Spring Cleanup Tips for Your Office

Spring Cleanup Tips for Your Office

This is the time of year many people refresh their homes inside and out, but why not plan to thoroughly clean and organize your workspace as well? This will not only help you stay on top of the clutter that accumulates with time, but it will motivate you and your team to be more efficient and productive and will help everyone feel more inspired about their work.

Get rid of desktop clutter – Unsorted or unfiled paper documents, brochures you didn’t want to throw away but you don’t need either. Create a sorting system to help you decide what to read now, file now, or throw away now.

Organize physical and digital files – Depending on your current system, this may be a big job. If you are starting over, first spend some time outlining your system on paper, then determine what steps are necessary to get the job done and who will do the tasks. Set weekly goals if it’s a big project.

Update important records – Update your important information folder. Check that account information and account representative information for banks and other financial services are still up to date.

Deep clean carpet and window treatment – If your workspace has carpet and window treatments, they’ve been gathering dust and dirt all year. Plan to have them professionally cleaned.

Update social Media profiles – If you’ve created social media profiles for your business, take a look at the images and “About” information and see if they are up to date. If you’re using a headshot from more than 3 years ago, or you’ve got a non-professional photo as your headshot, schedule a headshot session with a local photographer. A fresh profile image keeps 

Clean shared office food prep appliances or kitchen – Does your workspace have a coffeemaker, microwave oven, refrigerator, or other food prep appliances.? Beyond weekly wipe-downs, give them a thorough cleaning.

Safety check – Check expiration dates for smoke and carbon detectors — they don’t last forever. 

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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How to Reduce Risk When Taking Business Risks

How to Reduce Risk When Taking Business Risks

If you already own a business, you know you have to be willing to take risks to achieve your goals. But once you’ve established your business and are successful, you may be less willing to risk what is, after all, working just fine.

However, if you just keep doing the same thing, you will end up with the same results, or possibly worse outcomes. By doing nothing different, you may lose opportunities to grow beyond your biggest dreams. If you do too little too late, you put your business at greater risk of falling behind competitors who are evolving their business offerings to expand their market.

Managing risk is a fundamental part of the entrepreneurial journey, but you want risk-taking to help you advance towards your goals, not set you back. How do you reduce risk when you’re taking risks to grow your business?

Here are four ways you can minimize risk as you pursue growth for your business.

1) Make a list of pros and cons

Convince yourself why this move is the greatest idea you ever had and then tell yourself it’s the worst idea you ever had. Put this all in writing, with pros and cons side by side.

This technique is particularly useful if you are so fixated on risk you can’t see the rewards. The idea is that when you see negatives side by side with the benefits you stand to gain, you may realize your worst possible fears are just not that bad. You may conclude the potential gains outweigh any possible risks.

Another benefit of this technique is that it forces you to be more objective by laying out the facts in writing. It’s easy to overlook the importance of a consequence if you can push it aside in your mind, but it’s much hard to deny the reality of a risk once you see it in writing.

2) Identify and work to reduce external risks

You can control most if not all risk factors within your business, but do you know what you can’t control? A benefit of anticipating external risks is that once you’ve identified them, you can explore solutions and possibly implement safeguards before you implement changes.

3) Be flexible

There’s more than one way to achieve your goal, so don’t get stuck on your first idea. Pivoting is a term that describes a strategy that allows you to change direction if your initial plan fails to advance you towards the outcomes you envisioned. The idea behind pivoting is you begin with small steps, doing what you can as quickly and as cheaply as possible, so you can evaluate your idea before you’ve gone too far down one path. Knowing before you start that you might pivot – and planning for that possibility–gives you permission to fail and try again.

4) Do your research

Talk to people who have done what you want to do so you can benefit from their experiences. Planning a growth strategy is an ideal time to consult with a seasoned business coach who can share their expertise and draw on a broad spectrum of business experiences to define concrete steps for growing your business and mitigating the risks.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Happy Customers Are Repeat Customers

Happy Customers Are Repeat Customers

As a business owner, you know that providing excellent customer service is key to keeping customers happy and coming back for more. But no one is perfect. Even businesses that offer the best customer service can have a bad day. What’s important is that you – and your employees – make things right and keep customers happy. These three tips will provide a “customer first” mindset that keeps customers happy and helps solve problems when they do occur.

