Trust is important for our employees, our clients, and our potential customers and as entrepreneurs, we need to learn how to create it. As business professionals, we need to learn how to choose who to be in partnerships with so that we are able to protect ourselves and our businesses from lawsuits and poor decisions.
Our guest today is Mary Kelly. Dr. Mary C. Kelly has many titles, but her favorite is as a teacher. She is focused on teaching professionals to navigate the economy, build their business, be a true leader, and get more done. Mary has authored thirteen books on business leadership and today she is sharing with us a few ways not to be easy prey in business.“People can handle bad news, but they can’t handle uncertainty.” - Dr. Mary C. Kelly Click To Tweet
- [1:05] – Dr. Kelly primarily works as a corporate speaker and advisor to improve profit growth.
- [1:44] – Businesses need to make sure that they are protecting themselves against people who want to sue them for stupid things.
- [2:31] – When you are interviewing someone coming into your business, you have to be careful of the questions you ask.
- [3:12] – Dr. Kelly also points out the importance of keeping your brick and mortar location safe and secure.
- [4:22] – Mary shares an example of campsites getting sued by people who were taking advantage of the owners.
- [6:01] – In 2020, vulnerabilities became more apparent to business owners.
- [8:48] – As a business, one of the number one things people want to know is if you can deliver what you say you can deliver.
- [9:06] – Dr. Kelly gives several tips for businesses including Google searching yourself and watching your Yelp reviews.
- [11:08] – Mary references a book that she co-wrote regarding trust in the business world. How you build trust with your employees is how they build trust with your clients.
- [12:29] – Chris shares how he approaches business partners.
- [14:10] – Mary admits to some early mistakes she made after taking the advice of someone else that cost her in thousands of dollars.
- [16:01] – Don’t be afraid to differentiate and brand yourself for the core values of your business. Let people know what your core values are.
- [17:49] – Your posts on social media are being looked at. How are you and your business being perceived?
- [20:17] – Recording conversations are a good idea so you have a clean copy of tough conversations that may need clarification.
- [22:35] – There are so many bad business consultants out there and Mary describes how this can be detrimental to your business.
- [24:09] – Mary admits a mistake she learned from with a book deal and an example of working with a medical firm that experienced a scam.
- [25:57] – Mary’s dad was recently a victim of a scam that is similar to a previous Easy Prey episode with Jim Browning.
- [27:01] – Chris shares an example of a scam he fell victim of.
- [28:12] – We need to help others to not make the same mistakes.
- [29:37] – If you are a leader in an organization, always assume that someone is watching everything you do and say.
- [31:18] – It is not our clients’ job to stay in touch with your business. It is your job to stay in touch with your client in a way that adds value and trust.
- [33:09] – Dr. Kelly wrote a book about business during Covid-19 and shares a lot of her research that can benefit current businesses.
- [34:29] – Mary shares current scams for businesses during Covid-19 and how common they are.
- [35:29] – There are several car dealership scams going on at the moment as well and Mary describes what this looks like.
- [36:57] – If you sign anything, take a picture of it.
- [37:49] – Chris shares another current scam that has been very common lately with overcharging customers as their business practice.
- [39:17] – We need to not be afraid to ask clients for referrals and feedback.
- [41:37] – When it comes to mistakes, own up to them and move on. Mary shares her free productivity sheet that she uses every single day to help avoid mistakes.
Thanks for joining us on Easy Prey. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and leave a nice review.
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Mary: Mostly, I work as a corporate speaker, as a corporate advisor, and I improve profit growth. Many companies have done really well. For the last 10 years, we saw great sustained economic growth, which was really nice, and people come a little complacent about their businesses. This year when things got a little bit more challenging, all of a sudden we saw stresses on people and businesses. As you know, anytime there's stress, people tend to go to the dark side, and that's where I jump in.
Chris: Gotcha. Let's talk about that. What are some of the things that we see happening to businesses when the economy takes a downturn?
Mary: First off, businesses have to make sure that they are protecting themselves against people who want to sue them for stupid things. There are a couple of aspects of this. First off, you, as a business person, want to make sure your business is seen as trustworthy. But you also want to make sure you're not setting yourself up to be easy prey. In a conversation I had this week with one of my clients—they're looking to hire someone—I said, what kind of questions do you like to ask people? And he says, well, we ask these. I'll go, stop. You can't ask those questions. He said we're a family-owned business. We're not Corporate America. I want to make sure they're a good fit. I said, yeah, you can't ask those questions.
