Be Inquisitive in Customer Service


Desire quality, efficiency, and precision

  • Focus on the customer’s need for accuracy and efficiency by methodically outlining steps, processes, or details related to a product or service.
  • Communication should be tied into facts, not feelings.
  • Have details and information prepared in advance and be thoroughly familiar with them
  • Approach encounters in a direct, businesslike, low-key manner.
  • Avoid small talk and speaking about yourself.
  • Ask specific open-ended questions about customers’ background or experiences related o the product or service.
  • Present solutions in a sequential fashion stressing advantages, value, quality, reliability and price. Also, be prepared to point out and discuss disadvantages.
  • Have documentation available to substantiate your claims.
  • Don’t pressure customer decisions and follow through on promises.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures

“Is” and “Is Not”


Once we have identified “could be”  but “is not” data, we will also be able to identify the peculiar factors that isolate our problem: exactly what it is, where it is observed, when it is observed, and its extent or magnitude. These peculiar factors will lead us closer to the problem’s cause.

Suppose for a moment that you have two identical potted plants growing in your office. One thrives but the other does not. If you take the wilting plant out of the office and ask someone about the probable cause for its sorry appearance, you will get any number of educated guesses. But if the same person observes that two identical plants in your office have not been receiving identical treatment (the thriving plant is on a sunny window sill and the wilting one is in a dim corner), the speculations as to cause will be immediate and more accurate than they could have been without a basis of comparison. Regardless of the content of a problem, nothing is more conducive to sound analysis than some relevant basis of comparison.

The decision as to what is close and what is logical must rest with the judgment of the problem solver. In many cases it is extremely important to identify the malfunction that “could be” but “is not” in order to narrow the scope of the search for cause. Each problem analysis is unique to the content of each problem.

Once we have identified bases of comparison in all four dimensions, we are able to isolate key distinguishing features of the problem. It is as if we had been describing the outlines of a shadow. With the completion of the “is not” data in our specification, the outlines begin to suggest the components capable of having cast the shadow.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Computer Programming


The computer can do nothing toward solving a problem without a detailed set of instructions. It can follow instructions, but it cannot think. A computer program is a set of instructions that tells the computer what is to be done, how to do it, and the sequence of steps to be followed. The computer follows these directions step by step until the job is completed.

The computer programmer—the specialist who tells the computer what to do—must analyze the problem, break it down into its component parts, and outline the steps needed to arrive at the solution. An effective way to determine these steps is to make a flowchart—a pictorial description of the logical steps to be taken in solving a problem.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Writing Tips


  • When writing consider the recipients. What do they know already? What can you tell them?
  • Outline your memos and letters before beginning to write.
  • When writing reports, summarize key points or conclusions on the first page and document them with more information on subsequent pages.
  • Write like you speak to make your writing as readable as possible.
  • Learn the writing style of your organization and follow it. Don’t use flowery language (many adjectives and verbs) when inappropriate.
  • Have your secretary or assistant edit and proofread your correspondence for sentence structure and grammatical errors.
  • Keep dictionary thesaurus on hand to check spelling and word usage.
  • Use variety of sentence structures—simple, complex, and compound—to add interest to your writing.
  • When writing for a non-ethical audience, have a non-technical person identify jargon. Then either eliminate it or include a glossary defining the terms.
  • Use charts and tables wherever possible to present numerical information.
  • Use “action verbs” to add punch to your message.
  • Eliminate weak words like “very,” “interesting,” “often,” and other bland adjectives or adverbs.
  • Keep paragraphs short. Make sure the content of a paragraph revolves around only one thought—the topic sentence.
  • If you do a large amount of routine correspondence, standardize it as much as possible.
  • If procrastination is a problem, start writing a rough draft early so you have time to reverse it at least once.
  • When allocating blocks of time for writing, set aside periods of one to one-and-a-half hours, rather than trying to do it in segments of 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Develop a flash card system to work in your own common misspellings.
  • Dictate correspondence, memos, and so forth, to save time.
  • Seek immediate and specific feedback on reports you write.
  • Take a second or third look at your memos before sending them.
  • Use a grammar checking software program on your computer to identify errors you frequently make, and use that feedback to focus your efforts to improve your writing.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Master Plan


Many people assume that a formal business plan is only for big time businesses. Wrong. A business plan is for anyone who wants to give their enterprise their best possible shot. It is where you detail out all the operational, marketing, and money matters of your business. It is, in essence, a road map. With it, you will better be able to reach your goal. Without it, you run the risk of spending precious time and money traveling in circles or unwittingly wandering into danger zones.

