Archive for March, 2013

Basel, Switzerland

We docked our river boat at Basel, Switzerland. They docked only about 10 minutes from the airport so we didn’t see much of Switzerland.

We were taken to the airport at 9 AM the next day for a noon flight (which in our home time zone was 6 AM). On our ride to the airport, I noticed the buildings and streets looked quite similar to other towns, in Europe. Basel airport was a little airport but there were quite lengthy walks to the gates.

That’s about all we saw of Basel, although it did look like a little town or country we’d like to return to one day to explore.


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24 Hours

We all have the exact same 24 hours in a day. It’s how we choose to spend our time that will make a difference in our future. If you plan to build a business to secure your future, that means you must find time to work and build that business in your spare time.

Most people go to a job of some sorts, either full or part time. Most have families. Many belong to clubs other activities that keep them busy. Life is usually busy for everyone.

I’ve found you can make extra money or excuses, but never both. If you truly want to secure your future, then you have to find time to work your business in your 24 hours. If you don’t work your business daily, you can’t expect to succeed. It takes consistent work and action over time to be successful.

If you want true freedom, you have to create a plan and work that plan, and stick with it over the next months and years. Find the time now so you can celebrate later. You’ll be glad you did down the road.


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Strasbourg, France

On our next stop we docked in Germany just across the river from Strasbourg, France. This is where the Ill river meets the Rhine and France Borders Germany. Strasbourg lies at the crosswords of major waterways and land routes. It was founded in 12 B.C. for it’s strategic location and quickly became a center for trade.

Strasbourg was originally German, and changed from German to French many times. It was really cool seeing the city has live Storks and stork trees. The stork is said to be good luck.

France as a country is smaller than the state of Texas, yet it’s the 3rd largest European nation with a population of approximately 65 million. The terrain varies from mountains to forests and to farmland.

The government is run by a president who serves as both head of state and executive head for a 7 year term. The president appoints a prime minister from the majority party in the National Assembly a group of 577 members elected for 5 year terms. The Senates 321 members serve 9 year terms and are elected every 3 years.

France has one of the worlds most highly developed economies. Their major industry includes agriculture, steel, motor vehicles, aircraft, textiles, chemicals and food processing. More than half of France’s power is generated by nuclear power plants.

The religion is about 80% Roman Catholic, 2% Protestant and 5% Muslim.

Education is free and mandatory for ages 6-16. Secondary education, lasting 7 years (11-18) gives students the equivalent of a USA junior college education. Then students take an exam to determine if they may go on to higher education, which is practically free at France’s 60 universities.

Strasbourg had one of the larger Cathedrals and also one of the biggest Christmas Markets. In both Germany and France they serve a hot wine called Gluewine. My husband fell in love with this Gluewine and wished it would migrate to the states. He did bring home several bottles. France also had a lot of chocolates which we brought back as well.

The interesting thing is you can travel from country to country in Europe without showing your passport. You only need a passport to leave the country but not to go between European countries.


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Communicating With Your Customers in The Tech Age

It is a no brainer that good communications with your customers past and current, is essential for building relationships with your customers as well as finding out what you can do better to service them in the future.  For example, did you know that approximately 80% of businesses think they deliver SUPERIOR service, however only 8% of the customers of those companies say they received superior service.

As a business owner, how do you know if your customers actually think they are receiving  top of the line service as opposed to you just thinking you delivered it?  You talk to them, engage them, and ask them.  You keep communications open so that they can tell you what they think and then you do what it takes to improve.

So what are the most common and best ways to communicate with your customers today?

  1. Face to face
  2. Phone Call
  3. Email
  4. Face book
  5. Twitter
  6. Texting
  7. Direct mail
  8. Greeting Cards

Face to face communication is always the best way to talk to your customers as you can read their facial expressions and immediately ask follow up or clarification questions concerning their likes and dislikes.

Phone call follow ups are also a great way to communicate with your customers, as you can follow up with any questions or concerns that they may have.  Both of these methods are immediate two-way communications methods that should be employed as much as possible.

Now, what about all the “tech” ways, and social media ways to communicated? 

Email, Facebook and all social media for that matter, has its place in communicating with customers, but it should not be overused or used as the slow method of communication.  Email is great to send a follow up to a phone or in person conversion, or for a quick question or update, but not to really listen to your customers.

Facebook and twitter is great to keep in touch, post interesting things to customers, help educate them, announce special offers, etc.  Again, it should not replace other means of communicating.

Text messaging whether one on one or bulk needs to be used carefully.  If it is for something that expires and you need to let the people know asap, or they have requested you contact them via text, great, but otherwise be careful as text messaging in a business atmosphere is not though of as highly professional.

Greeting Card Marketing, is in my opinion the third best way to communicate with customers behind face to face and phone communications.  Sending greeting cards backs up and reiterated what is said on the phone and face to face, and allows you to do thinks like:

  • Thank your customer for their business
  • Wish them a Happy Birthday
  • Wish them a happy holiday
  • Congratulate them if applicable, and more

Greeting cards should be sent in the mail, with real stamps, and personalized to that customer for maximum effectiveness.

Combining traditional and techie was of communicating with your customers will allow you to keep a pulse on their feelings, result in more repeat sales and referrals, and build your relationships to new levels, so keep in mind to mix up the methods and delivery of your customer communications for the best success in your business.

