Is Your Team Running On All Cylinders?

Team effectiveness can make or break your business. Are you getting the most out of your team? How can you tell?

By doing a team assessment, that’s how. There are eighteen crucial areas that will help determine how effective your team is today. Unfortunately, I can’t list them all in a single article but I can give you a few tips that can help get you started.

  1. How would you assess the level of cooperation between members of the team?
  2. Does information flow freely within your organization?
  3. Is creativity encouraged and rewarded?
  4. How are conflicts handled? Are they fully discussed and resolved or put on the back burner?
  5. How do you support one another? Is praise given and encouraged?
  6. Do you subscribe to an open environment where people are allowed to speak their minds or is there fear of reprisal?
  7. Do team members trust one another?
  8. Do people have pride in their jobs and accomplishments?

Do any of these issues resonate with you? You can’t run a productive business without a solid team. In today’s market place we need to be as competitive as possible. The workload continues to increase, while our human resources seem to be depleted. 

Don’t run the risk of burning out your team. Pay attention to their needs and your company will proper, ignore their needs and you could be headed for trouble.

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Planning Overtakes Procrastination

Planning Overtakes Procastination

By: Jodi Cross

Check Mate! I have declared war on procrastination! The piles have been building for months and my “to do” lists have a list of their own but nothing seems to get done. The key to ending the madness is planning.

Start by organizing your to-do lists and make priorities:

Make a list and write items down in categories

  • Breaking things into Personal or Professional action items


Think of issues as:

  • Critical-these are things that must be done in an urgent time frame or their will be consequences.
  • Important-these items are action that must be taken but there are not   urgent consequence.

Layout tasks on your actual calendar

  • Schedule action items into small tasks.
  • Set deadlines and stick to them.

Avoid getting caught in the perfect trap 

  • Perfectionists can be the biggest procrastinators of all, it is part of their winning formula. Instead focus on progress.

Minimize Interruptions and distractions

  • Set a time to get projects done. Check your emails during certain windows during your day to avoid distractions.
  • Compartmentalize work flow and return calls later. Stays focused on projects and see them through. Once a task is completed check your email list and return your calls during set times throughout the day. This will make your time more productive.

Build in rewards

  • Think about big and small rewards you can give yourself if you finish a project.
  • Use positive, pleasurable outcomes to motivate you to complete a project.
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Top Considerations Driving Meetings Bookings

Past experience was the No. 1 factor (at 92%) when choosing a specific hotel within the broader market or destination – See more at:

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Generation Y has buying power in the millions and represent up to 24% of the population. How can your business attract more?

Generation Y has buying power in the millions and represent up to 24% of the population. How can your business attract more?  

By: Jodi Cross 

The hotel industry continues to show steady improvement in customer service scores according to the 2014 J.D. Power and Associates North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index StudySM released in July. Gen Y guests (Millennials) played a major role in this year’s study as the survey looked at their travel habits, likes and dislikes. For detailed information click the link below.


 “By improving the brand experience for first-time Gen Y guests, there is a substantial opportunity for hotels to gain a pool of satisfied, committed guests who will be loyal for years to come,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “We also find that satisfaction is more than 300 points lower among Gen Y guests who have a low opinion of staff than among Gen Y guests who have a high opinion of the hotel staff, while that difference is much smaller among those in other generation groups. Hoteliers have the opportunity to improve both satisfaction and loyalty rates by simply focusing on improving their staff interactions with Gen Y guests.”

Who are the Industry Leaders in each category?

 The following hotel brands ranked highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segments:

Luxury: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Upper Upscale: Kimpton Hotels

Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn

Midscale Full Service: Holiday Inn

Midscale: Drury Hotels  

Economy/Budget: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham

Upper Extended Stay: Homewood Suites by Hilton

Extended Stay: Candlewood Suites

Key Findings:

  • Hotel brands that are perceived as being exciting and trendsetters receive the highest number of positive recommendations, while those perceived as environmentally careless receive the highest number of negative comments. 
  • The proportion of Price Buyers—hotel guests who select their hotel brand primarily based on price—has fallen by a significant 7 percentage points from 2013 (19% vs. 12%, respectively). Price Buyers are among the least satisfied of the guest groups.
  • The proportion of Scrutinizers—those who thoroughly research their hotel choices through online travel review sites and other sources—has increased to 10 percent in 2014 from 7 percent last year. Notably, the Scrutinizer group has the largest number of highly committed guests to a hotel brand.
  • Among all the problems experienced by guests, rooms that are not clean has the greatest negative impact on satisfaction.
  • Challenges with Internet connectivity remain twice as prevalent as any other guest problem. The negative impact of these problems is relatively consistent regardless of whether Internet access is complimentary or guests have to pay an additional fee for it.