In response to the question, what a business plan is, follow the following”

  • A business plan is written by the home-based business owner with outside help as needed.
  • It is accurate and concise as a result of careful study.
  • It explains how the business will function in the marketplace.
  • It clearly depicts its operational characteristics.
  • It details how it will be financed.
  • It outlines how it will be managed.
  • It is the management and financial “blueprint” for startup and profitable operation.
  • It serves as a prospectus for potential investors and lenders.

A study for “why” of creating it, note:

  • The process of putting the business plan together, including the thought that you put in before writing it, forces you to take the objective, critical, unemotional look at your entire business proposal.
  • The finished written plan is an operational tool, which, when properly used, will help you manage your business and work toward its success.
  • The complete business plan is a means for communicating your ideas to others and provides the basis for financing your business.

While you are to be the author of the document, you shouldn’t hesitate to get professional help when it comes to areas outside your ken, such as accounting, insurance, capital requirements, operational forecasting, and tax and legal requirements. Finally, in response to the question, “When should Business Plan be used?” note:

  • To make crucial startup decisions
  • To reassure lenders and backers
  • To measure operational progress
  • To test planning assumptions
  • As a basis for adjusting forecasts
  • To anticipate ongoing capital and cash requirements
  • As the benchmark for good operational management

If you have been doing your research and homework all along, you probably have most of the raw material for the business plan, so it won’t be such an awesome task.

Business plans differ greatly, depending on the nature and scope of the enterprise. Some elements a person in a retail sales business would need in his or her business plan may be totally irrelevant for your service business. Similarly, business plans vary in length—from five or six pages or a virtual booklet; some are written in an engaging narrative style while others take another approach—just the facts. However, while business plans may differ in style, tone, length, and components, there is some common ground. Below is a list of items that should be in almost every business plan:

  • A summary of the nature of your business and its principal activity with a detailed description of the product(s) or service(s) you will offer.
  • A statement as to the form your business will take (sole proprietorship, partnership, incorporation) and how it will be managed and operated (with information on employees or subcontractors if applicable).
  • A discussion of any extra-ordinary (and potentially problematic) matters revolving around such things as space requirements, production processes, and operating procedures.
  • A discussion of major trends in your trade or profession.
  • A discussion of your competition and the basis on which you will compete.
  • A description of your target market that might include a profile of a typical customer or client.
  • A discussion of your plans for pricing, sales terms, and distribution.
  • A discussion of how you intend to advertise and promote your products or services.
  • A detailed statement of startup and operating costs for at least the first year.
  • A discussion of how your business will be financed.
  • Profit and loss and cash flow statements for at least the first year of business.

If this list has made a business plan seem all the more scary and arduous a task, don’t panic. There are books on the market that will guide you through the process.

A clean attractive business plan is a sine qua non if you will be applying for a loan or looking for investors. But even if the document is for your eyes only, you owe it to yourself to produce a professional-looking document. Since it is your road map, the neater it is the better it will serve you when you refer to it at various stages of your entrepreneurial journey.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Planning a Research Strategy


If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Writing the First Draft


When your outline is complete and you are ready to write your first draft, many writers make a common mistake at this point. They try to “get it right” the first time. They may work on a paragraph for hours, fine-tuning the words until they are perfect. Writers thus shut off their creativity by insisting on profession.

Remember, the first draft is a working draft. It should be written quickly without too much thought to elegant expressions or final order and paragraphing. Your object is to get the material on paper to flash out the structure of your outline. Let the words flow. Start wherever you can—in the middle, even near the end. The opening or introduction can be completed later. Any weaknesses in logic or gaps in information, any points that are out of place can be corrected in the final version.

As you write the first draft, keep your audience in mind. Doing so will help you stay focused on the purpose of your work. Keep writing until you have completed the first draft.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Ideal-Candidate Profile


You don’t have the time or the resources to evaluate every applicant who strolls in. to guide your work, you should develop a profile of your “ideal” candidate. You may never find your ideal, but you will establish a basic framework that outlines the person you are looking for.

