Customer Service Can Makes a Company Great

What makes a company great, makes it stand out head and shoulders above the rest; has not only loyal but repeat customers who go back time and time again?

Is it the size of the company – bigger is always better?

Is it the amount of profits they make – well they must be good if they are making all that money – right?

Is it maybe they are the only business which has a particular item – hardly.

Or is their marketing excelling, taking full advantage of ALL media including online, social, TV and broadsheets as well as radio and tabloids.

What is their secret?

The truth is there is no secret, it all boils down to one thing – no matter size, profits, products, services or marketing plan, if you don’t have this one thing you may as well shut up shop and go home – and that one thing is Customer Service.

Don’t get me wrong the other things do help in some small way but Customer Service is King.

It should be natural and not forced. How annoying did “Have a nice day” become? It was novel at first but…

So how do you achieve great Customer Service?

Try following these dos and don’ts as guidelines:-

Do smile when talking – seems strange I know but it works, try it and see the difference.

Do listen and hear what your Customer is saying but don’t sit in silence use audible nods and empathise then repeat to show you have been listening using expressions like “If I have heard you correctly… ,” or “If I may repeat to make sure I have understood you… ” Goes a long way and also informs customer that you have been listening.

Never use the expressions “You need to… ,” or “You have to… ” They neither have to nor need to do anything.

Do ask permission “Is it OK if I take some details?” “May I have your name?” “Can I take a message?” “Are you happy to give me…?”

Don’t swear, be rude or argue back, tempting as it maybe, wait till your are of the call/ customer has gone/can’t see you, if you must vent/rant.

Don’t take it home, and never carry it over to the next customer.

Do treat each customer individually and although you may think that they are Bat Crap Crazy/stupid or what they are contacting you about is trivial, always remember to them it is important.

Don’t take it personally, they are just wanting to rant at somebody and don’t know you, all they want is for someone to take responsibility, not pass them from pillar to post and to listen.

And finally always end on a positive note, even if it’s a simple thanks for your call.

Follow these guidelines and you will notice a difference, not just in your customers but also in your staff who will be happier in their work and less stressed and if they are less stressed then they are willing to go that extra mile.

Expand Your Brand Using Other People’s Money by Using Franchisor Strategies

Back many years ago, I met a fellow franchisor, he’d built a nice company with 250 franchisees which operated Kiosks in shopping malls – you know those carts in malls that sell various wares. What he did was make each Kiosk its own business, at first as “independent contractors” but later as Franchisees due to the Franchise Law rules. Each franchisee had to sign a two-year franchise agreement with non-automatic renewal, where the Franchisor could merely take over the business, location, as he already had the lease-space agreement with the malls, including the corporations that owned many malls around the country.

After two years, he stopped renewing franchise agreements, took control of all those little businesses, and then sold the whole thing and retired a very wealthy man. Unfortunately, many of the independent contractors, turned into Franchisees were forced out after building up their businesses and providing a substantial amount of goodwill. The franchisor’s concept was built by the blood, sweat and tears of all those individuals, who did make decent money in the meantime, but were then basically terminated when their franchise agreement term ended.

Recently, there is an interesting company in the “Handy Man” sector which has a franchise agreement that states it may unilaterally buy back the franchisee’s business at any time after 2-years of operating. In the Franchisor’s option to purchase there is a mathematical formula for valuation of the Franchisee’s business that negate the value of any “goodwill” and allows the Franchisee to choose if he will see at “Fair Market Value” of assets (used equipment, office furniture) or twice the earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA).

Why would a Franchise Buyer buy a franchise like that? I suppose there might be a few situations where it makes sense for instance, the Franchisee just needs a couple of years of income and believes they can build up a good “book” of business, and if it starts to go South, the Franchisor may buy him/her out and they can move on, less risk? But what if the Franchisor chooses not to buy and the business fails? What if the business succeeds wildly and the Franchisee is forced to sell-out a thriving and growing business?

If you think about it, it is a brilliant strategy for a Franchisor, have others build your business, take all the risks, and if they succeed, you terminate their franchise agreement instead of renewal, and if they fail, you simply let them fail, then sell that territory to a new franchisee, until one succeeds and then you just keep winning and building on the backs of others. As a franchisee buyer it may be wise to recognize such strategies and be weary of them, unless it serves your temporary purpose of a short term business and solid temporary cash flow based on your abilities and the Franchisor’s model. Think on this.

Creating Clients for Life – Thank You

As a parent of four daughters, my wife and I have focused our children on the art of sending thank you notes. We started them at a young age that included a cute piece of paper with crayons through their teens with a formal card and well thought out hand written message. It included birthdays, graduations, recent wedding, and the unusual when a nice gesture was done for them.

