How to Improve Your LinkedIn Visibility

How to improve your LinkedIn visibilty at whatworksforbiz.comIf you actively use social media for B2B lead generation, to find a job, or advance your career, think about how to improve your LinkedIn visibility. This professional network recently changed its algorithm, so status updates may not achieve the same volume of views it used to get.

In this podcast Crystal Thies, the LinkedIn Ninja, gave me some valuable insights for ensuring that your profile and your post activity are in line with whom you want to reach and be actively engaged. Without taking these steps, your LinkedIn visibility will be out of step with your marketing goals for 2018.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THE LINKEDIN NINJA, CRYSTAL THIES

WHAT AREAS OF OUR PROFILE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT AND SHOULD WE UPGRADE   (1:46 in)

In Crystal’s words – Think about what is your purpose for using LinkedIn and who you are trying to attract. The summary and the headline are the two most important parts of your profile. The headline is meant to be your headline, not your title. It will make people click through to see who you are. The summary should be focusing on what it is you do today, who you do it for, how you can help them in the future, and what differentiates you.

Insight – Take advantage of other profile sections like “projects”, “publications”, and “honors and awards” to differentiate yourself from others.

WHAT IS YOUR SUGGESTION ON HOW WE SHOULD RESPOND TO BLIND INVITATIONS TO CONNECT? (6:51 in)

In Crystal’s words – If they’re in your target market, absolutely accept that. If they’re not your target market, message them back. Don’t assume you know the person’s reason for inviting you to connect. If you’re building a network with intention, you need to have some kind of relationship with the people.

Insight – You need to send follow up messages after connecting. Sending custom messages also helps prevent people from claiming not to know you. LinkedIn will restrict your account if people you invite to connect make that claim.

WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT USING LINKEDIN AS A BUSINESS LEADS GENERATOR? (10:34 in)

In Crystal’s words – When you can use LinkedIn’s advance search and focus on the second degree only, you can find the people you want to find. However, you can’t status update yourself into a client. Doing the one to one messages after you connect with them, that is where the power is if you’re using it for sales.

Insight – While LinkedIn can help you develop business prospects, you’ll need to use your selling skills to turn them into sales.

SHOULD INDIVIDUALS DO ADVERTISING WITH LINKEDIN? (13:36 in)

In Crystal’s words – The only part of advertising I’ve seen or heard success with is sponsored status updates from a company page. I have found that the paid impressions is more successful than pay per click in terms of the overall cost.

Insight – If you use paid advertising, you should have a sales funnel system set up outside of LinkedIn that complements your advertising or you’re wasting your money.

WHAT NEW FEATURES OF LINKEDIN SHOULD WE BE MORE AWARE OF? (16:13 in)

In Crystal’s words – LinkedIn has completely changed how its dealing with its news feed and it greatly affects your ability to get visibility. They’re pulling content out of the news feed now. Your content goes through an immediate grading system. They prefer updates that don’t have a link to them. They want conversations in the news feed.

Insight – If people don’t like, share, or comment on your content, LinkedIn will demote your post and restrict its reach now. Re-think how to advance your LinkedIn visibility.

 

Best Business Practices for Small Business

Best Business PracticesI’ve received some great insights and ideas on best business practices for small business in 2017. Tap into excerpts from several successful business owners and entrepreneurs here on strategy, business culture, managing employees, marketing, social media, maximizing sales, and building business value.

These men and women reflect the optimism of small business today as we approach a new year.

MAKING YOUR STRATEGIC PLAN WORK ( 1:23 in)

John Handelsman, Founder & CEO of Present Values

In John’s words – One of the things most companies miss is, they don’t put in place a performance management tool.

Insight – To achieve your strategic goals, it’s necessary to keep a scorecard of the progress or lack of that is being made on a regular basis.

STRATEGY REVIEWS (3:00 in)

In John’s words – The strategies should always be reviewed. However, the strategies should not always be changed or shouldn’t quit.

Insight – Giving up on a strategy too early is often caused by failing to discover and make an adjustment. Patience is required.

