Using a Cash Gap Plan in a Service Company in 2022

Cash Gap Plan

A Cash Gap Plan In A Service Company

This week I’m writing about using a Cash Gap Plan in an service company. A Cash Gap plan will help you to quickly collect your outstanding receivables, get your customers to pay faster, and negotiate better terms with your vendors to improve your cash. I have been writing about some of my hero clients and how we are able to achieve significant results from our work together. We have 36 Coaching Modules, which are areas within your business that when we improve your performance in these areas, your business will run better.

Robert’s Service Company Challenges

Robert is this week’s small business hero. He owns an service business that has been in business for over 50 years. When I met Robert he was interested in selling his business. Although he had been successful in growing his business, it was having financial problems. To make things worse a very large customer had defaulted on a payment of nearly $200,000. This event had him thinking about filing bankruptcy. He was working very long hours and was constantly interrupted by customers and employees. This was affecting his health and personal relationships with his family, in particular, his wife. He was spending very little time with them.

Solutions for Service Company: Strategic Plan, Team Deployment, Tactical Marketing, Lean Program

We decided to implement several of our Coaching Modules to address his situation. These included a Strategic Plan, Team deployment meetings, Tactical Marketing Plan, but most importantly a Cash Gap Plan, Time Management Plan, and a Lean Program.

A Cash Gap Plan for Robert’s Business

A Cash Gap Plan is all about carefully monitoring your plan to improve collections, lengthening your payments with vendors, increasing your prices aggressively as possible, and eliminating operational efficiencies. In all things in life, we tend to get what we focus on. During our coaching sessions, we focused on his cash flow.

Time Management for Robbie’s HVAC Company

We developed his Strategic Plan and held team deployment meetings. Additionally, we discovered a serious time management problem. Employees and managers were constantly interrupting one another during the day. This wasn’t causing chaos and stress in the business. We began to track interruptions and developed policies and strategies to reduce distractions. We also implemented team meetings in the business.

Results for Robert’s service Company

As a result of these strategies, his results were immediate and dramatic. Here’s what Robert said:

Alan first worked with me one-on-one, then met with me and my managers, and finally with all of the employees. Our cash flow has started to improve and continues to improve daily. After six months our profits had increased over $152,000, which annualized is over $300,000 per year! We have started paying off our accounts payable to our vendors. We have reorganized our office and improved our staff with Mr. Melton’s help. We are starting to achieve many of the actions in our action plan. I have a clearer vision of where we are going and what it takes to get us to the next level. With this clearer vision comes renewed hope. Most importantly, I am working less and have started taking my wife out on dates. I would like to thank Alan for seeing hope in me and my company, and helping us through this difficult time.

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Congratulations Robert for your remarkable success in using a Cash Gap Plan and other strategies to improve your company! You are one of my business heroes and an inspiration to other business owners. You can view another case study using a Team Building System in a landscaping company here.

A Self-Improvement Guide: 5 Ways Business Owners Can Develop Their Skills in 2022

self improvement

5 Ways Business Owners Can Develop Their Skills

Self-improvement is vital to business success. It lets business owners spot gaps to fill, leverage technology, understand the market, craft effective strategies, and take point in operations. It also helps business owners adopt a more positive mindset and improve their mental makeup and people skills.

Suffice to say, business owners must endeavor to improve themselves. They can do that by taking note of the self-improvement guide below.

1. Consulting with a coach

This need for self-improvement has led to an increase in demand for business coaches, whose personalized advice can help business owners and professionals grow.

Specifically, they can provide guidance that will lead to self-awareness, increase productivity, and enhance confidence—but without the need to commit long hours. It’s a good thing that there are lots of great business coaches out there, including Small Business Coach Alan Melton, entrepreneurs Barry Moltz and Erin Henry, and Action Coach Brad Sugars.

2. Going back to school

This option allows business owners to get formal education in aspects they need to improve in, like financial literacy or management. And they can get that in different ways, whether through night school, traditional schooling, or online courses. Among these choices, though, taking online courses is gaining the most traction, with its enrolment numbers surpassing that of traditional university enrollment. That’s because online classes offer great value, scheduling flexibility, and cheaper rates.

The ability to study at one’s own pace is particularly appealing to business owners, who can add to their business acumen by taking a business course. Those who choose to take an online business degree have the advantage of both choosing their schedule and doing all their work online. Alongside learning the core fundamentals of business, these online courses can also explore specialist subjects like financial accounting, economics, business law, and statistics. Through this option, business owners get to improve in a formal setting, but do it on their own time and without attending physical classes.

3. Taking short courses or self-studying

Business owners not ready to pursue an actual degree can opt for shorter courses. The Small Business Administration (SBA), for instance, offers online courses on a variety of subjects via the SBA Learning Center. An alternative would be to explore SBA’s Tools page, which is filled with a variety of resources that business owners can peruse to learn things related to running a business.

Other options include Microsoft Office Training, which offers comprehensive tutorials on using Microsoft Office. Another option is My Own Business’ 16-session course that covers business plan creation, risk mitigation, and overcoming common problems. Business owners can also attend the Small Business Coach business webinar series comprised of one-hour sessions that touch on a wide variety of business topics, including growing a business and crafting effective marketing campaigns.

4. Learning from the staff

Team members such as accountants and marketing strategists are hired because they have expertise in a particular aspect of business, and these areas might not be the business owner’s strengths. These experts are an excellent source of information on things related to the business area they are in.

So, working closely with them can double as a learning opportunity. Business leaders should ask the team relevant questions, as their insights can expand management’s understanding of the different aspects of the business and learn in the process.

5. Applying what has been learned

For all the knowledge gained from coaching, studying online, attending webinars, and asking questions, the process of learning won’t be complete without practical application. In other words, business owners need to find opportunities to put theory into practice.

For instance, one who takes a short course on public speaking needs to find opportunities to speak in public—but with very low stakes involved, as in, say, a speaking engagement in a local school or a team building pep talk. Success in these applications will determine whether something was, indeed, learned or not.

Indeed, learning opportunities are there for the taking. All that is left now is for business owners to realize the importance of self-improvement, be willing to learn and evolve, and then take advantage of these great opportunities.

Written by Kayla Hinton for smallbusinesscoach.org

How Do You Discipline and Keep Good Employees in 2022?

Discipline Employees

How Do You Discipline and Keep Good Employees

Contrary to popular opinion, there are various ways to discipline employees. If you have employees, there will be a need to handle problematic behaviors or performance – such as tardiness, incomplete work, conflicts, or a bad attitude.

For many business owners and managers, addressing these problems is often their most uncomfortable and weighty task. Progressive ways to discipline employees can be awkward and involve substantial planning, paperwork, and politics. 

Realistically, permanent employees, or any staff member such as consultants and temps, are humans; therefore, prone to making mistakes and missteps. Developing a proper approach to handling these kinds of problems should be done with consideration toward the company’s best interests, the employee’s, and, in the end, your customers.

Does a disciplinary approach work for or against you?

Progressive discipline generally starts with a verbal reproach, followed by a written warning, and ends with termination. Companies commonly use this approach to discipline employees and to document discipline issues and protect them in legal matters (like lawsuits and unemployment claims).