Developing an ideal candidate profile is similar to viewing a lineup of suspects after you’ve witnessed a bank robbery. The individual you pick out may not be the actual bank robber, but chances are the real criminal is strongly similar. Often, a lineup helps police establish the silhouette or basic framework of the person being sought. The police is clear even if the details are not. Likewise, your ideal candidate profile will give you a sharper idea of what you are really looking for, so that you can increase your odds of finding him or her.

Use the following outline to develop of profile of your ideal candidate:

  1. Must have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Skills or talents
    • Education
  1. Should have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Education
  1. Would be nice to have, or have done, or be able to do:
    • Experience: type and years
    • Industry: type, or specific companies, and years
    • Skills or talents
    • Education

Be specific when you draft your outline. If you want someone with strong follow-up skills, say so. If you want an assertive person who can handle high stress, say so. To create a good match between job and candidate, you need to define the person as closely as you define the job.

Keep your company culture in mind, too. If your company is team-oriented and flexible, you want a candidate who is comfortable with teamwork—and not everyone is. If your department is highly structured, you want someone who works well in a structured situation. Describe the qualities that your company values so that you can find compatible candidates.

Just remember that defining the candidate is a lot like shopping for groceries: the more you toss into your shopping cart, the more you’ll pay. The cost of filling a job is influenced by two factors: how long it takes to find the candidate, and the supply of qualified candidates. The greater the number of must have items on your list, the longer it’s going to take to find that person. The greater the experience, skills, or education requirements, the smaller the supply of candidates and the larger the compensation package required to hire the person.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Organizational Mandates


The formal and informal mandates placed on an organization consist of the various “musts” that it confronts. Actually, it is surprising how few organizations know precisely what they are (and are not) formally mandated to do. Typically, few members of any organization have ever read, for example, the relevant legislation, ordinances, charters, articles, and contracts that outline the organization’s formal mandates. Many organizational members also do not clearly understand what informal mandates—typically political in the broadest sense—their organization faces. It may not be surprising, then, that most organizations make one or all of the following three fundamental mistakes. First, not knowing what they must do, they are unlikely to do it. Second, they may believe they are more tightly constrained in their actions than they actually are. Third, they may assume that if they are not explicitly told to do something, they are not allowed to do it.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Canvassing: Most Inexpensive Marketing


Canvassing can be the most inexpensive marketing method of all. In fact, it can be free, except for the time you devote to it. And if you’re just starting out, time is something you have a great deal of in your inventory. After all, canvassing is merely asking prospective customers for business. During a canvass, which the dictionary defines as “a soliciting of sales,” you should engage in three separate steps.

The first step, called the contact, is when you first meet your prospect. That first impression counts like crazy. So make your contact friendly, upbeat, customer-oriented, honest, and warm. Try to establish a relationship. You need not talk about business if you don’t want to. You can talk about matters personal, about the weather, about a current event—probably about your prospective customer

The second step of canvass is called the presentation. It usually takes longer than the other steps, yet it need take no longer than one minute. During the presentation, you outline the features of your offering and the benefits to be gained from buying from you. Some pro-canvassers say, “The more you tell, the more you sell.” If it is a home security system, your presentation might take fifteen minutes. If it is an offer to wash your prospect’s car, the presentation might take one minute or less.

The third step of a canvass is the most important part. It’s called the close, and it is that magical moment when you complete the sale. That happens when your prospect says, “Yes” or signs on the dotted line or reaches for his or her wallet or merely nods affirmatively. If you are a poor closer, it doesn’t really matter how good you are at the contact and the presentation. You’ve got to be a good closer to make canvassing work at all.

Before there were any other methods of marketing, canvassing existed. In fact, the very first sale in history probably occurred when one caveman asked another, “When to trade me an animal skin for this fruit I picked?” no advertising was necessary. No marketing plan, either. Life has become far better since then. But far more complicated, too.

If you think that canvassing is like door-to-door selling, you’re right only if you want to do it that way. You can canvass by going from door to door. You can do it in residential neighborhoods, and you can do it in commercial neighborhoods. Or, you can presell your canvass by first calling or writing the people you intend to canvass. You have a choice of telling them you’ll be coming around so that they’ll expect you sometime, or actually setting up an appointment. When that happens, it’s more like making a sales presentation than canvassing. For most, canvassing is something done with little or no advance warning. Sure, it helps if you advertise so that the prospective customers have heard of you when you come calling. But you don’t have to advertise. If you make a good contact, a crisp presentation, and a dynastic close, and if you are offering a good value, canvassing may be the only marketing tool you ever need.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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