May 14th, 2013 | Posted by: Kristin | Comments
I was asked this question recently by a stranger sitting next to me on an airplane in regards to our orthodontic practice. We got into a conversation about orthodontics and she shared with me her experiences with her children and their orthodontist.
She had mixed feelings about her personal experience and was quite frustrated with the entire process. I tried my best to diffuse her frustration towards the orthodontist her children were seeing, when she made a comment to me that was eye opening. She said, “We went for several consultations, but they all seemed to be the same. There was no difference between them except for maybe a few hundred dollars in fees. We just chose the one that was closest to our home.”
That is when I suggested that there HAD TO BE A DIFFERENCE, between all the orthodontists she consulted with. She firmly denied that she could find any significant difference that set one office part from another. It was then that she asked me the question, “So what makes your practice so different?”
Did she want to know just ONE big “thing” that made us different or ALL the “things” that make our office unique. Of course, I asked for clarification.
“No, I just want you to tell me what is the ONE thing I need to know about your practice that sets you apart from ALL the others. This would be something that a parent or patient would notice and be impressed by.”
Wow, I realized she had me thinking quite hard about the ONE thing that represented our practice. Honestly, it was a great question, and I was having a hard time answering it immediately. My brain had to process some information rather quickly to come up with an answer.
She could tell that this was not a quick one sentence answer for me, so she jumped in and starting questioning me about different aspects of our practice.
Can you list some of the benefits your patients receive by being in your practice?
Yes, that was easy to answer. We have after school and evening appointments, we provide email and phone call reminders of appointments, we use Invisalign and Invisalign Teen as a primary appliance choice, but still offer clear and metal braces.
She seemed to be getting a bit frustrated with me as I was definitely not giving her the answer she was looking for. She wanted the one biggest thing – often referred to in marketing as your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP.
How would you respond to this question?
I saw this as an opportunity to get answers from my staff, our patients and their parents.
I know that people choose our practice because of many different reasons, but I truly did not know the one BIG reason.
For me personally, I have my favorite places to shop, my favorite physician, my favorite shoe store, my favorite grocery store etc… We all have our favorites and usually continue to purchase goods and services from these businesses. Usually there is ONE big reason you continue to purchase their products and services.
For example, when I think of Whole Foods, I think of fresh, organic produce and healthy eating and that is the reason I shop there. When I think of Peet’s Coffee I can almost smell and taste the amazing coffee and go out of my way to find their stores. When I think of Zappo’s I think of shoes and more shoes and free shipping which sets them apart from other online retailers.
Here is an exercise for you.
Think of all the places you spend your money and write them down. Then next to it go ahead and write down what you think and/or feel about them and the one BIG “thing that makes them different.
This simple exercise will get you thinking about your business and the reasons why your customers, clients or patients chose you.
Next, put together a brief survey that your employees will fill out.
Ask the questions:
- What benefits do our customers receive when they come into our business?
- What do you think is the one “thing” that makes our business different?
To really get them thinking about this correctly, you should also have them fill in the blanks regarding some popular stores or other places of business that are local to your office. Have them write down one “thing” that makes those businesses different or stand out from the rest.
I suggest doing this exercise as part of a team training or staff meeting. Get all your team involved in figuring this out and hopefully you will come up with some ideas that make you “different” from everyone else.
The next step is to ask your customers to do a similar survey.
Ask the questions:
- What was the main reason you chose us?
- What benefits do you feel you receive?
- What is the ONE “thing” that sets us apart?
You could do this as an email using “survey monkey,” or simply hand the survey to your customers when they come in and provide a bowl or box to simply deposit them when completed.
We have done surveys like this in the past and find them very valuable and informative.
Okay, you are probably waiting for my answer to this question, right?
I am sorry to say that I could not give her just ONE “thing” that made us different. Of course I shared with her all the things that I feel do set us apart and make us different , but coming up with the one and only BIG thing, I could not give her at that moment.
So I will be handing out the surveys to my team and my parents and patients over the next few weeks and getting some answers to the question, “what makes our practice different?”
December 17th, 2011 | Posted by: admin | Comments
By Heather Lopez
I haven’t made an announcement about this, but I am a Yahoo! Shine Get It Guide Insider. What’s a Get It Guide? Well it is “Shine’s ultimate one-stop destination for the “must have” items women are talking about.” One of their latest guides surrounded the topic of the most popular jeans.
