Article number 3 written by Andy Fraser, publisher of the Bristol Nine Magazine.
Regular readers will be aware that I have been receiving coaching from Jeanine Hamaker from JEH Coaching. Last month’s article focused on how working with Jeanine had helped me realize that I should perhaps look at the production of The Bristol Nine in a different way. I regarded it as a paid hobby whereas I should be seeing it as a business that is enjoyable to run. I produced it with too much heart and not enough head.
“But does it really matter?” was the question I asked Jeanine and myself in the follow up coaching session. The magazine is growing, I’m gaining new advertisers and people generally seem to like the end product. Of course, though, I knew it did matter, because unless I understood how the business runs now, how could I improve things to make the whole Bristol Nine experience better? – better as a business for me, better as a beneficial advertising medium for local businesses, better as a magazine for readers.
I’d mentioned to Jeanine previously about the issue of cash flow management – getting paid in a timely fashion for the adverts that appear in the magazine. The vast majority of advertisers are fine, and some are hugely efficient but, as I’m sure many other businesses have found over the last couple of years, the money is definitely a bit slower coming in through the door. “How do you manage cash flow?“ the coach asked. Like with most things in life I take a pretty laid back approach, knowing that bills will be paid eventually and not having to resort to reminders or other measures very often. “Aha, that’s the heart running the business again, isn’t it?” she says. “Well yes, I guess so, but I don’t like to be too pushy, not my style.” “But you are a business. You’ve already provided a service, you are entitled to receive payment promptly. If you don’t insist that your invoices are paid to terms then your customers might well take that for granted and pay other more demanding suppliers first and at your expense. All you will be doing is ensuring that both sides fulfill their side of the bargain.” This of course is exactly right. Again. More head needed, less heart, and if done in a friendly business-like way paying of bills shouldn’t become an issue between service provider and customer.
I could see that by gently and persuasively making me think about my business in more detail, and providing me with the time-out to do that thinking, working with Jeanine was proving very worthwhile. Not because she was teaching me rocket science, but because she was steering me towards being more thoughtful and objective about work. Now maybe it is a symptom of getting older, but am I alone in thinking that common sense seems to be a commodity in increasingly short supply amongst people today? The Victor Meldrew in me would say so, but sometimes in our busy, complicated, full-on lives it is easy to lose sight of the obvious, hard to find time to stop and think, fail to apply common sense. So it is with me – so tapping into Jeanine’s coaching skills is allowing me to rediscover common sense and apply it in my business dealings. And using common sense to improve my business – well, that’s just common sense isn’t it?
We moved on to customer satisfaction. “You seem to have plenty of advertisers each month, which is a good sign. Do you think they are happy and pleased with what they get from being in The Bristol Nine?” Pause for quiet reflection. I’d assumed so, judging by the volume of repeat bookings, but only after Jeanine posed the question did I begin to think carefully about how closer communication between me and my customers could result in benefits for us both. The more effective the advertising, the greater the benefit to that customer and the more likely he or she is to maintain their presence in the magazine, rebook and maybe increase their advertising spend. Both parties win but only if there is a dialogue – so I need to focus on my dialoguing (made up word?) and all advertisers can expect a 20– page customer satisfaction survey with their next invoice! I joke, but I’d seen the point Jeanine was making.
“What about reader satisfaction? What sort of feedback do you ask for and what do you receive?” was the coach’s next question. Again it was an aspect of the business I’d not thought carefully about too much, reassuring myself that the comments I do receive back from readers are nearly all positive (thank you) and that because I receive competition entries, and advertisers get business from their adverts, I know that people are definitely reading The Bristol Nine. Once again Jeanine’s probing gave me food for thought, and reminded me that “the more interesting and useful the magazine content is the more people will read it, and the more they read it the greater the likelihood that eventually they will call upon the services of an advertiser. Good content → interested reader → adverts read → services employed. Happy readers → happy advertisers → happy Andy.
It is very easy to include stuff in the magazine each month that I enjoy but what do I really know about the interests of the readers? Should there be more community news? More features on local people? More about Stoke Bishop and less about Westbury – or vice-versa? More things to interest younger readers? Bigger prizes? If you would like to suggest anything for inclusion then I would love to know. No, really I would, as I want The Bristol Nine to be as good for you as it is for me.
Next month – first impressions don’t really count do they?
On 9th May Jeanine is hosting a group coaching session entitled “Conscious Parenting” at her home in Stoke Bishop. For more details about this, and her drop-in coaching sessions that are held between 2-5pm at the Venue 35 Café on Stoke Lane on Thursday 12th and Thursday 26th May, just give Jeanine a call or visit her website
Neem contact op met Jeanine en bespaar jezelf tijd, energie, moeite en geld die je, na de samenwerking met Jeanine, doelgerichter en effectiever kunt inzetten.
Nederheide 16A, Woensdrecht
0652 094 311
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