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Tag Archives: search engine optimization

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The Relationship between Website Navigation and SEO

Refining site navigation and structure is so important when it comes to search engine optimization. The idea that you could just put up your web site and never change it has become prehistoric. Today web sites need to revised at least every two years. Not for an aesthetically please purpose but for speed, video, and most importantly search engine rankings. So what does an optimized web site navigation look like? Here’s an example of navigation in its most basic form.

Your home page filters into header tabs, then header tabs filer into subcategories, which are, related to the header tabs. Each of the lower levels supports the higher levels from a linking perspective. The lines are indicative of potential cross-linking relationships, the implementation of which would be assessed on a site-by-site basis.

 

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 Search Engine Optimization and Navigation

 So what are the benefits of an optimized site? By creating straightforward and simplified navigation that access internal pages of a website are beneficial in the following ways:

  • Users are able to navigate the site easier
  • Search engines web site crawlers can easily crawl the site due to simplified navigation
  • Bringing exposure to subcategories within the site
  • Increases web site rankings

The above navigational structure is vital when it comes to users who have no idea the depth and size of your web site. Compared to a brick and mortar store, more than often, the consumer knows how large the store is before they walk in the door. Having a simple and straightforward navigational outline, an user and a search engine like Google will breeze through each component or department after department of your web site without a second thought. The goal here is to the make the user experience effortless. Making it so natural for the user simply allows the user to loose track of time and enjoy the entertainment.

As search engine optimization and usability experts, we often find that a website’s navigation can be simplified. By doing this, and creating a hierarchy of content supporting specific sections, we are improving navigation. But we are also creating a relationship which supports the sites linking, an absolutely critical component of SEO.

Ultimately, refinement of your navigation benefits the amount of pages Google and other search engines can locate on your site, allows you to increase your rankings, enhances your sites usability and improves your bottom-line. When you are creating your navigation, or refining an old one, make sure to take your time. In addition, consider the main keywords you are targeting to determine traffic and hub value. The bottom line is think about the end-user and how their experience on your site makes the most sense to find information. In addition, consider what common themes run through your site. This will allow you to accurately determine the correct paths and which links you would like to promote at the top of your navigation hierarchy.

Links pointing internally from the home page and globally on your website play a large role in your SEO success. Make sure your site makes sense from a usability and keyword traffic perspective and you will be a step ahead of many websites online.

 

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Responsive Websites Rank High on Google SERP

Just when you think your web site is up to date, Google changes its algorithm yet again. This last month’s change has Google’s pack of 7 down to a pack of 3 business web sites on the organic search page listing. In addition, addresses and phone numbers have been removed altogether. As you can see, only three web sites are listed for “medical weight loss Las Vegas” and are supposed to be listed based on proximity and relevance of the search. However, these businesses that are listed are not close to my location nor are they weight loss centers. So what does this mean to business owners?

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Well it actually means more than you might think. It means that for you to be even somewhat competitive, you need to update your web site to increase your chances of being in the top three along with staying on the first page of Google’s organic searches. So how do you increase your chances to be in the top three on the local pack of Google? Here are five recommendations:

  1. Your website address is now more important than your phone number. In the new local pack, the address and phone number are removed from the main search result. Instead, the search results show your store hours, reviews and offers a link to the website and directions. Of course, you can still see the spot on the map where your business is, so address is still important. But it’s interesting to note that they make your website URL prominent and not focus on your other contact info. Make sure that your search listings have a Website URL, and it can’t hurt to make sure your hours are filled in too. Also, it’s extremely important for you to make sure Google has your address listed so you come up to the nearest prospect who is looking for your services.
  2. Google is taking away its emphasis on Google+. Google also removed the links to Google My Business pages. This makes Google+ less relevant, which might be a relief to a lot of people who felt forced into creating a Google+ account. In the meantime, it’s still best to keep up with your Google+ pages while we wait and see what The Big G chooses to do next with their social media service.
  3. It’s going to be even harder for a local business to rank here. While we always want to be as high as possible in search results, now it’s even harder. As you can see on the example above, there is A LOT of local competition in our area for the medical weight loss industry. I would be willing to bet that it’s similar in most other industries. This means that the majority of businesses won’t be listed on the local pack of Google. My prediction is that customers will rely less on this first page as a result. They might get into the habit of expanding the local pack to see all 20 top results, or looking in a different area for local results. People like options! If this happens, businesses will not place such an emphasis on ranking locally. Of course, it could be the exact opposite – competition for that 3 pack could greatly increase. In that situation, only the best, most relevant sites will prevail.
  4. It’s more important than ever to make sure your website is optimized. As you can see, Google is not going to slow down any time soon in aiming to give people the most relevant search result possible. This means that it is extremely important to make sure your website is helpful, mobile-responsive, complete, and relevant.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 5.09.04 PM
  5. Adding video on your website increases your rankings on Google’s organic searches. As you can see Unicorn’s YouTube channel is helping it come up in rankings on Google’s search engines. It’s not one or the other for testimonials, we recommend both as some prospects may want to read about other patients’ experiences while others may want to hear it. Giving options to your patients is key to success.  As you can see in the screenshot below Unicorn Medical Weight Loss & MediSpa tops the list on the organic search and it’s YouTube video is #4 on the first page of Google’s organic search engine.