First, one of the first things I like to tell people is, when you are interviewing someone to come into your organization, please make sure you are not asking questions that could be construed as illegal questions or questions that could be interpreted as being part of that protected category of potential employees. That's number one. Number two is making sure that you are not easy prey for a lawsuit. By that, I mean you got to make sure that if you've got a physical brick and mortar building, that your area is safe.
Out here in Colorado, where I am, we get ice and snow all winter. It's actually a law that says you have to clear your sidewalks. If they're not, people can sue you. Remember, anytime people see there's easy money, they're going to call a lawyer, and they're going to try to sue you. Make sure your brick and mortar places are kept up, there are no huge cracks in the sidewalk, your parking lots are good—all of those things. You've covered all kinds of crazy reasons why people have sued businesses.
Chris: I've seen lots of crazy things out in California. We have a litany of groups that are professional litigants that go around businesses and do things like measure the height between the floor and the bottom of the mirror and the bathrooms. If it's half an inch too high, they file a lawsuit. It's not about that a consumer couldn't see themselves in the mirror, but it's about that half an inch.
Mary: Absolutely. I work with some people who have RVs and they run campsites for RVs. Sometimes, in some of these really nice campsites, there's a swimming pool. That's kind of nice—you show up, you've got your RV, there are cabins, there's a swimming pool, usually a little store, a place to get coffee maybe. There was a group of people who work calling different campsites, asking if they had an ADA-approved lift for the campsite. When people said, no, I don't think we do. It's basically our own personal pool that we just let our guests use. They would sue them because they said it was ADA.
Now, what was amazing is none of the people who were calling and initiating the litigation were actually handicapped. That, to me, I mean I know people who live in wheelchairs and when somebody is going to go out there and not just misrepresent themselves, but in the name of promoting this for the people who actually do live in wheelchairs, well now, guess what happens now? They just close off the pool for everybody. There are people out there who are trying to take advantage of good people trying to run good businesses.
Chris: Yeah. And there's that distinction between legitimate…
I didn't know the regulations. There are some things you absolutely better know about running a business. But I wouldn't expect the person that has a printing company to know how high the mirror has to be up off the floor, especially if it wasn't originally their building, they just moved in and took over it. Mind you, things need to be compliant, but I wish it didn't come down to these organizations that were just litigious about it.
Mary: They’re professional litigators. Right now, again in times of stress, and let's face it, this has been a tough year, and for many businesses where all of a sudden they realize that they were vulnerable to something. All of a sudden, this year has taken a big old spotlight on our businesses and showed us where some of the cracks were. Those cracks are the areas that you can help people with. It doesn't take that much to just be a little bit better in these areas to protect yourself.
Chris: Absolutely. I was thinking about these other scams that businesses go through with the professional litigants, but let's not belabor that point. You need to be aware of these things. Do you see that it's more common, that it's minority-owned businesses and immigrant communities that are targeted for these types of complaints?
Mary: Statistically, no. People are just looking to take advantage of anybody who's got money and who doesn't know the difference. How many phone calls have you gotten recently about your car warranty? How many phone calls have you gotten recently about your credit card? They do prey on older people for all the computer scams. They pop up on your screen and it's like, hey, I'm from Microsoft, or I'm from Dell, or I'm from HP. Give me control of your computer so that I can take all your bank account numbers and wipe you out. Things like that where they absolutely prey on older people. A lot of times older people don't even realize it.
The standard scams on Facebook, hi, I'm a lonely widow, widower, and Chris, your picture caught my attention, you just seem so nice. I would like a relationship with you. There's the personal side of that relationship, but on the business side, we also have to make sure that when we see something and maybe it's a service we're looking for, if it's too easy or too cheap, it's probably not real.
You can find great deals online, but there are ways to do that. What you do is you ask your friends, you ask other business owners. This is why I love the networking of chambers of commerce. I love CEO groups like CEN, EO, YP, the BLR’s, the Vistage’s because they've got networks. If you're looking to hire somebody or you're looking to get a service or a product, go to your networks first—these are your trusted people—and say, hey, I'm looking for someone who can run my social media. I'm looking for an admin assistant 10 hours a week. I'm looking for somebody who can build a website. And then look at what they've done in the past, and boom, it could be legit.
If something is out of the blue and it's way too cheap, you have to wonder, and then think about it. If you're going to go to your CEO group and go, hey, what do y'all think about this? You don't even want to ask the question because it just makes you feel like you're being stupid, it's probably a bad idea.
Chris: Probably. On the flip side of that, are there things that businesses should be doing to make sure that they don't look like a scam?
