Customer Service Can Makes a Company Great

What makes a company great, makes it stand out head and shoulders above the rest; has not only loyal but repeat customers who go back time and time again?

Is it the size of the company – bigger is always better?

Is it the amount of profits they make – well they must be good if they are making all that money – right?

Is it maybe they are the only business which has a particular item – hardly.

Or is their marketing excelling, taking full advantage of ALL media including online, social, TV and broadsheets as well as radio and tabloids.

What is their secret?

The truth is there is no secret, it all boils down to one thing – no matter size, profits, products, services or marketing plan, if you don’t have this one thing you may as well shut up shop and go home – and that one thing is Customer Service.

Don’t get me wrong the other things do help in some small way but Customer Service is King.

It should be natural and not forced. How annoying did “Have a nice day” become? It was novel at first but…

So how do you achieve great Customer Service?

Try following these dos and don’ts as guidelines:-

Do smile when talking – seems strange I know but it works, try it and see the difference.

Do listen and hear what your Customer is saying but don’t sit in silence use audible nods and empathise then repeat to show you have been listening using expressions like “If I have heard you correctly… ,” or “If I may repeat to make sure I have understood you… ” Goes a long way and also informs customer that you have been listening.

Never use the expressions “You need to… ,” or “You have to… ” They neither have to nor need to do anything.

Do ask permission “Is it OK if I take some details?” “May I have your name?” “Can I take a message?” “Are you happy to give me…?”

Don’t swear, be rude or argue back, tempting as it maybe, wait till your are of the call/ customer has gone/can’t see you, if you must vent/rant.

Don’t take it home, and never carry it over to the next customer.

Do treat each customer individually and although you may think that they are Bat Crap Crazy/stupid or what they are contacting you about is trivial, always remember to them it is important.

Don’t take it personally, they are just wanting to rant at somebody and don’t know you, all they want is for someone to take responsibility, not pass them from pillar to post and to listen.

And finally always end on a positive note, even if it’s a simple thanks for your call.

Follow these guidelines and you will notice a difference, not just in your customers but also in your staff who will be happier in their work and less stressed and if they are less stressed then they are willing to go that extra mile.

Expand Your Brand Using Other People’s Money by Using Franchisor Strategies

Back many years ago, I met a fellow franchisor, he’d built a nice company with 250 franchisees which operated Kiosks in shopping malls – you know those carts in malls that sell various wares. What he did was make each Kiosk its own business, at first as “independent contractors” but later as Franchisees due to the Franchise Law rules. Each franchisee had to sign a two-year franchise agreement with non-automatic renewal, where the Franchisor could merely take over the business, location, as he already had the lease-space agreement with the malls, including the corporations that owned many malls around the country.

After two years, he stopped renewing franchise agreements, took control of all those little businesses, and then sold the whole thing and retired a very wealthy man. Unfortunately, many of the independent contractors, turned into Franchisees were forced out after building up their businesses and providing a substantial amount of goodwill. The franchisor’s concept was built by the blood, sweat and tears of all those individuals, who did make decent money in the meantime, but were then basically terminated when their franchise agreement term ended.

Recently, there is an interesting company in the “Handy Man” sector which has a franchise agreement that states it may unilaterally buy back the franchisee’s business at any time after 2-years of operating. In the Franchisor’s option to purchase there is a mathematical formula for valuation of the Franchisee’s business that negate the value of any “goodwill” and allows the Franchisee to choose if he will see at “Fair Market Value” of assets (used equipment, office furniture) or twice the earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA).

Why would a Franchise Buyer buy a franchise like that? I suppose there might be a few situations where it makes sense for instance, the Franchisee just needs a couple of years of income and believes they can build up a good “book” of business, and if it starts to go South, the Franchisor may buy him/her out and they can move on, less risk? But what if the Franchisor chooses not to buy and the business fails? What if the business succeeds wildly and the Franchisee is forced to sell-out a thriving and growing business?

