You might think that your small gym or health club isn't newsworthy. Think again! Do something to help others, and you in turn will reap rewards. The opportunities to market your health club are only limited by your own imagination. Here are seven amazingly simple ways to improve your health club marketing efforts and generate free publicity for your gym.
1. Canned food drive
"Free Enrollment when you bring in 5 canned foods!" Your fitness center can partner with a local soup kitchen or Salvation Army. Be sure to tell the newspapers and news stations about the partnership...they eat that stuff up! (And of course, you're also helping those in need, which always feels good)
2. Write for your local newspaper
Does your local paper have a weekly fitness editorial? Write one for them! Contact your local paper(s), introduce yourself as a local health club owner, and let them know you would like to write a weekly fitness tip/article for them. The worst they will say is no. What other publications are distributed in your area. Community newsletters? Free newsstand periodicals? What about online resources? Are there websites catering to your area? Write articles for them. If you can't write, have one of your staff members write.
3. Partner with your local radio station
You can have a radio station sponsor an 8-week weight loss contest for your health club. Get a DJ as your advocate. They can announce the contest to the listeners, have them submit applications, maybe even get teams set up between two DJ's. All participants can have a free gym membership during the contest in exchange for lots of advertising for your health club over the 8 weeks.
4. Run a contest for charity
Get members to have friends and family pledge an amount per mile you spend on the treadmill or for every step you climb on the stairmaster. Even if you only get 2 people to participate, it doesn't matter. Tell the radio station about it and they will do a story on it. It's different, it's interesting, and it's not negative news...which seems to be all there is on the news these days. Run a successful health club marketing campaign and help others at the same time!
5. Provide free seminars
These can either be onsite at your facility or at a community center. If you call or visit your local Chamber of Commerce and ask about a listing of presentations, you will be amazed. People give presentations on anything from basket weaving to coding HTML. If they don't already have someone regularly presenting on fitness-related topics, just ask them to put you on the schedule. They announce all upcoming presentations to their member and email list. Come up with a good headline for your presentation though. "Fitness Tips" just won't cut it. How about, "How to lose that 10 Pounds before Bikini Season" or "Show Me the Diet You're on and I'll Show You Why it isn't Working: A Roundtable Discussion" or "7 Things You Can do Right Now to Begin Losing Weight Tomorrow".
If you hold your seminar at your health club, announce it to all of your members and allow them to bring friends. Then contact your local newspaper and have them announce your fitness seminar to their readers. This is one of the most powerful gym marketing strategies and a great way to become recognized as the best health club in your market.
6. Write a Report
It doesn't have to be incredibly long...perhaps only between 10-20 pages. Write about weight loss myths, yo-yo-diets, overweight children...anything that is a hot topic right now. Contact your local newspapers and let them know that you, a local fitness expert and health club owner, has written a free report for the community. It can be promoted as, "FREE Report Reveals the 10 Reasons Why Your Current Diet isn't working!" or "FREE Book written by SmithTown fitness expert reveals why our children are gaining weight and what to do about it". Your Free Report can also announce when your next seminar is as well.
7. Make one of your members a hero
Media loves success stories, especially ones that involve someone overcoming incredible odds. You probably know someone like this in your club, but why not allow members to submit applications to be "SmithTown Fitness Hero". Have everyone submit a 300 word article on how they have overcome the odds and how your club has helped them. Once you select a winner, send a press release to the newspaper, "Local SmithTown citizen wins Hero award".
Of course, give something to everyone who submits an application. Perhaps frame and post all of the success stories and create a "SmithTown Fitness Wall of Heroes" at your club to let all of your members be inspired. Think of how powerful this would be to show a prospect as you're touring them!
Of course, these 7 strategies only scratch the surface of how you can get free publicity in your fitness facility. Be creative and you will see your health club become more popular the more proactive you are in your PR efforts.
By Curtis Mock
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You might think that your small gym or health club isn't newsworthy. Think again! Do something to help others, and you in turn will reap rewards. The opportunities to market your health club are only limited by your own imagination. Here are seven amazingly simple ways to improve your health club marketing efforts and generate free publicity for your gym.
Most people accept these days that we have a responsibility towards our environment. Many businesses are also taking their responsibility to the environment very seriously and many more are waking up to the need to do this.
Quite apart from anything else a demonstration of corporate social responsibility is good for public relations. There is also the fact that a 'greener' approach can save money. As trainers, we have a part to play in minimising our effect on the environment. This is partly through the message we give out during the training we deliver but also through our own behaviour. Over the last year the training team I work for have been taking a number of steps to reduce our environmental footprint. Perhaps this has only had a minimal effect on the environment but if everyone was to think in the same way then the overall impact could be significant.
However, one effect that has been very clear for us to see is a reduction in our expenses. For example, our stationary bill seems to have halved and we are also sure that we are doing our bit to contain our energy costs. We also feel pretty good about ourselves. These may not be huge savings in the overall scheme of things but are nevertheless welcome in the current economic climate. Here are our top ten tips for reducing our environmental impact. They are not in any particular order but all contribute a little to a greener approach.
1.Instead of giving all participants paper copies of course hand outs deliver them by e-mail or publish them on your intranet.
2. Where paper hand outs, workbooks or instructions are absolutely necessary print them on both sides of the paper. Also, consider printing two pages on a single page.
3. Instead of handing out individual paper instructions for syndicate exercises display the instructions on a flip chart or PowerPoint slide. Alternatively, laminate the instructions and use them on future courses.
4. Recycle paper when you have finished with it.
5. Where it is not necessary to keep work for any time why not use a whiteboard instead of using flipchart paper? If you have to use flipchart paper why use both sides of the paper?
6. Do not forget turn off the lights and any electrical equipment when you have finished in the training room. Do not leave electrical equipment on stand-by.
7. Buy green and/or recycled products when obtaining materials for training. They are often cheaper too.
8. Review the paperwork you produce for your courses. Do you need it all or can this be reduced.
9. Deliver course joining instructions by e-mail instead of sending paper copies.
10. Arrange for course participants to complete course happy sheets instead of a paper version.
You are sure to have plenty of ideas of your own. What can you easily put into action that will contribute a little to saving the environment and costs but without compromising the quality of what you deliver?
By Wolfgang Halliwell
1. Do you expect flexibility from employees? ....But the company is rigid with policy and procedures.
2. Your company is described as 'family'. Which title best describes it: Gossip Girl - 7th Heaven - Survivor - Father Knows Best?
3. When someone defines their personal role within the company...is it more about title or what they do and who they help?
4. Are staff afraid....to laugh, to talk, to provide input, to offer solutions, to fail? Understanding personal fears leads to clarity.
5. As a team leader - does your team deliver more than you expect? Is it skill, talent, personal motivation or perhaps "how the work environment feels to them."
6. When was the last time your group - truly celebrated? Beyond birthday's...how does the organization celebrate accomplishments?
7. If you were to ask team members - what makes the boss happy? Just how close is their answer to the truth.
Often when we meet with companies - the leader or employee may say - we've got a great company...then we wait for the 'buts" statement. The 'buts' sentence can be finished in a variety of ways - it may be; people are cranky, they're unengaged, I wish they'd be more accountable, we used to feel like a family ...Those feelings aren't robust anymore, now people are really quiet, something isn't right, or I don't know, personally I've been swamped. I'm not sure how they feel.
People matter, people make the difference and people solve problems. If the culture is unhealthy...leaders are dismissing their greatest resource.
By Mike Krutza
When you are ready to go out on your own and start a business, you will need to consider the plans to make your business a success. A business plan is all of your business information in one convenient document. You can use it for many reasons, such as, obtaining funding, and getting licenses, as well as for keeping your business on track. Every business should know how to write a great business plan and to evaluate that business plan on a regular basis to ensure that your business is doing what you need it to do. There are several different types of business plan outlines that can be used in order to ensure that you business runs smoothly.
1. The Economic Detail Outline: Using this type of outline shows how your business should progress on an economic level. The information you will want to list includes (but not limited to) profit potential, market sizes, competition, market shares, and possible sales figures that show what your business possibilities and goals are.
2. The Executive Summary Outline: This summary gives basic information about the company which includes the name, address, and the overall purpose of the business. In addition you will see the information about the key people who will be running the company and a strategic plan for the managing of the company. Also noted will be the financial section that will include the needs of the company.