TURNING AROUND THE CULTURE OF AN ORGANIZATION (4:09 in)

Brad Brezinski, Chief Strategist, Strategy to Action

In Brad’s words – I don’t think it’s hard if leadership will commit to doing it. The pace of change is four levers – articulate, communicate, demonstrate, and tolerate.

Insight – Among best business practices is to articulate the kind of culture you want. Communicate this to everyone in your organization. Walk the talk. Don’t tolerate actions at any level of the organization that are inconsistent with the culture and values you’re working to establish.

TREATING EMPLOYEES LIKE OWNERS (9:02 in)

Jeff Rowe, President & CEO, Q Laboratories

In Jeff’s words – It starts with recognition, finding excuses to celebrate and thank employees publicly in front of their peers for doing the little things that help you make money and win new clients.   

Insight – This is particularly important at the lower levels of the organization. Being transparent about the company’s financials and giving them monetary incentives beyond a salary are vital having them offer solutions to problems and ideas to improve company performance.

MISGUIDED MARKETING STRATEGIES  (11:25 in)

Charlene Burke, President, Search By Burke

In Charlene’s words –   Most small business owners think a marketing strategy is all around how much money am I going to be spending this year to make more money. It isn’t the bulk of your strategy.

Tip – Identify how you get your business today. Is it through referrals, your website, social media, advertising, email, events, or all of the above? It is always easier and less expensive to generate business from existing customers instead of new customers.

SOCIAL MEDIA ROI EXPECTATIONS (12:49 in)

Carol Fowler, Senior Vice President of Digital News Products, Chicago Sun Times

In Carol’s words – A lot of companies struggle with the ROI. In too many cases people complain about the ROI, but they haven’t set goals to begin with. If do don’t have consistency or a dedicated person working on it, you probably aren’t going to get results that knock your socks off.  

Insight – Make a concerted effort to measure results in order to see whether your goals are being achieved. Use scheduling tools to manage your time and address the publishing demands of the social media platforms you’ve chosen to use.

RE-MAKING YOUR SALES FORCE (15:17 in)

Gary Price, Senior VP Global Sales, Kaivac, Inc.

In Gary’s words – Be very clear on your goals. Invest in the planning upfront.

Insights– If you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, going through the planning process and executing a plan to get there is easier to achieve.

SALES PERFORMANCE GOALS (16:47 in)

Tony Cole, CEO, Anthony Cole Training Group

In Tony’s words – They’re the ones that decide this is the peak they want to attain.

Insight – Among best business practices for sales, goals are usually set to low and often are just suggestions. Goal setting from the top down is a mistake. If your sales people resist a bottom up goal setting process, you have the wrong people.

TURNING A BUSINESS AROUND  (18:50 in)

Mary Percy, President, Corporate Document Solutions

In Mary’s words –   Have a proactive mindset. Analyze trends and rates of consumption. Seek out new business opportunities in that business industry. Ask your customers what they want.

Tip – By examining objectively the totality of the business process from beginning to end, clarity is possible to move forward instead of backward.

THREE TOP DRIVERS OF BUILDING BUSINESS VALUE  (20:13 in)

Implementing some or all of these best business practices for small business will help you build business value.

If you have an interesting story you would like me to share on this podcast, let me know. Best wishes for a prosperous 2018.

Is Your Business Worth Buying?

Business WorthBusiness owners often have an inflated view of their enterprise when it comes to answering the question, is my business worth buying now or sometime in the future?

Truforte Business Group, a Florida business broker and consultant, says there are 8 drivers of business value. My conversation with Gary Gardner of Truforte highlights the importance of three of these drivers in particular and where worth to a buyer can be interpreted very different from that of the seller.

While you listen, think about how your company measures up to these drivers of business worth.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM GARY GARDNER OF TRUFORTE BUSINESS GROUP

HOW LONG DOES A FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE TRACK RECORD NEED TO BE? (1:53 in)

In Gary’s words – On the minimum side it would be about 3 years. The more information you can show historically, especially of growth, in revenue and profit, the better it’s going to be for the seller and the buyer.

