About Jeri Quinn
Being A “Serial Entrepreneur” Started Early For Me
I was 10 years old when I had my first business. I sold greeting cards and wrapping paper door to door in my small town. Almost everybody bought something. Positivity, good honest service, and caring to do my best for others came easily. That’s how I was raised and it never let me down. Then I progressed to Girl Scout cookies and high school band car washes and you get the idea…
And I Learned About Customer Service
I’ve had plenty of customer service jobs, especially waitressing during college. A smile, good eye contact, and treating people with care always made the customer happier and made me feel better. It didn’t hurt my tips either. What I learned in these early jobs directly influences my current work.
In My 40+ Year Career, I’ve Spent 30 Years Owning My Own Businesses
I guess I never really wanted to work for somebody else. I’ve run a technology firm, a movement therapy practice, a commercial real estate company, a market research consultancy and an executive business coaching/consulting firm. I’ve also had stints as a regional Non-Profit Director, a Chief Operating Officer, a sales executive, and a teacher and college professor.
Self-direction, time management, spinning too many plates, balancing the day-to-day scramble with planning for strategic growth, balancing being an entrepreneur and having a family, insufficient sleep: all part of the life choice of owning your own small business. Add that to the anxieties of uneven cash flow, hiring/firing, competitors, changes in the marketplace. I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve survived and thrived. I’ve found what works and I’ll share it with you.
My Motivation Has Always Been to Empower Others To Develop Their Full Potential
I’ve worn many hats in the small business world. However, I’ve most enjoyed leading others to take on challenges, discover their passions and be proud of the value they add. In 2006 I started Driving Improved Results, an executive coaching and management consulting firm. My purpose is to use all my skills and experience from my three careers (business, teaching, and psychology) to empower small businesses and their leaders to be more successful.
To that end I currently judge business plan competitions and train new entrepreneurs for NYC’s Small Business Services. It’s part of my purpose and I love giving back.
As An IT Consultant, I Learned Intimately—From The Inside… How Many Different Types of Businesses Work
We had a computer products/services company. We bootstrapped it, grew it over 18 years and sold it. I was the main consultative sales person, arranged most of the marketing, and supervised everything from training to accounting to product delivery systems. It was the perfect learn-by-doing small business MBA program.
I was creating computer infrastructure for all my clients. This put me in the position where I really got to understand the business models for many industries. Sometimes clients would even ask me to learn their industry software and teach it back to them. I worked across a broad range of industries: professional services, advertising, manufacturing, restaurant, retail, non-profits, and health clubs.
The company grew from two people to over 30 employees—with two, branches. I re-strategized it several times, as the computer industry changed. Over the 18 years we morphed from a retail product store to becoming a service-focused, business-to-business IT consultancy. When it was time to exit, I sold it to another industry player.
My Greatest Business “Learning”—People Make The Biggest Difference
My employees made that business great by being so good with the customers. We got many glowing letters praising individual employees for going above and beyond. Clients raved about their help, their smiles, their patience, their recognition of a customer—even when the customer visited infrequently. I saw firsthand how customer loyalty is driven by employees who are motivated and engaged. Loyalty will always boost revenues and drive down costs.
An Experience I’ll Never Forget
There was an occurrence when I really saw and felt employee engagement in action. While I was leading my computer support company, we received a $1,000,000 RFP. It was a bigger job than we ever had done before. We knew we had a good chance to win it.
Everyone in the company worked on parts of it. Our purchaser got best pricing from our product sources. Our trainers estimated the training costs. The accounting department worked on the financials we had to submit with it. Our word processing expert figured out how to respond in the format that was required. I wrote the document that pulled everything together. We were close to deadline and one of our inside sales people offered to find out how late the prospect’s office was open and drive it right to the location and deliver it.
Twenty of us really worked together as a team because we had a common purpose, respected each others talents and abilities, and listened to each other’s suggestions. Our company later had to meet with a committee and answer their questions. One of my salespeople and I were the key people in that meeting. We had gone over the questions and we were prepped.
We went in and bowled them over with how much we were in sync about how our company’s capabilities matched their needs. We were completing each other’s statements, sensing together when we needed additional clarification. It just flowed and it felt wonderful and exciting. (Yes, we won the job!)
Each person contributed. No one watched the clock to see if it was 5pm. They were all about getting the project won. Each person was engaged and connected to the others, focusing on a common purpose, contributing his/her all because each wanted to. There was a great sense of camaraderie and mutual support.
This experience sharpened my awareness of what’s possible when a team of employees is truly engaged, when the vision is clear, when the culture is sales-focused and customer-centric, and when leadership is distributed. Everyone’s productivity soars. Employees are energized and feel valued. Customers are delighted. The company brings in new income. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.
Jeri Quinn is the go-to-person to make your organization operate at an optimum level. Her concepts and teaching style are very interactive and she has a knack for making the complex simple.