Author: Glenys Chatterley

It’s OK to have fun, just don‘t forget the customers.

Recently I was in Oslo and, as often happens when I’m in one country I want the cuisine of another country, so I was yearning for pasta. We found what looked like a nice place. Looking at the menu outside it also seemed, whilst expensive, that we wouldn’t need to sell a kidney when the bill came. The tables outside were packed and since I always feel like I’m the animal in the zoo who people are watching being fed, we went inside, which was virtually empty. The smiley waiter put us near the bar and I said, “That’s good we’ll get served quickly”. I need to keep my thoughts to myself sometimes. Anyway, we ordered—nothing that wasn’t on the menu and straight into main courses.

Eventually our mains arrived, well not all of the mains, because my side salad only arrived when I reminded them. This was followed by a basket of bread which skidded towards us as the not-so-smiley waiter practised his spin bowling. Now I knew what was happening, because they were not busy, they were having a lovely time and we were interrupting their fun. Beloved and I began to chat about a proposed holiday to the Artic Ocean so I wasn’t really paying attention to the staff, but slowly they became more raucous. It seems that they were all of different nationalities and so they spoke English, which, unfortunately I could therefore understand. They (all men of about 25) discussed women’s rights, gender inequality, and when they started to discuss their sex lives, I’d heard enough and explained to them how inappropriate their conversations were. Their answer? “We were just having fun”. Which is lovely, but not the aim of my evening out. I’m sort of wanting to have fun spending time with beloved and just chatting, rather than getting bad service and indigestion.

I am all for having fun at work, in fact it is my rule number 1. But not when the customers are therefore forgotten, seen as an inconvenience, or badly served. Of course, the service charge was not paid, and, as someone who has worked in hospitality, I really try to give good tips. But there has to be at least an average level of service, so perhaps getting no money might make them think. Unfortunately, I doubt it. Customer service? You either get it or you don’t.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

When I grow up, I’m going to be…

Recently I met a contact at a networking event, and he introduced me to his son. Still at school, he said he was planning on studying business at university and his dad thought it would be good for him to come along to a networking event and meet some businesspeople. This got me thinking: when is a good time to start to learn about, and have, a business?

I think there are aspects of business that I didn’t formally learn until I became self-employed: how to read a P and L sheet, how to set prices, and so many other things that this list would be too long and slightly embarrassing. The reality was that I have earnt money since I was 13. My first job was a paper round, Monday to Friday evening and Sunday morning only and that was great. I also had a babysitting job, got money from my mum and dad for washing the pots after tea, and at the same time I made money by crocheting shawls, baby clothes etc and selling them to family and friends. This continued to be the pattern of my making money, some ‘regular’ work and some side ‘business’ but I didn’t know many aspects of how to run a business and, believe me, it was a steep learning curve when I left the corporate world.

Because of this slightly random plan of action, I am always impressed when I meet some young person who knows what they want to do and has started to put the pieces in place to make this happen. As I spoke to my contact’s son it was impressive as he talked to me about his plans, how he was going to get where he wanted to be and he was really focussed. I have never had this type of plan, my progress has always been a bit random, happy to have people around me who know stuff, so I don’t need to, happy to take on new adventures which is why I have had different businesses. Perhaps it is because I’m waiting to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

How about you?

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Be polite. Please. Thank you.

Recently I was shopping in Chelmsford and as I went to the door of one shop I saw that someone was coming the other way. Since my mam did a good job on me, I opened the door and held it open for them to come through, which they did, along with another couple of people. As each went past and ignored me, I did my customary thing of saying “You’re welcome” and got nothing.  My beloved has long told me that one day someone will turn on me because of this habit or another one I have. What is it? When I am in a shop and someone doesn’t say please when asking for (in my mind ‘demands’) something without saying please, I will say it for them.

This got me thinking: was it an age thing? A cultural thing? A male/female thing? Why do people seem not to say please or thank you anymore? So, I started to do some research and actively noted when I got please and/or thank you as appropriate. I also actively noted when I didn’t. The latter was easier because I had the urge to growl when I was ignored.

The results? Well from a fairly small sample (does it show that I live with a statistician?) I discovered that there was no clear correlation between those who, in my opinion, are ill-mannered and those who weren’t, based on any of the categories given above. Some were polite and some not. The other thing I realised was that I judged them based on this behaviour. Now what if that was someone I met in business? The same judgement would be made, and I don’t develop relationships with impolite people. Now It might be that I am just old and judgemental. That is, of course, a possibility. Would you, as a businessperson, want to take that chance? It might be that I know someone who would be your best connection, but I wouldn’t put you in front of them because when I make a referral my reputation is on the line. What if you are impolite to my referral? I wouldn’t take the chance, others might.