Insight – Make sure your numbers have been audited or verified by a CPA  or accounting firm.

WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT, HISTORICAL GROWTH OR LONG TERM POTENTIAL? (3:41 in)

In Gary’s words – The buyer is buying futures. Future growth, profit, cash flow.

Insight – A lot of due diligence is necessary by both the buyer and seller to evaluate future potential.

DESCRIBE WHAT YOU MEAN BY THE TERM “SWITZERLAND STRUCTURE” WHEN EVALUATING BUSINESS PROSPECTS? (4:28 in)

In Gary’s words – You don’t want to be overly dependent on a single employee, a single customer, or a single supplier.

Insight – By not being dependent on one or a very small group of employees, customers or suppliers, the business should be able to withstand loss of key personnel or accounts better.

IS FUTURE CASH FLOW MORE IMPORTANT THAT CURRENT CASH FLOW? (6:38 in)

In Gary’s words – Correct. The buyer is responsible for the working capital. They’re going to be figuring out how can I grow that cash flow.

Insight – Any type of long term commitments that generate recurring revenues will be valuable to the buyer.

AS A BUYER, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT ASSESSING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND BUSINESS GOODWILL? (10:39 in)

In Gary’s words – You go out to your customers and you’re asking them to objectively evaluate their relationship with your business. 

Insight – Determine a net promoter score – the difference between what people are saying positively versus negatively about you.

WHICH DRIVERS OF BUSINESS WORTH DO BUSINESSES FALL SHORT IN THE MOST? (15:44 in)

In Gary’s words – The three that I would highlight would be growth potential, recurring revenue, and that customer satisfaction score.

Insights– Don’t underestimate the opinions and perceptions of your company by customers and prospects.

HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO SELL A BUSINESS? (18:02 in)

In Gary’s words – It will take typically a year.

Insights – Part of the process will involve identifying legitimate buyers for a business on a confidential basis without public disclosure to customers, prospects, and employees that the business may be sold.

How to Create a Business Growth Bonfire

Business Growth BonfireIf you’re searching for business growth, you might run through a checklist of growth starters that lit the flame of growth for Everything But the House, an online estate sale auction marketplace.

At one time, this was a quiet local business in Cincinnati. Now it’s in 22 U.S. markets with buyers for the items they auction off in more than 150 countries. President and CEO Andy Nielsen and his brother Jon, Chief Business Officer have fueled heart stopping business growth. Listen to how they identified a market opportunity and invested in the fundamentals to make themselves the preferred service for estate auctions.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM ANDY & JON NIELSEN OF EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE

WHAT GAVE YOUR INVESTORS THE CONFIDENCE TO PUT UP MORE THAN 84 MILLION DOLLARS INTO EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE?  (1:36 in)

In Andy’s words – We discovered that the industry was entirely fragmented. The industry was ripe for consolidation. Nobody has built a brand (in the local auction space) that can ignite global demand.

Insight – Investing in behind the scenes technology and logistics gives EBTH a first mover and competitive advantage. Creating global demand drives value for local goods.

WHAT HAS BEEN MOST IMPORTANT IN YOUR BUSINESS GROWTH? (4:00 in)

In Jon’s words – Untapped opportunity is what we started with. We made a decision very early on to invest in our own technology. We’ve become as much a logistics company over the last 2 years as we have an ecommerce company.   

Insight – By shipping the auction goods at scale efficiently, the sellers are happy because they’re relieved of this burden and the customers buying the goods are delighted to receive them in a timely fashion.

IS THERE A BUYER FOR ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU SELL? (6:58 in)

In Jon’s words – There is a buyer for just about everything.   

Insight – Sellers engage Everything But the House because they dispose of items that don’t sell via donation or dumspter in addition to those that do sell.

FOR FUTURE BUSINESS GROWTH, HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY WHICH MARKETS YOU ARE GOING TO ENTER? (7:44 in)

In Andy’s words – We look at whether the audience we are targeting is present. We look at the competitive landscape. We look at how easy or difficult it is for a city to navigate. We look at cost of media. We look at the transients in the market.

