Whether you sell clothing, hair products or chicken and waffles, stellar customer service will help your business grow. Great customer service can be the difference between being able to compete and survive and failing for small businesses.
A company’s reputation is only as good as the customer service it provides. “The experience that individuals have with a company and then what they hear from friends and family influence their perception of and likelihood to do business with a company,” says Megan Burns, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, a Massachusetts-based research firm that specializes in customer service. It’s “absolutely an essential moment of truth for companies.”
Here are 4 small business tips for delivering a world class customer experience.
1.Start with Staff
The most critical person to hire in the customer service scheme of things is the manager.
As the business owner, you want someone who plans to stick around and aligns with the mission and vision of the business.
2.Use online tools to personalize assistance
Many customers have their first exposure to your business by visiting your website. The homepage of your website should be welcoming, user friendly and even a bit personal. Customers like to read bios or social media feed as they take time to decide about making a purchase of product or service. Online tools such as FAQs are key to connecting with customers and making the best of their experience.
3.Provide local support
Businesses may choose to outsource their customer service calls to call centers for efficiency and to save time but the business owners should not lose sight of the expectations of the customer service experience. The outsource employees should be trained to communicate with all types of clients.
4.Be Willing to find the answer
A customer always deserves an answer and it’s important to always be honest, but never say “I don’t know” unless you follow it with “However, I will find out for you.” – The Balance
Company's can do various quick fixes to improve customer service but why not start simple? Implement new policies and train staff on how to meet company expectations. This will provide additional clarity to the components of delivering the “WOW” factor in customer service.
As a small to mid-size business the relationships you cultivate with customers are a key aspect to differentiating you from your competitors. From the beginning, customers should know the culture you are building is designed to build long-term relationships with them. This not only builds trusting relationships but it also lets them know you are not out for the quick sale, your professionalism and experience is prepared to solve their problems.
As you well know and have heard repeatedly, customers by from who they like and trust. If you are a solopreneur this to you being responsible for building the customer relationships but if you have a support team and/or staff, it is your responsibility to train and prepare them for solving customer problems.
A small business can take advantage of its smallness to service the customer at exceptionally high levels. Customer service is one of the key aspects, which when done right, can take your business to the top.
Service them in the best way possible by starting with these three great tips.
1. Build a system
The customer service delivered should be consistent amongst all customers every time not just one. For this to happen you need the right systems and processes in place.
2. Employees with the right attitude
A vital element of great customer service starts with having the proper skill set to interact with customers on a consistent basis. This interaction can be via email, face to face or on the telephone and either way should not matter because the attitude of management and staff should create the positive impression.
3. Strive to offer the best customer service
To achieve goals for being known as a business who puts their customer needs forefront starts by example. As a business owner, the support team or staff will follow suit with what they see and is expected. Create a customer service guide for your business that outlines the deliverables and expectations when engaging with customers. This will show new staff what type of business they have joined and how much commitment and willingness to go the extra mile is expected.
Align your mission and brand with service and stay consistent, customers will reward you with loyalty and referrals.
Schedule your free consultation with our firm today, your new and existing customers will benefit from the change and growth in your business guidelines.
Planning is a key tool to any business when just getting started and when planning to grow. It becomes essential to review your business plan to ensure business activities are meeting business needs.
A business plan is a guide – a roadmap for your business that outlines goals and details of how you plan to achieve those goals. Developing a business plan may seem scary and overwhelming but keep in mind that it does not have to be a long and formal document, like a college thesis. This process is much less daunting than it used to be. When getting started be prepared to keep it concise and short. By keeping it short than you are more than likely to reference back to the document when it comes time to make changes and refine it over time.
If you know your business and are passionate about it, writing a business plan and then leveraging your plan for growth will be easy breezy. Think about it like this, if you have ever jotted down a business idea on a napkin, in a journal or as a research paper with a few task to be accomplished, then you have written a business plan, or at least a very basic one.
