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Sunday, October 26, 2014

7 Weeks of Business Tips...week 3


WEEK #3

#11 THE OPENING KICKOFF

Start every business day by making TWO cold calls. It's a great, proven tactic. You're bound to meet customers who had a great day themselves the day before and are ready to do business with you. Make it a habit EVERY business day.

#12 CALLS TO ACTION

Here are some great calls to action to use in your sales literature. Choose the ones YOU like, then, if possible, change them from time to time to find out the BEST ones for your business: Find out more, Visit now, Get on our mailing list, Join the club now, Take the next step, How to get started, Start here, How it works, Learn more.

#13 FREE AS A BIRD

Here is a list of suggestions when you want to attract customers with something for free: Get it free, It's free-get started, Get this deal, Sign up for your free trial, Free 30 day trial, Try it now, free, Start saving today. And if you want to limit your offer try these: Offer expires X, Limited time offer, for the first X people only, Order now and receive a free gift!

#14 THREE TIPS FOR FOLLOWING UP LEADS

It has been documented that the two biggest mistakes small business owners make in following up sales leads are not having a sense of urgency and not being persistent. "The quality of the prospect goes down significantly as time passes from their request for information". If you don't reach the prospect don't expect THEM to call back. Call them at least twice per day the first week. Here is tip #14: Respond to a prospect within 24 hours, sooner if possible.

#15 TIP #2 FOR FOLLOWING UP LEADS

Set a SPECIFIC time each day to call back leads, and do it religiously.


Tune in next week for more tips

 
Marty Kahn, SCORE Mentor


 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

7 Weeks of Business Tips...week 2


WEEK #2

#6 TAKE A CARD, ANY CARD

Produce separate business cards and sales literature for each of your target markets, for example government and commercial or business and consumers. Don't try one size fits all; it's often confusing.

#7 UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Send HAND WRITTEN thank you notes to your customers. The digital world in which we live deprives us of the "personal touch".  People do business with people they like!

#8 COPYCAT

Wnat  to impress your clients that you really care about them? Photocopy interesting articles and send them to clients and prospects with a hand written FYI note, and include your business card.

#9 THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Want your mail opened? Include something that makes a "bump" in the envelope. It could be as simple as a wrapped mint, a product sample, watever. I guarantee it will be opened, because everyone is curious!

#10 SIGNS OF SUCCESS

Get yourself a license plate with your company name or tag line, anything that uniquely identifies you when you pull up, or that promotes you as you drive  about.


Tune in for more tips next week

 
Marty Kahn, SCORE Mentor


 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

7 Weeks of Business Tips...week 1


7 Weeks of Business Tips, 5 Tips a Week


Week 1:

#1 SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

You need to know EVERYTHING about what your competitors are doing. Collect their ads, brochures, print out their website snd STUDY them for their strategy, product or service features, and benefits. We call that sleeping with the enemy.

#2 Q & A WITH YOUR CLIENTS

Do you REALLY know why your customers chose you? Was it price, service, quality, all 3? ASK them: Why did you choose me and how can I serve you even better? Wow, so simple. Talk to your customers!

#3 LESS IS CHEAPER, MORE IS BETTER

OK, this street runs North AND South. Here are 2 choices for you to ponder in your marketing. ONE: Offer a simpler/cheaper/smaller version of your product or service. TWO: Just the opposite: Offer a fancier/bigger/more expensive version. Think about it: Is what you're offering now absolutely the only and best way? This one trick could change your business.

#4 WE CALL THIS INTERNAL MEDICINE

Get a Marketing Intern from an area college to take you on as a client. It will give the intern experience and ptovide you with some very inexpensive marketing help. Check with the Business School of your local universities.

#5 BARTER, BAY, BARTER

So "old school" yet so good. Offer discounts to members of certain clubs/professional groups/organizations in exchange for promotions in their publications.

 

Tune in for more tips next week

 
Marty Kahn, SCORE Mentor


 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Retirement Plan Options for Small Business


Employer-sponsored retirement plans have become a key component for retirement savings. They are also an increasingly important tool for attracting and retaining the high-quality employees you need to compete in today's competitive environment.

Besides helping employees save for the future, however, instituting a retirement plan can provide you, as the employer, with benefits that enable you to make the most of your business's assets. Such benefits include:

  • Tax-deferred growth on earnings within the plan
  • Current tax savings on individual contributions to the plan
  • Immediate tax deductions for employer contributions
  • Easy to establish and maintain
  • Low-cost benefit with a highly-perceived value by your employees

Here's an overview of four retirement plans options that can help you and your employees save:

SIMPLE: Savings Incentive Match Plan


A SIMPLE IRA plan allows employees to contribute a percentage of their salary each paycheck and to have their employer match their contribution. Under SIMPLE IRA plans, employees can set aside up to $12,000 in 2014 (same as 2013) by payroll deduction. If the employee is 50 or older then they may contribute an additional $2,500. Employers can either match employee contributions dollar for dollar - up to 3 percent of an employee's wage - or make a fixed contribution of 2 percent of pay for all eligible employees instead of a matching contribution.

SIMPLE IRA plans are easy to set up by filling out a short form. Administrative costs are low and much of the paperwork is done by the financial institution that handles the SIMPLE IRA plan accounts. Employers may choose either to permit employees to select the IRA to which their contributions will be sent, or to send contributions for all employees to one financial institution. Employees are 100 percent vested in contributions, get to decide how and where the money will be invested, and keep their IRA accounts even when they change jobs.