If you think about it, it is a brilliant strategy for a Franchisor, have others build your business, take all the risks, and if they succeed, you terminate their franchise agreement instead of renewal, and if they fail, you simply let them fail, then sell that territory to a new franchisee, until one succeeds and then you just keep winning and building on the backs of others. As a franchisee buyer it may be wise to recognize such strategies and be weary of them, unless it serves your temporary purpose of a short term business and solid temporary cash flow based on your abilities and the Franchisor’s model. Think on this.

Using Advertising Flags to Increase Your Sales

If you are going to establish a new business, know that it is not going to be an easy job. Starting a business is not about setting up a new office. As a matter of fact, the most difficult part of running a new business is getting it promoted the right way. Nowadays, you can use advertising flags for the promotion of your products and services. You can find a lot of promotional tools in the here and now. As far as choosing marketing tools is concerned, you have a lot of things to choose from. One way is to use advertising flags. Let us know more.

Advertising flags

Since technology has introduced so many ways of promoting products and services, the conventional methods have experienced a drop in popularity. They have not lost their usefulness but new methods have rose in popularity with the passage of time. Flags for advertising were used in the past and they are still very effective.

If you have made your mind to make use of this marketing tool for your business, we suggest that you learn to use them well. Given below are some tips that may help you.

Offer discounts

You can make your customers glad by offering special discounts. And for this purpose, this tool can work in an effective manner. All you have to do is put these flags on the sales counter or other areas of your office or store. The thing is that you have to place them somewhere where they can catch the eyes of the visitors.

New products or services

Another way to use them is to put them outside your physical store like the car roofs, hotels, shopping malls, busy streets and restaurants, just to name a few. if you have a new product or service to promote or you want to give a huge discount, this marketing tool can help you a lot. Just put them somewhere where you know that a lot of people see them.

Online business

The use of advertising flags is not limited to new launches and deals. You can also use them for improving your web presence, and endorsing different contests, just to name a few.

Trade shows and exhibitions

If you are going to take part in a big exhibition or show, you may be excited to see a huge audience. You may want to let the people know about your presence or participation in the event. If your prospective customers don’t know about you, they are not going to get in touch with you. Therefore, what you need to do is make them aware of your presence in an easy way. And one way of doing so is to use a promotional flag. All you have to do is put them up at the right place so that others could see it.

Your Business Need A Sales Funnel

It may sound obvious but often a business will forget the fact that the only way to make money is to get customers to buy. And the best way to get customers to buy is to have am effective sales funnel.

A sales funnel is set of steps where you guide a prospect through a series of communications that results in them buying from you.

But what happens after that first sale is made? Existing customers are the people who are most likely to buy from you again.

How Does A Sales Funnel Work?

At the top of the funnel, you offer something for free in return for getting a prospect’s contact information. This could be a report, checklist, video or eBook. Then you begin marketing, following up with emails and other communications to attempt to make a sale.

Throughout your sales funnel process, you should have several offers that complement each other. For instance, before you buy a car, you take it for a free test drive. If you like the car and buy it, the salesman doesn’t just hand you the keys and then vanish. You’re offered extended auto warranties, enhancements like upholstery and wheel options.

After a couple of months the salesperson will contact you to see if you’re happy with your new car, and let you know about a discount or sale going on.In the future, you’ll be contacted with opportunities to trade in your vehicle and the sales process goes on and on.

How Many Levels In The Sales Funnel Process?

As you can see from the example above, there can be many different levels in a sales funnel. A one level funnel is where after a customer buys from you, you move onto the next prospect.

But this a critical error.

It costs 6 to 7 times more to get a new customer than keep an existing one. It makes sense to market to someone who has already purchased one of your products, rather than try to convince new people to buy your services. An existing customer already knows you and your business. If they have received excellent value from you once, they’ll be more prepared to spend money with you again, rather than somebody who has never heard of you.

There is no “ideal number” of sales funnel levels. Each business, product and service is different. Just make sure you are continuously providing your prospects and customers opportunities to improve their lives or solve their problems with future purchases from you.

