Customers are the heart of all small businesses and without them the business is sure to fail. Therefore, it important that they are treated properly and you strive to build a relationship with them, to ensure you gain a loyal customer.
Here are six essential steps to consider when building a strong client base;
Whether it is via email, text, phone, newsletters, websites, social media or face-to-face it is vital that you are letting people know you exist. Let them know what your business is about and how customers can get your services or products. Why should they get them from you and not somebody else? A good tip is to share some knowledge or useful tips and tricks. Communication is also important in the aspect of replying quickly and professionally.
2. Customer Service
Go the extra mile for your clients and make their experience personal. Customers will always remember the companies that treated them well and those that treated them badly. Ensure you deliver good customer service by ensuring staff are well trained, customers are listened to and not rushed. Reply to queries complaints or emails as soon as you can. This will ensure that they will come back if they need your services again and they will recommend you to anyone they may know who needs those services; therefore, building up your client base.
3. Customer incentives
Incentives give customers a reason to come back to you rather than go to another company. This a good way to start building a client base from nothing, especially if your services are something new and not well-known yet. Having incentives like a free consultation or loyalty rewards can influence people to use your services over another companies; as they know what they are getting before they pay for the product or services. This allows them to make a decision based on what they want rather than what people have told them.
This is a great quality to have for customers. People have very busy lives these days, so it is essential that deadlines and agreements are met on time and up to standard. For example, someone may own a small office supplies company and an office may order some ink and the delivery date is next Monday but it doesn’t arrive until the Wednesday and they had ran out of ink between the date in which it was supposed to be delivered by and the actual delivery date. This could cause a customer not to want to come back to your business. The client may write a bad review online about the business, which may cause other people not to try your business. So ensure when discussing deadlines and deliveries that enough time is left for these to be met and communicate with the customer throughout to see if it suits them or if suddenly a deadline can’t be met.
5. Address customers by name
Make sure that you clearly communicate to customers that you respect them and make them feel important as they are by addressing them directly and taking time to know their names. Depending on which sector you’re in you will know whether to use Mrs, Ms or Mr, etc or their first name. This builds loyalty and builds a good relationship from the start. If you tell a customer your name they then know who they are speaking to and what they have discussed and can refer back to it if needed and be held accountable. Also customers are more likely to open up to you and will gain more trust to form the basis of a good long-term relationship.
6. Training staff
Training staff is essential to provide good customer service. Make sure that all staff have an overview of the business and can give customers answers for all aspects of the business, rather tah having to deal with too many departments for simple queries. Staff training allows the employees to feel more confident in their job role and motivated which allows for good work which leads to reliable and loyal customers, as well as staff retention.
If you want to talk it through how to improve your business in order to increase your customer base, give RBSS Consulting a call on 0333 355 1696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer you real business advice and solutions for start-ups and small businesses.
When you talk to different financial and business advisors about getting access to finance, you’ll get similar but varied advice. It all depends on the business’ particular circumstances. RBSS Consulting, a business advice and consultancy firm, has helped raise funds for hundreds of small and medium size investors. The tricky, yet simple, ones are the Angel Investors.
So I put the question to a panel of professionals and these were the answers given by the panel. Similar but still different.
The most powerful thing you can do is show operating profits. If you are in the early stages, show a compelling plan, prototype and comparable companies who are already in your market. Demonstrate how much and when cash flow begins.
Remember that Angel Investors invest in people, just as much as the product or service. They are evaluating if the person who is raising the money has his/her heart and soul in the concept. Are they committed? If not, then they may turn you down. Being ‘all-in’ is the only way to be when building a company, particularly when it involves other’s money.
Assuming you are totally dedicated to making this a success, and depending on what your product is, start selling as soon as you can. There’s nothing that inspires investors more than a sales ramp. If selling you’re not good at selling, invest some money in someone who can.
And finally, don’t give up. It is likely that you will be making many presentations to angel groups before you find the right one. Don’t give up!
When approaching an Angel Investor network, I recommend that you enter the opportunity seeking to build a relationship above all. Plan your first meeting as an introduction only and follow up with a second meeting when you pitch your offer. As much as you need the investment, don’t act desperate.