So I have a plea: can you make sure you fall into the ‘polite group’ rather than the other lot? Please. Thank you.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Where does virtual fit now?

Recently I have been reviewing my networking strategy. I do this on an ad hoc basis and, as we all come blinking into the sunlight of a post-lockdown world (Yes, I know we are all still learning with the pandemic but, for now, this is where we are. Anyway, back to the networking strategy: All my strategy has been on the basis that we can meet face to face and since this is the type of networking, I had never attended a virtual networking event. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew of any networking online. On 23rd March 2020 all this changed. My amazing team of Group Directors took all our meetings online and we carried on and learnt how to navigate this new world.

Then we were told we could once again meet face to face and slowly people felt confident enough to come back together. But virtual networking didn’t go away. As a company we went back to face to face and didn’t keep any virtual meetings. But some face to face had become virtual like us but, unlike us, they have remained largely virtual with some face to face as an add on.

Of course, as business people do , some companies saw new opportunities during covid and so some virtual networking had started during Covid and stayed. I have spoken to some of these business owners, and they see this as their future and have no plans to change or include face to face networking. This got me thinking: Where does virtual fit within my networking strategy?  It becomes part of it. I have five networking events booked into my diary for this week. Three face to face and two virtual. So virtual networking, seemingly, has become part of my strategy without me making a decision about it as part of my strategy.

In the future I see this as being usual for me. My preference has always been for face to face networking and this will not change. However virtual networking allows me to attend networking events which are further afield, and on days when time is a bit tight, I can still go networking. Of course some things stay the same:

  • remember you are representing your business, so dress appropriately, no swearing and generally act professionally
  • do you like to event, was it useful, did you like the format?
  • always follow up after the meeting. Strengthen the connections and build relationship

If you would like some help with your networking strategy, do get in touch.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Taking responsibility

Recently I have been having some problems with my bank Click here After approximately 5 weeks and having no access to my business bank account, the challenges caused by the bank, and their apparent inability to deal with the technical issues of their making, it was starting to undermine my business. I started to check my account every day and, finding I still couldn’t access my account, I’d email my ‘Relationship manager’ each day asking for an update. Finally, I was told “it might take a few more days”, which was well outside the 72 hours I had been promised. I went into my local branch—which was naughty of me because my ‘Relationship manager’ made it clear that he had to manage any interaction with the bank.

At the local branch I once again told a member of staff my woes…and guess what, she said “We will deal with this”. Hurrah! Someone who was prepared to take responsibility for dealing with the problem they had caused. I became a customer and not an inconvenience and it was great. I had to go to a meeting, and I was asked if I could call in on my way back and, of course I said yes. Two hours late I returned, I was sat in front of the computer, a magic wand was waved and I again had a fully functioning online bank account. All it took was for someone who saw me as a customer, who accepted they had caused the problem, and who wanted to help. All it took was someone to take responsibility.

I have always said that you judge any business, not by what they do when things are going well but what do they do when it goes wrong. In this instance 8 people failed to take responsibility and there was no access to senior management. Also, customer-facing staff were unaware of known technical problems.

This made me think, what happens in my business? I have no staff—all my Group Directors have their own businesses and work with me not for me. So, I make the decisions. However sometimes I have holidays, so what happens then? Well, there are very rare occasions when something that needs dealing with immediately and cannot wait till I get back. On these occasions GDs may chat to other GDs, and a decision is made, a solution found and I always support that decision. Then I look at the problem and see what needs to be reviewed to ensure that problem doesn’t happen again.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

It’s all about communication…this might be a bit of a rant!

Recently I have been having a challenging time trying to get some aspects of my online business bank account to work.

I have always been a great fan of the bank, open 8 till 8 and on Sundays, “award winning” toilets and they even have biscuits for dogs (I don’t have a dog but I appreciated the effort)…and they used to have a working website. If anyone asked if I would recommend this bank I would say Yes, the service is great and they seem to be very customer-focussed.

The bank is very proud that they have improved their website, which is lovely, but it’s not improved for me. About 5 weeks ago I found that I couldn’t pay a bill online, but I kept trying and it became a bit of a quest. Then four weeks ago I rang them to ask for help. I thought I was going to be a while so I had a coffee with me, little knowing I would have time for a 3-course meal. 1½ hours later and having been passed to three different people I finally managed to speak to someone who said he would raise an IT ticket and the issue, whatever it was, would be resolved in 72 hours. He also sorted the payment that needed doing immediately but not the one that needed to be paid next month.