To have some fun with the topic, Yahoo! sent me and five of my lucky mom readers on a Jean Spree to try on four brands of Jeans: Lucky, Lee, Levi’s, & True Religion. I figured I’d make it even more fun by trying to seek out the NEW “Mom Jean.” Yes, the dreaded saggy butt, high-waisted mom jean seriously needs an update.
Us moms headed over to the Boynton Beach Mall in Sunny South Florida to seek out and try on the four brands. The first brand we found was Levi’s inside of Macy’s. Now my traditional thoughts of Levi’s were that they were really designed for men working in blue collar jobs, but I was pleasantly surprised that they really have taken women into consideration with their current line of jeans. The other moms liked the jeans and one mom even dared to where white. However, the white of the pants and the white of her shirt made her look like she worked in a hospital. I’m sure she would need a different shirt to go with it. On sale the jeans were about $34, which was a good price. Macy’s did not have the other brands we were looking for, which was surprising because it said online that Macy’s carried Lucky Brand jeans & True Religion.
We then headed over to JC Penney where we found Lee jeans. Interestingly enough, we discovered one of our moms was already wearing Lee’s and she didn’t even know it. After trying these on, the other moms generally agreed that they liked the Lee’s better than the Levi’s. However, I was not happy at all with the pair that I tried on. The front area was kind of baggy and to be honest the seam between my legs was digging me … you know where. The moms thought my butt looked great in them though. These jeans were also around the same price as the Levi’s, though I think they were $32 on sale.
When we couldn’t find the Lucky Brand jeans nor the True Religion in the Boynton Beach Mall, some of our moms really had to go on a spree. We found out there was a Lucky Brand store in the Boca Town Center about 25 minutes south of where we were that had the jeans. One of our moms traveled over there to try them on and she said she liked those the best. They even have this Super Stretchy kind, which I have tried on in the past and definitely liked best of all the jeans we tried. However, the price was about 3 times as much as the Levi’s and the Lee’s. I suspect that if we had all tried on the Lucky Brand jeans, we would’ve liked the fit and not the price.
Turns out that the Macy’s that had True Religion in stock was in California, so we started seeking other locations for those jeans. We struck Gold when we found them in the Wellington-Green Mall and The Galleria Mall. Unfortunately the only one of us who could actually get into them was the most petite of the group. Plus, they were expensive. They definitely would not be claiming the title of the NEW mom jean.
Like I said, the favorite of the group was the Lee’s, both for fit and for price. For me, I just did not see how Lee’s would be the New mom jean as they are more like the current mom jean. For me the Levi’s was the clear winner of the four. I think we need a brand that offers stretchy, comfortable, and flattering fit at an affordable price (and no, the pajama jeans don’t count.)
Click here to check out the Get It Guide for Most Popular Jeans or click the image below to check out the most recent Get It Guide.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Yahoo! Each of the mom participants received a giftcard to facilitate the jean shopping spree. All opinions expressed are honest reviews based on real experiences with the aforementioned brands.
November 21st, 2011 | Posted by: admin | Comments
By Heather Lopez
I am not the most domestic of moms. In fact, for the past year I have been planning on embarking on a 15 month personal journey to “domesticate” myself. It seems a daunting task to train myself in less than 2 years to do the things I have not learned in almost 32 of them. As an independent woman, I believe I rejected the notion of domesticity because I felt it subjected me to the role that society places on women and moms. I wanted to be different, so I have always pursued beyond my own front door. However, I am coming to find the desire to be more like a homemaker. It comes from a personal want, not forced on me by my husband or the desire to be seen as the fairytale perfect mom you see in commercials. As Thanksgiving approaches, I have come to a few realizations that supersede the actual turkey dinner:
Of all the times in my life, the time I feel most domestic is during Thanksgiving. This is partially because it is the only time of the year when I really make an effort to cook a delicious and full meal. It is also the only time of year where my family makes a real effort to get together. As I think back on all of the years of Thanksgivings, my eyes are opened to the fact that I truly enjoyed preparing the meal. Maybe it is all of the love that is poured into it that makes is so special? It got me thinking that perhaps the reason I hate cooking is not just the messy cleanup, but because I have somehow forgotten to put in the love. My husband always tells me that I watch so many cooking shows, I should be a master chef by now and yet I prefer to watch the beauty of food over actually creating it. You can copy a recipe and the end result is not as good as the original, and the reason being that the amount of love you put into it makes all the difference in the world. Maybe I need to put in the love in all my meals, not just Thanksgiving? Can that domestic spirit I embody during Thanksgiving be recreated throughout the year? I think that with enough effort on my part, I can make it happen and be happier for it.