As a new business, a business plan can help you clarify meaningful pieces, like expense budges and tasks. Existing businesses will use a plan to help manage and steer the business. Business owners may use a plan to reinforce strategy, manage responsibilities and goals or plan resources including cash flow.
Now it is time for you to jump start your plan:
1. Executive Summary
This is an over of your business and your plans.
This provides a quick review of the company’s legal structure and location, as well as some background on the company’s history.
3.Products and services
This will bring clarity to what you will be selling and how are you solving a problem.
This will outline who you are selling to.
5.Marketing and sales plan
This will describe how you are going to reach your target market.
This will provide a financial forecast to your business. Will include monthly projections for the first 12 months and then annual projections for the remaining three to five years.
If you do not plan in your business, you are planning to fail! Our firm can support your business with the initial development or revision of your business plan. Let us know when you are ready to get started!
You can schedule your no obligation consultation with us today.
Maybe the time has come and your decision be a multi-tasker, creative developer and profit creator is no longer your plan for future growth. Have you considered outsourcing? Outsourcing can be defined as “the strategic use of outside resources to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources.” As you develop your business strategic plan for remainder of this quarter, ask yourself, what processes are you contemplating to be more beneficial to your time and efforts as an outsourced process?
Did you know? More small businesses are outsourcing task these days technology has advanced to the point of professionals being able to work virtually from anywhere in the world by extremely qualified professionals who have decided or been forced to leave corporate America, such as virtual assistants, graphic designers, paralegals, bookkeepers, operational policy developers and the list goes on. The right time to outsource can be different for each business but the key reasons of why cannot be ignored.
Here are 4 reasons you should consider outsourcing to help maximize your business:
1. Customer satisfaction
It will show to be an amazing benefit to your business when efficiency has increased and the positive impact on the satisfaction of your customers. You will be able to learn more about what your clients need and produce your products and services faster. You don’t need to be in the weeds of the administrative task such as accounting, these tasks can be outsourced which then allows you the ability to focus more on central functions of the business.
2. Labor Costs
One of the main reasons businesses began outsourcing is because it is an effective way to decrease labor costs. This is because, rather than employing several full-time staff who are on the payroll even when their services may not be required, outsourcing provides you with a flexible workforce. You will also save money on expenses such as training, sick leave and vacation.
Making the decision to outsource some of your business functions can give your business access to new resources and frees up resources that would otherwise be devoted to those back-end functions. When you decide to outsource, you can focus on what you’re good at and let experienced professional take care of support functions.
Outsourcing also leads to increased efficiency, because you are entrusting business functions to third-party experts. Since these parties are specialists in their area, they are intimately familiar with ins and outs in a way that members of your staff couldn’t be without extensive investment and training.
If any of these reasons ignite the fire for you to finally see the advantageous to outsourcing for your business, don’t hesitate another day. It’s now time to develop a plan of action. Decide which areas of your business would be best outsourced to a third party and execute.
Our firm, Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC, specializes in developing key operational policies and procedures that will not only protect your business but also streamline and financially maximize your bottom line. You can learn more about our list of services by visiting us on the web.
“Leave the door open to the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.” – Rebecca Solni
Clarity is defined as “the quality of being clear, in particular.” As a business owner, how clear are you about the future of your business and how clear is the plan to share that message with staff and customers? Most business owners in the small to medium market are identified as owners who spend more time working in their business than working on it, in comparison to their counterparts. Counterparts in bigger businesses, the owners are not working in the business, but they tend to lack resources and professional development.
The goal that is not clearly defined will not be clearly achieved as expected. Believe it or not, clarity allows passion and purpose for business owners to align and it becomes a means of overcoming obstacles. In a perfect world, business owners have the resources and means to develop clarity from day one. Since we do not live in such a perfect world, we strongly suggest that business owners start with self. Start with self-awareness, self-purpose, self-goals, self-strength and weakness and self-values. These will give business owners a head start on answering the “why” about the business. These will help you determine why a goal or vision is important and how it will help you achieve your overall business goal.