Catering Equipment for Year End Functions

It’s that time of the year when holiday cheer is in the air and companies are in full steam with planning their year-end functions. That means they are actively looking for a venue that will make their function a special one. They want to ensure that the venue looks good, food tastes great, and that all the facilities are there to make for a convenient and fun evening. Therefore, it is time for you to prepare your venue for the busy season ahead.

For small to large year-end functions you will need the following catering equipment.

· Robot Coupe Combo Food Processor. Food preparation is usually the lengthiest part of the cooking process. The Robot Coupe Combo Food Processor will enable you to automatically cut, slice, and grate vegetables thus saving you valuable time.

· Anvil Potato Peeler. If you’re serving hundreds of guests you’re going to have to peel a lot of potatoes. The Anvil Potato Peeler is a robust unit that automatically peels 12 kilograms of potatoes in 2 minutes.

· Chafing Dishes. For large numbers of guests, it can be challenging to keep a lot of food warm. They are also beautifully designed with a polished finish. This is a great way to keep food heated while it is waiting to be served.

· Bussing and Transport Carts. You’re going to need to clear up the dishes from at least 10 guest tables if you have a hundred guests. A bussing and transport cart will allow the waiters to quickly clear the tables and move the dishes to the kitchen. This will also minimize breakages.

· Water Jugs. Placing a jug of water and a jug of juice on each guest table will make them feel welcome.

· Dinnerware. For catering purposes you will need more than enough dinnerware such as plates, side plates, cups, and saucers. Also make sure you have drinks, wine, and champagne glasses. If you are serving a hundred people, ensure that you have dinnerware for 110 people. The additional amount of catering equipment is a contingency for any eventuality with breakages or damages.

· Urns. Once guests have had their meal they may want to enjoy a cup of hot coffee or tea. Having a coffee/tea station with an urn filled with hot water will keep your guests satisfied.

· Scotsman Ice Machine. A lot of cool drinks and alcoholic drinks are usually served at year-end functions so the demand for ice is very high. You will need to provide ice for hundreds of guests and their multiple drinks. An ice machine constantly makes ice on demand so you won’t run out of ice mid function.

· Commercial Refrigeration. You will need to keep a lot of drinks cold throughout the function so make sure that you have a refrigerator that can accommodate all the drinks.

Your Business Needs Steady Cash Flow

The ability to make critical purchases from your vendors, pay down loans, and meet employee payroll has become a common problem among businesses across all industries. Cash flow has always been a major issue with all businesses and without positive cash in your bank your business could fail. By the time a business realizes their cash flow isn’t going to support their payroll, or pay vendors, the owners make rash decisions by going to companies/banks that can destroy their business.

If you realize your business is about to fall into this position, don’t panic. Review your financial situation with your accountant or CPA. But don’t act too fast. There is another option.

So what can you do to avoid this problem?

Before telling you the solution, let’s talk about the 3 things you should NOT do.

1- Bank Loans. If you think a bank will help finance your old or slow paying customers, well they are not.

2- Factoring Invoices or Receivables. Another myth. When companies rely on this method of cash flow, it just reduces your profits. Plus, once your invoices or receivables have been factored, most often this “third” party who now owns them will be so aggressive with your customers to collect the money that it can ruin your business by losing a customer.

3- Collection Agency. If all you want is someone to harass your customers, then call a collection agency. Odds are, they will just irritate your customers with strong-arm tactics that never work and here again you will lose another customer.

What you need is positive cash flow, right? Well you can have positive cash flow and retain your customers by using a reputable company that knows how to talk to your customers in a manner that will actually convenience them to make timely payments without losing them as a customer.

A credit management system can provide effective cash flow by acting seamlessly with your accounting department. This should NOT impact your accounting staff when handled properly. The slow paying customers and poor receivables from your accounting department should be quickly identified and presented to management in a timely manner. It is best you do not use a middleman, or off-shore calling, These will just hurt your business more because your customers know these types of calls who only want to collect the money, not help make a payment plan.