Mary: Absolutely. As a business, one of the number one issues that people want to know is can you deliver what it is you say you deliver? We've all heard the roofing scams where they show up, they take off half your roof, and take all your money, and they never come back. All kinds of construction scams are out there. In business, it's the same way. A couple of things I advise my businesses to do first off, Google yourself, Google your business and your name—you've talked about this before—but do it on a computer that is not yours or use your incognito window so you're getting a fresh organic look, and then see what comes up.
Number two, look at your Yelp reviews. Maybe somebody has you confused with somebody else. My name is Mary Kelly, and it's a very common name. Kelly is the 65th most common last name in the world. And if you got to Kelly, you got to Mary. There are just lots of us out there. I'm always having to work really hard on my SEO to differentiate myself from all the other Mary Kelly's who are out there.
Most of them seem like lovely people, but if somebody is trying to find me or they're trying to rank me, I don't want them ranking Mary Kelly the singer against Mary Kelly the economist and conference speaker. It's a different skill set. Look at your Yelp reviews. If somebody's got an issue, say, hey, I think you might have the wrong Chris or the wrong Mary, and approach him and say, hey, whatever it is, I'd like to make it right.
But also make sure that if you know you've got reviews out there. In the medical community, they'll say, hey, this particular healthcare organization is where all of our rankings are. If you were happy with our service today, we would love a review. Ask for the reviews. Many of us in business, we just forget. We just don't do it, or we think that it should come from them. But remember, people don't know. As my grandma used to say, if they don't know, you tell them.
Chris: If you don't ask them to do it, it's really unlikely that they're going to do it. People only do stuff when they're either, in general, when they're super excited or super upset. It's more often when they're super upset.
Mary: Absolutely. And trust is everything in business. The book that I wrote a couple of years ago with Peter Stark, he's out in San Diego. It's called Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Leadership Success. What was interesting is we asked 100,000 employees, hey, why are you not able to do a better job at work, what's getting in your way, what are the obstacles at work that's preventing you from being as good as you'd like?
We taxonomized all of those responses and there were seven categories. The second most popular populated category was trust. That was that their leaders were inadvertently losing trust with their own employees. They're like, well, how is that possible? It was little things, it's not the big things. Within your own organization, you've got to worry about building trust with your own people because how you build trust with your people is how they build trust with your customers and your clients.
It's little things that get people tripped up. It's hey, I'll follow up with you by next Thursday. And then not calling back. Or it's hey, yeah, I'll get that done for you, and then not doing it. Or it's not telling people the whole truth, like forgetting that shipping's not part of the invoicing process. Little things like that. People do not like surprises. Communication solves a lot of those problems, but you've got to look at building trust within your organization so that your people can build it with the customers, but also looking at your online trust profile.
Chris: There's a process that I now go through due to a previous mistake I made in that when someone approaches me or I approach someone about wanting to do business, there are key things that I look for. How long have they owned the domain name? Did they register it last week? Unless you are a startup, and I know you're a startup, I probably don't want to do business with someone who just started their business last week. Is there a telephone number? Is there an address on the website? Is there clear contact information? Those are my hot buttons.
If it's not abundantly clear how to get a hold of you and where you're located, I immediately start wondering, why do you not want me to find you. I understand that there's this concept of like, let's say, web developers. I don't want people to know that I'm working out of Bangladesh or something like that. I'd much rather know where you're working out of, than not know, because then immediately, I'm like, okay, why don't you want me to know? And then it erodes that trust.
Mary: Right. And knowing is better than not. People can not handle uncertainty. They can handle bad news. I've got a great guy who works for me and he's out of Pakistan and he does my PowerPoint. He does things like that. I love him. One of my video guys is in Morocco. I love them. They are fantastic and right away, they're like, I am in Pakistan, I am in Morocco. Here's why I love them. When I can send them a job at night, and I wake up in the morning, and it's done. It's magic because we use the time changes for us. To me, that's an advantage. It may not be for everybody, and I totally understand that.
Social proof is huge when you are vetting someone. I made mistakes early on where I took someone else's advice about their particular business coach. I was looking to get better in one area. This one guy said, oh yeah, this person's great—really great endorsements. I only asked that one person, a huge mistake. Cost me thousands of dollars in both fees and bad advice. I will never make that mistake again. That's part of it. Getting social proof from more than one person is huge.
The other thing I advise people to do is you got to vet them on LinkedIn, which means you better be on LinkedIn. Before I do business with anybody, Linkedin is a place that I go to. I want to know if you're real. I want to make sure if I should spend time with you and I want to make sure that you don't have bad reviews. If you only have one or two testimonials on LinkedIn, I'm probably going to look twice about that. It's hard because many of us are brought up to be humble.
