[00:00:05] Jeffrey Feldberg: Welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast. I'm your host Jeffrey Feldberg.
[00:00:10] This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth and the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience.
[00:00:16] Your liquidity event is the largest and most important financial transaction of your life.
[00:00:22] But unfortunately, up to 90% of liquidity events fail. Think about all that time, money and effort wasted. Of the "successful" liquidity events, most business owners leave anywhere from 50% to over 100% of their deal value in the buyer's pocket and don't even know it.
[00:00:43] I should know. I said no to a seven-figure offer and yes, to mastering the art and science of a liquidity event. Two years later, I said yes to a different buyer with a nine-figure offer.
[00:00:56] Are you thinking about an exit or liquidity event?
[00:00:59] If you believe that you either don't have the time or you'll prepare closer to your liquidity event, think again.
[00:01:05] Don't become a statistic and make the fatal mistake of believing that the skills that built your business are the same ones for your liquidity event.
[00:01:13] After all, how can you master something you've never done before?
[00:01:17] Let the 90-day Deep Wealth Experience and our nine-step roadmap of preparation help you capture the maximum value for your liquidity event.
[00:01:26] At the end of this episode, take a moment to hear from business owners, just like you, who went through the Deep Wealth Experience.
[00:01:32] Welcome to Episode 86 of the Sell My Business Podcast.
[00:01:37] Lynn Thomas is an experienced, accomplished, dynamic, energetic, and deeply caring leader. She has been committed to cultivating transformative leaders for over 30 years working with executives, managers, founders, organizations, and institutions to navigate change, rejuvenate culture, and exceed their potential in areas of business and beyond.
[00:02:02] COVID offers companies a rare opportunity to harness the diamonds in the rough and turn them into invaluable insights that can catapult them forward. Her vast experience has been garnered from decades of work with hundreds of companies in diverse industries.
[00:02:18] Stints as a consultant, tax attorney, private banker, and change agent have all contributed to her unique compelling, and agile approach one that engages, inspires, and motivates her clients.
[00:02:32] In turn, her clients generate remarkable successes as they become more agile, more innovative, and kinder. The companies become more profitable and their employees become more engaged and find their workplaces more enjoyable.
[00:02:46] Lynn brings a high energy passionate approach to the highly customized programs she designs. Lynn quickly assesses the culture, nuances, and priorities of an organization, and then translates those insights into practical strategies that are immediately actionable. Lynn has been a keynote speaker at hundreds of conferences, conventions, associations, and organizations. She's been a columnist for trade publications and has authored many articles. Her second book, WOW! Your Way To Profit was published in May 2015 by Amazon, and is a number one bestseller.
[00:03:24] Welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast.
[00:03:27] I have a question for you because today's guests on this episode, this is what we're going to be talking about. Would you like to take your business to the next level? Would you like to get better results? Are you're wondering in this crazy environment that we're in where everything seems to be changing by the day, how you can be consistent? How you can have people smiling? How you can be happy?
[00:03:46] Well, you're in for a real treat today because that's exactly what we're going to be doing a deep dive on with our guests, but I'm getting ahead of myself, Lynn, welcome to the podcast. So, delighted to have you with us and Lynn, why don't we start with my favorite question to start things off. There's always a story behind the story.
[00:04:02] What's your story Lynn, in terms of, how did you get to where you are today?
[00:04:06] Lynn Thomas: Sure, Jeffrey. Thanks so, very much for having me on, I've been looking forward to this. Yeah, I started as actually a tax attorney at Arthur Anderson and enjoying it, no problems, et cetera. I was getting feedback from people that I was a little bit different. A little bit more gregarious than some of us, and we're comfortable to stand up in front of the room and it wasn't that there was anything wrong.
[00:04:24] It was just, I was a little bit different in some positive ways, but it dawned on me that I really wanted to interact with clients and that would take another four to five years to partner. So, I decided to leave and I went over to the Bank of Boston and I was a private banker, which I really enjoyed and loved.
[00:04:40] But after a short period of time, I realized it’s like five types of investors within about five minutes, I could figure them out and that wasn't challenging. Then I really grew up with a father who really loved his work. And so, for me, work was fun and it wasn't like to 13 years old, I realized most people did not enjoy their job. So, work has to be fun and challenging, so, it wasn't challenging.
[00:04:59] And then I was recruited over into being on a team that was taking a whole division through a change, and we had 1,800 people. Two people had a heart attack, with stress. One had died, and one was on disability. So, I was really concerned with the other employees and as the change agent, I went out to find somebody to talk about stress and talked them down from $1,500 to $500, which I thought was really great.
[00:05:21] And I come in and talk to the gentleman, who's the head of the project. And he said, no. And I said, no, really $500 for everybody. And he said, no, and I said, I'll pay for it. And he said, no. And I was really stunned. I turned around and the hair stood up in the back of my neck, and I didn't want to put my energy into that organization.