3. The Management Organization Outline: This is a chart that will allow the reader to understand the chain of command as well as providing information about the key people of the company including resumes and job descriptions.
4. The Manufacturing Outline: This document explains the company's goals regarding researching its products, developing new products, production and manufacturing of those products. This will need to be closely monitored to ensure that the company is producing on schedule.
5. The Marketing Outline: This outline includes information about the marketing strategies of the company, pricing of its products, sales tactics, and policies for its warranties, promotion, distribution and advertising. This shows the reader, who has invested in your company, how you plan to get your company noticed and bring in much needed clientele
6. The Projected Finance Outline: This plan introduces up to 5 years of cash statements, balance sheets, and income. You may also want to add a break even chart that shows estimates of the amount of income you may need to break even yearly
7. The Management Strategy Outline: In this plan you will want to show your company's vision and mission for your business. In this outline, you will analyze your strengths, weaknesses and goals, and then you will show how you will organize your company to meet those goals.
As you can see there are a lot of different ways to ensure your company's success, by having a good outline you will be able to create a great business plan that will allow you to keep your company and its progress on track.
By Benny Horowitz
Why is it important to be top of mind to your past clients and referrers? In order to achieve professional success many focus their marketing actions on attending meetings to meet potential clients. While meeting potential clients is important don't overlook your past clients and other people who have already referred to you. Past clients and referrers know and trust you and the service you provide. They are already convinced that you do good work! They can be great sales people for you. Here are some marketing tips to be top of mind with them. It will lead to professional success for you!
1. Client Survey - Once you have completed the work for the client, ask him or her to rate your service. This will help you to improve as well as give the client an opportunity to be involved in the way you practice. If you make a change as a result of the survey, be sure to let those who answered the survey know.
2. Cards - Mark important occasions with a card or note - Be sure to send holiday cards, birthday cards, and notes on any other special occasion.
3. Shared Interests - Do you and the client or referrer share an interest? It could be golf, theater, or stamp collecting. Find an event applicable to that interest. Invite the client to go with you.
4. Your Interest - Share an interest of yours with the client or referrer. Perhaps you have a boat or volunteer for a museum. Invite the client or referrer to participate in your interest.
5. Client Interest - Client or referrers have their own outside interests that they sometimes mention. When appropriate attend an event in which you know the client or referrer has an active interest. As an example the client may be active in a particular charity that has an annual fundraiser. Join the client at the event.
6. Mailing list - Use email addresses or regular mail to periodically update the client or referrer about changes in your specialty and/or changes in your practice.
7. Promotional Item - Send or give client or referrer an interesting promotional item. There are lots of interesting items that clients might value. Get creative here or stick with the tried and true: Pens, Pads of paper, business card holders etc.
8. Open house - This is a nice way to thank past clients and valued referrers. Many professionals have a yearly event. Give a short welcoming talk to update clients and referrers about new employees and anything else that is new for you and your practice.
9. Presentation - When making a presentation that has interest to particular past clients or referrers, be sure to invite them to the presentation. A professional could also give the same presentation in his/her own office specifically for their clients and referrers. By inviting a group of clients and referrers to your office to hear the presentation you are giving them the added benefit of networking with each other.
10. Telephone call - If you haven't seen a client or referrer in a while, give them a call just to see how they are doing. Past clients and referrers appreciate and value your attention and kindness.
By Alvah Parker
1) Classified Ads - This is something everyone should be testing in some form or another. It's great for lead generations. You should still have a strong benefit-driven headline and a clear call to action. Free reports work very well with classifieds.
2) Direct Mail - Nothing beats direct response when it comes to results-driven proven advertising. And messages sent directly to your highly targeted market via direct mail can deliver a terrific return on investment (ROI) when tested properly.
3) Postcards - Yes, postcards are a form of direct mail, but it warrants its own category. Postcards are cheaper to produce and mail than full-blown direct mail packages or sales letters, and they are great for generating leads. Like classified ads, a free report or free gift often works well here. Postcards are also a great way to stay in touch with your customers and prospects, and they also work well as part of a sequence of mailings.
4) Yellow Pages - Another great resource that is often underutilized or used ineffectively. Yellow page ads are great because when someone sees your ad, they are already in the market for your product or service.
5) Space Ads - If you're going to do a space ad, it will generally get better results if you use the same layout as the editorials. Use the same font styles and sizes for the headline, body, etc.
6) Radio/TV/Infomercials - You might be surprised how inexpensive you can get these types of slots, especially if you use remnant advertising. Study the best infomercials, for example (the ones you see over and over again...they must be working or they wouldn't keep airing them), to get some ideas on how they are constructed.
7) Flyers - Who says you can't hire a high school student to stuff mailboxes or stick 'em under windshields? Obviously if you are selling a high-priced financial course, it would be better to target the windshields of a fancy hotel than your local supermarket.
8) Networking - Your local Chamber of Commerce, trade shows, seminars, and anywhere your prospects hang out are all good opportunities for networking.
9) Telemarketing - Remember the "Do Not Call" list only applies to consumers, so if you do any kind of business to business selling, telemarketing is a viable marketing method you can use effectively
10) A Trade Show Booth - A great place to capture leads. Again, a free report or gift does wonders. When you get a long line waiting at your booth, many people will stop by just to see what the fuss is about.
By Edwin Amelia
Here are 7 of the Most Important Tips and Business Pricipals, that I have learned from all of the great mentors I have had in my Journey to Financial Freedom.
The first Tip is Don't spend to much of your time Learning and start doing... Because the faster you start doing the faster you will learn. Which means the faster you will make money.
The second Tip is to get a Great Mentor that will spend some time pointing you in the right direction. One that doesn't do everything for you because it's faster that way. But actually takes the time to teach you which steps you should take in order to accomplish the Task.
The third Tip is one of the most powerful of all. You must take action when you learn something new. Lots of Action will definitely be a big part in your success.
The fourth Tip I want to give you would be to Listen More. To become an effective communicator, you need to become a better listener. This way you can effectively communicate your message so most can relate. Find out what Others want and show them how to get it... It's that simple...
The fifth Tip is a good one. Lead others by showing them the path but not by taking them there. This way you find the serious from the curious.
The 6th Tip would be to take a good look at your plan. "You See most people don't plan to fail, they just Fail to Plan."
So you must take the time to come up with a solid plan that will take you step by step. So set short term goals leading up to the long term goals. Always make sure to reward yourself. Take a Well needed vacation! :)
The 7th is The Most Powerful of all Principals... Are you ready?
Ok, here it goes. "It is Easier to make a lot of money than it is to make a little bit!" Did you catch that? Yes my Friend you heard me right! It is easier to make a lot of money than it is to make a little bit.
Now allow me to take it one step further. It is Easier to make a lot of money over a short period of time than it is to make a little bit of money over a long period of time. I hope you Enjoyed reading 7 of the Most Important Tips and Business Principals I have learned from the Many Years of being in Business.
By Darren K Utke
I find it interesting that many companies react to this turbulent market much like a child reacts to a thunderstorm. The company hides it head under the pillows, waits the storm out hoping that it ends quickly and that there is no real damage. I have spoken to many Human Resource Professionals and asked them if their challenges for 2008-2009 have changed because of the poor economic conditions or other external conditions. The majority feel that their challenges have not changed and there is no need to do anything differently. It sure is dark under that pillow!
In SuccessFactor's whitepaper titled "Winning Through Talent", they report that the four strategies that successful companies use when faced with decreasing revenues, shrinking budgets, and disengaged employees amid these uncertain times are:
1. Rapidly align your workforce with changing economic conditions
2. Optimize your workforce
3. Identify and invest in your best employees and
4. Dramatically improve communication across the company
In my terms, those four recommendations translate to:
1. Implement a Strategic Development Process in which all employees feel they play a part and understand the direction the company is moving in.
2. Improve Productivity and Performance Through Training and Development using proven methods with defined outcomes
3. Identify the Strengths of Your Employees and Maximize Their Development in relation to the direction of the organization and its future needs.
4. Learn to Understand How We can Communicate Better with our managers, our peers, and our subordinates to gain clarity in direction and desired outcome.
We all agree that we must maximize employee performance and be more productive in this highly competitive global market. We also agree that we must continue to be results-oriented so that we provide our customer with superior services or products. Isn't it time that our people development professionals step forward and change the environment by being proactive and not just reactive? We need to develop the strengths of all of our people focusing on the most talented and while integrating your people development plan with the strategic planning process of the company. People development plus process-oriented effectiveness equals productivity.