Insight – Having a clear understanding of the characteristics and habits of their ideal customers coupled with actionable data on the marketplace gives them the information to make good selections.

WHAT IS THE IDEAL PROFILE OF AN EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE EMPLOYEE? (9:39 in)

In Jon’s words – We’re looking for folks that want to change the landscape, leave a mark, leave a legacy and push the boundaries.   

Insight – Seek to hire people with purpose and interest in the company beyond just earning a paycheck.

WHAT PRINCIPLES DO YOU HAVE TO MANAGE BUSINESS GROWTH? (10:25 in)

In Andy’s words – You have to be willing to stretch outside your comfort zone in order to produce the growth we’ve achieved. You also need to be willing to say things are going to break along the way. But as long as you communicate, you can manage through the growing pains.

In Jon’s words – We’ve been very successful in hiring for attitude over aptitude.

Insight – Having a team that challenges one another fosters growth that doesn’t get out of control.

HAVE YOU CHANGED THE WAY YOU MANAGE PEOPLE NOW THAT YOUR EMPLOYEE RANKS ARE OVER 1,000? (12:51 in)

In Jon’s words – We need to ensure that our local markets are running like local markets.

In Andy’s words – We use a messaging tool called Slack. We use video chat a lot. Old fashion face to face to make sure that we are in touch with the employee base as much as possible.

Insight – The use of personal touch communication methods offers transparency and the opportunity to balance corporate directives with local execution.

WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND OTHER COMPANIES DO TO IDENTIFY BUSINESS GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES BEYOND A LOCAL PRESENCE? (16:21 in)

In Andy’s words – Listen to your customers. Where are they physically located? Do they have a desire for this service?

 Insight – Feedback from customers through the internet or in the local market provide a  benchmark for careful evaluation of expansion possibilities.

 

Why Treat Employees Like Owners?

Treat Employees Like OwnersThere really isn’t much difference between what business owners and employees want to get out of work. Fundamentally they both want what they earn to help them provide for themselves and their families. So why shouldn’t owners or business leaders treat employees more like owners?

Jeff Rowe, President and CEO of Q Laboratories believes that if business leadership adopted this philosophy, business performance would exceed  expectations. The value of employees to a business is greater than you think.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM JEFF ROWE: Q LABORATORIES

YOU SAY THAT YOUR PRINCIPLES OF MANAGEMENT ARE REVOLUTIONARY, WHAT DO YOU MEAN?  (1:44 in)

In Jeff’s words – Harkening back to an age in American businesses where everyone in the enterprise was able to take value from the company and win together. These days most businesses are focused on quarterly results and financials and not so much on developing people. I’d like to see more companies getting back to sharing the wealth of the company with all of their employees.

Insight – Developing a vibrant culture built on trust is critical to achieving top financial performance in order to share the wealth with employees.

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN THE PRODUCTS OR MARKET? (3:22 in)

In Jeff’s words – Developing a different culture where everyone feels like they’re part of one team and everyone’s lined up behind serving the customer the best way possible is really the key.

Insight – Sales are based on relationships. If people work in concert rather than at odds with each other unanticipated results can be achieved.

TO MAKE EMPLOYEES FEEL MORE VALUABLE, HOW DO YOU DO THAT? (5:05 in)

In Jeff’s words – It starts with recognition, finding excuses to celebrate and thank employees publicly in front of their peers for doing the little things that help you make money and win new clients.   

Insight – This is particularly important at the lower levels of the organization. Being transparent about the company’s financials and giving them monetary incentives beyond a salary are vital having them offer solutions to problems and ideas to improve company performance.

CAN YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM BE UNDERMINED BY ENCOURAGING EMPLOYEES TO SEEK ADVICE OR HELP FROM ANYONE IN THE BUSINESS? (6:58 in)

In Jeff’s words – If your senior team isn’t committed to creating and maintaining an open environment. You don’t want people to be afraid to approach management for fear they are going to be ridiculed or ignored.  