When taking on a challenge like this, the best recommendation is to start with simple steps. For example, have you ever come across a business who says “We offer GREAT customer service”? Any business can say it but do you know what it means? How do you strive for “something” if it’s not clear what that “something” is? You must give it some clarity and strive to put a definition to GREAT.
Here are 4 tips of how clarity can work for your business:
As a support to your business, Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC can develop your management policies and procedures that can not only bring clarity to your business, but also enhance business performance. Working with our team of professionals will help you define what your company does and where the company is going.
Visit us on the web, www.FontenotSolutionsBlog.com or join our community by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Let’s make it happen!
As you wrap up another year of business accomplishes and defeats, it becomes an ideal time to conduct a yearly review of business activity for future planning. Building a cushion in your bank account isn't a complicated concept, instead of having just enough to pay bills and staff it is time to have a larger amount in the account. An amount that will not only allow for timely payments of monthly billings but enough to transfer into savings.
Cash flow is the life of an organization, its a means to pay salaries, buy supplies and make stock investments. As the statistics have shown, owners who cannot efficiently manage their business cash flow are almost certain to fail. To improve cash flow and sustain growth it will be important to build a cash cushion. Having cash reserves enables companies to cope with a business disruption, deal with seasonality, and manage slow-paying customers. It allows a business to take advantage of new opportunities should they arise, and plan for future growth by having investment capital available.
Here are just a few tips on how to business owners can boost their cash flow:
Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC recommends identifying the method or strategies which work for your business culture. Building a stable business for long term means having sufficient liquidity and a developed and executed form of policy and procedures with clear defined goals.
Does you current budget for marketing meet expectations? - Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC
Deciding to establish a nonprofit organization is a process. One of the key task to accomplish is filing for federal tax exemption. "You will need to file with the Internal Revenue Service for tax exempt status under Section 501©. Form 1023 is the multi-page form you will need to file. Within three to six months of submitting your paperwork, you generally will receive a letter, granting tax-exempt status to your organization."
"Organizations that achieve 501©(3) status are exempt from federal taxes, and contributions given to them are deductible by donors for income tax purposes. Certain states allow state-level tax-exempt status, and in such cases, the net profit is also exempt from payment of state income taxes. In addition, the overwhelming majority of private foundation in the U.S. award grants only to organizations that have this particular tax-exempt status."
If you are planning to apply for the tax-exempt status, here are a few tips that may help save time and effort with the IRS.
Maintaining a tax-exempt status does have its benefits also:
You can find more tips by visiting the IRS website.
Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC is proud of your idea and mission to build s successful nonprofit organization.
We are here to help you build an extensive guide that will support you along the way. Our goal is to deliver sustainable tools that will help build and grow your ideas and community mission.
An organization in which no owner, stockholder to trustee shares in profits and losses, and which exists not to earn revenue but to promote a mission that typically but not necessarily enhances the public welfare is considered a nonprofit.
Generally, there are four categories of nonprofit organizations:
When building a nonprofit organization, the organizers and founders tend to start their journey with the main focus of funding. Funding that will bring activity and quality performance. Performance that must be organized in order for the funds and sponsorships to increase or grow.
Organizational growth is a process and will not occur overnight. The process includes understanding shortfalls will occur, some processes will take longer to accomplish to others and that areas such as fundraising must always continue to grow in a variety.
For example, as a nonprofit it will be a challenge to maintain the organization and support the community if all of the funds are only via donations. However, if the tools and strategies included additional options such as,
All of these areas of fundraising take effort and dedication from the leaders and volunteers to the cause. Effectively communicating success stories arising from successful delivery of the organization’s services keeps donors and/or members committed to the ongoing financial support of the organization.
Here are some resources you may take advantage of:
Don’t be afraid to take advance of resources to help you run and grow your nonprofit more effectively. In addition, establishing a policy and procedure guide will be critical to those who support your mission such as volunteers and donors, Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC can help get you started. Visit our website, we are just a click away.
