True North Business Consulting

New Year With Client Retention

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Welcome to the New Year! As a lawyer how I work is to help businesses resolve disputes with mediation and training. I love what I do because I see my clients save relationships, time and money. Still confused on how conflict resolution works with a trained legal professional?

I can give you an example, especially in light of the upcoming Supreme Court case that will decide about the federal health insurance mandate. Have you ever gotten a medical bill and then contacted the hospital only to get no answers? Or worse, a surly attitude?

Latest statistics say that 60% of bankruptcies are caused by medical billing. What is more unfortunate is that a majority of people that are going through bankruptcy due to medical bills have health insurance. There has to be a better way, and dispute resolution can provide that better way.

Hospital staff can be trained in the collaborative negotiation style which stresses win/win. The billing staff should always be the first connection and step with the consumer.

If that is not sufficient, then utilizing a mediator like Kaiser Permanente of California uses for quality control, but instead for billing. Mediators are trained neutrals who can facilitate decision making between parties, making sure they hear each other and come up with reality based solutions.

Imagine avoiding collection agencies, their hard tactics, and coming up with a practical solution that is based on good customer service.

You may think- this can only benefit large corporations and hospitals. That is not the case at all. This type of training and step by step process of resolution is good customer is affordable to all. You can have a program that fits your needs. In a time where reviews are so important- you want to make sure that you are doing what you can to retain your clients and have a positive company. Contact True North Business Consulting today for more information on our training program and mediation services.

Step by Step

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Step By Step

I met with my cousin’s husband before Thanksgiving. It was not to go over holiday planning, like who was bringing what dish, but about government contracts. They have been successful in getting government contracts for their business, and I was investigating this for True North Business Consulting, LLC.

I learned about GSA, The General Services Administration is the central location for contracts- if you are interested in federal government contracts then you need to register with the GSA. Our discussion though was focused on the intensive request for proposals (RFP) that needs to be completed. This is the advice I want to share.

The government looks for processes-explainable steps that will bring results. And what the government looks for is what is usually wanted in the private sector, too. For example, True North Business Consulting offers mediation services. I would describe it as a five step process:

1. Speak to each side to get a sense of the issue and see what times they are available to meet.
2. Schedule a meeting(s)
3. Meet individually , if necessary
4. Come to an agreement
5. Create contract with review by outside counsel

My challenge to you is to think of your business as a process. What steps do you take with your service? Can you explain them and write them down?

The holidays are a great time to take a look at your business and focus on what system you are using.

3 Reasons to Say “No Thank You” to New Business

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Experience is often the best teacher. When new opportunities are presented, on what basis do you make the decision to accept or decline an offer? Not all business is the best match and in fact might cause more harm than good. What is the true cost of working with a client? There are many ways to evaluate whether to proceed or opt to walk away and perhaps make a referral for the client. After all, this could be a dream project for someone else and not only will you have served yourself, but by being proactive, you have also preserved your reputation and sanity.

Three red flags to pay attention to:

1. The PROJECT is not a fit!
If you are not crystal clear in identifying who your ideal client is, then anyone with a check book is fair game. This may sound ludicrous, but the reality is that until you have done your homework and understand your business mission and core competencies, you will continue to be frustrated by the relationships you cultivate. While you should not decline every job that is less than ideal, flexibility is important, it is critical to understand when the cost of doing business is too high. Will you have to invest in becoming conversant with an industry unfamiliar to you, hire experts or purchase new equipment? Is there true value here or do you need to walk away?

2. The PEOPLE are not a fit!
First impressions are made within 30-seconds of meeting someone. Pay attention to how you feel in the presence of the prospect. People do business with people they like and even a short-term project with a difficult group can make the time an energetic drain which also depletes other resources. Are you prepared to regularly justify your fees, manage a challenging client or be on 24-hour call? While you do not have to love the client or become the best of friends, warning signs that they may be overly demanding or reactive makes the case for saying “no”.

3. The PROCESS is not a fit!
When you override your initial reaction or force fit a project into your business you can write the final script in advance and it may be one that you are all too familiar with; a promise NEVER to do x again! What is the overall experience you want for yourself and/or your group? Is this a project you are anxious to do but the timeline is not workable? Does it contribute to your portfolio, experience or future work you hope to do? Is the proposal in alignment with your personal and professional goals and values and does it add to your bottom line? Understand the scope of what you are getting into before you commit.