1. Practice good listening skills

Give your full attention to what your customer is saying to clearly understand the problem. It sounds simple but it’s more than just hearing what the customer has to say. Read body language, note tone of voice, and study facial expressions to provide an appropriate response. Don’t interrupt and be sure you’ve heard everything the customer has to say before responding. Then, summarize what you heard and articulate your next steps. Making a customer feel heard maintains a good relationship and keeps a problem from escalating.

2. Show empathy and understanding

Try to see the problem from your customer’s perspective to gain an understanding of how they feel and what might make them feel better. The customer will appreciate knowing you are on their side, rather than on an opposing side.

3. Provide solutions not excuses

A common urge when confronted with an angry or upset customer is to provide excuses for why something went wrong or why you can’t solve the problem immediately. Don’t waste time blaming others or getting upset at yourself. Simply apologize, accept responsibility and find a way to make things right with that unhappy customer. Leave the customer with a positive impression, not a memory of a bad experience.

Cultivating the habit of practicing these three customer service tips in every interaction will improve all your customer relationships and set you up for successfully resolving problems.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Training Sets Up Your Employees and Your Business for Success

Training Sets Up Your Employees and Your Business for Success

Over the past two years, your employee training program may have taken a back seat to the urgency of keeping your business going in the face of the daily challenges resulting from the pandemic and the labor shortage. But ongoing training and development are increasingly important for positioning your business for success now and in the future, especially if you have new hires. 

Benefits of Employee Training

Training is a key driver of customer satisfaction and employee retention. It improves overall productivity, boosts confidence and instills pride. Employees who share a common training experience work better together.

But for all these benefits and many others, employee training sometimes gets a bad rap. From the employer’s perspective, training may seem too expensive, a luxury they can’t afford. To employees, training may seem boring, uninspired, and irrelevant.

Tips to Optimize Your Training Program

Don’t let these obstacles hold you back from starting or continuing a robust employee training program. Here are tips to ensure your program is effective, instructive, and enjoyable for all.

  • Explain the “why” for the training — let your employees know how their successful training benefits them and the business
  • Set clear, attainable goals — accomplishing goals will instill a sense of achievement and pride
  • Keep to a consistent schedule of training sessions — reinforces the importance of training
  • Be sure training materials are legible, clearly understood, and in overall good condition — whether they physical materials or online programs
  • Tap senior employees to train new hires — your longtime employees can help new hires fit in better

I strongly believe that a mix of continuous learning, formal training sessions, and individual accountability is the best way to develop the skills of your employees. If you need guidance developing a program that fits your business goals, please reach out for a complimentary consultation.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Are You Recruiting Right?

Are You Recruiting Right?

“You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.”

– Arte Nathan, Wynn Las Vegas

As businesses compete to fill positions and offer potential employees better compensation packages, business owners find themselves with a mounting number of open positions. In this market, candidates often have more options than employers. To attract qualified candidates and hire right takes more planning and resources than during the pre-pandemic era.

Define the Opportunity

Follow these guidelines to create an appealing ad:

  • Be specific about must-have requirements
  • Make the open position and the business sound appealing
  • Write in a conversational team rather than using formal, impersonal language
  • Create a strong headline and consider framing it as question to engage interest
  • Get to the point quickly
  • Be honest and authentic about the job description
  • Keep sentences short
  • Explain next steps for interested candidates

Keep an open mind

Traditionally job candidates have been screened in terms of how well they matched up with requirements in three key areas: education, experience, and skills. But according to Brad Sugars, founder of ActionCoach, “Skills can always be learned, improved upon, or acquired, but passion, personality, and heart are the things that will give any team a winning edge” (Sugars, 2006). You can teach skills, but candidates have to bring their own passion, enthusiasm, and motivation to the table.

Employers who think this way about assessing candidates are open to a broader pool of applicants. They don’t dismiss a promising applicant who may not be a perfect match with the job requirements.

This doesn’t mean ignore the must-have skills for the position, but take into consideration these personal qualities:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Promptness
  • Respectful of others
  • Attentiveness
  • Positivity
  • Appropriate appearance
  • Self-motivation
  • Common Sense
  • Honesty

Get your team involved

You’ll have a better chance at making a strong hiring decision if you engage your team in the process. Have several key employees meet candidates individually or in a group, or ask candidates to complete a written questionnaire that you can share with your team. A candidate who appeals to all or the majority of the team is more likely to be a good fit than if just one person evaluates the candidate.

