SME Agony Uncle with Bobby Kerr

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Business Meeting Etiquette
First up this week comes in anonymously from a person who is very worried about attending business meetings and their level of contribution. This person has stated that they have been shot down publicly by their manager in the past when they have contributed or made a point during a company meeting. This person is now afraid to speak up for fear of being shot down again and dreads attending meetings when their manager is present.
 
Bobby’s Advice:
This is not a nice situation to be in, and is quite concerning. It saddens me to see queries like this coming in because its clear that this person has lost their confidence in their ability. My first bit of advice here is to try prepare in advance of a particular meeting and do some research ahead of time. Start off with little nuggets of information that they think is relevant and go from there. People can’t argue with hard facts, and this is important to note. This person’s confidence has obviously been knocked from being publicly criticized in previous meetings. They need to build up their confidence over time, and it should begin to get easier as they contribute more and more. Little is more in this case, and it will get better. 
 
Clocking Out Early
The next query comes in from Jane in Cork and deals with the subject of clocking out early. Jane’s friend and work colleague often tells her finish up ten minutes early after a long day and she will clock her out. Although her friend’s intentions are genuine, Jane has become worried that if management were to find out about this, then she could be fired. Jane is looking for Bobby’s advice on the best approach.

Bobby’s Advice:
My first reaction to this query is that yes, indeed you will more than likely be in trouble if management were to find out. What Jane should do is to have a word with her friend and colleague. For example, Jane should say that she has heard management are cracking down on this and would prefer not to do it in future. It’s understandable that Jane doesn’t want to offend her friend.  

A lot of companies these days have multiple ways of measuring employee attendance. Particularly in retail sector, employees log in to a computer system and/or tills and registers. Electronic tags and swipe cards to access premises also record the coming and going of employees throughout the working day. 
Jane should refrain from doing this again in the future, and should be as open and honest with management as possible.
 
Dealing with Symbol Operators
Last up this week is Jamie in Dublin. Jamie runs a busy branded convenience store in a Dublin suburb. Jamie has heard on the grapevine that the symbol operator he works with is planning on opening up another unit very close to his location. Jamie is concerned that this will impact significantly on his business and is looking for advice on what to do.
 
Bobby’s Advice:
Jamie needs to contact the symbol operator immediately. This should be done in writing so that he has a record of correspondence. Jamie should seek clarification from the franchise that this may or may not be happening. It’s a difficult scenario, and Jamie needs to approach with caution. Jamie would obviously know his own contract with the symbol operator, and by the sound of this query its evident that Jamie does not have exclusivity in the area.

This is something that not all symbol operators offer franchisees, however it is worth noting that is possible to do, when setting up a branded store for example.

Jamie should look at getting himself into the strongest negotiation position. For example, if Jamie approaches the symbol operator stating that he may be open to changing to another operator, this may impact on the decision to open an additional store nearby. Jamie needs to be smart about his next move, but firstly needs to contact the symbol operator to establish what exactly the situation is with the new store nearby.
 
If you have a business or SME related query you would like answered - you can get in touch with Bobby each week by simply sending a short mail to [email protected]
 

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