Who are these Gen Y’s and how can hotels attract more of them?

With nearly 80 million people in the U.S. alone, Generation Y is the fastest-growing demographic in both the workplace and the marketplace. Also referred to as “Millennials,” the group covers those with birth years ranging from 1977 to 1995 and presents a dynamic opportunity for hotels to attract and retain a booming market that already represents one third of all hotel guests. Gen Y’s are extremely mobile, energetic and place an emphasis on work-life balance and personal fulfillment.

According to a recent article from Trip Advisor Insights and the go-to expert on Millennials and Gen Y, Jason Dorsey, author of the book Y-Size Your Business, if you want to attract more Gen Y customers to your hotel focus engagement through non-traditional marketing channels.

When it comes to marketing strategies, Millenials or Gen Y’s are far more likely to take hotel advice from their peers than from traditional marketing channels. Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are essential to capturing this demographic. When Gen Y guests log-on to the hotel Wi-Fi, your splash screen should prominently feature your social media channels. Set up your splash screen to have them “like” your page or follow you. This will instantly help you to develop new fans and allows them to become your brand ambassadors. Expect Gen Y’s to be tweeting on multiple devices during their stay.

Here are some key strategies to attacting more Gen Y customers:

  • Provide Free Internet-they want to engage and depend on it to be available in every nook and corner of your hotel.
  • Give them an exceptional experience for a great value-they want more for less with value perceived in many different ways such as; guest room design, property layout, personal attention and pet and environmental friendly policies.
  • Access to Casual food available 24/7, no more jackets required or room service that stops at 11 PM
  • Don’t make them wait, provide self-service options -think portable iPads for check in and coffee on demand.
  • Hotels with individual personalities and a distinctive ‘sense of place’, are appealing to Gen Y’s. They consider themselves to be adventurous and are seeking “Wow” experiences.
  • Multi-use lobbies that encourage guests to socialize with places to chill-out indoors and out appeal to this demographic.

Hotel’s that have the ability to change with the times and remain authentic and transparent to their branding and image will have the best opportunity to attract this growing market segment.

Sources: J.D. Power 2014 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index StudySM ; Trip Advisor Insights on How to attract the Gen Y Guest ; Y-Size Your Business by Jason Dorsey

PDF Format: Gen Y Customers ShopTalk August 2014

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Four Sales Drivers

Four Sales Drivers

By: Jodi Cross

This is the time of year when most businesses begin to prepare marketing plans for the coming year. We all get analysis paralysis after writing lengthy and complicated plans, laced with statistics about the economy, last year’s performance data and a slew of new benchmarks for success. After all the hoopla is over and the presentations to stakeholders have been made, the plan usually sits on a shelf and collects dust for the rest of the year. Stop the madness, let’s make this year different!

 Here are four ways to drive sales no matter what business you are in:

1. New Trial You’ve established a solid base of customers who are loyal to you but as the saying goes, “you don’t know who you don’t know.” There is a whole world of prospects waiting to be your customers but they don’t know you exist. You must in- crease your pipeline and visibility to find new business. Switch your thinking from being internally focused to being externally focused. How do you find new customers? Advertising, community outreach, direct sales, promotions, partnerships and referrals. 

2. Occurrences Increase the number of times a customer buys from you over a set period of time. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. How can you get more business out of your 20%? Entice them to buy or come again soon. If you have a product, run a special discount for loyal customers who buy again. When a customer dines with you, invite them back in the next 30 days by offering a free glass of wine. Now one visit a month just turned into two for the cost of one glass of wine. You do the math.

3. Average Spend Upselling is a good example of a way to increase average spend. If you buy a pair of shoes the clerk could offer, a polishing kit, or a pair of socks. The shoe sale just turned into an extra $20 in your cash register. Try an upselling contest with your staff. Practice good customer service by listening to and observing your client’s needs. If you notice they have children offer additional children’s programs or amenities.  

4. Maximize Your Customer Base Increase the number of people using your product or service. Promotions like bring a friend or couple services that will increase your party size. Disney does this well with Florida Resident programs that touts bringing the whole family for a day of memories with Mickey. If you are selling memberships for example, consider bundling single memberships with an option for couples or families.

For more tips and ideas on marketing your business visit or email me at

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7 Steps to Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

7 Steps to Your Unique Selling Proposition

By: Jodi Cross

Check out this video we created to help you learn more about developing your USP.

How do you set your company or product apart from the competition? In business we call it a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or an elevator pitch. Your business needs it, your sales people will sell more effectively and people will remember your product or service by what makes it unique and exciting. Cross Network Marketing (CNMI) has a simple seven step process designed to develop your USP, fine- tune your key selling attributes and identify your target market more clearly.