Don’t blow your horn and don’t ask for those testimonials and all of that. We’re not very good at asking for referrals or asking for testimonials. Which is why we need to hire great sales people who will do that for us. I have an assistant and after I do an event, she goes back and she asks those people for testimonials. And then we ask a new either do one on LinkedIn or go ahead on my site, put a testimonial there. So the people can see what it’s like to work with me.
Not everybody is going to work with every single other person. One of my books called Master Your World, I put a dog on the front cover. Master Your World is really military, but I was trying to soften it. It’s 10 leadership lessons, but I called it dog inspired leadership lessons because military stuff makes it sound like Patton, Eisenhower, or McArthur, something like that.
And then somebody said, but some people don’t like dogs. I said, then I probably not going to want to work with them. That’s perfectly okay. Don't be afraid to differentiate yourself and brand yourself for the core values you’re in. You’ve got a great dog, you and I, it’s easy. Of course, you’ll put a dog in your front cover. Why wouldn’t you want to do that? But not everybody is going to think, somebody is like, well, I don’t know if this is a book about dog training or what. I’m like, okay, you said that kind of wrong, so it’s just not going to work. Yeah, just not going to work, not going to get anywhere close.
But trust is everything when you’re running a business, and you’ve got to convey the part where you are trustworthy to work with. That means letting people know right away, what your core values are. Hey, this is what we do. Anybody in my team can say, you know what, this particular client, we don’t think they’re a good fit. We just have a weird feeling, they were super mean to somebody on the team or they said something that really set us to worrying.
And then we have a conversation, we decide as a group whether or not we’re going to keep them because we don’t need that. You don’t need to work with people you don’t need to work with. That’s how that works. People want to know, can you deliver what you say you can deliver in the timeframe you say you’re going to do that. So then you need a past track record of that.
Back to social media, give people references. Old style references on resumes were there for a reason. A lot of people never even looked at them, but they just went, oh at least you got six people who were willing to lie for you. Good for you. That’s six people, awesome! They could have been your cellmates, that’s perfectly fine. I look for social proof and when I’m looking to hire people, I do the same thing. I am going to look at—this is for everybody out there who’s putting stupid stuff on social media right now—to see whether or not you’re going to be a good fit for my organization and whether or not we want to work together.
Because if you’re putting stupid stuff on social media, and there’s a whole list of stupid stuff. What your stupid stuff looks like might be different from my stupid stuff. It’s going to look different. That to me just weighs trust. It kills the trust aspect. Look on Nextdoor when you’re looking at how your business is perceived and when you’re looking for other talents. Look on Nextdoor, look on Craigslist, look on those normal job boards.
We advertise for jobs on Indeed, but do you know how your company is represented on Indeed, all those comments people can make about you? If only two people have ever quit your organization and they left after four days, they were mad, and they were a terrible fit. Guess what? You probably have one star reviews on Indeed and people might be passing your company over for even applying because of those two people, because you haven’t looked at what your online profile is. Again, it’s all about building trust, conveying your values, and making sure that you are thought of as reliable in your space.
Chris: Got you. When it comes to being a leader in an organization, we talked about looking for potential hires of don't post stupid stuff, don’t do stupid stuff, are the things that leadership is doing that is stupid that puts their business at risk?
Mary: All the time. I’m fond of telling my businesses, look, every single time you have a conversation with a client, a potential client, a supplier, or an employee, you have to assume it’s being recorded. They’re like, oh, but! I’m like, you have to assume it’s being recorded. Because it’s so easy on any kind of watch, you can have an app where you just touch a button on your watch and they will never know they’re being recorded.
They’re like, that’s illegal in a court of law. Really, you’re going to get to a court of law? Sometimes it’s because they want to transcribe notes later, it could be very innocuous. It could be because it’s a follow-up issue, it could be so that they’re not sitting there taking notes furiously while you’re talking. But it could also be with ill intent. You just have to remember that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You need to just be mindful of your words.
If you’re going to have a tough conversation with someone who works with you or a client perhaps that you might be firing or something, have another person there with you and I recommend you record the conversation too. Nixon was right, record everything! I know that some of you are not going to like that, but that’s okay. Record things so you’ve got a clean copy of what that looks like, store it. And then, if it’s a tough conversation with your employee, you can even ask. Say, hey, I want to make sure that we record this conversation so that we’re both really clear on this.
And then they’re like, oh, that’s a great idea. You say, I’m going to go ahead and click record on this. Do you have a phone? You can click record too. Encourage them to do it so that you know you’re on record, they know they’re on record and it’s all above board. And then have a third person there.