Does your website need an SEO facelift? If you think you need to update your site and boost your organic traffic, click on the image below to learn about our website packages.

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Facebook to become the “Holy Grail” of targeting new patients

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and a host of other social networking sites were created for personal use. All of these companies require revenue to operate so it’s been interesting to watch them pick and choose their revenue path. Like any perilous journey, if you guess wrong on the direction you take your enterprise, it can quickly become obsolete. Do you still have your My Space account?Long term survival for these companies have forced their attentions to “the land of milk and honey”- the world of business and those big juicy ad budgets.

Their big marketing pitch to us business types is compelling. Businesses have spent six decades throwing ad dollars at a big broadcast media wall to see what sticks. Now, social media offers a more refined wall to it throw at. Actually it’s not that bad. The digital media wunderkinds that conjure up new algorithms to create revenue models to sustain their social media companies, are coming tantalizingly close to offering businesses a truly great opportunity to target their advertising dollars.

Social media companies have always had their hands full trying to convince advertisers that their media channels were neither the exclusive domain of attention deficit teens, nor Silicon Valley hipsters. Slowly but surely the important role of social media has taken root in the business community. Social media has become a mainstay in the lives of most consumers including consumers that also happen to be business owners. Hence a comfort level in spending ad dollars on social media, and a downright giddiness at the prospect of getting a message right under the nose of a targeted consumer.

It’s no surprise that Facebook has lead the way in attracting ad dollars. They are perfecting the art of placing your ad in front of prospective customers without the use of cookies like Google uses. Their Custom Audiences feature that they introduced in 2013 allows an advertiser to model the audience by demographics and basic interests. They expanded the feature to allow an advertiser to import a contact database and match emails as well as phone numbers. If you have other data points like age, gender, and interests, simply divide your lists up into those separate groups along with your customized message for each group. And bingo, you have virtually dropped a message onto the Newsfeed of the exact customer in which you intended. (Remember that Facebook gives much higher ad placement to video content.)

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There are certainly other social media channels that are making their mark with ad dollars, but Facebook is probably the whole package for those businesses that want to get on board. If you want to create a social media strategy, call us at 702-682-8300. Start targeting tomorrow’s patients, today!

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Video Testimonials – Most Powerful Marketing Channel

Video is a powerful tool for persuasion. We are now talking, sharing, producing and consuming in a mobile world and video content has a greater impact in all of these areas than anything else. The ease of distributing video content has also resurrected the art of personal persuasion- real people, to whom you can relate, expressing their true feelings about something and suggesting you do the same. There is nothing more powerful than a real satisfied patient, client, or customer expressing themselves to other real people.

 

 

The production is first class, and the message is simple, short, unscripted, and compelling. It meets all of the communication demands of today’s consumers. It is also a component of a larger campaign in promoting Cataract Awareness Month. As part of promoting Cataract Awareness Month on behalf of our client, we are rolling out testimonials on laser cataract surgery that will be distributed throughout the various digital media channels. The above video is one of many that will be used to help with SEO ranking and consistent messaging throughout the digital media channels like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and the web site.

