Zellers Consulting Group

Everything is Negotiable...
Good negotiation skills are vital to small business people because it is something we use every day. Whether it is asking a vendor for a lower price or getting a potential customer to sign on the dotted line, negotiations are part of small business life. Before you begin the negotiation, here are two quick strategy points:

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The Zellers Consulting Group provides consulting and manage me nt services to a growing list of small business clients. We offer our clients customized solutions linking business information with technology, strategy and execution. Simply put, we make our clients:

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Do not take the negotiation too seriously - and do not take it personally. It is just a game. Next, decide what approach you want to take. Conventional wisdom is that one should strive for a win-win outcome. However, as is often the case with conventional wisdom, it is not always right. If you have extra advantage, then do not worry about the win-win — just go for it. If your personal style is very competitive, a winwin scenario may leave you feeling that you have left money on the table. Understand however that tough win-lose negotiations often leave a sour taste in people's mouths one that does not go away quickly.

Once you have decided upon your strategy, what about tactics: Use questions to obtain undisclosed information: When you walk onto a car lot, the first thing the car salesman does is ask a series of seemingly ordinary questions such as: What are you looking for and how much would you like to spend? Far from being mundane, your answers to these questions actually help the salesman create his pitch to you. Any of us can use this tactic. Not only does it make you appear interested and cooperative, but also fosters the disclosure of useful information. Try to avoid making the first offer: While this is “Negotiating 101”, it is still worth remembering. If forced to make the first offer, be outrageous: "Well, if you really want me to tell you how much I want to pay, I guess $100 a month would be great!" Do not fall in love: When it becomes clear to the other side that you have to have something (whether it is a price, issue, or a thing), you have tipped your hand and a skilled negotiator will use it against you. Have a “Red Herring”: Having something you do not really care about - and are secretly willing to give up - can create goodwill by making you seem reasonable when you do give it up. Make unilateral concessions: As an addition to the rule above, a carefully crafted unilateral concession, even of a red herring, may get you something in return. Finally, if you still do not have what you want, consider this tactic: The calculated blowup: Sometimes it can benefit you to have people dislike you a bit or, even better, to fear you somewhat. After repeated attempts to resolve an outstanding problem, it may be time for the calculated blow up. Call the company and get mad, really mad! Threaten to sue and do not back down. Typically, they will not only try to calm you down, but more importantly, they will work to appease you. Later, after you have the desired outcome, you can apologize.

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More Efficient More Competitive More Profitable

...and we

Guarantee our work!

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Zellers Consulting Group
Everything is Negotiable...(continued)

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Our Expertise
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For future reference: They will not want to deal with you like that again and may be afraid of making you angry a second time. Mentioning a previous conflict may just get you what you want - because they will want to avoid another confrontation.

It Always Helps To Know Where You Want To Go
Have you ever paddled a canoe down a winding river? The best place to be is where the current is moving the fastest. If you can stay in the center of the current, the moving water does the work. The water carries the canoe and it’s occupants for a pleasant (and completely dry) trip down the river. Observing carefully and planning where you want to go make canoeing a “thinking person’s game. You watch the river and keep steering the canoe in the direction of the current. Staying in the flowing current requires teamwork and communication plus a continuous (and coordinated) set of small course corrections – a paddle stroke on one side, a stroke or two on the other, a paddle dragging in the water, the person in front paddling on one side and the person in back on the other. Small course changes – correctly applied - make it an easy and thoroughly enjoyable ride. However, if you stop planning, communicating or working together, you lose control of your direction and the canoe is stuck on the riverbank (or upside down) – and the unpleasant heavy work begins. You expend a great deal of energy righting the canoe or paddling against the current - just to get back to that pleasant float down the river. Think of your business the same way. Lack of planning, uncoordinated activity, waste and inefficiencies in your business are analogous to tipping the canoe upside down or becoming stuck on the riverbank. Planning, making small changes at the right time (just like when you are canoeing) allow you to avoid drastic changes in the structure or direction of your business later on. If you can make those small course corrections and adapt to changing circumstances - while staying focused on your primary goals business can be a pleasant ride, too. Do you have a plan? Our research indicates than less than half of small businesses have a formal plan. In these challenging economic times, “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.” If you do not have a plan, get started on creating one. Click here to download a business plan outline. We know that many business owners are better at “doing” than planning. However, sustaining profitable growth requires diligent planning and dedicated foresight. If you already have a plan for your business, when did you last review it? Take it out today and read it. Are the assumptions it contains still valid? Take the time to re-visit your assumptions and update the plans you made.

Coming in future issues:
Where’s the Cash? Fundamentals of Inventory Management Direct Mail Marketing Basics
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Zellers Consulting Group

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From the desk of Ted Zellers
“To truly become a high performing company with greater profitability, you must plan for it, evaluate f i n an c i a l p e r f o r m a n ce and take action to address problems as they arise. To do this, you must have accurate and timely financial i n f o r m a t i o n, which you understand and use to measure the p e rf ormance of y our business.”

It Always Helps To Know Where You Want To Go
… (continued)
Does your plan include a budget? Again, our research indicates that many small businesses do not have a formal budget. A budget will help you control spending and through comparison of your actual results with forecast results, will help you identify areas of your business in need of change. Many businesses create their budget once a year and then file it away. At the end of the year, they take it out and lament the variances between actual and forecast results. Then, they create another budget just like it – and file it away! Use your budget as a planning tool to see the way ahead. Generate a financial statement every month and review it! Compare your actual performance each month against your budget forecast. If current conditions indicate that your business plan needs revision, your budget should also change. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) should be established to monitor your company operations on a continuous basis. Most of the data needed to assemble your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is already available through you business accounting software. Once the key metrics are established and the proper reports selected, management must review the reports and assess the key indicators frequently in order to recognize and deal with potential problems quickly.

Staying Alive in Business Last month, we talked about the causes of Business Failures and the study results published by the Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Advisors were very clear – 67% of the time, a business failure occurs because management fails to deal effectively with internal problems within their control. Knowing when conditions have changed – externally (like the slow economy) or internally (rising costs or declining margin) - is essential. How quickly can you recognize problems growing in your business? Swift recognition and fast implementation of necessary changes are crucial to keeping a company focused and secure. Another benefit to early recognition of problems is that corrective actions taken promptly will often head off other, larger problems.

For those of us in the business of helping other businesses survive and prosper, the greatest challenge may be initiating this discussion with our clients. At the Zellers Consulting Group, we believe making clients more efficient and competitive is our primary goal. We can assist virtually any client with a careful and objective evaluation of their direction and performance – and if warranted – provide them with the expertise to implement marketing, sales and operational improvements that will make their business more efficient and more competitive.

www.zellersconsultinggroup.com
Questions or comments? Email us at: tzellers@zellersconsultinggroup.com or call

248-410-6882
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