So, isn't the blueprint for success the synergistic effect produced by focusing on people development and process orientation, and then monitoring how the implementation process affects the result? Have you started your people development process? If so, any recommendations, and if not, what is holding you back?
By Richard J Hohmann
In planning the layout of your restaurant, one good place to start is with any franchise restaurant. These establishments spend a lot of time, and a money, and resources determining the most profitable ways to set up and run their restaurants. Using their layout suggestions in your sample restaurant floor plans is an excellent place to start. There are certain ways that the restaurant floor plan can be most optimized for drive through and for dine in traffic, and ways that the kitchen area floor plan can be used to maximum benefit.
Some restaurants benefit from having their dine in areas strictly controlled, by using crowd control lines and the like, to restrict access by customers to the order and pick up areas. These are the kinds of restaurants that usually have at least one set of doors on each side, and a solid store front. These places are able to have many different kinds of seating configurations, benches, tables, and booths.
Other restaurants are able to encourage customer interaction with the staff by having an easily accessible counter where customers can approach at will. Such restaurant will have sample floor plans with open spaces that are used at will by both customers and employees. Your sample restaurant floor plans should take these possibilities into consideration.
One floor plan that should be avoided at all costs is the store that is configured with an exit door that opens directly onto a drive through lane. This is a situation that is just a liability waiting for an excuse to happen. Either the oblivious customer on foot , chatting away on their cell phone who doesn't notice the oncoming car, or the drive through diner in a hurry to get back to work who doesn't notice the pedestrian directly in front of them, there is just no way that something isn't going to eventually happen. Find another location for your door, do not place it where pedestrian and vehicle traffic mix in any way.
In American society today, it is also vital not to have only seating spaces that can accomodate people of average size. Especially in restaurants, it is of absolute importance to have seats on which persons of size can both make themselves comfortable and not do damage to the seats. Keeping in mind that people come in all sizes, and that having your seating be able to accomodate all those sizes is an important part of sample restaurant floor plans. Allow for larger size seating; you may have less total available seats, but you will have more comfortable and accessible seats.
Restaurant floor plans should also take into consideration the cleaning needs. Tables that cannot easily be moved for cleaning, sweeping, mopping and vacuuming will cause employee non-compliance with proper cleaning procedures, and lead to both customer dissatisfaction and possible food borne illness if cleaning is not up to standards. In addition, forms of floor covering that are difficult to clean or maintain should be avoided in the sample restaurant floor plans. It should be easy to completely and adequately clean around the furniture and keep the floor of a restaurant in good condition. When the final restaurant is conceived and built, it will be more easily maintained and much more profitable in the end.
By Wendy Pan
By Joshua Feinberg
Want to know how to start a computer repair business? All small businesses use computers and depend on them to work consistently, predictably and dependably. However, it is not cost effective for most small businesses to have their own in-house IT department. Still, they need someone like a computer repair business to help keep their IT assets up and running, so they can stay competitive in the marketplace.
No matter what your business experience or level of technological expertise, you can start your own computer repair business. Those that love computers, technology and working with people find that running their own business is incredibly fulfilling and can bring them substantial revenue. All it takes is following some logical, plotted steps and planning very carefully how to start a computer repair business.
The following 5 tips can help you figure out how to start a computer repair business.
1. Determine the Characteristics of Your Ideal Clients. Before you start your own computer repair business, you need to figure out who you want to serve. Know who your ideal clients are and which characteristics they share. How large are their businesses? Which major business problems do they face? As you start to fine-tune your idea of the ideal computer repair business client also think about whether you are serving a niche and what your specialty is. Are your clients all in a specific industry or do they naturally all use the same specific software or hardware? Having a niche and a specialty can really help you with marketing and sales. You will position yourself to offer solutions that no other technology professionals in your area are offering and thus be even more indispensable to your clients.
2. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses. As you figure out how to start a computer repair business, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses. You might have a very strong technical background but are not very business savvy. In order to succeed, you need to have a good balance of business, technical and also strong social skills, so you can best respond to the needs of your clients and build long-term relationships with them. Make sure you take the time to go outside your comfort zone and work on honing skills that come less readily to you than others.
3. Set Your Rates Right from the Beginning. When you run your own computer repair business, time is money. You can't afford to set your rates too low in the beginning. Not only will you have to work incredibly hard just to make ends meet, but you will also have a hard time raising rates substantially once you've already started your business, without losing clients and compromising relationships and your reputation. To make sure you start your business using competitive rates, identify your local competitors and research what they are charging their clients and how their services compare to yours.
4. Be Patient and Let Your Business Evolve Over Time. You can't expect to instantly get a full roster of clients and steady revenue for your business. When you are starting your computer repair business, you should expect it to take a while to get off the ground -- sometimes as much as 6 months or even a year. Why? A successful computer repair business is built on strong client relationships and relationships take time to evolve. You need to get prospects for your business that know, like and trust you in order for them to turn into steady, high-paying, long-term clients. Be patient and follow clear steps when qualifying clients and forging connections through marketing and networking events. And take each client carefully through the sales cycle. If you are diligent with your efforts, they will pay off in time.
5. Remember that Marketing is Key. When you are just figuring out how to start a computer repair business, you're going to be wearing a lot of different hats. You will probably have to do the marketing, sales, administrative and all other tasks by yourself in the beginning. Establishing a well-crafted, diversified marketing plan that incorporates a lot of different targeted activities is the only way to build your business and make sure your sales funnel is fed. So this way, you can attract new clients on a regular basis and still have time to manage other elements of your business.
The inventory in your warehouse or factory is both an asset and a liability. In either case, if it just sits there, it is worse than worthless - it's of negative value. Whether it's pens in the stationary cupboard or multi-million dollar machine tools in the dockside warehouse, inventory must be stored and cleared in as cost-effective and efficient a way as possible.
Inventory optimisation is about managing what is in the warehouse and how those contents flow into and out of the warehouse. It is the area where most ERP software implementations normally get the highest and fastest return on investment. It is therefore surprising that many companies that have implemented ERP have not yet added a dedicated inventory optimisation module, as it offers a huge potential for companies to maximise the value of their IT investment for a relatively small incremental cost.
It is a fundamental requirement for almost every company to be able to meet customers' requested service levels with a minimum amount of inventory. This means having just the right products in stock in the right amounts and virtually nothing else. Excess stock is excess capital outlay, which has a massive impact on bottom line profitability. However, this has to be balanced against the potential damage of inadequate stock leading to lost sales, lost customers and a negative impact on bottom line profitability.
If you could precisely predict exactly what your customers will buy in the future, inventory optimisation would be very simple. But, in reality, it is rather tricky. Deciding on the correct inventory level is a major issue, and the answers will vary from industry to industry, and from organisation to organisation.
The danger lies in either overstocking or understocking.
Overstocking results in a range of negative impacts:
Organisations become inflexible, and difficult to manage
There is an increased amount of funds tied-up in non-productive goods
Consequently, there is an increased number and value of write-offs
More goods become obsolete or expired
Storage needs increase exponentially as less stock is removed than is brought in
Overheads increase due to all of the above.
On the other side of the coin, understocking also has negative impacts:
Service levels are low because of inability to meet demand
Customers are disappointed, to say the least
Organisations are subject to rush charges and express delivery fees to ensure the availability of inputs
Business opportunities are lost.
To make the picture even more complicated, getting accurate forecast figures becomes equally problematic as the supply chain becomes more complex.
In the days following the Second World War, demand was larger than production. Companies were focused on making purchasing and manufacturing more efficient, as you could always sell what you produced or purchased. Today it's the other way around. Production is greater than demand and customers have become more and more demanding.
That's why an agile supply chain is vital, one that can react when customers suddenly demand a new version of an item, and that can deliver with shorter lead-times.
Inventory challenges facing organisations therefore include:
Complex global supply chains, with potential outsourcing of manufacturing to low cost countries which increases freight costs
Supply chain integration/visibility is limited, especially if dealing with low cost countries that do not have advanced IT systems
Customers driving demand which can be broad and unclear
Complex products, with broad and detailed configuring
Subsequent stock-keeping requirements, potentially for a wide range of components required for configuration
Shorter product life cycles
Uncertain future market directions and trends.