Social media channels are now awash in video content. It was only a matter of technology catching up to our insatiable appetite for moving images. Today we expect to be talked to, entertained by, and persuaded with video. If there is one phrase that optimizes our rules of engagement it’s, “If you want to tell me something, say it, don’t’ write it”. YouTube is a perfect example of how popular videos are used by businesses for messaging. The stats on YouTube alone are staggering.

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  • YouTube has grown to be the largest social media site surpassing Facebook in 2014
  • YouTube has more than 1 billion users
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine behind Google
  • Every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views
  • The number of hours people are watching on YouTube each month is up 50% year over year
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • Half of YouTube views are on mobile devices
  • Mobile revenue on YouTube is up over 100% y/y

 
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With the exception of brands and businesses that cater to millennials, the rest of the world of commerce lags behind their respective markets in the video medium that is the most effective with consumers. I began to approach my medical clients a year ago about integrating video content into their social media marketing. My suggestions weren’t met with reticence as much as a sincere lack of understanding why a video medium would be desirable to market products and services. The reaction lead me to do a bit more research on the web to see how doctors and their practices were using video in the digital world.

Most of the doctors that had a presence on Facebook, You Tube, and on web sites, although positioned professionally, had a remarkably unprofessional quality to them. Many of them were self-produced and consisted of a doctor talking into the little imbedded camera on a computer screen, under florescent lights, and talking at length. I felt like I was sequestered in some digital dungeon being force fed content for CME credits. The lack of quality reflected poorly on them as professionals and they clearly didn’t understand that this was probably their worst foot forward.

Today that’s beginning to change. Medical professionals recognize they are in an ever increasing competitive market that demands authenticity and excellence. Recording rambling video in something that resembles your mother’s basement doesn’t cut it. Consumers expect the highest quality services and products in the field of medicine and they want to hear about it from people like them. Make your happy patients your best sales people.

Creating excellent video messaging is becoming an imperative for marketing success. I would love to help you achieve that. Feel free to contact us at 702.682.8300.

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Getting Real About Your Social Media ROI

Question: What’s as legendary as the Lock Ness Monster, or as allusive as the Publisher’s Clearing House Million Dollar Prize?

Answer: It’s an acceptable ROI on your business’s digital media efforts…or some would have you believe.

While a return on investment for social media would appear to be one of life’s great mysteries, there are a number of ways to wrap your brain around this vexing issue.

Media is media. Businesses have always needed to market, and the same question always arises, “How much money do I have to spend to convince people to buy what I have to sell?” Whether you spend money on traditional media like TV and radio or social media like Facebook and Twitter, you will always be faced with the uncertainty of which ad at what time and place compelled the consumer to become the customer. We must demythologize digital and social media if we are going to alleviate the anxiety and the angst over spending advertising dollars on digital and social media without feeling like we are chasing an imaginary audience. It’s easier than you may think.

It begins by managing your expectations. Understand that successful marketing is an exercise of trial and error. Messages, resources, and social media channels need to be tested constantly. More resources are committed to the formulas that have an acceptable level of response and return, but the testing should continue to keep pace with evolving markets and delivery systems.

The ultimate goal is to get conversions (customers) and keep conversions, but that is the result of a marketing process. The process begins with presenting yourself to your audience and then trying to figure out if they notice you enough to do something about it. Any great salesman will tell you that the secret to selling is to develop a relationship with your potential customer. Until recently every social media marketer was glued to analytics that would tell you how many friends or followers you had. The enthusiasm for those great numbers died quickly when owners realized those indicators weren’t translating into an increase in customers. It turns out we were looking at the wrong thing.

It’s now apparent that meaningful response to social media messaging comes when someone is willing to engage. That engagement takes the form of traveling the next step down the sales funnel, whether that is sharing a post, hitting a recommended link for more information, or actually giving you contact information that you can now use to create that relationship. Now that you know that engagement is the goal, you can make sure that your social media dollars are going towards a strategy that compels the viewer to engage. The more people you have drawn to the step of engagement the greater success you will have in creating a relationship and ultimately making them a customer.

Measuring your Digital and Social Media ROI is not just limited to small business owners. Global marketers both in Europe and America have increasing pressures to prove their worth. The illustration below shows how the digital channels rank in their ability to measure ROI from global marketers.

