Jerry Gitchel

Jerry Gitchel

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Using Digital Tools to Increase Cashflow

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, imagine what it could do to improve your cash flow.  Mention the phrase, "cellphone camera" and construction managers think of "Selfies" or photos of what they had for dinner. Instead of spending time, you can use an everyday camera in any mobile device to save time and increase project cash flow. If you are a construction manager looking for ways to reduce the delay between submitting progress payments and getting paid. These tips are for you.

Revealing the Invisible

Field photography is old school. The ability to capture progress on your projects and instantly share it with your home office, clients and those responsible for cutting checks creates leverage. The highest form of image capture is when you can reveal the invisible. Digital photography is perfect if your projects are distant from HQ or the Clients location. You can use a drone-mounted camera to document roof installed equipment. You can provide visual access to underground construction and excavation.   

That Was Then, This is Now

If you are planning to add photography to your project management toolbox, start here"

  • Document current conditions from the start. Capture beginning benchmarks prior to mobilization. Progress is often measured by comparing where you started against where you are.
  • Like blueprints, orient your photos using the same point of view. Begin with a wide shot to establish context, move closer or zoom in to capture detail. Use a measuring tape or familiar object to document relative size.
  • For outdoor projects, shoot in the same direction and time of day.
  • Keep an eye open for safe practices, including guards, personal safety gear, and procedures.

Powerful Progress Presentations

Providing appropriate access to photos, videos and progress reports keeps everyone on the same page while eliminating the client's anxiousness about not knowing what's going on. If you choose to publish a photo gallery, organize the collection to allow for comparing images over time.

Here at Leverage Unlimited, we use live video to engage and communicate with clients each day. Live video may be a valuable addition to your digital toolbox. It can be used to communicate with clients and field operations in real time while eliminating the expense effort of travel time. 

The ability of drones to change your perspective is an asset to provide an eye in the sky while providing compliance with design specifications and documenting the need and execution of maintenance operations. 

Leveraging Digital Resources

There was a time, not so long ago, that competitive advantage in construction was obtained by using brute force. Today, the proper use of digital tools deliver projects on time and under budget with finesse and without breaking a sweat. 

 

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How to Become Bold City's Best

Are you Jacksonville's best? This year's Jacksonville.com BoldCityBest contest is an opportunity to claim bragging rights for your business. You could invest in the Times-Union advertising campaign package. At Leverage Unlimited we believe a better and cheaper solution is to use the tools and resources you already have to secure a nomination this week.

Your challenge is how to connect with your best fans, give them a quick and easy way to nominate you, then tell all their friends to do the same. Easy! Here's how.

Find Your Fans

Instead of advertising to everyone you don't know, start with your best fans. You know who they are. They follow you on social media, read your newsletter; they are right there in your contact database. Make a short list of all those channels you could use to ask for their help.

Find the Shortest Path

Jacksonville.com would prefer you send your fans to their big list. Instead, give your fans a direct link that leads to your category. Use the list below to identify the shortest path to a successful nomination. 

Do It Now

The race goes to the swiftest. And the persistent. You only have about a week to secure your nomination. Post an update on social media today, tomorrow, and the day after. Today's message is, "We need your help!" Tomorrow it's, "Thanks for your help!" Next is, "We are so close!" You are not bugging them; you're giving them an update of your progress. If you respect your fans, your last message will be, "We Made the List!"

What Is Next

Once you've shown your fans the way to a successful nomination, it is a short hop to sharing your invitation with their community. Frances Fisher invited her community to nominate a company she is familiar with, RuffRubs. It is the best use of earned marketing media.

The Very Best Media

There are three kinds of media you can use to promote your business. The value of each varies. Let's start with the least effective.

Paid Media - Traditional advertising is no longer king. It is expensive and is targeted to those who know and trust you the least. The cost is high and the results are small. 

Owned Media - Your social platform, website, and blog are totally under your control. You get to target your audience and tell your own story.

Earned Media - Your raving fans are your best resource to gain new fans. It has the highest trust factor and provides the most personalized invitation.    

 For Extra Credit

Consider a short video to invite your fans to nominate your firm. Think of how you would ask a friend for help. Yes, it's that easy.

Brand Reputation Strategy

The tips above come from our brand reputation playbook. At Leverage Unlimited, we believe every business needs a consistent Brand Strategy. Call Jerry at 904-566-8325 with your questions about building a profitable brand. 