[00:05:38] And I resigned the next day and I was determined to find a way where you could have employees win, clients win and shareholders and the stakeholders win. And I knew that would involve some different and more difficult and uncomfortable conversations, but I was willing to create an organization and from that would do that.
[00:05:54] So, that's how I wound up where I am.
[00:05:56] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow, then that's quite the story. And it's always amazing when you share your history of how you got to where you are, how really each step along the way, just played a pivotal role in helping to shape you to become where you are today. So, I'm curious. I know here at Deep Wealth and in our community, our business owners are focusing at one point of having a liquidity event and the challenge there is always to align everybody.
[00:06:20] So, your employees, your clients, your future buyer, all of your stakeholders, your vendors, your suppliers, you name it, everyone to really get them on the same page of why this is going to be a good thing. And perceptions can sometimes be, unfortunately, people's reality when it's in a negative light. And so, I'm just wondering with your experience, if I'm a business owner, I'm thinking about having a liquidity event, there's a definite upside for me, but change can be scary for people. What would be your advice to a business owner of how can I create that win-win-win that you were referencing earlier as I begin the preparation for my liquidity event?
[00:06:56] Lynn Thomas: Great question. I really think it in having interviews of sectors of clients, and mostly your top clients with the 80 20 rule that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients. And so, my goal for my clients is to help them to replicate and duplicate that 20%, because in my experience over the next five years, 80% of their new business will come from those clients.
[00:07:17] So, I want to know what they want, what they need, why they refer, why they won't refer, et cetera, and then employees and the management. I look for the gaps. And especially if you're looking for a liquidity event, I'm especially interested in what do the top clients want to refer additional people. And so, that would be the key question there and if what they want can be created and get everyone behind that, which at times that is a key question because they want to grow a business organically.
[00:07:43] And there are lots of ways to ask that and to do that. And I also just remind people that we all have a massive ontop potential, you know, on an average day we use 2% of our brain, in a day we really pump the ions 5%, Einstein man of the century, 12%. We're not even tapping into who we are and from the various roles that I've had. I had a pivot a lot. And, you know, it’s the confidence in my skills that helped a lot.
[00:08:06] To encourage people to know that they have lots of skills and talents and that, you know, Pixar has this wonderful statement that they have an assumption that all employees have at least a slice of genius. So, if an owner has not found the slice of genius or slices of genius in his or her employees, they're, there.
[00:08:22] You know, and that's genius-level ideas. A friend of mine, Scott Jones invented voicemail and he actually did. And every day, his most personal or professional pressing problem. He comes up with 20 solutions.
[00:08:33] So, I force clients to come up with 20 solutions. And they'll get angry with me, what do you mean 20 solutions? We only need to find, you know, one or two solutions. Well, yeah, I think that's typical. That's, you know, that's sort of average, but I want you to, especially with COVID. And we're in this climate change and so, many different events in this VUCA world, volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous that things are changing so, fast.
[00:08:54] So, I want my clients to have A, B, C, D E plan, let's say. And unless if you have multiple options, you can't contrast or compare or evaluate or subtract this from that and add to this one. And so, pushing people beyond where they feel comfortable. You know this is the world of being uncomfortable.
[00:09:11] People are not uncomfortable. They're not learning something new. And if you don't learn something new today that you didn't know yesterday, you're falling behind the curve. So, uncomfortable is the new norm.
[00:09:19] Jeffrey Feldberg: Lyn so, much to unpack there with what you're sharing and so, much treasure troves that are there. And I agree with you. One of my sayings that I have for myself is I say, Hey Jeffrey, when it comes to choices, one is never a choice, two is a dilemma. It's only when you have three or more options, that's when you really start having choices.
[00:09:36] But let me circle back to something that you said it sounds so, simple on the service and we're not going to confuse simple with simplicity. And one of the things that you said was that as business owners and as a business in general, we should be going to our top clients and asking for referrals.
[00:09:53] And when we speak to most business owners, unfortunately, it seems that's not happening, that they would rather spend all this money and time and effort and so, much uncertainty, but this excitement around, oh, I'm going to go prospect and this new marketing campaign, and I'm doing this and I'm doing that. Where all we have to do is really ask the right questions and do the right things with our existing clients to get that word of mouth and to get those referrals.
[00:10:14] So, I'm wondering, Lynn, can you share with the community some questions or best practices that we can start doing right away to get referrals?
[00:10:22] Lynn Thomas: Sure. It's a great question. It's probably the thing that I understand the one level but I don't understand from a business point of view of why one out of twenty new clients will buy from you. One out of ten former clients will come back. One as six referred clients, we'll do business.
