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August 2007
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October 2007

September 2007

Affiliation programs - do they work?

Our Blog-Studio blog has affiliation links to Reason? Both Lesley and I work with the typepad software for our own blogs and 'simple logic' dictates that we show our students how to create a blog with the software program we're most experienced with.

Reports from most of our students is that the blog program works a treat and makes it easy for them to 'launch' themselves into the blogoshpere.

Last week Hugh Hollowell (A Political Incorrect Entrepreneur) also talked about affiliate marketing and how it is starting to work for him.
Of course there are many different affiliate programs around, Google AdSence is perhaps the most known - but one I personally don't really like - too much out of your control. On one of my (former) Squidoo lenses (on wooden flooring) 'readers' were directed to competitors - not something you really want! (Well, I don't.)

During the lunch-meeting with Company Doctor Richard C last Friday we talked about auto-responders, newsletters and FREE advice (givers gain - I give out free advice, you start to trust me = start of a worthwhile and long term relationship between 'supplier' and 'client'). Always in for learning new programs I checked out the website he suggested: AWeber - email and newsletter auto-responder online software. I must say, the webtutorials on the site are great, simple and shows you how user friendly and effective the program can be.

So, for the next week I'll be working with it, adding 'widgets' and sign-up blocks to my various websites etc. High hopes ;-)

AWeber also comes with an affiliations program. I've set-up an account with it, mainly because what I have seen so far shows the owners/makers of the Aweber program are 'my-kind-of-people' when it comes to marketing mentality: building trust.

AWeber Demo


You Hate to Follow Up
Mind if we do it for you? AWeber's unlimited autoresponder follow up increases sales, lowers costs, builds lasting customer relationships, and increases your profits!
Find out how with Unlimited Autoresponders.

Stay tuned for more results, experiences etc I will report on my own progress with the auto-responder software. Plan A is to have readers sign up easier for our monthly newsletter (going out tomorrow - every first Monday of the month, this time using my 'old' program), Plan B is to create our next newsletter through the AWeber software.

Autoresponders by AWeber

Having a 'bal'

Do you have a 'bal' ?
(Not ball, I really mean a bal - but in Dutch that does mean ball, so am I finally talking real double Dutch?)

Business Advice Library?

I have now, and it will be update continuously, because I presumable will never stop reading - three more books on their way, one came with the highest recommendation from The Company Doctor (Robert Cialdini's "Influence: Science and Practice").

Do you have a bal?

Trade magazines - written for...?

Trade magazines, keep you up to date with news from the market you trade in, news of novelties, rewards, case-studies, new products, trade fares or exhibitions etc etc etc.
Plus every magazine is filled with many ads from appropriate suppliers, vying for your attentions and your orders.

But sometimes I do wonder for exactly whom a trade magazine is written. Last month's WLJ (Wood & Laminated Journal - publication of the CFA: Contract Flooring Association, UK) Heavy duty professional Beltsanderfeatured a survey on professional sanding, methods and best tools. Most professionals in our trade use a continuous belt-sander for the best results - very, very heavy sanding machines. Most DIY hire stores however can only supply you with a so-called drum-sander; half the weight of the belt-sander, loose sanding sheets you are supposed to fix very tightly to the drum with a metal bar. If this is not done properly (try doing that with grit 40 - rather coarse and not really pliable) the sander will leave shatter marks on the sanded floor. (Very irritating feature of shatter marks: you only notice them when you apply the new finish to the floor.)

Chatter mark Drumsander with sanding sheets The survey mentions this frequently: use proper professional sanding machines quoting various different professional hire centres, not the drum sander from the DIY hire centres. Whole paragraphs in the survey are dedicated to Chatter-free sanding.

The article that follows right after the survey: "Snag-Free Sanding" - floor sanding techniques and tips of the larger DIY hire centres. Machine used: drum - "shatter mark" - sander!

Really makes you wonder.

Ever wondered what we do - quick guide to installing a wooden floor

Our 'break' last weekend and beginning this week was more a 'work'-break. (Not only did Ton and his nephew install a wooden floor for Ton's sister; I took 'time-off' to re-think our vision-purpose-mission for the coming years - after I was 'dismissed' as the 'not-fit-enough' fitting assistant).

