Use Your Head

More Tips For Sparking Creative Solutions

Creative emulation is the art of studying effective techniques from companies outside your industry and adapting variations to your own business. Joseph Lukacs, founder of International Performance Group, a Bridgewater, New Jersey, service that offers private business coaching to professionals, CEOs, business owners and financial service professionals, suggests that entrepreneurs seeking ways to increase their problem-solving skills use creative emulation as a starting point.

"When you see an innovative concept being used in any industry, ask yourself, `How can I use this concept in my business?' If you go outside your industry for ideas and are the first to implement them within your industry, you'll gain a decided marketplace advantage," he says.

Lukacs worked with a client who owned a car-cleaning service targeted to executives. Ongoing business was hard to come by because clients called for cleaning appointments when and if they remembered. For solutions, Lukacs looked to a successful dog groomer--who always had a waiting list of clients--because he used several simple, yet effective, ways to encourage repeat business:

1. He sold his service by monthly subscription.

2. He automatically charged his clients' credit cards at the beginning of each month.

3. He made a standing monthly appointment for each client.

By emulating the dog groomer's tricks, the executive car-cleaning service locked in sales it could count on.

Contact Sources

James M. Higgins & Associates Inc., http://www.jamesmhiggins.com , nmpc@aol.com

International Performance Group, (908) 526-8877, http://www.ipg-coaching.com, ipg@mci2000.com

Jeanne Lewin, 894 St. Andrews Way, Frankfort, IL 60423, (800) 655-3344, tramble@aol.com

Nite Lites, 10636 Chisholm Landing Terr., North Potomac, MD 20878-4263, (301) 762-5444, http://www.nite-lites.com, nitelitescgp@nmaa.org

Quadron Corp., http://www.quadron.com, rwycoff@sprintmail.com

RAB Inc., P.O. Box 5805, Athens, GA 30604, (706) 353-3387, imcre8ng@uga.cc.uga.edu

Mark Sanborn, c/o Sanborn & Associates Inc., 695 Colorado Blvd., #415, Denver, CO 80246, (800) 650-3343, http://www.marksanborn.com

Skinny Dog Publishing, 123 Tamarack Ct., Torrington, CT 06790, (860) 489-5464

University of Connecticut, Connecticut Small Business Development Center, 2 Bourn Pl., Ste. U-94, Storrs, CT 06269-5094, (860) 486-4135

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This article was originally published in the December 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Use Your Head.

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