[00:10:36] One out of four current clients buy. And what most salespeople do is they go after the one of twenty and the company encourages them. And then I don't know if someone called it the addiction in this country to sell like that. A person who never heard of you or business never heard of you and you go out and you get them somehow like that's better than you know, you sell something the same product to an existing client. Some, referrals, you know, I know some clients who do really well by setting up at the beginning and some will say from the very beginning, listen, you know, I met you through Joe, and if you're happy with our service, I'm going to ask you for the referral at some point.
[00:11:06] If you're comfortable with that, fine. If you're not, that's okay too. But that is sort of part of our process. I want to let you know that because that works for some. If you're actually interacting with a client and he or she does something you really like, I'd say like Jeffrey, if I could find five more clients, just like you, because you are so, easy to work with and you have to be genuine here.
[00:11:23] You're so, easy to work with. I enjoy speaking with you. You're clear, blah, blah, blah. How can I find five clients just like you? And be quiet. Then they may mumble and if they say, fine, yourself? I'll say, send you an email, call you back, you get back to me? How do you want to leave it?
[00:11:35] Leave it up to them because you've complimented them and it's genuine. I will know how to find five clients like me, so, that's what I like about A clients. You want them to refer clients. They know people like themselves. If you ask C clients and I just refer to A, B's, and C's in just sort of descending order, you'll get more C's.
[00:11:51] You don't want to ask C for referrals. You want to ask the A's, but there's resistance out there to even tiering or segmenting clients I found. And I think it's financially prudent. I mean, if you're spending 5% of your time with the people that generate 80% of your revenue, and they're complaining to some extent that your expensive.
[00:12:08] They may have a point because you're spending 50% of your time with the people that generate 5% of your revenue that needs to flip. Some, you know, I'm totally with you that the best way to grow the company, the easiest way, the most expensive way, the smoothest way is through referrals. Now, does that mean that it's easy?
[00:12:24] Practice it, practice it in the mirror. Just practice like anything else? It can come easier. And the resistance that may come up. I can remember the first time on should ride a bike. It wasn't easy. It was uncomfortable but I can ride a bike.
[00:12:36] So, I can ask for referrals. And I look for opportunities with clients when to ask for referrals and like, oh, Lynn, and I want clients that you got more done in one year than I got as a president in 10 years, and I'll say, can I quote you on that? And he said, yeah, it's okay. So, who else do you know that would like someone who gets done in one year but they can't get done in 10 years. He goes, that's a good question. And I'll get back to you on that. I said, okay, fine. I'll follow up. So, that was just me. I was happy with what he said. It was true in this instance I do get things done, but there's something, in particular, he wanted me to get done and he could not get it done.
[00:13:05] And there are some clients who've had bad experiences that don't want to refer. And I think you definitely say that's totally fine but if I have a great dentist and I'm happy if anybody asks me to refer, but I'm not going to go around offering referrals.
[00:13:18] So, I think you do need to ask and ask in different ways. We have some technology which talks about different profiles or referrals and there are like four different kinds of people are willing to refer. So, you identify what kind they are and you can work from that. It's so, hard to sort of somebody who doesn't know you, but you have to explain everything and it's so, much more difficult and it's like, guys try the easier way, just give it six weeks. It just does something different. You know, I want you to be uncomfortable. If you're being comfortable, you're not learning something new. And in this day and age, we all need to learn something new. So, maybe half the day you ask for referrals, the other half, you do what you do and just see at the end of the month what the results are.
[00:13:53] But don't practice with the client the first time, because you'll mumble and you'll be, as we all would be, make sure you're really smooth and you've, maybe role-played with somebody or that and have some fun with it. You know, if they say no, they said, no.
[00:14:05] Jeffrey Feldberg: And it's interesting Lynn and you know for our audience out there; I hope you've been paying very close attention because really what Lynn just said right now. And think about this yourself, and I'll ask a bit of a rhetorical question. Would you rather do business with a stranger or with a friend? And for most people it's yeah, I'd rather do business with a friend. And so, with what Lynn is suggesting, when you have a referral, oh, hey, Joe, Susie was speaking with me and recommended that I reach out to you and you know, off you go in that area, you have instant credibility and you have your foot in the door because Joe and Susie know each other, they trust each other.
[00:14:37] They're probably friends. And here you are, you're now in the inner circle because of that referral. So, Lynn, I'm going to ask you a question because as a business owner, you asking for referrals or me asking for referrals or any business owner asking for referrals, we're motivated to do that. You know, we're looking at the big picture.
[00:14:53] We have the bottom line in mind. We want to grow the business and it comes as a natural but I also know one of the wheelhouses that you're really strong in is attracting and retaining not only top clients but also employees. Employees, it isn't necessarily second nature to them to ask for referrals.
[00:15:10] They're maybe just thinking of clocking in, clocking out, and just doing the job. What can I do? Because I know the business should be running without me. How can I get my employees to consistently look for and ask for referrals?
[00:15:23] Lynn Thomas: Incentivize them. Pay them more for a referral than you do for a brand-new client that did not come from a referral and their behavior will totally change.
