Taking a Step Back To Consider Our Wildly Important Business GOAL in 2015 !

“When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God.”                     1 Corinthians 10:31

As we swing into gear for yet another year of business, I thought it might be useful to pause for just a few minutes and consider what could or should be our WILDLY IMPORTANT GOAL for our businesses in 2015.

Yes I understand that you may have already sat down with your senior management team to write down your company objectives and key results for your business.  If so, kudos to you! The Bible has a number of references and reasons that certainly urge us to make careful plans for our businesses.

  1. Business planning helps us to be better stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to us as senior leaders of our companies.
  2. If we don’t consciously set business goals, then we are really just admitting that our goal is to keep things just the way they are today in our business.
  3. Setting goals can stretch our faith. Rick Warren says that goals affirm that we trust God and even how much we trust God to act on our behalf. The bigger the goal we set the more we have to rely on His help to achieve it.
  4. Setting goals help us to really focus our energy. You won’t have any real impact if you focus your business efforts in too many directions. ( I have seen many companies set way TOO MANY Goals! In a given year)

Even if you have already set your goals, have you stopped to consider if God can bless and then actually help you to accomplish in your business?  Rick Warren believes that God can bless,  “Any goal that causes you to trust Him more, to depend on Him more, to love Him more, to love other people more, to serve God and to serve others.”

Please note that these goals can not be motivated by selfish reasons or by greed, fear or pride!   He just won’t bless a business based on those foundations.

If you took one big step back and asked what is the main motive behind each of our Company business goals, what would you say? Not just the immediate business reason, but the reason behind the reason.  Hopefully, each of our goals will pass through the filter that they honor and glorify God.  If not, you may need to go back and modify them.

A few years back one our CEO Institute Members owned a software business. Their revenues were about $10 million a year and their net profits were about $4 million a year. From a strictly business perspective, this was surely a superlative business performance!  They were certainly ethical and honest people. However, there was no focus at all by the senior leadership team about honoring God through the business.  When they sold the Company for $50 million, they certainly had a lot of money in the bank, but they likely obtained their entire reward here on earth at the expense of accruing any eternal rewards!

Hopefully each of us can set goals for our business that God can bless and reward both on a temporal and an eternal basis.

So now let’s talk about our goals and our motives in our own companies.

                                                    Discussion Questions

  1. Have you set any business goals at this time for 2015? If not, why not? If so, what are they?
  1. What are the real motives behind the goals that you and your team have set for your enterprise in 2015 ?

3.   Do each of your business goals honor or glorify God in a direct or even indirect way? Are they goals that God can bless?

4.   Do the business goals you have set require God’s help or involvement in order to see them be realized or can you accomplish them in your own strength?

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Attend Our Presentation on Getting Lean in 2015

As the holidays approach it gets harder and harder to say no to all of the delicacies that are thrust at us at Christmas parties, family celebrations and the annual Company Christmas Party.  As we succumb to all of the foodie temptations, our belts gradually get tighter and tighter until we reach the point on January 1st where we need to make a NEW YEARS RESOLUTION to GO LEAN and drop the unneeded pounds !

So in an effort to help our CEO Institute Members and Guests improve their stewardship in their companies and dramatically increase their profits , we will be discussing Principles of Lean Office & Administration at our January 2015 Faith & Business Forums at The CEO Institute.

Topics Include:

1.  How to reduce paperwork processing time by up to 90%.

2. How to improve On Time performance  by up to 90%.

3. How to reduce administrative errors  by up to 50%

4. How to reduce work in process can be reduced up to 90%.

 

Frank Groentemann, Senior Consultant at TMAC

Frank Groentemann, Senior Consultant at TMAC

Our Guest Presenter is Frank Groentemann, Senior Consultant at TMAC. Frank and his teammates have extensive experience in helping companies all around the state to reduce waste in their operations which directly increased their profits !

Dates: Jan. 14th, 15th and 22nd at 9:00 a.m.

Meeting locations will vary by date.

If you are a senior business executive in a Dallas Fort Worth privately held company, and you would like more information about attending one of these lean office presentations, please call Lane Kramer, President, The CEO Institute for more information at 214-890-9925.

