Monday, November 24, 2014

Save Money by Saving Energy

How to Make Your Business More Energy Efficient

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In today’s business world, being efficient is one of the most important keys to success. While streamlining your procedures and process can help employees be more efficient, have you ever thought of ways to make your energy consumption more efficient as well? Being proactive with energy management can help your business to run better, not to mention save some serious dollars of overhead cost. The good news is that energy efficiency is not just achieved by putting expensive solar panels on the roof or special lighting and equipment in the store or office – there are some relatively simple, quick ways to help your business use energy more effectively without breaking the bank.

Energy Saving Strategies for Lighting

Lighting an office or retail space can often be one of the highest consumers of energy. Luckily, there are a large range of things that can be changed or updated with a lighting system to make it more efficient and help business owners save some money. The simplest thing that can be done is remembering to turn lights off when leaving a room that is not going to be used (this goes for other pieces of equipment as well). Think about making up signs as reminders to co-workers and associates to remember Mother Earth and save energy by turning lights off. Additionally, you can replace regular light bulbs with more energy efficient CFL bulbs and install motion sensing light switches that turn lights on and off as needed.

Energy Saving Strategies for HVAC

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning throughout a space can be another energy hog that is relatively simple to manage. The most important thing to do to make sure your HVAC system is running efficiently is to make sure you have annual tune-up and maintenance work done. Additionally, you can ask your HVAC company to install more modern controls – modern HVAC controls can allow you to set “occupied” and “unoccupied” times for the building when the system will turn itself on and off as to not waste energy when the building is not being used. Also, making sure the windows in the building are sealed and have no leaks to help keep warm air inside during winter and cool air during the summer.

Energy Saving Strategies for Office Equipment

If you are working in an office setting, chances are there are some larger pieces of equipment that are needed to make the business run, like printers, copiers and even paper shredders. To help manage the energy these essential pieces of equipment use, there are some simple operational changes that can be made. First, make sure equipment is turned off when it is not being used – there is a common misconception that equipment loses longevity when it is turned on and off which is completely false. Turning off equipment can have a huge impact on the amount of energy a building can save and this savings will be reflected in electricity bills. Additionally, if you are outfitting a new office, make sure to lean toward equipment that has an ENERGY STAR seal, indicating the most efficient equipment.

If you found these small business tips useful, you should check out Stacy is a small business mentor that has helped dozens of entrepreneurs create their own home business. For more information about Stacy and to see how he can help you, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of FH Furr via Creative Commons License

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Protect Your Online Brand Reputation

Maintaining a Positive Brand Image in the Digital World

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It is no secret to anyone, especially business owners, that the introduction of the Internet has changed a lot of things from our social interactions to how we make purchases. Before the World Wide Web came into existence, a reputation was something a business worked to build and did not necessarily worry about managing. Now, a lot of how a company is perceived has to do with how they are presented on the Internet, whether the company is Web based or not. In a world where anyone can write anything about anyone or any business in any forum, it is important to make sure your business’s brand reputation is being monitored to protect it from defamation and other damaging instances online.

Know the Importance of Protecting Your Reputation

While online review sites can be great for businesses, they can also be very damaging. All it takes is one disgruntled customer, a computer, and an audience of other current or potential clients and the business’s entire reputation can be ruined with a single keystroke. This is why it is vital for business owners to know the importance of brand reputation and how they can effectively protect it. One way is by hiring a reputation management company – these organizations will use different tools to help monitor what is being said about your business online and report back findings so you can take action.

Another, more cost effective way to handle protection is to utilize some free or inexpensive tools to do the same thing. Some of these tools include TweetBeep, Social Mention and Google Alerts among others – all of these tools will help you to locate and monitor when your business is being mentioned and help you to counteract any negative posts or comments. If you choose to hire an outside company to monitor this for you, make sure they do not employ tactics like creating social media simply to flood the Web with positive comments about the business. These tactics are generally frowned upon and can sometimes be more damaging to the company than negative comments from actual customers.