[00:15:29] Jeffrey Feldberg: Okay. So, we're throwing some money at it. I like that Lynn. So, if it's not a salesperson, if it's a customer service person, if it's maybe somebody on the frontline, they're not normally getting new clients, what would be reasonable in terms of some kind of incentive plan for every new client that they're able to find through referral?
[00:15:46] Lynn Thomas: I mean, it really depends on probably what the client is worth. I would say, what I've done in those cases is when customer service people start getting involved in asking for referrals, ask them what's reasonable and you'll offer more, most business owners are willing to offer more than they'll ask for it.
[00:16:00] But if they're getting any clients, you're probably talking about, you know, at least a hundred, maybe 500, maybe a thousand, depending on if you're talking about investment managers, you know, it really depends on the amount of money they're bringing to the table, but I would not be cheap. I know MBNA years ago they would pay for referrals for employees.
[00:16:16] And 97% of their employees came from referrals and they went from being like the worst credit card company in two or three years up to being the best just on that. So, having employees being willing to ask for referrals and for them, it can be uncomfortable and difficult, but the same thing, it's just weaves into the conversation. You know, you've been so, easy to talk to and so, organized and, you know, gosh, if we could find more clients how could we do that?
[00:16:39] Find one more. I have one more client. Just give me one more client. And you can get them laughing and chuckling use their name. You hear a baby in the background, you connect with them. You've got to connect with people. And if it's over the phone, as most customer service is these days.
[00:16:51] You have to definitely make that connection before you'd ask for a referral and that may be a little different with salespeople, Jeffrey. They've known the best clients for years, but I know with one of my clients. People said they couldn't come up with ideas. And I said, well, I think it's everybody's job to come up with ideas.
[00:17:05] So, starting this week, everyone has to come up with an idea. And at the end of the week, whoever had the best idea. The head of the department gave a person a hundred dollars. Well, the following week, everybody started coming up with better ideas because they wanted to get that. And everyone was sharing their ideas of how they handled situations.
[00:17:20] So, it's a hundred dollars a week and I mean, they were stellar and that was the very inexpensive way. So, there's something about money that motivates people. And if somebody else is motivated by possible promotion or additional responsibilities or project, you know, it's not always money, but I think my first response would be, give them a percentage of their salespeople.
[00:17:39] People love earning extra money. They had the biggest smiles on their face. I mean, even a hundred-dollar bill, you know they are just like hit pay dirt as far as they're concerned.
[00:17:47] And so, my philosophy of life Jeffrey is if you have happy employees and you really care about them and you're incentivizing them and helping them to become better at what they do, they'll take care of your clients. You don't have to worry. I mean, you don't need to monitor them. And I don't like hearing all this technology now that's monitoring people. So, many seconds and taking pictures of them and it's decreasing the trust and the remoteness that is already decreasing that. So, you know, trust your employees.
[00:18:09] Jeffrey Feldberg: For sure that sounds like a whole other conversation when you can't trust an employee. Now, Lynn, you've said something interesting and you've mentioned the word mindset a few times, and I know one of your specialties is really how do you create a mindset where you can both find, retain, and keep top employees and top clients.
[00:18:27] So, let's keep on the employee side of things for this next question. So, if you're speaking to me as a business owner, what do you typically see is the top two or three mistakes and the top two or three things that you absolutely should be doing to foster a mindset to find and keep top employees?
[00:18:43] Lynn Thomas: Well, as an owner, you need to hire for attitude. You can train for anything. As an owner, you need to really care about your employees. Genuinely really care about them as human beings and their families. And if that's not who you are, that's okay, but this is not a formula for you. You need to be willing to invest in your employees to develop their skills because they need them for the future, and willing to have people find their purpose or meaning at the millennials and the Gen Z money is not as motivating for them.
[00:19:08] They want the world to be better because of what they do. And that can mean a lot of different things, but bring up, how can this be more meaningful to you? If you could add those two or three things to what you're offering employees, so, they have meaning they have career growth, and a career path, if you can customize that because many millennials and gen Z's are concerned. Am I going to be employable 2, 3, 5 years from now? And if you say, yeah, we're looking at this, what do you want? And you get a path that's the strongest superglue I know out there right now in COVID is I will help you develop yourself and keep you employable.
[00:19:41] And on the leading edge of the skills that they have. So, to care about the employees, put them first. And then you take care of employees, they'll take care of your clients and listen to them. Your frontline employees, 95% of all the problems you have with customers or products or services your frontline employees have heard from clients the answers.
[00:20:00] They may not know them. Hey, what client suggest that we should do X? But they didn't bring that up because we don't do X, but if they brought that up, it'd be like, wow, we never thought of doing X. That would be great. So, deeply listen to your frontline employees, to their ideas. They are more in touch with your top clients than you are.