Also see http://www.ceoinst.com

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Creating a Culture of Customer Service Excellence- By Lane Kramer

If you are a Christian business leader, have you given any thought recently to the level of customer service that your Company truly offers to your Customers?  Have you asked yourself, would you do business with your Company?

Let me present you with some surprising statistics.  91% of dissatisfied customers never buy from companies in the future.  It will cost your Company 5x more effort and money to attract a new customer than it does to retain and sell to an existing customer.  Finally, the level of your own customer’s satisfaction is directly proportional to your own employee’s satisfaction.  With those factoids in mind, when is the last time you surveyed your customers to find out their level of satisfaction with your Company?

Here are some GREAT questions to ask your Customers:  1) What is your number one expectation of your firm in doing business with us? 2) What are the top three reasons that your Company does business with our firm? 3) How likely are you to refer us to another company based on your customer experience with us?

If you ask these questions on a continuing basis, you are likely to detect any customer dissatisfaction while it is in a manageable stage.  However, once a customer decides to leave, it is VERY difficult to convince them to keep doing business with your company.

Another really enlightening exercise to perform is to list your top ten customers and how much revenue and profit do they generate.  Besides each customer name, score them as In Danger of Leaving,  There is a risk they may leave, and Everything is Okay with the relationship. Obviously some customer service triage will need to be applied to those categories in the first rating category.

Now I will make a really surprising statement to you: Customer perception of your service delivery will almost never be differentiated by WHAT you do. In most industries, the competitors offer roughly the same kinds of services.  Quality service is more about HOW you do what you do. If your Company really has a culture of service excellence, you will have created a truly differentiated experience in the minds and hearts of your customers.

At the core of great customer service there are two main dimensions. PROCEDURES  ( what systems and processes do you have to deliver your products and services. )The second dimension is PERSONAL  tThis is HOW do your service delivery people interact with the Customers?  Companies that offer truly fabulous customer service have BOTH a high level of well defined procedures and have a high level of personal attention.  In other words, “We both Care AND we Deliver!”

If you take away just one point from this article it is this !  Your intent in serving your customers is always visible. If you have a sincere heart to SERVE your customers and help them be successful, they will see that in you and your team members and this will draw them to do business with you and your company.  Mark 10:43 says this ” but whoever wishes (INTENT) to become great among you shall be your servant.”  So if you want to have a culture of great customer service, then hire a team of people with servants hearts!

Earlier in this article I commented that your customers will only experience great customer service to the extent that your employees are highly satisfied. So don’t look over the heads of your employees in order to focus exclusively on your customers. FIRST you have to care for your employees and meet their needs. They have to feel that you are FOR their success! Then you have to give them the tools in order to allow them to serve your customers extraordinarily well.

Here is one final insight to share with you that may surprise you. Every decision we make is emotionally made but logically supported. Just think back to the last three significant purchasing decisions you made. Did you make the decision first on logic or did were the primary reasons more emotional in nature. If you accept that fact, then quality service is viewed by your customers based 1st on emotional perception then supported by their logical rationale.

So is your customer service delivery system set up to make your customers have both trust and confidence in your Company?  Then once you have won their trust and confidence then focus on providing great value and minimizing the risk of doing business with your firm ( not following through on the service promise)

( Part of the Content from this article was provided by a recent presentation by Donald Jones to the Members of The CEO Institute at our November Faith & Business Forums.)

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Ten Characteristics of Great Business Leaders

                       Ten Characteristics of Great Business Leaders

           By Lane Kramer, President, The CEO Institute, http://www.ceoinst.com

Recently I reflected on the characteristics of the best leaders whom I have met through The CEO Institute over the past 23 years. Here are ten characteristics I believe exemplify the profile of great business leaders:

  1. Are able to develop a clear and compelling vision of where they want their organization to go and are able to articulate it in such a way that their associates fell compelled to help see that vision realized.

2. Have an intense desire to see their customers be successful. They are for their customers well     being and have a strong service ethic.  They are focused on way more than just the profits that their customers generate. They genuinely want to have their customers businesses and lives be greatly enhanced through their association with their company.

3. Are able to recognize and attract top talent to the company because top talent is the ultimate competitive differentiator in any business.

