Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

spirited business advisor

Mi$take$. The le$$on$ we never forget.

FeaturedColleen HanneganComment

Never leave a box of eyeglass frames on top of a trash can. This was a $1000. mistake I made during my first year in business.

“Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.” Pearl S. Buck.

I had just opened a large order of brand new, beautiful designer frames UPS had delivered that morning. As I sorted through the three large boxes, I set one box containing twenty Christian Dior frames aside,on top of the small trash can underneath my front desk. I set about pricing and entering the other two boxes of product while answering the phone and assisting clients at the same time. The day ended before I could complete the order process. I thought of finishing up the order entry but decided to wait until the next morning, not telling my business partner about my plan.

First thing the following morning, I was ready to open the third box and continue pricing and inventory.

I turned towards the spot I’d set the third box. The trash can had not moved, but the box of frames I’d set on it was gone. After ten minutes of  double-checking my work to see if I’d already accounted for the frames yesterday and searching my office for the missing frames, I asked my co-owner if he’d seen the third box and set it aside.

“You mean that empty box that was sitting on top of the trash can?” My stomach was feeling the squeeze of panic.

“It wasn’t empty. It had the rest of the inventory from yesterday’s order, in it! I set it on top of the empty trash can because it was handy while I was going through the order!”

He had taken out all the trash last evening before heading home. The full box on top of the trash, looked no different to him than the boxes of frames I’d emptied and had set aside to discard.

I ran out to the dumpster in hopes  trash pick up hadn’t arrived yet.

No such luck. $1,000 worth of new inventory lay underneath tons of garbage on its way to the dump.

The $1,000 le$$on I learned was so excruciatingly simple it pains me still, 23 years later.

Trash cans hold trash. And don’t ever expect anyone to think differently. Or that co-workers can read your mind.

I made other mistakes over the course of 22 years running my retail business. Everyone’s best lessons are learned from the mistakes we make, than from the victories. Being successful in business means  the victories out number the mistakes! My advice is don’t live in constant fear that you’ll make one, because you will.

“I’ve got to keep breathing. It’ll be my worst business mistake if I don’t.” Steve Martin.

Just pay attention and take your time in handling your daily details.

And breathe.

Remember your P's and Q's

FeaturedColleen HanneganComment

Please and Thank you! For 32 years in store management and ownership of my own optical dispensary, I kept a small, wire-bound notebook at my front desk. In it, I wrote down the name and phone number of every patient who took home a pair of new glasses.( I never counted how many small notebooks I filled in all those years!) It included the type of frame and lenses purchased so when I phoned them a week later to be sure they were happy  and satisfied, I could discuss the details of their purchase.

Sometimes they had a problem with the new prescription, or they were still getting used to the fit, and I would suggest they return for an adjustment or solve an issue over the phone. But 9 out of 10 clients were pleased with their purchase and doubly pleased with the follow up call.

Two things happened.

1.Problems, (if any) were nipped in the bud before they got too big or client became annoyed.

2.The clients second impression with their optical store was as good as their first impression. Somebody was listening to them. And appreciated their business. They felt special.

Every client who referred a friend or family member, received a hand written thank you note with two tickets to the movies or a gift card from Starbucks. Or they were  compensated with a discount on their next pair of glasses. It’s fair to say that thanking my best clients for their loyalty kept me in business during a few lean years. They appreciated being recognized for their support in keeping my business going.

Today we have newsletters and social media, FB, LinkndIn, Pinterest, blogs,  miraid ways of reaching out and keeping in touch with new and potential clients. I watch all things automated in offices today, appointments made on line, customer satisfaction surveys sent to their emails. Quick, quicker, fast, faster, no need to talk to anyone, or ask questions, it’s just you and the keyboard. If you don’t fill out the survey, the eye doctor’s office or retailer you purchased your new running shoes from, won’t know if you are happy with your purchase or not. They will be too busy being automated and SEO experts to want to take time to phone your home. I understand. It’s a bigger world today than when I started back in 1981.

But just in case you want to stand out in a”www” world and you think calling a few clients on the phone and asking about their recent purchase might be an idea whose time has come “back”, don’t be discouraged if they don’t answer the phone. Not many people do anymore. They only want to text.

But go ahead and leave a thank you message anyway. Tell them you appreciate their business and referrals and leave your number. It’s your best positive second impression.

“You glance at an email. You give more attention to a real letter.” Judith Martin “Miss Manners”

Want to see more sales? Create better client relations?

Get your clients attention. Way too many emails out there. Way too few thank you notes!!

Do your employees like working here?

Featured, Spirited WorkColleen HanneganComment

You certainly hope so don’t you! Or maybe you’d be pleased to have their respect and not worry whether they like you or not.

The most valuable possession as a business owner is having employees who LOVE working for you. Next best thing is they LIKE working for you ALOT. Your staff each carry an integral part of the success or failure of your business because of the management style and care you offer them. Are you tuned in to how they feel about working for you? Have you asked each one if they are satisfied with their responsibilities, the management you provide and the total work environment they step into each day?

In his book PEAK, Chip Conley, founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality mentions examples of enlightened companies that are optimizing their relationships with employees while simultaneously generating amazing financial success. To best understand the needs and working conditions of his hotel cleaning staff, Chip spent time making beds and cleaning toilets alongside his staff, listening and watching how best to not only insure rooms were meticulously cared for but to connect with all his employees by understanding their daily job needs. He wanted them to know he recognised their work and valued their contribution. And clean beds and clean toilets (and happy staff) was as important to the success of his company as his ace marketing plans and securing million dollar investors.  Chip took his struggling company from the, post-9/11 economy and grew it into the second largest boutique hotelier in the world.

In his chapter Karmic Capitalism, he offers examples of “The Pursuit of Happiness at Work.” Remember our Declaration of Independence? “Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers rephrased English philosopher John Locke’s dictum of “life, liberty, and property” to something that was a little more karmic. They chose pursuit of happiness to cap their mission statement.”

You can do the same for your company.

If you surrender the fear that keeps you from allowing employees to contribute their ideas. Because what if their idea is better than yours? Or what if they bring attention to a system that is not working before you noticed?

Than you have chosen your employees well.

Why are employees grumbling so often? I’ve listened to employees describe their boss as a “control freak” or someone who hears what you say but doesn’t listen and never remembers to see to requests and needs.

Chip cites examples of other management success. In his book, Joy at Work, Dennis Bakke says most companies haven’t evolved from the industrial mentality of management. He eliminated the stagnant job description and reorganised his company into autonomous teams that were given “unprecedented decision-making flexibility”. Leaders showed trust in the choices their people made and created familylike groups to improve moral and team work throughout the company.

In the Seven-Day Weekend, written by Ricardo Semlar of Semco, based in Brazil shares his management philosophy of questioning all the old paradigms in running a corporation. Semco employees are able to choose their own salaries, set their own hours, and have no job titles. Wow. There’s a radical example of trust in the  potential of capable and motivated employees. No wonder his management practices are considered the most radical in the world. He has grown his company to close to $250 million in annual sales and has almost no employee turnover.

While these large companies may have indeed some radical strategies for assuring employee happiness, they are a good example of creating conscious ideas to insure your staff is motivated, connected and dedicated to being the reason your company succeeds.

Talk to your staff. Think more like a family. Offer opportunities and ideas that encourage their vital contribution.

More important than marketing. More important than one more boring employee meeting. More important than an outdated and uninspired employee manual.

Consider the nature of your employees. Life. Liberty. Their hot pursuit of Happiness. Write that at the top of your new and improved, conscious employee manual.

Them ask them what would make them happy.


Write it down.