traditional giveaways and that we did! Of course it doesn’t hurt that our amazing CEO was the winner of the Innovators Den – but that wasn’t promised to us and only happened at the end of the conference.

Although there is no simple formula that we follow, one thing we do is we plan endlessly; we train our staff to work the booth, we appreciate how much the conference attendees appreciate a unique surprise and we aim to ‘bring the fun’. As a start-up we have to make a little bit of money go a very long way, so here are a few pointers to get you and your company on your way to being a booth favourite at your next trade show!

Target the Right Traffic for your Booth

Getting people to stop at a trade show booth is no easy feat. Our goal is to get people to stop in to say hi and to meet as many people from our sector as possible. Last week we demonstrated StaffStat to CEO’s, VP’s, Administrators and everyone in between. We targeted potential clients and colleagues through social media for weeks leading up to our event; our marketing magician, Megan, designed engaging and unique pre-show communication and we did a countdown to conference letting our potential clients know how excited we were to connect with them again. We also attended all events the conference held and invited people to visit us at the booth the following day. This all resulted in an endless flow of traffic which is exactly what we wanted!

Train Your Booth Staff

I couldn’t count how many people I saw sitting behind a table texting at this year’s conference. My company spends a lot of time and money on a trade show and it would be thoroughly disappointing if my employees were not able to deliver our message both confidently and professionally.

Here are just some of the ways we’ve gotten ourselves prepared to dazzle at a trade show booth:

• Our employees are Toastmasters, making it easy for them to be both natural and genuine when they network.

• Practice – we have done many smaller trade shows over the years that have prepared us for the big ones.

• Our team understands that at a trade show it’s time to over-deliver and be on point until the final minute of the show.

• Our team knows that they are still working and representing our company beyond the booth and kept up the great work well into the other conference events.

Demo Your Product or Service

Our StaffStat demonstration is short, sweet and memorable! Not only is it an amazing product, but our team is also charismatic and we truly believe in the product so we keep each demonstration interactive and captivating. We know how important it is to keep people at the booth for the demo so we keep the booth fun while other demos are taking place — this year we had a photo booth for people to play in, last year it was StaffStat selfies. We heard several times that we ‘always have the best booth at tradeshows’ – which is exactly what we set out to do!

Timely Follow Ups

The conference ended on Friday so today it’s about keeping the momentum going. My team will seize this opportunity all day – following up with prospective clients, sending thank you’s to existing clients and sharing our conference success throughout social media. The post-show follow-ups are less daunting because of the amount of networking we did and our goal is to make our follow up approach just as eye catching as our trade show booth was!

Well there it is: some of the things that we aim to do to always have a buzz-worthy booth at conferences. Let me know what works for you!

Happy Monday!

Getting Comfortable with Asking for Help

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Asking for help is something that I haven’t always been comfortable doing. In my first few weeks as a server, my managers would often ask if I needed anything and I would always tell them, “No thanks, I’ve got this” … and I mean always. It didn’t matter how busy I was or how long the list was of things that I needed to do, I would never accept the help. There were three reasons that caused me to shy away from accepting or asking for help, and I’m sure I’m not the only one:

  • The fear of being rejected or told no
  • The fear of appearing to be incapable or unable
  • The fear of internally feeling as though I’d failed

Once I started at Plan A I would never ask for help either, even when I felt overwhelmed. Shortly after starting with Plan A, I knew that I wouldn’t get very far in completing my tasks if I refused to accept help when it was offered or if I shied away from asking for help when I truly needed it.

Since then, I’ve become quite comfortable with asking for help. If I need something done right away for one of my tables or if I need a second set of eyes to read over an email before I send it out, I never shy away from asking someone who appears to have a bit of time if they wouldn’t mind helping me out. One thing that I’ve come to realize with time is the following: If someone is offering to help, it’s because they genuinely want to help. Keep in mind that everyone is living their own busy life, so if they’re offering their help, don’t feel bad about accepting it; very rarely will someone offer you their help if they don’t want to or if they don’t have the time to follow through with it!

