04.24.17 | Creative Ways To Promote Your Business
If there is one thing that every mompreneur knows, it is that the world of business is intensely competitive. When you are just starting out, you have to set yourself apart somehow because you do not yet have a reputation to rely on. This may mean selling your services and products at a somewhat reduced rate for a while until you have developed a customer base who knows and trusts you. You can then amend your prices to increase profits. However, once you’ve become somewhat developed, the game changes and you are now forced to compete with established companies, and depending on your specific market, you may find yourself up against massive corporations who, with their greater resources, can outperform you.
The sometimes irritating thing about corporations is that they manage to sell so much that they can charge a slightly more reduced mark-up because they know that they can make it back in greater numbers of sales. As a small business owner, you cannot as easily rely upon reaching so many customers and will therefore have to charge each one a little more to make back your investment. This is especially true when the corporations seem to have a monopoly. One example is Google which, as of last year, had 63.5% of the search engine market. The next closest is not a small ambitious company but technology giant Microsoft which has a 22.5% share, followed closely by Yahoo with 11.7%. The next closest, AOL, has just 1.4%. Trying to break into that market at this stage of game seems impossible. Not only does Google have a dominating share of the market, the name of the company has actually been co-opted as a verb to describe what they do (few people say that they will ‘Bing’ or ‘Yahoo’ something, but the idea of ‘googling’ something is near ubiquitous).
While you may not be trying to compete with the biggest companies in the world (one wonders when Apple are going to introduce a search engine; the iSearch perhaps?), you will still have to do what you can to get ahead of your competitors. There are lots of ways that you can try to do this but if everyone else is trying those things too (such as TV ads and promotions sent through the mail), you may struggle to pull ahead. What you need are new and creative ways to market your business. If you are successful, your competitors will soon start copying your tactics and you’ll be back where you started: having to innovate. In any case, here are a few ideas that you may not have considered trying to set yourself apart from the pack:
Host a corporate event. This is good for two reasons. Firstly, you get to promote your business in all sorts of fun ways (and we’ll get back to those in a moment) but it also gives you a chance to make business contacts both in your local area and from around the country, depending on the scope of your event. Organizing a symposium or a trade show may seem daunting but there is not as much to it as you may imagine. Hiring a venue is easy enough, whether it is a local hotel conference room or a built to purpose conference center. You then need to organize events. These could range from inviting speakers, leaders in the industry, to lecture about their successes or organizing a dais and having a more diverse group such as industry insiders as well as academics and local policy makers. The idea is to create both an informative but also an entertaining event. Once you have your events, the rest is just sending out invitations and taking care of the small logistical matters of finding hotels for your guests. Integrating your brand into the event is then rather easy. For instance, when each guest arrives, give them their ID and conference pass in a lanyard with your company logo and details (check out Lanyard Factory Home page for ideas). You can also give a talk yourself: since you had the initiative to organize everyone together, what you have to say takes on more import. Other ideas include running a charitable event alongside the conference and then donating that money to a local charity. Your company will be reported in the press and will gain greater recognition.
A brilliant resource (one that business people in the past would not believe if they saw) is the internet. It is easy to advertise on massive sites like Facebook but the internet is much more than its most popular site after Google (which is hardly a surprise). However, since the internet is free and relies to a great degree on user generated content, people with similar interests tend to find themselves congregating together. With a little research, it would be quite easy to find a site dedicated to any niche that you can imagine. This is good for your business because if your services or products appeals to a certain, specific demographic, you are able to market to them directly. It is more efficient than trying to advertise to everyone in the hope that it will find its way to the people you’re interested in as customers. Another cool thing about the internet is that it is connected all over the place. This is the idea that has allowed for the existence of viral content. A video only needs to be posted to one site like YouTube, and by the end of the day, it can be on hundreds of thousands of websites and shared on Twitter too. Taking advantage of this perfect marketing tool is as easy as creating something that people want to share. Whether it is a blog post with a catchy title, or a snarky ad that pokes fun at a public figure or politician, you may find that you get more advertising than you’d ever be able to afford and all for the cost of uploading it just once.
In the modern world, where business is so competitive, the secret to succeeding is not always spending lots of money (although it doesn’t hurt) but being creative and innovating.
If a business is to survive, it’s important that great people are found at every level of its structure. Not only are these the people who will manage the daily functioning of your business, but they are the ones promoting your brand image, interacting with the public and other businesses, making sure everything you do is above board and documented, and also providing ideas for long-term growth and profitability.
If you neglect your staff, you neglect your brand. This is why every company sees the importance of hiring good staff and looking after them. You may hire yourself or you may delegate that responsibility to trusted individuals. But are you really ensuring that you’re bringing the absolute best people into your business? Are you overlooking some simple factors that can determine if hiring them is a good choice or not?
