The Power of No
Learning to Say No Opens the Door to Yes
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
By nature I like to help people. I enjoy diving into exciting projects. And I relish variety. As a result, I tend to say “yes” to opportunities that come my way. And the more I say “yes,” the busier I get. Eventually my commitments overwhelm me and keep me from what’s most important.
Because of this, I’m learning to say “no.” This opens the time to focus on what matters most. I encourage you to do the same.
In the answering service industry, we’re beset with continuous interruptions that demand our attention. We want to keep staff happy and retain clients. We handle the day-to-day fires but neglect the year-over-year needs of our business.
We need to say “no” more often. Then we’ll have room to say “yes.” Here are some ideas of what we might need to say “yes” to.
Maximize Profit: Regardless of why you’re in the answering service industry, you need to earn a profit to stay in business. There are two ways to increase profit. One is to reduce costs, and the other is to increase revenue. Though you can increase revenue by selling more, the faster way is to make sure each client is profitable. That means selective rate increases. Do it every month.
Improve Quality: As a service business, quality is essential. If quality is poor—or even average—it’s harder to retain clients and to land new ones. This makes it difficult to turn a profit, as well as develop staff and grow the business. It’s hard to say if you should pursue quality first and then profit or profit and then quality. They’re interdependent.
Develop Staff: Having a reliable team to run your business and optimize it is key. Too often we hope a great team will just come about, but that seldom happens. Most of the time we need to groom staff, preparing them for the roles we envision. Therefore, be proactive in employee development.
Grow Your Business: A benefit of the telephone answering service industry is monthly reoccurring revenue. However, no client stays on service forever. Clients eventually cancel. This happens every month. That means replacing departing clients with new ones, which means sales and marketing. At a minimum, you need to keep even. Ideally you should grow. A shrinking client base is a symptom of a much greater problem, one that should have been addressed earlier.
Saying “no” to things that aren’t critical provides the space and time to say “yes” to those things that are. Pick the essential items your answering service needs most to survive, and say “yes” to them before agreeing to any other opportunities.
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Keys to Successful Strategic Planning
By Andy Slipher
Strategic planning exists to solve problems. Often, pursuing strategic planning means your problem is big: significant, complex, and with higher-than-average stakes. Strategy is the means to simplify and unify activity to get from point A to point B with greater clarity, effectiveness, confidence, and efficiency.
Planning without strategy is like feeling around in the dark. You may eventually find what you’re looking for, but it will most certainly be unpredictable and take longer than anticipated. You’ll run a greater risk of falling on your face along the way.
Here are three things you need to know about strategic planning, no matter what the challenge.
1. Strategy is about choice: Strategy is a word and concept that’s abused today. People love to use it because it sounds, well, strategic. Unfortunately, calling something a strategy doesn’t make it one. Strategy, to function as it’s intended, means making significant choices throughout the planning process. In any complex or challenging situation, such choices are hard. Something must be sacrificed to move in a true and distinct direction. If you’re not making hard choices in your planning, you need to ask how distinct, clear, and achievable your approach is.
2. Strategy fits between goals and plans: Strategy is not the most important thing. But good strategy is necessary and often critical to success. Once you’ve defined your goals, strategy comes next. To delineate between goals, strategy, and plans:
- Goals answer, “What is the end for the effort?”
- Plans, which follow strategy, answer, “What are the blueprints for success?”
- Strategy is the point in between that answers, “In what way are we going to coordinate our efforts to get there?”
3. Strategy marries strength with opportunity: The beauty of strategy is that it coordinates and integrates activities around a common goal. What’s more, good strategy finds the sweet spot where strengths meet opportunity. If you identify an opportunity, yet have no strengths to take advantage, how effective will you be? Likewise, if your strengths abound in a certain area, yet no opportunities exist, your strategy could come up short. Know that to improve the odds of achieving your goals, your strategy will need to amplify your strengths, while playing to the opportunities at hand.
Whatever your challenge, follow these three fundamental principles for better strategic planning. Your strategy will be clear and coherent. What’s more, you’ll realize more successful outcomes sooner.
Andy Slipher is founder of Slipher Marketing, a consultancy where strategy comes first, followed by tangible marketing results. Andy is the author of The Big How: Where Strategy Meets Success. For more information visit thebighow.com.
Telephone Answering Service News
Startel & Professional Teledata Complete HIPAA Assessment: Startel and Professional Teledata successfully completed their Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) assessment. This marks Startel’s fourth and Professional Teledata’s first assessment for HIPAA compliance and reinforces the companies’ commitment to protecting consumer data and privacy. The full HIPAA report is available to customers upon request. The companies will also sign Business Associate agreements with clients who require HIPAA compliance. Next year’s audit will include an assessment of Alston Tascom’s operating environment, data center, and solutions.
Amtelco’s Genesis Intelligent Series 5.1 Now Avaya Compliant: Amtelco’s Genesis Intelligent Series release 5.1 is compliant with key solutions from Avaya. Genesis users can keep metrics with customizable reporting, enhance accountability with call logging and video screen capture, connect remote agents, and manage automated dispatch and on-call scheduling. Genesis can operate in a virtual server environment or in the cloud, enabling growth without additional hardware—saving time and money. The application is compliance-tested by Avaya for compatibility with Avaya Aura® Session Manager 7.1 and Avaya Aura Communication Manager 7.1. Amtelco is a Technology Partner in the Avaya DevConnect program.
Startel Announces Unified Product Advisory Board: Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom announced the members of the company’s unified product advisory board, representing each of the company’s three user groups: TeamSNUG, PINetwork, and TUG. Their primary responsibility is to provide input related to the company’s strategic product planning. Board members are Ryan Ambs, Kevin Bachelder, Luis Bedoya, Matt Bogan, Kristal Fye, Ken Goldenberg, Jodi Gregory, Peter Gross, April Kasza, Ray Shaw, John Vaughn, and Jeffrey Wood. Overseeing the board is Wayne Scaggs, director of corporate strategy. The board will meet three times during the next twelve months.
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Quotes for the Month
“I like to say that arms are not for killing. They are for hugging.” -Betty Williams
“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” -Eddie Rickenbacker
“When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.” -unknown