When designing your USP you must distinguish what is unique about your product or service, incorporate excitement and determine why your customers do business with you over your competition. All of this needs to be done in a concise format that is simple and can be articulated in less than 30 seconds. Once formulated, your USP can be used to position your business in marketing materials, on your web site and for your sales pitch.

Here are seven simple steps to develop your USP:

1. Determine who your customers and target audience are?

2. List three of the most important results your customers are seeking from the purchase of your product or service? This shouldn’t be about quality, service or price- everyone can mimic those benefits.

3. List three reasons why your customers do business with you over your competitors. Think about the potential gaps you fill or problems you solve.

4. List three reasons why you do business with certain companies over others?

5. Describe your target audience and their main problem.

6. Describe how your business can solve the problem by completing this sentence, what we do is…

7. Now distill step 5 and step 6 into a concise statement, this is the start of your USP.

A USP is crucial for your business to succeed. Once you have developed your USP, be sure to incorporate it into your marketing materials. Also, be sure your company can deliver on the promise or your business reputation will suffer.

For a full white paper on how to develop your USP, contact Jodi Cross at To work with a CNMI representative on developing your USP call 305- 439-6712 or visit ©

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Job Candidates Behave Badly

By: Jodi Cross

With the new flood of graduates on the market getting a job can be a rigorous process. The competition is steep for good jobs so you should always do your best to stand out, but not in a negative way. I recently spoke with a number of placement firms and recruiters and was shocked by what they deemed the new world of interview candidates. After hearing some of these stories, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to etiquette and manners? I thought I would share some of the stories and you can decide for yourself.

After interviewing a number of applicants for a high level executive assistant position one highly qualified women was sent on to the next round. When she showed up to office for the interview she was wearing contact lenses that made her eyes look like she was an alien. The hiring manager was so distracted that she was ultimately disqualified. Not even the Vulcan Mind Meld could help her now.

Another trend today is many younger candidates don’t know how to dress appropriately. They show up wearing everything from crop pants to flip flops. One  applicant was professionally dressed and made it to the second round of interviews for a managerial job. The manager was impressed with her resume and skill set but when she showed up for the second interview she was wearing an large skull and crossbones hair ornament. The ornament poisoned that opportunity.

Many managers report that candidates text and accept phone calls during the interview process. If this wasn’t rude enough, one candidate took bad cell phone etiquette to a new level, she didn’t bring a purse with her  on the interview and had tucked her cellular phone into her bra. Every time she got a text or a phone call her chest would start to vibrate and jiggle.  Unfortunately, she wiggled herself right out of a job.  

Candidates also share to much personal information. When one manager asked a candidate how her day was going as an opening question, she replied that it was the anniversary of her divorce. No need for a full discloser agreement for this prospect.


If these stories don’t seem a bit strange to you and you are still looking for a job, perhaps a few tips might help you with your plight.

Strategies for landing a job:

1. Dress appropriately, your clothing choices represent your visual image and create a first impression. No one wants to see your tattoo collection or your chipped toe nail polish.

2. Leave the technology in your car or your purse on silent. Never place it in a inappropriate place on your body.

3. Watch what you post on Face book, Twitter and other social media sites. Employers look at all of your background information before making a hiring decision. If you are doing shots at the bar in your photo, that makes a employer wonder if you will show up for work on time.

4. Review your resume carefully for typos and research the company prior to your interview. The more you know the better your chances of rising above other candidates.

5. Set boundaries, if an interviewer asks you about yourself, don’t tell them you just got a divorce or your car is broken down. Be positive and energetic.

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at or


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Blitz Your Way To New Business


Blitz Your Way To New Business

By: Jodi Cross

When was the last time a business owner or representative came to your business and invited you to try their products or services? This is not a new concept and some would argue that sales blitzes or cold calling are no longer effective. But, it is one of the first projects I organized years ago at my hotel sales job.

Recently, CNMI worked with a client to organize a sales blitz of local accounts. The blitz resulted in almost 10K in definite business and nearly 150K in prospects. Like anything else effective results are in the planning and follow up. One thing is for sure, sales blitzes can be a lot of fun and they get people out of a business as usual slump!

Before you begin to organize, identify the key business goals, special offers and need periods. Create your special offers and leave behind collateral based on those pre-determined business goals.

Here are my four “T’s” to blitzing your way to success.

Teams Sales is everyone’s job, without it your business will not succeed. Be sure to target enough time to get all the blitz materials together and team members oriented. 15-20 days in advance is usually a good planning cycle.

  • Identify a leader- usually your head sales person is best suited to manage the efforts.
  • Create cross-functional teams by including all departments.
  • Anchor teams with seasoned sales professionals and pair them with a junior manager from another department. Cross promote specials and offers collectively.

