Tag Archives: 2018

Cool questions for the Christmas table

Here is a list of cool questions for you to ask your attendees at the Christmas table to foster some amazing discussions about 2018:

  • If you could have any job for a day, what would it be?
  • Which item on your bucket list did you sort this year?
  • What is your stand out news event for 2018?
  • If you could read one person’s mind, who would it be?
  • Where will you go on holiday in 2019?
  • Best Christmas when you were a child?
  • If you could get a new pet in 2019, what would it be?
  • What is the craziest thing you have eaten?
  • You are given a yacht, what would you name it?
  • What if your favourite holiday dessert?

Pat on the back!

I really want you to consider patting yourself on the back and create some sense of reward from the year that’s been.  Many in business today are constantly fighting for the future, looking ahead and charging at new opportunities, being under pressure to deliver on timeframes but what we want to do at this time of the year is have the ability to be able to sit back and actually consider what we have achieved and pat ourselves on the back.  What will be your small congratulations gift to yourself for all of the things that you have achieved this year?

Opportunity for 2019

I want you to consider now especially at this time of the year, two or three things that you can see as clear opportunities for 2019.  These opportunities are going to be vitally important for you to start off the next year with a great sense of urgency and opportunity.  By having a think about the opportunities for next year now, it will give you a sense of motivation for the Christmas period to have a great break, relax and enjoy friends and family.  

A big thank you

I wanted to say a big thank you to all of our clients for 2018.  This has been a truly amazing year for darrenpratley.com and INK Consulting Associates who have massed some amazing numbers.

We have completed over 210 events; 

We have taken over 90 flights;

We have worked with over 25 teams.

This has been an exceptionally busy year with lots of opportunity in both New Zealand and Australia and we are certainly looking to develop more closer strategic relationships to help develop your businesses in using our expertise for 2019.  

We have had some great success and seen many clients truly excel in their market place and I want to congratulate them for the hard work that they have put in place. 

2 New Consultants joining the team

I am pleased to announce that we have 2 new specialist consultants that have joined the INK Consulting Team.  

1. Jason Borowicz – Customer Experience Designer

We are pleased to have Jason joining our team as our specialist Customer Experience Designer.   Jason has had experience in numerous medium to large enterprises and has been fundamental in focusing businesses on developing customer experiences that own their customer relationship.  As you will know, my key topic that I speak about is “Your Customer is Leaving” and it is great to have someone on our team now that can help our clients design customer experiences that really stand out in their market place and creates a unique service offering that really stops the customer leaving.

2. Allan Lloyd – Compliance

Allan comes to us from a long history in compliance and audit as many of the industries that we work in start to enter into a more compliance focused regime.  It is great to have support of a specialist that can provide practical support for businesses looking to ensure that their compliance requirements are meeting their industries legislative requirements set by Government.

SEARS receivership creates important learnings for you

There was a recent article in the NZ Herald on Wednesday 31 October which talked about the retail giants SEARS facing receivership.  

In the article it talks about how one of the largest  and successful retail chains in America was about to be put into receivership with debt of 11.3 billion dollars US and assets of only 7 billion.  It was interesting to read this article where as a brick and mortar retailer, SEARS had struggled due to a series of blunders, financial oversights and mis-management.  In the article it states that the ultimate business failure was that it did not acknowledge the needs of its customers and displayed a staggering inability to embrace and implement the sorts of technology the customer expected.  I look at this in a NZ concept and I still continue to see many of our service and retail providers encouraging their clients to use on-line platforms or on-line portals where one of the key service propositions is actually the face-to-face connection with the customer and holding relationships in the real.  Many of NZ customers want to have the loyal transaction with a business that they can trust.  

This is why this trust concept is so important in business today and the work that we are doing with many businesses is around how to deliver this level of trust and engagement with the customer in real and ensuring that it provides your customers with value which keeps them coming back over time.  The last thing that we want to do is to encourage clients to use unconventional formats without business structure and position correctly structured beforehand.  Can I ask you to consider today “how are you connecting with your customers in the real, bringing them into your environment wherever possible and creating greater experiences that will keep them coming back to see their trusted advisor.  

One of our key skills is to help companies identify if service propositions that brings the customer into your environment for a productive transaction.

It’s Spring… Time To Get Creative

The newbie real estate agent  had just closed his first deal.  To his horror he discovered the piece of land he’d sold was mostly submerged at high tide.  He asked his boss if they should annul the deal, but his boss roared at him, “Money back? What kind of salesman are you? Get out there and sell him a houseboat.”

There’s always a not so obvious answer.  Spring is a great time to get creative… analyse what you’ve done, contrast it with the best in the industry, and figure out how you can be the biggest mover in your marketplace.  Analysis and benchmarking of results are the awesome tools that can make a huge difference.

Provide Extra Information To Add Credibility When Speaking To Customers

When your market is changing and possibly even decreasing in volume or sales value it is time to take stock of how you change your communication style when speaking to customers.