It’s easy to be punctual and look good in your first, second or third interview. But does the specified individual have the temerity and inner character necessary in order to flourish in their role? What follows are the most important, lesser understood factors that can help you identify the resource you’re really after.
Are They Familiar With The Subtleties of Their Role?
This is role dependent, but it’s still something to look out for. Instead of only quizzing your prospective employee on how well they’ve familiarized themselves with your business (easy to do online,) how much do they actually know about the role they are asking to undertake? Do they know the subtleties? For example, do they know how to buy b2b leads? Are they familiar with the psychology of marketing? Drawing up a list of the lesser known aspects of the role you’re advertising and quizzing them about one at random can give you an idea of how well they’d learn.
Not knowing how to perform what you’re asking isn’t necessarily a downside either. If they’re forthright that they don’t know the topic at hand, and honestly seem like they’re enthusiastic to learn, that can be a great resource in itself. Remember, this is someone you’ll be interacting with for a while. Getting a good judge of their character at every opportunity will be advantageous.
How Do They Interact With Those In The Waiting Room?
This is a sneaky trick, but one to think about. If you’re interviewing a number of people that day, consider placing someone outside to wait in the hall with the potential recruits, posing as an interviewee. This might be a better way to get a grip on someone’s character, as they’re more likely to be honest about how they truly feel about the process and job. This will only work if you can justify paying someone to sit in a room all day, but if you do, it might yield interesting results.
Do They Have A Sense Of Humor?
This is a great quality to look for. Dependent on your personality, it might be interesting to drop a light comment or joke and see if your employee runs with it. Nerves might abate their response, but if they make an awkward attempt to continue the humor, this might be more of a positive sign than someone who decides not to for risk of ‘blowing it.’ This could also show an ability to take risks, which is invaluable. As we all know, offices that joke together stay together.
Keep this list in the forefront of your mind in order to profit the most from your interviewing process. You never know, it might just help the day become that little bit more interesting.
Engaging with your customers can be a difficult task. Depending on what type of product or service you offer, your customers might not care too much about what you get up to outside of whatever you offer them. They might not care that you have a new product coming up, they might care that you hired new employees, and they probably don’t care that you got a new toaster in the staff kitchen. This is understandable. After all, your customers only really care about the product you offer them and nothing more, so what are the best ways to engage and inform them?
Social media is probably the fastest way you can engage with customers. With short, simple and snappy messages, you could get a point across very quickly. You can mention other people, use hashtags for exposure and even attach images or videos to your Twitter messages. Social media is used by millions of people around the world, making it one of the most efficient ways to promote your brand but due to the audience, it’s also one of the fastest ways to get a message across to your customers. Simply add some social media buttons to your website, add your company Twitter account to customer information, and watch your follower base grow.
Printing a physical magazine for your business is probably a huge gamble, but making a digital one isn’t all too farfetched. A digital magazine could contain a collection of your latest company blog posts, it could be a small publication that informs readers about your business, or it could even be something completely unrelated to your business. For instance, Michelin is a manufacturing company that makes tires, but they’re well-known for their restaurant and hotel guides. You can create some beautiful digital publications using a magazine cover template and a bit of creativity. Fill it with original content, share it on social media and watch your customer engagement shoot through the roof.
Whether you operate a blog or an online retail store, the comment sections of your website are a great way to interact with customers. Although they might not be used very often, there will always be people who leave behind questions or comments regarding a product and you give a good impression by responding to those messages. You should also make it a habit to respond to negative criticism instead of deleting it. Not only will it make you look professional, but it will show people that you aren’t afraid of responding to criticism.
Emailing customers directly can be seen as an aggressive marketing strategy, but it’s a very common way for growing businesses to inform and engage with their customers. You could email them your latest product offers, tell them about sales you are having or even give them a preview of a new and upcoming iteration of your product. A slightly less intrusive way of letting people know about your products is to simply set up an emailing list that your customers can choose to subscribe to or opt out of.
04.21.17 | Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst
When you’re running a business you should always be preparing for the absolute worst thing that could happen. You shouldn’t do this because you think it’s going to occur but rather because your company will survive if it does. Not only that, preparing for worst case scenarios will put your business in a strong position regardless of whether it happens.
An example of this would be preparing for a price war. A price war is when a business competitor starts slashing their prices in the hope of pushing you out the market. It’s a very real possibility too, particularly if the products that you’re selling are so similar customers could choose either one. When push comes to shove they will opt for the cheapest option.
To prepare for this situation, you need to make sure you keep customers loyal. To do this, make sure they feel like part of your company and reward their interest in your business. Connect with them on social media and you’ll establish a bond that should hopefully ensure they keep buying.
