Your customer’s attitude is your guide to how you sell and how you market. It also helps you make decisions about adding to or changing the services and products you offer. Attitude is not all about a customer’s wants, desires or needs. It is about their point of view (POV)— at least as it relates to what you have to offer them. The good news is you can choose what is the best customer attitude and POV for your business success from three options. Then you can focus on attracting customers who have the right attitude match. This will make your business a lot better for everyone.
The most current LMCI numbers from Texas Workforce Commission for small business ownership in the Austin – Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area or MSA (which actually goes from Georgetown to San Marcos) are encouraging. As of the latest data (December 2017), there were over 47,800 firms. Of these these micro businesses, businesses under 20 employees, represent more than 41,000 firms (about a 1/3 more than the 2009 number of 29,500 firms discussed in this original post) and the number continues to grow. (BTW, there are currently only 232 firms with over 500 employees in this same area.)
This is not unusual. When people get laid off sometimes their only option is to create a job for themselves by starting a business. And the Austin area has been extremely supportive of this. As a matter of fact, it has been used as a major way we have been able to work ourselves out of recessions – nine that I know of since we started in 1982. [Read more…]
You can be entertained and inspired at the same time this holiday season or any time of the year with these business-related films. What a combination.
Even your family and friends will enjoy them.
So will your employees. You might want to have a movie party or film festival instead of what you usually do to celebrate the season.
Some of these holiday films are old and some are new but they have one thing in common: they will leave you with ideas, a smile and maybe a happy tear or two. Best of all none of these are snarky. The people really care about each other, instead of trying to rip each other apart or outdo each other. These are all 5-star!
1. Holiday (1938) is all about vision and sticking to your guns. Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn show that money doesn’t mean everything and that being true to your vision — even if it’s unorthodox. We know, and the characters know, that making your vision come true can be painful but rmore rewarding than following the herd and what is expected.
2. Miracle on 34th Street (1947 Maureen O’Hara & John Payne) is what good customer service should be all about — giving people the opportunity to buy if it’s the right choice for them. It’s about believing in yourself when others don’t. Yes, I believe in Santa Claus (or at least what he stands for.)
3. Desk Set (1957 Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn) is a tale of trade secrets and technology that can backfire good intentions. It demonstrates the need to recognize the employee grapevine we all have — even if we only have one employee. Every well-meaning owner should watch it if they are planning major changes to their business. And, remember what they learned!
4. We’re No Angels (1955) Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov become temporary employees and use unusual methods to help out a well-meaning business man. Think about what your employees do for you and be thankful.
5. Other People’s Money (1991) Danny De Vito and Gregory Peck point out the good and bad of corporate takeovers. Darker than the rest of the films listed and not holiday-driven, it is highly relevant today as current businesses struggle with the issue of what is good for employees and what is good for shareholders who are also employees. It’s a thinking movie that lends itself to discussions between employees and management and even other stakeholders.
6. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017 Dan Stevens & Christopher Plummer) is not just about creatives like Charles Dickens. Most owners go through business blockages from time to time and live with businesses that always don’t cooperate. They can be messy and inefficient. Downright unprofitable and scary. When you go back to your roots and use the resources that you are exposed to, great things can happen.
We hope you will add to the list and watch some of these treasures. Be sure to share them with others.
While tax scams can occur at any time of the year, tax scams usually peak during tax-filing season. In an effort to protect you from becoming a victim of a tax scam, I’d like to share with you some notable scams the IRS recently announced to help combat fraud and protect taxpayers:
Phone Scams – Criminals impersonating IRS agents often making aggressive calls to taxpayers demanding payment for taxes owed. They may insist the taxpayer send cash through a wire transfer, a prepaid debit or gift card. They may also threaten to arrest the taxpayer, revoke his/her driver’s license, or file a lawsuit against the taxpayer if money is not paid.
Please note that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via phone or email. The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method like a wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card. In general, the IRS typically will first mail a bill to any taxpayer that they show owes taxes.
Phishing –This scam involves fake emails or websites in which criminals attempt to steal personal information. Scam emails and websites can also infect a taxpayer’s computer with malware. Taxpayers should avoid opening emails or clicking on web links claiming to be from the IRS; unexpected emails purportedly from the IRS concerning large refunds or tax bills, or requesting personal information, should not be opened.
Please be aware that the IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email to request personal or financial information.
Inflated Refund Claims – Criminals sometimes pose as tax return preparers promising large federal tax refunds. During tax season, these scammers lure victims by using flyers, ads, phony storefronts, or by making presentations to local community groups promising large refunds. The scammer frequently claims false rebates, credits, or benefits that will generate a large refund for the victim. Typically, the fraudulent refund is deposited in the scammer’s bank account, and then a large fee is deducted before the victim is paid; this practice is not used by legitimate tax preparers.
It is important to remember that taxpayers are legally responsible for the information contained on their return, even if prepared by someone else. Before selecting a tax preparer, taxpayers should do due diligence by checking into a tax preparer’s credentials, qualifications and background before engaging him/her.
