Growing a business

I attended a local and exclusive networking event last week for SME Business Owners, Advisors and Entreprenuers called the K-club (http://www.k-club.co.uk)

There was an excellent talk by Sarah Goulbourne from Gunnercook LLP who spoke passionately about the ‘Sea Change in Law’.

With regard to my own work as a business consultant helping SME business owners in pretty much any sector to plan and grow for the future, Sarah’s talk about how to grow a modern law firm was real music to my ears.

Sarah’s business Gunnercook is trying to demystify the client legal experience and I suspect the way law firms grow and market. Sarah simply believes that a modern law firm needs to put in place marketing and sales systems like most entrepreneurial businesses. I believe Law firms in America are even starting to offer basic services over the internet (see LawPivot!).

nuOrder believe that any businesses can put in place a tested sales and marketing system and get fantastic scalable results that can be measured for success.

I you need help doing such as thing drop us a line at nuOrder and we can help you today.

Exclusivity

Offering exclusivity to your customers can be a great selling point and can encourage them to purchase now rather than later.

If you are able to offer your customers something that is highly valuable or rare then your customers will think that they are special and mean something to your business.

 Exclusive products and services

You may decide to include exclusive lines in your business that only you carry. These could be products or and/or services depending on your business type and what is currently in demand by your customer base.

If you hold exclusive lines of products and services your customer won’t be able to shop around for them elsewhere and hence will be obligated to return to your business if they feel it is worthwhile.

It is important to remember that it is only viable to have an exclusive line if it is profitable for the business and your customers are going to make full use of it.

 Scarcity and limits

If you regularly stock items that are rare or are difficult to come across, sharing this to your customers may help you get a sale.

If you provide limitations and rare opportunities to your customers then they are more likely to be motivated and act quickly to purchase what you have to offer. It is important that use this sales technique only when it is necessary as you don’t want your customers to be upset because they found the product at several other shops.

Clothes designers often use the scarcity or limitation technique and promote that their summer or winter lines are almost sold out and are unavailable anywhere else. This helps them to move the old stock for their new line and gain their customers attention.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

People Power

We focus so much on developing products, services, systems and policies that we can often forget about developing our employees and meeting the basics of their needs and wants. Some valuable information has been collated for you on how your employees can be the people power that you require to continue your business’s success.

Understanding Your Employees

It has been found that employees will take more interest in their work when they are encouraged and are able to share their ideas and contributions and can see them implemented. Ideally your employees just want and need:

1. to be rewarded for a job well done
2. feel involved with the business
3. feel that their contribution is valued
4. work on tasks that compliment their intelligence and fulfill their potential

Peak Performers

Give your employees encouragement and direction whenever it is needed but allow them to have control and carry out their work as they see fit. You employed them for a reason and it is usually due to their capabilities, so let them do what they need to do. Ensure you have clear and established goals and objectives that your employees understand and you will be able to ensure your employee will work to their potential.

Top Tips

Below are the 15 top tips that will help you to build your employees’ morale, meet employees’ wants and needs and improve their perception of the workforce.

1. Always relate to your employees as people and not just hired staff
2. Make sure employees see the results of their labours
3. Adjust your management style to suit individuals
4. Keep employees informed of changes at all times
5. Be clear in communicating expectations, priorities and limitations
6. Make reasonable efforts to keep jobs interesting and challenging
7. Encourage promotion from within
8. Make sure your employees are willing and able to perform what you are expecting of them, especially if there is a strict deadline or there are busy periods
9. Conduct employee performance reviews
10. Always give your employees feedback
11. Tell employees how they can get more money in their pocket
12. State clearly to your employees your management style so they understand your approach
13. Set up well understood communication lines such as meetings, etc
14. Trust your employees. If you have delegated it to them, let it go and let them do it. If they aren’t capable they shouldn’t be given the task to begin with.
15. Welcome your employees’ ideas
Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Back To Basics – Being Organised

One of the most important skills a manager can possess is the ability to be organised. Not only does your work require structured thinking, discipline and action, it also requires the ability to juggle a multitude of jobs at any one time – all with their own complexities and client expectations. Now add transformation into the mix. Actions to undertake, deadlines to meet, changes to implement etc And now there is all the normal day to day administrative work to do – performance reviews, management reporting, marketing the business, coaching the team and the list goes on.