As we move into our business careers, many of us forget about that lost art and the powerful impact it still has vs. an electronic email. It is definitely a strategy that can set you apart. As real estate professionals there are many opportunities to drop a thank you card. I have even seen some studies that indicate a person who receives a thank you card will share it with 3 other people.

Make it part of your daily routine to send out at least 5 thank you cards per day and increase it as your business increases. Types of Thank You notes include:

  • Purchased a Home – This is the most obvious and the start of the process to create that long term referral. Don’t forget to offer your availability to help them if they have needs for recommendation for local services etc
  • Home Showing – Working with buyers requires time and patience. Why not send that thank you for the opportunity to show them a home and reinforcing your skills and enthusiasm to continue to find the client their dream home
  • Listing – Thanking that home owner for selecting you and remind them on why they did select you along with some of the marketing already in place.
  • Referrals – We all work for referral, so thanking that customer for a referral, whether or not that referral selected you will continue to bear future fruits
  • Listing Appointments – Meeting with homeowners that are looking to make that decision to sell their home requires the thank you be sent immediately. Timing becomes critical. Pick that one moment from the meeting that you felt you connected with the home owners and include that in your note
  • Cold Calling/Prospecting – When meeting someone for the first time, and follow-up with a thank you for their time and offer them a personal contact method.
  • Rejection – There will be times that you do not get the home listing or do not find the buyer that home. A thank you and keeping in touch for future developments may lead to future business.

Make sure each thank you note is hand written, has a stamp (not metered), is signed, and includes your business card

Importance Of PR (Public Relations) For Small And Medium Level Companies

It’s not only large companies that can make use of public relations (PR) firms; small and medium businesses can also benefit from these professional firms.

If you have a small or a medium sized company and you are wondering how a PR firm can be of importance to you, here are some of the benefits that come with Public relations:

Create a positive Image

A PR firm not only promotes your business, but also puts your business in the limelight. This plays a major role in creating a positive image about your company.

One of the ways in which a PR creates a positive image is by getting you, your products, or your business featured in newspaper or magazine stories. By doing this, many people read your story and form a positive image about your business.

Increase profits

Other than helping you to create a positive image about your business, a good PR firm will also help you to increase your profits. A good PR firm will do this by identifying your target market and help you to advertise your business in an area where you will make more sales.

For example, the firm will help you get an opportunity to talk about a product on television or radio and this will increase your exposure. When many people know about your business the more they will buy from you and as a result the more you increase your profits.

Reduce costs

Although, it can be expensive to hire a PR firm, it tends to be cheap over the long run.

For example, you may be required to part with thousands of dollars to hire a good PR firm, but the firm will help you or your representatives to be booked for interviews on television shows and newscasts which will give you a lot of exposure which would have cost you millions of dollars.

Offer intelligent advertising

Newspapers, magazines and online platforms may not be interested in promoting your business, but they may be interested in giving information to their readers.

If the information is related to your company, the PR will help you in drafting an intelligent press release that won’t sound like an advertisement. The release will not only give information to the readers, but it will also give your business the much needed exposure.

These are some of the benefits of hiring a public relations firm if you have a small or medium sized business. To ensure that you hire the right firm, you need to do a lot of research.

What You Need To Know About App Notifications

Notifications rank amid the most widespread features in mobile apps. Whatever they may concern – a message or a comment in a social network, an update of an app, an announcement or a reminder – notifications are made to bring useful information to users in a convenient way. However, these seemingly simple parts of your software require as much thinking as anything else, especially in terms of the message you want to send. After all, if you pay less attention to tinier things, it’s much easier to make them bad.

What’s In A Notification?

Apple divides notifications into local and push (remote) ones. The difference has been very clearly set by Apple:

– Local notifications are scheduled by an application and delivered on the same device.
– Push notifications, also known as remote notifications, are sent by your server to the Apple Push Notification service, which pushes the notification to devices.

Aside from alerts and banners, notifications include sounds and badges, as exemplified by iOS. This is what’s visible to users. Badge numbers usually indicate a number of specific things (upcoming events, unread messages, or updates /files to download). An app can also specify a short distinct sound to alert the user.

Functional Notifications: Right Time, Right Place

Local notifications are delivered to users when the app runs in the foreground. They are often used for asking users to rate the app and write a review, offering rewards, offering to download and install a new update, as well as offering to show new features afterwards. All this works for encouragement of users, for the sake of rich experience.

Push notifications involve interactions with the server, and they are usually delivered to users when the app runs in the background. While local notifications engage users, push notifications draw users back to the app.