Use a number-based evaluation system

To increase objectivity in comparing candidates, use a numerical system. Rate the candidate on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the position qualifications and attributes you are seeking in the ideal employee.

For more information about best recruiting practices, reach out to me for a free consultation.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Hot Off the Press: Your Business Newsletter

Hot Off the Press: Your Business Newsletter

Newsletters are a highly effective marketing channel for small businesses. The opportunity to reach and connect with your customers on a regular basis is invaluable. But starting a newsletter can be challenging when you’re new to the process. I’ve sent out our fair share of newsletters and know what it takes to build an engaged list of subscribers. Here are some things we’ve learned over the years.

Benefits of a business newsletter
Reinforces customer relationships. A steady schedule of email newsletters keeps your business top of mind and is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to maintain an ongoing relationship with customers and prospects.
Builds your credibility. A business that commits to sending out a newsletter on a regular basis has more authority and credibility than a business that doesn’t communicate and doesn’t show interest in engaging with its customers.
Adds value. Relevant, informative articles elevate your customer service. You’re sharing your expertise and giving away advice – that makes you look good!
Increases traffic to your website. Insert links to your website in newsletter articles to make it easy for your audience to find your website.
It’s your real estate. Unlike social media platforms that employ algorithms to control who sees your posts, you control the entire environment around your newsletter: how it looks, what it says, who sees it and how often.
Drives business. More times than I can count, I’ve received a call about my services right after I’ve sent out a newsletter. My topic sparked interest in the reader and they acted immediately to inquire about my services.

Tips for developing your newsletter
What’s in a name? A lot depends on the name you give your newsletter. In itself, the name is a marketing tool that can capture the attention of your audience. There are different approaches to naming, but they all have the same objective: to stand out in the daily tsunami of emails delivered to inboxes. Here are some naming strategies:

  • Explore catchy, fun wordplays
  • Use your personal name or your business name
  • Use your geographic location
  • Incorporate the day of the week: Tuesday Tips
  • Incorporate a description of your audience or a word relevant to the service/products you offer, such as Knitters News, Organizing Oracle, Plumbing Pipeline, etc.
  • Pro tip: alliteration – starting each word in the name with the same letter sound – makes the name more memorable

A picture is worth 1000 words. This old saying has never been more true. Images attract attention, reinforce your message and make readers feel something.
Aim to please. Consider your format from your audience’s perspective. Would they prefer bite-size bulleted information or perhaps practical, in-depth articles? Be sure the font is large enough to be read on a mobile phone – which is where most of us read email these days.
Serve up a smorgasbord. Include a mix of articles to keep readers’ interest. Not every article has to be relevant to every individual in your audience, but over the course of a few issues of your newsletter, there should be something for everyone.
Keep your streak going. In the same way that habit streaks – doing a behavior every day without fail – reinforces the making of a new habit, distributing your newsletter trains your audience to anticipate your newsletter. If you’re going to pause for an issue, let your readers know in advance.
Plan in advance. Plan a list of topics one business quarter in advance to avoid falling behind your publishing schedule.
Don’t go it alone. If you’re new to newsletters, connect with me for guidance in launching an effective and engaging newsletter.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Create Unforgettable Customer Service Stories

Create Unforgettable Customer Service Stories

Customer service is one area of focus where small businesses have a tremendous competitive advantage over big brick-and-mortar retailers and massive corporations. Great customer service differentiates you from local competitors and brands, helps you retain top clientele and prompts word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ways to elevate the customer experience with your business:

Consider each touchpoint

  • As the owner of a butcher shop wraps up the customer’s purchase of two pounds of ground beef, he tells the customer about his favorite way of preparing stuffed green peppers and discloses his secret tip to parboil the peppers first.
  • A pet boarding facility sends pet owners daily report cards with custom notes about the pet’s behavior and activity levels, plus a photo of their pet at play with a staff member.
  • At the close of fine-dining experience, the waiter delivers the check with hand-crafted chocolate truffles packaged in individual to-go boxes for each guest. 