Both my mother and my grandmother cater to their husbands and family before themselves and that is okay. My grandmother is approaching her 80s and she still wakes up early every morning to make the family breakfast. She cleans her own house and never asks for help. She does everything with a smile on her face. I used to feel like the era in which she grew up in dictated her behavior and she really did not have a choice in the matter. I am beginning to realize that my independence might also be a product of my generation & I have somehow lost some of the connection with my own family because of it. I also realized that as a god-fearing woman, my grandmother was not just being subservient to my grandfather, but was being obedient to God. It was this realization that helped me to look past the idea of just serving a man. My grandmother shows her appreciation for God through obeying his Word and allowing my grandfather to be the head of the household. That is something I am personally working on at the moment.
I truly want to create the sense of warmth I grew up with in my own house and the house of my grandmother. I used to think my grandmother herself was a little cold as I grew up, but there was always warmth in her home. She always welcomed us with open arms and treated me to special treats like strawberry milk, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and cream of wheat Her awesome butter sauce is the sole reason I eat brussel sprouts today. There was always warmth in my own house as well. I remember loving the fact that my mother would randomly bake cookies or brownies, that she would sew my clothes when the wer torn, that she would decorate the house around every holiday theme of the year, and that she would make hot chocolate with extr marshmallows because I liked them. This warmth is the kind of warmth I feel as I enter my current church, even though it meets in a movie theater. You see, it’s not necessarily the location that contains the warmth, but the hearts of the people in that location. I desire that warmth in my own heart and house, and realize that my grandmother was never cold- she just expressed her love through her home & her food. It is my hopes to express my love not just in words, but through my action and aura that surrounds me.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, my goals are to cook with love, have warmth in my heart & my home, and show m gratitude through obedience to God. Let the warmth, fullness & elation of Thanksgiving Day be carried out daily, not just the one day a year when we get drunk off of carbs and tryptophan.
Heather Lopez, aka The Social Commerce Mom, specializes in relationship marketing both online and off. She is the CEO of Heather Lopez Enterprises LLC, where she is responsible for several events, websites, trainings, and services targeting moms and those seeking to market to moms. Heather empowers moms to create their own financial freedom through business or blogging so that they may have more time for what they treasure most. She is also a 30-something mom to two rambunctious toddlers and wife to one entrepreneurial-minded husband. You can connect with Heather @ http://www.HeatherLopezEnterprises.com
Image: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
November 18th, 2011 | Posted by: admin | Comments
By Heather Lopez
One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How do you balance it all?” The answer: I don’t. I was talking about this with my new friend Vicky, who runs a conference called Inspiration U. We were working on topic ideas for a potential speaking opportunity at her event, and we both realized how often people mistake balance for priority.
Vicky stated that the word Balance implies that you have an equal allotment to each part, which when you think about it, is both unrealistic and nonsensical. We both came to the conclusion that balance was a myth i.e. something that people talk about as if it is real, but it doesn’t really exist.
Show me someone who claims to have it all figured out and I will show you a liar, or at least someone in denial. You see, we want to put our best foot forward in the world, so we fear sharing the times when we “fall off.” But, everybody does.
When I thought about the concept of balance, I also began to realize why people kept asking me how I do it. People have perception of me as a mom entrepreneur juggling multiple responsibilities, and I have been successful at providing the illusion of having balance. But if you knew me, you’d know that I am resilient, not balanced. I get back up on the horse, every time I fall off. You can have a routine, but there are always those unexpected occurrences that can catch you off guard. Being resilient means being able to bounce back from the setbacks and overcome the obstacles.
So let’s go back to the idea of priority. When you go through prioritization, you decide what is most important to you and what is
the most time sensitive, and then create a plan for your actions. Prioritization can be a daily process to help you stay focused on what’s important. With this concept, you are not obligated to keep things equal and you take care of what is most important first.
One of the speakers for my conferences, Mike Michalowicz of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur fame, offered a very useful post that helped me with prioritizing my business time. The basic summary of the idea was that you:
- Get a piece of paper and make two columns.
- On one column you write TASK and the other column, you put TYPE.
- Then you write down all of your tasks as they come into your mind under TASK.