Or alternatively keep your costs low enough so that you can drop your prices and still stay profitable. That way you’ll be able to endure a price war. You can learn how to reduce business costs at www.americanexpress.com.
Of course the point here is that this isn’t just going to help you in the worst case scenario. It’s going to benefit you in general and here are a few other situations where that’s the case.
Use Tech Support
Almost every modern business on the market today is reliant on technology. You’ll be using cloud servers and hard drives to store data, contact clients and deliver services. If your systems crashed, your business could be knocked out the market. The longer you’re out for, the less chance you have of a full recovery.
That’s why all business owners should be investing in some form of tech support. It means you don’t have to worry about issues with your IT. According to sites such as www.netwize.net, IT support companies can provide everything from cyber security to backups and recovery. As such, they are essential services for businesses.
Get Full Insurance Coverage
There are plenty of ways you can lose money in your business. It might be a case of theft, an issue with employees or even a natural disaster like a storm. Again, there’s no guarantee any of these things happen in your business, but you should still be prepared for them.
Make sure you have the greatest insurance coverage for your company. This will keep your business above water even in the wake of a massive financial disaster. The insurance company will pay out and you won’t lose a day of business due to an issue like this. Have a look at the different types of insurance on a site such as www.forbes.com.
Since there are so many insurance coverage plans to choose from it makes sense to speak to a legal advisor. They will be able to recommend all the coverage that you need and ensure that your company has the full support it needs. Your finances will be completely protected.
Growing a business itself can be very difficult. However, what’s even more challenging is being able to cope with the growth and scale your business so that you can accommodate the increase in demand. There are several considerations to take into account when business is booming, and here are just a couple of them that you should be thinking about. The last thing you want is to be unprepared for growth and, as a result, fail to capitalize on a winning business idea or strategy that you have stumbled upon.
The Problem with Hiring
When you hire for your startup, you probably think about having a minimum amount of employees to do all the necessary jobs you have. Unfortunately, when it comes to scaling up the business it can be difficult trying to judge how many new employees you actually need. There isn’t an easy way around this and unless your workplace has an easy time working out how many employees it needs, it will take some trial and error. A golden rule to hiring is that you should always hire less than more. When you hire too many employees, you run the risk of overhiring and thus, spend far too much money on business upkeep. Your growth spurt could be temporary and if you overestimate your situation, it could spell disaster when you suddenly have too much staff.
Are You Prepared For Legal Battles?
When you gain more traction in the business world, you also gain more attention. This attention can often be good. For instance, more attention from the media means more exposure, and more attention on social media means that you’ll get more customers. The more people talk about your brand, the better your situation. However, keep in mind that not all attention is good and you need to be prepared for upcoming legal battles. The first situation is copyright infringement or trademark violations. If someone is stealing your idea or duplicating your product, then you need to take action so that you don’t lose customers to imitations or copycat products. If you have a lot of employees and multiple streams of revenue, then you may also need an attorney for any tax matter if your financial department is falling behind or if you’re being audited because of the amount of income your business is generating.
Have You Diversified?
Having a single killer product is a fantastic way to break into a niche market or overtake well-known competitors. However, it also limits what you can and can’t do. You don’t need to break into several different markets because you’ll be spreading your resources too thinly, but you also shouldn’t limit yourself to just a single item. For instance, if you’re selling a tech device, then make sure you have several different models, that you’re updating the software on a regular basis, and that refresh it every year to give people an updated and improved version. Don’t stick to just a single product—diversify and captivate a wider audience with your brand. If you’re unsure about where to take your product or what to work on next, then work on your business communication and listen to feedback or concerns from your customers.
Whether you’re buying a new vehicle or converting your personal vehicle into a company car, you need to make sure that it’s fit for business. Here are a few considerations worth making when choosing or converting your vehicle.
A two-door hatchback probably isn’t going to be practical if you’re running a delivery company or a handyman business. Not only that, but registering for vehicle for business use may flag up warning signs.
Suit your vehicle to its purpose. There are many adjustments that you can make to further equip it for business. Some companies may be able to convert vans into portable work stations with a workbench, rails or a lift. You can also fit ladder racks if you need to carry a ladder and a tow bar for carrying a trailer. Meanwhile, if you need to stay connected to the internet when out doing rural jobs, it’s possible to transform your vehicle into a moving wi-fi hotspot.
Taxes and Insurance
You don’t have to pay road tax if your vehicle is exclusively used for business. However, if another family member uses it or if you use it privately (including for commuting) you will be eligible for tax. That said, you can claim vehicle use on your expenses. If you need to fill up with gas to go to a business meeting, or need to pay for parking as part of work, this will be tax deductible.
You can also get lower insurance rates by opting for special business vehicle insurance. Get business auto insurance here first, before you drive your car, truck or van while on business. Certain schemes may also allow multiple drivers to drive multiple vehicles more cheaply.
