Lisbeth Calandrino has been invaluable in my development as an entrepreneur and a human being. Her straightforward ability to tell “it like it is” even when you don’t want to hear it will give you the focus necessary to succeed. Liz has a vast network of professionals across many industries that will guide you in whatever endeavor you choose. My only regret is that I have only known Liz for 2 years. Looking forward to a lifelong relationship because I know the best is yet to come.
Greg Zorian
Founder of
Gregory’s Barbershop
Masters of


If you’re waiting for someone to do it for you, you will be waiting a long time. I still keep hearing people say, when will the economy turn around, when will things get better? I think I heard some job reports today that were dismal. I recently read that architects were experiencing new trends, smaller houses and new interest in historic neighborhoods. If you’re in the new housing business than the trend of smaller houses just throws salt on the wound. If you’re into renovations, then maybe the trend is good news. There are several questions to ask yourself, the first one being: are you in the right business? With the baby boomer consumers changing their shopping habits, buying different things, it leaves many businesses trying to determine what they should be selling. What’s happened to the primary consumer eventually happens to all consumers. As they age their priority shifts. Rather than needing a new house they need a new shoulder, knee or someone to take them to their chiropractor. This is predictable, people get old. Unfortunately the baby boomer never thought they would get old. The baby boomer was also the richest, best educated and the ones with the biggest credit lines; businesses never thought they would go away.

Well they’re going away; by the way, it was predictable. If you didn’t see it coming, you weren’t looking. It’s not all about the economy-stupid it’s also about the consumer-stupid.

So instead of waiting for something to happen, let’s make it happen. Let’s understand our new customers, affectionately known as Gen X and Gen Y, understand who they are, how they get information and build your businesses around them. You can certainly wait out the Boomer but you will have to be prepared to change your product lines to meet their needs. Can your business make these changes or are you patiently waiting for the Gen X and Gen Y to rise to the buying occasion. You’ve probably picked up the hint that that they don’t seem to have as much money as their parents, have different priorities and get their product information in a different way. This is the bunch that is ‘friending’ everyone on Facebook, planting on Farmville and vying for the Mayor of the local convenience store on Foursquare. By the way, I wonder when my spell check will catch-up with the times and ‘friending’ will become an acceptable dictionary word?

So we’re back to one of the most important concepts of business, who’s your customer? Another important concept, do you have the right products for your customer? My father, who was an amazing man, once told me that having a product to sell wasn’t as important as having a customer who would buy it! I remember when I was a furniture-buyer and I learned this lesson the hard way. On my first buying-trip I remember all the wonderfully new things I saw and how good I thought they would look in our showrooms. Not knowing my customers very well, I thought that my taste was not only the best taste but of course it would be loved by all. What an awakening! Many of those things either wound up in my house or in the corner with big sale tickets. You see, I didn’t have the right customer for my products. It was an expensive lesson, but I didn’t have to learn it more than once. It was either buy for the customers I had or figure out how to get new ones or get a new job.

Ask yourself the questions, is my business in or out? Can I make the changes to keep my business profitable? How long do I want to stay in business and are my business practices sound enough for me to remain profitable? This is a good time to ask yourself these questions, or maybe it’s time to fold up your tent and go home. Maybe this is the beginning of an exciting new time for your business. New strategies lead by social media and new customers with new ideas and priorities.

For those of you who care to move forward this is an exciting time; a time to reinvent yourself and your business. There are no rules for the new economy, no precedence for what will happen. There’s just you and your desire to develop something new. If you want it to happen you will really have to kick your own butt.

“In conflict, decide if you want to be right or make it work. Then act like it. Remember no one likes to wrong.”


Customer Service Secret Number One

The most important thing you can do is build customer loyalty. 85% of your business will come referrals from existing customers. What are you doing to keep the customers you own? When I worked as a clothing buyer in Washington, DC, my boss insisted that each of us had a list of 20 customers that were considered ‘our best’ customers and we were expected to talk with these customers once a month. We were told find out as much as we could about these customer, birth dates, children’s names and upcoming important events in their lives. It as pretty difficult, we were always sending out cards, notes and calling them on the phone. Consider how much easier this would be today with video email, send-out-cards and Facebook. It’s still a good way to get to know your customers. You can’t buy customer loyalty but you can certainly spend time growing it.


Guest Author: Cathy Fosco

image of Cathy Fosco About Cathy Fosco: Cathy Fosco has over twenty years of experience supporting “C” suite executives. She takes
great pride in simplying the lives of busy executives by taking on their projects and providing
great customer service.

The Virtual Assistant can assist you with all of your special projects. Do you need someone
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My favorite book entitled: 212 The Extra Degree by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson. Whenever I’m not sure what to do, which is often, I take out the book and reread it. The premise of the book is simple, water is hot at 211 degrees and at 212 degrees water boils. When water boils it produces steam and steam is capable of powering a locomotive. I say to myself, how I could have missed this? How many time have I boiled water for tea and seen the steam coming out of the top of the tea pot. What a simple brilliant concept. If I never thought another thing about the book, this concept alone can change my life.

If we’re looking for the quick fix or waiting for the frog to turn into the prince, it will be a long wait. How much does it take to be successful, is it just one degree?

Is it that people who are successful have a different strategy? Maybe they have a different commitment to what they do or how they do it? Are they the last to leave the office, the ones who make one more call or send out one more proposal?

People who are successful not only talk about what they want, they do it. And they do it with more ‘heat’ than the rest. When I wrote my book, Red Hot Customer Service I was trying to distinguish between customer service and ‘red hot service.’ The premise of my book is similar, those that deliver ‘red hot service’ not only get the customer but they get the customer for life. It’s not easy but these businesses know that turning up the heat makes you aware of possibilities that you may have missed. Turning up the heat makes you aware. Being ordinary is no longer a choice, once you begin to deliver the best you can’t turn back. No longer will you be able to do what is the ordinary, you are aware that more is expected; it is now your responsibility.

Imagine if your company decided to turn up the heat. You decided to deliver ‘red hot service’ and ordinary service would no longer be tolerated. What would your customers think? Carl Sewell in his book, which is into its third edition (Customers for Life) talks about it felt like when he found out that in the car business more profit was made from servicing cars than selling them. He realized at that point that the car industry had it backwards. Instead of being open from 9-5, 5 days a week, he needed to service cars from 9-5, 7 days a week as well as be on emergency call to repair cars. Sewell Cadillac, in Houston, Texas, became the red hot business that scared and shocked the competitors and delighted the customers. Sewell had established a new norm for the business; he had turned up the heat. In fact, he had turned up the heat so high his competitors were calling and asking if he was crazy. No one wanted to repair cars on weekends!
Turning up the heat is not doing what you do better; turning up the heat is doing something that no one else has done. It’s finding a way to boil that water!


Tips For Marketing Your Message:

  • Does your message offer a benefit that your target audience really wants? This assumes that you know your target audience and you’ve spent time talking with your ‘defectors.’ (those that no longer buy from you)
  • Does your message separate you from your competitors or does it sound like them only a little different? Sometimes businesses will let their competitors set the pace and then they go in and try to do it a little better. Why not try and set the pace?
  • Is it unique and/or difficult to copy? Make it difficult or impossible for your competitors to copy your message. One of the flooring stores in the Albany area boasts the largest American flag in the city; they’re right.
  • Do you have a larger brand to align your company? Does your major supplier have a well known brand? In this area convenience stores don’t just make coffee, they make Chris’s Coffee.
  • Is your message consistent? It’s hard to have the most unusual products and also the lowest price products.