There are many articles to help find a good credit management resource. Do your research and seek out those that have a solid reputation and work with you as your in-house accounting department.

Solution for Business Growth – Networking

Interacting with influential people in parties, and collecting their visiting cards is just a touch point. Capitalizing your business on this network is totally a different ball game.

It requires due diligence and dedication over the years to build a relationship for a solid network. Once you have done it becomes a derivative to your success.

Networking should not be a temporary activity, it has to be an ongoing process, even when you are not at your desk. Aspiring business leaders have to learn the strategic networking technique for rapid business growth.

Primary reasons for networking

Why is it desirable to build a network with influential people and business groups of your domain?

· Immediate access to all service providers and vendors

· Quick response rate for contract base hiring

· Full extension to peers help

· Never face an issue of work crisis

· Referrals from the third party

· Updates on the latest trends and technology related to your business.

· Share ideas with similar business groups

Common Business Networking Mistakes

If the success of your business depends on networking then why to leave any corner of networking untouched, no matter how small or big your business is.

Unlike your business location, your network is not limited to the physical address. It has to proliferate in all directions. There are tons of way to build the network that is often overlooked.

· Not connecting with other communities

When it comes to pairing with individuals, usually you choose the known path for connection which is social media. It might look promising connecting through it but it limits your network spectrum. You have to explore another dimension for networking as well. Try to connect to lesser known communities like “Quora” or register with a “common platform for service providers”. There are other multiple online platforms where you can confluence with same business groups like Tumblr, musical.ly, tinder, etc. depending on your domain expertise.

· Not connecting to Niche forum or group

If you really want to build a close relationship with your clients or domain experts, join a Niche “forum”. But joining too many forum sometimes becomes complicated, try to zero in two or three forum of your field. There are big companies that also join this forum to get solutions and you can connect with them instantly.

· Not justifying your acquaintance

Let your client find you with your skills. Networking becomes easy if your clients know your whereabouts. There are very few networking sites that have a portal built especially for employees, where employees can build and upload their portfolio. It helps the employee in two ways, building their own network and establishing themselves as a brand.

· Not Paying heed to referrals

You need to pay attention to referrals coming through the third party or from the vendor’s site. Take immediate follow-up and honor these referrals.

· Not using Reviews/Testimonial for networking

This is the most overlooked attribute by vendors. Many of them believe “Reviews and Comments” are solely made for critics. No, that’s not true. You can convert those critics to your potential client. Ask for “Reviews and Comments” from them, you can even ask for the area of improvement for better service. It will help you to identify your weak zone, and at the same time, you have the opportunity to build a positive image in front of your clients. So, always be ready to listen to your client and make a bond with them through Reviews/Testimonials.

· Not connecting actively with Co-workers

Connecting with co-workers actively helps you to share ideas and gain knowledge. You develop this special”give and take” relation with co-workers over a period of time. Your equation with them will decide how your network will expand.

· Not connecting to diverse population

Usually, it’s a human tendency to connect with like-minded people, which is OK. But if you want to build up a B2B network, then you need to break that cocoon and connect with a diverse population. Diversity gives you the perspective to think out of the box and implement new ideas in your business.

Some Key takeaways for Business Networking

· Make your social networking activity a key part of your daily work.

· Locate and join networking site where other members sell their service or product same as you

· Rather than building numbers focus on people that show interest in your service

· Don’t miss out the client by not joining a common networking platform or joining much later than you should be

· Use software tools or plugins to optimize your networking activity

Tips for Successful Luxury Coach Business Trips

It’s not unusual to find a company that has hired a coach to take its employees to a seminar, conference or simple social event but who have subsequently been disappointed with the results.

Here we’ll examine some of the common causes and their solutions.

Poor turnout / response to invitation

This is a commonly expressed frustration in many organizing departments.

Ignoring mechanical causes (such as poor communication of the “we weren’t told” variety or insufficient notice) this is often attributable to:

low morale in the company;
a lack of interest in the event concerned;
conflicting priorities (your event has been scheduled at a time which clashes with other things).

