Excuse me, you have a little something in your teeth…

small business goal settingHave you ever come out of a meeting, or the end of day and caught yourself in a mirror and realized that you have a piece of schmutz in your teeth, or your cow-lick is asserting its personality again?  We have all had that moment when we think “WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE TELL ME?”

As small business owners we can spend so much time in the tasks that we forget what our goals are.  If only gauging how well we are running our business is as simple as looking in the mirror!  When it comes to taking your business to the next level, a level of self-awareness is required to assess the needs of your business and how your management style can be maximized for growth.

Take a look at your business and your strengths and values (and be honest about it!). Determine what makes sense for you to do and what is reasonable for someone else to take care of.

To identify exactly what you need, do the following for one work-week:

  1. As you go through each workday, write down the daily tasks that you dislike doing (or, put another way, make a list of the things you do last because you keep putting them off)
  2. Write down all the projects you’ve “had on the back burner”; those projects and tasks that never seem to get done week after week, month after month.
  3. Write down all the things you spend too much time doing (why are you really in the office all the time?).
  4. Write down all the things you wish you had more time to do.
  5. Write down all the tasks you must do as a business owner.

Ask people you know to work through this with you as they may provide a different perspective. There might be metaphorical spinach in your teeth that they are begging for the chance to tell you about!

Don’t think about how much it will cost or how long to get these resources in place.  Just think about you for now and ask yourself what you need to do in order to move your business forward.

Need help?  Click here to get my free e-book to help you gain clarity.

 

What time is it in this global village?

advantage of hiring virtual assistanceRemote support was pretty much non-existent 25 years ago. Facebook didn’t exist 20 years ago. Times, they are a’changing…

Remote work has grown in popularity over the last 5-10 years and more so with the pandemic we’ve been dealing with the past 2+ years, it’s become a necessity. The Internet and evolving technology drive the ability for remote support workers to be just that: “remote”.  That can mean being remote locally or remote internationally; it can mean telecommuting for employees or freelancing as a contractor from anywhere on the planet for clients anywhere on the planet. The world has become larger and smaller at the same time: larger because remote working can easily tap into new markets around the world and increase competition (which can be a good thing); smaller because it takes less time and cost to do so.

It wasn’t too long ago that the average person didn’t know too much about video meetings or needed an international calling plan. Today, companies are expanding their enterprises globally without ever leaving their hometown; hiring remote employees who are local to new markets gives enterprise an edge. While this can be a very cost-effective way to conduct business, it takes more than just hiring people to work for you; it takes a thorough review of all factors that come into play for all stakeholders. It’s important to know the legal and accounting aspects of these relationships as well as being mindful of language barriers of both employees and clients.

Even in spite of the pandemic, the world is open for new opportunities.  With ever-evolving technology and lower costs to connect, open your mind to the endless possibilities that are happening around the world and around the clock.

Customer Loyalty :: a study in opposites

gift “Before the pandemic, I was making arrangements for my summer holiday to the U.K.  Among those many arrangements and bookings I had to make, two stood out in my mind – each of which are a great example of customer loyalty, how to build it and how to lose it quickly.

The first experience was with a large, well known mail order firm in the U.S. I had purchased travel clothing for my trip and not everything fit well so I had to return a few things. The return slip was easy to complete and advise what I wanted done with the returned items.

Rather than me hunting all over the house for a copy of their catalogue, they included one with the order so it would be easy to find substitutions if I wanted. They included a pre-printed return label within its own folded card with instructions. These few easy to do steps made the return of the clothing really easy and hassle free to the extent that I just had to fill in the sender address on the label, tape up the box and drop off at my local post office. It was almost a joy to return the things I didn’t want. Will I purchase from them again? Absolutely!

The other experience was with a tour operator for an excursion of a now well-known castle in Britain. I had made the booking back in March and I was so happy that the date was available as it was going to be one of my last days in Britain – I really lucked out! I was so looking forward to it even though it was 6 months away.

In May, I received a notice by email that my booking was cancelled and asked what other date would I like to choose? I replied by saying it was the only date I was available for the tour and requested that my money be refunded. I waited a week and sent them a reminder. A couple of days after that, they requested my PayPal account address. A week later I checked my account and there was considerably less money in my account than the original amount I paid. There was no explanation by email for the difference. I researched their website to see if there was a cancellation policy, none to be found. I emailed again advising what I had paid and what I had received as a refund and requested they remit the difference immediately. Will I purchase from them again? Absolutely not! Will I recommend them? Not a chance.

In both these situations, the return process is handled by using a few simple steps to keep the customer (me) happy and coming back. One of them has it perfected; the other has a lot to learn!

Do you have any customer loyalty examples to share that we can all learn from? Please comment and feel free to social share below. Thanks!

The Epitome of Value Based Fees

trading your time for money

Did you hear the one about the customer and the plumber?  This is a classic anecdote that applies to more and more industries and professions as we realize that providing services is not about trading time for money.

Customer: “Hello, I have a problem with my bathroom plumbing and I need you to come over.”

Plumber: “What seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “Well, when I flush the toilet, the kitchen faucet drips.”

Plumber: “I’ll be over this afternoon to have a look.”