Unfortunately, this approach to handling a performance problem has detrimental effects as follows:

  • It often results in only temporary changes in behavior or performance.
  • It can cause additional problems in the employee’s (and other staff members’) morale and attitude.
  • It serves only to punish, not to correct disciplinary problems.
  • It may lead to the exit of a valuable employee in whom the company has invested time, money, and resources.

An Alternative to Disciplining Employees

A more conscientious alternative way to discipline employees’ issue is the “progressive coaching” approach – which also involves communication and education to find a solution.  This highly-cooperative method offers significant benefits:

  • It helps resolve instead of just documenting poor behavior or performance.
  • It builds mutual respect and appreciation.
  • It helps prove the company’s commitment to its staff.
  • It improves morale in the work environment.

What is progressive coaching?

Progressive coaching is an effective method that recognizes the underlying problem and takes a personal approach to resolve it. This method involves listening, communicating, and providing advice and guidance to the employee in question. Together, your employee and management can collaborate on a solution that establishes realistic ways to solve a problem that makes it easier to discipline employees. There are multiple benefits to this approach:

  • Offers coaching and encouragement rather than punishment
  • Provides options for your employee to improve their performance or change behavioral issues in the workplace
  • Avoids the stress, tension, anger, and awkwardness around a merely punitive approach
  • Shows employees that they’re considered part of the company’s success
  • It helps retain employees who are trained, knowledgeable and have been an asset to the company.
  • It can be an effective alternative to disciplining employees.

Steps for progressive coaching

There may be no procedure set in stone, but the following recommended steps provide a framework for progressively coaching an employee toward growth and improvement.

Notify the Employee

Set up a meeting between yourself and the employee. Remember to ensure that he/she does not feel targeted, which might force them to lash out. Instead, choose a neutral space such as a conference room or a nearby coffee shop. Inform the employee that the plan is about opportunities for improvement in the execution of their job.

Prepare Yourself for the Interview

Before the meeting, first, consider the disciplinary problem and its severity and effects. What people, activities, and end results suffer due to poor performance or behavior? Is this a new or repeated offense?

Brainstorm how the employee can modify their actions to meet the company’s expectations and the customers. Detail those recommendations on paper and find suitable solutions such as:

  • Training Programs

Often, an employee’s ill-behavior may be a result of a lack of understanding. Offer to provide adequate training on using different work tools, systems, and processes to make their tasks easier to complete. Training on behavior management in the workplace might also serve well in disciplining employees.

  • Meeting one-on-one with a coach

Not all employees are well-suited to work on team projects or a controlled environment. Aside from training, a one-on-one coaching session may help discipline employees as it helps in communicating the issues from both parties. It helps isolate the problem and take personalized measures to understand the employees’ challenges and create innovative and targeted solutions.

For instance, an employee might be feeling overwhelmed in a high-functioning work environment due to a lack of former training. This issue can be resolved by helping them feel more comfortable and connected with the company.

  • Developing tasks for performance improvement

Disciplining employees involves more than just reprimanding their behavior. In order to motivate an employee to improve their performance, it is necessary to make them realize their potential. It helps in building confidence and a sense of achievement. Specific tasks can be designed and allocated to the employee so they can recognize an opportunity to prove their dedication and willingness without feeling cornered.

  • Assigning a mentor

A mentor takes a personal interest in helping the employees succeed. They recognize that each employee is different; therefore, the approach to disciplining employees must vary from person to person.

A mentor can help the employee confide and discuss what is truly bothering them, such as, internal pressures, inability to meet unrealistic targets, lack of adequate training, etc. Since they feel heard, they are motivated to strive for better performance.

Keep in mind that the mentor must be someone who can build a repertoire with the employee and make them feel comfortable. Disciplining employees is easier when they think that someone genuinely wishes to help them improve personally and professionally.

  • Setting specific goals

In several instances, it is noted that employee rebels or misbehaves because they feel unfulfilled. They are not adequately challenged as per their capabilities or their long-term goals. It helps in disciplining employees if they are expected to meet short-term goals that they recognize to stimulate personal progress.

Specific goals can help align the employee’s commitment and goals with those of the company, thereby improving performance and building a connection with the interests of the overall organization.

  • Reducing or changing employee’s responsibilities

Sometimes it may be more effective to shuffle the employees’ responsibilities. When they receive prominent responsibilities that contribute to the company’s well-being and progress, it makes them feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. These responsibilities pose opportunities for them to demonstrate their skills, giving them hope for better positions with better pay-grades.

However, often an employee may be burdened with more responsibility than they can handle. As the pressure increases, so do their levels of resentment and rebellion. It is human nature; therefore, it is best to evaluate their capacity with the amount of responsibility allocated to them. This helps in disciplining employees by creating a channel of trust and perception that works to the employer and the employees’ benefit.

If desired, jot down possible triggers that led to disciplinary issues. Ask yourself if there are internal situations or people who might be causing the problem? Have there been signs that they’re unhappy with their current position?

Write down probing questions that may bring out any company or department issues, personnel problems, or struggles with the process.

Use these considerations to start a conversation about their possible connection to the infractions.

Have a Conversation

alternatives to progressive discipline

You can begin by expressing how their contributions and conduct can positively or negatively affect the work environment. Speak to them about how their job attitude can affect the overall success of the business.

Explain that the company appreciates each employee and, therefore, uses a progressive coaching approach to help employees improve when issues in performance or behavior occur.

Remember to keep the conversation as a two-way interaction so the employees can openly share the reasons for their misconduct or under-performance. Develop a concrete plan to mitigate the issues while disciplining employees, so both parties benefit from it equally. It helps motivate the employees to improve their performance and check their workplace behavior for personal development.

Start With the Positive

Let them know they’re valued for things like their skills, knowledge, contributions, and time with the company. You can specifically articulate examples that make them feel appreciated and acknowledged.

Once you’ve established trust and confidence, clearly, state the performance or behavior issue that you are addressing. Help them realize that the conversation is intended to improve their performance rather than criticize or ridicule. Providing motivation plays a more significant role in disciplining employees than segregation and isolation.

When they realize that they are valued, they will take the suggestions as constructive criticism and improve their performance and behavior.

Describe the initial process for progressive coaching.

Inform employees about the steps that will be taken to develop and observe their progress.

  • Specific tasks or goals will be assigned (and tracked) to mitigate or improve the employee’s performance or behavior.
  • A designated person will provide mentoring, training, or coaching as required.
  • Assigned coaching, training, tasks, and goals will be tracked and later assessed for progress and compliance.

Ask and Listen

Take the opportunity of the conversation to allow input or feedback from the employee. If they feel stressed, pressured, or under-appreciated for their efforts, they are likely inspired to discuss them in a productive environment.

This could be the right time to ask if they’re encountering any company policies or department-centered problems that led to the infraction (ex. bank employees opening unauthorized credit card accounts to meet highly unrealistic sales goals). It offers an opportunity to identify any possible transgressions that may have been overlooked.

If needed, you can ask the employee to respond to the allegation. There may be circumstances that mitigate the offense, such as misinterpretations or misunderstandings. If their testimony merits it, tell them you’ll look into it. Then continue with the meeting to positively express your concerns about their behavior or performance.