We’re talking about before the show, we’re a litigious society and many people are looking at large corporations, maybe not to go to court, but maybe just to get a settlement so that they don’t have to go to court. Some organizations are advising people, hey, just pay that person.
I remember when I was in the Navy, I took over command and had six pending lawsuits. They were all nonsense. One person got the idea, told her five friends and they all did the same thing. My lawyer’s advice, because this was a federal government, was just pay them off for this and get rid of it. I said, you can’t do that. That’s rewarding bad behavior. When you’re training your puppy pitbull to not chew on human skin, you don’t punish him, but you also don’t let him do it. You replace it with another thing.
Because if you let the pitbull puppy get away with bad behavior in the beginning… I love dogs. I love pitties. For sure, for sure, for sure. But you don’t let them get away with bad behavior—the same with litigation. If one person does it, everybody is going to think, oh, that’s the quick and easy way to get a nice paycheck that’s going to be more than my retirement. You can’t do it. If you are innocent, you go to court and you fight it. Even when it’s going to be tough, even when it’s going to cost more money. Because otherwise, other people will think you’re easy prey.
Chris: Yup. Are there other ways that entrepreneurs get taken in scams and fraud?
Mary: Oh, so many ways. Again, besides paying for bad advice, paying for things that seem too easy or too cheap. There are so many bad business consultants out there. I love it when somebody will call me and say, hey Mary, somebody said we should call you because we need some help. I’m like, oh, it sounds like you’ve been through some other really bad consultants. I’m not exactly a consultant, I’m more of a corporate adviser because I look up at the whole thing. They’re like, yes, and we hate all of you. I’m like, okay, I love you because you’re like those people who looked at a hundred really bad homes to buy and all of a sudden we show you the good house. The one that you’re going to want.
I like the fact that we’re not starting out with the good house and then showing you bad ones and all that. I kind of like being that person they call. But there’s a lot of bad consultants out there. Don’t get taken by bad consultants because many of them are not in it to solve a problem, they’re in it to get paid. I have a bunch of friends who are lawyers, I have classmates who are lawyers and I love the lawyers in my life—most of them. But a lot of lawyers are in there to continue getting hourly pay.
Sometimes I can go in and say, look, in one hour, I can tell you what to do, we’re going to record this conversation, here are the steps and then you call me when you’ve worked with these steps. It may take you a week, it may take you a month, it may take you a year. But I’m not looking for that next time with you, I’m looking for you to grow your business.
Many people hire consultants that’s going to be your two hours a week, every week. What those consultants do is they water down the content they’re giving you so that they can extend their contract. Those consultants drive me a little bit crazy. Like I said, I made mistakes too. I got sucked into a book deal early on in my career and I found out that that person had taken $5000 from several other folks just like me and never produced anything. To take that person to court was going to cost us all $50,000 a piece for $5000 and it just wasn’t worth it. Lesson learned.
Again, it’s one of those things, Chris, where I had gone to my friends and said, hey, I think this is a really cool opportunity. They all would’ve said, no, no, no.
Chris: Are you nuts?
Mary: Are you nuts? And I just had a situation with a medical firm where one of the people was approached to go do something else and she didn’t talk to the other folks about it. When it came out, it turns out the person approaching him was an absolute scamster. If you just talked to the other people he knew and trusted, he would not have been taken in by that. Sometimes, we’re like, oh, this is such a really good deal. Maybe I shouldn’t tell my friends about this. That’s a big indicator that maybe, it’s not such a great deal. Don’t get scammed by that.
There are so many good scams out there. They’re so convincing and they’re so well practiced. My dad just got scammed. My dad was on his computer and that little pop up came, and said, click here. We’re from Microsoft. We think there’s a problem with your computer. Two hours later, he’d given the guy a control over his computer and all the financial data. It took me two full days to clean it up. It was just a mess. It was, of course, a total scam.
Chris: That’s funny. I just recorded an episode with Jim Browning and he has 2 million followers on his YouTube Channel where he goes through while scammers connected to his machine, he goes out and connects to their machine. The stuff that he has seen, that he posts on his YouTube Channel is crazy. Everyone has to listen to the episode with Jim Browning. We’ll link it in the show notes. But it was exactly like what you’re saying happened to your dad. Exactly.
Mary: It makes me so mad because, I’m like, you know what, clearly, you’re a talented hacker. You could use your powers for good. You choose instead to prey on my dad who’s in his 80s. When I meet you, guess what, we’re going to have a conversation and my first two words are not going to be happy birthday.