The plumber arrives, inspects the plumbing in the house, checks out a few things, flips a few switches, tests the system and fixed the problem in about 15 minutes.  He presents the customer with the bill.

Customer: “$600 to do 15 minutes work?!?!”

Plumber: “It took me 10 years to learn how to do that.”

There’s more to services than just trading time for money.  What about all the years it took to get your education, training and credentials?  What about your life experience?  The time and effort it took you to build your organization?  You’re worth so much more than dollars per hour. Think about it and share your comments.

No Excuses: the art of follow-up

why is consumer relations important

Just a little reminder today that the art of the follow up is now easier than ever. Why? Because of our ever-increasing virtual world of electronic media, social media, video, audio, smart phones and goodness knows what else will be available tomorrow!

Add these resources to what were used even 10 years ago, and there really is no reason not to follow up with your donors and sponsors for their contribution and to keep in touch with your members.

It’s so easy for organizations to post to their donors’ and sponsors’ Facebook feeds: send them a text message, record a personal video or send an email. On top of this you can use Skype, Facebook or Google Chat or Hangouts to connect and have a virtual coffee break to check in.  AND add to this the more traditional ways of keeping in touch with cards, notes and gifts in the regular “snail” mail, there’s no excuse not to keep in touch with your networks.  Personally, I like to mail hand-written cards and gifts.  From a marketing perspective, there’s nothing more alluring than ‘lumpy’ mail, so include a pen, a block of sticky notes or a little gift with a card; the chances of that piece of mail being opened will increase exponentially.  Even if you just write thank-you (for your time, for your call, for your donation, for your sponsorship…), doing so will go a long way. The combinations you can use to keep in touch are endless!

While most organizations spend time recruiting potential members, sponsors and donors, what about your current members, sponsors and donors? Do you ever thank them, take them out to lunch or send them a birthday card or gift? Your current database of contacts are your biggest fans and the most likely to refer. Stay connected with them and nurture those relationships! It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – it’s the thought that counts.

Meetings and Events Turned Sideways

It used to be that running a meeting on Zoom was a ‘luxury’; considered only a necessity for folks who couldn’t attend in person. It was a lot of work to set all that up in the background and run it. Oh, how times have changed! This past year has forced us to switch gears quickly and use technology to create something of a normal way to conduct meetings and conferences with a minimum of disruption.

You may not be the host of in-person meetings these days, but did you know there is such a thing as ‘virtual event hosting etiquette’? Think of all the things that need to be done and need attending to when you’re hosting an in-person meeting or event, like catering, registrations, customer care, speaker needs, documents, presentations, etc. Now do all that with a twist: no one is going to be where you are.  (Yikes!)

Intrigued? Freaked out? Or are you one of those people that are thinking to themselves, ‘Bring. It. On.’?

The beauty of virtual events is that it can be organized in a couple of ways. There is what we might refer to as a hybrid virtual event which still provides an event hosted in a physical location for your attendees, but uses virtual aspects as part of the presentation, is used for messaging in the promotion of the event and provides an online outreach for those that require flexibility, where they may not be able to attend.

An entirely virtual event could allow you to provide your message, engage your audience and simultaneously obtain feedback while avoiding the “production” costs of a traditional event. Some of the more important things to consider with hosting a virtual event or meeting may include:

The Audience – Understand who your audience is for the event and if they would be receptive to attending a virtual event, perhaps if they are in multiple locations.

The Message – Focus on the material to be presented and create your presentation in such a way so you are not just reading material from a slide but showing a high level within the slide and discussing the details, allowing for feedback from the attendees and answering questions as you go.

The Technology – To host an entirely virtual event one of the first items to consider is what event hosting platform you will use and make sure it will function properly. This may include testing your own systems and anticipating what your audience will be using for viewing. There are a lot of new platforms around these days so it’s important to do your research and test, test, test!

The Interaction – Remember to interact with your audience. You may not be able to see if they are engaged or not, but you can do your best to ensure their attention by asking questions, responding to their questions and making your audience aware that you are presenting to them.  You can make your meeting or event memorable by adding in:

  • Mail or courier a conference ‘swag bag’ to arrive to the registrants ahead of the event date. This can include things like chocolate (of course!), tea or coffee pods, popcorn, an ‘I’m attending a conference’ door hanger, hand signage to use while in a session (e.g. ‘I vote yes!’), pens, sticky notes and the list goes on…;
  • Arrange a food delivery so that attendees can have a meal at the same time as the event is taking place;
  • Email documents ahead of time, or upload to a repository and provide the link;
  • Conduct pre-event surveys to discuss at the meeting or event – new data gives people something to talk about;
  • Set up virtual networking rooms;
  • Set up a virtual exhibit hall;
  • Make sure you schedule breaks and lunch time, just as you would for an in-person conference or event.

Of course, all this leads into opportunities to enhance donor/member/attendee engagement before, during and after the event or meeting. The cliché, ‘think outside the box’ comes to mind. What we miss by attending in-person meetings can be easily made up for by a little creative thinking and planning ahead.

How are you engaging with your members these days? Find me on LinkedIn and drop me a line or two: www.linkedin.com/in/virtualworks

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