Notes 10/03/17


Alan's Notes from the Coffee Shop

Opposite me right now are two banks. One is HSBC – now closed. The other is Nat West – Closing. Just down the street around 100 meters away is a large Barclays bank – closing. In the opposite direction around 200 meters is yet another bank I cannot remember – closed!

Now I don’t know about you but it’s years since I walked into a bank yet in the town nearby they have built a huge Barclays bank and probably spent a fortune doing so.  When I walk past the only people you see in there are those using the three cash machines at the door.There is a lesson here – hold on.

There is a lesson here but hold on.

A new client I am working with has spent a tonne of time (over a year) and a lot of cash (tens of thousands) investing into good advice for his business. That advice has cost him heavily as in the advice never brought in a single penny from that advice yet until we met he continued to listen to that advice.

So as I am drinking my morning coffee I was just thinking about how we all resist change - that includes banks. The reason I say we resist is because I have worked inside a lot of businesses at a lot of levels and I am yet to meet one business owner that they or their team do not fight changes.

Why do we fight changes that could improve our business?

Change is never as simple as it sounds. When a change is made you go much deeper and challenge the mind. Your mind and even the mind of your customer. That means previous thoughts of what will and won’t work are being challenged and confronted. Your belief in something is being challenged. That also means some of those old ways have to be now seen as dead or no longer working. Yet the mind resists making changes because change is a tougher route where doing the same old thing is easy.

And giving advice is easy because easy advice is easy to listen to. Giving good advice is like tough love it can hurt to hear it yet once heard and accepted that change is usually for the better.

Back to the banks and businesses then. Recently I consulted and advised a business. In just 30-minutes I wiped off and saved them £100,000 in costs. It was easy. The waste was huge. The experimental marketing was out of control. The time lost on a daily basis was massive. Their previous advice was honestly just bad!

Can you imagine how much Banks would save and slash on costs if they took good advice? How about your business? I worked with a client hat had a wages bill of £230,000 a year on the marketing team only yet the team had delivered as good as zero results when I went in. Insane right. Just a thought!

B.T. British Telecoms.

When we decided to move our office back home we wanted to bring our office number back with us. Sounds reasonable right? Not with B.T.

Not only did we end up with our telephone number back at our home address we ended up with – 3 Web hubs being delivered, three new numbers plus our home number so four in total and also a B.T. Cloud phone system we never ordered.

Telling you this is the easy bit.

On the fourth phone call to B.T. to try and sort their mess out my wife called them at 9:40am and stayed on the phone until 11:50am when the eighth person mysteriously got cut off and never called back.

Each of the eight that took over the call started with the same script…


Account number?

What can I help you with?

How incredibly amateurish and annoying of B.T.

I had been meeting a client so when I got back at around 1pm Tamuna had red eyes and grabbed me for a big hug. She had been reduced to tears by a bunch of untrained staff that could not get outside the script.

Finally, I posted on Twitter a complaint or two. Within minutes Kevin an Irish guy from BT called me and asked told me everything would be fixed by himself and himself only. He made a promise that all the numbers and accounts would be closed apart from the one account. That was Wednesday at 2:08pm. It’s Friday 11:00am and I haven’t heard back so let's see.

The lessons above are huge but nothing new. B.T. in my experience has had very bad service as far back as I can remember. The monopoly has provided the men at the top with huge wages and enough endless investment to employ telesales teams that have one thing in mind – the sale and not the customer.

Like the Banks, they are also victims of bad advice, advice about what the customer really wants and delivering what the customer really wants. And if you have dealt with B.T. you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Friday lesson.

The biggest mistakes I have seen in any business is being focused on the sale and pretending they know everything so take their own inexperienced advice. It’s a huge mistake because you cannot force anyone to buy anything unless you confuse him or her so much (and some do) that the customer simply agrees to sign up. The problem is one the sign up is done someone else (eight people) has to then try and resolve this issue. And let's be honest - how can you expertly advise yourself when you are not an expert?

Here’s the other thing – B.T. eight people all need to be paid a wage. An infrastructure also needs to be put in place to make sure everything is as it should be.

And in times where the web has created a very simple login and 1,2,3 click systems the days of hard sell manipulation is over.

So you change and focus on the customer needs or you close like the banks have above.

It’s not rocket science, is it?

I mean – really!

Hale where we live

One thing I love about living in Hale Cheshire is this. Our diversity is huge. We have people of every colour and every language here. While the world might appear to be closing in on itself the reality is it isn’t Hale is one place out of many where nobody cares or even notices about colour, religion or languages.

Hale is also what I call a 2nd life village. You do get a feeling here that the population has seen more than it’s fair share of divorce. The effect of that is it has created a very strong environment for those that want to resurrect themselves and live amongst a thriving energetic town.

I love it. I love yoga here. I love the gym here. I love the breakfast here. I love the coffee here. I love the whole package. And of course, we have the famous (apart from myself of course). Roy Keene the Irish football player is sitting behind me this morning. Part of the cast of England’s most famous soap opera are always in the coffee shop. Actor Christopher Eccleston is over there. I could go on.

It is important that regardless of how you live your life you are in an environment where you thrive.


I’m just swiping through my phone and reading something about TRUMP. I bought his Art of the Deal years ago. Part of the businessman in me wanted him to do well yet seeing him in power also made me realise the rules of business and the rules of global politics is very different. A major tantrum in his Trump tower might cause fallout for some but only those connected to what he does. A major fallout in the Whitehouse can very easily take the world to the brink.

My gut is telling me we are going to see some hugely major mistakes with this guy that could affect a lot of people. I hope not but I think so. Let's see.

Anyway, our coffee is done it’s time to head back to my office.



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