Posts tagged "communication"

Communication Is Not the Problem

January 19th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “Communication Is Not the Problem”

What did you say?

Whenever there seems to be a lack of communication around the office, it might just be a symptom of something else. When people start complaining about no communication, more often something has gone wrong, or people feel that they didn’t have enough information to be successful. “No one said anything.”

The failure to have everyone on the same wavelength is not a true communication issue, but a lack of proper systems or operating procedures. When employees are unclear in their job descriptions or on what they can and cannot do, things slip through the cracks and “communication” gets the blame.

Don’t just call a meeting!

“Let’s all get on the same page” is a common reaction to misunderstanding the problem. If this sounds like what’s happening in your business, don’t send more emails and calendar invites. Instead, take a look at your operating procedures and employee onboarding processes. You may find the missing link right there. Having clear procedures and good employee training about those procedures goes a long way to preventing people from feeling like they’re not getting the information they need to make decisions. It also helps ensure that when steps are missed, the rest of the team can recognize the error before it gets out of control.

If it’s time to improve your employee training manuals, our team of experts can help you design, write and then publish exactly what your team needs. Call us at (615) 893-4290 or email

The Case of the Killer Squid

November 17th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “The Case of the Killer Squid”

Most mistakes that we make in the normal course of business are not killers. And that’s a good thing of course. If most of the mistakes we made were killers, we wouldn’t be around to learn from them.

As a matter of fact, since most of our mistakes (squids) are not killers, our survival lulls us into a sense of complacency and acceptance. We make a mistake and we think, “well, the last mistake/series of mistakes didn’t hurt us all that much, so let’s just put this behind us as fast as we can and get on with the rest of our lives.”

That’s a dangerous mindset and one of the reasons why I wrote Killer Squids. Your complacency/accepting mindset of your mistakes can be fatal in the long term. As Bob Newhart would say, “Stop it!”

But some mistakes can kill you. Some mistakes are so big and so bad and the consequences so dire…there are Killer Squids.

I extended credit to a friend who was starting a business. Over the objections of my long-suffering wife, I allowed him to rack up bills of $20,000. When his house of cards came crashing down, we were stuck with big paper bills and labor costs. This was not a killer squid, but it could have been. The loss was great enough that it jeopardized our ability to stay in business.

My takeaways from this Squid?

  1. Listen to your wife.
  2. Don’t let friendship cloud your judgment when it comes to extending credit.
  3. Don’t extend too much credit to start-ups.
  4. Don’t let anyone go past a pre-determined amount of credit. Limit your potential losses.
  5. Have your credit policies in place before you encounter a problem.
  6. Know your policies and stick to them no matter what.

These are the lessons I learned (I hope).

This was not a Killer Squid, but it could have been. And there are mistakes that you can make that will kill your business, or your job.

I remember well a Killer Squid that took out a client of mine. Sad.

It was a big project for us; the client requested a bid for scanning and printing a 500 page book; the quantity was 2000. We won the bid and started scanning the pages. Early on in the scanning process, our production expert came to me and said, “hey Kevin, this project is not 500 pages…it’s 500 sheets, front and back. It’s actually 1000 pages.

Uh oh. Our client did not know the difference between pages and sheets. Of course when you are dealing with a 1,000 page book vs a 500 page book, the price is going to go up, a lot.

We quickly communicated the problem and a new quote back to our client, and then it went quiet. Real quiet. Crickets.

But the deadline was fast approaching, and still we heard nothing. We knew our price was good and we were prepared to proceed (not many other printers could knock this job out fast enough), and our client was in a bad situation. And so, our client authorized us to proceed.

We finished the project on time and on the newly approved budget, but our client lost her job. Painful. Killer Squid.


  1. Double check your specifications.
  2. Understand the jargon of the industry.
  3. Slow down and think through ramifications of not understanding all the specs before you begin.

Can you See the Hidden Squid?

August 11th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 1 comment on “Can you See the Hidden Squid?”

Some SQUIDS (S=Safety issue, Q=Quality problem, U=Unusual situation, I=Income costing, or D= Delivery) are hard to see because we don’t own up to them. Or maybe other team members around us won’t own up to them.

Why don’t we see our mistakes? Pride. Complacency. Inattention to detail. The list could go on and on. Sometimes we even cover up our mistakes intentionally. How many times have I walked through the production area of our shop and seen a print job in the recycle bin? Didn’t know anything about that squid, but sure enough, somebody else did and “hid” it in the bin.

But I’m not talking about the mistakes we know about, and then won’t acknowledge. I’m talking about those squids that we don’t readily see. There is a whole class of squids that lurk in the dark shadows that we don’t even know are there.