What these three examples have in common is that each describes a single touchpoint that is treated as an opportunity to create an elevated customer experience, a moment in time that will stand out in the customer’s memory and leave a lasting positive impression of the business.

Be a problem solver

  • A gift shop provides customers with a choice of gift wrap and bows, expertly wraps the package, and offers to arrange delivery or shipping services.

One thing that makes Amazon so appealing for gift-giving is that buying and shipping are included in one transaction. A busy shopper at a local shop might not have time to make a second stop to drop off the gift at a post office or a delivery service like FedEx or UPS.

What stands in the way of a sale might be a problem that is challenging to the customer. but might be easy for you to solve.  Your business may be able to offer adjacent services as a convenience to customers or share what’s worked for other customers with a similar issue or make a referral to a trusted partner or vendor.

Underpromise and overdeliver

  • An interior designer and her client agree to have the designer oversee the delivery of new furnishings for a family room while the client is away on a vacation. The delighted client returns to find everything in place, plus a flowering plant on the new coffee table.
  • After performing spring yard cleanup services for regular customers, a lawn and garden landscaper asks if the customer would like a complimentary flat of begonias – and then plants the flowers for the customer.

Set realistic expectations, but look for opportunities to wow your customers by exceeding their expectations. 

Woo your existing customers

  • The owner of a dry cleaners greets his repeat customers by name
  • A coffee shop loyalty program rewards their repeat customers with free beverages
  • A women’s apparel store offers to contact customers when new items from their favorite brands arrive

These examples demonstrate how businesses cultivate a sense of relationship with customers that goes beyond an individual sales transaction.

Train your employees

Make sure your employees understand how to treat customers with respect and provide excellent service by having ongoing conversations about what’s working and what’s not. Encourage employees to contribute their own ideas of how to improve customer service. 

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Doing Well by Doing Good

Doing Well by Doing Good

Community involvement is one of the most successful and enduring marketing strategies for small businesses. When you identify your business with local causes that your target audience cares about, you win their loyalty and set your business apart from competitors. Your business will build a positive reputation and gain invaluable public relations and marketing exposure when your business name is associated with local events and causes.

Doing good for your community will not only help your business to flourish, it’s also an authentic way for your business to make a difference. There are many opportunities to do good for your community and do well for your business. Some opportunities may even offer a way to engage your employees in a team-building activity and make giving back to the community part of your business culture.

To help amplify your association with a local cause, it helps to build a relationship with the group and participate in recurring events or activities. A one-time donation or activity isn’t enough to make your efforts visible and memorable to the community. As you look for ways your business might get involved in your community, consider whether there is a cause or organization that is a good fit for your business or related to what you do. Your expertise might be of great benefit to them.

Here are a few ideas to explore in your community.

  • Sponsor a local youth sports team
  • Contribute funds to community events, and other celebrations
  • Volunteer to help a community-based organization
  • Be active in your local chamber of commerce
  • Speak about your job at your local high school’s career day
  • If you have a meeting space you can open to the public, host an annual event in your place of business, space and safety permitting
  • Provide a learning experience for a scout troop
  • Join your community’s Fourth of July parade
  • Participate in a community clean-up day
  • Offer to give back a percentage of sales on a specific date to a cause- Serve as a board member for a local organization
  • Make a commitment to buy local and promote your support of local usinesses
  • Sponsor a portion of your local government’s holiday decoration or outdoor beautification programs – they often acknowledge sponsors on signs or in newsletters

The bottom line on community involvement is that it’s a win-win situation for your business and your community. If you’re not practicing this proven marketing strategy yet, it’s time to give it a try.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Why You Should Create Videos to Promote Your Business (Even If You Think It’s Not for You)

Why You Should Create Videos to Promote Your Business (Even If You Think It’s Not for You)

If you think videos aren’t right for your business, think again! Videos are a powerful communication channel and you don’t need a professional team to create effective videos that will build awareness of your business on social media channels and drive traffic to your website or your business’s physical location.

What’s So Great About Video Marketing

It all comes down to the numbers. Studies show that users are more engaged – i.e., likes and clicks – on social media channels than photos or posts with no posts. In 2021, YouTube was the second most popular website and there are no signs it will slow down in 2022. If you want to grow your audience, posting videos is the fastest way to achieve your goal.