Collaborate on Solutions

The process of disciplining employees works best when they feel that they are heard, and their opinions matter. You can ask them if they have ideas that would help them overcome or modify problems in their job. Let them collaborate to recommend goals or activities (like training or a change in duties) to improve the situation. They know what works best for them. And if you can incorporate their suggestions in your plan for improvement, it will provide added motivation for them to accept your recommendations.

On a human level, ask if there are personal stresses that are causing them stress. Inquire if these issues can be lifted or managed with alignment to company policies:

  • Would they want to take paid time off (family care leave, short-term disability, etc.) to take care of personal business? (It wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask that they first try to clear their tasks so other employees won’t have to take on their workload.)
  • If a medical condition is the root of an issue, encourage them to see a doctor.
  • Would working from home, on a temporary or part-time basis, help alleviate a contributing factor to the problem

End on a Positive Note

The conversation must end on a mutually beneficial note. The employee should be left feeling motivated rather than isolated.

  • Assure the employee that all the steps to be taken are meant to benefit the employee just as much as the company.
  • Set some realistic but not-too-distant dates to check back on their progress.
  • Reassure them that the company would instead foster their growth rather than lose a person they see as an asset to their success.
  • Avoid threatening ultimatums like “Failure to complete a task will result in …” Instead, take progressive coaching one step at a time.

Note: This approach to disciplinary issues is best for less serious offenses. Depending on the performance or behavior, the situation may actually merit using the “progressive discipline” approach.

The success of disciplining employees with progressive coaching depends largely on the conversation. It must be less confrontational and more of an exchange of information. If the employee truly has a good work ethic but exhibits poor behavior or vice versa, they may be feeling pressured or underappreciated. This situation can be easily contented with the help of productive and constructive communication.

With the help of short-term goals, mentoring, and receptivity, you can help improve productivity and discipline employees for mutual benefit.

Summary

Moving from a disciplinary-based approach that can create more problems than it solves to a coaching-based methodology, that seeks progressive improvement is a major change in mindset and procedure. Ultimately, progressive coaching provides solutions and mindful personal management, which builds a culture of cooperation and trust.

These alternative ways to discipline employees can yield positive results. A healthier working environment leads to employee retention, improved performance, and good morale, which can only lead to better customer satisfaction and a more successful business. For more information, check out this blog post on Handling Advice and Feedback. Here’s another great post on dealing with problem employees.

6 Plumbing Industry Trends to Keep Track of in 2022

plumbing industry trends

6 Plumbing Business Industry Trends to Keep Track of in 2022

If you’re in the plumbing industry, you are most likely not bothered about technological trends in your line of work. But as everything in our life has been affected by technology – so is your business.

As a plumbing business owner, it is vital to stay on top of emerging trends and make sure that your business is constantly evolving to meet the market’s needs.

Here are a few steps that you need to take note of to future proof your plumbing business:

  • Using technology as a way of effective plumbing contract management

As you expand your plumbing business and hire more subcontractors, coordinate multiple projects, and take follow-ups from clients, managing your business is going to become tougher and tougher. But technology can become your savior here if you adapt and switch to plumbing software.

Well-designed plumbing software can help you collaborate in real-time with your management, even if they are not onsite together, and keep track of what everyone is doing.

You can easily schedule, dispatch, assign team members for plumbing jobs and monitor their time spent on the project.

  • Offer clients easy online payment options

None of your clients want to pay cash anymore. Most of them would prefer the convenience of digital payments. Purchasing plumbing software will also give you the advantage of generating personalized digital invoices for clients and collecting digital payments.

You’ll also be able to keep a much more organized track of your accounts since everything will now be available electronically.

  • Another Plumbing Industry Trend is to Increase your online presence

Think about it — if people are looking for any business, even plumbers, they look for information online. Good old-fashioned word-of-mouth publicity is also great, but people also look for any business they want to hire online.

Paid digital ads might not be the need of the hour when you’re just starting out, but it is important to have a website that has its SEO and keywords in order so that you show up in search results when people are looking for plumbers in your area.

A strong social media presence and engaging with people in groups related to plumbing are also great ways to capture an audience’s attention and attract more clicks on your website.

  • More customers are looking for your business on their mobile

If customers are looking for your website online, you need to make sure the website is responsive and built with some expertise.

Would you employ a plumbing business that might have good reviews, but if you try to access its website, you just can’t log in?

Not really, right?

A large percentage of clients will look for your website on their phones — so it is important to ensure that your website looks great on any screen and can be used on a web browser as well as a mobile device.

Online presence counts, but it’s the right kind of online presence you have to emphasize on.

  • Online reviews are essential for Plumbing Industry Trends

Your reputation is important for your business, and now online customer reviews matter as much as word-of-mouth reviews from your clients.

You can ask your clients who are happy with their work to leave a good review on your website, and if you do get a negative review, it’s important to respond as diplomatically as possible.

  • Give attention to remote and mobile-first communication

Clients now prefer digital communication over face-to-face communication. This translates to assisting clients on a video call for the plumbing business to start diagnosing the problem and coming up with a virtual collaboration with the management. If the client can solve the problem through assistance on a video call, you only need to send a few, if any, plumbers on site.

Taking your plumbing business online may seem a little unnerving, but as the competition grows, so has the demand. The US Bureau of labor statistics estimates almost a quarter (24%) growth for the plumbing industry by 2024 from the last decade. So you need to take these vital steps to make sure your plumbing business is future-proof.

Author Bio:

plumbing business

 Akhil Rajan is a Customer Success Specialist at Zuper, an intelligent workforce management platform for service-oriented businesses. Working with customers on a daily basis, he has a deep understanding of their needs and pain points and so he is able to contribute to the marketing strategies for Zuper with the content he writes. He writes on topics like how to increase workforce utilization, how to reduce the service turnaround time and increase workforce efficiency, customer adoption, cost reduction strategies, etc – to name a few. He is often found buried in books or playing chess in his free time.

 

5 Best Small Business Ideas of 2022 (Low-Cost & Online)

best small business ideas

5 Best Small Business Ideas of 2022 (Low-Cost & Online)

Making money has never been easier. With so many different business ideas to choose from in 2022, it can be difficult to decide which one to pursue. Although you might think that following a new trend is risky, it is also equally rewarding.

The small business ideas mentioned in this post are extremely popular and have a huge demand. You must pursue a business idea that you are passionate about. It will keep you going when the going gets tough.

The fact is that you do not need a lot of money to start your very own business. With the right skills and initiative, you should be able to make good money in no time. The internet has made torn barriers to entry. Today, you have an easier time pursuing your interests.

Being an entrepreneur is the best thing in the world. You get to make decisions and benefit from increased flexibility. Take advantage of the following business ideas and become your own boss.

1. Dropshipping

One of the best small business ideas that you can cash on in 2022 is dropshipping. If you do not have the money to buy and hold inventory but want to make money selling products online, dropshipping is the way to go.

When starting a dropshipping business, all you need to do is select the right products to sell online. The ecommerce business model will allow you to generate a decent income on the side without having to manage any physical products. It does not get better than this.

Start by creating an online store and contact suppliers who can package, store, and ship your orders to customers. There are even dropshipping apps that you can use to conduct product research. Thus, you do not need to spend much time and can start working from day one.