Insight – Make people trust you and they’ll tell you what needs to be done to make the company better.

HOW DO YOU GET EMPLOYEES TO RESPOND SO POSITIVELY TO TAKING ON ADDITIONAL WORK OR OVERTIME?  (10:32 in)

In Jeff’s words – If you truly want your business to perform at its peak potential, then make everyone in the company feel like an owner.

Insight – If the incentives you provide make them feel like an owner, they’ll be instrumental in pushing out underperforming employees and offering ideas to improve business performance.

WHY WOULD YOU RATHER RELIEVE EMPLOYEES OF THEIR JOBS WITH BAD ATTITUDES RATHER THAN WORK WITH THEM TO IMPROVE? (13:02 in)

In Jeff’s words – You can spend a lot of time and energy trying to take somebody who just doesn’t have good work habits and train them to work hard or who has a sour attitude and flip that to positive. While you’re spending all that time on that one person out of ten, you’re ignoring the nine people who are working hard and displaying the kind of attitude you would like to recruit into the company.

Insight – In hiring, screening for cultural fit is more important than screening for skill set, even at the senior level. Consider ranking your employees every year to ensure that under performers aren’t hiding in your organization.

WHAT PRIORITIES SHOULD YOU HAVE TO RUN A COMPANY SUCCESSFULLY? (17:36 in)

In Jeff’s words – Gather a great team around you. Get them in the right spots. Set the direction for the company and then get out of that great team’s way.

Insight – Focus on strategy, coach your team, don’t micro manage.

 

 

How Do You Manage Superstar Employees?

Superstar EmployeesWe label popular athletes as superstars. Ditto using the same expression for entertainers. Yet in every business there are superstar employees, those who drive the growth of the company. For a CEO the question is – how do you manage them?

The task for Andy Blankemeyer, CEO of Beacon Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, seems to be extra challenging since the superstars happen to be the business owners too – the doctors.

It requires a management style and attitude that is applicable to any group of high performers like lawyers, architects, real estate agents or superstar sales people, engineers, etc.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM ANDREW BLANKEMEYER: BEACON ORTHOPAEDICS & SPORTS MEDICINE

WHAT IS THE MANAGEMENT STYLE YOU EMPLOY FOR WORKING EFFECTIVELY WITH YOUR GROUP OF PHYSICIAN OWNERS?  (1:50 in)

In Andy’s words – It’s like managing a shopping mall. You’ve got a wide range of stores selling different products. My job is to make sure that each of those stores remain successful and that way the mall itself continues to grow and to be successful.

Insight – Management of a group of type A personalities, superstar employees, is possible if they agree to adhere to a strategic plan they all agree to upfront.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE BEACON’S GROWTH? (3:32 in)

In Andy’s words – We don’t want to grow just to grow. We have to have a strategic reason. 

Insight – Look at growing into new markets, new service or product sectors so as not to cannibalize already what you have or to upset your business culture.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HOSPITALS WHO ARE BOTH COMPETITORS AND PARTNERS? (5:55 in)

In Andy’s words – It’s having like-mined leadership on both sides of the table. If the two sides both understand the value of each other we seem to have good relationships with our hospital partners.   

Insight – By seeking to identify how both parties can benefit from a relationship, a competitive association can be mutually valuable.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO BE AN EFFECTIVE ADVOCATE FOR BEACON WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES? (7:50 in)

In Andy’s words – I see our relationship with insurance carriers as a true partnership. If they are looking for a way to provide value to their members and we work together on rates, programming and plan design, that’s how they can save their members money.  

Insight – Sharing of data about cost containment and operational efficiencies between the parties helps them find beneficial solutions.

HOW DO YOU KEEP COMPANY STAFF SPREAD OUT OVER MULTIPLE LOCATIONS INFORMED OF WHAT’S GOING ON? (10:03 in)

In Andy’s words – We use Email a lot. We have update meetings from management teams on a monthly basis.  