So how do you get through all this work without working 24 hours a day? Yes, you could employ more resources or you could get back to basics and employ simple and effective organisational skills to help you work more efficiently. Being organised is not just about getting a lot of work done. It is also about creating a work environment that is conducive to clear thinking, a lower error rate and enables you to control what you do and when you do it. It is also an environment that says to a client “We are efficient, we know what we are doing and you can have complete confidence in us to do a great job”. To achieve this and enjoy control over your workspace, here are a number of tips to improve your organisational skills:

  • Use a notebook or diary to track important notes and record action items. Your memory may be excellent, but there it is no substitute to writing actions down
  • Use checklists. Yes – not only will your new checklists be essential in creating consistent quality in your business, they will help you be more organised
  • Do one thing at a time. Multitasking is a great skill, but don’t multitask when working on client jobs. Adopt the mantra “One thing at a time”
  • Plan in advance. This is about preventative maintenance and planning, NOT reacting. Plan out your week and your day to use your time most effectively
  • Use folders and colour coding. As simple as this seems, putting things in folders (and labelling them) is an excellent way to be organised. Plus, having a tidy work area can give you a sense of control
  • Avoid cutting yourself short. We have all fallen into the trap of not allowing ourselves sufficient time to get a task complete. By being organised, you will have a clear picture of your priorities and be able to make promises you can keep
  • Use “To Do” lists. Simple; easy; inexpensive. Update your list every night before going home and revisit it every morning. Create a list for your week and refine it as the week progresses
  • Co-ordinate with others. You don’t work in a vacuum so co-ordinate efforts with your team members, especially if you need their assistance to complete a job. Your last minute rush is not their problem
  • Learn the most important word “No”. Being organised means having to occasionally say “no” to new work. Practice as this is a hard lesson to implement
  • Get the lay of the land. If you are new to the business, check out where essentials items are kept, who looks after stationery, computers, printers, photocopiers etc. Knowing where things are kept will save you time trying to sort this out later
  • Keep a tidy desk. This has to be one of the most difficult organisational techniques for a manager to implement. A tidy desk does contribute to clearer thinking, helps you avoid distractions, and reduces the chance of client work being misfiled.

Investing five minutes in improving organisational skills today will pay great dividends tomorrow!

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

7 Sure Fire Methods To Avoid Overdue Accounts

The best way to avoid collection hassles is to take preventive measures up front to ensure that accounts don’t become overdue. Below are some steps you can take to improve your receivables turnaround.

1. Don’t grant credit

It’s not always possible or practical, but some companies can be run without offering credit. Require cash or bank drafts/money orders. Ship products C.O.D. (cash on delivery), especially to new customers who don’t have a payment history with you.
2. Accept major credit cards

Make it convenient for customers to do business with you by accepting debit and credit cards. While you will pay out a small percentage of each transaction for processing, you also will get paid within days. If you follow the regulations, you won’t be liable for fraudulent charges, although the customer will have the option to withhold payment if there is a dispute about a bill.
3. Require deposits

Both service and product businesses can ask for advance payments. Product firms can ask for 50 percent payment up front and the balance on delivery, or request a deposit amount based on standards for their industry. Service businesses might want to ask for 20 to 50 percent up front, depending on the project, with remaining payments due when certain milestones are met.
4. Offer terms

Terms outline how you expect to get paid, and what interest or penalties you charge for late payment. State these clearly on your contracts and invoices because you cannot request that these terms be met if customers do not know about them beforehand. It is common to ask for one to one and a half percent per month for late payments. While this won’t net you much money, it indicates that you are serious about timely payment. You also might want to offer a discount of one percent or more for early payment as a way of speeding cash flow.
5. Get a signed agreement

