My Thoughts by Rick Stephens

Is It Time to Lose Your Dream?

Posted in Customer Service,General Business by Rick on the November 10th, 2008


We all have dreams. Dreams are the foundation to success. I tell people all the time that when they lose the vision of their dream, they have stepped onto the path of failure. I have a slogan that says,”Restore your vision and live your dream”. I would never tell someone to give up their dream, because dreams are what our future is made from.

Did I say “Never”? That’s something else I avoid saying, “Never.” So perhaps I should rephrase my comment to “I would rarely tell someone to give up their dream.” So now that we can accept that I might tell someone to give up their dream, what would be the “Rare” circumstance that would cause me to do that?

This is certainly not an easy concept to swallow, so let me clarify by saying, “There might be times when you should re-focus your vision so that you see your dream differently.” Let me explain. Suppose you have a dream to build your business into the next Microsoft. With a keyboard in front of you and a blank document open on your monitor, you begin to think about all the money you will have once this new piece of software hits the market. But what software? All you have is a blank document on your monitor. Without a vision of how you can offer your customers something significantly better than what is already available, your dream to become the next Microsoft is unachievable.

So perhaps for now, you should lose the dream of becoming the next Microsoft and re-focus your dream on developing something that will be a revolutionary benefit to the world. Do you think that when Bill Gates was talking about building an operating system for IBM, he was thinking “Wow, if I get this deal I will become the richest man in the world”? Probably not, but I suspect he thought this would be a significant opportunity to offer the world something they have never seen before, something that could revolutionize their lives for the good.

It’s impossible to cross an ocean without first thinking about how you will cross it. It is also impossible to build a Microsoft without first thinking of how you can benefit your customers. This brings me to my point. You won’t become the next Microsoft if you are not focused on your customer. So let me suggest that in some cases, maybe yours, you should lose the dream of becoming the next Microsoft and begin to dream about how you can bring value to your customers. When your customers receive value from your products or services, your company will grow. The more value you bring to your customers the bigger you will grow. Bring enough value to you customers and you could become the next Microsoft.

To Your Success,


Loyal Customers Will Persevere

Posted in Customer Service,Developing Processes,General Business by Rick on the March 23rd, 2007

Being in business for yourself is tough. It gets really hard when you come to realize that you need to make a significant change to the way you do business and this change will impact the customer. Perhaps the change is an increase in price, or a change to the way you extend terms, or maybe your product line has to be updated.

When this happens, owners will formulate what I refer to as SID, Self Induced Doubt. They become afraid to make the needed decision to improve their business practice for fear of loosing their customers.

Loyal customers (and you do have loyal customers, right?) may show some resistance, but that is a natural response by everyone when it comes to change. Astute owners will recognize that loyal customers have chosen them as their company of choice, and hopefully you have nurtured that relationship and demonstrated that you truly care for them as customers. Loyal customers will understand that change is necessary to stay competitive, to continue providing top quality products or services, and to ultimately stay in business.

The trick to successfully transitioning in these instances is to position the change as a benefit to the customer. Give them notice of the change and offer assurance that the change is a good thing for them. Your loyal customers will stand by you, your satisfied customers will complain, but stay, and your unhappy customers may leave. So, am I saying that some customers will leave? Possibly, but those that do were probably problem customers anyway, late with payments, asking for unreasonable service, etc. If they leave, perhaps it will be a good thing. Your company will be stronger for it.

Don’t be afraid to change. Without change there is no improvement, there is no progression, there is no growth.

To Your Success –
Rick's Signature

Turn Customers into Clients and Prosper

Posted in Customer Service by Rick on the November 6th, 2006

Do you have customers or do you have clients? Someone asked me yesterday to explain the difference. He claimed that it was just semantics and that basically customers were clients and vice versa. I was surprised that he felt that way, because there is a distinctively important difference between the two.

So exactly what is the difference between a customer and a client? Let’s look at a couple of examples of each, and you will understand why having clients is better than having customers.

If you walk into a convenience store and buy a cup of coffee, are you a customer or a client? You are a customer, of course. If you go to a lawyer’s office and hire the attorney to represent you, are you a customer or a client? In this case, you are a client. Some might discern that the difference is whether you provide a service or a product. But no, that is not it either. Here is another example. If you go to a car wash and get you vehicle cleaned (a service), are you a customer or a client? In this case you are still a customer. If you go to an insurance agent and purchase a life insurance policy (a product), are you a customer or a client? I would call you a client. So the difference is not whether you provide a product or a service.

The difference is the relationship you have with the person buying from you. Clients make a commitment to buy your product or service from you on a long term basis. A customer is a hit and run type buyer. If you cater to customers, you have to be continually searching for them. Clients on the other hand don’t need to be replaced as often, and they will generally pay you more for your product or service.

If you strive to turn your customers into clients, you will work less and earn more. Will the next person who buys from you be a customer or a client? You decide.

To Your Success -

Rick's Signature