Newsletter - 2011 02
Brought to You By BMA Marketing
Chris Swanson, Owner
This is a picture of my boy wading through 2+ feet on our back deck from the big storm a few weeks ago. He has missed 6 days of school so far and thinks these storms are great - that makes one of us!
Outside Sales Promote...
- Company Outings
- New Bowler Visits
- Birthday Sales
Since buying BMA from Ray in 2007, I have had the gift of both...
- learning (from Ray) how to deliver effective coupon marketing to the bowling industry
- being able to schedule my work so that I can wait with my son at the bus stop and pick him up in the afternoon, go over his homework and then work on my centers' projects in the evening after the family has gone to bed.
Thanks for the opportunity to serve your center!
How to Smooth the Ups and Downs of Business
Business cycles are a fact of life for most industries. When business is soft, whether due to macroeconomic factors, seasonal slowdowns or sector-specific trends, it's tempting to hunker down, tighten your belt and play a few extra rounds of golf.
However, smart professionals look for opportunities to set themselves up for future success.
One way to reduce business cycle volatility is to diversify into other services, products or lines of business that have opposite cycles or less dramatic highs and lows.
For example, if you sell barbecue grills during the summer and fireplace accessories in the winter, you can count on a reliable income stream throughout the year.
Since staffing is the largest expense for most businesses, it's important to take a long-range approach to this line item.
Hiring contingent workers, part-time employees and contract workers can give you staffing flexibility when you need it. It may be tempting to cut expenses by curtailing advertising and other marketing activities, but it's important to stay visible during the slack times.
Limited-time promotions or deeply discounted specials will bolster off-season business and also help you clear inventory before the next season.
Use any extra time you have to train, retrain and cross-train employees and sharpen your own skills as well as to catch up on industry news; explore new avenues for growth and development; and foster relationships with peers, vendors and customers.
Even when times are good, it's wise to start thinking about the next business downturn and plan ways to profit from it.
How to Turn Complainers into Raving Fans
Each month I’ll give you a new question. Just reply to this email for the answer.
What movie marked the Hollywood film debut of William Shatner?
Why Not Pass Me On?
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Selections from the best articles seen online this month.
Seven Questions to Get Your Business Out of a Rut
If you feel stuck in a rut, it could be because your life as an entrepreneur is not measuring up to your expectations. Pamela Slim, life coach and author of Escape Cubicle Nation, opines to John Warrillow on how to make sure life as a business owner is fulfilling. Slim recommends that entrepreneurs develop a life plan to get a clear picture about how they want their entire lives to unfold.
How to Build a Super Staff
Every business has a responsibility to give back to the community that supports it and helps it prosper. But there's nothing wrong with benefiting from the good you do. In fact, according to Drew McLellan, "every charitable dollar you spend is actually a marketing dollar."
Ask Inc.: 10 Tips on Countering Lazy Employees
This brief slide presentation looks at reasons why talented employees become bored and slack off on the job. The presentation offers commonsense tips on how to motivate or remotivate workers who are not up to par. Ultimately, good managing starts with good communication. If a talented employee is not performing to expectations, you need to confront him or her. It’s also important for you to express where you feel the employee fits into your organization.
Long Fuse, Big Bang, by Eric Haseltine
This book is one of a rash of new titles that take the latest research in the fast-moving world of neurology and give it practical applications.
Science has learned more in recent years than ever before about how the brain works...study in that field is exploding right now. And that research is bearing fruit in multiple ways.
In Long Fuse, Big Bang, Haseltine points out that the brain is hardwired to go for short-term wins because, in the past, these are what gave us an advantage. For example, the brain likes sugary and fatty foods because their high energy content will see us through potentially lean days ahead. But in the 21st century, we're unlikely to face a food shortage, so this just serves to make us fat.
In business, while long-term goals provide the basis for growth, the brain tells us to focus on short-term wins. This explains why we have difficulty planning for the long term.
The book provides strategies to balance these competing needs in order to create success in business.
How can you turn an angry customer into a supporter of your company? How can you convert a negative situation into a positive opportunity? And what could you possibly learn from the experience of dealing with a displeased customer? When people complain about your product, service or organization, they are telling you that their needs haven't been met. If you listen carefully to what they say, their complaints may alert you to a real or potential problem, suggest a better way of handling things, or help you improve your business.
