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Five New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses in 2015


Five New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses in 2015

By: Steve Sadler, CEO, Allegiancy

December 24, 2014

As the year comes to an end, it’s a natural time to reflect on where your business has been, and where you want it to go. It’s also a good time to ask yourself, “What am I trying to achieve, and why?”

With those thoughts in mind, here are a few things I’ve learned from running our company:

Recognize that little things matter.

It matters that you answer your phone. It matters that you return phone calls right away. It matters that the thing you say on Monday is the same thing you say on Thursday.

When I wake up at about 6 a.m. and have a cup of coffee, I check emails and respond or delete them. By 7 a.m., I have gone through everything in my inbox.

My company’s culture is to respond to people immediately. Even if we don’t have the answer or can’t address the issue immediately, we can let the person know they’ve been heard. It’s amazing how much credit we get for that. And people do business again with people they like and trust.

Use the telephone.

A phone call is in every way as efficient as an email. And nobody else is using it.

An investor writes me an email: I could forward that email to someone on my staff to handle — that’s a reasonable thing to do. Or I could email my reply to the investor. Or I could pick up the phone and call him. In terms of time, email and phone are almost identical. But in terms of the impact when I phone the person, it’s easily 100 times more valuable.

We once had an investor put $500,000 into a new investment with us, at the same time that one of his other investments with us was not paying dividends. Why would he do that? Because he believes we are stand-up guys. We have built a connection with him over many conversations.
There is real value in human interaction. You don’t get nuance or build relationships by email.

Get feedback from your customers and then use it to change for the better.

If you look at what we’ve built with our company, about 75 percent of the things we have done right were the direct result of input from one of our clients.

We are always asking for feedback to make sure we are changing in the right direction. That iteration has been an integral part of building our company to be better every year.

A client once called us and said, “You keep sending me dividends, and I don’t need them. Can I just reinvest them with you?” We implemented that option right away.

Some comments are complaints in disguise, and you have to recognize that. Others are compliments about something you can amplify. The key to making this work is to stay humble and listen closely.

Focus on having the right people.

Jim Collins, who wrote “Good to Great” and “Built to Last,” said, “You get the right people on the bus, and good things start to happen.”
I absolutely believe that if you get people involved who are of good will and bright, capable and motivated, it almost doesn’t matter what the original plan was. It’s about what you will create together. The value of a plan is only that you’ve been thinking about it and are now better able to react to what actually happens.

Someone else once said, “Serendipity is when opportunity meets preparedness.” Having the best people means you’re always prepared.

Always ask why.

“Why” is important.

In one of the properties we manage, we found a malfunctioning building control system. Replacement was recommended by everyone involved, but the lowest bid was $120,000, which would be paid by our property owners. We kept asking, “Why?” and digging deeper to understand what was really needed. We found an Internet-enabled control system for $15,000 that solved the problem and greatly improved the efficiency of the entire building.

By building lasting relationships with clients and relying on the expertise of our team, we have been able to yield significantly higher returns for our investors than our peer group. I would say that it all started with having the confidence to ask “why” openly and often.

Steve Sadler’s company, Allegiancy, manages commercial properties that have outperformed their peers by 45 percent since 2006. The company has more than $300 million in assets under management and delivers clients attractive returns and profitable, hassle-free investments in commercial real estate.

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