Once you have found awesome products to sell, you can begin marketing them to find customers. The best thing about dropshipping is that you do not need to hold any inventory. But, you can always hold inventory if it is not an issue for you.

There are even online marketplaces such as Handshake that help small businesses find high-quality products for the best cost. Create a long-lasting relationship with suppliers and take your business to the next level.

2. Translation

There is always a demand for multilingual people. Anyone who can speak two or more languages can make easy money by starting a small business that monetizes on those skills. Look for clients on sites like Flexjobs and Upwork to grow your portfolio.

Once you have enough companies hiring you for translation services, you can always hire more multilingual people to expand your services. If you speak French, German, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Urdu/ Hindi, or even Malay, you can promote your skills online.

To ensure that more companies are exposed to your small business, you need to also promote your services on social media. You could even start a YouTube channel and utilize PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising.

3. Home-Cooked Food Business

Are you someone who loves to cook or bake? Then, you should make money out of it. Pursue your passion for cooking or baking by starting a home-cooked food business. Uber Eats and Grubhub are just two of the apps that you can use to sell your food online.

If you enjoy cooking, you could start a home-based catering business. The reason why it is a great small business idea is that people are always looking for a new place to eat. Hence, you could cater to them by offering home-cooked food.

Create a website to get started. You can cater to small events, companies, busy individuals, and so on. Everyone needs to eat. Therefore, a home-cooked food business is always a good idea. You can start your business with minimal investment and expand as your business grows.

4. Website Flipping

Another amazing low-cost and online business idea for 2022 that you can pursue is website flipping. It is a rather new idea that can make you easy money. All you have to do is buy a website that is already running, improve its content and design, and sell it to make a profit.

If you are a website developer or designer, it provides you with the perfect opportunity to make the most of your skills. There are various places where you can easily purchase and sell websites for a decent gain.

A great platform that you can use for buying and selling ecommerce sites is Exchange by Shopify. Once you have bought the ecommerce site, you can improve it for SEO, content marketing, and other tactics. Then, you can list it on the marketplace to generate more revenue.

For instance, you can purchase a carpet cleaning website and sell it online after you have made improvements. A company that has the same name, let’s say Carpet Cleaning , will buy the improved website from you gladly.

5. Online Tutoring

Do you like to teach people? Then, it might be time to give online tutoring a try. If you are an expert in a subject, you can create an online tutoring business: the more subjects you can offer, the better.

To start teaching, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in the subject that you want to teach. Therefore, you must have studied the subjects that you intend to offer. Otherwise, it would just be a waste of time.

There are various websites that you can use to find clients to tutor, such as Tutor.com. The secret to succeeding as an online tutor is teaching those subjects that relate to your core expertise. Share constructive knowledge and skills to make money.

Moreover, you can even take things one step further by creating an online course. It will help you generate a passive income while you continue offering private sessions over Skype or Zoom.

Best Small Business Ideas of 2022

Create the ultimate small business by using any of the ideas mentioned above. From dropshipping to online tutoring, each small business idea is low-cost and online. Therefore, you should not have any hassle getting started.

Author Bio:

Myrah Abrar is a computer science graduate with a passion for web development and digital marketing. She writes blog articles for Carpet Cleaning Eastbourne

Using a Tactical Marketing Plan in a Law Firm in 2022

Tactical Marketing plan in a law firm

Using a Tactical Marketing Plan in a Law Firm

This week I’m writing about using a Tactical Marketing Plan in a Law Firm. A Tactical Marketing Plan is an aggressive, measurable plan to increase your leads, improve your sales conversion rates, and increase your annual revenue per customer so that your profits increase exponentially.

I have been writing about some of my hero clients and how we are able to achieve significant results from our work together. We have 36 Coaching Modules, which are areas within your business that when we improve your performance in these areas, your business will run better.

David’s Law Practice

David is this week’s small business hero. He owns a Law Firm that has been in business for over 30 years. I met David in one of our marketing focus groups. He has been successful in establishing a niche legal practice. His firm helps individuals negotiate tax liabilities with the IRS. David was interested in improving his practice in the area of marketing. His law firm had provided a consistent income to David over the decades. However, I saw an opportunity to grow his cash flow considerably.

Law Practice Cash Flow Improvement

We decided to implement several of our Coaching Modules to address his situation. These included a Strategic Plan, Tactical Marketing Plan, Key Performance Indicators, Pricing Plan, Employee Acquisition Plan, and an Organizational Plan.

A Tactical Marketing Plan for A Law Firm

A Tactical Marketing Plan entails developing 5 to 6 revenue streams. We make sure each revenue stream is providing an acceptable return on investment. David began to provide weekly Key Performance Indicators which included his marketing results. David compiled marketing results that we reviewed to give us the information we needed to eliminate marketing that was not providing a strong return on investment.

Strategic Partners and a Strategic Plan for a Law Firm

We decided to pursue some strategic partners. We developed his Strategic Plan and implemented pricing changes. We developed job descriptions for employees and hired some new team members.

Results for David’s Law Firm

As a result of these strategies, his results were immediate and dramatic. Here’s what David said:

David Greene Attorney“I was initially hesitant to take on a business coach, but now I’m glad I did. Since Alan and I began working together my sales have increased significantly and I’m glad to use his services. My profits have increased an average of 50%.” David, Founder, Law Firm

 

Congratulations David for your remarkable success in using a Tactical Marketing Plan to improve your company! You are one of my business heroes and an inspiration to other business owners. You can view another case study using a Team Building System in a landscaping company here.

Landing Page Design Inspiration in 2022

landing page design inspiration

Landing Page Design Inspiration

Creating a landing page from scratch can be challenging without inspiration for ideas. Here is our landing page design inspiration that can definitely guide you in planning and creating your own landing page. 

A landing page is a stand-alone page meant to capture contact information from visitors who are interested in your offering. Its secondary but key purpose is to convert visitors into leads. Statistics strongly support that a landing page can significantly increase your conversions.

A landing page is one marketing tactic that flows from your Strategic Marketing Plan and directly from your Tactical Marketing Plan that we discussed in last week’s blog post.

Whether you are promoting a webinar or workshop or selling a product or service, having a well-designed page is crucial to driving traffic where you want them to go.

Designing a landing page requires a different approach than designing a website or newsletter.

We’re providing some landing page design inspiration and guidelines which should ensure that you have a high-converting landing page.

Determine the Goal of Your Landing Page

It sounds obvious, but taking the time to determine what you’re trying to accomplish with the landing page will put you ahead of the game.

What are you really trying to accomplish with the landing page? Don’t think about what they’ll get (like a newsletter or product sample) but focus on defining the point of the whole process. Is it to:

  • Create brand awareness?
  • Foster credibility and trust?
  • Capture email addresses?
  • Get more visitors to your website?
  • Make more sales?

If you’re clear on the end goal, then a clear design will follow.

Still, every page should have only one clear path which takes each visitor to the right destination.

Provide a Lead Magnet

An attractive, compelling offer is what drives the visitor to give up their email address – it could be a free eBook, instructional video, blog, checklist, or template.  You must provide a lead magnet that is of relevance and value to your target audience.