Chris: Exactly. It was funny because I was thinking about mistakes that I have made and some good things that I’ve done, and some that I’ve done. I have a good consultant that I work with who when I have ideas that seem interesting or opportunities that seem like, maybe this might be too good to be true. I open with them about the things that I’m doing. That way I have some professional feedback of you’re being stupid, that sounds like a scam. Outside opinion really helps.
There was a scam that I fell for that someone pretended to be of a well-known vendor in a particular industry. I didn’t do a whole lot of due diligence because it was a sort of thing that they would’ve reached out to me at some point. It didn’t seem unusual, went down this road, got all set up with them. They were going to be running an advertisement on my website and paying me for it. It turns out that this guy was pretending to be that entity. He bought the .net, of their .com. All he did was change the phone number on the website to his voice-over IP line. I think I lost about $10,000 because of that.
Like you, I was like, okay, I’m going to go to war. I’m going to find this guy. I’m going to make his life miserable. A) The lawyers are never going to get me the money back. B) The lawyers are going to cost a lot of money. C) This is going to take a ridiculous amount of my time. D) It’s going to wind me up emotionally and drain me. I better just move on with my business and chuck it up as an expensive lesson learned.
Mary: That’s exactly right. I know some people who get really excited about this. I’m like, okay, what do we learn from this. They’re well, but! I’m like, no. It’s a lesson. That’s why I love your show because we just have to help other people not fall into these areas and not be the easy prey. Because it is really easy for really smart people to say, oh, I’m actually looking for that.
It’s the same thing as when you go shopping for new pens. All of a sudden, all the ads on your Facebook page are now all about new pens and you’re like, wait, what just happened there? There is some paranoia, that’s natural paranoia. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
Chris: We need to do our due diligence. That’s the danger when the economy is not so good, business is struggling, we start looking for easy way outs, we start looking to cut corners, we start looking maybe I can find a cheaper supplier for X, Y, or Z.
Mary: Absolutely. I know you know who John Stossel is. He, back in the 80s and 90s was doing these things about solar powered close dryers. It was literally a close line. It was just the funniest thing. That was just one of the things that stuck in my head—solar powered clothes dryer. It’s a piece of close line. But they did send you the 50 close pins to use with them. It was a $49 package. It was just one of the funniest things ever.
Again, to stop yourself from getting taken advantage of. If you’re a leader in an organization, assume everything you do, somebody is watching. Everything you say, somebody is recording. The interview you are doing, somebody is going to be looking for an angle and they can be very, very convincing. Make sure your business is perceived as being trustworthy and reliable, we deliver what we say we’re going to deliver when we say we’re going to deliver it or ahead of time. Coming in below budget and before the deadline, those all build trust.
If you’re an employee in an organization, you can build trust with the people around you, by what I call closing the loop. Just close the loop. If you say you’re going to do something and you did it, go back and say, hey, Chris, just wanted to make sure you knew that I got that thing done on Friday so you don't have to think about it. Take things off other people’s plates. It builds trust.
In business, you can call up your client and be a value add in a way that’s not cheesy, it’s not salesy, it’s not taking advantage of them, but it weighs to stay connected. That’s one of the areas where I talk to my business people about how do you then increase trust with your current clients. Because sometimes, we make a couple mistakes in business.
First off, we don’t stay in touch with people who want to stay in touch with us. When I first moved to Colorado, bought the house, the floor needed to be redone—they’re wood floors. Some guy named Jason, I mention it in every communication I have because I’m hoping this guy finds me. It’s been 12 years. He did a great job on the floors in my house, they really need to get done again. I’ve never heard from Jason. I don't know his last name in the move, I know I had his business card at one point in time. I had no idea who Jason is.
It is not our client’s responsibility to stay in touch with us. It is our responsibility to stay in touch with our clients. Number one, in a way that adds value. That’s critically important. One of the things I do is every month on my whiteboard, I have my top 35, 40 clients and I have ways that I do touch points with them every month in a way that adds value. It’s not salesy, I’m not pushing anything, I’m just staying in touch.
Because many businesses are like teenagers who only talk to mom and dad when they want to borrow the car keys. That’s not the way to build real trust in an organization. What was interesting that might be interesting to your folks, for my 12 month, January, I send everybody just a handwritten note, hey, I hope holidays were great. Hope everything is good. It’s a handwritten note because if they move or there was some kind of shift, that would be an easy thing.
Back in February, I sent them one of my new 5 Minutes Per Week 52 Weeks to a Better Business book that came out in February. Big, nice book. They got that in February. In March, I used a sales intel engine. I find sales triggers about what’s going on in the industry. It’s been half a day, takes me about 10 minutes per client and I find something really interesting. I’m like, hey, by the way, in your industry, there is this cool change, there’s this new regulation. Is that something that your people are being new about? Or hey, I just saw that your profile is one of the top 100 businesses in Dalton, Texas. They’re like, wait! We didn’t know about that. You’re just providing value-added. That was March.