Like I said, I haven’t always been good at asking for help or requesting a favour; it’s come with time and practice. What I’ve realized is that I would follow the same three steps every time I found myself in a position where I needed to ask for help:

  1. Realize and accept that you need the help. Not everyone realizes that they need help until it’s too late to ask and they’re drowning in their “to do’s”. If you’re able to take a few minutes and prioritize what you have left on your to-do list, this will give you the chance to see if it’s possible for you to complete everything on your list on your own. If not, pick a few of the easier tasks that can be passed on and…
  1. Come up with a list of people that you can approach to ask for help for each specific task. When I ask friends or coworkers for help, I usually ask those that I know wouldn’t mind completing the task, depending on what the task is. For example: when I go out of town, I have two cats that need to be taken care of. I have two friends that live close by, but one of them has a cat of their own while the other does not. Knowing that and that alone, I would be more likely to ask my friend who has a cat than the one who doesn’t because I know that she would be more comfortable with that specific task.
  2. Ask, but give them the option to say no. I’m the type of person that doesn’t like feeling forced to do something that I don’t want to do and I don’t like putting others in that position either. So when I ask someone for help, I usually start with, “Do you have time to…” or “Would you mind…” and then I usually finish by saying, “…if not it’s okay! I just thought I’d ask”. This asks the question, but it doesn’t make them feel as though they’re forced to say yes.

What if they say no? The response that everyone dreads. That possibility is one of the main reasons that we have so much trouble asking for help, right? It is for me anyways. One thing I’ve gotten used to is the possibility that some of the individuals that I approach for help are going to be too busy to take on the task or maybe they just don’t want to do it. Rather than taking it personally, which can sometimes be difficult, simply thank them for their time and either seek out another individual to ask for help or find a way to make the time to complete the task on your own!

TessaSignatureRevised

Two Weeks in With Plan A Nipissing!

New on the A Dot scene, I’m very excited to introduce myself, Rachael, as one half of the new partnership that is Plan A Nipissing; operating out of North Bay as of exactly 15 days ago. You may remember my business partner, Sarah Hargan, for her blog contribution to the A Dot back in May. Sarah has been working for Plan A in various designations since 2012, and as you can read in her post, has loved every moment of her Plan A career.

With my background in business and communication, and Sarah’s practical knowledge as both an RPN and RN, I like to think we make a pretty perfect team. While this business partnership may be new for Sarah and I, the truth is that we’ve been in cahoots for give-or-take 23 years. Babies in business suits? Not exactly…We’re sisters!

While Sarah and I navigate the months and years to come, we know there will be unique challenges. We anticipate growing pains, learning curves, and valuable lessons learned along the way. We hope that by sharing our journey with you, we might be a catalyst for others, making the path into franchising and business ownership a transparent one.

As we settle in for our third Monday on the job, we thought we would share with you two realizations from our first two weeks:

  1. You’re your best as yourself, don’t fight it. One becomes an entrepreneur first and foremost because they trust themselves, in who they are and what they are capable of. While our doors may have opened on November 7th, our Plan A journey first hatched in early August. Before this, Sarah and I had both spent months backpacking; unsure of what our next steps would be. Looking back on the last four months we have experienced an identity shift like never before. As young professionals it can be a challenge to merge personal and professional roles, feeling like we’re wearing someone else’s shoes.  Already, we have realized that there is no benefit to wearing shoes that don’t fit. Am I stretching this shoe imagery? – Stay with me – We’ve found that in community interactions, interviews, and client negotiations, being ourselves serves us best.  For us, this means being honest about our strengths and weaknesses, asking lots of questions – and most important to us, making a point to enjoy it all. While we’re not claiming to have become experts at this overnight, we are claiming that we’ve discovered the importance of authenticity as a practice in both personal and professional sustainability.
  1. Knowing and appreciating the strength of your networkIf it takes a village to raise a child, we’re certain it takes at least that to launch a business. While Sarah and I may be the face of Plan A in North Bay, it is more than our strengths, wisdom and hard work that contribute to its’ success. Being a franchise, we have inherited a team of unbelievably passionate, dedicated, and smart women. On a daily basis these ladies have provided answers, encouragement, and an embodiment of what it takes to be A-Team quality.  As if this weren’t enough, we have seen a tribe of family, friends, and new community contacts who have gone above and beyond to prepare, support, and empower us. The lesson here is recognizing that we are not alone, and humbly acknowledging that all of our future accomplishments will rest on an array of external contributions.

That’s all for now, but every month or so we will be dropping back in to share highlights from North Bay, the N-Dot… Not quite as smooth, but we’ll work on it!

Until next time…

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