Invoicing with love.

Invoices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ina Garten (aka “Barefoot Contessa” on Food Network) cooks with love.

I have cooked her recipes dozens of times, making sure to follow them perfectly, and mine never taste nearly as good as when my mother makes them.  

My mother cooks with love too.

But the love I don’t bring to cooking, I do bring to other things.

I love untangling a problem. I love SEO and Google Analytics.

Heck, I’d even say I love preparing invoices. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that I “send customer invoices with love.”

I love when I see people take pride in life’s little tasks.

 After I email a customer their invoice, I also send them one by snail-mail.

I make sure a (pretty) postage sits nice and straight in the corner of the envelope.

In fact, since the post office will deliver an envelope with a crooked stamp, the only reason I put a postage stamp on straight is, well, pride.

When I “invoice with love” I write a handwritten note thanking each customer, and include a postage-paid envelope, so customers don’t have to find a stamp.

I also enclose a little treat:  a magnet that’s personalized with important phone numbers from the customer’s town.

Including the personalized magnet also provides some weight to the envelope.  Customers open my invoice more quickly because they’re curious about why it’s so heavy.  I guess it’s not a stretch to say that “invoicing with love” actually improves my cash flow.

A treat inside an invoice!  I’ve never got one, have you?

If you have no idea how your invoices look to your customers because someone else prepares them, then take a peek this week.  

How do your invoices make you feel about your company?  These tiny customer touch points add up to what the big-wigs call “branding.”  

They say, “how you do anything is how you do everything.”

What tiny thing do you do with love?

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Mrs. Tyler

I love to talk shop so much that I can’t help but peek behind the scenes when I travel.  

 

Every summer when my kids were young, we went to Tyler Place – a magical spot that feels more “camp” than “resort.”  

 

But make no mistake, there is nothing campy about the food at Tyler Place. This vacation consistently draws persnickety palettes back year after year for its gourmet, farm-to-table menu.   

 

And there’s a 3-year wait for a reservation at Tyler Place because a family has to “drop out” before a new family can take their place. And, well, families rarely drop out. They come back year after year and even return with their grandkids.

 

By the time I got the call that we’d been “accepted,” it felt more like being admitted to Harvard than just handing over a credit card to pay for a week-long vacation. 

 

The Tylers are certainly doing something right!

 

What’s also distinctive about Tyler Place is that the Tylers themselves mingle, run activities, and eat with the guests. 

 

Everywhere guests look, there’s a Tyler.

 

“What percentage of the hash browns do you think should be crunchy?” One of the Tylers asked me one morning in the line for breakfast. 

 

I had never thought about the ideal ratio of crunchy-to-mushy hashbrowns, but he sure had.   

 

And it turned Mr. Tyler was there in line with me to inspect the breakfast potatoes, which he felt should be “65%-brown-and-crisp to 35% white and mushy.” 

 

As a business owner, I understood that having the Tylers roaming amongst paying guests was a way to quality-control the operation.   And I appreciated that they cared enough to stay engaged.

 

It certainly would’ve be easier for them to hire out the day to day management of the resort and “stay out of the weeds.”  But I’m not sure they’d have a 3-year waiting list if they didn’t obsess about the crunchy-to-mushy ratio of the hashbrowns.

 

In my business, I’m Mrs. Tyler.

I have all kinds of standards that need enforcing – all of which are as fastidious as Mr. Tyler’s hash brown ratios – but I can only do this if I’m connected, engaged, and there.

 

Mrs. Tyler wants her presence known. She’s watching, overhearing, and connected.

 

The mice don’t play when Mrs. Tyler’s around!

 

 

Dozens of colorful bikes on bike racks at Tyler Place

Bikes are the only way to get around at Tyler Place!

Decide Once.

Plinko game

Do your research, take your time, word-smith the heck out of your words. And then decide.

Leverage all of the time you spent deciding by then spreading your decision out over the next decade. 

For example, in our office we:

1.  Play a game of Plinko at our weekly meeting when it’s your birthday to win cold-hard cash. This prevents us from finding out it’s your birthday, spending time online figuring out what to get you, and doing a mad dash to the store to pick up a gift. It also frees up your colleagues’ from the mental load of deciding what to write when they sign your card.

2.  Use TextExpander software to pre-think our email responses, so they’re ready for action on Tuesday when we are too busy to think clearly. We have hundreds of TextExpander templates, including one for rejecting a candidate, saying “no” to a project, and scheduling a meeting – all composed to perfection a few years ago.

3.  Use “Subscribe and Save” for office snacks – nobody has any mental load deciding if we should get Swedish Fish or Wheat Thins (Swedish Fish, of course!).

4.  Ask each employee when they start, 3 sandwiches they like.  This makes ordering lunch for the team a whole lot easier on our Office Manager.

 

What have you handed over to the “Decide Once” gods in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exactly how?

You say:  “You need more online reviews.” 

They think:  “But how do I get them? 

You say:  “Ask for the order every time.”

They think:  “I’m not sure of words that would sound authentic.”

You say:  “You need to coach your staff.”

They think:  “But exactly how…?”

Telling people what to do is not always effective.  

For real results, focus on being incredibly specific and focusing on the “how.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weeds.

The weeds.

Weed emerging through cement

“You must be in the medical field,” My doctor said as he flipped through my indexed and cross-referenced binder of medical tests.

“No, since we only have 15 minutes…  

I just wanted you focused on my problem, not shuffling through a disarray of papers and lab work.”

Being strategic often means diving into the details and nuances of a project.  

In fact, understanding the nuances and “weeds” is an important step I like to take before ever delegating anything to someone else.  This way, I can coach them from experience, and I can’t be BS’ed about how long something takes or how hard it is.

God is in the details.

And the details are in the weeds.

 

Another HT to Seth Godin for getting me to ponder “caring” and “trying” in general.