This is what we - well Ton - do for a 'living':
You start with an emptied room

Empty room in Friesland with concrete underfloor

Then you fill the emptied area with as much (professional) tools as you can

Wood You Like's Professional Tools for fitting

Most important: using the correct underlayment for the underfloor your working on and making sure the first few rows are as straight as can be.

First rows of the duoplank oak floor in dining

Working together does help (and wearing  embroidered T-shirts with company name does make a professional impression - Sieger, Ton's nephew didn't want to part with it later on, so we let him keep it ;-))

Ton and Sieger as a well-oiled fitting team

The 'end-result', always nice to see (to be honest, first part of the end-result, the living room part of the open plan ground floor still had to be installed at that time)

Wood You Like's Duoplank Oak Flooring in a Friese dining room

And after a hard days work (the whole 4 hours it took to install the 35 sq m of Duoplank Oak Rustic, brushed and oiled Castle Grey) it's good to discuss the end result with the client, who happily provided some much needed beverages.

Our 'client' Carla and son Sieger admiring the finished Duoplank Oak floor

Lovely job ;-)
(The results of my own 'work'-break are a bit harder to show off, take a while longer to establish themselves and don't come with a 4-seasons guarantee also. Time will tell.)

Expectations, or how I blew a chance to promote our services

We all have expectations on almost everything in life. But specially on how we are going to be treated by businesses.
Sometimes however, our expectations don't match the reality - for better or for worse. And then we're either disappointed or overjoyed. The other side of the coin is of course the expectation of the business owner, rep, sales person etc on his or her client.

Both types are based on experiences, mostly our own or from Word-of-Mouth. We aim to fulfil expectations/have them fulfilled and sometimes we fail dreadfully. As I did last week.

The problem is, our trade - supply and installation of quality wooden flooring - is regarded by some as a 'building' trade, like carpenters, plumbers, conservatory builders etc. That trade is, unfortunately, littered with 'cowboys': promise the world, delivery the minimum - or less - and rip of the client for as much as you can.
It's hard fighting against 'cowboys', but we try.

Back to last week. I received a phone call from a client we'd installed a floor for some months ago, during a time other buildings works were being done too. Our client wasn't happy, the wooden floor looked patchy.
Before I could even start to explain our 4-seasons guarantee on labour my client erupted in, well let's call it 'none to nice sounding comments' on the attitude of trades persons. Cowboys, the lot of them! And we shouldn't expect any recommendations from him too! 
We try very hard with everything to have the level of perception on quality wooden flooring fitters raised and then you're treated like this: tarred with the same brush as all cowboys!

So, in all fairness, I lost it. Became defensive, even angry - about that tar brush, very sticky - and said exactly those things I shouldn't have said. In the end we did make an appointment with the client to check on the floor - which is a normal, standard part of our 4 seasons guarantee - but I fear he won't easily be happy with us.

What I've should have said was something along the lines of:

"I'm under the impression you have been let down badly by trades before or even very recently. Well, we at Wood You Like, pride ourselves on our after service, for your peace of mind we even created our 4-seasons guarantee on labour. Meaning, during the first 4 seasons your floor settles to its surroundings in your home which has its own specific hours-climate, you can call us whenever you think your floor isn't happy.
That's our standard policy, so which date and time would suite you most for us to come and have a look and perhaps even treat the floor with some extra TLC."

Of course, all of the above is always mentioned in our documentation we leave at the client when we've finished the works, plus we send a 'happy reminder' of this 3 to 4 weeks afterwards, but I can image when there are a lot of other building works going on you're not going to pay that much attention to it.

Another lesson learned. Before going into the defensive mode - of course we're no cowboys, how dare you! - I should change the expectations of the client towards the expectations we know he can honestly have from us (and most of our clients have when dealing with us).

Side-note. Writing this epistle I'm not sure if it would count for a contribution to my turtle friend Robert's latest Group Writing Project at MZM "What I learned from Change"

or my contribution - late as ever! - for my Aussie friend Pete Aldin's Great Circle - "How I won the war, or how I'm winning the war on..... - in my case - cowboys.

I think I'll let the 'boys' decide. Should it be worth telling them I have high expectations? ;-)