If you have a partner in your business, then perhaps use them to make the pitch with you. Two people sometimes appeal more to a group of investors. Make sure you have practiced your pitch thoroughly so that you are both on the same page. Try to connect through social media networks.
Angel investors look for high quality business cases supported by financials with scenario planning – optimistic, realistic and pessimistic. They need to understand the promoters understanding of business and ability to read the unfolding environment and marketplace.
Some investors are keen to see what personal wealth has been put behind the idea and the passion displayed to go for the concept over long term.
Have a great idea. Know your numbers inside and out. Appeal to their generosity and how the business will benefit from their support. Show them why it is a great investment and why you are worth it.
The biggest mistake that businesses make when approaching investor is to spend 90% of the time talking about the product and 10% of the time on the financials. You need to reverse the percentages if you want to engage investors.
If you want to talk it through with a professional business adviser first, contact RBSS Consulting. We offer you real business advice and solutions.
For more information contact RBSS Consulting at email@example.com or 0333 355 1696.
Business is business and whatever the size of your company there are many principles that apply to all. Look at the following skills that big businesses use that small businesses can use too:
Working with other companies or individuals will not only benefit you and share the workload it will benefit the other company too. The partnerships that tend to work the best are those that share the rewards and risks. If the partnership proves successful you will gradually have more and more potential opportunities to work together. Working with others can open you up to new opportunities and offers which may otherwise not have been presented. Partnerships also increase your visibility, which then increases the chances of viability and thus profitability.
However big or small your company is branding is important. In today’s marketing, a brand is not just a name given to a product or service from a particular source. Your ‘brand’ is what your clients (or potential clients) think of when he or she hears your brand name. This is relevant for both big and small companies or products. Even if they haven’t heard of your business before they met your business, your brand becomes the impression they leave with when they have worked alongside your business. The best way to get brand exposure is through having a marketing strategy to get your product or services out there and known. The big brands do this all the time with TV and radio ads and posters, billboards and PR. Although these are expensive ways of marketing, they work. Having a marketing strategy is vital and even of you don’t have a marketing budget to speak of, there are other ways. Think of your market in terms of demographics, location, gender, etc and determine where you want to make your mark or where you want to start to grow the brand and then grow organically from there. You can put ads in local newspapers, distribute leaflets, invest in a website or use social media. These are all effective ways of marketing your brand without breaking the bank.
Listening to customers
Simple, but true. Large companies invest big bucks in research, development and marketing. This can be done by asking for feedback on social media or creating debates and discussions for their customers to take part in. Imagine if you had a restaurant, you may have some special meals for a limited time only. if people are talking about them a lot and showing a real interest you could set up a vote on social media asking whether to keep that meal or offer going on for longer. This not only gains customer loyalty as you are giving them a choice, it creates more company awareness, which could lead to even more customers. This ability to be spoken about over social media and other channels creates a buzz.
Why not take these three tips and spend time on each of these and see what changes happen in your business. If you want to talk it through with a professional. At RBSS Consulting, we offer real business advice and solutions for start-ups and small businesses that want to start right and grow profitably.
For more information contact RBSS Consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0333 355 1696.
Congratulations, you own your own business. You’ve worked hard to make it sustainable. But what now? You want it to grow and still want to make a profit? So how do you do it successfully, without spending a fortune? Here are some tips to consider about how to grow your business profitably.
Profitable Business Growth Tips
Manage your costs
The most important thing to do is to manage your finances. Whilst you are trying to grow your business, you should make sure you are not spending money unnecessarily. Look at your spending, is there anything that you can cut back on or cut out completely? Are you getting the best deal from your suppliers, go back to each of them and ask them if they are able to make any reductions. Do you own or rent premises? Are you using this space efficiently? Are your processes efficient. Is there anything that you could streamline? How about your labour costs? Not only look at staff costs, but also think about effectiveness, materials etc. Are there energy savings that you could make?
Are you ready for expansion?
Is the product or service you sell ready for expansion? Something that works really well at one level, may not work model on a bigger level. Do you have the right systems in place to scale up? Have you thought about what being bigger looks like? Have you thought about any hurdles that you may face when things take off? Try to plan for these changes in advance by building it into your plan. By not doing so may incur unforeseen costs, which would be counterproductive.