- Next, in the type column, you put a $ sign next to all of the tasks that will generate income in the next 30 days.
- Then you put a next to the tasks that will make your clients happy.
- Take care of tasks with both symbols first.
- Then take care of tasks with the symbol.
- The take care of the tasks with $ symbol.
- The tasks with no symbol can be moved back.
You can find the full post here: http://www.toiletpaperentrepreneur.com/managing-focus/do-more-stuff-in-less-time
That helps with the business prioritization, but what about the rest of it? Of course, your business is not your entire life, so how do you go about prioritizing your life too? Well, the first priority should be You. As a mom, we get so used to self-sacrifice that we put our own needs aside. However, if the donkey is sick, who is going to pull the cart? Happy Moms breed Happy Homes. Make sure you are getting at least 15 minutes of Me Time every day, doing whatever it is you want to do.
After that, if you are involved in a meaningful relationship, you need to focus on providing time for your partner or spouse. If you are so busy that neither of you have time for each other, eventually the communication will break down and the closeness will dissipate. Make time each day to show that special someone how they are important to you.
From there, you prioritize your kids’ needs. Don’t overschedule them. There is a difference between being in band, and being in band, basketball, football, chorus, etc. Let the children gravitate towards an area that they would like to focus on. This will hel them maintain focus later on in life. I, myself, was one of those kids who was in dance, cheerleading, band, chorus, basketball swimming, yearbook, etc….. Look at me now, finding it virtually impossible not to be doing 10 different things simultaneously. I might’ve have benefitted from some focused direction earlier on.
Then you have everything else like your extended family, friends, etc. Now, you might disagree with me on the order, but that i your personal priorities. You decide what order suits you the most and then decide what you will take care of first each day.
I don’t balance, I prioritize. I am not balanced, I am resilient. For more tips & support prioritizing your life, try out The Mom Entrepreneur Support Group (we’ve got a 30 day trial).
Heather Lopez, aka The Social Commerce Mom, specializes in relationship marketing both online and off. She is the new owner of The Mom Entrepreneur® & the CEO of Heather Lopez Enterprises LLC, where she is responsible for several events, websites, trainings, and services targeting moms and those seeking to market to moms. Heather empowers moms to create their own financial freedom through business or blogging so that they may have more time for what they treasure most. She is also a 30-something mom to two rambunctious toddlers and wife to one entrepreneurial-minded husband. You can connect with Heather @ http://www.HeatherLopezEnterprises.com
October 6th, 2011 | Posted by: Traci Bisson | Comments
I founded The Mom Entrepreneur in 2008 as a way to help myself adjust to the everyday struggles of balancing a family and growing a business. I connected with hundreds of women who faced the same challenges. We exchanged support, camaraderie, trust and respect.
Today marks a bitter sweet occassion as I take the next step in my professional career. On October 1, 2011, The Mom Entrepreneur was sold to Heather Lopez of Heather Lopez Enterprises.
Heather is a long-time member of the Support Group and ambassador of The Mom Entrepreneur. She joined the Support Group back in 2008 when it first started in Google Groups. She has helped nuture what was first a community of a few hundred women become a continually growing and evolving power house of 15,000+ women all over the world.
Heather is also the co-founder of the Super Mom Entrepreneur Conference & Expo and she founded the Super Mom Entrepreneur Grant Fund, a conference and grant dedicated to helping moms grow their businesses through training, networking, and support. Heather also heads a small business/entrepreneurial branding social network, Become Better Brands.
In addition, Heather is the founder of Happy and Healthy Mom.Com, which offers an online magazine, mommy expos, and a product review team for new & expecting moms, focused on the woman behind the baby. She is the co-founder of the Bloggin’ Mamas Cruise Conference being held the Summer of 2012. She is also a key figure in the launch of Connected Through Christ, The Christian Social Network.
I am excited to pass the torch to this passionate mom entrepreneur who has lots of plans for The Mom Entrepreneur, and will take the company to the next level. Watch for announcements about new events, advertising specials, support group discussions, Co-op Shop holiday blasts and much more.
It has been an absolutely amazing three years. I am forever grateful for the caring and wonderful women I have met who continually supported my ideas and goals over the years. I will never forget you. We shared success stories as well as tears. I am a better person because I met you!
You have not seen the last of me. I will be supporting Heather for awhile in more of a silent role. I am also still a member of the Support Group and look forward to continuing important discussions about balancing motherhood and running a company.