Resources - Direct Links to BoldCityBest categories

Find your nomination category below

Direct links to Contest Categories

Auto & More
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285463 

Cuisine & Cocktails 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285464

Health & Well Being
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285465 

Home & Professional Services 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285466

People, Places & Faces of Jax 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285467

Real Estate & Finance 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285468

Shops of Jax 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285469

Things to Do & Places To Be 
http://contests.jacksonville.com/Bold-City-Best-2/gallery?group=285470

 

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It's Official: #Hashtags are Worthless

Don't take my word for it. Media monitoring site Mention.com just published the definitive word in the 2018 edition of The Twitter Engagement Report. Mention works with heavyweight brands like Microsoft, AirBnB, Mercedes, and Adobe. After collecting valuable data and insights from studying more than 700 million Twitter posts and profiles, they summed it up in just 8 words, "In general, hashtags do not increase Twitter engagement." The report includes analytics and clear charts that reveal the truth behind the #hashtag myth. 

I know what you're thinking, "Well then, you're not using enough #hashtags!". At Leverage Unlimited our research indicates more #hashtags lead to less engagement. If prospect engagement is your online goal, here are some effective tactics and strategies you can use immediately to let go of #hashtabs and embrace effective engagement.

The Ultimate Question, "What's Next?"

If all the other kids jumped off a bridge, would you follow them? Hashtags are used because "Everyone's doing it!" Try this instead. Craft a social post your audience is compelled to share. It should be about all the good things happening at your firm, not how good you are. It must be authentic and ring true. Before posting, ask yourself, "What's next?" to help you guide your audience along the path of engagement directly to your cash register. 

The Problem with Hashtags - The Power of Links

Hashtags lead prospects to explore everything ever published about the topic. Instead of a hashtag, provide your audience with a link to a page you control. Why would you want to send leads away instead of bringing them close?

Visuals - The Speedbumps of Social Feeds

How many social posts do you see in 24 hours? The not so funny answer is, "too many". How many were memorable? Chances are, your remember the ones with an interesting visual, either a photo or video. Use the photos you've captured to capture the interest of your audience.

You don't need a monthly $100 subscription to Mention.com to measure audience engagement. In less than 90 seconds you can scan your page feed to determine which posts generated the most engagement. It starts with a conversation from audience comments, extends to shares. Which of your posts excelled in engagement? Now you have a model for success. 

An audio cassette recording by personal development giant Earl Nightingale launched my discovery of the value of nurturing a focus on what's possible. What we now refer to as a podcast, the audio recording of Acres of Diamonds is as relevant today as it was when the book by Russell H. Conwell was published in 1890. By his death in 1925, Conwell delivered his speech 6,152 times. He invested the profits to found Temple University. It's a simple story of an African farmer who, seeking diamonds, sold his farm and traveled the continent until giving up, committing suicide. The man who bought the farm later discovered what would become one of Africa's largest diamond mines, in a stream, right in his own backyard. I believe we have acres of diamonds right in our own backyard, right here in Jacksonville.

Discovering Your Acre of Diamonds

If you've been in business for more than 5 years, I believe you have hidden treasure in your business. Your diamonds are buried in your contact database. They could be former clients, people you met only once, or those who may have said no to your original offer. How often have we heard "No" and let it write the end of the story? They may have said no, but what if they meant "Not yet"? Have you considered mining for new customers in your own backyard?

The idea for this edition of The Art of Digital Leverage came to me while working with a client to migrate to a contemporary Contact Relationship Management (CRM) platform. You don't need a pick, a miners helmet or a flashlight. All you need is a plan.

Mining Your Acre of Diamonds

If you are considering migrating your contacts to a new platform, great! Here are some tips to you can use today to see immediate results.

  • Do NOT import all your existing contacts into the new platform. It's like dragging 19 pieces of luggage through the airport. You are sure to miss your flight. Start by scrolling through your existing contacts. Being selective in choosing the most valuable existing increases the probability you will follow through by reconnecting. Jot down where you left off with this contact. Former client? Someone you lost contact with? Can't remember where you met? All are reasons you can use to pick up where you left off.
  • Once you've imported the contact, add a note to their record of how you met, where you left off, anything that points to why you wish to reconnect.
  • Use what you've learned or remembered to compose a reconnect email. The three most important items to include are, who you are, why you're contacting them, what you expect them to do. They are simple answers to the questions formed in their mind when they see your email in their inbox.
  • Instead of an "Ask" or pitch, focus on asking about their world. 
  • If you are lucky enough to receive a reply, document their response in your CRM. Whenever I coach a business professional I document three items: What we discussed, what we decided, what's next. The process forces you to take action toward building or rebuilding the relationship. 