Insight – If you’re in an industry like healthcare where government regulations and policies change often, ongoing education via the company’s preferred communication channels is necessary.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT PHYSICIAN BURNOUT? (13:02 in)

In Andy’s words – My job is to let them be doctors and let me run the business. The more I can let them come in, treat patients well, have quality outcomes on their surgeries, and get home to see their families, that’s my way of contributing to lessen physician burnout.

Insight – Your superstar employees will be most effective when their daily lives aren’t consumed with peripheral collateral duties that divert their attention away from their primary job.

DO YOU DEVELOP WITH THE PHYSICIANS THE GROUP’S STRATEGIC PLAN OR SIMPLY EXECUTE IT? (14:40 in)

In Andy’s words – We work hand in hand. I have a good handle on market trends, where government trends are going, where orthopedics as a whole across the country is going.

Insight – When all of the key players are involved in the strategic planning process, buy-in and execution of the plan is much more likely.

How to Find Unfindable Employees

Finding Unfindable EmployeesThe volume of job openings in the U.S. is high, about 6.2 million. The unemployment rate is low, 4.4% in August. These statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that it’s hard to find unfindable employees.

Some companies like McDonald’s are getting creative. They’re tapping their own customers to help them. Tom Johnson of AO Consultants believes that to find unfindable employees and to retain them, the best employers look at themselves before trying to reach out to others.

Listen to see if you agree.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM TOM JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF AO CONSULTANTS

IS ONE OF THE BARRIERS TO FINDING EMPLOYEES WRAPPED UP IN THE POLICIES, ATTITUDES, OR PRACTICES OF THE EMPLOYER?  (1:40 in)

In Tom’s words –   Sometime the reason people have difficulty in finding people for positions is not so much a lack of talent out there, it could be a perception of the business itself.

Tip – Make sure you are positioned correctly to attract people and be open to consider candidates that don’t fit the perceived perfect profile.

WHERE SHOULD YOU BE LOOKING FOR NEW EMPLOYEES? (3:11 in)

In Tom’s words – I’m a real believer in networking. The stronger your network, the better off you will be in finding people to come work for you.

Tip – Cast a wide net by using social media, your website, job boards, etc. in addition to your network.

WHEN SHOULD YOU USE A RECRUITING AGENCY? (5:34 in)

In Tom’s words – If you have limited resources, they can provide you with a stream of people for you to decide on. Staff up quickly is another good use. Highly technical type positions or a leadership position.

Tip – Determine how much time not working on the business may be lost by recruiting. Hiring temporary people for a full time tryout may also be useful in select circumstances.

WHAT ARE THE KEY BENEFITS WORKERS ARE LOOKING FOR? (9:15 in)

In Tom’s words – It kind of depends on the generational group. They’re offering almost a cafeteria based upon different people’s needs.

Tip – See if your benefit package is appealing to all people at different stages of their career. Consider offering volunteer benefits, benefits that don’t cost the employer, as well as a choice of benefits.

IF THERE IS ONE BEST PRACTICE FOR HIRING AND RETAINING EMPLOYEES WHAT WOULD IT BE? (15:29 in)

In Tom’s words – Have the strength to let those people go that aren’t going to move you forward.

Tip – Take time to fully understand the skills and qualities of people that make your company go and how you can equip them to be successful.

 

Why Manufacture in China?

Manufacturing in ChinaChina may be a communist country politically, but capitalism is thriving there. In fact, it is the world’s largest producer of manufactured goods.

It’s been the ideal place for Rich Heidrich, President/CEO of Designs Direct and his two partners to manufacture interior home and commercial products.

If you’ve never been there, your perception of China, its people, and the government’s influence on business is probably very different than the experience of Designs Direct over the last 16 years. Take a listen.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM RICH HEIDRICH, PRESIDENT/CEO OF DESIGNS DIRECT

HOW RECEPTIVE IS THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT TO U.S. BASED COMPANIES MANUFACTURING THERE?  (4:27 in)

In Rich’s words –  We had very little dealings with the government. Our first introduction to China was through a Taiwanese agent. The Chinese government was very receptive on our second trip because we weren’t really interested in doing business the easy way.