Best Elements of a Landing Page

To create a compelling and converting landing page, ensure that:

  • Your Copy is Concise and Clear

Copy on a landing page should be minimal – a few sentences at most. Save the longer copy for emails and blogs. Be short and persuasive. Get straight to the point.

All the sentences need to have one purpose – for the user to act immediately.

  • Don’t Ask For Extras

Your landing page “form” should only for vital data such as name and email address. Asking for any other info will significantly decrease the chances to get users to enter their info and click that button.  Best practice: Ask just for first name, and only if you plan to use that data immediately (such as in an email campaign.)

If you are selling a product or service in your landing page, make the process as simple as possible. Only ask for information that is absolutely mandatory. After their order is placed, you can ask for all the information you need.

  • Write a Call-to-Action That Works

In any landing page, the verbiage in your call-to-action button is crucial. Avoid the generic “Click Here” and use strong words and compelling phrases like:

“Get a free WORK SMART, NOT HARD checklist”

“Subscribe to the Savvy Business Newsletter”

“Grab my free marketing video package”

Employ a clear and direct call-to-action that makes the user want to act immediately.

Designing a Landing Page

As already mentioned, designing a landing page is completely different than creating a regular web page.  While one part of the difference is related to short, simple copy, the other part relates to its design.

A good design should support the call-to-action. That means being concise on your landing pages and getting straight to the point. So, your design should be simple. Keep these major aspects in mind:

  • Simplicity. Your landing page should be a “No Distractions Zone.”  Keep the user focused on clicking that call-to-action button. Do this by not including any other clickable elements like logos, icons, or hyperlinks.
  • Branding. You want the user to recognize your branding elements (fonts, colors, layout, logos, etc.). Keep the look consistent from emails to landing pages to your website. Carrying your brand forward avoids confusing the visitor and gives them confidence in your offer.
  • Copy Length. While some use a landing page to further elaborate on their business or offerings, the most successful ones will contain only the basic elements:
    • An explanatory or motivational heading
    • Two to three short paragraphs
    • Field for email address
    • A call-to-action button to get the offering promised
  • Imitate What Already Works. A good practice is to find and capture a landing page to use as a model. If you thought that their page was simple yet effective, then your visitors will like yours, too.
  • Imagery. You can add an image or photo on a landing page, but don’t over‑do it. The user just wants to get what’s being offered in the quickest way possible.
  • The Fold. If the user has to scroll down to see the call-to-action (falls below the “fold”), then you will lose out on your conversions.

Summary: A Landing Page Can Bring You a Lot of Sales

For such a simple and temporary page, there’s much to consider when driving visitors to give up their precious email. We know that clicking not only means we get some freebie, but it also means we’ve signed up for the offeror’s future emails. Making it easy and quick to use, worthwhile, and professional will give them the trust to accept us and what we’re offering.

Now that you have read our landing page design inspiration. What are your thoughts about creating your  landing page? Do you think this marketing tactic could help you grow your business? Let us know your thoughts below.

How Electrical Contractors Can Grow Their Company in 2022

How Electrical Contractors Grow Their Company

Your electrical service contractor company likely provides residential and commercial customers with a full range of design, installation, repair, inspection, and renovation work.

While highly skilled in all things electrical, many of these independently owned service companies face challenges in strategy, organization, communications, and marketing.

We at Small Business Coach Associates would like to offer 6 effective methods that will specifically help an electrical contractor company to grow and succeed.

Six Best Marketing Tactics to Grow Your Electrical Service Contractor Company

The following approaches can make a significant difference in working smarter, not harder as well as building up team rapport, improving customer service, and reaching your target clients.

  1. A Catalog of Contacts
  2. Relationship Building
  3. Follow-Up
  4. Word of Mouth
  5. Services, Services, Services
  6. A Marketing Strategy

Following is more detail on how to easily implement these tactics:

#1 Arrange Your Contacts in Your Database

As the owner of an electrical service contractor company, we are sure that you have contact info from most (if not all) past and current customers. However, you probably don’t have them all in the same place.

electrical contractorWhen the time comes to send a message or announcement about a new product, location, event, sale or other promotion, you want a simple way to send the same message to the same group of contacts at the same time.

Gather up the accumulated business cards, post-it notes, email contacts, and all online or paper lists to compile your customer contacts in one place.

You may also add names of people you’ve met while networking and at events. You may include contact info from vendors, contractors, partners, or other business associates.  At a minimum, keep their name, company, and email address. Consider including other data that you might need for a communication such as phone number, address, last contact date, type of contact, or description of work provided.

Prepare Your Customer Data to Begin Marketing

You can store this data many ways, such as in an online app, an Excel spreadsheet, or a Customer Management System like SalesForce or ActiveCampaign. You can keep everything in an email “group” consisting of only business contacts (no friends, family, et al).

Whatever method you employ, be sure to update it regularly.

With a ready-to-go list of contact information, promotional campaigns will be a breeze … and that will result in … new business!

#2 Build Better Team Relationships

When you have a small business with a limited number of staff, like an electrical service company, it is important that all the members of the team get along, are acknowledged, and are empowered to play a part in your company’s success.

Having a good relationship between the different staff members allows your electrical contractor company to work better. This culture can be fostered through individual recognition, respect, teamwork, and communications. An obstacle to communications is the fact that you have “cowboys and cowgirls out on the range.” Since they are outside your office performing work, you have less contact with them.

Ways to Build Your Team Relationships

A great first step is in recognizing that any team member (whether full-time, temporary, or intern) may bring not only potential customers but also possible ideas that further your success. They can recommend your services to their friends and families. Their attitude and enthusiasm may be the reason that some customers continue to use your firm.

To nurture their job satisfaction, input, and work ethic, find ways to:

  • Acknowledge the good – which can be as simple as an email recognizing what they’ve done well, a “Job Well Done” sticker, or a $5 gift card.
  • Come together – have regular all-hands meetings to discuss the state of the business, to talk about new plans, or announce promotions. Allow time for Q&A.
  • Keep your door open – sincerely offer for staff to come to you or their manager with their ideas or potential leads in addition to their concerns or feedback. All input can play a role in better working relationships and a more successful business. 

#3 Follow-Up With Your Customers

A rather simple method to build a good relationship with customers is through follow-up communications.

Make a call or send an email after a service call or when a project is completed. Ask for a ranking or feedback on aspects such as:

  • Response time
  • Professionalism
  • Efficiency
  • Cost

This method will, first, give you an idea of areas needing improvement while, second, building rapport. You can include a short questionnaire about these key points.

Thank Your Customer For Choosing Your Business

You can take this opportunity to thank the client for choosing your company and to offer a discount or gift card for new clients they recommend. You can even remind them of your guarantee or warranty, or request a testimonial on your website or social media page.

Doing follow-up communication is a clear signal that you care about your customer’s satisfaction and about doing a good job.