Once you are sure it will be worth expanding look around the market. Who will your new customers be? How much will they pay for what you are offering? Review your prices and compare your products and services against your competitors. How will your customers by from you? Will you expand your online services? Introduce new methods like delivery?
Can you upsell or cross sell to your existing customers?
The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule whereby 80% of your profits come from 20% of your products/ services, usually also applies to customers. So could you focus more on your profitable customers to push sales? Think about upselling and cross-selling. Do you have the right team in place to do this?
How will your new customers know what you have to offer? Ensure a solid marketing plan is in place, depending on your budget.
Getting advice is one of the best things to do, whether it be bouncing ideas off someone or listening to financial advice. It can help give you the confidence to grow your business profitably. If you would like to speak to a business advisor at RBSS Consulting. Give us a call on 0333 355 1696.
If every time I was asked business advice on this question, I would be sitting on a beach somewhere right now, instead of writing this blog.
Not all businesses need to be VAT registered. What type of set-up you choose is up to you, in most instances. Here are some facts and guidance to help you make the right decision.
First it's important to know that there is a compulsory threshold of £85,000, and if a business’ turnover in the previous 12 months go above this, then they have to register for VAT, and if they don’t there could be fines to pay. Your accountant will be able to keep an eye on this as it works on a rolling basis for any 12 month period, not by tax or business year.
What are the benefits to being VAT registered?
As a new start-up there is no need to register for VAT straight away but you may choose to for the following two reasons:
Financially better off
VAT is a tax that you collect for the taxman, so if you sell a product at £1,000, that becomes £1,200 and the £200 goes to HMRC. If you buy a product which has VAT on top you can also claim this back though, so if you buy an item for £100 with £20 VAT on top, the money you pay HMRC becomes £180, making you £20 richer.
Depending on what your industry is, it may make financial sense to become VAT registered.
If you haven’t reached the turnover threshold, becoming VAT registered may still be in your interest as it will make you look bigger than you are. Again depending on your target market and the businesses you are trying to connect with, you may feel this will help your overall marketing efforts.
What are the downsides to becoming VAT registered?
There are a few reasons why you may not feel it’s a good idea to voluntarily register, when you are still under the threshold of £83,000.
The overall price increase of 20% on your goods or services, could be off-putting if you are trading with businesses who are not VAT registered. If you trade with many businesses like this then it could be problematic. As a new business when researching your target market make sure you have a clear idea of whether this likely to be the case. Of course if you will predominantly trade with businesses that are VAT registered, they can claim it back so it isn’t a problem.
Many businesses say that the VAT paperwork is a lot, so depending on what your accounting team looks like this could be burdensome. However you may find an accountant who can take it on, or has the software that makes it easier to manage, but it’s worth thinking about this when starting-up as there will be many other administrative processes that take up more time than you think.
Businesses that cross the VAT threshold will be required to comply with ‘Making Tax Digital’ for their VAT affairs from April 2019. Read more about making tax digital.
What VAT schemes types are there?
There are different types of VAT schemes. This could influence whether this is right for you or not.
Standard (Accrual) Scheme
This means you pay and reclaim the VAT at the end of the quarter in which the invoices are dated. This could be problematic if you don’t get paid or purchase the items in the quarter you are invoiced.
Cash Accounting Scheme
With cash accounting, you account for VAT on the date you’re paid instead of the date you send the invoice. This can be helpful for those companies that have slow payers, since you don't have to pay VAT before you’ve been paid.
Flat Rate Scheme
You pay a flat rate regardless of how much you reclaim, not only is this less paperwork, but for some lines of work, this can be a benefit. The percentage you say depends on your industry. Only smaller businesses, with annual turnover up to £150,000, can use this VAT scheme. Check with HMRC to find out whether yours is eligible.
You have to weigh up whether it’s worthwhile when starting out as there could be some benefits to doing so, but equally it could be way more hassle and costly than it’s worth. The correct business advice on this is speak to a business consultant or your accountant.
The business advisors at RBSS Consulting in Romford are up to speed with all VAT matters and can help explain the different options to help you decide which one is right for you. Call us on 0333 355 1696 today.