 


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Unnecessary Tools

One thing we all need to teach people is they have EVERYTHING they need to build a business. They do not need to buy into FANCY sounding tools, or systems. There is NO System out there that will make anyone rich overnight as they sleep. In fact, a lot of the things being pitched are scams.

There are a lot of gurus out there, pitching tools. They have good sales pitches but bottom line, if you want to succeed, don’t buy a bunch of unneeded tools. Work on yourself first. There are lots of free personal development books that can help you, and they are FREE to read from any library. If you’re not rich use the resources you have available to you and don’t be convinced you need to buy into all these unnecessary tools they are trying to sell you.

Building a business takes time and work. There are no shortcuts to success. If you see powerful ads, and videos telling you differently you’ll be wasting time and money, buying things like that. Those type things make a TON OF MONEY for those that invent them, but for you, you’ll be sold something, buy in and then pitched for tool # 2, and 3 and 4 and it will never end. You’ll be so distracted by all the stuff, your business will fall apart.

FREE can also be quite expensive, as they lead you in by giving you something FREE, and then sell you on the back end. I am sharing all this from vast experience, because I don’t want to see people out there thinking they can be rich over night, as they sleep. If you believe, that I’ll find some swamp land to sell you.

Just use common sense. Don’t be mislead. You can succeed without all those things. I did and if I did, so can you.


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Breisach, Germany

Our next stop was a medieval city of Breisach,Germany, which many consider the most beautiful in Germany. We boarded a bus to go to the Black Forrest there and see the CooCoo factory up in the forrest.

There as we climbed the mountains we were able to see the first and only snow and also saw the running streams from the melting snow that was going down to the Rhine. I heard they had about 6 feet of snow a few weeks before, but the temperature was in the 60’s so it was all melting during our trip.

We drove thru the town of Frieburg, and many other cool little cities, and arrived ad the CooCoo store. There we saw how they made the clocks. They were all hand made ranging in price from several hundred dollars up to $3-4,000 dollars. The higher priced models were light activated and very unique.

Downstairs they had a German bakery with real black forrest cake, which of course we had to try. It was delicious.

When ancient Romans arrived in Germany, they came upon this thickly wooded stretch of pine and fir forest. The setting was no doubt alluring as the rays of sun shown thru the thicket and dotted forrest floor. But the deeper they walked, the thicker the forest became until the height and density of the conifers blocked out all the sunlight. They called these woods Silva Nigra, or Black Forest. Since then it has inspired German creative imagination and served as the backdrop for popular fairy tales, including Hansel and Gretel.

After touring the little village, we were taking back to ship. There was another tour to a war zone, but we opted instead to walk into Breisach and look around. It was Christmas day but there was one little restaurant and tourist type shop opened so we purchased some more gifts for the kids.

We noticed most German downs all had cobblestone roads and skinny sidewalks. While the German food is quite fattening, with lots of breads, pastries and breads, because they also walked and rode bikes, we did not see any heavy Germans. This ways an eye opener to me, as in the USA, we tend to get little or no exercise and eat huge super sized portions.

I saw many germans in bakeries eating and also drinking the german beers in Taverns. Yet despite all the food and drink, none were heavy.

Sadly this was our last stop on our river cruise. We sailed about 7 PM for Basel Switzerland. Because it was the Christmas holiday, we had not opted to stay over in Switzerland, which proved to be a good thing.


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Cologne, Germany

Our next stop was Cologne, Germany.

Cologne Germany is a cool little German town, divided in half by the Rhine River. In the early days one side of the river was Romans and the other side Germans and they didn’t get along so the river was the end of each country. Cologne is the forth-largest city in Germany. More than 2.1 million people live in Cologne.

Today it’s all German but one side is the industrial side and the other side where the people live and work. One of the biggest employers there was actually Ford Motor company. Very surprising.

Germany also has more than 15,000 beer breweries. If you like beer, you’re in the right country.

Germany much like Amsterdam, has a lot of people walking and on bike, but they don’t have quite the number of bikes as the The Netherlands. Still bikes there also have the right of way.

German is known for bakeries, and there are lots of them. They also have lots of German beer which they call bier, and hot wines and chocolate. With the amount of food, you would think the population would be over weight, but we didn’t see too many heavy Germans. I guess they eat and then walk or bike so that shows there is a correlation between exercise and weight gain as the food they eat is certainly NOT diet food.

In Cologne, we visited a chocolate museum. IF you like chocolate, you’d be in heaven. They had so many different kinds of chocolate you head would be spinning. We bought about 5-10 pounds of chocolate to bring home. Needless to day, when we got back to the airport our suitcases were much heavier than when we left, but because they weight them in kilograms I don’t know how much heavier.

The town of Cologne is a mixture of cobblestone walks, old time architecture mixed in with modern. Much like The Netherlands the homes we saw in the city were apartments that were skinny and straight up with 3 or 4 floors.

They have one of the largest Cathedrals in the world, It was so large they must be able to seat thousands for masses. The amazing thing to me is that it was not even heated, it was quite cold. It was also very very tall, you could see it for miles.

Cologne has the 2nd tallest church in Europe. The Cologne Cathedral is a popular tourist attraction. Every year over 6 million visitors climb 533 steps up to the top of it’s spire.

Cologne would be an interesting city to spend some time in.


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