At Bisson Barcelona, my other company, I have the great fortune to be working with two clients who keep me very busy. I love the work I am doing with these companies and look forward to continuing to build my relationship with them over the years. My family will also be traveling more and spending as much quality time together as possible before my oldest is off to high school and too interested in sports.
Thanks for a great three years and I will “see” you in The Mom Entrepreneur Support Group!
September 9th, 2011 | Posted by: Traci Bisson | Comments
Being a mom and working a full-time job is something to be proud of not just because you are a well-balanced person, but because you are teaching your kids those same impressive habits.
Believe it or not, your children are taking notes about what it is to be a professional. If instilling the importance of work in your children is important to you, then you are leading by example.
Following are 5 lessons working moms can pass on to their kids:
- Workload – School can be a tough time for students in terms of work load. As a working mom, you can teach your kids what works for you when it comes to getting paperwork and assignments done and done well. Sometimes a lot of work can lead kids to try and finish it faster, but you can teach them how to pace themselves.
- Management – Aside from workload alone, you know that there are other things important to children. As a working mom, you deal with time management each day. Explain to your kids what you do to make sure everything gets done. For example, you might get the easier things out of the way first, take short breaks throughout your day, or have a set schedule that helps you stay on task.
- Attitude – You have a lot going on at once, yet you have to keep a positive attitude for your family (and ultimately yourself). If your children complain or give-up, you can teach them the importance of having a positive attitude and how you stay positive.
- Tolerance – A working mom knows how to deal with co-workers that are less than ideal to work with, and possibly bosses who are less than ideal to work for. In many cases students experience the same types of attitudes towards their peers and their teachers. Talk to your kids about what you do in these situations, and give them real examples of some of the daily trials you go through at work.
- Success – Your children will be able to see the difference hard work can make if you come home and talk to them about what happened at work. Giving your children a sense of confidence and letting them know that hard work pays off will go a long way for them in the future. Try telling them about something good that happened at work, and then ask them if anything similar happened at school.
Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to voip business phone system. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including voip phones to small businesses and entrepreneurs at Resource Nation.
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August 12th, 2011 | Posted by: Traci Bisson | Comments
What do you wish you had more of? Time? Money? Health? I haven’t found the silver bullet for all those precious resources, but there’s one small change you can do to create a little more time, save some money and eat a healthier dinner. Meal planning.
Stop the moaning and put away those excuses – here’s why you should take 30 minutes this weekend to meal plan.
How often do you come home, open the fridge and just stare? Are you waiting for something to jump out (don’t open the veggie drawer, because sometimes, something just might!)? I call it “longing for inspiration.” Let’s see, you’ve done this 3-4 times this week and wasted about 20-25 minutes each time figuring out what you want to eat, what you have in the house, etc. You’ve just wasted an hour and a half!! If you meal plan for 30 minutes, you’ll have “found” an hour of extra time this week.
Okay, you’ve figured out what you’re going to have for dinner, but you’re missing an ingredient. Off to the store you go. And while you’re there, you might as well grab that People magazine or that sweet treat in the checkout aisle. Cha-ching. Every time you go to the store – c’mon admit it – you end up with more than you went for. Meal planning let’s you shop once for the whole week, saving you about 25% on your grocery bill. Plus you won’t buy things and not use them (remember those veggies above). Not to mention gas money and don’t forget about your time. What’s that worth??
This is a big one. When you lay out your dinner recipes for the week, you are actively thinking about what you are going to eat. You choose the recipes you make, and since most of them have nutrition data on them, you can decide how to modify those that might need some tweaking. But most importantly, you are making dinner from scratch – you have control over what goes into the recipe and therefore into your body. Without the meal plan, the longing for inspiration may prove to be too much and it’s out to dinner – where someone else decides what goes in your meal.
So, no excuses – save time, money and eat a healthier dinner by taking 30 minutes to meal plan each week.
About Menu Masters, LLC
Founded by food and beverage industry specialist, Amanda Telford, Menu Masters, LLC is a unique and beneficial meal planning service that delivers prepared menus to individuals and corporations to solve the problem of “what’s for dinner” and positively impact health and well-being. The service includes full menus, recipes, and grocery lists to make dinnertime easier, stress free, healthier, and more cost-effective. Also, as part of its commitment to social responsibility, Menu Masters has developed a program called Menus with Meaning, which annually provides 5% of profits to a non-profit organization. For more information please visit www.menu-masters.com.