“We would like to recommend Alan at Small Business Coach Associates for making a large impact on our business. We are on track to double our generator sales this year. We gave ourselves and our employees raises, and we have paid an additional $75,000 on a loan that is nearly paid off. We have improved our quoting process, our sales process, our collections process, and our conversions process.  These improvements have resulted in a big positive impact on our sales and cash flow.  Additionally, we are offering financing and other value-added services which have benefited our customers and our business. Finally, we are taking more time off: 5 weeks this year!”  Andy, President, Electrical Service Company

 

How to Handle Customer Complaints

When you receive a customer complaint, it could pertain to dissatisfaction with the service, the poor manner a consultant has handled a query, or a lack of updates concerning an appointment. No matter the reason for the complaint, it is important to provide the customer with an attentive response in which you do your best to resolve the issue.

While most businesses will experience a customer complaint, it is essential to always put your best foot forward. Many people who have a negative encounter fail to alert the company but will spread the word about a negative perception to colleagues, friends, and family.

What to Do When a Customer Complains

Breathe Deeply and Relax

It can be challenging to deal with an irate customer but remember; it’s all about your service. It is not a personal attack. When you quip yourself to approach a tough situation with a calm attitude, you can think reasonably and determine the best course of action to improve their experience.

Listen and Identify the Problem

Your customer wants to be validated. Listen to what they are saying and try to understand their perspective. Show them that you understand and explain the steps you will take to address the matter.

Provide a Solution Based on the Details

customer complaintBefore agreeing to the customer’s terms, always get your facts. You need to make a professional decision that not only addresses the customer’s interests but maintains your business integrity.

Let the customer know that you have a handle on the problem by issuing follow-up calls. You could also offer a customer some form of a gift to show your sincerity, including a promotional offer. A discount off their next electrical maintenance service or a free electrical inspection are examples of such gestures.

#4 Cultivate Word-of-Mouth References

When someone needs an electrical contractor company, they no longer turn to the yellow pages and call the first number they see. Most people ask friends and relatives if they know someone who can handle the job.

According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. Plus, after analyzing specific case studies, researchers found a 10% increase in word-of-mouth [offline and online] translated to sales growth of up to 1.5% (source: www.bigcommerce.com).

So, you want to put some thought and planning into how to get the word out there.

The best strategy to get a reference will always be to maintain a high standard of service, be professional, and have a great relationship with your clients, staff, vendors, and other business contacts.

Consider a promotional plan, such as offering a $10 gift card to anyone who sends you a new customer. (Include employees in this, too!)  Flood your local area with promotional products – like baseball hats, t-shirts, and signage.

Social Media as a Marketing Tool

Along with referrals, social media is a powerful marketing tool for business exposure and growth. For contractors, failing to incorporate social media is a missed opportunity. With more than 3.5 billion people across the world using social media, tapping into this market can help businesses convert visitors into customers.

electrical servicePeople are naturally drawn to visual content. Even those looking for an electrical service contractor may be more inclined to click on a video or an image compared to reading a traditional advert. This does not mean you shouldn’t include descriptive ads; it is simply about being concise, innovative, and creating intriguing content that addresses your customers’ pain points.

Shares, likes, followers, and joining groups are all part of networking. It works similarly to ‘word of mouth references’ but uses online posts, videos, and images to attract and educate consumers. This offers immense potential to build your customer base and assert your business as a trusted, competent, and leading service.

Using Social Media to Get Referrals

Use your social media presence as a referral channel, and for reviews. FaceBook, YouTube, and Yelp play a major role in building trust and getting new business.

On your web site, emails, social media pages, and marketing materials, (1) include testimonials from homeowners and businesses that you’ve serviced, and (2) apply your branding.

Ensure that social media platforms present a bright and glowing view of your company and its services. Don’t forget to check Google, Angie’s List, Home Advisor and Yelp reviews and rankings –

If it’s an unfair comment, respond to it (of course) with all the professionalism you can muster.

Click Here to Access a Free Tool to Get Great Reviews

If it is a fair but negative appraisal, respond by first contacting the unhappy customer and making things right, then reply online with that story.

#5 Offer More Electrical Services

Once a customer has experienced your services, don’t neglect to make them aware of the range of other services you offer. Take time to let them know you can do more than just hang a light fixture or repair a broken wall outlet.

electrical serviceCommunicate that you can wire any size home, office, or commercial building. Let them know you do home inspections.

Publicize seasonal offerings like the installation of Christmas lights or yard displays. In the spring, show them photos of your most impressive outdoor lighting projects. People will be enticed by a photo of decorative strung lights on an attractive deck, or by discretely placed colored lights showcasing their home. Offer a free estimate on how to make their home look unique and upscale.

Consider offering service contracts, especially for commercial businesses. In such an agreement, a client would engage your company to exclusively perform electrical services.

Keep abreast of what customers want – if you don’t provide that service, then consider adding that to your offerings. That may require hiring new employees who are already trained and certified

#6 Define Your Marketing Strategy

As with any other company in any niche or industry, you need to have a well-defined marketing strategy. 

Research the answers to these questions:

  • What geographical areas do you serve?
    • Do you see your geographical areas expanding in the near future?
      • If yes, to where?
      • In any new service area, what will be different (weather, household income, number of commercial properties, etc.)?
      • Will it require new hires?
  • Who are your target customers (homeowners with over $100K income, small business owners with 20 to 40 employees, local home developers)?
    • What is the best marketing method to reach that audience?

marketing strategy

  • How much do you make in each type of work?
    • What types of work gave you the most profit over the last year?
    • What type of work do you anticipate will increase or decrease in demand in these areas?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition? That is, explain what it is about your products, services, delivery, culture, etc. differentiates you from the competition.
  • When are the times of year when your services are most in demand?
  • Are you willing to add more services to your company?
    • What type of electrical services are becoming more in demand?
    • Which services have the highest ROI (return on investment)?
    • What will this require (special skills? training? new marketing approach? added staff/subcontractors)?
    • How much of a financial investment will be needed?
  • Which methods of marketing have been the most effective (social media, TV, radio, newspaper, word-of-mouth, mailers, networking, etc.)?

Use the answers to develop your approach about WHO to market to, WHAT to promote, HOW and WHEN to advertise, and WHERE to market.

Why Your Electrical Service Business Needs Digital Marketing?

Owing to the impact that the 2020 pandemic has had on business, digital marketing has become a crucial part of growing your brand, making customer conversions, and attaining your professional goals.

digital marketingThe best way to reach customers and grow your business is by capturing attention, creating targeted advertising, and establishing your brand as an authority online. Digital marketing, including social media marketing, helps you attract potential customers to your services over your competitor.

Today’s top electricians are not only successful because of their skills but have invested in influential marketing and channels that local audiences can easily reach and access. By developing your very own online presence, you can reach more customers and represent your brand on the internet. Websites and social media allow you to describe your services, share client testimonials, and list the geographical locations you cover.

 As customers can use their PC, tablet, or phone to perform research into electrical services in a specific region and find your business faster than traditional marketing methods, it is important to become part of the online trend.

How to Start Marketing Your Electrical Service Business?

Marketing your business online should include service-based locations. Keep customers updated on new technologies, practices, and jobs completed by posting images and reviews on your website and social media.

Online marketing is also a great way to advertise your contact details. Include an online submission form for booking consultations and performing general inquiries.

Creating a Successful Web Presence for your Electrical Service Business

A professional website is a great way to increase brand exposure. It is the face of your company but also a resource for clients to learn about who you are and what you offer. Your site should be easy to navigate with a breakdown of the electrical services you provide. Along with advertising your brand and services, you can encourage visitors to sign up for a newsletter or promotion using their email address. The greater the number of emails, the easier email marketing strategies become part of your marketing campaign.