Fake Charities – If you plan to donate to a charity, be sure to take the time to ensure the charity is legitimate. Groups of phony charities often use names very similar to familiar organizations and have been known to steal personal information and money from unsuspecting contributors.
Before you donate, make sure the charity is legitimate and qualified through Select Check on the IRS website.
Please contact Jim Kelly, Jim Kelly, Inc. at 512-474-8300 if you have any questions.
It’s time to get out your holiday decorations for your commercial property!
You can save yourself a host of bug problems when you know what to look for when you unpack seasonal items.
- Have a good light, a fly swatter, a plastic trash bag & even a vacuum cleaner ready when you unpack to keep pests from escaping into your home.
- Don’t stick your hand into places you cannot see, and wear gloves.
- Inspect for chewed holes, shredded materials, spider webs and pepper-like specs of fecal matter, especially in cardboard boxes, paper products, books, Halloween costumes and other clothes where many insects such as silverfish, moths and roaches live and feed. Predators such as brown recluse spiders and scorpions enjoy dining on these pests and may also be hiding in these places.
Be aware and have a safe and happy holiday.
If you want more info or if you have questions, you may call Kitty Kestenbaum at Term-Trol at 512-836-3309.
(Editor’s Note: Kitty Kestenbaum is a pioneer and industry leader in Integrated Pest Management, the effective, least toxic pest prevention and management system.)
Contract negotiations and re-negotiations can be risky business. Both parties go into it with the assumption of the potential for conflict. If you are the provider, you do have a secret weapon: your existing customers and their contracts.
These existing contracts give you precedent that you can use in the negotiations. This is especially true if you do business with a government entity. As my colleague Sandra Stenzel, founder of the Bid Resource Centers in Texas that became the model throughout the US has often said to clients, “the government wants the lowest responsive, responsible bid”. That translates in contract negotation to “we want the best deal” — unspoken is “than you give anyone else”.
In our case, our client was faced with a customer who wanted the same terms as the government got and not an increase in price from the last contract. Reasonable, but not in line with the contracts of their other clients. Our client’s goal was to provide parity with his other non-government contracts for the same work. Also reasonable and necessary for his growth in order to simplify his pricing structure which was definitely not standardized. [Read more…]
Are you driven to marketing? This is not the same as being market-driven.
Do you hate marketing your products and company? If you feel that you’d rather have all your teeth extracted than do anything with marketing, you could hate being “marketing driven”. You’re not alone. Most of our clients (except the advertising and marketing companies) don’t say “Whoopee, I get to come up with and implement my inbound or outbound marketing”. [Read more…]
Bosses who talk too much or blab can hurt their businesses more than any cyber security leak ever could. The results can be disruptive enough to kill sales, drive away staff, prevent being granted a patent, or potentially kill the company.
They can also be harder to stop because frequently the boss doesn’t realize they’re doing it.
Big Mouth Examples
Here are eight of the worst blabbermouths and what happened (or could have happened) to their businesses. See if you recognize these or maybe you are guilty yourself.
• Sharing Secrets
The food manufacturer responded to a simple question from someone she just met by revealing her secret way to solve a major production problem. She was too proud of what the company had done to keep quiet about it. Good product but the idea of protecting trade secrets was foreign to her. [Read more…]
Before anyone buys anything, they have to complete their own buying continuum™ process. This is true whether they are from the government, a non-profit, a consumer, or another business. From your point of view, you want them to accomplish this process and in a specific order. If they do, your sales cycle will shorten. It will result in a win-win for you both or you will be able to cull them as a prospect with a clear conscience that this was NOT the sale for you. [Read more…]
There are good, better and best sales. You may have thought all sales are equal.They’re not if you are trying to build a successful business that is sustainable, profitable and transferable.
Focus on Sales Value
Sales people (even if it’s the owner) need to concentrate on finding and getting sales that add the most value to the business. This requires a sales process that doesn’t just look at the dollars coming in from this sale. It also can’t include only the costs — money going out, time to get and manage the sale, profit level, and any “hassle” factors.
4 Ways to Measure Sales Value
The value of each sale must also be measured by:
- Its ability to add to the reputation of the business and the product or service
- How it affects company image,
- Its ability to attract customers of the same or higher value to the business,
- How well it supports brand and company positioning.
Sales commission, bonus, and career advancement should be based on the salesperson’s ability to bring in good sales and to prevent spending time and effort on bad sales.
Use Sales Value to Prioritize
I have seen it written that 50% of all sales leads are not followed up. That sounds bad. What I don’t know, because they don’t say, is how many weren’t followed up on purpose. Maybe they were right!
Choose sales opportunities at your own risk. Choose wisely and succeed. Choose poorly and there are long term consequences.
Use Sales Value to Allocate Resources
Don’t go after every sale equally. Evaluate and prioritize those new leads, upselling opportunities, or repeat sales in terms of those with the highest value.
Also, make sure your sales process gives you and your salespeople a way to quickly identify bad sales opportunities that should not be pursued or only under restricted circumstances.
The less the sales value, the more likely it’s a bad deal or at least should not be given the same time, effort and resources.
In the end, it’s the quality of each sale, not the quantity of sales that matter.
Here’s to your success!