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on 30 March 2012
I want share my thoughts on Robert Craven's book `Grow Your Service Firm'.
As a service provider myself unlike manufacturers and retailers, I have a bigger challenge in getting people to buy my services ... they can't touch, see or smell what I do.
And that's why service providers like us need to be more creative in how we market ourselves, sell ourselves and ultimately grow our business.
And that's where `Grow Your Service Firm' comes in. Robert Craven shares his vast experience in helping service businesses grow by showing us:
- How to distinguish ourselves and beat the competition
- He takes us through a seven step process on how to be seen as an expert in your industry. He also shares his 22 point Action Plan which will get you to expert status
- And because we don't have physical products to sell he takes us through what makes a powerful marketing tool kit
There are so many great ideas, tips and strategies contained within theses pages.
As a service provider myself I'm going to be reading and re-reading this book over and over again ... I can see it becoming my bible.
It really is an excellent book and I highly recommend it - Robert Craven `Grow Your Service Firm'.
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on 30 September 2012
If you are running your own business selling a service or some kind of expertise, then there is a good chance you are trying to do what Robert Craven describes as 'Grow Your Service Firm'. Don't be put off. The book, `Grow Your Service Firm' is NOT just for accountants and solicitors.

Media agencies, graphic designers, plumbers, homeopaths, financial advisers, business consultants, chiropractors, architects, landscape gardeners, electricians, the list goes on... You are all experts in your field, and so The Expert! Model, developed by Robert Craven and his team in the Bright Marketing seminars will work for you.

Read on if you want to get more/better clients! Yes, there are a myriad of business books out there which preach the idea of being an 'expert in your field' so that prospects will come to you and you can 'Grow Your Service Firm'. However, THIS book gives you a step by step guide to what this means, and how to go about it.

How does it work? Robert Craven defines The Expert! as someone who has five indelible characteristics:

The Expert! focuses
The Expert! writes
The Expert! possesses
The Expert! knows
The Expert! speaks
There are also two additional concepts underpinning The Expert! Model:

The Expert! has an `ology'
The Expert! uses testimonials and endorsements
Five things plus two concepts. Surely it can't be that easy? What makes this book stand out is the fact that Robert Craven makes these ideas become reality with an action point in each chapter. By following the steps he suggests, you will be able to turn the first five characteristics into daily habits. 'Grow Your Service Firm' is a doing book not a reading book!

I bought the book 'Grow Your Service Firm' thinking I would take a sneaky look and decide whether to send it back, but it so thoroughly involves the reader that before I knew it I had already started underlining and making notes of action points.

For example, if you go to a networking event armed with Robert Craven's 'Grow Your Service Firm' book, you just have to remember five little phrases: `We work with..' `who have a problem with..' `What we do is...' `So that...' `Which means' And this means Bang! You have ticked off 'The Expert! focuses' chapter. Not only that, with your one minute elevator pitch done, and your business neatly explained, you have also encompassed `The Expert! speaks'. And by meeting people and making connections, suddenly `The Expert! knows' also has also been taken care of too.

By turning the characteristics of an expert as explained in The Expert! model into an attitude of mind, there is no doubt that it really is possible to Grow Your Service Firm! Thank you Robert Craven!
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on 28 November 2011
Robert Craven has surpassed the best with his latest book, Grow Your Service Firm. Those familiar with Craven's other works will not be surprised, especially when one considers that he is living proof of the methods he teaches, (as are the innumerable businesses that Robert has directly and indirectly assisted over the years, including my own).

The title explains exactly what can happen in just few hours if you buy the book, follow the instructions and build the tools into your everyday practice. Do these things and you will see your business with absolute clarity. It will also be like falling in love again with the idea of being in business!

In contrast, if you plan on 'speed-reading' Grow your Service Firm to elicit a few MBA buzz-words to cast spells on your staff hoping it will bring you the premature rewards and red Ferrari, you may as well stop now and buy a Harry Potter book instead. Buy this book, however, and you will instantly be transported to Craven's World, where nonsense, laziness and a lack of common sense or commitment are not welcome; however, even if they've ever affected you, this book is the antidote.

Grow Your Service Firm will give you all of the necessary components to make your business very successful. Simply add a high level of commitment to following through and you will see permanent, successful change. Gladwell's 'Outliers' cited K. Anders Ericsson's study that says it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master any skill. Dr. Ericsson's study states that only deliberate practice--intensely focused time spent trying to improve--causes progress. You can count the hours people drive and you're not going to see a high correlation to skill. You have to try to stretch yourself and attain higher levels of control. Business is no less an equation; you put in energy and use intelligent, proven methods like Robert Craven's, and you will get a massive return on investment for your efforts.

Robert Craven's one on one consultancy fees are very reasonable considering how effective he is, but this book is much cheaper yet is (almost) as good as having him on your 'dream-team'. So consider this; in offering you this book, he is literally giving you years of successful business coaching and craft and you'll only have to spend less than it costs for an average lunch.

It's a small commitment for guaranteed results, especially for those with no time to lose?
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on 28 March 2013
I have read hundreds of business books. Some interesting; some less so.

And very few that I can apply the second I stop reading it. The vast majority force me to spend time thinking how to apply the theory to my business.

But when you think about it, the only thing you want from a business book is for it to be a book you can use to grow your business!

And isn't it rare to find one that can?

Well, here's one. Robert Craven has written something that anyone can apply immediately. In fact, I frequently found I was stopping mid-way through chapters to apply his techniques to my business.

I have shared his book with others, and will continue to do so.

It contains lots of practical, proven, simple-to-adopt techniques that work. How do I know? Because I've used them. And they worked.
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on 20 March 2012
The book works for me because it is simple, practical, easy to read and without technical frameworks and jargonGrow Your Service Firm. The theory of marketing is made simple and easy to understand. It has tools for people to use and checklists.