An electrical business is service oriented. From your website to the moment you answer the phone, your focus should be on the customer experience. Brand and service consistency improve customer perceptions and loyalty.

Along with the digital strategies and groundwork you put into building your business, optimizing your online campaign remains a crucial part of successful marketing. SEO for your electrical service business will increase brand awareness and place your company in the higher pages of Google’s and similar search engines’ rankings. By incorporating terms and locations for your electrical business, SEO helps target customers who are looking for your service in a particular area. This can include keywords such as: “electrician in Location.” It is the most effective way to boost the business website and convert customers.

Electrical services are considered a niche market. Learning about your customer and your competitors can help you develop communications and internet marketing strategies that place your brand ahead of the rest.

In 2021, expanding your electrical contracting company can be achieved with incredible rewards when you invest in a customized and effective marketing campaign.

Summary: It’s All About Marketing and Relationships

Employing these tactics can only improve the morale of your team, please your clientele, and increase your market share.

In the ever-shifting nature of areas like strategy, marketing, and communications, owners of an electrical service company can never stop working on ways to grow and stay competitive.  

What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition in 2022?

Unique Selling Proposition

Unique Selling Proposition

Why should you have a Unique Selling Proposition? Competition is continually increasing.  Even if you are in a local niche business your products and services will eventually become a commodity. Then for consumers the only question is: who has the lowest price?

The good news is that you can command both customer loyalty and higher pricing. How can you do that? With a great Unique Selling Proposition.

Consumers Have Many Choices

Consumers have many choices, and they desire to quickly understand what differentiates one product/service or brand from the other. As a result, developing the correct way to position yourself and your goods/services can mean the difference between standing out and blending in. That’s why the best entrepreneurs use a unique selling proposition (USP) to guide their branding and marketing decisions.

Put in the simplest terms, the Unique Selling Proposition (commonly referred to as USP) is what sets your products and/or services apart from your competitors.

A USP Communicates the Heart of Your Business

Stated as a unique strategy that communicates the heart of your business, the USP serves as the theme of all your marketing endeavors. The question the USP answers for your client is this: “I love to purchase/order/hire from your business, instead of your competition.”

Unique Selling Proposition

A Unique Selling Proposition or USP is a company’s distinctive “hook” that tells the marketplace what sets them apart from the competition. Your USP defines the reputation and value of your company and allows you to charge higher prices than lower-value commodity products or services. Your Unique Selling Proposition is strategic and long-term, while your tactical marketing plan is short term.

Stop Your Customer from Shopping Around

Research has shown that most people check out 4-5 different businesses before purchasing goods or services. Having a magnetic USP can turn the buyer’s head. Much like curb appeal is to selling a home, a USP is crucial to making a significant first impression that results in a sale.

Your USP should tell the story of how your product or service is different or better than your competitors. It identifies your strongest values or benefits – and drives customers to choose you, not them.

Characteristics of Good and Bad USPs

 * *  Best Elements  * * * *  Worst Elements * *
Contains specific benefits or features A general statement without detailed information
Clear, easy-to-understand, simple Confusing, vague, jargon, hype (superlatives like “stupendous” or “world-famous”)
Unique and distinctive from the competition Generic, common offer. Using platitudes- “we offer quality.” Your competition is saying the same thing.
Short and concise Rambling; too long
Attention-grabbing; exciting Forgettable
Explains how you can solve customer problems Doesn’t clarify your value in solving customer needs
Uses different language than that of company or product names Repeats wording from your company name or offerings
Appealing verbiage Bland, boring wording
Focuses on benefits Just talks about features
Exhibits value, solution, or uniqueness Is really a mission statement
Is based in sincerity and commitment Says only what they think the customer wants to hear

The best USP should be truly one-of-a-kind – there’s no point in making a distinction about yourself that’s already being used by competitors. It also should be something that your customers want … and recognize as a benefit. Let’s look at a few examples that spell out the difference between better and poor:

Bad USPs

Good USPs

An email automation business uses the tagline “The ultimate solution.”

It’s a vague claim that says nothing about what makes them different.

An HVAC company – Their jingle is “There’ll be cool air at your house tonight!” Potential customers immediately get their guarantee that the service will be fast and effective.
Connect your entire workforce with <name of company>.” Focuses on a feature, not a benefit. WalMart – Has the lowest price. Not a tagline, but this megastores unwritten value proposition is undeniable.
A software firm declares “We provide systemized technological solutions for query-based operating systems in a Linux environment.” It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, nor is it something a customer will remember. Also, avoid “we,” “our,” and “I” as it’s company-centered, not customer-centered. Avis – Were number two, so we try harder. This promise is so believable.

Fundly Raise Money for Anything. Everybody knows what they do in a second.

Listia Get rid of old stuff. Get new stuff for free. And, it gets right to the point.

Serving the entire Southeast.” Well, they do cover some territory, but lacks the details needed to stand out. LegalShield – Worry Less. Live More. Easy to remember and is compelling. Who doesn’t want this promise?
A hair salon: “We’re a cut above the rest.” Not what you’d call unique. Tiffany – Provides the highest quality luxury items. Tiffany’s 180-year reputation is known worldwide.

So Whats Your USP?

As you can see, creating a great USP requires some soul-searching, knowledge of what your customers really want, and a bit of writing finesse.

business meeting with the team

Four Steps for Building a Unique Selling Proposition

  1. Begin by examining your company offerings from the prospect of the target market, which may be sectioned by factors like gender, age, culture, race, income level, religion, education, and so on. What does your ideal consumer actually want? Does your client station prefer lower prices, loyal customer service, an appropriate location, comfort, home delivery, etc.?
  2. Challenge yourself with questions such as “what does my goods or service offer that my competitors’ goods or services do not?” Then find out the specific advantages this provides to your consumers. If you can not provide definite answers to these questions in a few simple phrases then you probably might not be doing enough to distinguish your business products/services from your competitors in the marketplace.
  3. Create a paragraph or two that describes all the unique elements of your business.
  4. Put all of these together in a single sentence that is remarkable enough to be utilized as an advertising slogan.

You can consider these questions to ferret out your true value proposition:

  • What are the aspects of our services or products that make a difference to buyers?
  • Who is our target audience/client?
  • What are the pain points of our ideal customer?
  • What problem(s) are we solving?
  • How is your company or offerings different from the competition?
  • What do my existing clients say they like about our business or offerings?
  • Which are my company’s greatest strengths? Why do we stand out?
  • Since your company is a reflection of you, how are you unique?
  • What are the concrete, most desirable benefits that you give customers?
  • Exactly what are we selling?
  • How do we clearly and concisely state our USP?

Unique Selling Proposition

Creating a USP Where None Exists

If you’re struggling to find your own unique selling proposition, that could signal there’s something missing. Consider adding worth or uniqueness through some of these value-adds:

  • Guaranteeing your work. Providing a guarantee is a well-honored way to build trust with clientele. Potential customers see value in a company that will back up their work with a promise to make things right when a customer has a complaint about your product or service.