To make it even more complex, different industries have different challenges that need to be addressed, which is why agile solutions that meet business-specific needs are required.
For instance, one example of a vertical industry dealing with inventory issues is paper merchants and distributors. Here, customers handle very large and heavy goods, and because of weight and volume it is essential to have direct delivery from the supplier to the customer. Delivery needs to be just-in-time, as a printing business cannot store a lot of paper. Paper stocks could be held at any one of a number of locations, including the mill, external warehouses owned by the mill or the merchant, the merchant's central or regional warehouses and even at the printer. This stock holding and the subsequent distribution requirement incurs costs for every member of the supply chain and should be reduced wherever possible, particularly where there is unnecessary duplication. Quite simply, whichever party can distribute stock in the most cost-effective manner to the required service level should be encouraged to do so. Implementing best practice at this stage requires mills, merchants and printers working together to establish the optimum distribution. This will eliminate the costs of empty warehouses and unnecessary journeys.
The pharmaceuticals and healthcare industry is another area for inventory optimisation. Distributors need to move and manage large volumes of items with speed and accuracy. This means that the reception, storage and picking of thousands of sales order lines has to be streamlined. Radio frequency identification and barcode support can give real-time inventory control and minimise paperwork. Pharmaceuticals warehousing must also meet strict regulations for narcotics and hazardous goods. In other words, the pharmaceuticals industry needs a system that supports large volumes of items. Most of the purchasing and planning activities need to be automated as much as possible to react and deliver on constantly changing demand.
Finally, when talking about stock keeping units, electrical component distributors are among the hardest hit. Some of them have more than 100,000 stock keeping units. It is essential that the information in the item file is correct and easy to maintain. They need to collaborate with suppliers, which means that they need a system that can easily import new prices. They also have to be able to handle extensive and complex agreements in order to purchase items at the right cost and at the right time. They need a solution that supports cross-referencing so that they can define alternative and replacement products; inventory segmentation so that product lines can be defined as high-turnover, low-margin, high-value, slow-moving, etc; and dynamic demand forecasting, replenishment suggestions, cross-docking, over-the-counter sales, and seasonal fluctuations. Warehousing requires real-time control to assure timely deliveries, without overstocking.
The fact is, more and more industries and verticals are facing the same problem as the electronics industry, as companies continue to collaborate and consolidate. This means that the supply chain runs at ever-faster rates and with greater volumes. Information requirements and ways to connect systems and use information become more critical for processes, while reporting, analysis and planning are becoming increasingly important for everyone.
At the same time as there are complexities in the supply chain, there are also internal challenges - even differing priorities - within the organisation. CEOs want to improve customer service, sales want more products to sell, and CFOs want to reduce inventory.
The best and truly the only way to adequately handle this conflict of interest and complexities of systems is the old slogan: Order the right product, at the right quantity and quality at the right time. The objective of any solid inventory management system is to provide the best possible customer service within the restraint of the lowest practical inventory costs.
Optimising inventory is a constant balancing act. Once you've made your initial decision to undertake an optimisation program, there are four different steps you will need to follow:
Analyse the current situation, what items are selling and how is delivery performance, etc
Classify items into different categories that can be handled with ease and define strategy per product segment
Calculate as good a forecast as possible, adopting different policies on different segments
Control costs by optimising replenishment, adopting different replenishment policies on different item segments; and replenish with the best possible collaboration with suppliers.
Then ... you do it again. Inventory optimisation is a constant process of fine-tuning inventory and analysing performance: are there other item segments that can be improved, how effectively can they be improved and at what cost?
It's simple, when you know how.
It is just important that you follow a formal structure that gives you accurate and timely information, and that allows you to make tactical and strategic decisions about your inventory flow. The next step in this process is to determine how you stand at the moment - analysing your performance.
Some leaders are born, while others are created. It’s often difficult, especially as a manager, to convince others to follow in our footsteps, but it is possible. Whether you’re a natural born leader or not, the following qualities can and should be nurtured in order to enhance your leadership abilities.
Do you have a vision and are you able to share that vision with your team? Having a vision means you know what path you want to take in order to achieve optimal end results. Your communication skills must be strong enough to effectively convince your followers that your path is the right choice given the current situation.
Are you really dedicated to your work? Are you willing, if necessary, to spend extra long hours at the office to get the job done? Your dedication will inspire your team members to share the same level of enthusiasm.
Humility means being able to recognize that you are no better off than anyone else on your team, regardless of your salary or job title. You’re all human and you all make mistakes. Your job status doesn’t exempt you from error.
A good leader needs to be able to make fair decisions regardless of how he or she may feel personally about a given situation. Fairness means looking at the facts, not each team member’s personal opinions about them, and then making an educated decision.
Let’s face it – laughter is the best medicine. People are happy when they are laughing, and laughter eases tension and increases productivity (in moderation, of course). Those stuck in a boring or hostile workplace won’t accomplish much. Put your sense of humor to work and keep the entire team happy.
These are, of course, only a few leadership qualities you should keep in mind but they offer you an excellent place to start. Take a look at your day to day interactions with your team and determine whether or not you need to tweak your leadership style. Good luck!
Traditionally, it has been understood that to improve customer service you have to have high levels of inventory. This ensures that orders are filled quickly. But it also means that the value of your inventory is high, to the detriment of your organisation as it ties up cash and warehouse space that could be put to other and better uses.
The aim of inventory optimisation is to decrease stock while increasing customer service levels. This can be difficult, particularly as it sounds like a contradiction in terms. However, it can be achieved either by:
reducing your overall inventory while maintaining the same level of high service, or
improving customer service levels without an increase to your investment in total inventory.
In order to optimise inventory, you will need to know what the current state of your inventory performance is, to act as a reference point. Then, continued performance analysis at later stages ensures that performance is improving and that inventory activity is being effectively optimised.
This analysis - both initially and at later stages - highlights areas where improvement is required. It also assists you in measuring service levels and focusing on delivery performance to customers, fill rates and order fulfilment times.
Some key areas that you can measure include:
Delivery performance for customers
Fill rates for customers
Order fulfillment lead-time for customers
Delivery performance per supplier
Fill rate per supplier
Order fulfillment lead-time per supplier
Inventory days of supply, in other words stock turnover
Safety stock and seasonal demand.
By measuring these key performance indicators (KPIs), you learn where you stand relative to your previous performance. This is valuable information, as it indicates whether and how well you have improved performance over time. The better values you have, the less safety stock you need and the lower quantity in stock.
However, you might have started from a low base (ie non-optimal or even poor performance). This could mean that any improvements you make might very well be marginal and your ultimate standing still poor compared with industry standards.
Therefore, it is also valuable to compare your performance against that of your competitors (or even partners in the supply chain). To do this you will need a common reference model for industry-wide KPIs in inventory value and service levels. Such figures give an idea of the potential improvements you can make, as well as how much you could probably reduce your stock and/or increase customer service even further. With these figures, it is also a simpler task to build a return on investment (ROI) calculation within the inventory optimisation area.
There is already exists such a common reference model, called the Supply-Chain Operations Reference model (SCOR).
This model has been developed by the Supply Chain Council, a global, not-for-profit trade association open to all types of organisation which is dedicated to improving supply chain efficiency. The Supply Chain Council, headquartered in the US, is supported by more than 1000 corporate members worldwide, representing a broad cross-section of industries, including manufacturers, services, distributors, and retailers.
The SCOR-KPI allows companies to examine and measure their supply chain processes. The SCOR model has been able to successfully describe and provide a basis for supply chain improvement for global projects as well as site-specific projects.
Key SCOR metrics include:
Delivery performance to customer committed
Delivery performance to customer requested
Delivery performance to supplier committed
Delivery performance to supplier requested
Customer fill rate
Supplier fill rate
Customer order fulfilment lead-time
Supplier order fulfilment lead-time
Inventory days of supply
By comparing those KPIs with those of your competitors, you would easily determine where weak links exist, and identify how to make improvements. This would help you improve inventory optimisation and give you a dramatic ROI and savings.
Once you have performed a detailed performance analysis, you then have the indicators necessary to gauge the success of your optimisation program. If you haven't analysed performance, you will never know whether you have improved, or by how much, and later stages in the program will basically be performed in the dark.