[00:20:16] And deeply listen for their needs during COVID. I think that the mindset I would say is sort of an abundant mindset. There's plenty of opportunities, plenty of opportunities to grow, opportunities to learn. And I want to work with you. I want to keep you and recognize employees if that's financial if that's allowing you to stay home, being flexible around your schedule.
[00:20:35] So, those are the key. The Gen Z's and millennials, by 2025, 75% of employees will be gen Zs and millennials. So, people will say, you know, I don't really like them, or they got an attitude, they're going to be the power brokers and the people in charge within the next four or five, six years.
[00:20:51] And so, I think, they don't want to work 12 hours a day. And I was in a presentation of a woman who wrote a book, which said, well, we raised them, now we have to work with them. And well, I put in my 12-hour days and she said, was it healthy? Did it do anything for you? He said, no. They looked at you as a father and said, I don't want to do that.
[00:21:07] And they'll leave at four o'clock if they have the work done. So, the only thing wrong with that it's the mindset that there's somehow, you've got to work these certain hours or she, not a good employee. And then the outcomes to be different, maybe not the outcome of hours at work, but if it's the outcomes or the deliverables, if I could do something in two hours, it takes most people doing five hours. Why does it matter?
[00:21:26] Jeffrey Feldberg: So, what's interesting Lynn there and in for our audience, Lynn has just brought out a very valuable insight and that is you need to find out, for all of your team members, what's their currency? And Lynn, as you alluded to earlier, for most people is probably going to be money whether it's wanting to change some kind of behavior or getting referrals, whatever the case may be for most people, if there's some kind of financial incentive behind that, you have the retention, but not everyone's going to be that. Maybe some people want some time off.
[00:21:55] Maybe other people want a different kind of perk. So, as a smart business owner, it's up to us to figure out, well, what are all the incentives or the currency? What's the currency of my team for each person on a member-by-member basis? And then let me play to that so, that I'm having them smile. It works for them.
[00:22:11] And ultimately if it works for them, it's working for the company it's working for everyone. Let's circle back now for a moment because you've mentioned COVID a number of times and as we record this podcast, we kind of thought we were through this whole pandemic and now we're seeing different variants come along.
[00:22:25] And by the time this recording comes out, who knows where we're going to be. But let me ask you, what should I be thinking about as a business owner now, as it pertains to COVID and as it pertains to my employees within the workplace, why don't we start there?
[00:22:39] Lynn Thomas: I think the idea with COVID is being really flexible about how you reopen. I wouldn't say, coming back to the office is called reopening. And that maybe we're going to go for two days a week. And then after two months, we'll talk about if that's working and maybe a specific two days, you may also want certain people back more like more extroverted people, introverted people are usually doing better at home.
[00:23:00] Overall extroverted people want to be around people and give people a reason to come back. So, there's one high-tech company I've worked with, who he changed the whole first floor. We worked through this and made them couches and ask the employees what they wanted. They wanted the couches, they wanted clear tables, which they could pull up and work on, you know, food available.
[00:23:17] So, they wanted to reconnect with the employees they hadn't seen in over a year and that social capital goes up. And so, he gave him a reason to come back and they were coming in earlier and they were staying longer.
[00:23:26] And that's what would be flexible about what you require. I think if anybody has a fixed mind that where the people need to work and the hours they need to work, that's not what's going to work with millennials, Gen Z's, and most other people.
[00:23:39] Jeffrey Feldberg: The research is showing that most employees they're open to quitting and moving on to a new opportunity. What do you think is causing that kind of massive shift in mindset?
[00:23:49] Lynn Thomas: I read a recent article that said The Great Resignation is really the great discontentment. I think employees maybe didn't realize how much they were putting into the work. If it starts with commuting.
[00:24:00] And people had to put up for some, with bullying situations or harassment or unpleasant things, or just someone who was loud and they couldn't concentrate, et cetera. So, for some people at home, it worked out better. So, the power dynamics between the workplace, employers, and employees, I think I shifted during COVID and employees are in the power seat, especially if you're a millennial or gen Z, because you got the technological skills, you've got the agility, you have the resiliency, you have the ability to pivot, and you're not afraid of change because you've grown up in the midst of it.
[00:24:29] So, there was a study done where 65% of people in high-tech would forfeit a 30% increase in their salary to not come in five days a week, regular hours. I don't know what number brings them in, but it's something that some will give up their retirement.
[00:24:44] There are some numbers that give up their retirement, some will give up their health benefits. I mean, there are some examples where people just do not want to go back in, and if that's because they can care for their kids better or they're homeschooling them or they've aged parents. And that's why I think, you know, nobody's experience of COVID is similar to anybody else's, everyone's had a unique experience. So, I think to think, oh, okay, all my employees are going to do this or that. You're probably not catching or understanding the depths that employees to some extent are burned out. The average they work three hours more a day than they did when they were in the office.