Mining Your Existing Database

If you are happy with your existing CRM platform, you can still profit from the process of rediscovery. It's simple and you can execute it right this minute.

  • Scroll through your contacts on your phone. You can even close your eyes and let your finger do the searching for you.
  • Tap a contact, then tap their phone number. Use a script similar to the email rediscovery above. "Hi, it's (Say your name), we met (where and when)." Here's the best part. Tell them the truth, "I just saw your name in my contacts and realized how long it's been since we last spoke."

Once they realize you're not calling to ask for a favor, the conversation often results in a favorable outcome.  

Established business owners tell me they feel at a disadvantage in the digital age. Even if you are experiencing a temporary sales decline, I believe experienced managers can profit from having the best of both worlds. Future sales increases will appear when you combine traditional business rules with digital tools. Are you ready to mine for diamonds?

 

  

 

   

 

 

 

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Map or Compass?

It was 20 years if it was a day. I received an invitation from an established organization to present a session on how to choose the right technology for business professionals. It would be a hybrid presentation style. No PowerPoint, no still photos with captions, just live video. I arrived for a tech rehearsal and found a ceiling projector with a pull-down screen. It's fine for PowerPoint, but live video presentations need an HD flatscreen display to provide a quality presentation. I asked their IT person if they had a TV on-site. That's when I discovered a 20-year-old, analog TV. it was 21 inches diagonal and almost two feet deep. I almost asked, "Does that still work"? I'm glad I didn't.  

Is it Working?

Later I realized the technician would have answered yes to my question. They would have plugged it in, turned it on and used the snowy screen as confirmation. From their point of view, as well as their organization, what worked in the past was proof it would work in the future. However, both the equipment and the mindset of the organization were stuck in the past. They had an analog mindset in a digital world. For leaders of traditional companies, it's a challenge of culture, are you looking backward to an analog past or forward to a digital future? 

More Technology is Not the Solution

What is the cure for this TV problem? Most managers would answer, "Buy a new flatscreen TV. Unfortunately, it would only treat the symptom. It would do nothing to change the culture. The status quo is not what it used to be. In the future, successful companies will challenge the status quo. They will look forward, move forward, not with a map from the past, but with a compass pointed toward the future.

Compass and North Star

Navigating toward business success in the digital age requires leaders to follow their internal compass. It's less about how your company has operated in the past and more about where you wish to lead your team in the future. Here is a place you could start. Pick a business process that directly impacts your customer. Disassemble the process into individual steps. Address each one with the question, "How will this help my customer?" Will it provide them with knowledge? Will it give them peace of mind? Will it provide them with a solution they didn't even know they needed? Focus on serving the needs of your customer.  is your North Star.

At Leverage Unlimited we work with clients who want to find new customers and rediscover existing customers. We invite you to learn more about the Customer Journey or contact us now. Questions? Call Jerry now 904-566-8325.   

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In Celebration of Small Business Week

Christian had a problem. He was successful, too successful. After years of working as a dance instructor for established studios, he decided 2018 would be the year he would become his own boss. He was immediately successful, with a growing list of loyal students. Too many in fact. Trying to keep track of all the session bookings, not to mention rescheduling and cancellations, was about to make his budding venture stumble. Christian needed a digital scheduling tool to manage his bookings, but which tool? 

It seems like every business owner starts with a focus on the tool instead of the task. The amount of possible choices is staggering, overwhelming. It's no wonder companies spend too much on the wrong solution. It's enough to give technology a bad name.

If you are a business professional that doesn't have the time to text and evaluate all of the available tools, here's a process you can use to make the right choice, in record time.

Step 1 - Define the Customer Journey

I asked Christian to describe his customer journey. We jotted down each step in the booking process. How did existing clients make appointments We uncovered all the problems around changing appointments, how and when to charge for cancellations, how to make sure everyone in the process received up-to-the-minute information, while everyone was out and about. 