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newly-released survey [download page] from Econsultancy and Oracle Marketing Cloud that analyzes global marketers’ ability to measure ROI from a variety of digital channels finds that there is only a single discipline that most marketers rate themselves “good” at measuring.

The survey – fielded predominantly among European marketers, who made up three-quarters of the sample – found that 52% of company respondents consider themselves “good” at measuring ROI from paid search (PPC). Similarly, 53% of agency respondents rated their clients’ ability to measure the ROI from paid search as “good.”

No other discipline was able to crack 50% of respondents rating themselves “good” at ROI measurement. In fact, email marketing (for acquisition) was the only other channel for which respondents (both marketers and agencies) were more likely to rate themselves as being “good” than “okay.”

On the other end of the spectrum, just 13% of company respondents rate themselves as “good” at being able to measure the ROI of video advertising, and just 12% of agency respondents agreed with respect to their clients. By one measure, though, content marketing fared even worse: a plurality 43% of company respondents rated themselves “poor” at measuring content marketing’s ROI. That was the only channel of the 19 identified in which more respondents considered themselves “poor” than “okay” (41%) or “good” (16%).

Social media investment also appears to be a pain point, according to marketers and agencies, echoing the sentiments of US CMOs as noted in the study referenced above.

Despite those difficulties, inability to measure ROI is not the primary hindrance to increased digital marketing investments, per the Econsultancy study. Instead, marketers were most likely to say that a restricted budget for all types of marketing prevents more investments in digital, while a lack of staff to make the most of digital investments was the second-most cited barrier. Interestingly, agency respondents see a lack of understanding about digital and company culture as the biggest impediments to clients investing more money in digital.

That’s not to say that there’s not money flowing to digital marketing, though. Instead, this latest annual study finds digital marketing budget expectations to be at their highest point since the survey’s inception in 2010, as 77% of respondents plan spending hikes this year, up from 71% in last year’s survey. Of note, 71% of company respondents agree that it has become easier to secure boardroom buy-in for increased digital marketing budgets, an increase from 64% last year.

warkprofileprofessionalSocial media marketing and the results of that marketing shouldn’t be a great mystery. Put together a plan (or find someone that can do it for you), commit the proper resources to executing the plan, and execute the plan knowing that you have invested wisely in something that’s real…not a legend.  Call me today to create a marketing plan that is tailored for your business. 702.374.1944

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A License to Succeed

In my last blog, a couple of weeks ago, I commented on how rewarding it was to be part of the licensing and exam boards in the dentistry profession. A license to practice in the medical field is a precious commodity. It is the result of tremendous resources spent over many years and rigorous training.

These are career preparations that few of us in the business world will ever choose to face on our path to success. I have a well-earned MBA, and while that is an attractive achievement in some client’s eyes, seldom do they ask me at what school was it earned. But we are genuinely interested in where are doctor or dentist got their degree. Could you imagine ever getting the response, “The school of hard knocks”?

While the world is full of successful business people who are self-made and are not required to present themselves to others to be judged competent or worthy, there is an important lesson that we can learn from that dynamic.

Outside of a handful of professional services that must undergo a state licensing procedure and its accompanying oversight, you don’t have to be licensed to go out there and make a living. That unfettered independence will on occasion make even the best boss insular and tin-eared. After all, unless you have partners or run a public company you don’t have to answer to anyone. The office suggestion box, as anachronistic as it now seems, was as close as most owners ever got to the fiery pool of accountability.

It really is refreshing to play a part in a profession where its members submit themselves to rigorous examinations, rules, procedures, and licensing in order to ensure that they and their profession deliver the highest quality service possible. Now that’s accountability-willing to face criticism from their peers and even discipline. The system works and the professions flourish.

warkprofileprofessionalPerhaps a softer form of this could be gently applied to the rest of us. When you open yourself and your management team to suggestions (or even, God forbid, constructive criticism) from your peers and your employees you can’t help but run a better ship.