Walking away from someone who wants to pay you is not easy. Increase your fees to compensate for the project, person(s) or process that is not a good fit? Of course you can, but is that the best way to do business? If your resources are stretched to the limit servicing clients you do not want, where is the space for those you really want to be on board? By saying “no” to the wrong fit you can also say “yes” to the better client, project, or opportunity that is also out there looking for their best match.
©2011 Maureen Weisner

M. Weisner Coaching & Consulting
provides one-on-one personal and executive coaching to Women on the Edge®… of Change. We create a partnership with our clients as they identify the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Together we design, strategize, and implement a structure for the client to work from in achieving her goals.

We focus on how change impacts your life from moment to moment and for the long term. Our programs provide:

Exercises to identify what you really want and what is preventing you from obtaining it
Motivational strategies to support your transition
Tools and perspectives to reinforce these strategies
Follow-up to keep you on track

Negotiation November: 5 Tips To Remember

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True North Business Consulting was featured in this article

Compass Point Bulletin: Dishonesty Is Not Honesty In Disguise

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Dishonesty Is Not Honesty In Disguise
There was an exposé recently in the Boston Globe about the fishing industry. I was one of the readers struck by the epidemic of mislabeled fish, but it was a local chef’s comment that caught my eye. He commented that he thought it was perfectly fine in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to say that sablefish was butterfish. He liked to use the word, butterfish, because it rolled off the tongue better.
There is not a state within the United States that allows misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is dishonesty about material facts. You need to give consumers the right information about your product. Therefore the accurate name of your product or service is important.
In the same week I came across another article, not in the Boston Globe, but an online source where the author was advocating plagiarizing web content. Yes, it was eye-catching, and I can imagine it made an effective tweet, but again, like misrepresentation, this is not allowed. Just look at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. If you feel someone has stolen content from your website, then you can send a cease a desist letter for them to take it down.
For example, let’s say one of your clients has given you permission to use their comment. “XYZ business was great. Claire helped explain exactly what I needed to bring attention to my business. AB, my new product wouldn’t have been a success without her.” Now we add in a new competitor who doesn’t have any feedback, and they take your comment as their own, just changing the name. Is that fair? You would follow the Digital Millennium Copyright Act so that you could stop your competitor from using your quote.
Remember be clear and honest about your business even when it comes to marketing. Advertising is important for your business, and you need to be creative, but not dishonest. Not all fishes are the same. You cannot plagiarize from a website, no matter how much you wish that was your content. It’s not.

If you need advice on this type of situation, contact True North Business Consulting.

Compass Point Bulletin: What is ADR?

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I use the acronym ADR all the time, yet very few people recognize it. ADR stands for Alternative Dispute Resolution, a set of conflict resolution processes that avoid litigation. With ADR you stay out of court.

I don’t know many people who want to go to court so you would think that everyone would know about ADR. But, court offers you the option of having a public trial or what I call airing your dirty laundry. Some people want that public vindication, for a judge to decide your civil fate (ADR does not apply to criminal cases), and for the defendant to be punished or humiliated somehow.

That doesn’t happen with ADR. Most of the processes are about preserving relationships. Let’s look at Mediation, for example. Mediation uses a third party neutral or facilitator to help the parties communicate and come to their own resolution. That’s right- the mediator does not make the decision. It has been found that when parties, plaintiff and defendant, if we are using legal terms, can come to their own agreement then they are more likely to stick to that agreement.

Mediation is about people listening to each other, and understanding what is really going on. You really don’t know what is going on with someone until you can listen and talk to them. Court, because of certain rules, does not give you that opportunity. Litigation also does not allow for creativity- with mediation you can brainstorm all the possibilities and still come up with an agreement that works for you.

Think about ADR next time you have a conflict or dispute. True North Business Consulting provides mediation services along with negotiation coaching.

Compass Point Bulletin: "I don't know how to negotiate"

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“I don’t know how to negotiate.” I hear this quite a bit. Many people do not know how to approach a negotiation, especially women. They are stuck with the idea of what they see on television or in movies, which depict one person coming on strong and the other person caving in. That is not negotiating. Does this sound familiar?

I believe in the collaborative approach where the parties prepare for the negotiation by thinking up options. If the other party does not want to try this style, then you can prepare on your own. You need to prepare because what I also see happening is that people do not bring any evidence that support their options.

Let me be blunt- you need proof. In a negotiation I would not believe another side’s idea is good because they told me so. I would believe it if I saw a chart or information on what someone else had done before (that had been successful). Take the time to do some research.

Let me give an example. You want to add a line of products to your office. The product representative contacts you and gives you general information to sign, but you are hesitant even though you really like the products.