I then went on holiday for 11 days and during my “catching up project” I again tried to schedule the outstanding payment and again failed. So with coffee, some admin work and a positive attitude I rang them again. 2½ hours later and having spoken to 5 more people, including, at one point, being randomly put through to the fraud department (No it really is my account I assured them) and was put through to someone else, someone gave me a mobile number for my ‘relationship manager’.

Later he rang me and said “Yes some people are having this problem” and I asked why the people on the helpline didn’t know about this, nor did any of the service status websites. His answer was “I don’t know!” You might have heard my yell of frustration, it went on for a while. He then tried to give me a list of tasks that would make it easier for him to help me. At this point my heels dug in and I reminded him that I was the customer and he should email me the list to ensure clarity. Yesterday I went, by appointment, I visited my local bank. Here I was helped by a young man who took me through various security things. I was assured that this would be sorted in 72 hours, but said I should try it on an ad hoc basis before that. We agreed a time and date to meet if the problem persisted.

This morning I logged in and guess what…I can log in but no longer gain access to my business account!

The quest continues. The people I spoke to tried, in the main, to be helpful. My frustration however is with a company that knows there is a problem, because of changes they have made, for some customers, and doesn’t communicate this to the people at the front end who are dealing with customers problems. I tried to find the contact details of the CEO, Dan Frumkin, without any success, so I tried to find the same for all the senior managers, again I failed. So they don’t know that this particular fan has changed her opinion about their company and will be actively telling people not to use their bank, including this Blog.  Oh and the bank? Metro Bank.

Thank you for reading and easing my pain, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

I’m in charge…help!

Recently I was talking to a contact about what it was like becoming self-employed. She said she hadn’t realised that growing her business was not going to be quick and how lonely self-employment can be. This got me thinking.

I became self-employed after years in the corporate world. There I had become quite senior and had people around me who did things: IT, finance, recruitment, admin etc and, more importantly, work was generated by the internal processes, I never had to get work, work came to me. Then I became self-employed. I can remember the first day, sitting at my desk, waiting for the work to arrive. I suddenly realised that not only did I have to go and get work (I sort of knew that) but I also had to be all the support for my business—IT, finance, recruitment, admin etc. I tried to generate work by moving my phone around but that didn’t work and I made lists of who might want my service and what “other stuff” I needed to do to run my business. I also drank a lot of coffee and cleaned a lot of cupboards! I was overwhelmed.

I was extremely fortunate because some of my friends had said they would use my service so I contacted them and that got me started. It also meant that I could practise and fine-tune my business processes and practices within a supportive environment. More importantly, they introduced me to their contacts and so the business grew. What also happened was that a contact I had made introduced me to networking. I soon realised that I had always networked, had always worked at building business relationships. So, I was comfortable with networking and realised that the people I met were able to provide the services that would support my business. This meant I could focus absolutely on doing the jobs I got and getting more jobs.

I’ve just written the last two sentences in a few minutes but the growth of my business, despite all the network of support, took a couple of years to feel stable and that feeling is always there at some level. On March 23rd, 2020 the announcement of lockdown meant that on paper I didn’t have a business. It really proved to me that as a business owner I must always be vigilant and not take things for granted.

25 years after starting my first business I’m still self-employed, still living by my three rules (have fun, never do anything I don’t want to do with anybody I don’t want to do it with, never work full-time or permanently for anybody again) and I am still staying vigilant. The difference from when I started is now I have people who know me and support me, sometimes by providing services to my business, people who are fans of my business and who introduce business people to me. But I still remain vigilant because none of us know what the future holds.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

What are your work rules?

Recently I was talking to a new contact who said his diary was available “24/7” to his customers, and I asked him when he had time for himself. He said he didn’t have much time to himself, but he wanted new customers and he wanted to provide a great service to his existing customers.  This got me thinking, why didn’t I work 24/7?

I think at one level any business owner works on their business 24/7 because they have ideas about their business whether they are working or not.  I find that ideas, solutions, plans often drop into my brain when I am exercising. Now that could be because I’m focussing on something other than work, usually that focus is of the “I must be doing it right ‘cos that hurts” type. Suddenly I’ll see how something could be done or have an idea for something new or a new way of doing something. That is normal apparently.

My work thinking can happen at any time, but I do not work 24/7. Why is this? I think there are three reasons:

My age. I am now thinking about retiring and having some other new adventures. When I was younger, I had more energy, that is a reality. I can still get excited by a new project and use lots of energy implementing it. When I compare my now self with my younger self I can see the difference. I can see the difference between my now self and younger contacts, as I say they are “young and thrusting” and it is fantastic to watch but I just don’t have that level of energy anymore.