They will know if you are exaggerating or trying to gold plate or overstate the situation. Not only will your words seem to contradict what they know but your body language may betray you. The old saying that honesty is the best policy stands true in the changing market.

Firstly make sure that your research and information is up-to-date. Understand what various industry commentators foresee in the next six to12 months.   Then figure out how you can rephrase this and include examples in your marketplace to support or contradict it.  Provide extra information to add credibility when speaking to customers.   Specificity creates credibility.  So have specific examples on hand that are relevant to assure your customer that you are knowledgeable and credible.

Respond to questions with a point of view and a reason, summarising the point at the conclusion of the answer.  This more thorough and thoughtful answering of simple questions will further enhance your credibility.  You may even have to be ready to review the past present and future market outlook.  Having these prepared is a simple solution to being caught out and unable to answer the question.

People will see through bravado and exaggerated positivity. But if you speak knowledgeably about long and short term market trends your customers trust will increase.

Let Me Help You Rise Above The Crowd

My 2-year-old son has crazy amounts of energy. We recently spent time together at a local indoor play centre. No matter how hard I tried to watch him, he became invisible among the other children. Wanting him to stand out from all the other kids playing became a frustration for me. The enjoyment of watching him play was lost in the frustration of not seeing him stand out.

Do you feel the same frustration when your business gets lost among the noise and blur of everything around it? If you do, let me share my experience and understanding of design, business and community. In under sixty minutes, I can start you on your journey towards an original, authentic and engaging personal brand.

Customer Expectations

Every day we meet and work with new, existing and past clients working our way through a transaction that leaves our customer with an impression or experience.  This experience is now becoming the buzz word and critical focus for many major corporates and multi-nationals alike.  The reason for this is the customer experience will often determine whether the customer becomes loyal and engaged with your brand.  If your client is not loyal and engaged, this will reduce business enterprise value.

Recently working with a particular client, we have been analyising their customer experience and analyising it to determine its effectiveness.  One of the best ways of creating support information was actually interviewing clients that had transacted with the company to get an understanding of the experience the customer received and how they felt about it.  This research showed what the business thought was of value, the client didn’t actually recognize and the items the customer needed were often overlooked.

Concept for this month

The first step of this process is to define your current customer experience and determine what are the steps that you need to create an ‘above expectation’ outcome.  A good example of this is to send a gift (box of chocolates) to the customer.  After your first enquiry or fact find appointment saying “thank you for your enquiry” or “new order”.  Once you have done this, I recommend talking to past clients using an independent person to collect some customer experience feedback.  This will enable you to ensure your service value proposition is meeting and ultimately exceeding your customer’s expectations.


Analyze your customer experience and develop a strategy to exceed your client’s real expectations.

Negotiation as a habit

True or false - it takes 21 days to form a habit? Sorry, but it’s just not true. The 21-day myth started when the work of a 1960’s plastic surgeon (Dr. Maxwell Maltz) was misquoted, and so it stuck. The reality is it takes much longer, and there are three phases – the honeymoon, the fight through, and finally second nature. In developing negotiation as a habit, we can expect the same phases of getting excited about the benefits, being frustrated when the other side is difficult, and finally where its just the way you do things.

Negotiation normally brings to mind major transactions with customers and suppliers, selling an asset, negotiating a mortgage, or discussing your salary. The reality is that we all negotiate everyday, from what we will have for dinner, to bedtime for children. So if we develop negotiation as a habit in our daily life, its a safe bet to expect that it starts to become the way we approach major home or work negotiations.

Put simply, negotiation is reaching agreement through conversation. While it gets considerably more complicated given the human dimension, the process of negotiation can be summarised as looking at interests rather than positions, separating the person from the problem, considering alternatives (BATNA), taking a problem solving approach, and then trading away what is less important in return for what is important. So next time you are tempted to reach straight for power or authority, take a second to think whether there is a better way to reach agreement by checking your assumptions. Like the 21-day myth, we sometimes get it wrong.

Personal coaching programme with Lisa Dudson

One thing I’ve noticed in my travels around New Zealand talking to business owners and their teams is that few have a clear personal financial plan.  I known Lisa Dudson for over 15 years and have worked with her in the last 6 months.  She is a leader in her field and has over two decades of experience in working with people to improve their financial position.  I would like to offer our clients to work personally with her.

“I’m passionate helping people achieve financial success so they have more freedom of choice.  If you want to be much smarter with your hard earned dollars, want to develop a practical plan to increase your personal wealth, and want to be supported by me to help you achieve that plan, then get in touch.  It doesn’t matter what your starting position is, all you need is a desire to improve and be prepared to take the action.”

Annual Financial Coaching Programme with Lisa Dudson

$2,995 +GST – $1,995 payable upfront and the balance of $1,000 at the beginning of month four.

90min initial financial consultation to review your financial position and set goals. Create 2 page action plan.

5 x 20 min check in every two weeks, thereafter 1 hour review every quarter (at 6, 9 & 12 months) with updated action plan.

Phone and email support within reason for 12 months.