  1. Place an appropriate balance between growing profits and growing people. They don’t grow profits at the expense of people. They grow people who can then grow appropriate profits for the business. Show Ideal Impact quotation.

5.  Have a strong desire to help their work associates be all that God created them to be professionally and personally. They delight in the successes of their colleagues and helping them to achieve things their associates never thought possible in their work and personal lives.

6. Don’t expect more out of their people than they themselves are willing to invest in the Company. They respect the fact that their employees have interests outside of the business and don’t expect that their employees put their entire focus and energy on the business. They don’t ask their employees to do things that they aren’t willing to do themselves.

7. Great leaders are willing to share the profits of the business with their colleagues based on the behaviors and results accomplished by their employee teams. They also look to reinvest profits back into the communities they serve and not use the profits to enrich the shareholders. They realize that they are stewards of the business that God has entrusted to them to run and that one day they will have to provide a stewardship report.

8. Great leaders are connected to God and recognize their dependence on God for His grace, mercy, love and wisdom. They know that they are not self made men or women but are dependent on their creator for their ultimate success in business and in life.

9. Great leaders place an appropriate balance between short term and long term results. They don’t just maximize short term profits by underinvesting in the business. They understand that running a business is a marathon and not a sprint and that they must give the business every opportunity to be successful over the long term, even beyond their watch.

10. Great leaders are humble people. Although they have a right view of themselves and their skills and abilities,  they are still very humble because they realize that any lasting results attained in the company will be realized not just by the leader but through the contributions of an entire team of talented, committed, hard working people.

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Who Are YOU Going To Listen To ?

                                                               Who Are YOU Going to Listen To?

                                                                             By Lane Kramer

     Recently, I picked up a new car at an out of town dealership.  The car came equipped with a GPS system. When it came time to drive back to Dallas, I punched in my home address and listened for the instructions on how to proceed.  I did not have a physical map so I was completely dependent on an outside source of navigation to get home safely.

     Very soon a very nice, warm, and professional female voice came on line saying, “turn left on Jarus Street and proceed .5 mile and turn left on Highway 67”. I started to follow her instructions because she came from a very credible source- the manufacture’s GPS System. However, as I pulled on to Highway 67 I felt a check in my spirit. I remembered that two different CEO Institute Members said that the best way to get back to Dallas was to take Interstate 35.

     I pulled off to the side of the road and whipped out my Apple IPhone.  Many times in the past when I had been either lost or did not know the way home, I would ask Siri how to get home. She had for the most part been a very loyal and truthful source navigation.  So once again I said “Siri, what is the route to take to get to 54 Crenshaw Court in Dallas, TX? Shortly thereafter Siri told me to turn left to get on I35 going south.

     So now I had a full fledged dilemma on my hands. Two different credible sources were telling me to take two very different routes home.  The consequence of my decision would determine my fate over the next eight plus hours. Hmm, to whom am I going to listen ? For a few moments I hesitated.  But then that inner voice spoke to me and said follow the course suggested by your trusted CEO Institute Members. They always tell the truth ! I made a conscious decision to let Siri be my guide the rest of the way home.

     I made a conscious decision to turn off the navigation system on my new car and follow a different voice.

    Don’t we run into similar dilemmas like this in businesses too? We constantly have tough decisions to make and we have competing voices vying for our attention, our resources and time. So we constantly have to make decisions on who do we trust and who do we listen to hear wisdom and truth? In greatly simplified terms there are two main voices vying for our attention. One voice can be really seductive trying to get us off the path and make decisions that may be contrary to God’s will for us. It is the voice of the world beckoning us to chase money, power, position, and SELF! It can be a really seductive voice at times and we may end up following this voice because it sounds so good and often very credible. This voice greatly appeals to our flesh and frankly it sounds like a lot of fun!

     The other voice usually is a lot quieter, does not demand our attention, and at times can be harder to discern. The voice is not usually audible. It more likely comes as an impression, a leading or a strong feeling. It is a voice that we have to search out. It is God’s voice and Jesus says that His sheep know the sound of His voice and will follow Him.