In many of the books I have to spend 80% of my time reading to gain only 20% of knowledge in the area. This book is completely opposite, being easy read; one can skim the book and gain a lot of knowledge. I really appreciate Robert's writing skill and his expertise in the knowledge area.
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on 8 December 2011
I made a conscious decision today to read feeds; to read who has what to say, and retweet, like, respond, debate, disagree and I must say that sifting through the babble banter and quotes for worthy information is worth it. Although when I eventually then sifted through blogs and articles, a lot of what I read reminded me of my time in teaching; observing amongst brilliant teachers, a few who forget that playing to, or inspiring an audience who see you as the expert isn't about feeding information to passive listeners or observers. You can expect your audience to disengage quickly.

Entrepreneurs need experienced entrepreneurs. Yes indeed they do. We're happy to say that after a short stint as a centre, our new accountant and our bookkeeper are more than happy with us. We've had to hit the ground running and we've kept up a healthy sprint. No man/woman in business is an island they say. Of course, there will always be some individual/s, or group that you look to for the tough common sense solutions which elude you from time-to-time, and result in us making foolish basic errors. Who are those people or group that you look to?

I don't want to be a passive listener. I will disengage...

If I am going to take the time to read something, I want a book which engages me, asks some uncomfortable questions to spur me on and be honest about my failings, and a book which calls me to action and boy did we get it with #gysf (Grow Your Service Firm) By Robert Craven. He doesn't write for the passive listener looking for a few sweet words of inspiration enabling them to continue ambling along as they were. Each page seems to be a tough question/truth and a call to action. Each section can be revisited almost like a check list and, if used wisely as a resource, you'll find that you can integrate this wisely into your planning and assess your progress and areas for development as an expert and as a business. We were able to give ourselves a pat on the back occasionally for what we have achieved so far whilst reading it. However, energy, a degree of intelligence and skills will take you so far, and if we're honest, there are times when we need to look in the mirror and ensure we always walk the talk. Worth the buy.
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on 29 November 2011
I am a serious consumer of Business books - business, and those who excel at it, are fascinating. But honestly, there are lots of extremely average Business books on the shelves right now. But not this one. I consistently recommend Robert Craven's books and this latest one is no exception, because they are challenging, smart and full of proper tested advice on what to DO next. A business classic.
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on 18 November 2011
There are a number of books out there which proclaim to help you in business but this book is one that really delivers. The author seems to know what he is talking about and draws upon his experience to offer useful and insightful advice. It is a tough economic climate out there and this book should form a part of your armoury to survive. Well worth the money.
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on 1 March 2012
This excellent business development guide is suitable for a whole range of service businesses, but particularly small firms, and though Robert indulges his 'love' of using accountants as examples, the text is equally relevant to solicitors, coaches, lawyers, web designers, architects, trades people and more.

He focusses particularly on Professional Service Firms (PSF), who traditionally sell their time, often by the hour, in exchange for a whole range of services.

Often the owners (and usually founders too) have been trained to be great techicians in their chosen profession or trade, but may not have received formal business training - meaning that handling other vital tasks, such as marketing and sales, can be a hit and miss affair. Indeed there's an expectation that they don't do traditional selling, and expect the clients to come to them. Experience shows this approach usually won't, on its own, deliver long term success.

This is the Problem, Robert describes in Part One of the book, explaining why PSFs need to be more customer-savvy to succeed - because the challenge they face is to capture the customer's interest, not in just having the right product.

Successful firms need to develop good planning, marketing, and a good customer bedside-manner if they want to survive and grow.

And above all their firm needs to know how to stand out from the crowd of grey suits if they want to catch the customers eye.

The book includes lots of practical how-to exercises that firms can apply to self-assess their own business effectiveness.

Part Two of the book defines the Expert Model to help make you and your firm stand out, be noticed, and get those all important referral recommendations to potential clients for your professional services.

And finally Part Three includes a toolkit of techniques and methods to use to enable your service firm to become the Expert, and this includes checklists for marketing packs, sales methods, qualification of clients, pricing techniques and more.

Some great quotes from the book include 'Say No to Average', 'Get Good Systems' and 'Fish Where the Fish Are'.

Being successful doesn't mean that the business owner has to undertake all of these tasks personally - but they have to make sure they are done by someone.
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on 22 December 2011
I've read a couple of Robert's books and been to one of his inspirational talks. There usually comes a point in the process where virtually everyone in the room rates themselves 5 out of 10 in response to Robert's question: "How do you rate your marketing skills?"
In fact, as Robert points out in his latest book, we are generally pretty ghastly at many aspects of marketing. Many of us running small businesses don't know how to face our customers with the right approach, waste time cold calling etc. This is the book that shows you how to do it properly and makes 100% sense. Based on his own experiences and conversations with 100s of business owners, Robert has an uncanny knack of detailing all the classic business mistakes - often with the force of a revelation (the dreaded "I did that!" feeling). But then he offers up the solutions.
The solutions he offers also have the force of revelation - the pleasing "of course I should do that!" feeling.
As a small business owner myself, I've met many other SMEs who should read this book cover to cover 5 times over until its key messages sink in.
I won't ruin the surprise, but Robert offers sensible, achievable and essential steps every firm should take if they want to grow.
You can sometimes read business books and left asking the question: "Yes, but what do I actually DO?" Not so with GYSF. He really holds your hand through the steps that need to be taken.
For example, he takes the famous elevator pitch, makes it clear what its purpose should be and then breaks down the ideal answer phrase by phrase to make you think about your own version.
So it's not a passive experience. You are expected to take action and get on with it. And of course, that's the way it should be.
We all want to meet a business angel. Read Robert Craven and you'll have found one.
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