One you have performed an initial analysis, you can move on to the next stage, which is to classify your products and define your strategy.
One reality that every business must face is that they will eventually have to endure a bad economy. Economic conditions cycle for various reasons and, even though there has recently been an extended period of a strong economic environment, the world is now facing a rough patch that will impact most businesses.
There are some things that business owners and managers do during difficult times that sometimes just don't make sense. Here are five of those that you should be careful to avoid:
1. Don't panic! Panic is the root of many business problems because emotions overtake logic. When that happens, decisions become short-sighted and are based on short-term results. Stay calm and evaluate the impact of the changing economy on your business over the immediate-term as well as the long-term using sound logic and realistic scenarios that might play out. Certainly you should consider worst case scenarios, but be careful not to immediately assume that they will play out. How you handle things will in a large way determine to what extent the economy impacts your bottom line.
2. Don't jump to terminate good employees. While it may be necessary to lay off some employees when things slow down significantly, be very careful which ones you let go and which ones you keep. Cutting loose great employees can actually exacerbate the impact of a bad economy because your ability to manage through it is compromised. Good people can help weather a rough economic cycle. And you also should consider what happens when the economy improves. Ask yourself if you will be able to replace strong employees with equally strong or stronger employees when you need to rehire. And running too lean can lead to other problems in terms of productivity and customer service. Carefully consider what impact any substantial layoffs could have on your business.
3. Don't assume that marketing expenditures should be the first things cut. Too many companies jump immediately to marketing and sales items when cutting expenses. If there are marketing expenditures that are yielding marginal returns on your investment, certainly look hard at those. But there are times when marketing expenditures must be increased during difficult times to help power through the cycle. A mistake that many businesses make is that they cut marketing and sales efforts and fail to cut less important activities and expenditures. Look closely at how any cut in your marketing and sales efforts will impact your business.
4. Don't be afraid to renegotiate! Whether it is your bank, your landlord, your suppliers, and anyone else you may be paying on a regular basis. Can you restructure loans? Will your bank lower your rate? Ask your landlord to reduce your rent to keep you as a tenant if you are nearing the end of your lease. Talk to your suppliers and let them know they will need to bend on pricing or discounts. In general, talk to anyone you make payments to and let them know you need some relief.
5. Don't sit back and do nothing. Look at your expenses and see what can be trimmed without negatively impacting the business. If you don't have sound strategic, business, and marketing plans in place, get them in place immediately and begin executing them. If you have unproductive people, help them become productive or replace them if they can't get productive. If you can raise prices even slightly without impacting demand for your product, do so to enhance margins. If you have to decrease prices due to reduced demand, do so very carefully and don't lower them more than necessary. Shop around for better pricing on things you buy. Look at your processes. Can they be improved and made more efficient? Do you have managers or supervisors who are ineffective? Get them some help or replace them. Is your customer service lacking? Work hard to improve it.
By Chris Arringdale
You Are the Business
The small business manager or owner is the business to employees. They interpret the behaviour and performance of the CEO as that of the business itself. For example, if the small business CEO is erratic, so is the business. If he or she is conservative, so is the business in the minds of employees. This puts great responsibility on the CEO to be consistent, reliable, balanced and enthusiastic most of the time. In a large business, the CEO can use other senior managers to compensate for personal or professional deficiencies.
You Control Their Livelihood
In a small business, the manager's power over continued employment is keenly felt. Employees know this. This particular power is much less acute for the CEO in a large business. In small business, staff will interpret the CEO's behaviour, at least in part, in terms of its impact on them personally.
Have A Performance Focus
As a small business manager be focused on performance rather than personality. It's natural that you'll relate better to some staff than to others. It's dangerous to allow this reality to be perceived as favouritism - accurately or not. If you have an engineering background, it's simply human to have a tendency to favour engineering. But it's poor management to be seen to be doing it. A clearly defined performance focus will go a long way to helping employees avoid such perceptions.
Emphasise "Working Together" Not "Getting On Well"
The textbooks call it "goal dependence" and "task interdependence". You may call it "teamwork". Whatever you call it, the capacity for people to work effectively together is important in businesses of all shapes and sizes. But it's absolutely essential in small business. I'm talking of people's ability to work together not their capacity to "get on well together". People who "get on well" may or may not achieve effective business results together. People who can work effectively together and achieve good results will find a way to "get on with each other".
Encourage Effective Teams
To help your people form an effective team isn't as difficult as it first appears. Firstly, you must have very clear business goals and communicate them clearly to employees. Incidentally, "to make a profit" is merely a statement of intent. It isn't a goal. Whatever you do, have a crystal clear business focus and convey it continuously to your people. Have unequivocal performance standards for each employee or team or people doing the same work. Build your reward and incentive programs around these standards.
Publicly Acknowledge Support Staff
Constantly remind all employees that support staff, such as "office" of "backroom" people are just as important to business success as specialists and high profile employees. Try to find a way to enable support staff to participate in rewards and incentive programs.
As a small business CEO, you must deal with situations that a large business CEO would rarely confront. Without the total support of your people, you task will be very difficult.
By Leon Noone
Insulate Against Small Errors
In a small business a small mistake can have a big impact. This is especially so when the small business services a particular locality. When your good reputation is endangered, rightly or wrongly, so is the business. Large businesses are far less susceptible to small threats. And large businesses have ample resources to correct errors and retrieve disgruntled customers. Small business can't match these resources.
Build Effective Customer Management Systems
The small business manager must ensure that all employees understand how vulnerable the business is to carelessness, sloppiness, discourtesy and perceived disrespect. The best way to do this is to develop effective customer treatment systems that all employees must understand and observe. Grab every opportunity for staff to obtain both positive and negative customer feedback, And as manager, lead by example.
Build A "Company Way"
If you're the owner of "Joe's Plumbing" develop a "Joe's Plumbing" way of doing things. It should reflect business, employee and customer relationship philosophies you want your people to practice to achieve your business goals. Make sure that the "Joe's Plumbing" way enables customers to positively differentiate in favour of your business.
Keep Them In The Picture
Inform your employees. Trust them to regard company information judiciously. They should know your marketing position, strategy and tactics. They should know where your profits come from and how interaction with clients and customers affects profitability. They should know how performance is measured: both their own and that of the company. That's the minimum they should know.
Start At Recruitment
Make sure you have some sort of induction process that includes corporate philosophies, objectives and standards. If possible, discuss them with job candidates as part of your selection process. At the very least, new starters shuld hear about these on their first day.
Meet Staff Face To Face Frequently
And put in place some form of face to face communication between you as CEO and your staff on at least a monthly basis. Sending out a "staff notice", "sticking something on a notice board" or circulating "operations and procedural amendments" will never replace well planned face to face meeting with ample opportunity for staff response and feedback.
Informed staff can make informed decisions, take informed choices, provide soundly based communication and make informed contributions at meetings and discussions. Finally, bear in mind: if they don't know, they'll guess or shrug their shoulders. Neither reaction helps your business.
By Leon Noone
A company's main asset is its workforce. It goes without saying that when a company needs people, it needs to get the right people. Otherwise, productivity would be compromised and expenditures increased. As it is the HR department's responsibility to hire people for the company, it is their job to protect the company from these possible losses. The HR recruitment staff cannot just accept nor discard applicants without just measure. Thus, recruitment metrics comes about.
Though there are many different types of metrics, they drive at one common goal. This is getting the right, if not the best, applicant for a job. The process of hiring people in the past has somewhat limited metrics to cost-per-hire and time-to-fill. Cost-per-hire, as its name suggests, looks at the recruitment cost in relation to the positions filled. This is the most common measure in recruiting. Given the many direct and indirect costs involved in recruitment, there is no universal formula in calculating this expense. Though this measure is important, it has one big flaw. It only focuses on the initial cost of recruiting. It does not take into consideration long-term costs, such as whether the recruit will be productive or not.
Time-to-fill, on the other hand, measures how long it took to fill the position from start to hire date. This calculates the costs associated with positions while it was left vacant. As with cost-per-hire, its downside is also not taking into consideration long-term costs. To fill the position faster, HR recruitment runs the risk of hiring the best among their pool of candidates, even if he does not exactly fit the position. In the long run, they may just incur additional costs for hiring the wrong person.