[00:25:16] And they feel underappreciated just the verbal appreciation and putting it aside from the compensation. And they don't feel connected. They feel disconnected from their employees and from the company. And so, you know, I say for managers, you should have 30 minutes each week. You know one-to-one with each of your employees, your direct reports, because if you're not connecting with them, who are they connecting with? And if they feel disconnected, they're going to definitely be disengaged and disengaged employees leave. So, I think during COVID there hasn't been enough conscious engagement, which managers before just would walk around or see people, and people got disconnected from some or all.
[00:25:52] And some just realized they weren't happy. I'm happier at home doing blank, or I think I'd be happier doing another job. I think COVID has made us all sit back Jeffrey and just think. Is this what I want to do with my life? There are people dying. That could be me. And am I happy where I am?
[00:26:06] Do I want something more? Am I getting what I want? Do I feel like I'm making a difference in the world that's important? So, I think there's a whole range of reasons why people want to leave. If If you're really upset about a former company, sometimes it's easier to leave that company and move on to another one and to go and talk about your discontentment with that company.
[00:26:24] So, those are probably the top ones off the top of my head.
[00:26:28] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Lynn what's fascinating with what you're just listing in terms of what people are willing to give up. We're not talking about minor things; you were talking about health benefits or bonuses or reductions. These are meaningful things. So, if that's what's going on out there, and as a business owner, we want to grow and we want to attract the absolute best talent and keep them because we know that's what's going to propel our company forward.
[00:26:50] That's what's going to help increase our enterprise value. As business owners, we need to break that mold of, if someone's not in the seat, they're not being productive and find other ways of measuring productivity and ensuring that we can have our employees optimize their time in the workplace or out of the workplace, whatever it may be for happiness.
[00:27:10] And so, Lynn, now let's translate that or why don't we shift into clients? So, when it comes to the pandemic and the coronavirus. What's been going on in the world of clients that I need to know as a business owner to help keep me competitive and on the up and up?
[00:27:25] Lynn Thomas: What I say is, I'm surprised more business owners haven't done is they've assumed to a large extent that their client's needs have not changed during COVID like they know other employees have because they've been more in contact with that. But the clients, have not. So, really to have somebody on the outside of your company do deep in-depth interviews with your clients, finding out what's working for them.
[00:27:45] With your business now what's not working for them. If they could change one thing, what would that be? What do they like most about working with you? And probing underneath the responses. So, you get down to behavior that needs to be changed, a process that needs to be changed.
[00:27:59] You know, I'm sort of very grounded in what's the behavior or what needs to be changed. Just not, we want people to be more accessible. Well, what does that mean? When you text them, they're going to text back? When you phone and it may be well to change some of the requests I've had and it's like, okay, so, which ones, and then get the exact list of them. So, very detailed responses back. And this came out, for me and when I was at Bank of Boston, they came back and said, we had to be more professional. And I thought that meant being out with my clients at their place of business.
[00:28:26] A colleague of mine, Carl thought it was the opposite of being in the office when they called. And Carl, fortunately, updated his ties from a small print to a big print. And I commented in a meeting and I said, Carl, like, you really changed your ties. And he said, well, you know, came up we had to be professional.
[00:28:39] And I said, your ties. And he said, well, you have to look like your current like you're up to date. And I said, oh gosh, I thought I might be out with the clients. He means being here when they call. And I said, oh gosh, we got to know what they meant. And I felt real, I don't know if the word betrayed upset, something that I hear three eager beavers wanting to be this thing professional, but the company they use did not dig under professional to find out what does that mean?
[00:29:02] Is it that they are in your place of business more? Is it that they have been around for a few business cycles or what do they mean by professionals? Did I have certain degrees, certain certifications? There are so, many things that could fall under professional and you'll see things like friendly or professional or courteous.
[00:29:18] I don't know what you mean unless you can tell me the root cause. What is the root behavior in these changes so, it'll finally translate to your dear client as what you want? And so, you need to probe underneath those responses. And that's why I believe in interviews and surveys can't do that to the extent that I need it for my clients to be done.
[00:29:37] Jeffrey Feldberg: And Lynn what's interesting with that and for our listeners, when you think about your liquidity event and we talk about this in the Deep Wealth Experience in the due diligence module, this is where your future buyer is coming in.
[00:29:48] And they're not only asking questions of you, but at one point in one form or another, they're going to be asking questions of your client. And so, Lynn, what you're sharing right now is one terrific strategy. Essentially what you're saying is let's clear the slate. Have no assumptions and begin the process of due diligence on our clients, why they're working with us?
[00:30:08] What do they like? What do we need to do more of? What do we need to do less of? And begin to have these meaningful conversations. And chances are when you begin that process and you start going through it. You're not only going to have happier clients, but you’ll also get more business and then doing a full loop.
[00:30:24] Lynn we’ll probably get more referrals while we're at it. So, it's a win-win, the question that comes to mind on that though, as a business owner, I may be thinking. Well yeah, Jeffrey and Lynn that sounds really good, but I'm too busy. I don't have time to think about how to do this. I don't have the experience in doing that.