Have you created ways to hold yourself accountable, in order to improve yourself professionally? I would appreciate hearing about it. You can email me at lmwark@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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Accountability Counts in Building Your Brand

 

One of the great privileges that I have had over the last several years is too serve as the Public Member on the Nevada Board of Dental Examiners , and nationally, on The Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA). Both boards serve the dental profession as essential professional institutions of accountability and quality control. Last week I was nominated by the CDCA to be the Chairman of the Public Advocacy Committee, with responsibilities to help communicate to other public members in other states about their roles in observing licensing examinations.

A Public member exists on every state dental board as a voice to represent the perspective of those not employed in the profession. Until I was appointed by the Governor of Nevada almost seven years ago, the closest I ever got to the dental profession was a good teeth cleaning every so often. But that is the whole idea of having a public member; somebody who can be part of the process, offering feedback and participating in the process of making dentistry an important partner in the health and welfare of the citizens of Nevada.

Dentists are highly schooled, highly trained medical professionals who, by virtue of the requirements of their state licensing, must hold themselves accountable to their peers and the public. As someone who has spent all of her adult life in the entrepreneurial environment of small business, I can’t tell you how strange it would be to go to work every day knowing that if I made a mistake or wasn’t up to par, I would have to answer to my peers or even my customers.

An added benefit of licensing often escapes medical professionals – the power of branding. Licensing creates an official quantifiable benchmark that is recognized by both peers and the public. There is also the added opportunity for many physicians to become board certified in specialized areas. This presents a powerful branding opportunity not available to other businesses. But medical professionals are slow to grasp the marketing advantage that they have even within their own specialties.

The digital world has given consumers an even easier opportunity to seek out the medical professionals that they will patronize. They are making their decisions based on what people are saying in their social media posts, but also what practices are saying about themselves. You have worked hard to be licensed, achieve certifications, and elevate the reputation of your practice. Don’t make it a secret! The wide world out there wants to know why you are “better” than the competition. They are going to make their choices predicated on what you are willing to tell them.

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Building your brand is not about bragging, but it’s not about false modesty. No doubt you have spent much treasure, time, and perspiration on licensing and certifications. Consumers care about that, and now expect you to tell them about that.

Have you created ways to hold yourself accountable, in order to improve yourself professionally? I would appreciate hearing about it. You can email me at lmwark@gmail.com. Talk to an experienced marketing professional as to the best way to brand “your best foot forward”. Folks outside your doors are potential patients, clients, and customers waiting to find out if it’s worth coming in.

 

 

 

 

 

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Important Role of a Website design company in your Online Presence

In an era where people are relying on the internet for the majority of their work, a business website has an important role to play. It acts as a means through which people connect and access your products and services over the web world as per their needs.

As the internet is flooded with hosts of similar businesses, you will have to make your self as an exception as, this is the only way you can attract customers towards your online services. Therefore, the role of a website design company is beyond one’s imagination in today’s techno-savvy era.

warkprofileprofessionalIt takes a lot more than just effort to come up with a unique website design and a good web designing company will always have highly skilled and passionate IT specialists working with them. Each one of the expert is well aware of the likes and dislikes of the customers therefore, it is highly unlikely that they will produce an inefficient design for your company.

Besides being aesthetically sound, the website should also be easily accessible and completely functional; so the years of experience of a good website design company proves to be quite beneficial. They also understand how important it is to stay updated therefore, whenever they begin the design of a website they make sure that the very latest and optimal strategy is used in the designing process.

Website is the reflection of your business over the giant internet world and you will never want your image to be poor and unprofessional before your valuable customers. So, hiring a good designing company should be your first preference when starting your endeavor over the web world.

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It’s Time to Talk

Talk is cheap, but a good talk is priceless. We are social beings. We crave communication but we tend to eschew it at all wrong times…like when it’s most needed.

It’s tough enough to be a poor communicator in private life, but in the long term it’s a recipe for failure to be one in the business world. A typical small business with employees is a multi-layered organism. The only way this organism can thrive is if there is meaningful communication between all of the layers and between the employees that inhabit these layers.

photodune-567166-time-to-talk-sOne of the more puzzling things I find as a business consultant is why good communication is even absent when it’s in a person’s best interest. A colleague spoke to me last week about a project where the managers where having quality control problems with a vendor. The managers knew that the standard operating procedure for this problem was to immediately notify the vendor as well as the COO of their company, but nobody did. They just suffered in silence for a week before saying anything. If they had just spoke up and brought it to the attention of all parties they would have avoided what was daily frustration and a loss of productivity.

warkprofileprofessionalMany of my clients over the years have been in the medical profession. Communication problems can be particularly acute because of the interaction between highly trained medical professionals, a rigid regulatory environment, and the sensitivity of dealing with patients. If people aren’t effectively communicating between themselves and their patients, there is more at stake than the success of the practice. Fixing this problem is a process, because you are dealing with behavioral characteristics. Don’t be afraid to create a structure help this along. Here are a few ideas in how to start the process.