In addition to the basic screening of applicants, a more modern metric takes into consideration the performance and quality of new hires. This is perhaps one of the most important metric when hiring candidates. Quality, in this sense, is not quantitative. The company's standards for quality have to be clearly established even before recruitment begins. The recruiters and hiring managers should already set the standards so they know exactly what to look for in prospective candidates. However, quality measure does not stop once the recruitment team has hired the best person for the job. Performance appraisal of the new hire on his first 90-180 days in production would also be part of the metrics.
Another important metric that recruiters practice is manager satisfaction. This looks into how satisfied the organization and the hiring managers are with the new hires as well as with the hiring process. This data starts with the managers' preferences prior to recruiting and are assessed after the employee has been on the job for some time.
There are many other important recruitment metrics that are being practiced today. Among these are source of hire, referrals, and even candidate satisfaction. The first one looks into the percentage and quality of new hires from different defined sources. This metric lets the recruitment staff focus on their sourcing strategy. For the referrals metric, recruiters tap existing employees for referral of new candidates. Recent studies have shown that this generates the best performing hires. Lastly, there is the candidate satisfaction where the focus is on what the applicants think about the quality of service provided by the recruitment team.
By Sam Miller
By Mari-Lyn Hudson
Companies spend too much time focusing recruiting rather than on retaining.
The rule is no longer if your employees leave it is now when will they going to leave. How many times have you spent hundreds to thousands of dollars in hiring and training an employee only to discover that they leave.
Why do they leave? Experts in this field will say because...
You can justify your experiences, by the stories other people, or HR will say about it. You can even go online and find the stats that you need to back-up your experiences and how many other companies are going through the same thing.
The truth of the matter is, how much time, money and effort do you put into retaining your employees?
It's all about the relationship factor you have with them. How much do you really appreciate them?
Staying comfortable in dong what you are doing without any consideration of retaining won't work if you want to keep retaining your employees. By promoting and selling the concept of more kindness in the workplace. I would help companies create a healthier, vibrant and productive workplace. The reason no one wanted to buy this service was they couldn't figure out how it would work and of course that meant they would have to change, get out of their comfortable position, of what and how they were doing things. Let's not change things, let's wait and see what happens.
It's no wonder to me, why now (many years later) that employers are having a bigger crisis of not finding enough employees and now being faced with more challenging problems like bullying, misrepresentation of the company, stealing, or inappropriate behavior.
I could say it's your loss - you missed the boat! I do believe however it's never too late. It's the same as Dr. Phil's philosophy, "It's never too late to turn around a situation or family."
In order for change to happen, you have to be willing to try something different or new. Step up to be a leader 1st. Be an early adopter. Don't wait for someone else to do it first. After all, isn't this what you would expect your employees to do to move your company to success?
There are other professionals who are selling Kindness. Olivia McIvor of McIvor consulting. She herself was a HR professional for Canada Trust. Olivia wrote out a plan and delivered it to her VP to help relieve the stress and morale issues as Canada Trust was about to be merged with TD.
Her VP gave his approval and she went to work - rolled out the "Kindness to Colleague" program to 52 stores (banks). Overall, it was very successful. Olivia continues to help companies by providing consulting, giving talks and wrote another book.
I now have moved on by providing appreciation gifts for people to give to their employees, clients and to very special people. It's still about being kind, it's about showing your appreciation.
Appreciation is the key ingredient in retaining your employees. How do you do this? Try appreciating your employees through art. It's a very personal gift. that's what people expect and want from you.
Each gift that each person receives shows and demonstrates that you care for your colleagues, co-workers, bosses and partners.
By Mark Smiciklas
Growth presents a real challenge for many small businesses. As your organization grows, how do you avoid compromising the personality and characteristics that helped build your business in the first place?
Act Small, Think Big
In his manifesto for small business in the new economy (Small is the New Big), Seth Godin has redefined the meaning of small and big:
* "Small" is a mindset, a way of acting, as opposed to a physical state - Small is not the the size of your bank account, your asset base or the number of employees you have, etc.
* Thinking "Big" is thinking smart. Big ideas don't have to equate to big budgets and expenses - Big ideas are new ideas.
The secret to managing the growth of your small business lies in understanding/balancing thinking big and acting small. Here are some ideas ideas to get you started:
* Reach out and stay engaged with your customers (on a regular basis)
* Live your service promise
* Answer the phone (with a live person not an auto-attendant)
* Respond to website inquiries as fast as possible
* Return emails
* Stay flexible
* Make decisions (the quicker the better)
* Avoid unnecessary meetings
* Communicate openly and honestly
* If you don't know the answer, don't fake it
* Ask for feedback - Survey your clients
* Use common sense (particularly when spending)
* Focus on what your good at and farm out the rest
* Become your own publisher - share your ideas through a blog, e-book or whitepaper
* Give away content hat helps solve problems (for free)
* Embrace technology - use tools and applications to work smarter
* Learn how to use social media
* Always be trying something new - change is a stimulant
* Understand your clients and be the best at solving their problems
Mark Smiciklas is a Vancouver Marketing Consultant. His firm, Intersection Consulting, helps small to mid-sized businesses address challenges in the areas of marketing, management and business development.
Your role as a manager is to get results through the efficient and effective use of all of the resources at your disposal. Do it well and you are almost certain to be a success. Do it badly and you are more likely to become overloaded. What are 6 sure fire ways to become overloaded that you want to avoid?
1. Not delegating
You need to use all of the people that you manage optimally. By that I mean that they are doing what they do best most of the time. Many managers fall into the trap of trying to do everything or if they delegate they do it badly. They may even not recognise when they are doing something themselves that someone else could not just do quicker but better. If you want to avoid becoming overloaded start to delegate.
2. Not being focussed
It never ceases to amaze me that many managers are unclear on what their key priorities are. If you don't know what your key priorities are, how can you be sure that your attention and focus is on the areas that really matter? If you want to avoid overload, make sure that you are focusing on your priorities.
3. Not planning your time
The amount of time that you have is finite. As a manager you need to take control of your time and plan how you are going to use it to get the best results you can. Make time at the start of every week and day to plan how you are going to use your time both at work and outside of work.
4. Not learning to say no
We all want to demonstrate our commitment to our boss and to others. This is a great quality to have, provided you know when to say yes and when to say no. Your boss might not like the fact that you are saying you cannot do something but chances are they would rather you say no than not deliver. Whenever faced with this situation, make a point of explaining why you are saying no in this instance.
5. Not managing interruptions
Open plan offices are very common these days. They are great in terms of building a real sense of team spirit and at the same time can make it difficult and challenging when it comes to managing interruptions. Be clear when you can be interrupted and when you need space to get on with something. Make a point of switching off e-mail, transferring the telephone to voicemail and switching off your mobile.
6. Not completing things
Some people excel at getting things started while others are better at getting things completed. If you get to a point where you have lots of things to complete, it makes it difficult to focus and differentiate between the important and unimportant. Make a pint of following things through to completion.
Bottom Line - At the end of the day what determines whether you prosper as a manager is you. So what steps do you need to take to avoid overload?
Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements (G&A) works with individuals, teams and organisations to develop their management and leadership capability.
With 25 years business experience in a range of sectors, he understands first hand the real challenges of managing and leading in the demanding business world.
By Duncan Brodie
By Sam Miller
Vision holds organizations, including business organizations, together. Vision inculcates loyalty, commitment, cohesion, efficiency, and cooperation. A business organization without mission and vision statement describing its direction and what it would like to become in the future is rudderless and most likely to be viewed by employees as a place of employment and nothing else. First and foremost for an effective vision BSC is the process by which the vision is formulated.
The most effective way of formulating a vision is to get as many ideas as possible. This will be from what the owners and employees envision the company in the future. Owners, of course, will be committed to a vision that they themselves crafted but you cannot always be sure whether employees will regard it with the same commitment. From a psychological standpoint, it is known that people who are deeply involved in the decision-making process and know what benefits they will earn from doing their jobs efficiently are likely to develop a strong commitment to their jobs and the company as well.
It terms of trying to motivate employees, even ordinary employees, what could be more effective than allowing them to participate in the visioning process? Employees get the feeling that they have a personal stake in the company's success or failure since they share a common vision. A shared vision weakens self-interest, which in turn, provides for a workplace environment that fosters cooperation, hard work, and commitment.
