Category Archives: Competition

WILL 2014 MAKE YOUR TOP 10 LIST?

2014Busy is good. Most small business owners would rather things were too hectic than too slow. As the year quickly winds down, though, let your staff handle the busy-ness while you work on the business — where you are, what you’ve accomplished during 2014 and where you’re headed in 2015 and beyond.

Your Bottom Line
The quickest way to figure out where you are is to check your bottom line. Are you making money? Are profits better or worse than they were last year at this time? Are you meeting your expectations? If not, why not?

Your Business Plan
Change is inevitable. And businesses have a way of outgrowing their business plans. But if you don’t have a current plan, you don’t have a way of measuring your progress. So if you’ve been “off the road” without a plan for a while, it’s time to formalize a plan that reflects past growth and sets new goals for the next several years.

Your Competition
The more that you know about your competition, the better. Who are they? How are they different? How are they the same? Where do you overlap each other? Understanding their business model will help you to prepare strategically for possible changes in the marketplace.

Your Secret Weapon
Your work force is your secret weapon, especially if you’re in a competitive market. Dedicated, well-trained employees providing top-notch customer service can help put you out front of even the largest competitor. A rich, competitive benefits package will help you attract — and retain — a high-caliber work force. Health insurance and retirement plans are highly valued benefits. You can offer a variety of other benefits to suit your employees’ needs and your budget.

Your Future
Do you have a formal succession plan? Are you training someone to take over? A well-trained successor could help in the successful and profitable transfer of your business. You can use life insurance to prefund all or part of the sale.

If we can help your business with strategic planning for 2015, contact us at Linda@LStortzCPA.com or visit us at http://www.LStortzCPA.com

 

 

 

SURPRISE YOUR CUSTOMERS TO BUILD LOYALTY

customerloyaltyCustomers generally expect to get what they pay for. If you go beyond that to deliver something extra and unexpected, you can set your company apart from the competition. To that end, here are five ways to surprise customers and beat “the other guys.”

1. Get to know people personally. Do you reach out to customers soon after a purchase is made, just to see whether they’re satisfied? Think about the positive impression you’ll make on customers by doing so. Making contact can be as simple as inviting customers to take an online survey or as involved as making a phone call or sending a personalized email or a handwritten thank-you note. Longtime loyalty stems from gestures like these.

For example, salespeople at The Mitchells Family of Stores in Fairfield, Connecticut, contact customers by phone, email or handwritten note, “not trying to sell them anything, but letting them know we’re available to do alterations, or to come to their home and look at their closet to see what is still wearable,” says CEO Jack Mitchell.

2. Offer help even when you don’t benefit from doing so. Like every other business, you have a customer-service policy and need to maintain certain standards. But when a valued client makes a special request, it may make sense to deviate from the rules. For example, you could provide free shipping on an exceptionally large order. Or, if you can’t satisfy a customer’s particular need, you could make a referral to a business that can. Customers are often surprised by this level of attention, and they’ll remember a business that provides it.

“Be willing to refer customers, even to your competitors,” says Maria Korolov, editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. “Then, when the customer is in a market for whatever it is you’re selling, they’ll remember you and come back.”

3. Solicit feedback. Is there a place on your website where visitors can easily offer suggestions or voice a complaint? Making the process simple shows how much you value your customers’ opinions. When a problem occurs with your service or product, offering a candid admission of the error — as opposed to excuses — may help you retain a potentially alienated customer. Always follow up with anyone who complains to let the customer know the problem has been resolved.

“The right follow-up can often rescue a customer,” notes Richard White, founder and CEO of UserVoice.

4. Be generous with discounts. Customers expect markdowns on goods or services from time to time. What they may not expect is a surprise 5 percent discount on their next invoice with a note saying, “Thank you for being such a great customer.” Consider offering other special discounts or free samples as rewards to loyal customers. This tactic also can be useful for repairing your relationships with complaining customers (see #3).

5. Keep your top employees happy. In a bricks-and-mortar setting, customers put a lot of emphasis on how well they’re served by employees. Staff members who do an outstanding job of assisting customers are often a small business’s most valuable asset. Take care of these employees in order to keep turnover to a minimum.

Visitors to your website or your store won’t always make a purchase. But it’s still important to be gracious and attentive to their needs, no matter what. “The key is to always make your customer happy,” says Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded. “If they remember a great experience in your store [or website] — even without a purchase — they are more likely to return again.”

by Lee Polevoi on  Read more: http://blog.intuit.com/marketing/surprise-your-customers-to-build-loyalty/#ixzz31srqCjR9