My business history. I have been self-employed for over 25 years. I’ve had different businesses throughout that time, sometimes they overlapped but mainly they were the only business I had. The business I had for the longest was a catering business, which I had for 18 years. We had snack bars, units that were on building sites, we did outside catering, and I did some consultancy. I was busy. I had a good team, but I seemed to spend lots of my time firefighting: staff not turning up, regular customers booking at the last moment, and we had lots of customers, so the firefighting was against a backdrop of 24/7 work. Our shops opened at 7 am so staff started at 6.30, and we often had events in the afternoon and others that went on till the early hours. I had lots of teams to manage and lots of projects on the go at any one time. It was fantastic, but eventually, as I got older, I began to realise it was time to sell, which I did.

My type of businesses. As I developed my current business, I vowed that, whatever happened and however I developed it, I would not work 24/7 again. I would work Monday to Friday, no evenings, and no weekends. It is true that I have a business now that rarely requires firefighting. This is partly because of the nature of my business: it is almost unknown that anyone contacts me and says, “I need to network now!” in the same way customers would ring me and say “I forgot to order lunch for today! Can you help please?”  In addition, I have an amazing team of Group Directors who run their meetings and arrange all the admin relating to their meetings. I’m not involved. My job is to build the business, implement strategy, support Group Directors and members.  

I am very protective of my personal time. I worry about people who say they work 24/7 because we all need down time, time to spend time with our beloveds, time to relax and rejuvenate. So, if you do work 24/7 my questions are: “How long can you keep going and what will happen when you reach your breaking point?”

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Thanks for your opinion

Recently I was on a Zoom meeting with people I’d never met before. We had a lovely conversation about business and life and we laughed a lot. I said that I was spending some time that day reviewing my business strategy and immediately one of the people told me what my strategy should be. Not might include or, in their opinion, might be, but this is what my strategy should be.

I was surprised because:

  • they were very certain how I should grow my business, and  
  • they seemed to think I would just do what I had been told

This got me thinking.

I think it is true to say that any strategy needs to include certain things: a goal, a plan of implementation (this can be fluid), a timescale and a review process. This is my opinion. My business strategy follows that scheme and in my case, the fluid part needs to be very fluid as opportunities come my way. The issue is that whilst business strategies may be similar, we as business owners are all different. What works for you may not work for me for various reasons, our business may be at different stages of development, we may have been in business for different times, our background, and our experiences will almost certainly be different. We may have difference in the amount of risk we find acceptable and our personal business needs, and our work/life balance may be different. Which brings me to my next point.

Doing what other people tell us to do.

When I became self-employed, I didn’t know what I was going to do, so I set myself three rules. The second was “I never do anything I don’t want to do, with anyone I don’t want to do it with” or to put it another way and to quote my beloved “You don’t do bosses well” I like that all my business decisions are mine, be they good, bad or indifferent I own them. So I listen to opinions and then I decide what I take from them, and, when I give my opinion, I expect others to do the same. If they want my further input they’ll ask, and sometimes they do.

So thank you for your opinion, I may consider it further. As a thank you, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Be brave, ask for payment

Recently I was having a discussion with three business contacts about what tasks we found difficult as business owners, and I was surprised when two of them said they hated chasing up debts. They said that they felt embarrassed asking for payment and it was one of the jobs they often kept moving down their list of things to do. Now there are a couple of tasks I do put off but asking for my money is not one of them and I think it’s because I do think of the money as mine, not theirs. Why is that? Well, any money I am asking for is either money for work done, or money for work to be done but, whatever the situation it is money we have agreed will be paid by a certain time.

This means that, once the agreed date has passed, they owe me my money. The other thing is that, if enough people do not pay me, I will no longer be able to pay my bills or keep my business.  Now sometimes the situation changes, and the terms have to be renegotiated, who could have foreseen the business challenges of the last two year.

Now I am lucky, I have great customers and usually when they do not pay it is because they have forgotten, or their payment processes have failed. Very rarely it is because they are being difficult. Therefore, when I contact them, I assume the former and not the latter. I remind them that payment has been missed and ask what I can do to help them to make the payment. It could be they need duplicate or additional information, and it might be that I can discuss making payment with someone in their accounts department.

My approach is always positive, never aggressive, and always in a spirit of working together to resolve the problem. It has always worked, and I have never had a bad debt. My current business is slightly different because people can, when money becomes due, decide not to continue their membership and thus payment is void, but, if they say they will be renewing I ask them for the money. Until I had the discussion with my contacts, I didn’t realise that other people didn’t like to do it.

How do you feel about collecting money due?

As a thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys