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Build Your Business Through Your Customers

August 7, 2018 / by Kate Wilson posted in Small Business Advice, Tips for Startups, Business Advice


Originally posted on the blog.

You love your B2B business — building it, adding new products and services, growing revenue.

And, most likely, winning new customers.

For most companies, the sales focus is on prospects. When new customers come on, they bring money, prestige, and great numbers to share on quarterly reports. But you still have to build trust, deliver as promised, and work to retain their business beyond the honeymoon stage.

Never forget that you already have a built-in source of contacts who trust your company and what it does: Your customers. And you shouldn’t overlook selling to them.

Studies show that it costs five times more to get new customers than keeping existing ones.

Another asserts that growing customer retention by 5% can lead to a 25% increase in revenue. Finally, this book discovered that the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5%-20%, while the chances of selling to an existing customer are closer to 60%-70%.

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Eight Tips for Boosting Client Delight in Your Organization

August 2, 2018 / by Erica Mitchell


This is the final article in our three-part series on Client Delight. Click here to see the first article, "Why Client Delight Is Critical to Your Business." Click here to see the second article, "Measuring Client Delight: Are Your Clients Happy?"

Mastering the concept of Client Delight starts with seeing client/customer satisfaction as every employee's responsibility — and recruiting, training and treating your staff accordingly.

Since 2004, we at Supporting Strategies have built our business around a commitment to client service. Along the way, we've continually picked up best practices from experts in the field, our customers and our team members.

Here are eight points you should keep in mind with regard to Client Delight:

  1. Client delight is a human resources issue. Keep it at the forefront of managing staff — from recruitment through evaluations, perks and promotions. Provide ongoing staff training around expectations, and include client satisfaction as a key measure of employee performance.
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Measuring Client Delight: Are Your Clients Happy?

July 24, 2018 / by Erica Mitchell posted in Small Business Advice, Tips for Startups, Business Advice


This is the second article in our three-part series on Client Delight. Click here to see the first article, "Why Client Delight Is Critical to Your Business."

Too often, we learn our clients are disappointed only after it's too late. After all, even the closest client relationships don't always offer up the information needed to measure client satisfaction.

The good news? Getting that information isn't as difficult as it may seem. While technology and social media have reduced business owners' control of the message, they've also provided new ways to assess Client Delight. The key is taking a multifaceted approach that includes a range of tools and strategies.

Surveys help you understand how you're measuring up in a client's eyes.

  • Create quick surveys that take only two to five minutes to complete.
  • Send exit surveys to clients when a project is coming to a close (e.g. if you're a landscaper wrapping up a one-time job with a client).
  • Schedule bi-annual surveys for clients with whom you have an ongoing relationship.
  • Always follow up on negative survey feedback as quickly as possible to salvage the relationship, if possible, or at least stem the tide of negative word-of-mouth.
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Why Client Delight Is Critical to Your Business

July 19, 2018 / by Erica Mitchell posted in Small Business Advice, Tips for Startups, Business Advice


This is the first article in our three-part series on Client Delight.

Client Delight is all about exceeding client/customer expectations and fostering long-term relationships. When done well, this strategy can boost referrals, increase revenue and set your business apart. HubSpot pushes the concept even further, making the case that client delight is about pleasing not just existing clients, but also potential ones, at every opportunity and brand interaction.

Focusing on Client Delight is much more than the marketing trend of the moment. In fact, mastering Client Delight might make the difference between seeing your business fade or flourish. We even have the data to prove it. Research shows:

  • It's 50% easier to retain an existing client or customer than it is to attain a new one.
  • It costs between five and 30 times more to attain a new client or customer than to retain one.

Those numbers make a compelling case that ignoring Client Delight can do significant damage to your company and its brand.

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Want to Organize Your Business? Organize Your Mind First.

July 17, 2018 / by Jonathan Pritchard posted in Small Business Advice, Tips for Startups, Business Advice


Starting a business is hard. Sustaining a business is even harder. And growing a business is hardest of all.

There are so many ways that even the best-conceived businesses can go astray once they open the doors. What seemed like a well-organized business plan in theory can wash away in a flood of day-to-day details. How can you avoid drowning?

It's Your Responsibility
When businesses fail, it's usually because key people lose sight of what's important. This insidious affliction starts when those at the top try to do too many things themselves.

Many small-business owners think they have no choice but to wear every hat. Those same owners also complain they have no time to devote to business development because the day-to-day stuff is all-consuming.

Guess what? If you find yourself in that situation, your problem isn't a lack of time — it's an inability to prioritize. Step back and be honest with yourself. Yes, you're busy, possibly to the point where you're approaching burnout. Feeling busy, however, doesn't mean you're being effective. Having a long to-do list might make you feel important, but many of the things on that list probably aren't the best things to be spending your time on.