Former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield famously said, “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

So, now we’re talking about “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns.”

I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Our multi-talented sign guy was on vacation. We are not adequately cross-trained in that department, so wouldn’t you know it, here comes a nice sign order. This order was a bit unusual in that it was more complicated than normal. But we had produced this very job many times before.

We simply weren’t ready. So, we jobbed out this job to a friendly sister company. We cleared a couple hundred dollars, when we normally would have cleared somewhere near six to seven hundred.

Some would say, “where’s the squid here?” We got the job, we farmed it out, the customer is happy…” what’s the harm; what’s the foul?”

On the surface, this is all true. But the hidden squid is in what we lost. We lost the opportunity to make a better profit. The team lost the opportunity to be challenged with a difficult job when our lead sign guy was out. Lost opportunities are hidden squids. They must be acknowledged and learned from.

So, what did we do going forward? We did write up the Squid; we did discuss what we would do differently.

The biggest takeaway from this squid was that we simply were not ready for anyone in a key role to take a vacation, get sick, or simply be away from the office for a few days for any personal reason. This is not healthy.

So, we have to cross train vigorously.

The problem with a hidden squid is that you might not even know what hit you. So, make sure you spend time looking for the hidden squids.

For more information contact us at (615) 893-4290 or


Have you mastered these 6 tips to close more deals?

March 25th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “Have you mastered these 6 tips to close more deals?”


We aren’t all natural born salespeople; some of us have to work a little harder than others to close a deal.

If you need a little help getting a new client to sign on the dotted line, try some of these closing tips.

1. IDENTIFY: Be sure you are dealing with the decision maker. I can NOT emphasize this enough.

2. NEGOTIATE: Expect the client to negotiate and respond positively. Don’t view negotiations as a step back; consider them as another chance to educate the client on why you are the right choice.

3. QUESTION: Ask questions and really listen to the answers. Selling, at its core, is problem solving. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is. Ask the questions and listen to the answers.

4. SHARE: Share success stories. Your new customer wants to hear about past success stories that might be similar to their own situation. The more recent the story, the better. The more closely the story might relate to your customer, the best.

5. COMMUNICATE: In order to communicate clearly about your product and services, you must know your products and services intimately. Get clear on why people should be working with you.

6. UNDERSTAND: Sometimes “no” = “not now”. If a client decides to go in a different direction, don’t walk away mad. You have made a new connection and that relationship could lead somewhere in the future. Make a note to follow up to see how the decision turned out. The point here is not to think or say, “I told you that you should have chosen me/my product.” The point is to show genuine interest.

Having a great product that solves the problem is ½ the battle in sales. Being personable and communicative will help you close more deals and retain more relationships.

Want to avoid a devastating sales slowdown?

March 4th, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 3 comments on “Want to avoid a devastating sales slowdown?”


If your sales are experiencing a slowdown this time of year, try some of these low-cost tips to re-energize your pipeline NOW!

1. Contact inactive customers to see if you can re-engage them.

2. Improve and/or update your website to help generate more traffic and get more conversions from your site.

3. Implement/re-evaluate your email marketing. Email done right can provide one of your best returns on investment (ROI).

4. Improve Lead Generation with new Calls to Action.

5. Survey your site visitors and existing customers to find out what they need and want.

Now, more than ever you have to focus, improve, and maybe even change what you do to attain, retain and maintain customer relationships. These 5 suggestions can help you turn this quarter around.

What Exactly Does ASAP Mean?

January 1st, 2016 Posted by Uncategorized 5 comments on “What Exactly Does ASAP Mean?”

Around our print shop, the little acronym ASAP is strictly verboten.

So, why exactly is ASAP not spoken at Wax Family Printing?

Because the use of the term can lead to miscommunication. And when you’re a printing company, communication and deadlines are vital.

I often quiz my colleagues (especially the new members of our team) as to the definition of ASAP. They quite frequently reply…As Soon As Possible. And technically, they are correct. But as soon as they tell me what they think the definition of ASAP is, I respond by telling them what I think the definition of ASAP is…


ASAP means nothing. To the person hoping they can get their design/print/sign project done on time, ASAP means that we are working on their project and their project alone and that we are doing everything we can to make their deadline. But to the person actually producing your design/print/sign project, ASAP may mean as soon as they can work it into their production schedule.

Using ASAP is a classic hint/hope device. The problem is, ASAP is not specific to an exact time. And so, the two parties in the conversation may be using the exact same term with exactly different meanings; and that’s a recipe for trouble.