It is easier to draft a suitable scorecard when more people are involved. Usually, a moderately-sized company would be composed of a few departments - finance, human resource, production, marketing, and others, depending on the kind of business the company is engaged in. It will definitely be of great help when people, representing each area of operations, are able to chip in what they think the direction the company should take based on their areas of expertise. This will make the vision scorecard and the resulting vision comprehensive with all operational aspects amply given attention.
Aside from the comprehensiveness of the vision and its scorecards, you can expect planning to be an easier and an enthusiastic undertaking since employees know that the company vision is their vision. The participative visioning will help in encouraging people to work harder as the company is heading towards a future that they approve and sure to bring them dividends.
Business environments are constantly changing especially these days when a single technology innovation can result to new products that can alter how things are done overnight. The vision scorecards must be flexible and, most importantly, provide accurate measures that tell whether or not the company needs to change course or whether the direction is still valid.
To keep with the ever-changing business environment, some companies make it a point to conduct periodic reviews of their visions with owners, top management, and lower management in attendance. There may be new internal and external developments that render the vision off-track and revisions might be needed. Usually, both the vision and vision BSC are reviewed simultaneously with the conduct of strategic plan assessments.
The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that we are responsible for our own success.
The scary thing about being an entrepreneur is that we are responsible for our own success.
I am so far removed from where I started my business that I make it a policy to rethink my business every year. It often happens organically. Things slow down and I have time to think about how I'm doing. I love those times. Every time I take time to realign my business to my vision, good things start to happen. There are seven elements I examine and the first is always my business plan.
#1. Rework your Business Plan
Every time I rework my business plan I uncover another layer that brings me clarity and a new sense of purpose. It gives me an opportunity to drop what's not working and expand on what is. I use my business plan to expand my vision based on the new skills I have developed and the new possibilities I see. I look carefully to see that my passion is still high or if I've developed a new area of interest that needs following. And then I set new objectives and make the changes I have discovered that will take my business to a new level.
#2 Keep on marketing
Start marketing smarter. Find creative, innovate, inexpensive ways to uplevel your marketing plan. Find new ways to get free publicity. Interview and be interviewed, have a podcast, add another specific subject blog to attract people to one particular aspect of your business. Offer free introductory calls to stimulate interest.Survey your clients. What do they need? How have their needs changed since you started marketing to them. Are you supplying them with what they want? Rethink your product positioning and bundles.
#3 Cut Expenses
This may be a bit tricky if you are a solopreneur. But look closely. Reexamine your phone bill, shop for better long distant rates, cell phone deals. Shop your internet provider for combo offers. Sometimes you pay less when you pay for an entire year of a service like your shopping cart or web host rather than monthly. Get creative. What service can you share with another entrepreneur?
#4 Add new money-making services
It's usually easier to add new services than new products because there is only the investment of time. For instance, group coaching allows more people access to your services at a lower rate. There is the potential they will become private clients. Bundle your services to encourage larger sales. Change your services packages to encourage people to sign up for longer periods of time. Once I found my copy writing services were needed, I added that as a service. I can do that on the days I don't schedule coaching clients. Ask your clients what they need that you might provide and see if that is something you can add.
#5 Keep the cash flowing
I have a friend who hates to put out invoices. Her cash flow would improve if she would set up a monthly payment plan. Think of the time the money is not in her account earning interest. My coaching clients are on monthly automatic payments through my shopping cart. My invoices are updated every time I finish a task. If I'm doing a copy writing job I send them invoices in increments of $500 so the amount is manageable. Offer a discount to people who pay you within 30 days. Add a penalty to slow payees. Put a percentage into savings for those one a year renewals.
#6 Stay close to the money
Your time is your most valuable asset. Be certain you are using it wisely. Don't spend your time doing things that other people could do for you even if you do them well. You are the brains, the creative fire that fuels your business. Your time and focus should be directed at ways to make more money.
#7 Keep high expectations
Expect the best. Do not settle for second best. Expect to attract people who value what you do and easily have the money to pay you. Keep an eye for the unexpected joint venture possibility that suddenly appears. Keep a list of your ideas and periodically check them out to see what you should do next. Then take action. When I decided to offer my Magnetic Business Plan teleclass I wrote the sales page in one evening and the class in the next two days. And of course I'm going to leverage it and turn it into a home study course. Let your passion create your next service and product.
Remember, the great thing about being an entrepreneur is that we are responsible for our own success. And we can have a great time doing it!
By Cara Lumen
By Sam Miller
You might think that firing an obviously unproductive employee is a simple matter for managers. Nothing could be further from the truth; besides the fact that firing an employee is something any manager does not relish doing, he also needs to conform to a few rules or else he might face a suit for unlawful dismissal. For this reason, dismission KPI is very important to managers and companies.
Unfortunately, there are some employees that really need to be fired. But how do you do it? Can you not just walk up to their desks and say "You're fired"? Of course, you cannot just do that. First, the rules covering dismissal must be made clear to employees right at the first day of employment. The fact is that these rules must be part of new employee orientation and it is the obligation of employers to ensure that employees are thoroughly oriented on the dos and don'ts of the company. Being remiss on these matters, you give the offending employee the opportunity to fire back and create a lot of inconvenience by simply claiming that he was unaware of any regulations under which he is being fired.
Now, not all misconduct can be legitimate grounds for dismissal. There are what companies refer to as general misconduct and gross misconduct. Under the general misconduct category are relatively minor offenses, like habitual lateness for work, use of company equipment without permission, or underperformance when said underperformance has no grave and serious repercussions to the welfare of the company. Behaviors that fall under grave misconduct are those that are harmful to the company, like drunkenness, violence, destruction of company property, fraud, theft, security breaches, harassment, serious negligence, and discrimination. Misconduct under the general misconduct category can also be elevated to gross misconduct when employee remains recalcitrant despite repeated warnings. These offenses and categorizations must be clear to employees.
Generally, it is inviting lawsuit to just fire an employee without first giving him warning. Employees who are determined upon performance evaluation to be performing below expectations have the right to be informed of such evaluation. Even if he continues to perform poorly, it is better to reassign rather than dismiss him as long as the reason for the poor performance is not willful negligence.
The normal process for dismissal calls for at least two or three warnings to make sure that employee is given the chance to rectify mistakes or improve performance. These warnings must be in written form and a copy must be forwarded to personnel for the 201 files. Likewise, dismissal must be in written form. This way, in case of lawsuit, proper documentation can be produced to establish legality of the dismissal.
Some forms of misconduct are meted with immediate dismissal. And companies should be clear on what they are. Still, a formal investigation, unless the employee is caught red-handed, should be done to ensure that the punishment is deserved without question. It will be helpful to form a body to investigate the misconduct and its circumstances.
By Sam Miller
There comes a time in a business organization when managers will need an extra push to motivate their employees. Most of these scenarios are direct results of a sudden financial crunch or a misguided corporate decision. Whatever it is, it only means that the company could be in the brink of downfall. Apparent effects include resigning employees. Despite these undesirable situations, there is hope. In fact, little success, and not failure, implies an opportunity to go back to the basics, maximize resources, and further the growth of the business. Little success is not yet failure. In these trying times, boosting the morale of the workers is necessary. In this process, the use of employee involvement BSC or balanced scorecard is ideal.
If saving on labor cost is obligatory, this move however must not be apparent to the employees. Instead of hiring new workers for vacancies or new positions, why not get people from within the company? It is an opportunity for growth, after all. Promote your existing workers to upper level positions. This boosts their ego and furthers productivity. Less productive workers may move to a new position; this can be a chance for them to explore new skills. Fill the vacated positions by hiring new employees. HR experts say this type of move is strategic. How is it? There are internal reasons. However, nothing can be more compelling than hiring someone who is already in the company's rooster. The advantage is in their familiarity of the company's core values. The second apparent reason is it promotes patronage. Workers become more productive and loyal.
As ideal and as easy as it seems in the surface, the big question is - who will the company promote? This process is now the responsibility of the HR department. By reviewing all existing time records, work evaluations, and personal observations, it is never difficult to promote a deserving employee. However, the heart of employee involvement does not end in promoting internal workers. The process has just started, in fact. The next crucial step is to measure how effective these moves are. Aside from the already mentioned example, HR managers can introduce other helpful strategies, from which they can draw the BSC metrics.