In a nutshell, quality of the message defines its success. Both push and local ones are widely used in mobile marketing. And it’s quite easy to keep in mind the following things that will help your notifications be healthy.

Notifications In Marketing: How Not To Overdo

Notifications are made to draw users’ attention. But for the same reason they get overused, since any app owner can find so much to inform users of. But notifications in marketing must mean effective dialogue and clear answers to their questions, not mobile spamming. Let your users decide whether they want to receive anything, how they will receive it, and which topics would be relevant for them.

– Abusive apps are generally hated – irrelevant and interruption notifications are treated by many as eye-offenders, and are hated as much as irrelevant ad banners with striking colors. While users love the value that’s given by apps, they hate everything valueless.

– Content and frequency of notifications matter. The less personalized these notifications are, the more annoying they will seem to users. Different users find value in different information and different message. Then they can decide whether to open the app or dismiss the notification.

– Timely notifications mean success. The schedule of notifications must be properly written, with adjustments to time zones. They can be recurring – daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

– It is always recommended to take notice that push notifications, requiring Internet access, drain the smartphone battery – another good reason for not to overdo it.

The rule here is turn to the right people with the right offer and be moderate at that. Unfortunately, each of us must have encountered at least one app where this rule is broken to a certain extent. Instead of location-aware and relevant offers, news, and reminders, users can simply get a perfect anti-engagement tool, which will be abandoned.

Why to Choose a Lead Generation Service?

Lead generation is a critical component of online sales and a proven strategy for an organization’s profitability.

Firms generate around 60% of more sales with the process of online lead generation than traditional methods of marketing.

A reputed service provider offers a wide range of online marketing services, including search engine optimization, paid search, email marketing, social media, telemarketing and traditional mailing. There are three main parameters to consider while planning an online sales strategy for an organization.

Tracking

Tracking the performance of a lead is essential to map its progress towards making a sale. After the initial contact with a potential lead, service providers track its performance in order to instigate to turn it into a buyer and help in achieving the sales target of an organization.

Outsourcing firms empower entrepreneurs to track a lead’s behavior, for instance, how likely they are to buy from an enterprise or what kind of response do they give to sales professionals during follow-ups. Service providers increase the chances of making a sale by mailing or calling the leads just when they need it.

Reporting

Enterprises that want to outsource an online marketing service rather than doing it in-house, can take the help of service providers. These vendors do a proper analysis and provide reports of the progress of a marketing or sales campaign to an organization. This helps in exploring the strengths and improvement areas of engaging prospective customers online.

Help & Support

Organizations strive to make productive sales. By implementing effective marketing techniques entrepreneurs can do so efficiently. With a quality sales mechanism, service providers bring new customers on-board, while entrepreneurs focus on serving existing customers better.

Some of the popular ways of generating leads today are via:

  1. Banner Ads
  2. Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaigns
  3. Viral videos

Out of all, although PPC ads might generate immediate results, though, organizations need to spend continuous money on this to fetch desired results. Apart from the ongoing expenses, the quality of leads generated from PPC tends to be lower than those generated from other organic channels.

There are plenty of people who want to buy what enterprises are selling. The problem is finding those customers and letting them know about the service offerings of an enterprise.

A good marketing service helps an entrepreneur to connect with its potential customers in order to make maximum sales. Most marketers target people who are already thinking of buying a product or a service. This is done by using online research and marketing techniques.

Being one of the most popular ways of online marketing, lead generation enables businesses to:

  • Regulate pricing on a per lead basis
  • Select the product or service entrepreneurs wish to offer to its prospects
  • Choose the geographical area which interests an organization
  • Control the number of leads an organization wants to receive per month (it helps in budgeting)

Freight Forwarders – Great Help for All Transportation Requirements

A freight forwarder is an agent hired by importers, exporters and companies to efficiently and safely transport goods from one international location to another. Used for multi-national or international import and export, freight forwarders do not in most cases perform the transportation task by themselves. They actually serve the purpose of establishing an effective communication between the client and the transportation services, thereby playing the role of an intermediary between the two.

A freight forwarder takes full responsibility of organizing and handling the large number of carriers, legalities and requirements involved in transporting goods internationally, thereby relieving customers completely of the hassles and botheration involved in the process.

These agents make sure that they use the most efficient, reliable and safe transportation means for delivering your goods to the desired location, with regard to the type of goods and your individual transport requirements. As per the situation and requirements, they make use of all kinds of freight operating systems, including air freighters, ocean liners, trucking companies and rail freighters. Whatever the means of transport, they guarantee the delivery of your goods on time and in the best condition. They always aim at offering the most affordable rates by negotiating with the freight operators to take the most economical and reliable route while transporting the goods.