"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."
It’s not every day entrepreneurs think about the accounting processes within their business. Accounting is not all about just collecting revenue but more so about the steps it takes to ensure the process to collect money does exist and is clear to the leaders and staff.
There are no shortages of details to consider when you’re a small business owner. Getting the back-office basics of accounting in order can make or break a business as it exist in any phase -- start-up, growth or expansion. Let's think about it, fees alone can be “atrocious” thus many experts recommend using an accounting software that will capture all accounting aspects of the business. It is important to pick a software that will suit your business needs not those of a colleague or friend. I say this because what is good for one business owner may not be good for another.
However, if you are a business that cannot afford the cost of an accounting software and would rather maintain control in Excel worksheets then it's highly recommended a procedure guide is developed. The guide will provide direction and transparency to an important process within your business.
Get your small business in order by starting with these tips:
1. One of the obvious and repeated suggestions is separating business and personal expenses. When it’s time to tally up deductible expenses, you want to be ready. Start today!
2. Understand when it’s time to pay for support. Choosing to hire a consultant or outsource a part of your business process can make a big difference. Not only do you get some of your time back to use on bigger projects you are also investing someone who speaks the professional language in those specific areas.
3. Dedicate time to update your records. Many business owners may choose not to hire a professional consultant to support with updating their accounting records or performing data entry. However, this decision can make a difference in the business.
4. Follow Up on Invoices and Receivables. Many business owners still invoice their customers and wait for payment. It will be key to plan for necessary follow-up calls to ensure the expected revenue remains consistent as budgeted.
These accounting tips are all great ways to make small changes. Remember that proper, responsible time management of any task, especially accounting, is key. If you need support to get transition roles, Fontenot & Associates Solutions LLC, can work one to one with you on getting started.
Establishing your own nonprofit organization does not have to be a stressful task. However, your organization must incorporate a vital mission with clear lines of accountability and high quality programs and services. Think of it as a for-profit business when planning for success, just because it is a nonprofit organization does not mean you should not see it as a business
Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC has identified task and processes to be accomplished in order to recognize your organization as a nonprofit. Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC will list a few:
1.File the Certificate of Incorporation
In the United States, nonprofits an operate as incorporated associations, charitable trusts, or corporations. As you prepare the articles of incorporation, you will need to determine the name of the organization, where the organization will be headquarted, and its overall purpose.
2.Obtain an employer identification number (EIN)
To open one or more bank accounts in the name of the organization (and to file Form 990 with the IRS after each fiscal year), you will need to obtain an EIN, also called a federal tax identification.
3.Establish bylaws and board policies
Bylaws define how a nonprofit organization will be managed and how it will run. They determine which staff and board members have authority and decision-making responsibilities and how those responsibilities should be carried out.
These are just a few of a group of other tips and steps to consider when starting down this path.
The nature of service, nonprofit, also means these organizations play a different set of rules and laws established by state and federal authorities. Some of the distinctive features that should be understood by the individuals preparing to enter this field are:
Once your vision has been painted clearly for others to see, and you have developed a mission statement and action plan to serve as a roadmap for implementation, it is time to pursue your passion. With that being said, don’t’ be afraid to seek professional support during your process if you need advice, support with documenting or legal support.
Remember to develop a team and volunteers who share your vision and passion, you want doers, those who are diverse in talent and want to see the organization work out. You may have to complete this process more than once so find ways to have your volunteer team engaged during the slow periods or start-up phase. This is a great period to educate, train, market and network.
As an added tip, below is a link to the IRS website so that you may learn more about the 501© form.
501 ( c) information:
You are on your way to building a wonderful organization and your community looks forward to supporting you and your success. If your needing to establish a written outline for your organization, Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC is just a click away.
My mission is to offer the best accounting and operations solutions and tips for entrepreneurs and small to mid-size companies worldwide seeking to close their process gaps with actual solutions.