And then, I had another workbook that came out in April. By this time, we’re in full COVID fun and then I send things out about that. The idea is to stay in touch in a way that builds trust. Because when I interviewed about 40 other CEOs this summer on a paper I wrote called COVID-19 and the Future of American Business. I said, look, I just want to ask a couple of questions on this. What they said universally is we’re not looking for new people to do business with. We are looking for our current suppliers to solve our problems.
Again, that’s one of the things that we in the business world can do, is look for those opportunities to solve those problems right now. Hopefully, we’ve been building up this trust with them so that when we call them up and say, hey, by the way, this is what some of our clients are looking for. Didn’t know if you might be looking for that too, but here is our new product offering. Boom! There you are. You’ve already got the BLT sandwich. They already believe, like, and trust you.
Chris: Oh, I like that. Believe, like, and trust. I’m going to write that down.
Mary: BLT sandwich. I do definitely like bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Delicious.
Chris: I could do without the tomato or the lettuce and just have a bacon sandwich.
Mary: See, if you ever want to hack into all of my stuff, using the word bacon might get you pretty far. Just saying, just saying.
Chris: Just add another bacon to your passwords. It’s bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon now.
Mary: Right, bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Love it, love it.
Chris: Are there any other scams that are currently hot and heavy right now during COVID that businesses should be aware of?
Mary: One of the things I ask you to please, please, please, make sure you’ve got team meetings and make sure whoever is doing your books, your CFO, your comptrollers, all the admin people. What they’ll do is they won’t go to your head CFO, they’ll go to one of your admin people with these small little invoices, like $142.63. Which seems like it would be a normal number. $500, clearly that’s way too weird, way too easy.
But they’ll throw in something little just hoping it gets paid from a company you’ve done business with. Somebody will hack into your email servers, they will know that you do business with the National Water Association or whatever. You pay them every month for water delivered to your office for $63. So then they’ll send a bill for $65.32. Real slightly again, like .net, and the phone number will look very similar. They’re like, oh okay, I guess we just pay it, they hit pay.
Now, they add that and it will take you sometimes six months or a year or never to figure that out. And then they start to put a one in front of it or two in front of it.
Oh, another good one on that. Some car dealerships do some scams like that. Especially for younger people or older people. It’s so rude. They’ll say yes, here’s the car, bla bla bla. Car purchases right now are high. The average car loan rate is very, very low. You can get a great car rate depending upon your credit, between 4% and 8% if you’ve got great credit. It’s really, really affordable.
What they will do though, is they’ll advertise a 4.1% APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for this new car or 0%. And then when you come back and then you take the car home, they’re like yeah, take the car in for the weekend, come back Monday, we’ll have all the paper. They put a one in front of that.
Chris: Oh. Always read the fine print.
Mary: Instead of 4.1, it's now 14.1%. Instead of 0% APR, there’s a 1 in front of it. You’re like, wait, we didn’t agree to this. Well, you signed the paperwork. Wait a second, when I signed it, it didn’t have that one in front of it. Because when you sign the paperwork, they said they’d give you copies on Monday and you did not take pictures of that paperwork.
This is why your phone is a great tool to prevent fraud. If you’re signing anything, get that app. I use about three different scanning apps. My favorite one right now is Scannable. I’m pretty sure it’s free. I’m not an affiliate, it’s called Scannable. It takes pictures of things and makes them into PDFs and you can drop them into a file so you have the record of it. If you sign anything, take a picture.
Chris: I know there’s one scam that I’ve seen here in Southern California recently, is that a company sends a letter that looks like it’s coming from EDD, which is the government employment agency in California. Saying that the California law requires that you have these particular posters posted in your employee break room. You can get them from us for $8 or something like that. People are like, oh, okay, $8, I’ll do that. It’s legally mandated that you must have these. Here’s the fear, emotion, and the urgency. You must have them or you’re at risk of being sued.
That actually is probably true, but I don’t know. When people would call and place the order, it’s a really hard sell for the $800 package. When the person says, no, I just want the $8 one, they’re like, okay, we’ll send you the $8 one. And they just go ahead and charge for the recurring $49 month plan. I got one of these in the mail. It looked kind of fishy. It kind of looked like a government letter, but kind of didn’t.
I looked them up on Yelp and there were thousands of one star reviews of people telling their story of I just wanted the $8 thing and they charged $1000 on my credit card. When I try to get them to cancel it, they cuss at me and all sorts of profanity. People are like I had to cancel my credit card because even though I told them to start charging, they kept charging me.