Put it on the Calendar-Schedule a regular time every week for managers and employees to speak with each other, and an opportunity for an interdepartmental meeting with the boss. At least everyone will be together once a week for the expressed purpose of expressing themselves.

Don’t be Vague-When making a specific request, make the “who, when, and where” very clear.

Face-to-Face-Improving interpersonal communication skills requires fewer emails and more personal communication. If you have something important to tell an employee, good or bad, do it in person, and do it in an un-distracting environment.

Customer Care-Lack of communication is the number one complaint of clients. Things get busy and hectic and clients can become a second thought. Use a customer management system that will remind your employees when to reach out to speak and listen. If needed, create a script for your employees to get them used to saying the right things at the right time.

Don’t Reward the Gossip-make it clear that the cheapest talk is gossip. Managers have the ability to assist in shaping the work environment by creating disincentives for troublemakers and employees who cannot conduct their speech in an encouraging and productive way. Don’t let these employees poison the business.

These are places to start. Ultimately much of the needed change is attitudinal, and is going to have to come from within the employee. Creating a framework for this change will get your workforce in the habit of communicating better and that’s a great way to start the process.

 

 

 

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Love Hate Relationships

warkprofileprofessionalAs a business owner at some time, (or many times), you will have an “I can’t stand the human race” kind of a day. It’s all about the love/hate relationship we have with colleagues, customers, employees, vendors, ourselves, etc. Regardless of the business you are in, you are in a people business. Even if you are running an e-commerce site out of your mother’s basement, you at some point are going to have to talk to a live human being.

When we talk about a “people business” it’s almost always within the context of customers and sales. But the success of your organization begins with the people on your side of the counter. We all have a tendency to keep our focus on the till and take everything else for granted. There are a lot of moving parts that make that cash register ring. When it doesn’t ring as often as it should, start at the front and work your way back.

Not only do we want more customers, we want to keep the customers we have. Good customer service is a combination of having the right customer service people, and having the right customer service systems and processes. You can have wonderfully friendly employees dealing with customers, but if they aren’t up to speed on all of your products and services, company policies, and office systems then customer service suffers. All of these components need to be drilled into front line employees on a daily basis. Good employees will embrace the rigors of this blocking and tackling, and the bad ones will chafe at it. Get rid of the chafers. Even your best employees will have a love/hate relationship with customers, but they will always remember that the customer is always right.

team_killers_slideIf this is all foreign to your employees, who in the world is in charge of that department and how come they haven’t been trained properly? Is the person that you hired as a manager or supervisor the right person? Did you make the age old mistake of using tenure as the main criteria for turning an employee into a manager? A competent manager should be the ultimate “people person”. They should ensure that the employee in their care is trained and equipped to be the best that they can be. A manager worth their salt will be organized, even in the most harried situations, because they will have the maturity to adapt systems and processes to practically any situation. After all, why should you be spending your time as an owner constantly putting out fires and reacting to everything?

Your manager should be an excellent communicator. They should be able to express their praise, correct, and admonish employees in a constructive manner. They should have the confidence to express themselves in a constructive way with you too. Will a good manager have a love/hate relationship with employees? Sure, if your manager isn’t a robot. A good manager will always be prepared for irregular ops, and irregular employees.

I think you are starting to see a pattern here. Success in your business is often manager-centric. If you hire the right managers, equip them to do their jobs, and get out of their way you should see it manifested in retained customers, great word of mouth, and increased sales. You will also find that your marketing dollars go farther.

Making changes at the managerial level is like getting a root canal; painful but necessary. I suppose that’s why we have a love/hate relationship with our dentists…and just about everyone else.

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