The function of a freight forwarder may vary to some extent depending on the client requirements and type of goods. However, some of the common activities performed by them include:

  • They play a significant role in determining and organizing the most suitable transportation route based on the type, fragility or hazardous nature of the goods to be delivered.
  • Negotiating with the freight operators on the costs of handling and transporting the goods.
  • Taking care of the safety of the goods by ensuring the most efficient and reliable packing, warehousing and delivery.
  • Verifying and arranging necessary documents required for clearing customs, meeting insurance needs and obeying the rules and regulations of overseas countries.
  • In case of any damage to your goods, they take full responsibility of arranging for the insurance claims.
  • Using various advanced methods, including internet technologies, e-commerce and satellite systems to facilitate customers with real-time tracking of their goods.
  • Serving the purpose of making as well as collecting payments on behalf of the customers.
  • Verifying the urgency of the delivery in order to determine the means of transport. For example, they opt and arrange for air transport for goods that are of high-value and need to be delivered on an urgent basis.

A reliable and reputed freight forwarding service has the expertise and skill to provide efficient transportation services while saving their clients a great deal of time and headache required to handle such procedure. They efficiently take care of all the necessary requirements involved in transporting your goods internationally. These include maintaining effective communication with all parties involved, handling and storing the goods in the most appropriate manner and delivering them to the desired location in the best condition. For any company having the requirement to transport goods internationally, a freight forwarder can be of ultimate help.

How To Keep Your Manufacturing Business Safe And Productive

There are many types of manufacturing facilities that must be operated according to standards to ensure they are safe. Depending on the types of products manufactured, there are always risks associated with the operation. Every manufacturing facility needs a well-planned risk management strategy to address the different situations that occur as a result of the manufacturing process. Although this will help reduce risk a great deal, there is never a guarantee that accidents cannot occur. Manufacturing insurance is designed to give manufacturing companies the protection they need when the precautions they take aren’t enough.

The reason that many manufacturing facilities fail to reach their maximum productivity level is their lack of understanding that productivity and safety are dependent on each other. Putting a risk management strategy in place and having appropriate manufacturing insurance will result in their keeping safety incidents to a minimum and having financial coverage when incidents do occur.

Creating an Effective Risk Management Strategy

Just as different manufacturing businesses operate differently, they also have a different approach to risk management. Those who have successfully implemented risk management into their operation to make it more productive and safe are likely to start by assessing the likelihood of diverse events for assets and operating procedures and then continue with assessing the impact of these adverse events. Next, they will rank the risk for adverse events in these areas and then create a closed loop process to mitigate the risk in each area. This basic structure incorporates identification, quantification and mitigation.

Backing up Your Strategy with Manufacturing Insurance

Nearly every manufacturer needs insurance regardless of the products they make. There are laws imposed on the need for manufacturers to carry insurance that may vary on a state-by-state level. Even in those situations where the rules and regulations are limited, manufacturers should consider their risk potential when determine the degree of manufacturing insurance they need to protect them. Insurance can cover the cost of equipment repairs and replacement, damage to the facilities, or for medical liability in case employees are injured on the job.

General liability is a type of insurance that protects the manufacturer when an injury takes place on their property and they are found to be at fault. Lawsuits can be devastating to your business if you do not have the protection you need to cover any losses that may be awarded. General liability should be the basic part of your coverage that is included in addition to that which applies to your specific risks.

Value of Insurance Your Business

When accidents occur, it can have an impact on your manufacturing business at any level. Loss of equipment or employees can lead to downtime that has a significant impact on your bottom line. Lawsuits or excessive damage to the facility could cause you to lose your business altogether. Understanding your risk and having the manufacturing insurance to cover your losses can often be the difference between a business that fails and one that is both safe and productive.

How to Exude Power: A Few Practical Steps

Let us start by clarifying that this article is not meant for those who were lucky enough to be born powerful. First of all, unlike money and other material things, power is an abstract concept which we should analyze and understand in order to use it to our advantage. In fact, rich and poor people alike can easily trick others into believing that they are powerful, thus making it easier for them to attract friends, clients, customers and even success. For example, every experienced salesman will tell you that people analyze every single aspect of your personality and appearance in order to get a general idea of who you are and what you can do for them. If we keep this simple and yet extremely important rule in mind, it will only take a few easy steps to start exuding power.