Videos have additional benefits for small business owners. A video is a dynamic means of establishing your credibility and building trust. Each video is a new aspect of your business, a new reason your customers should buy from you.

When you talk about your business and what you do to help your clients, your enthusiasm and expertise shine through more convincingly on video than in text or photos. Videos also allow you to take viewers behind the scenes and introduce them to satisfied customers.

What’s Holding You Back?

Some people recognize the value of business marketing, but Let’s talk about some reasons people avoid taking advantage of video to market their business.

Fear of speaking in front of the camera – There’s several steps you can take to feel more comfortable when recording yourself:

  • Rehearse in front of mirror
  • When rehearsing, practice how you can recover from a mistake
  • Look directly at the camera while speaking
  • Remember to breath and pause to slow yourself down
  • Give some words greater emphasis so you don’t speak in a monotone
  • Keep your first videos around 2-3 minutes
  • Tell yourself your first recording is your trial run

Don’t take it too seriously. You will get better with practice.

No sure what to say – There are many types of videos, but one of the easiest ways to get started is to provide an answer to typical customer question or solve a common problem. Think of situations where you help a customer meet a challenge. What would you say to the customer? That’s your video! Describe the challenge and provide your solution or guidance. End with a call-to-action that tells the viewer how to connect with you.

Lack of technical skills – To get started, all you need to know is how to use the camera on your cell phone. Record yourself in a comfortable, quiet and well-lit setting, such as at your desk, in your car, or in your backyard. When you’re ready to take it up a notch, try using a selfie stick or tripod to hold your cell phone at a distance for a better shot. Once you’ve decided you’re comfortable with videos you can add more equipment to improve the quality of your videos.

Takes too much time – Actually, no. Once you get comfortable talking on camera and uploading your video to an online platform such as YouTube, you’ll find making a video is less work than you think. You’ll reach a larger audience in less time using video marketing than you will using traditional methods. That’s not to say videos will replace your other marketing efforts; on the contrary, you can use a mix of channels to reach different audiences.

You’re Not Sure Where to Start

Whatever type of business you have, there are many great topics you can explore on video. I’d love to talk to you about how video marketing can take your business to the next level and share my personal experiences building a thriving YouTube channel.

Need more reasons why video marketing is for you? Check out my video on YouTube marketing.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Prepare Your Business to Scale in 2022

Prepare Your Business to Scale in 2022

Whether you’re a new or established business, here are 5 strategies you can utilize in order to reach your growth goals – and maybe even go beyond them – in 2022.

Refresh your brand

Being successful in business is about more than just providing great products or services. Your brand is what people associate with you and what they think of when they hear your name. It’s not enough to just be doing well; it’s also important to be seen as doing well.

Identify the touchpoints where your brand interacts with your customers and target audiences and ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your image show up on the radar of everyone who might want to do business with you?
  • Does your image align with who you are today?
  • Is your image appealing, relevant and memorable?

Enhance the customer experience

For growth to occur, you need to build on a foundation of positive customer experiences. To understand what customers think of your business consider getting feedback through surveys and offer an incentive for participation.

Explore new ways to make doing business with you an enjoyable experience for your customers

  • Referral incentives
  • Loyalty program
  • Promotional item giveaways
  • Enhanced customer service
  • Technology upgrades for online customer interactions

Educate your customers

Look for opportunities to add value to your customer’s interactions with your business by providing information about the products and services your offer and letting them know the benefits of continuing to use them. Make sure they understand how you can help them achieve their goals by staying relevant to their needs with timely information on the latest developments in business trends and technology.

Target your marketing

Your marketing needs to adapt to changing customers’ needs and wants to stay relevant. Gather and analyze data about who your customers are and use those findings to inform and align your marketing messages with those audiences.

Leverage the internet

You can use the internet to reach a wider audience, improve the efficiency of your business, have more influence over the market you operate in and sell your product or services. Explore opportunities to boost your digital presence on your website, social media and email platforms and e-commerce site.

  • Are you implementing SEO optimization?
  • Do you have refresh content on your website utilizing keywords?
  • Is your website appealing and easy to navigate?
  • Do you update social media accounts on a regular basis?
  • Are you capturing customers’ contact information for email campaigns?

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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