Teach employees to use office resources more efficiently. Instead of using brand new typing papers in making draft prints, encourage them to use the backside of photocopied documents. Promote the use of the photocopier, instead of using the laser printer for producing multiple similar documents. Re-use office materials if possible. Turn off printers, computer monitors, lights, coffee maker, CPU, air conditioning system, electronic appliances, and gadgets when not in use. The trick is to make the employees more involved. It is okay to be honest about the present economic state of the company. However, never allow them to feel that they are at the bottom end.
At the end of the day, managers will input all of these strategic moves into the employee involvement BSC system. Using pre-defined metrics, the company will be able to know if there is an increase in productivity, increase in sales, decrease in overhead expenses, and improvement in company growth.
By Sam Miller
The main service of customhouses is to assist an importer or an exporter in obtaining clearance from port custom authorities for shipment of goods from one country to another. Some customhouses or agents limit their services to ensuring that no unnecessary charges are added to total assessments. However, some have more comprehensive services, like negotiating with shipping, air cargo planes, or trucking outfits for the transport of goods, and ensuring that the goods get to their destinations on time and in good condition. Getting these things done for the customer generates more business and thus, customhouse metrics are focused on providing quality services in these areas.
A customhouse lives by the number of quality clients it gets. It must have a way of improving services to encourage more clients, and this can be done by installing metrics that accurately measure the quality of services being offered. Since customers expect their goods to be delivered on time to their destinations at least cost to them, it will be good for a customhouse to be able keep track of delivery times and install a system where bottlenecks in the process of shipment can be eliminated. Customers want their goods at fixed dates and would often inquire about the whereabouts of the goods. It will be convenient for customhouses to be able to tell customers where they are at any give time. Metrics for tracing exact locations of goods for shipment then become a must.
The process, of course, can be as good as it can get but some glitches will occur when personnel are not up to their jobs. This is why staff performance is one area where a customhouse should be very particular about. It is after a job that requires knowledge on many things, like the custom laws of all countries catered, procedures, documentation, and others. It is of utmost importance to customhouses that its staff is able to keep to assigned schedules. It will not be good to its reputation to have consigned goods staying long at custom warehouses because processing of shipment or release documents is delayed.
There are customhouses, of course, that act as forwarders as well. The efficiency with which forwarding units deliver goods is another worthy of a good look since it is directly related to consummating the required service. For customhouses with forwarding units that negotiate cargo shipping for customers, a reliable network of shipping and forwarding concerns will do a lot of wonders to a customhouse's business. The capacity of the network to deliver goods on time at competitive cost will go a long way in convincing exporters and importers to continue patronage.
Nothing beats performance as manifested by delivering goods on time and at least cost to customers. This customhouse metrics mission should be backed-up by subsidiary programs, such as metrics for staff and delivery network efficiency. And advertising should give additional boost to business generation and there must be a way to measure its effectiveness; otherwise, a customhouse might be spending so much or not much on it.
By Sam Miller
A custom house is an institution that collects levees on imported and exported goods. Usually, this is one of the government agencies. But there are businesses that act on behalf of the exporters and importers or people moving personal effects out of their home countries. They are called custom brokers. For a fee, they will arrange everything for you, from taking care of custom fees of your goods and warehousing to shipping or airfreight and trucking needs. Custom house scorecards will be focused on how these services can be carried out efficiently.
A custom house in order to be legitimate must be licensed by a government agency and some of their employees, at least those that directly deal with the government collection agency, are required to pass certain state examinations. This is true for most countries. Thus, the very first concern of this type of scorecard will involve ensuring that its operations is supported by staff that not only are duly accredited, but more importantly are equipped with adequate knowledge of customs laws and have very good negotiating skills. Knowledge on currencies is also very useful.
There are custom brokers that offer the whole gamut of services related to moving goods in and out of countries. It is very important for these custom brokers to be thoroughly familiar with shipping, warehousing, freight operators, documentation, cargo handling, and processing. International brokers will be expected to have established helpful tie-ups with operators, offering these services to reduce delivery times that will attract more customers.
It is clear that another important scorecard of a custom house or broker will be establishing beneficial partnerships with businesses that specialize on cargo movement. Without these partnerships or tie-ups, a broker's business will be limited perhaps to just assisting customers with exportation or importation fees, not a very good set-up considering that most importers and exporters of goods would like to contract shipping tasks to only one person or company to save time, effort, and money.
All shippers would like to see their goods arrive at their final destination in good condition and on time. A broker will assuage apprehensions of customers by providing a fast service and a system where the location of goods can be traced anytime. This requires a systematic cargo handling process that is tested for time efficiency and a system where bottlenecks can be identified and corrected.
Fees that brokers collect from customers vary from broker to broker. But because of the nature of the business, the fees have a great influence on whether a broker will get sustained business or not. It is an intensely competitive business where the bottom line is getting goods to their appointed destinations on time and at least cost to the shipper. Even then, it is a lucrative business where a few can do a lot of moving with the right tie-ups and good management in place, coupled with great negotiating skills.
To summarize a good custom house scorecard will involve development of a staff that has adequate knowledge on customs laws, warehousing, freight, documentation, and cargo handling procedures and processes - a system which gets the cargo delivered on time.
By Mike Brooks
How much time and money do you devote to your company's sales pipeline? Think about the resources, the software, the meetings, the forecasting, the managing and measuring you do, and the time and effort you give it. If you're like most CEO's or VP's or sales managers, your sales pipeline is your life blood. It's what you run your company by; it's how you make decisions, and often times it even drives your stock prices.
While the pipeline is a vital part of the sales process, it is also where the most fundamental mistake is made, and this mistake costs companies millions (if not billions) of dollars every year.
The problem is that most companies spend too much time, money and energy on measuring and managing the pipeline rather than managing and improving the quality of leads that go into - and ultimately come out of - the pipeline.
In other words, most of the leads that go into your pipeline are never going to close, should never have been put in and, as a result, your company wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars generating and then chasing, and measuring and managing leads that will never close. That's the real problem.
Ask yourself: "What is my sales department's closing ratio?" I'll bet you can answer that, can't you? A typical company will report that it takes an average of 50 cold calls or contacts with decision makers to set 15 appointments out of which 10 will turn into proposals or pitches which will result in 1 or 2 sales.
And once this metric is established (as measured by the sales pipeline, of course) the sales strategy is set - to get more sales, you just have to set more appointments. And if you want more appointments, then you have to get your sales team to make more calls! Suddenly everyone works harder, goes out on more appointments, and...and...the desired results don't come, do they?
And here's why: until you address the fundamental problem- the quality of leads that go into your pipeline - you won't improve your close ratios or your sales. Remember, you can't close an unqualified lead, so stuffing more of them into your pipeline isn't going to get you the results you want. In fact, it will just cost your company more money, frustrate your managers and wear out your sales team.
You've got to stop managing your pipeline and start training your sales teams how to generate more qualified leads. That's the only real answer.
In fact that's the secret of all top sales producers. Look at your own top reps. What are their closing ratios? I'll bet they are the highest in your company, aren't they? They would never consider setting and running 15 appointments because they don't have the time to waste. They would rather spend their time qualifying (I call it disqualifying) out the non-buyers so they can spend their time finding, qualifying and working with real buyers. And they know how to do this because they understand sales. Unfortunately, 80% of your sales team doesn't.
And that's why sales training is your only real answer.
But sales training is what most companies don't do well. In fact, if you want to know how well your own sales training is working, simply shop your sales team. Either call in, or get on your lead list and have some of your reps call you. Try throwing them some objections and see how they do. If you're like most companies, you'll be appalled by the results.
Again, this is the real problem. Until you solve this basic problem of training your sales team, having them generate and stuff more unqualified leads into your pipeline won't get you the results your company needs. That's why most companies end up spending so much time and effort managing and measuring the pipeline. It's something they know how to do.
If you want to get out of this unproductive cycle and actually start improving your sales and revenues, then here's what you need to do: Get back to the basics of sales training and redefine what makes up a qualified lead. Identify all the elements and create a qualifying checklist. Make your reps fill it out completely before any leads are generated. If you're not sure of a lead, have a manager re-qualify it for them.
The bottom line is you must train your sales force (and sometimes your managers) how to find and qualify real buyers. The more of these you identify and put into your sales pipeline, the more meaningful it will become.
So take the emphasis off managing your pipeline, and start training and managing your sales team. If you do it right, I guarantee you it will finally give you something you'll be happy to measure - more sales!