Relationship Focused: How to Successfully Run Any Business

This Old New Business Podcast with Jeff Korhan

This is Episode 17 of This Old New Business weekly business podcast with Jeff Korhan.

Marty Grunder is the founder and owner of Grunder Landscaping, the largest company of its kind in Southwestern, Ohio. In addition to running that multi-million dollar business, Marty is also a successful author, business speaker, and consultant.

What’s his secret to successfully running two businesses AND having a happy home life?

Listen in as Marty shares the importance of developing a single-minded, relationship focused approach that attracts and retain customers and talented employees to build your business.

You’ll find Marty’s straightforward, no-nonsense methods refreshing and capable of uncomplicating entrepreneurial success.

Our Featured Guest: Marty Grunder

Relationship Focus: How to Successfuly Run Any BusinessMarty Grunder discovered his entrepreneurial spirit as a young man with a lawn mower and grew that passion into a multi-million dollar company. Along that journey his success story was amplified by The New York Times, and acknowledged with numerous Entrepeneur of the Year honors.

Marty continues to serve as CEO of Grunder Landscaping Co. in Dayton, OH, but his true passion lies in working with business owners and organization leaders to help them drive results.

Your Business is a Laboratory

Getting the formula for entrepreneurial success just right necessarily involves some tinkering. Marty started his landscaping business when he was 14, and readily admits there was some trial and error involved in those early days.

He quickly learned to simply by asking customers if they were happy. If they weren’t, it was necessary to figure out how to make them happy. Once accomplished, it was appropriate ask for referrals that would appreciate a similar service.

Too many businesses don’t talk enough with their customers. Marty likes to ask them what they would do if they were operating his business. That question alone goes a long way toward earning their trust

If you look at your business as a series of transactions, everything becomes a new experiment. When a business is relationship focused, every customer is intimately involved in its success. Consider your business a laboratory that makes successful breakthroughs by minimizing risk.

Be Nice, Pleasant, and Polite

Marty has had numerous mentors in his career, with some of them being highly influential people. How does he make these connections? Being a nice person that wants to be a friend goes a long way toward developing relationships with most people who genuinely want to help in return.

Marty’s all-time favorite books is Dale Carnegie’s 1937 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. In this social media saturated world that amplifies everything we do, being nice, pleasant, and polite is advice that is more relevant than ever for successfully running any business.

Stop Chasing Squirrels

Marty is nearing completion of his latest book, Stop Chasing Squirrels and Capture Business Success. When it is published, some of the lessons will undoubtedly include never, ever forgetting the fundamentals that have always worked. In fact, this is the theme of This Old New Business.

Not surprisingly, Marty’s top productivity tip is the venerable checklist. You can write it out as you alway9 Super Simple Steps to Entrepreneurial Successs have or take it to a digital, and therefore shareable, level with CheckVist. Either way, it always works.

The point is that if you are chasing the next shiny thing at the expense of what’s vitally important for moving your business forward, then it won’t be long before your business laboratory blows up in your face.

Trust me, my major field of study in college was chemistry. You have to get the formula right, no matter what.

A relationship focused approach is all that it takes.

How does your business stay relationship focused?

Lighting Round Tips and Advice

Marty’s Top Sales or Marketing Advice – Do great work. Say thank you. Then ask for a referral.

His Favorite Productivity Tip – Use a “To-Do” list to start every day focused on the things that need attention first.

A Quote that has Inspired Marty’s Success – “Good things come to those who wait, but only the things left behind by those who did not.” – Anonymous

Key Take-Aways

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About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+

Stories Are Valuable Marketing Assets

In a world in which content is clearly king, one of your most valuable business assets are stories that validate its capabilities.

Stories can not only express how your business can help potential customers, but also the vital human qualities that differentiate it from look alike competitors. Consider that your business made a considerable investment to earn its stories. In fact, sometimes the best stories are the result of persevering through costly circumstances to ultimately prevail in the end.

“Look at the bright side; you’ll have a great story to tell.” You’ve heard this expression, right?

So, the question for business owners is this: Knowing that stories are invaluable for differentiating a business, why are most companies not taking the time to mine the value of the investment they have already made?

The following three steps will help you to accomplish this.

#1 – Inventory and Care for Your Stories

The stories that every business needs to capture are its beginnings, core beliefs or values, and unique capabilities. Ideally, this information is summarized on the company website.

This may earn the initial attention of a prospective buyer; but then what?

To engage buyers and move them through the sequence of getting to know, like, and ultimately trust your business, there has to be a whole lot more.

The solution is to inventory your stories by categories, such as the type of buyer, product or service solution, and customer challenge or pain point, to name just a few.

If a business does not hold sufficient inventory to serve new customers, they go elsewhere. The same holds true when responding to social media and direct sales inquiries.

The idea is to have the stories for successfully serving your current customers ready for the next similar opportunity when it comes along.

#2 – Use Stories to Educate and Engage Buyers

If you have founded a business you know that getting that first customer is crucial, because then you have a result to point to when the next inquiry comes along, and the one after that, and so on.

However, not all customers are alike, so it helps to organize your stories to share the right ones with the right prospects. For example, a small project is not going to resonate with a high-end buyer that needs a complex solution.

Conversely, the entry-level buyer will be put off by grandiose projects. They may rightfully assume your business will not give them the attention they deserve; or they may reason your business is only interested in more lucrative projects.

Thus, you need stories in your back pocket to handle these concerns and objections. For example, when I owned my landscape design and construction business we were often asked to justify our prices. Here is the formula we used to handle that, and every other objection.

1. Identify the pain point
2. Offer a solution
3. Back it up with a story

We explained that roughly 50% of what a landscape customer pays for is hidden underground. This includes the root system to a locally grown tree, the proper base for patios and walls, quality valves for the irrigation system that will last for decades, as opposed to years, etc.

Then we would share the story of one of our many clients that wished that had come to us first, because the investment they made with another company was lost after most of it failed to perform as promised.

Here is the story lesson: You cannot evaluate pricing without fully understanding all of the hidden qualities that contribute to the integrity of a project.

Pulling back the curtain to educate buyers builds trust, plain and simple.

#3 – Stories Cut Through the Competitive Clutter

In my opinion, there is no better way to differentiate a business than with stories that are the result of direct experience with real customers.

There are many reasons for this.

  • Real stories are credible
  • They can be validated with names, places, and dates
  • Stories make emotional connections with buyers
  • They are personal, often memorable, and tend to build trust
  • A story lesson is easily shared
  • The challenge is to inventory your stories, practice, test, and refine them, and always be ready to use them well.

Traditional marketing is being replaced by social selling and relationship marketing, with stories being the cornerstone for executing both well.

Is your business ready?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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