[00:30:41] So, Lynn, if you were brought into a company, can you walk us through what you would be doing to have them do that client outreach, that due diligence on the clients to really find out what a client wants, particularly with how times have been changing with the pandemic.
[00:30:55] Lynn Thomas: Sure. I think there are two forks. But mostly works is someone from my company or I wind up doing the interviews, because outside of the company, because if I'm interviewing somebody at a company and they're upset with somebody named Mark, they're going to be hesitant to tell somebody inside the company that Mark did something, even as say, Mark's not going to have any issues about that.
[00:31:15] No retaliation or anything. What I assure them, confidentiality and anonymity, which is what we do, then I'll say, okay, let me tell you what happened last week. And, so, they'll come out much more there. I did have one company after they worked with me for a while.
[00:31:27] They hired somebody to be a client relationship expert, and that person after significant events would always contact the clients to find out what their experience was. So, if you have somebody that that's his, or her role to do it, that's fine. But if, for me to call my clients and ask, oh, how happy are you working with me?
[00:31:44] You got interview bias going on there. The chances of getting an accurate answer if you're the person they work with is pretty slim. And in a moment and say, okay, how can I be better? Like, I really want to work with you better Jeffrey, obviously, I didn't please you, blah, blah, blah.
[00:31:56] I'm really open and I know how not to be defensive and I'm really listening and I really care. And if you have some people can do that great. Most of that takes some emotional intelligence and the ability not to get defensive which really listens. If you have caused a client to be upset about something.
[00:32:13] Jeffrey Feldberg: Thanks for the takeaway here for our listeners. And there's a reason for our listeners of that old saying of don't shoot the messenger. I mean, people don't want to be the bearer of bad news. And so, in terms of getting out the message to your clients, that you're there, you want to listen.
[00:32:24] You want to change. You want to be there for them. One positive takeaway is to look to somebody like Lynn that you can bring into your company, set up an entire program, do that outreach on your behalf and get you the feedback that you're probably not going to hear otherwise. And Lynn, I think that is just some terrific strategies and some insights that we can all begin to follow.
[00:32:43] So, Lynn, I want to ask you, one of my favorite questions, were at the point in our episode where we're going to start wrapping this up and it's at this point, I ask every single guest, this one question. And the question for you is this, when you think of the movie Back To The Future, you have that magical DeLorean car, which can go to any point in time.
[00:33:03] So, imagine Lynn, it's tomorrow morning, you look outside your window, lo and behold, the DeLorean car is there. The door is open. It's waiting for you to go in. And you can go back to any part of your life. Maybe it's Lynn as a young child or a teenager or an adult, whatever the case may be. I'm wondering what you would tell your younger self in terms of do this or don't do that or lessons learned.
[00:33:25] What are your thoughts on that Lynn? What would you be saying?
[00:33:28] Lynn Thomas: I would tell myself, right after I left with Bank of Boston and start my own firm that I needed advisors and people are different than me and change them. And the more diverse, the better, which that concept I was never there. There are certain opportunities I missed, I can look back at it now and see that I missed that I wouldn't have. So, to have advisors and to get people around you who are smarter than you in different areas. There's the concept of unique abilities. And so, I may be really good at X, but I want to find people who are really good at Y and Z and A and B I don't want to try to do everything. Not only to have advisors on the outside, but also the people that you hire, that they complement your skillset and they don't duplicate it.
[00:34:05] There are two things I'm thinking of that who knows what it would've been, but I think those people would have been giving me wisdom and ideas that I did not see at that time. And I don't come from a family of consultants, and my father was an entrepreneur, but he built a business.
[00:34:18] So, he had a whole bunch of people around. So, I couldn't turn to somebody and say, Uncle Eddie, what do you think I should do? Because Uncle Eddie wasn't a good, consultant. So, I found that somewhat the hard way, but the advisors and that's what I have now. I think keep listening to the people who rub you the wrong way, who you don't really like, because when my experience is there's a grain of truth to something that they're saying they're doing, and that's the rub. And that's probably what's in my experience, that what's bothered me.
[00:34:46] But if I don't take the whole thing that they're saying, and I take the grain as truth that all feedback is great. Be willing to take that little piece of feedback, leave the rest of it and walk into the future. Move forward with that. Don't throw the baby out with bathwater.
[00:34:59] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow. Some terrific advice. And Lynn, you've been absolutely open and vulnerable with us. And I really like how when you look back, it's not with regret. It's, hey, I didn't do this, but I learned from that and now I'm doing this and I've learned from that. And that's how it's making me a better person.
[00:35:15] And I really admire that and respect that.