Step 2 - Figure Out What's Working

The best solutions are the ones that work. A quick Google search for Ballroom Studio scheduling revealed a successful studio in Denver with a killer online scheduling strategy. In less than 10 minutes we had a likely candidate for a solution.

Step 3 - Real-world Evaluation

Most digital tools are acquired as a subscription. They start with a free trial period to let prospective customers evaluation the platform to see if it's a good fit. I opened a trial account for the scheduling software. Here's what I learned. The platform met most of Christian's booking needs. It was easy to learn and use. The vendor provided phone support. 

Step 4 - Smart Acquisition

When a trial subscription ends, many vendors lure new customers by offering a discount for annual enrollment. I recommend starting with a monthly subscription for a few months. Trial offers come with a short duration.Annual contracts rarely are refundable. Better to start with a monthly term. It may cost more in the short term but could save plenty in the long-run.    

Digital Tools Assessment

Established firms acquire technology over time. Chances are, your company has a virtual closet full of technology you continue to pay for, but never use. At Leverage Unlimited, we use the Digital Tools Assessment to develop a custom toolbox for your company. It is a proven strategy you can use to reduce technology expenses immediately.

Small Business Week

The President has declared April 29 - May 5 Small Business Week

 

In an editorial in last Sundays Times-Union, it was revealed that the board of the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) acknowledged for the first time that the status quo is not what it used to be. Board Chairman Alan Howard said JEA in the midst of "historic change: in a "dynamic market". The board points out that sales are more than flat, they are declining. The editorial goes on to say, "The entire utility industry is entering an era of rapid change. This is a shocking change in culture from its history as a conservative industry that only changes slowly." 

What is most newsworthy is not the announcement, but the timing. More evolution than revolution, the decline and "disruptive" nature of JEA's situation springs from renewable energy including solar and wind. The leadership of JEA chose to turn a blind eye toward the forces of change all around them. If a major utility with over a half-million customers can miss such a major opportunity, what about your company?

Every company in every industry will experience marketplace disruption within 5 years. The culprit is not technology, but how your customers use technology. In less than 10 years, the customer journey has changed. The long-term survival of your company hinges on the answer to the question, "Has your company changed?" As a business leader, you have a choice. You can either disrupt your organization or like the JEA, be disrupted.  Here are three opportunities you can use today to ensure that, unlike the JEA, your organization can avoid the chopping block. 

The Breakfast Club

Invite your top five customers to breakfast. Who to invite? Choose the ones who made you exclaim, "If we only have 10 more of this customer." Ask them about their customer journey. How did they discover you? How long did it take for them to trust you? What did it take for them to make the purchase decision? 

Virtual Town Hall

Take what you learned at breakfast and open a conversation. Use your newsletter to conduct a dialog instead of a monolog with your community. Too often organizations talk at their loyal customers instead of talking with them. Don't be surprised if they seem surprised. The art of listening is not a marketing trick, it's an essential part of doing business in the digital age.

Transformation

Leaders who perceive change as a four-letter word use the word disruption. Your organization's future success starts with a change of mindset. Banish the word disruption from your organization and replace it with transformation. Create a current edition of your customer journey. Take stock of your digital tools, workforce skills and talents, streamline your techniques and processes.  

JEA will be sold, and not for a favorable price. It's inevitable. Business brokers tell me it's the "sticker shock" their clients get when they realize the company they spent decades building isn't worth as much as they thought. Will your company share the future fate of JEA? Don't wait for disruption, transform. 

 

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Three Steps to Overcoming Technophobia

 Yes, itis real. Just as real as, Achondroplasiaphobia – The fear of midgets, or Omphalophobia – The fear of belly buttons, or Lepidopterophobia – The fear of butterflies. Go ahead and laugh, LOL. What about your fears? Not so funny when the joke is on you. When it's personal.

Fear is nothing more than an emotion. It's induced when the subject perceives a threat. It can be a fear of an object, place or situation. Last Friday I became painfully aware that phobias are real. I've been the master of my digital domain for more than a quarter-century. I'm in control of my technology. From my perspective, Technophobia is silly, something to get over.