Tip – Connect with someone who has experience doing business in China.

HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP CHANGED WITH THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OVER THE YEARS?  (6:22 in)

In Rich’s words – We really don’t have much interaction with the government. Some of our factory owners do. Most of the interaction we have today is through social engagements.

Tip – Find reliable in country partners to manage most government relations.

CAN YOU SAY YOU CAN OPERATE THERE IN A SIMILAR WAY TO WHAT YOU CAN DO HERE?  (7:43 in)

In Rich’s words –  I would. We feel the brunt of the government, but it’s all for the good. We don’t feel it directly.

Insight – Manufacturers have an obligation to adhere to government regulations and client standards concerning the manufacturing process, labor laws, environmental standards, etc.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TO MANUFACTURE IN CHINA?  (9:11 in)

In Rich’s words –  Biggest challenge would be speed to market and maintaining secrecy about our designs and intellectual property.

Insight – Retailers are now expecting delivery in half the time they used to receive it.

HOW MUCH TIME TO YOU DEVOTE TO MANUFACTURING VERSUS OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR BUSINESS?  (10:40 in)

In Rich’s words –  We have great partners that we work with in China. I don’t have to spend as much time on manufacturing as you might think.

Tip – Having good partners and good relationships makes the difference.

ARE THE SKILL SETS OF THE PEOPLE THERE READILY AVAILABLE?  (12:00 in)

In Rich’s words –  No. That’s an ongoing problem. It’s not too unlike the United States. Children (now grown up) don’t want to work as hard as the parents.

Insight – It’s an ongoing challenge to find and train people, fill the order pipeline, and ensure that the end product is produced on time.

HAVE YOU FACED STEALING OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN CHINA?  (14:16 in)

In Rich’s words –  We have. We continue to. We have built really strong partnerships with some of the factories that we work with. They recognize that should they release our images, share our designs with others that would affect their business.

Tip –  The best deterrent is having trustworthy partners.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO MANUFACTURE IN CHINA?  (15:10 in)

In Rich’s words –  Find someone who has been doing business there for at least five to ten years. Find a company that’s been there, done that, recognize the pitfalls maybe you’re not going to here from a government introduction.

Tip –  Watch out for the person who is just looking to make the quick buck.

 

 

Turning Customer Relations Into An Advantage

Customer RelationsIf you’re like many people, you may have a car that is at least 12 years old. If it’s been that long since you have bought one, you might be surprised that your next car buying experience may be shorter and more pleasurable. That’s because customer relations has changed.

Mark Sweeney, President of Mark Sweeney Buick GMC, shared with me his perspective on how to treat customers and why it is so critical to his business.

After listening to his insights, it may make sense to assess how you are handling customer relations for your business.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM MARK SWEENEY, PRESIDENT OF SWEENEY BUICK GMC

HOW DO YOU ADJUST TO CHANGING CONSUMER PREFERENCES?  (1:45 in)

In Mark’s words – Even though things have changed, the customer really hasn’t. We try to make them feel at home. It’s an atmosphere where they won’t feel any pressure from the sales people or the managers. We realize that it is a more educated buyer.

Insight – The more educated buyer makes more informed decisions quicker. The mating dance to a sale is quicker. Today’s sales are made by facilitating information rather than hard selling the buyer.

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU TRY TO EXCEED CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS? (3:02 in)

In Mark’s words – Free loaner cars, car washes, valet pick up and drop off, after hour sales to cover all bases.

Insight – By doing customer relations the right way, by making it easier for customers to do business with you, the more business you will get from them.

HOW HAS THE INTERNET CHANGED YOUR SALES PROCESS (3:31 in)

In Mark’s words – The buyers are more educated so it makes it easier for us to make the sale. Just ask qualifying questions in terms of how they found the vehicle, how they found us. If they saw it on an internet site, we know that they know the pricing.     

Insight – Decisions are made easier when the buyer feels comfortable and trusts the seller. Sweeney creates a casual atmosphere, including having dogs on the premises, to make the buying process a more pleasurable experience.