There is no easy answer to this and simply making attendance mandatory isn’t likely to be the answer. You may need to analyse the causes in more detail.

Dissatisfaction with the quality of transport

In the 21st century, professional people expect corporate transport to be modern and comfortable.

If an “old banger” of a coach arrives at the outset, then already your session is in trouble due to creating the wrong impression.

Be prepared to spend a little money here to get a comfortable limo bus.

Impacting personal lives

Today, most people expect and demand a professional / personal life balance.

So, anticipate dissatisfaction and disgruntled attendees if they’ve had to get up at 4am to make your planned departure time and/or they won’t be getting back home until the early hours of the morning.

A luxury coach might help alleviate some of this through comfort during the journey but it won’t, in itself, be the solution.

Impacting professional lives

On a similar theme to the above, asking people to get back very late to their homes, while expecting them to be back in the office at 8am and firing on all cylinders, is likely to be a recipe for ill-feeling.

Provide or arrange for refreshments

If people have been asked to get up unusually early and been on a coach for some time, then it’s really good psychology to provide (or stop for) some refreshments.

A little caffeine and a calories boost can ensure people arrive at the destination eager to get started rather than tired, jaded and looking for reasons to complain.

Railroading

Ideally, your corporate event should be so desirable by its very nature that your colleagues should be fighting for the chance to participate.

Only use “attendance is mandatory” approaches as an absolute last resort, as touched on earlier.

If you see a lack of interest and voluntary participation, something is wrong and a re-think is required. People typically don’t respond well to being forced to attend company events.

Relate to the wider world

Remember that a corporate event will be seen by many against a much broader backdrop of the wider business world you share with your colleagues.

So, expect a very negative reception for (e.g.) a company team-building exercise held at an expensive external venue, if just a few days before the company has announced major ancillary benefits cuts for employees due to the prevailing economic circumstances.

Global Greenhouse Sector

What exactly is a Greenhouse? It is a name given to a structure with roofs and walls made primarily out of a transparent substance like glass. Within a greenhouse, plants that need regulated climatic conditions are cultivated with an aim of healthier output. These buildings vary in size from smaller sheds, to larger commercialized structures. In this current scenario, greenhouses are part of modern-day farming which is focused towards protected cultivation of plants in an enclosed shelter, without allowing any type of damage to the product as well its nutrients.

People who love home-grown veggies and fruits will definitely prefer a greenhouse. This is due to its ability to provide an effective method to cultivate plants protected from the harsh external environment. Greenhouses are usually equipped with clear or glass-plastic walls that enable them to preserve heat, while also allowing light to enter. The resulting situation brings the ideal factors for cultivating many kinds of plants.

Quite a number of commercial glass greenhouses are categorized under innovative production houses for flowers and vegetables. The active greenhouse market trends are surely leaned towards modern facilities. The inclusion of heating, lighting, screening installations etc., are needed for the automated growth of plants. Moreover, various techniques are implemented for ensuring a significant decrease in production risk before the cultivation of a particular crop.

Smart Greenhouses

To meet the needs of the sector, greenhouses are produced for high dependability and performance. These types of structures offer valuable data regarding a material’s stability, composition, response to wear and tear atmosphere and external factors. Greenhouses thus contain applications for different types of processes like food production and scientific research.

For instance, the smart greenhouse is an innovation in farming and is a climate managing, a self-regulating procedure that is perfect for plant survival. It helps to create a micro-climate environment which is like a new climate in a restricted zone. This zone is created by the use of sensors and various applications. The smart greenhouse contains different components like monitoring system, actuators, and control system. The concept of smart greenhouse aims to ease growth situations for plants and creates an autonomous growing process.

Extended Growing Season

Plants grown in a greenhouse are not subjected to the same degree of temperature differences which is needed for plants cultivated in an outdoor garden. Based on latest trends, greenhouses trap radiation that comes from the sun into its insides and enables the retention of heat within the enclosure. The controlled climate that is achieved in a greenhouse helps farmers to lengthen the growing season of plants which may not survive the colder climate outside of the greenhouse. This allows consumers to buy locally cultivated vegetables, flowers, and fruits which are out of season.