     So how do I hear this voice of truth and how can you hear it too? For me, it is critical to spend time reading several different daily devotionals written by some Top Gun authors like Tony Evans, Rick Warren, Greg Laurie, and the good folks at Our Daily Bread. God speaks to me through the words of these authors and the Scriptures that accompany them. Then I also need to just flat out have some prayer time with my jaws shut tight! I am trusting in these times of silence that God is somehow speaking to my spirit and fueling me with wisdom, discernment, knowledge and understanding for that day.

     Then I also listen to my trusted, Spirit filled advisors. Two very important ones are my wife Melody and my daughter Allison. Yes believe it or not, my 23 year old daughter has provided old Dad with some very great wisdom regarding business situations over the years. I also have four guys from my Church that I meet with almost every Friday morning for an hour of discipleship and spiritual accountability.  When I had an important business decision to make recently, I called a War Council after our regular session and outlined my situation. I felt God was speaking to me directly from the council I received that morning.

     Finally, I have several other go to business people whom I know care about me and will always speak the truth in love to me, even when I may not want to hear it !

      So here is my challenge to you as a senior business executive. What voice or voices are you listening to right now? Be assured that Satan would love to feed you with mistruth, half truths and no truth. He will say anything to you to get you off the path that God has for you.  It is pretty easy to be deceived because he is a very good liar! However, if you are really plugged into God, have surrendered yourself to the leading of the Holy Spirit and are obedient to do what He shows you to do, you will make the right decisions almost every time and walk in a way that is highly pleasing in your Father’s sight. Please remember the choice as to which voice to follow is yours and yours alone!

                                                        Discussion Questions

  1. What voice are you listening to right now? What is the source of that voice?
  2. How do you know that you are listening to the right voice in order to make God honoring decisions at your place of work, worship and home life ?
  3. Can you think of a situation you are now facing where you are hearing two different voices ?

 

About The Author:  Lane Kramer is Founder and President of The CEO Institute, a Dallas, TX based Company that helps senior Christian business executives to grow highly successful and spiritually significant enterprises. See http://www.ceoinst.com

 

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Who Is Your Real Source?

                                                     By Lane A. Kramer

Recently, I met with a local Christian businessman in Dallas who proceeded to tell me that his business had run out of cash.  He had violated the cardinal rule in business, “Thou Shall Not Run Out of Cash.”  As CEO of his business, he was ultimately responsible for monitoring the inflow and outflow of cash in the business so that his business never ran out of cash.

The situation reminded me of the scriptural admonition (Proverbs 27:23, “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herd.”) For whatever reason, he was not paying close enough attention to the timing of when cash was coming in and going out of his business. The Company was already fully drawn on their line of credit at the Bank.

As a result, this President had to go to his earthly Father to ask for a cash infusion. Fortunately for the CEO, his Dad was gracious and understanding and wrote a check to give the company sufficient liquidity to pay its short term bills. However, had his Dad said NO, the company would not have been able to make payroll !

From time to time all of us will find ourselves in a jam, either one we caused or the result of someone’s else’s doing. So what are we to do? Fortunately, for Christians we have one to whom we can turn for every resource we will ever need in order to run our companies the way God wants them to be run.  That is not to say that God will always bail us out from our foolish decisions that have put us in a real bind!

However, we know that our Heavenly Father is a good and gracious Father who is merciful and gracious to His family Members. (Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”)  We can go to our Father in humble dependence and ask Him for what we really need, even when we find ourselves in a pickle!  In fact this dependence on God is the way He wants our relationship with Him to be.  He wants us to depend on Him at all times not just when we find ourselves in a pickle!

In our companies we might ask to give us a certain new customer or a particular new building, when He really knows that we need something else! He does not want to provide what is good but instead what will be BEST for our companies. We can maintain that quiet confidence, that He will provide what we need, when we need it, and in just the right fashion to run our companies in a God honoring way. 

So the next time you have a need in your business, will you first turn to your banker, an employee,  a vendor  or your own flesh, or will you start by going to your Heavenly Daddy and ask Him in quiet confidence to be your true Source?

                                               Discussion Questions

  1. 1.     When did you recently find yourself in NEED in your business and what did you do in that situation? Did you try and meet your need in your own strength or did you take your need to God 1st?

 

  1. 2.     Can you think of a time when you went to God with a business need and He answered your prayer request in a far better way than what you asked for?

