Mar 062013
 

marketing mistakes, value proposition, ideal customer

1. No Concept of the Ideal Customer

Many marketers have a completely product/service-centric view of the world. They know their product/service up, down and sideways, but have only a vague idea of who might actually want or need it, or how they’d actually use it. Worst case, the marketers don’t think that’s important because their product/service is so “state-of-the-art” that it’s obvious why it’s a good thing to buy.

2. No Time Spent Listening to That Type of Customer

Even when marketers DO have a concept of the ideal customer, they often spend little time actually listening to those customers. They do “market research” and run demographic numbers, but when it comes to just Continue reading »

 March 6, 2013  Posted by at 5:00 AM Growth Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jan 092013
 

 

business coaching, service coach, managing cash flow, seasonal businesses, test and measure, A customers, trust your team, ineffective advertising

We(Service Coach team) have found that growing a service business to fast is the reason why the majority of businesses fail in the first 5 years. Growing to fast ultimately leads to a lack of cash, and usually a very big cash flow problem. Taking the time to build your business, your team, and your systems is the way to ensure long-lasting profits.

As you grow your business, it is easy for you as a business owner to get seduced by the lure of easy money as you bring new customers into your business. However, Continue reading »

 January 9, 2013  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Oct 082012
 

cash management, cash flow, payment terms, managing business cash, manage accounts recieveables

Here are seven ways to recoup your company’s cash faster:

1. Offer a discount for early payment.

To incentivize your customers to pay you earlier, offer them a price discount if they do, and be sure to highlight it in the contract and invoice. Several of our customers take advantage of an early payment discount we offer, and sometimes even overnight a check to make sure they don’t miss our discount window.

2. Use online payment systems.

Several of our customers use online systems to submit invoices. If we participate in those systems, we find many of them will pay off their invoices within 15 to 18 days of receiving them. The best part is that the money is electronically deposited directly into our account. If your customers are not using an online system, consider setting one up for your company. An example is using a service called bill.com, which allows you to pay anyone or be paid by anyone electronically.

3. Require an upfront fee.

If you know that servicing a customer requires you to expend big dollars on its behalf, collect as much of that money as possible (if not all of it) right away. Submit an initial invoice, and insist it is paid on receipt, or outside of normal payment terms. Most companies understand the situation and are willing to accommodate.

4. Delay the work.

This is a hard one to do. But if you find yourself in the middle of a project and your customer delays payment, stop the process, and insist on having payment in-hand before you or your team finishes up the work. Often, this is the most valuable leverage a small business has in its arsenal.

5. Take credit cards.

This will cost you an origination fee, but the percentage might be worth it to help get you your money sooner–whether payment for your services, or coverage of upfront costs. Many accounting packages already have a built-in ability to take credit cards, too.

6. Invoice for lower sums, but more often.

When we invoice customers for large amounts of money, we find the invoices get stuck somewhere in the payment process. The dollar amount seems to have a lot to do with it. If we submit an invoice to a customer for more than $10,000, it can take 15 to 30 days longer to receive payment than a smaller amount of money. An invoice of less than $10,000 is more often than not paid very close to on-time. If you review the size of your customer base and dollar amounts you work with, you may also discover a breaking point between invoices that are paid quickly and those that languish on your customers’ desks.

7. Talk with your customers about accounts payable.

This might seem obvious but it’s often overlooked: Have a conversation with your customers about their accounts payable processes at the start of your relationship. You will find that knowing your customers’ processes will help you when you bid for new business.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 October 8, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Money Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 272012
 

business growth, networking, planning,sales strategies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some business owners I meet complain that, although they attend networking events, they don’t actually get any work through them and question whether it is worth while bothering, given that there are 101 other things they could be spending their time doing.

Clearly, networking isn’t going to be an appropriate marketing tool for all businesses, but for many I believe it is. After all, if you needed a builder/ accountant/ IT specialist, wouldn’t you prefer to deal with somebody you have met and chatted to rather than somebody you didn’t know at all?

If you are going to use networking as a marketing tool for your business, as with any marketing tool you use, you first need a clear strategy in order to make it work well for you.

Below you will see my ‘top 5 tips’ to effective networking, this will to help you develop your own approach.

1. Choose the networking groups you attend wisely.

You need groups of proactive business owners, not ones that just meet to chat and feel good about themselves. Go along to the meetings with a goal in your mind for the number of cards you are going to hand out, receive, and the number of meetings that you are going to book.

2. Be clear on the type of business you are looking for.

Think about the size, type and location of companies you would like to work with. Make it easy for people to refer work to you by having a clear and concise offer.

3. Ask the people you meet about themselves and their businesses.

Don’t forget that people buy from people they like and showing interest in what others do will help build that relationship. Having a great story to tell will help make people interested in what you do, never try to just sell what you do.