1. Read over the cost.
2. What are the ordering procedures?
3. Find other people in the area who carry the products and talk to them. What kind of deal did they make?
4. Armed with this information you can now negotiate.

Without getting more information, you would have made a bad deal. By getting that information you can now support asking for a better deal.

True North provides negotiating coaching services so you can comfortably negotiate your way through any business deal.

Don't Sue Me! Conflict Resolution For Everyone!

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Save Time, Money and Relationships

Most people will have an experience with mediation or arbitration at least once in their personal or business lives.

JOIN US! For a FREE Seminar hosted by Attorney Cynthia Pasciuto of True North Business Consulting, LLC.

· Learn the differences between mediation and arbitration

· Realize the benefits of conflict resolution

· Learn the steps involved

· Avoid common problems

· Know how arbitration is used today

This is not something you want to miss! Register now as space is limited. Register online at http://truenorthconsulting.eventbrite.com

Compass Point Bulletin: Free Business Class on August 30th

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You are an integrative health practitioner, an acupuncturist, a yoga instructor, a massage therapist, naturopath, or health coach. You help others, and are an expert in your field, having studied and worked hard to develop your practice. However, a practice involves business know-how. Entrepreneurs, Cynthia Pasciuto of True North Business Consulting and Laura Greer of Mandala Services have formed the Institute of Integrative Business Studies to provide online business education to health and wellness practitioners.
Cynthia and Laura are not newcomers to the health and wellness field. Cynthia has taught at the local acupuncture school along with teaching at the undergraduate level. Laura has helped practitioners start, grow and manage thriving health and wellness practicices, has worked for yoga studios and has been a yoga instructor for over ten years. They both noticed there was a need for business knowledge often being asked for advice on social media, marketing, management and legal assistance. They wanted the health and wellness practitioners to succeed.
The Institute of Integrative Business Studies℠ is launching The Integrative Business Program℠, a series of online seminars aimed at helping integrative health practitioners learn what it takes to start, maintain and grow a successful practice. The objective of the Integrative Business Program℠ is to educate integrative health practitioners in order to improve their chances for success and to increase the accessibility of qualified practitioners available to the consumer. The program teaches participants crucial business and practice management principles in the areas of Patient & Clinical Management, Marketing & Public Relations, Accounting, Insurance and Finance, and Business Law.

The Integrative Business Program℠ consists of a number of courses that run for a length of -6 weeks each. Weekly online sessions are 1 hour in length and each course is taught by an expert in the topic.

Courses start in September. Sign up today for a free introductory webinar on Tuesday, August 30th- Jumpstart Your Business: Top Ten Things You Need to Know! Sign up for the free webinar at http://www.integrativebusinessstudies.com/jumpstart

The Institute of Integrative Business Studies℠, where holistic health and business practices meet, is sponsored by the Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Association of Massachusetts and The National Institute of Whole Health.

More information at http://www.integrativebusinessstudies.com or
Contact: inquire@integrativebusinessstudies.com

Compass Point Bulletin: What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

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Yes, usually an article like this would come at the end of September at the beginning of fall, but I did my traveling in May and June this year so I wanted to share what I learned.

Look before you step:
In Florida I stepped on a stinging bee/wasp. To this day I have no idea what insect family it was in, but I was enjoying the beach and the next thing I know my foot is on fire. An emergency room visit, an IV course of antibiotics along with having the stinger still in my foot for 12 days later is a reminder that you have to asses risk before going into a venture, and to have a plan in case something happens. In project management it is called Risk Management; there should always be a Plan B.

You have to think about marketing all the time:
Tennessee was having unusually hot, humid weather for June. In Nashville with my friends we went to Broadway. If you have never been to Nashville, this is where you can find country music being played. I was tired and decided to go back to the hotel, and a friend said she was ready to go back too. We walked and she pointed out a minor celebrity. She wanted to continue walking, but I wanted to go up to him. I pulled her with me, and we ended up having a fifteen minute conversation where he tried to convince us to join a Facebook campaign. It taught me that every conversation is a marketing opportunity, which is why True North always thinks about the marketing element when providing legal coaching.

Negotiate properly
In Ireland I forgot the key step in negotiations-sometimes a cultural translator is needed. I have been to Europe before, and considered Ireland a European country where they happen to speak English with an accent. No need to speak a foreign language. First, I did not always understand when people were speaking to me, and then I assumed that I could haggle and get a discount. In Ireland, the price set is the price set. Lesson learned. True North provides negotiation services, preparing you to enter your negotiations so that they are win/win.

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