It wasn’t like they were just four or five reviews like it was a bad salesman, that he’s just doing a bad job. It’s like, no, this is their business practice, is to just lie, mischarge. It’s like, how can this place still be in business? Maybe it’s offshore? I don’t know, whatever. It was scary to see thousands of reviews, but it looked totally legitimate. That comes to that trust and verify.
Mary: That’s what we say in military intelligence, in God we trust all else we verify.
Chris: Where as, in God we trust — all others pay cash?
Mary: See, that’s great too. That is great too. We just got to be careful out there. We got to make sure that we support each other. When somebody calls you up and says, hey, what was it like to work with Chris? And you go, Chris was amazing. You got to work with Chris. Chris is a dream. Yeah, all of that. We have to not be afraid of asking our great clients for great testimonials.
Chris: I think when people ask us for referrals, we need to be honest with the answer.
Mary: We do.
Chris: There are people that I’ve worked with that were like, someone called for a referral, I said, you know, I didn’t have a good experience, but I think it’s because we weren’t a good fit. They seem like they’re professional, but it wasn’t a good fit. I don’t think they’re scammy, but do your own due diligence. They weren’t a good fit. Rather than just saying, oh yeah, yeah.
Mary: Sometimes the more desperate people get, the more desperate they get. I worked with somebody for a couple of years and everything was great and then this year hit. I’m pretty sure the scarcity mindset took over and all of a sudden, it was a problem. We had to part ways. That was really, really unfortunate. There’s part of me that’s like, was it me? Was it really me? Maybe it was you? Maybe it was me. No, it wasn’t me. It wasn’t.
But all of a sudden, the deliverables didn’t happen for months and months and months and you’re paying for it. You’re like, hey, if you guys can’t deliver this, I need to not be working with you. 20 emails went unanswered. We’re like, okay, I probably should’ve figured that after the third or fourth. We try to give people the benefit of the doubt. When you’re a trusting person, you tend to think that other people are trustworthy as well.
Chris: I generally operate under the if they initiate that they’re going to be late with their deliverables, that buys a little bit of extra trust versus, okay, I didn’t get the deliverable and now I’m the one who has to follow up and say, hey, why didn’t I get it? And then the excuses come or the stories come. Look, if you’re going to run late, tell me in advance.
Mary: And we’ve all done it. We’ve all been like, oh man, I’ll get to that tomorrow and then don’t. We’ve all done it. But just a quick note that says, hey, I got a little swamped on Monday, Tuesday. I’m really sorry. I need to adjust your expectations and I’ll have it for your Friday. Won’t happen again or whatever.
If you’ve got a really good, legitimate reason, that’s great. If you don’t, just say, I screwed up.
Chris: Own it.
Mary: Own it. Because we’ve all screwed up. We can adjust the deadline, we write things down, I’ll share with you every single day of my life, I use my productivity sheet. It’s on my website, productiveleaders.com/free. They’re all there, that way I can find them all the time. I do it every single day. And then sometimes I go back through the sheets and go, wait, I didn’t move that to another list, how could I have missed that? I pride myself I’m not missing things because I’m pretty organized about stuff. But when I do, nobody beats me up more than me because I’m just horrified by this.
Chris: If people want to learn more about you and what you do, how can they find you?
Mary: productiveleaders.com, because who wants an unproductive leader?
Chris: I don't know. I won’t comment about that.
Mary: I know, right. That’s what we get to do. I feel so lucky that I get to do what I do. I was able to translate a lot of the leadership and skillsets from the military into growing businesses. You would not think that that would be in effect. But in the military, I ran paying personnel divisions and offices and commands. I was an HR director, and I was the chief of police and I ran bases like Pearl Harbor.
It’s big money and big people, big budgets, big locations, lots of logistics. That’s mostly what we do in business. In business, it’s really fun and the stakes are a lot lower.
Chris: That’s a great way to end. The stakes are a lot lower in business.
Mary: If you make a mistake, maybe you know that your chai latte vanilla sugar-free foam wasn’t perfect, nobody’s going to die. It’s a whole different thing when you’re in the military. I find business to be fascinating, fun, and energizing.
Chris: Great. Mary, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.
Mary: Chris, it’s awesome and let’s make sure people are not easy prey.
Chris: Awesome. Thank you for listening to this episode of Easy Prey podcast. If you found this episode beneficial, help us with our own social proof by leaving a review at easyprey.com/review. Notes and the transcript of this episode with Dr. Kelly can be found at easyprey.com/44.