Territories– Use Google maps or your local city and street addresses to carve out target zones with in a 10-mile radius.

  • Set anchor calls in key buildings so you don’t have any problems with security.
  • Target about 30-50 calls for your teams per day.
  • Make your appointments on slow days like Monday’s and Tuesday’s.

Theme’s/Treats-I go back to my original question of when was the last time someone invited you to do business with them and gave you a gift. In this post e-mail, Internet world many of us rarely come out from behind our computer screen let alone thank our customers personally or invite them to work with us. My background is in the hospitality industry. We are in the business to be welcoming and hospitable. What better way to make someone feel good than to thank them for doing business with you or invite them to try your services.  This isn’t unique to the hospitality industry but it certainly is one nice advantage.  Any business owner can do it. Over the holiday’s, my broker from Edward Jones actually dropped off homemade cranberry relish to my office.

  • If you are promoting holiday parties, drop of Santa cookies and wear reindeer ears. You certainly will get the office talking.
  • Perhaps you are looking for more wedding business, dress up in formal wear and leave behind wedding favors.
  • If you are in the spa business, try bringing scented aromatherapy and leave behind a token gift with a bounce back coupon valid for the next month.

You get the idea.

Tracking- All this effort will be for not if you don’t measure and track the results.

  • Set a morning meeting and nightly recap to gather the team’s cards and tracking sheets.
  • Keep a centralized report on all activities and follow up items.
  • Track revenue for all business units. Just because you were looking for catering business but ended up finding a golf member prospect that still benefits the company.
  • Develop an action item plan for follow-up that the sales team or other managers can pursue immediately while the blitz is still happening.

With a concerted effort and a little organization your business can see immediate results from conducting a sales blitz.

To obtain your own sales blitz tracking sheet, email Jodi Cross at

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Does Discounting Hurt Your Image?

Does Discounting Hurt Your Image?

By: Jodi Cross

With all the Groupon’s, Living Social’s, Coupon Clippers and web sites offering discounts, how do you know what is right for your business? More importantly, does discounting build loyal customers or hurt your image? The answer isn’t as simple as it may seem.

Discounting drives immediate sales transactions and more visits by loyal customers at a lower rate but it can also hurt your profit and reduce your margins. When dealing with mass marketing sites like Groupon and other sites, they take their cut on top of your offer, which doesn’t leave much of a profit.

There is an upside to discounting, immediate traffic, but you want to avoid the discount driven bargain hunters who will never become your loyal customers. Many customers wait for the discount to engage with your product or service. In essence you are training them to wait for a sale. Think about the retailer Macy’s, they constantly have sales and send out coupon. It has gotten to the point where I won’t even shop at Macy’s without a coupon.

So, how can you convert the discount driven customer to a loyal customer? By getting to know them and winning their business through service and personal attention. Every business should understand your customer base and buying habits. Find out how often the same customers use your product or services? Determine if they are new customers, one-time discount users, frequent or heavy repeat customers.

Use social media and review sites to log comments and see who influencers are. For example on Foursquare there are communities with mayors who are influencers. As a business owner you should know who the influencers are and be working your business cycle to convert “First Time” visitors into regular users. Here are some rules of the road that can help avoid the pitfalls of discounting and help you build loyal customers.

If you are going to run a mass marketing promotion make it a short-term promotion, no longer than six to eight weeks then give it a rest for a few weeks. During that time analyze what your business trends and your bottom line profit.  Did you see a short term lift or did it hurt your bottom line? Did you see the type of clientele from the promotion that would fit your demographic profile and did you convert any of them to loyal customers?

Think like a “Mom & Pop” business. The one’s that remember how you like your coffee or how your shirts need to be pressed.   Build your in-house database of customers, gather birthdays, anniversaries, note their “likes and dislikes.” Create a one-on-one relationship with your customer.

Here are some tips to avoid discounting your brand image if you are planning on doing some special offers this summer.

  • Make sure all promotions have a limited time period to run with an expiration date-6-8 weeks. This creates urgency. Then analyze the results.
  • Disguise your discount with a theme or wrap it in a special event like; Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, or Labor Day specials.
  • Use discounts that support your brand and build your internal database.
  • Use bundling as a way of disguising the discount. Offer a “Tour of Italy” and bundle some spa services that include grape treatments and a glass of wine to entice trial.
  • Look into partnerships as a way to get a discount out to a select group of customers. Friends and Family discounts are very popular during off peak times.

Monitor your customer’s patterns; keep on top of review sites and social media to engage them. If you make your customers happy by providing good service they will tell others and you won’t have to discount on an ongoing basis.

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant and freelance writer, she may be reached at

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