Never extend credit without getting something in writing. If there’s ever a collection problem, having a signed agreement makes your case much stronger. Use a purchase order or contract that details how much a client will owe and when it will be due. Take a moment to review payment deadlines with clients and express that you expect to be paid on time. Point out the terms for late payment. Always record changes or compromises in writing.
6. Check credit

Collect the information you’ll need to run a credit check on a credit application or “new customer form.” For consumers, this data includes address and phone numbers, whether homes are owned or rented, how long at last address, and bank account and credit/charge card account numbers. For businesses, you can ask for business name, company number, names of owners/principals, address, phone number and at least three credit references. You can get credit reports from major credit reporting agencies such as Experian and Equifax.
7. Create a billing/overdue notification system

You can’t collect if you don’t know how much is owed to you and when it is due. Set up a system that alerts you to overdue accounts – most accounting software programs do this automatically. Once you have a system, make sure someone in your company is responsible for keeping it up to date.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a business evaluation and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Go On; Spoil Your Customers

We are often asked by clients “How can I improve my marketing?” – Often this means – “How can I get new customers?” Indeed, most businesses put most of their marketing effort – and budget – into new lead generation.

However, it’s amazing how few businesses are effectively marketing to their existing customers. Most business owners are sitting on massive untapped potential in terms of their existing client relationships.How do you unleash that potential? Try answering these questions:

  • What cross-sales, up-sales, new products/services could you offer your existing customers?
  • And when did you last let them know? In fact, when was the last time you wrote to your customers or emailed them or phoned them. And what kind of response rate did you get?

If you doubled the number of times you contacted them what would happen? One retail client used a brochure to market to his client base and generated hundreds of thousands of pounds in turnover each year from this method. The brochure was sent out once a year, in springtime. We asked him to try sending it again in autumn. Guess what happened!Play the easy game. Make sure you have a database with all your existing clients listed. And then……speak to them……pamper them……offer them special previews and promotions……ask them to tell their friends.

Remember It costs six times more to get new customers than it does to increase sales to existing customers and 64% of customers don’t purchase from your business a second time because of the perceived indifference with which they are treated.

If you want to reduce your marketing spend, or the cost of customer acquisition, reinvest your pounds into strategies that will retain your customers, so they keep buying from you. Investing in customer relationship strategies – the payback is stunning.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a business evaluation and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Forming Beneficial Strategic Alliances

Establishing a strategic alliance is not a “shake hands” deal that gets put in place and then becomes the forgotten part of your business. In order to be successful, strategic alliances must be carefully selected, rigorously tested and, like your transformed business, properly systemised in order to work effectively. Many business owners make the mistake of forming strategic alliances with unsuitable partners that end up costing the business considerable amounts – both in lost revenue, costs in unwinding the relationship and in terms of damaged goodwill. When evaluating reasons for these failures, some common trends emerge:

  • Poor planning and budgeting
  • Assuming, trusting and not checking the alliance partner’s credentials, capability, reputation etc
  • Failing to assess the strategic and cultural fit of the proposed alliance partner
  • Not properly documenting the relationship and responsibilities
  • Not agreeing (and documenting) the split of income, contribution to overheads and client ownership
  • Failing to plan and set targets for the alliance
  • Not adequately communicating the nature and purpose of the alliance to staff
  • Not providing adequate coaching or support to enable staff to cross sell or identify opportunities
  • Having poorly defined procedures to manage the flow of work

So how do you go about establishing a strong strategic alliance? We believe there are 9 essential steps after you have decided a strategic alliance is right for your business:

  1. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of a strategic alliance
  2. Conduct a rigorous analysis of your potential partner(s)
  3. Understand what you and your potential partner(s) bring to the arrangement
  4. Negotiate the arrangement
  5. Structure and document your arrangement
  6. Agree on who does what
  7. Plan
  8. Execute
  9. Manage

You will notice that nearly 90% of the process takes place before you and your strategic alliance partner start to do anything with clients. There is a good reason for this – the 90% of the time you invest in preparation will allow you two important things: time to get to know your potential alliance partner even better and time to make sure you have structured an alliance partnership that suits your business.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.