4. Always follow-up on the people you have met after the event. Remember, networking is the start of the sales process, not the end. How do you follow-up after a networking event. Personally, I take all the business cards I have collected and I send invitations to have that contact connect with me via LinkedIn and Facebook.

5. Finally, make sure you measure the results of your efforts. Testing and Measuring is the key to reaching your goal for any activity that you participate in. If you aren’t willing to take the time to test and measure, then you might as well stop doing that activity.

So now you have a guide to effective networking, get out there, take action and make it work for you.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 August 27, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jun 112012
 

scheduling crews, taking responsibility, weather forecast, planning ahead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Tip #1. Schedule with what I call a “soft” Friday. I tend to stack up my jobs and routes early in the week, leaving Thursday, and especially Friday softer work days(fewer work orders). I also know in the back of my mind that I have Saturday to make up any missed work if needed. This way if things go well during the week, all my employees show up and complete their routes, the weather cooperates, and everything runs smoothly I have one of 2 situations.

  • Situation #1.  I have an easier Friday and time to focus on sales, planning, budgeting, or any other tasks that I personally have.  Making sure I have a clean desk before I leave for the weekend. Who can complain about this worst case scenario?
  • Situation #2. Things went well during the beginning of the week and I would like to get more work done this week. If this is the case then I look at the coming week and pull any last-minute jobs up into the current weeks schedule. This also makes me happy, because getting more work done means making more money in that given week. As any seasonal business owner knows making money while the sun shines is the key to our success.

2.  Another tip, is to schedule interior or non rain/snow sensitive work on the days that your weather man is forecasting rain/snow. Rarely do I remove all my jobs and routes from the schedule. Even if the weather is supposed to be poor, I still always try to get something done. Maybe route work or pressure washing, anything that is easy to re-schedule is worth trying to complete on a bad weather day.

3. The last tip, is that the accuracy of the 10 day forecast diminishes the further out you look. In other words your weather forecast tends to be very accurate for the next 48 hours. Anything past 48 hours the accuracy of the prediction reduces dramatically.

Falling victim to the weather forecast is easy to do. Putting blame on the weather, weather man, or your customers is not the answer to effectively managing a seasonal business. We need to take responsibility for our actions and make the changes necessary in our organizations to help us manage the scheduling of our crews around the ever-changing forecast of mother nature. We do this by focusing on the things that we can change(reliable employees, and equipment) and relaxing about the things that we can do nothing about. Worrying is like a rocking chair, it keeps you busy but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

Is your seasonal business dependent on the weather forecast?

What tips do you use in order to help you manage this unpredictable factor?

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 June 11, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Team Tagged with: , , ,  1 Response »
Apr 022012
 

entrepreneur, manager, technician, leadership, business coaching, build a better business,

Live life with purpose, don’t zombie through your 9-5 existence.

 

Below you will see a list of the top 5 Reasons to be an Entrepreneur.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 April 2, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Leadership Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Mar 052012
 
case study, aspiring entrepreneur, build a better business, team, trust, team building, learning from small business mistakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below you will see a case study of a Servicecoach.biz reader. This is not a testimonial, just another inspiring story from one entrepreneur to another. Thanks again Alison for the great story.

Service Coach: How did you get into the painting business?

I was a single mom and started dating a painter, before long I was painting with him while I was going to University. He died in 1999, I hadn’t finished my degree and I thought I would try running a company for a year until I found out what I really wanted to do. While running the business I ended up going back to school to finish my degree and I also took a certificate to teach English. I took 6 months off and went to Italy to teach and then returned to Canada and continued with my company. Here I am in my 13th year…

Service Coach: What challenges did you face along the way?

Oh My goodness LOTS… At that time there was not much support for women in the trades so I was met with a lot of opposition but I also met some incredibly supportive people who cheered me on. It was tough being a single mom and trying to find my way. I didn’t know anything about running a business and while I knew how to put paint on a wall I knew very little about paint. Staff was tough (and still can be a challenge) I was not always the best boss but I think I might be starting to get a decent handle on it!!

Service Coach: What did you and your company do to overcome those challenges?

I asked a lot of questions, I went through a lot of trial and error. I was fortunate that the economy was good so that my mistakes were lost in the craziness. I hired a terrific office manager, I learned how to delegate, I learned that my way is not the only way and I have constantly refined what I am doing and always searching for a better way. I try to treat my staff in such a way that they know they matter, that while this is a job I understand that life sometimes takes precedence.

Service Coach: What was the result that you achieved after you overcame these challenges?

My company has a really good reputation, I have had a good income for quite a while (some years obviously better than others) I got to choose how I spent my life. I got to bring integrity to a business that is often lacking and I get to take care of my customers and staff in a way that I am proud of. I got to go to every one of my son’s basketball games, travel and buy property.