While speaking to a group I stressed the need to have everyone's email address. Someone said, "What if we don't have an email address?" I made a smart remark. It was thoughtless, both ignorant and arrogant. I regretted it immediately. The person in question actually did have an address, he simply didn't want to share it. I was wrong. I've requested his phone number and plan to follow up with an apology. As for you and I, perhaps it would be more helpful if I offered three steps you can use to deal with technophobia.

Accept Your Fear - You are right, it is complicated, it's difficult to accept that technology has value, especially with hacking and trolls and constant change.

Reframe the Situation - Technology can be a valuable resource for your business. It can extend your reach into new markets. It can be used to increase the velocity of your business. It can cut expenses and grow your operation by eliminating the need to build a new plant or offices in fifty locations.

Eliminate the Overwhelm - You don't need to invest in every digital tool. Many organizations have so much technology they become overwhelmed by all the choices.

Is a fear of technology preventing your organization from achieving success? Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Start small. all it takes is a call. Jerry Gitchel 904-566-8325.  

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The Russians are... Already Here?

The details revealed in the release, on Friday of the latest indictment in the Russian election meddling case were shocking. I'm not talking about the charges nor the political ramifications. I'm shocked to learn they had a 1M monthly bill for social media engagement. Wow, just wow! And that's USD, not Rubles.

If an investment in social media builds influence for the Russians, imagine what it could do for your business. According to the indictment, they allegedly targeted specific user demographics, engaged with individuals and were able to influence large groups, not only those who were proponents of a cause or candidate, but also those who actively opposed.The Russians successfully generated engagement. You can profit from their strategy without a much smaller budget. Here' how. 

Finding Your Audience

  • Core Audiences -  Select your audience manually based on characteristics like age and location.
  • Custom Audiences - Upload your contact list to connect with your customers on Facebook.
  • Lookalike Audiences - Use your customer information to find people similar to them on Facebook.

Helping Them Find You

  • Create a Facebook Page - Find new customers and keep in touch with current ones by promoting your Facebook business Page.
  • Join a Community - 
  • Connect with Messenger - More and more people around the world are connecting through instant messaging
  • Create a Mobile Hub - 

Get People Insights

  • Facebook IQ delivers insights that help make marketing campaigns more effective.
  • Insights to Go makes data more accessible and actionable, sort the stats you care about and share them instantly. 

 Easy on Your Budget

Adwords is fee-based. Facebook's instructions and the information is free. The trend I am most excited about for 2018 is learning new skills. I encourage you to use the links above to learn valuable information you can use to propel your business forward in 2018!

 Want to be the first to receive valuable strategies, tips and tricks to leverage your business. Sign up to receive this weekly newsletter direct to your inbox

 

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Adapt Technology to Meet the Human Need

I don't even have the words to express my love and appreciation to my girlfriend Deborah for such an amazing birthday week. She planned something special for each day. I was greeted with a card and announcement every morning. She is an expert at Adapting Technology to Meet the Human Need. Love you, Deb!

Jackie Dorst coined the Leverage Unlimited motto in the title above It appeared out of the blue during a client conference called The Gathering, back in 2014. Making humans a priority over machines is more than a strategy, it's a principle. My business life has been built on that principle. I preach about it all the time. I've must to admit, I wasn't sure if anyone was listening. Then the birthday celebration began. 

The first greeting arrived via Facebook from Scott Friedman all the away from Kuala Lumpur. Then slowly across the globe, both close to home and from afar. Al Bagocius produced the most moving tribute by quoting a client testimonial from my friend Phillip Van Hooser in Princeton Kentucky. Phil posted in almost 10 years earlier. I received warm wishes across all channels. I had no choice but to reach out and reply. I am grateful for the gift of connection I received. Wow, just wow.

I was reminded in a most marvelous way the importance of the connection vs the channel. At no other time in history have we has so many tools and methods to meet the human need for connection. My community gave me a gift of connection, and I am grateful.

Making the Community Connection 

Who do you need to connect with today? Take a moment, lean back where ever you are at this very moment. It's not cheating and perfectly legal if you switch to your contact app and scroll down to find the one person you have let slip away. My gift to you is a simple request. Reach out to them. Yes, right now. Call, text, message, whatever it takes. Don't be surprised if they hesitate. I promise they will be astounded that you reached out without a having a need, simply just because.

Some people define present as a place. I define present as a point in time. When you use your digital tools to connect in the present, there is no distance between two hearts. Happy Valentines Day my friends. 

   

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