Be Realistic About What You Can Control

The truth is, no matter how much you monitor or counteract negative feedback online, there is no full proof way to prevent unhappy clients from posting potentially damaging things. This is why it is important for you to know what exactly you have control over and what you do not, which will help to not send the business over the deep end when it comes to preventive measures. Although there is no way to stop negative comments, there are ways to stop potential new clients from seeing them. While it may be easy to send someone looking for more information about the business to a review site to research the information themselves, this is probably the worst thing a business can do. Never point customers directly to a source that could potentially have a damaging effect on your reputation.

Do Not Ignore the Internet

The Internet is everywhere – on our computers, our smartphone, and our tablets or iPads, and everyone is using it to do pretty much everything. While it may seem like a good idea to just ignore its existence and pretend nothing bad is being said about the business online, this can actually do more bad than good. Unanswered negative comments or lack of improvement in areas being complained about online can lead to speculation from clients and customers – this laid back attitude about online review sites can lead consumers to believe that you simply do not care about what is being said, and worse, you do not care about your customers. Being proactive in knowing and counteracting any negative feedback is the key to making sure the business’s reputation is not smeared across the Internet.

If you found this small business tip useful, you should read Stacy O'Quinn's blog! Stacy has helped many small business and home business owners create a more successful and profitable business. For more information about Stacy, click here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Once You Get a Customer, Keep Them!

How to Properly Manage Client Retention

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As many small business owners already know, one of the keys to business success is not just making the initial sale but also retaining clients for future business. Although many companies have found a formula for success with making initial sales, they sometimes struggle with keeping customers for repeat business. Transactions from loyal customers can account for almost 40 percent of a business’s overall revenue, which is why customer retention is so significant in today’s market. With this in mind, it can be easy to see why having a customer retention plan is so important to your business.

Have a Post-Sale Plan in Place and Share it with Customers

Although it may seem like making an initial sale is the difficult part, the more challenging and more important part of the deal is guaranteeing the customer will come back and do business with you again. This is where the post-sale plan comes into play. After making an initial sale, share with customers how you will be following up with them in the future to make sure the product or service they are purchasing met their needs or explain your businesses post-sale plan. This is a great way to show customers that you truly care about fulfilling their needs and meeting their expectations. When a business begins a relationship in this way, it is much more likely that client will come back and make another purchase.

Do Your Results Measure Up to Expectations?

Once a post-sale plan is in place, it is important to make sure it is the right one for the business. A great way to measure success is to measure the results against what the expected outcome is. By doing this, it can help reveal holes in the plan or areas that need improvement in order to boost customer retention. One tool that can be used to make these measurements is by sending clients a post-sale survey – ask them to rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 10 and also ask them what can be done to make their experience better in the future. Active monitoring of your and your customers’ expectations is a great way for a business to be able to show empathy to their clients when things do not go exactly right.

Employ Transition Marketing

Many clients are in the “not there yet” phase of the buying process – they have not made a purchase and may need some convincing, which is where a lot of a business’s marketing efforts are focused. But, once they have transitioned to the point where they do engage in business with the company, the way they should be marketed to needs to transition as well. Instead of barraging them with the same marketing materials they have seen already, start mixing in different materials like white papers, invitations to special events, and customer loyalty sales and discounts. These types of marketing campaigns are not meant to bring them in for the first time, but bring them back time and time again.

If you found these small business tips useful, you  should talk to Stacy O'Quinn. Stacy has mentored dozens of work from home professionals to help them turn their struggling businesses into a six figure income. For more information about Stacy and to find out how he can help you, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of jm3 on Flickr via Creative Commons License

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Make Every Day Productive

How to Minimize Time Wasting in Your Small Business

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Stacy helping another
home business entrepreneur
When it comes to a small business, time is often a business owner’s most valuable asset. But, what many owners come to realize after their business is up and running is that there simply is not enough time in the day. It is important to ask ourselves this important question when it comes to proper time management – “Do I really have this much to do, or can I manage my time better?” The thing about time is that it is not a tangible item that we can buy, sell or trade for – time is something we simply need to reclaim as small business owners. Here, we will discuss different ways to reclaim that precious time.