Personality and Tricks: Whether you are confident or insecure, you cannot exude power while interacting with people unless you pretend to be confident about yourself. Look into their eyes, be firm, talk about things nobody would disagree on, such as higher values (i.e. the importance of friendship, ethics, morals, love, and professionalism). If you are not a born smooth talker, stay quiet and get others to talk more than you by asking them key questions about their work, family, love life, general views etc. Always try to stay away from sensitive topics, such as religion and politics, as if you disagree with your interlocutor, he will lose his interest. A very useful piece of advice most personality coaches give their patients and clients is that people love hearing their own names, which is why we should do our best to say their names as often as we can during a conversation. Last but not least, do not mention sad or depressing stories and do not talk about your problems, otherwise people will not see you as a charismatic, powerful leader.

Looks and Appearances: If you want to exude power, it is very important that you start paying attention to what your clothes say about your social status and professional achievements. What kind of clothes do powerful people wear? Dolce & Gabbana suits, Ralph Lauren polo shirts, Tommy Hilfiger chinos, designer sunglasses, leather briefcases and expensive smartphones. “Cool, but I can’t afford to spend a fortune on clothes every month!” you may say. Well, most of us can’t, so relax. Fortunately for us, there are alternative ways to get clothes and accessories that can help us exude power. Auction websites, promotional offers and used clothes are your best bet! Nowadays, it is very easy to find cheap designer clothes and expensive accessories online. Look for special offers and used clothes (make sure that they are in excellent condition, though), and stay away from fake clothes as wealthy people who are used to wearing designer clothes and accessories will notice straight away and at that point, they will not respect you anymore.

C.A.R.E. To Improve Your Real Estate Business

Do you need more business? Want more money? Want more market share? It’s simple: give more. If you remember anything from this article, let it be those two words – give more. Why? Because it works.

I read recently about research by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, who studied 30,000 American families. Brooks discovered a family giving $100 more to charity earns about $375 more income than a non-giving family that is similar in every other factor. For every dollar they give, they earn nearly $4 more. Who would have thought it? In giving, we receive.

But Realtors shouldn’t be giving just because they get something in return. You should give because you earn your living from your community.

But Bob, what should I do? There are so many causes out there.

Let me share some examples. A few months ago NAR highlighted several Realtors making heart-felt differences in their communities:

Bernice and Troy Helman, of Coldwell Banker REALTORS® in Terre Haute, Ind., joined two dozen other business leaders who pledged to live on $4.57 a day for one week (thousands of Hoosiers live on that amount of money every day). It generated tons of local media coverage on the prevalence of hunger. She also launched the “Grillin’ and Chillin'” picnic for local real estate pros that raises $10,000 to $15,000 annually for the poor. And as the 2011 fundraising chair for the local United Way, the Helmans led the charity to a record year of donations — more than $1.8 million.

When Tina McDonough of RE/MAX Select in Renton, Wash., lost her friend, Michelle Brown, to breast cancer in 2008, it touched her deeply. “I watched her 12-year-old daughter and her husband fall apart,” McDonough says. “I had to do something, so I started a team to walk in her memory.” Today, it’s the top fundraising team for the Susan G. Komen organization in the country — it has raised $1.4 million. McDonough also includes the Komen logo on all of her real estate signs.

Joel Pratt of J.L. Pratt, REALTORS in Canton, Mass., raises money and awareness for MatchingDonors, a nonprofit that has saved more than 500 lives by matching kidney donors with recipients. Pratt says every life saved keeps the memory of Lynda, his beloved wife of nearly 25 years, alive. She died in 1998 after a three-year battle with breast cancer.

Kristina Rhodes with F.C. Tucker Emge, REALTORS in Newburgh, Ind., has helped make more than 80 children’s dreams come true with her support for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When Rhodes learned of Emily Jones, an 11-year-old fighting an aggressive form of cancer, and her dream of taking a Caribbean cruise, she acted. Sadly, Emily’s health never reached a level to allow for the trip. So Rhodes brought the cruise to Emily by arranging a pontoon ride on the Ohio River. “Emily taught me about what’s really important in life and helped me keep things in perspective,” Rhodes said.

So what’s the next step for you? Follow the acronym C.A.R.E. to get started today as a real estate agent who, well, cares:

C – Commit yourself to a cause. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: The day you truly commit, your whole world changes.

A – Act on your commitment. The only way anything gets done is through action.

R – Reward yourself. Humans do things because there’s something in it for them. After you act, do something nice for yourself.

E – Enjoy the rewards. I promise, once you start giving back to a cause you care deeply about, you will enjoy your life (and your increased business) more.

Let me hear from you. Are you involved philanthropically in your community? If not, why not? Do you believe if you were to give back to your community your business would grow?