SEP: Simplified Employee Pension Plan


A SEP plan allows employers to set up a type of individual retirement account - known as a SEP-IRA - for themselves and their employees. Employers must contribute a uniform percentage of pay for each employee. Employer contributions are limited to whichever is less: 25 percent of an employee's annual salary or $52,000 in 2014 ($51,000 in 2013). SEP plans can be started by most employers, including those that are self-employed.

SEP plans have low start-up and operating costs and can be established using a single quarter-page form. Businesses are not locked into making contributions every year. You can decide how much to put into a SEP each year - offering you some flexibility when business conditions vary.

401(k) Plans


401(k) plans have become a widely accepted savings vehicle for small businesses and allows employees to contribute a portion of their own incomes toward their retirement. The employee contributions, not to exceed $17,500 in 2014 (same as 2013), reduce a participant's pay before income taxes, so that pre-tax dollars are invested. If the employee is 50 or older then they may contribute another $5,500 in 2014 (same as 2013). Employers may offer to match a certain percentage of the employee's contribution, increasing participation in the plan.

While more complex, 401(k)plans offer higher contribution limits than SIMPLE IRA plans and IRAs, allowing employees to accumulate greater savings.

Profit-Sharing Plans


Employers also may make profit-sharing contributions to plans that are unrelated to any amounts an employee chooses to contribute. Profit-sharing Plans are well suited for businesses with uncertain or fluctuating profits. In addition to the flexibility in deciding the amounts of the contributions, a Profit-Sharing Plan can include options such as service requirements, vesting schedules and plan loans that are not available under SEP plans.

Contributions may range from 0 to 25 percent of eligible employees' compensation, to a maximum of $52,000 in 2014 ($51,000 in 2013) per employee. The contribution in any one year cannot exceed 25 percent of the total compensation of the employees participating in the plan. Contributions need not be the same percentage for all employees. Key employees may actually get as much as 25 percent, while others may get as little as 3 percent. A plan may combine these profit-sharing contributions with 401(k) contributions (and matching contributions).  complex, and the tax aspects of retirement plans can also be confusing, so call us first. We'll help you find the right plan for you and your employees.

Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor
 

 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tune in Special Series Starting Sunday


7 Weeks of Business Tips, 5 Tips a Week. Starting Sunday tune in to see SCORE Mentor Marty Kahn give you these tips

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Danger of Rewards Programs


Many businesses participate in various “Rewards Programs”. Some promise a rebate or “gift” if and when certain items are purchased or level of purchases is reached. Some of these programs are often set up not to provide the advertised rewards, and this can hurt your business. Here are some examples:

A company sells a product that has a “Reward” card, requiring the purchaser to send in the card with a copy of the purchase receipt and the original bar code from the product packaging, with the promise of a “Reward” within four weeks. The notice often says that processing will not occur if there are any errors or mistakes in the submission. There is no other communication. If and when the purchaser inquires after the four weeks, they are told either that the submission was incomplete or processing is continuing. Unless the purchaser stays on the issue for an extended period of time, adding to frustration, the so called “Reward” never happens.

A company has a point program accumulating points for credit “Rewards” and somehow the points of some number of purchases do not get credited.

Some third party rewards organizations exist and survive on the revenue they produce by not providing the rewards as promised. They make arrangements to purchase such programs at a discount from the business on the promise of not fulfilling the promise.

If you want a happy customer, my advice is to stay away from these programs and the products that use them. If you must use them, verify the quality and stay on top of it.

How many customers are angry with you because of situations like this?

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Customer Contact Example


August is ending and I just received a phone call from a seasonal service provider asking if I received the seasonal contact mailing sent about three weeks ago and confirming that I will be using the service this year. The service they provide starts near the end of October each year and runs through the winter season.  They have thousands of customers and I normally execute and pay for the contract service in mid September, so why the call?

I asked and was told they were just checking with the “regulars”. They do have to allocate resources for each customer, so perhaps they are thinking about making a resource change like reducing inventory. Or perhaps there is some new competition, after all I did receive an email last week offering a lower price on some services. Maybe they are looking at the cash flow, as their customers pay when the contract is executed at the start of the season, so there is a large inflow of cash in September. There could be a loan involved here as well. I am aware of expansion wishes they have had for a number of years, maybe now is the time. Perhaps there is an ownership change in the wind. Or maybe they just want to “keep in touch” to retain existing customers.


What value can you place on a few emails, or phone calls?
 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Special Counselor of the Month

                
We are delighted to shine the spotlight on a distinguished member of our staff who by his or her efforts brings great credit to our organization. This month we are honored to salute:


SUSY MACARIO


 

When Susy joined SCORE in 2013 the Membership committee knew we were gaining a terrific new member. Impeccable credentials in the business world, a passion to help others, an insatiable desire to keep on learning, and a readiness to help wherever and whenever she could.
 
The results have exceeded our expectations. With an unlimited reservoir of support for each and every client she assists, Susy devotes endless additional hours following up with every businessperson she serves. Whether it’s handson visits to their places of business, or nurturing calls to see how things are going, Susy is our “Joanie-on-the-spot” encouraging, guiding, supporting. Little wonder so many of Susy’s clients have bonded so strongly to her. They know she cares. Every day.
 
But the story doesn’t stop there. Susy has taken on additional Chapter duties with her appointment to the Executive Committee where she is actively involved in administering our Workshop program. And in the community at large Susy is a strong advocate for small business wherever and whenever she sees an opportunity to help. Lucky community. Lucky clients. Lucky SCORE.
 
And so we are delighted to announce Susy has been elected our Special Counselor of the Month for October, November and December. We are proud to honor her for all she does for her clients and our Chapter. So, take a well deserved bow, Susy!