Do a Better Job Managing Your Email

An email box is often where business owners begin to work and somehow lose so many precious hours of their day. The tricky thing is, although it is supposed to streamline communication and save time, it often pulls us away from what we should be working on for an extended amount of time. When the email alerts to a new message, it often takes someone 10 minutes to answer, and then another 15 to 20 to get back on track with what they were working on. In order to manage this time better, and save it from getting lost in a black hole, designate times throughout the day to read and answer emails and, when working on other projects or tasks, shut off the notification feature so as to not get distracted.

Do Not Believe the Myths about Multi-Tasking

Many business owners, and really all business professionals, believe that multi-tasking is a great way for them to save time and get more work complete. Doing payroll, expense reports, answering messages and have a million applications open on your computer or phone may make you feel like a lot of work is getting done, but are you really getting anything accomplished? The truth is, this is completely the opposite of what we all think and only two percent of people can multi-task successfully. Instead of striving to do more than one thing at a time, schedule out blocks of time and focus on one project or task. Believe it or not, 15 minutes of complete focus is more productive than trying to complete two tasks at one.

Minimize Unnecessary Distractions

Technology, in many ways, has made running a business much easier and much simpler. But, every ring, ding, ping, and other noise that our computers and cell phones make can be a huge distraction to getting more important items complete. While these notifications are sometimes important to make sure that critical items are handled, the truth is that not every email, text message or phone call needs your immediate attention. In order to minimize unneeded distractions, think about using different filters on your email boxes and text message cues so that only the most important messages are alerted during different times of the day and, like mentioned before, only check messages during specified times.

Do you need help running your small business or in making your home business more profitable? Did you know that Stacy O'Quinn has served as a small business mentor to dozens of entrepreneurs using the techniques he learned from Dani Johnson training? If you would like to see how Stacy can help you, please click here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Improve Your Small Business Holiday Sales

3 Great Tips to Help You Have a Great Holiday Sales Season

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Improve your holiday sales
Recent forecasts have shown that a predicted increase in spending is bound to happen this holiday shopping season – a huge jump in money spent since 2011. While this may be a dismal outlook for buyers as more money is coming out of their pockets, it is a welcome gift for retailers looking to boost their yearly numbers with great Black Friday and overall holiday sales. Because of this promising forecast, it is important for businesses to start preparing for the buying season now to ensure the business is ready for this huge influx of business. Aside from the usual marketing efforts, here are some additional tips to help make the most out of your holiday season.

Consider Extending Operating Hours during the Holidays

The birth of online shopping has put less pressure on retailers to keep stores open later or longer during the holiday shopping season. Online shopping offers consumers the luxury of being able to shop at any time of the day or night. But, analysts say that customers are more likely to spend more money in an actual retail store that they are buying online. Because of this, it may be a good time to consider adjusting your operating hours during the busy shopping season, especially during the month of December. It is also important to make this consideration to help keep up with competition and make sure consumers are spending their money in your store instead of in your competitor’s retail spaces.

Think About Hiring Holiday Help

With the larger influx of customers visiting your store and website, it is important to make sure you have enough staff to handle the demand and still be able to provide great customer service. Many large companies like Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, and others hire many, many additional staff members to help work the extended store hours as well as handle the larger number of customers in a quick, streamlined manner. By offering great customer service during this hectic time, it can help build relationships with consumers, making them more likely to purchase from the business throughout the year instead of just during the holidays. When hiring holiday help, make sure to express that the positions are temporary.

Holiday Freebies Can Go a Long Way

There is nothing better than a business that spreads the holiday cheer while consumers are out shopping for their Christmas gifts. Everyone loves something free, so consider working in some free giveaways with certain purchases. A great marketing campaign to employ is giving away gift cards or high value coupons with a certain purchase. This not only entices consumers to shop with you during the holiday season, but it also encourages them to shop again when the holidays have ended. If you really want to boost sales after the holidays, consider having the gift cards or coupons only be good starting after the busy holiday season – this helps to guarantee a boost in sales later down the line.

Is your small business ready for the holiday season? If you enjoyed this tip, check out our blog every week for tips on starting your own home business, small business mentoring, and so much more! If you would like to see our other tips not, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of Roberto Verzo via Creative Commons License