I have changed my mind. ASAP doesn’t mean “nothing.” It’s worse than that. ASAP means the exact opposite of what you think it means. To the client, ASAP means “I’m up next in the production rotation.” To the producer, ASAP should be re-lettered. It should be ASAICGTI (As Soon As I Can Get To It).

Are you prepared for cyber-attack?

December 11th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “Are you prepared for cyber-attack?”

Cyber-attacks are no laughing matter.

44% of small businesses reported they were a victim of a cybercrime, with an average cost of $9,000 per cybersecurity attack. Small and midsize businesses (SMB) are at greater risk of cyberattacks than large corporations. 69% of SMBs are unaware of the risks and costs of a cyberattack. Is your business prepared? Take this short test from Microsoft to test your knowledge and start safeguarding your business today:

What’s your marketing strategy?

December 4th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “What’s your marketing strategy?”

Consider a “little” bit of branding.

Getting your brand out there with signage, business cards, letterhead, a website, brochures, etc., is foundational to your marketing strategy. Branding doesn’t always have to involve big items. Small daily interactions can help reinforce your brand and positioning. Here are 4 places you can do a “little” bit of branding:

Packaging and/or Packing Slips – and are two large companies who are doing it right, when it comes to packaging. Branded boxes and tape bring instant consumer awareness to what has been delivered. If you regularly ship a product, consider branding your boxes.

Email Signatures – With every email you send, you can bring your brand to life with a small twist to your signature. Not only can you add your logo, but also your title and links to your social media profiles as well. Make it easy for people to interact with you. Here’s my signature; I get positive comments on it quite a bit. 

Wi-Fi Name and Password – If you regularly have customers use your Wi-Fi, why not have a little fun with it? Name your network something fun and relevant to your business and have the password be the feeling you hope they get from your business. A restaurant password could be “yummy,” for example.

Bills and Receipts – No one likes to get bills, so why not include a little humor or inspiration next to the logo on your bill/invoice? Both paper and email receipts offer a tiny moment that may be remembered long after a product’s been paid for.
Think about the potential, everyday moments that could be tweaked to surprise and entertain your customers. Work hard at creating a stronger brand connection. You don’t always need to spend big. Instead, spend smart by finding small branding moments that matter. We can help you with a “little” branding. Contact me at

How do you get to YES with emails?

November 27th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “How do you get to YES with emails?”

A golden rule of writing is: Respect the reader’s intelligence.

This rule gets magnified by a factor of 10 when you’re composing unsolicited emails. Most people who receive any significant quantity of email in a day have developed extremely refined B.S. detectors. They can identify an impersonal templated email in 0.5 seconds, and they can spot a time-wasting “let’s explore the possibilities” request from a mile off. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when you’re composing an unsolicited email message.

Make it easy to say yes. Whether you are requesting a lunch meeting or a phone call, make it obvious, so the recipient knows EXACTLY what you are asking and can respond with an answer. Make your message concise and to the point so your “ask” doesn’t get lost in a long email. Consider highlighting your ask; many readers scan to the bold headlines or highlighted areas. Don’t overdo this…too much highlighting will have the opposite, negative effect. Giving the recipient a deadline to say yes can also help them put the requested task on a timeline and prioritize it.

Write an interesting subject line. Avoid stock or cookie-cutter phrases that might get your email lumped in (and glossed over) with others. Try using the recipient’s name in the subject to draw extra attention to your letter. I run ALL of my headlines and/or subject lines through Headline Analyzer. I ran the headline in this email through the Analyzer and improved it’s score from 25% TO 50%. Contact me at if you need help with this resource.

Establish credibility. “What’s in it for me” or” Why should I care” are questions everyone will be asking when reading an email from someone they don’t know. When creating your email, share data points or experience that supports why you are corresponding in the first place.

Be interesting and interested. It’s nice to articulate why you’re interested in them. It’s also nice to articulate why they should be interested in you. Try to have a voice and say something funny, meaningful, or thoughtful—preferably all three!
Try using these four tips in your email marketing and get to YES much quicker.

Kevin's Sig

Use emotion and reason in your marketing

November 6th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “Use emotion and reason in your marketing”



When creating marketing material for your company, take a look at how your product benefits the customer. Now consider the emotional reasons someone would want what you sell.

Whatever it is that you do better than your competition, add an emotion to it and use that in your marketing. People buy emotionally and then justify the purchase rationally. Hone in on the emotions that cause someone to act. Once you understand these emotions, you can help them justify the sale rationally with your features and benefits.

Pay special attention to any words that could evoke emotion and use those in your next marketing effort! If you get stumped, give us a call. We’re happy to talk through your emotions with you. 🙂

Kevin's Sig