[00:35:18] Lynn Thomas: It's been great. It's been painful at times. It's been joyful. It's a roller coaster, you know, there's only like 5% of us. Somebody said who are really entrepreneurs because you gotta be a little nutty to become an entrepreneur. So, now I'm one. So, there you go.
[00:35:32] Jeffrey Feldberg: I love it. So, Lynn, as we begin to wrap up this episode if somebody would like to find you online, where would be the best place?
[00:35:39] Lynn Thomas: Probably LinkedIn, just Lynn Thomas. I'm in LinkedIn and then my website is thomasconsultingwins.com because the client said with you, I always win. And Thomas consulting was taken to thomasconsultingwins.com and I'd be delighted to have a conversation with anybody.
[00:35:56] And I want to say one last thing, which is a real big piece. A philosophy that I've learned. I had a very critical father and a critical older sister. So, I had my feelings hurt a lot. And I believe that if somebody does something that bothers you and you're going to drag it around for 20, 30 years, and there are people who do that.
[00:36:12] My rule of thumb is three business days either say to them or drop it. So, if you don't know how to say something to somebody and make it be nice and kind, call me, I will help you to do that. I've been told I can do that and I can. So, I don't like when people are hit with like two by four on the head, that's not good feedback and have it really be meaningful.
[00:36:31] And maybe they can get their slice of genius from that because we all have blind spots. I'm totally willing and I've said this, all my clients I've had clients that call me after years said, you always said we could call. And I said, absolutely. So, I will help you to get feedback to anybody and have it be kind.
[00:36:45] Jeffrey Feldberg: Wow, what a terrific mindset Lynn that is so, kind of you. Thank you so, much for doing that. And you heard it right there, straight from the source. And for our listeners, we'll make this really easy for you when you come to the podcast and you go to the show notes, all the links of where you can find Lynn will be there.
[00:37:00] So, it's just a point and click and you'll get that information. Well, Lynn as we wrap up this episode, a heartfelt thank you for taking part of your day and spending it with us here on The Sell My Business Podcast. And as always, I'm going to wish that you continue to stay healthy and safe. Thank you so, much.
[00:37:15] Lynn Thomas: Thank you, Jeffrey. Thanks for being honest, but a real delight and pleasure. Best to you.
[00:37:19] Sharon S.: The Deep Wealth Experience was definitely a game-changer for me.
[00:37:22] Lyn M.: This course is one of the best investments you will ever make because you will get an ROI of a hundred times that. Anybody who doesn't go through it will lose millions.
[00:37:32] Kam H.: If you don't have time for this program, you'll never have time for a successful liquidity
[00:37:37] Sharon S.: It was the best value of any business course I've ever taken. The money was very well spent.
[00:37:43] Lyn M.: Compared to when we first began, today I feel better prepared, but in some respects, may be less prepared, not because of the course, but because the course brought to light so, many things that I thought we were on top of that we need to fix.
[00:37:59] Kam H.: I 100% believe there's never a great time for a business owner to allocate extra hours into his or her week or day. So, it's an investment that will yield results today. I thought I will reap the benefit of this program in three to five years down the road. But as soon as I stepped forward into the program, my mind changed immediately.
[00:38:21] Sharon S.: There was so, much value in the experience that the time I invested paid back so, much for the energy that was expended.
[00:38:31] Lyn M.: The Deep Wealth Experience compared to other programs is the top. What we learned is very practical. Sometimes you learn stuff that it's great to learn, but you never use it. The stuff we learned from Deep Wealth Experience, I believe it's going to benefit us a boatload.
[00:38:44] Kam H.: I've done an executive MBA. I've worked for billion-dollar companies before. I've worked for smaller companies before I started my business. I've been running my business successfully now for getting close to a decade. We're on a growth trajectory. Reflecting back on the Deep Wealth, I knew less than 10% what I know now, maybe close to 1% even.
[00:39:03] Sharon S.: Hands down the best program in which I've ever participated. And we've done a lot of different things over the years. We've been in other mastermind groups, gone to many seminars, workshops, conferences, retreats, read books. This was so, different. I haven't had an experience that's anything close to this in all the years that we've been at this.
[00:39:27] It's five-star, A-plus.
[00:39:30] Kam H.: I would highly recommend it to any super busy business owner out there.
[00:39:34] Deep Wealth is an accurate name for it. This program leads to deeper wealth and happier wealth, not just deeper wealth. I don't think there's a dollar value that could be associated with such an experience and knowledge that could be applied today and forever.
[00:39:48] Jeffrey Feldberg: Are you leaving millions on the table?
[00:39:50] Please visit www.deepwealth.com/success to learn more.
[00:39:57] If you're not on my email list, you'll want to be. Sign up at www.deepwealth.com/podcast. And if you enjoyed this episode of the Sell My Business podcast, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Reviews help me reach new listeners, grow the show and continue to create content that you'll enjoy.
[00:40:20] As we close out this episode, a heartfelt thank you for your time. And as always, please stay healthy and safe.