HOW IMPORTANT IS INTERNET ADVERTSING TO YOUR BUSINESS? (7:27 in)

In Mark’s words – We have found definitely the internet is the place to be. Seventy-five percent of our sales are generated through the internet.

Insight – Although the internet is paying off in a big way, the dealership realizes that traditional advertising on TV, radio and through events is important too for product and dealership awareness.

HOW MIGHT THE INTRODUCTION OF A NEW BATTERY OPERATED CAR AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS? (10:37 in)

In Mark’s words – Anything new does help but you have to stock more cars. Technicians have to be trained. Anything new like that is a learning process.

Insight – With any product addition or subtraction, it’s important to consider all of the other aspects of the business that may be affected – logistics, personnel, advertising, marketing, sales, finance, etc.

HOW MIGHT THE INTRODUCTION OF SELF DRIVING CARS AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS? (12:11 in)

In Mark’s words – It will be a small percentage of the market. It’s hard for me to imagine that someone doesn’t enjoy driving a vehicle.

Insight – Having an ear to the ground on how consumers respond to this change early on should give auto dealers sufficient time to adjust to any significant new trends.

 

Why Use an Advertising Agency?

Why Use An Advertising AgencyHere’s a question that crosses the mind of many small business owners. Should I work with an advertising agency for marketing my business?

The answer is in your response to these questions.

Are my marketing activities working for me or not?

                 Am I more comfortable collaborating or being the lone ranger?

The avenues for reaching consumers today is much broader and more complex. Expectations of clients have changed and the services agencies provide now are more comprehensive.

Listen to Bryan Holland of Holland Advertising: Interactive discuss the value of a client – agency relationship and what’s the difference between one that works versus one that falls apart.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM BRYAN HOLLAND OF HOLLAND ADVERTISING: INTERACTIVE

WHAT FUNDAMENTAL THINGS SHOULD BUSINESS DO TODAY TO MARKET THEMSELVES EFFECTIVELY?  (3:26 in)

In Bryan’s words – You’ve really got to figure out your strategic brand story. Marketing one on one is differentiation. Why choose your brand, your company from the competitors.

Insight – Determine what is your unique selling proposition and what you want to achieve. Make sure you are telling this story on your website and through the use of other marketing tactics.

WHEN HIRING AN ADVERTISING AGENCY, WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I BE ASKING? (7:26in)

In Bryan’s words – First and foremost is chemistry. Do you like this person? Is your mission in alignment with theirs? Do they have success stories? Have they handled problems similar to yours?

Insight – Seek to find the agency that puts your priorities ahead of theirs.

WHAT EXPECTATIONS SHOULD CLIENTS HAVE OF AGENCIES? (8:18 in)

In Bryan’s words – We’re going to be able to let them know whether (their goals and objectives) are realistic or not. We’ll help guide and direct them.   

Insight – Seek to find out what can be accomplished for what you have to spend.

IS THERE A PERCENTAGE OF BUSINESS REVENUE THAT OUGHT TO BE PUT INTO MARKETING THE BUSINESS? (9:05 in)

In Bryan’s words – Yes. There are industry averages. So depending upon the industry there is a rule of thumb.  

Insight – Assess how aggressive you want to be in marketing your business. What the industry norm is may not fully address your goals. The clearer you can be in what you want to accomplish will help the advertising agency in right sizing a budget.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD TO FIRE A CLIENT? (11:23 in)

In Bryan’s words – We’ve done that several times. The client had unrealistic deadlines. They expect results and if we in our heart doesn’t feel it’s going to work, we’ll walk away from it.

Insight – Synergy between client and agency on goals, strategy, tactics, and deadlines are critical.

WHAT DO YOU SEE THAT’S MISSING IN THE MARKETING EFFORTS OF THOSE BUSINESSES WHO GO IT ALONE? (13:17 in)

In Bryan’s words – Thinking strategically about a brand tagline that differentiates why choose your brand and what are the key points that make it authentic, credible, believable.

Insight – By developing the right brand identity, the message and materials used in selling become easier to create and communicate.