Control over the Produce

People without a garden are bound to buy their food at the groceries or farmers’ market. On the other hand, commercial farms usually use toxic pesticides and chemicals, to enhance the living situations of crops and improve production. When businesses try to prepare a greenhouse industry analysis, the first aspect that they learn are the crucial advantages that are connected with the implementation of greenhouses.

A test conducted by an environmental group revealed several vital facts. It found trace amounts of toxic stuff over the produce even after the harvest. Greenhouses help farmers grow their own food to gain absolute control over their environment. This process produces tasty and fresh food without the risks of toxic chemicals, which can potentially be hazardous.

Food Boost from Plant Isolation

A greenhouse maintains the plants in isolation, preserved safely from the external world comprising pests, rodents, and insects, along with other animals. According to the research gathered by big universities, gardeners must isolate their plants by using a greenhouse which is sealed and caulked. An efficient greenhouse with absolute isolation and tightly sealed, along with expertly managed air flow which offers protection from insects, pests and even from diseases should be preferred by the farmers.

Curate and Control Your Online Reputation

Shakespeare, in Act 2 of his circa 1603 play Othello, said it best: Reputation, reputation, reputation. It is the original personal brand and one of the defining realities of our lives. For Solopreneur consultants and other self-employed professionals, reputation governs the number and quality of projects made available to us and therefore, reputation impacts our income and the kind of life we’re able to live. It pays, in more ways than one, to cultivate a peerless reputation and guard it vigorously.

In the internet age that is especially so, in both the personal and professional sectors. Mistakes and mischaracterizations made in digital formats are extremely difficult to dodge, ignore, deny, or correct. One’s online reputation is the ultimate flypaper. Take steps to ensure that what sticks to your name is all good.

Images

Along with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are the sites where images of you are most likely to be posted, by yourself and others. When cameras are around, meaning whenever anyone has a cell phone, which is about 24/7, make sure that your behavior represents you and your brand well.

There’s nothing wrong with being photographed in an obviously casual gathering. Just make sure that you (or others) are not in the midst of activities that could be misconstrued and reflect poorly on you sometime in the future. If you regularly appear in photos that you know or suspect will be posted to social media sites, counteract with a photo of your own that shows you at work, paid or volunteer. Balance your accounts, so to speak, and show that there is more to you than non-stop partying.

Content

Create and regularly post original content that makes you look smart, professional and successful. On your LinkedIn account, announce when you will attend a symposium, serve on a panel, teach a course or workshop and definitely broadcast the good news if you’ve recently earned a professional certification or advanced degree.

If you’ve presented a webinar, request the replay and turn it into a podcast for your website and YouTube. If you write a newsletter or blog, link it to your website and LinkedIn. If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, produce streams of high-quality feed and images that convey the competencies and values that you want to be known for.

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can feature glimpses into your personal life as well and it could all be for the good, as long as you are strategic about what is revealed. Your volunteer work is always a safe bet. Training for a marathon or even a fun and casual volleyball or softball league would be excellent. Your parent’s wedding anniversary party would make another good personal aspect to include in your online narrative. Be aware that narrative is the operative word. Create the story that you want to be told, in a manner that makes you look wonderful.

Search

About every three months, search your name and your company name in engines such as Bing, Google and Yahoo and see what comes up in the first 50 listings. Are you happy with what you see? Try keywords related to your business along with your city and check your professional reach in a more profound way.

If you find that your business has been reviewed in a negative and inaccurate way, contact the reviewing site and request that the offending post be removed. If customers have offered criticism that just may be constructive, address the matter. Apologize and offer your side of the story. Make amends if possible. By doing so, you’ll add to your credibility and customer service reputation.

It’s been reported that 70% of U.S. employment recruiters have rejected potential job candidates when something about them that was considered unsavory appeared on social media. Solopreneurs should assume that prospective clients will do the same. Maintaining and monitoring your online reputation has never been more important.