When customers are upset, their feelings are real. If you remain calm, polite and positive, you will probably be able to resolve the issue, win back customers' goodwill and possibly learn about something you could be doing better or should be doing differently.
Following are some tips to help you resolve and benefit from customer complaints:
- Listen carefully, patiently and actively.
- Acknowledge customers' feelings and allow them to vent their anger.
- Invite the person to offer a solution to the problem.
- Don't trash another department or blame someone else in the organization.
- Don't use the P (policy) word because this infuriates many people.
- Thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention.
- Let them know what will happen as a result of the information they've given you.
Make sure customers have easy access to someone in the organization who can deal with their problems and that the people have the skills, knowledge and authority to handle the complaints.
Is Telecommuting a Good Fit for Your Firm?
Quotes by...Steve Ballmer
"The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn't think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential."
"The lifeblood of our business is that R&D spend. There's nothing that flows through a pipe or down a wire or anything else. We have to continuously create new innovation that lets people do something they didn't think they could do the day before."
"I like to tell people that all of our products and business will go through three phases. There's vision, patience, and execution."
Steve Ballmer is CEO of Microsoft.
Telecommuting allows employees to enjoy flexibility in their work location and hours. Using mobile telecommunications technologies, employees can work from home; coffee shops; or remote office centers that provide enhanced Internet access, phone and fax capabilities, security, and various other business services.
With broadband Internet connections and tools such as groupware, Voice over Internet Protocol, conference calling and videoconferencing becoming more readily available, telecommuting has become a viable work option that offers benefits to communities, employers and employees.
It is estimated that about 40% of the working population could telecommute at least part of the time and that telecommuting by those with compatible jobs and a desire to do so could save the U.S. economy $700 billion a year through increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and energy savings.
For employers, telecommuting expands the talent pool, reduces the spread of illness and offers an inexpensive way to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also makes it easier to do business across time zones.
For individuals, telecommuting frees up time and reduces the carbon footprint associated with getting to and from a work site. Depending on the length of a commute and how often employees telecommute, they could save between $5,000 and $25,000 per year in travel and work-related costs such as fuel and car maintenance. In addition, telecommuting offers a means of fuller employment for parents of young children, caregivers, the disabled, retirees and people living in remote areas.
Telecommuting gained ground in the U.S. after the Clean Air Act amendments were adopted in 1996. The Act required companies with more than 100 employees to encourage car pools, public transportation, flexible hours and telecommuting, with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide and ground-level ozone levels by 25%.
Very few companies employ large numbers of full-time, home-based staff. What's more, few jobs start out as telecommuting jobs. It's much more common to convert an existing job into a telecommuting arrangement.
A successful telecommuting program requires a management style that focuses on results and not on close scrutiny of an individual's time on a task. In other words, it is management by objectives rather than by observation.
Of course, not all job functions lend themselves to this style of management or to telecommuting.
Following are some ways to help make a telecommuting program successful:
- Establish a schedule.
- Set productivity benchmarks.
- Agree upon measurable measures of success.
- Establish a frequency for checking in.
It's also important to address the issue of the costs of tools and equipment that will be needed to telecommute effectively and to consider any issues of data security, insurance or liability that might emerge if an off-site computer is hacked or equipment is stolen or damaged.
How to Use Public Speaking to Promote Your Business
Public speaking is a marketing tool that is both effective and inexpensive. Your only investment is your time.
And the experience of public speaking can benefit your business while also enriching you personally.
When you speak in front of a group, you are immediately transformed from a salesperson into a credible authority.
You are perceived as an expert who imparts enlightening and interesting information and is able to answer questions about a topic.
Public speaking puts you in front of scores of prospective customers and offers a networking opportunity on steroids.
You can collect business cards at a public speaking engagement and follow up or, in some cases, sell your products and services right then and there.
On a personal note, effective public speaking enhances your leadership skills, self-confidence and poise.
There are speaking opportunities everywhere.
Consider social groups, civic organizations, business clubs and industry associations.
Check them out online or contact the organization's program chair. These groups are usually eager to find free speakers.
Once you have obtained a speaking engagement, choose your content carefully. The audience expects to be informed, educated and entertained. There are many ways to do that:
- Share your expertise by offering such things as five year-end tax tips.
- Give advice about your product or service.
- Talk about aspects of your job that you love or that make you crazy.
- Explain how your product is made or how it has evolved over time.