One distinction – a “guarantee” in this context is a verb; it offers a promise. A “warranty” is a noun; it’s a written contract.

Factors to consider when defining your guarantee:

  • Be specific. A promise of “Your satisfaction is guaranteed, or your money back” is too open-ended and open to interpretation. This generalized statement invites abuse by a client and can end with bad feelings all the way around. It could result in a poor rating on Yelp, which can be damaging to your reputation and future business.
  • It should address the main frustrations of your target customers. If you’re a hotel, guarantee what you know customers are typically concerned about.
  • Make it impressive. Avoid being too humble – make sure they know you firmly and boldly stand behind what you say.
  • Ensure you can and will back up your guarantee! If there’s a possibility that fulfilling your guarantee may not be immediate, but that it eventually will be done, then let customers know that.
  • Empower your employees to immediately honor your guarantee. Then back your employees’ decision without fail.

A Ritz-Carlton hotel was the largest client in one of my past businesses. This world-class hotel chain did not want any of their clients to walk away disgruntled because of an incident, regardless of fault. Their policy was for any employee who became aware of a problem instantly became “the owner” of the problem. Every employee was required to immediately pacify the customer with up to $2,000 worth of room upgrades, meals, concierge services, etc. without management approval! This kind of guarantee was one of the practices that made the Ritz Carlton world-class.

  • Developing a distinctive brand. Your logo, colors, fonts, and graphics can say a lot about you and draw in customers while indicating your unique selling proposition. A compelling visual identity can instantly tell a prospect who you are, what you do, and how well you do it.

Companies who do branding right:

usp

  • Dropbox. A vibrant color palette with an emphasis on imagery tells the story of their creativity and services.

USP

  • Wells Fargo. A bank that builds familiarity and subtle sophistication with its consistent use of that cherry red font and horse-drawn stagecoach. Their slogan “Together, we can go far” is splendid. What other bank trademarks can you recall?

 

USP

  • Parkinson’s Foundation. A logo that resembles a brain inside a head clues everyone immediately on its research around the neurological disorder. They use a bright blue that suggests hope and vibrancy.

 

Branding may require that you engage with a company that specializes in this field, but it can have a worthwhile return.

  • Brainstorm Your Unique Values. Gather a few team members and have a session to drive out your USP(s). Think about who your perfect customer is, what they really want, and what motivates them to buy from you.

Following are some examples of strengths, benefits, and differentiating qualities that could be the basis for your USP:

  • Lowest Cost
  • Fastest delivery
  • Highest quality
  • Always in stock
  • Dependability
  • Guarantees
  • Speed to market
  • Open 24/7
  • Craftsmanship
  • Unique design features
  • Unparalleled service
  • American-made
  • Handmade
  • Product durability
  • Selling style, glamour, or prestige

Draft Five USP’s

While all these ideas and considerations may seem obvious, the truth is that it isn’t easy to come up with that one magic USP. Don’t limit yourself to just one USP; set out to draft at least five.

If your business is in a mature industry or niche, you may have a hard time figuring out what hasn’t already been said or done. Just take a look at your business from different perspectives, or ask someone outside of your business to look at it with fresh eyes.

As soon as you decide on a strong USP, make sure that everyone knows about it. Include it in every ad, message, email, social media post, and landing page. Put it on your business card, flyers, postcards, and brochures. List it on banners and signage. Instruct your entire team to use your USP to compel customers to choose your services and products over your competitors.

Testing Your Unique Selling Proposition

usp

If you’re undecided on which is the best of your draft USPs, then try these ideas:

  • Create a landing page for each USP, then wait a bit to see which has the highest activity rate.
  • Set up a simple contest with your customers – post a numbered list of your proposed USPs. Have them write down their choice on their business card, which is put in a fishbowl. Hold a drawing after a week or a month, offering them a discount or prize.
  • At your next networking event (or two or three), show a print of your potential USPs to a few attendees and have them pick a favorite. You can thank them for their opinion with a lollipop, pen, or other small giveaways.
  • Post your USP on Survey Monkey, Facebook, or other forum and wait for the feedback. Don’t be discouraged at the negative comments – unfortunately, it’s the price everyone pays in the incognito world of the internet.
  • Email your employees to request their two cents … and ask them to weigh in with some of their USP suggestions (they might come up with a gem)!

Summary

However you find and define your unique selling proposition, it’s not just about getting more customers in the door. It’s a sure thing that you’ll learn a lot more … about your company’s purpose, direction, products, and services … about your existing and potential clients … and about building a business that has value, character, and long-lasting appeal.

Team Building System in 2022: Landscaping Company

Team Building System

Team Building System in a Landscaping Company

This week I’m writing about using a Team Building System in a Landscaping Company. A Team Building System is a reliable system for placing your team members in roles best suited to their strengths and building them into a powerfully cohesive and committed team that delivers business results.

I’ve been writing about some of my hero clients and how we achieving significant results. We have 36 Business Coaching Modules, which are areas within your business under the categories of growth, profits, and freedom. When we improve your performance, your business will run better.

Wendell’s Large Landscaping Business

One of my contacts referred me to Wendell, the president of a large landscaping company. At that moment, his business had suffered from an economic turndown in the residential construction industry. Most of his revenues were coming from large track home building contractors. Some of these builders had squeezed his business on pricing and were competing with him.

Operational Changes in Wendell’s Landscaping Business

Since Wendell had some differences with an investor he wanted to take control of the business operations. Furthermore, his employees were not engaged and helping to improve the business. We wanted them to be empowered and involved in planning and decision making. In his personal life, Wendell’s life was also about to change. He wanted to spend plenty of time with his family since his children were nearing college age.

Strategic Plan, Team Deployment, Tactical Marketing, and Sales Training

We started by performing a profit analysis of Wendell’s business. We were able to determine that we needed to put in place several Coaching Modules. These included our Strategic Planning, Team Building System, Team Deployment, Tactical Marketing Plan, and Sales Training. Our main focus was on marketing on high-end residential clients. These clients wanted outdoor rooms.  We also held margins on the lower to mid-size home builders. We determined that the warranty department was providing too many free services. This represented a significant loss and we saw some upsell opportunities.

Team Building System for Wendell’s Landscaping Business

Our plan was to focus on the Team Building System. At that point, employees were not engaged. We wanted more buy-in from the employees so that they could be empowered to provide resolutions to customer problems and care about the machinery they were operating.  So we began to involve all employees in meetings and brainstorming sessions. We developed a vision for the business that offered more benefits and profit sharing for the employees. As we deployed these strategies we saw dramatic improvements in many areas.

The Results for Wendell’ s Landscaping Company

Here’s what Wendell said about our Coaching Process:

Our annual sales have grown from $3.6million to $13million and our profits have grown by 400 percent. Alan helped create a stronger team atmosphere and was able to get great team “buy in.” This was after helping us to make some tough decisions necessary to initiate the turn around. Alan helped us to develop and deploy key marketing and branding strategies, grow our design-build division by 700% and turn our warranty department from an expense to a 30% profit.

 

Congratulations Wendell on your dramatic improvements in using among other things a Team Building System in your landscaping company! You are one of my business heroes and an inspiration to other business owners. You can view another case study of using a break-even plan in a school bus company here.