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Seven Attributes all Salespeople Need

July 10, 2018 / by Bill Bartlett posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Business Advice


Originally published on the Corporate Strategies & Solutions website.

I train and coach thousands of salespeople each year and have taken advantage of this incredible opportunity to collect important data that is significant in helping my audience understand the complex nature of the “sales beast.” I have learned volumes about the motivation, behavior, skills and beliefs that propel high performers to be the best and have concluded there are real hidden drivers that provide fuel for high-flying success.

Recently, I spent time identifying the critical attributes I believe drive sales success and their relationship with salespeople to impact their sales success. Initial interviews with my sales audience surfaced attributes like: persistence, personality, intuition and likeability as well as time management, however, when I dug deeper and even took a behavioral x-ray, I found a totally different set of characteristics. Many salespeople just don’t know what their success drivers are and never try to dig to determine them. They just blindly accept their success, whether limited or not, as a bi-product of their hard work.

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A Real-World Example of How to Prevent Bookkeeping Fraud

July 5, 2018 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice


Perhaps nothing hurts a small-business owner more than learning they've been defrauded by a trusted employee. Let's take a closer look at a recent case in which a bookkeeper embezzled $600,000 from a pair of Chicago restaurants and see what business owners can learn about safeguarding their finances.

Never Let One Person Handle the Bills
This is one of those lessons that seem obvious in hindsight. In the Chicago case, the bookkeeper was responsible both for cutting all checks to the restaurants' vendors, with no oversight, and for performing reconciliations. Over a six-year period, she wrote herself $604,113 worth of checks from the company account, then cut checks with the same numbers for the vendors. The restaurant owners didn't discover the scheme until a company accountant was setting up a new bookkeeping system and noticed the discrepancies.

The guilty party had been with the company for almost 20 years. But she found herself "in over her head" with credit card bills and other debts and yielded to temptation, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The paper also reported that "on her way out of the office, she offered some advice: 'Make sure the next bookkeeper you hire doesn't do the bank reconciliations as well,' the complaint states."

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How Tax Law Changes Regarding Ecommerce Will Impact Businesses

July 3, 2018 / by Mark Wald posted in Small Business Advice, Santa Monica, Bookkeeping Services, Los Angeles, Ventura County, Business Advice, Ecommerce


A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that has been hailed as a victory for tax collectors could also be a blow to small businesses. If you conduct online sales to out-of-state customers, you need to start paying close attention to laws regarding sales/use taxes (SUT) in every state where you do business.

The backstory to the landmark case, South Dakota v. Wayfair , stretches back decades. In 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that mail-order companies had no SUT obligation on out-of-state transactions. In 1992 the Quill Court decision upheld the physical presence standard for SUT nexus.

Before the Wayfair decision, the same laws governing mail-order sales also applied to sales made through the internet. In other words, if you ran a business in California that made online sales to New York residents, you weren't obligated to collect New York sales tax because you didn't have a physical presence (or "nexus") in that state.

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Can the Cloud Improve Your Business?

June 26, 2018 / by Jerry Sledge posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Raleigh, NC, Business Advice


For a small-business owner, there's perhaps nothing worse than the shock of losing all the data on your computer. It happened to me years ago, even though I thought I had been following proper backup procedures.

If you've ever had a similar experience, you might have some healthy fears about relying on online systems, especially for your business. But having a better understanding of today's cloud technology — and its ability to keep your stored information safe — could put your mind at ease.

Not sure exactly what "the cloud" is? You're not alone. But chances are, you're already using it — e.g. if you use an online payroll services company.

In simple terms, using the cloud means your data is stored offsite, at a series of servers (and backup servers) in different locations. It's not stored on your laptop, phone or tablet (or on an expensive onsite server).

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Fraud Prevention: How to Keep Your Books Secure

June 21, 2018 / by Bill Davis posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Richmond, VA


Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to $1.5 Million Fraud Scheme

That headline represents a small-business owner's worst nightmare. The person you trusted to ensure your finances were handled properly and professionally instead exploited your trust for their own gain.

How can you be sure this will never happen to you?

Segregation of Duties Is Key
It's shocking how much damage an unscrupulous employee can do to a small business. In the case cited above, a bookkeeper at a Virginia construction company pleaded guilty to funneling $1.5 million into her own account over eight years.

The devastation can be psychological as well as financial. That's certainly the case when the guilty party is a trusted friend or even a family member.

From day one, you need to establish a system of internal controls that includes segregation of duties. It might feel awkward, particularly in a small family business. But delegating responsibility for, say, reviewing invoices to one person and paying invoices to another person is vital.

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