 

 

  1. 3.      Why are we often hesitant to go to God with our business or personal needs?

 

 

 Lane A. Kramer, is President of The CEO Institute, www.ceoinst.com and also Founder & President of a workplace ministry called At Work On Purpose- North Texas. http://www.atworkonpurpose.org/northtexas/

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Can Jesus Really Make a Difference In Your Business?

                                   Does Jesus Really Make a Difference In Your Business?

                                                                   By Lane A. Kramer

     Last evening I went down to the Dallas County Jail with a couple of Christian buddies of mine to pray for and with the people in the jail. No, we did not see and pray for any of the prisoners. Rather we prayed for friends and family members coming down the hallway after they had gone to see their loved ones who were behind bars.

     As people walked down the hall, we would just smile at them and ask them if they needed any prayer.  It was really quite interesting to see the diverse reactions of the people. Some just walked by while shaking their heads no. Other said no I am in a big hurry.  A few said “No habla English and kept walking. However, about one third of the people came over and said yes please pray for me and my loved one behind bars.

     Wow, you talk about a rich time of spiritual connection!  These were people with serious burdens whose loved ones who had either committed or were accused all kinds of crimes. They were missing their husbands, brothers, sons.  Despite the fact that we did not know them they were quite candid in telling us what we could pray about for them.  When we were done holding their hands while praying , you could see a big smile on their face, they thanked us profusely and you could see that they felt greatly blessed by the presence and the power of the Lord.

     So you may be saying, Lane, that is a nice story but what a trip to the Dallas County Jail have to do with me as a business person?  Well I believe there are several distinct parallels and please let me illustrate them for you.  Every Christian business leader constantly has all kinds of challenges, problems, storms and yes even perplexing opportunities facing them at work.  And as human beings with a fallen nature, yes we even bear the stain of sin on our lives at times

     What I have observed about many Christian business executives is that despite their work dilemmas and challenges, they are “too busy” to stop and seek wisdom from the scripture, spend time praying to God, and building their relationship with the most able business consultant on the entire planet! Although they might still be feeling guilty about yelling at their executive assistant they just want to pretend that the guilt feeling will just go way with a little time. They are just like many of the people who walked by us at the jail who were in such a BIG HURRY that they had no time to ask God to work in their lives.

     Here is a case in point. While I was taking a walk at 6:30 a.m. one day this week, I saw my neighbor who is a COO of a major real estate company, driving down the street on his way to the office. I could not help but wonder if he had taken the time to fill up his spiritual tank and release his cares and burdens to the Lord that morning.  Or was he on the way to “man handle” his business challenges in his own strength? Only God knows for sure.

     However, just like the people at the jail who had really heavy hearts, really wise business executives realize that the burden of running a business is just too great to do it by themselves. They KNOW they need the help of Jesus in the form of His wisdom, guidance, provision, peace and love and mercy and yes forgiveness!  They also understand that this help just does not come by osmosis.  The help we need from God happens best when we make regular spiritual pitstops to fill up our spiritual tanks and receive what we truly need that day straight from the heart of God.

      But does this prayer business really work? Last night one of the family members walked past us. Then she stopped and doubled back and a BIG SMILE came across her face. She then exclaimed, “You know that prayer you said for me last week? Well it’s working. Things are really starting to happen!  Can I give you a HUG ? I really appreciate your prayers!”  All I can tell you is that woman and her loved one had been touched by the grace, mercy, love and power of The Lord Jesus Christ.   Nobody else could have done for her what He did as a result of the prayer from the prior week.

     Well Mr. or Ms. Business person if you are still not convinced that Jesus is up to the task of helping you to make wise decisions, solve complex business problems, and  bring peace out of chaos at the office, would you please give Him a try and let Him show you that He is really who He says He is?  Would humble yourself,  get down on your knees, worship Him, share your needs with Him and see if you don’t see His power and might flow into your situation?  I am not saying that if you do this, that your problems will disappear immediately, but I believe that you will start to see His power flow into your knottiest situations and He will show you that He alone is the one who can truly meet all of your needs.

     Lane Kramer is The President & Founder of The CEO Institute in Dallas, TX ( see www.ceoinst.com)  and also Founder of At Work On Purpose- North Texas. 

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