Service Coach: Any tips for aspiring Entrepreneurs looking to build a business and take their one man/woman shop and turn it into a business?

Ask A LOT of questions and when you think you have the answers, tweak and tweak some more. Bring your own sense of morality to what you do and stick with that. If you do what all the others are doing you will get what they get… be better, be bolder, be brave.

Alison Donaghey

www.sonshinegirlspainting.com
British Columbia, Canada
 
 

 If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 March 5, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Case Study Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Feb 232012
 

Branding, Business Coaching, Service Businesses, Build a Better business, Business Planning

 

Sometimes we let our personalities shine through just a little too much. Maintaining a professional image is the key to making sure our Personal Branding strategy doesn’t turn out to be a train wreck like “Donald’s”.

3 things to remember when developing a Personal Branding Strategy.

1. Your values, your personality, and the things you care about are the factors that drive your decision on what your personal brand is.

2.  What drives your decision on what your personal brand is, is how you need people to perceive you in order to reach your income and growth goals.

3. Your Personal Brand should explain who you are and what you do in a clear and professional manner. Referring back to the picture above. Clear yes. Professional, not so much.

Do you want to learn more about Personal Branding? Take a look at this great book.

 

If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 

 

 February 23, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth Tagged with: ,  3 Responses »
Feb 212012
 
Business planning, Business coaching, Branding, small business strategies

Some rights reserved by stevendepolo

1. Specific

Yes, your goals must be specific. I am going to succeed in 2012 is not specific enough. I am going to increase revenue by 15% that’s a specific goal. And that is my goal at The Window Brothers for 2012.

2. Measurable

Your goal must be measurable. It doesn’t have to be monetary, but it does have to be measurable. We are going to be the best XYZ company in 2012, is not measurable. First you need to define “best”. Then, how are you measuring it?

3. Achievable

This is the one that I always have to remind myself about. When writing down my SMART goals I seem to do pretty well with the other categories. However, this category is the one that I always seem to underestimate. No Jason, doubling your revenue in one year is not achievable. It’s ok to dream big, in fact I encourage it. Doubling your revenue is a great goal. But doing it in 5 years is probably more healthy and more achievable than doing it in one year.

4. Results Orientated

This one is very similar to # 2. Make sure your goals are measurable and results orientated. Make sure they are focused on you and your company getting something done. Getting results is what setting goals is all about. It is call a business not a “busy-ness.”

5. Time frame

Assign an achievable time frame to all of your goals. How long is it going take you to achieve your X,Y, & Z goals? A goal not written down is just a wish. Write your goals down and stake it in the ground by setting a time frame to it.

What are your goals for 2012?

How did you do on your 2011 goals? If the answer to the question is “not so great”, then you need to ask yourself. Did I write my goals down? Were they SMART? Do you have someone holding you accountable for achieving these goals?

 

If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 February 21, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth, Leadership Tagged with: ,  6 Responses »
Feb 202012
 
team, key performance indicators, leadership, hiring employees, building a better business

All rights reserved by Elaf417

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Part 1 we learned about DISC profiles and how using personality profiles can help to measure a candidate’s qualities before they are hired. I discussed how I use DISC and VAK to help make the right match of person and position.

Today I would like to discuss the last 2 most common errors that occur. They are inadequate training/evaluation, and a lack of leadership. Now, let’s take a look at those issues in greater detail.

 

2. The problem could be that your training, measuring, and evaluation process is inadequate.

When was the last time you revised your orientation process? Your company handbook? The initial process for training a new hire? What KPI’s (key performance indicators) are they held accountable for? How often do they receive feedback? Who mentors the new employees and for how long? I recommend that all employees participate in the regular team meeting (what do you mean “I don’t have one”) and are asked at each one: What can we do to help you succeed in your job? A few years ago, I heard of a “training method” referred to as “Leave alone, zap”. This means that the new hire is, in effect, turned loose to figure things out and then “zapped” when they make a mistake. This, or any similar approach, basically sets someone up to fail. As expensive as staff turnover is (time, repeated re-training, lost productivity, etc), it is certainly worth investing in refining the process so that we do a better job and “start over” less often.

 

3. The Leader doesn’t know what he/she is doing, so neither does the Team.

In order to have great followers, there has to be a great leader. No team will ever out-perform its leadership. Are you the kind of leader that a great employee would want to follow? Are you running the kind of business that a great employee would want to work for? I can assure you, the team watches everything you do and dissects everything you say. Start with your communication—do you communicate clearly and regularly? Are you consistent in your statements and behavior? Do you do what you say you will do? Also, if you “waffle” or delay making decisions, you are viewed as weak and indecisive. If you have the courage, survey the Team about their views of you as the Leader and be willing to “sharpen your saw” to make some changes. Change your outlook, change your results!

If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 February 20, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Leadership, Team Tagged with: , ,  2 Responses »