Your business vehicle can say a lot about your reputation. Meeting clients in a battered rust bucket doesn’t look good on the state of your business, but neither does turning up in a top of the range sports car. Some clients may assume you’re overcharging them if you arrive in a high end vehicle, and employees might think you’re underpaying them.
Go with a safe business vehicle that says you’re professional without rubbing your wealth in other people’s faces (owning such a high end vehicle as a private car is fine!). Opt for a modern mid-range car or van.
Applying branding to your vehicle can also increase your credibility. This could be vinyl or printed text on the side, or simply a bumper sticker. This will make your business look more official and make you more identifiable, which may be useful when meeting a client for the first time or gaining access to a private car park or property. Branding can also be a great marketing tactic, effectively turning your vehicle into a moving billboard. Make sure that you include your phone number and website so that anyone with a smartphone can make a note, look you up or contact you there and then.
04.20.17 | Communication and Its Importance In Business
Businesses rely on so much to succeed. A good plan, for instance, can ensure that a steady hand leads a business through some stormy seas. Money as well – If a business isn’t making money, it is going to struggle instead of succeeding. A constant stream of income is needed to ensure that a business breaks even of the course of a financial year to ensure that it survives. However, there is something else that is critical to the success of any kind of business, and it might be a bit surprising. It is communication.
If you put your mind to it, you will easily realize that no business can achieve much without solid communication. We use communication in our everyday lives, in both personal and professional areas. In business, solid communication is important for the day-to-day operation of a company and is essential in being able to actually sell a product or service to someone. Without communication, a business will wither on the outside and die on the inside. If you’re a small business – you’re going to get lost in a sea of bigger businesses if you can’t communicate. If you’re a freelancer, you’re going to get swept away if you can’t market yourself with good communication.
There are plenty of different forms of communication in the business world. Namely, one-way and two-way. These are pretty self-explanatory. One-way communication is when a business sends out communications without expectation or need for a response. This usually happens when a business shares information with customers. One-way communication is usually found in marketing – adverts in newspapers and on the radio. Two-way communication is when a customer responds back. Meetings are good, but also customer service opportunities on the phone as well. Social media marketing is a form of two-way as it allows a business to call out to customers and it allows the customers to respond back.
Communication towards customers is something that has a direct impact on the profitability and sales of a business. If a business can learn how to communicate in the right way to customers in the target market of a business, it can work to convince these customers of the benefits of the products and services offered by the business. This can obviously create a bigger chance for a business to maximize sales than if it were to avoid communicating altogether.
There are plenty of other ways that communication manifests itself. You can speak, you can write and you can express yourself. In the conduction of great business, these three are combined to great effect not only to market ideas to customers, but to motivate and inform employees contracted to a business. Different people are responsive to different types of communication, which is why a business should try to master its verbal communication, its written communication and the way it expresses itself (branding) to draw more out of its market and attempt to appeal to as wide a range of people as possible. If businesses do not try to improve their communication methods, there can be problems, mainly in how communications are perceived by an audience or regulating body. If you are not clear with your outbound communications, it can have a detrimental effect on your marketability and even your sales. That being said, good communication is good for business, if you can ensure you can get on a level with your customers and target market, you can communicate clearly and ensure customers receive the right messages from your business. There might be no better way to boost sales!
That’s how you can communicate, but what are the further benefits of good communication? Well, for one – it helps build and maintain relationships. In all areas of business, building relationships are key to the running of a business, in some areas of business – it is even more crucial. Communication is how relationships are built, so without effective communication, you will find it very difficult to be able to build any sort of positive or productive relationship in business. Communication also helps creativity. Every business should try to be as innovative as possible, especially in the modern day. If your employees are able to communicate and an environment of collaboration is allowed and supported. Good communication supports innovation in the workplace. If your staff can’t talk or get their ideas across, their ideas will be lost, and one of those could be the saving grace of your business. Forget about ideas if you can’t build a team though. Honest and open communication in the place of work and will help forge an effective team. A good team spirit in the workplace will make your place of work more enjoyable and productive. Good internal communications can ensure that your staff knows exactly what they are doing and how to do it, this can also be used to reward staff and remind them of their productivity as well as their work-based achievements.
It’s also about leadership and management though. Communication is key in this role. It allows you to set goals, talk to your employees and help them develop in not only their role, but their career. Managers need to be good communicators so they can inform their team and staff about what to do, and the expectations of the role. Communication also obviously helps manager’s feedback to staff and build crucial relationships. If you don’t have good communication skills as a leader, you will fail to understand the staff working for you.
Communication? It’s so important in business, isn’t it! Apart from the in-depth information, we’ve delivered thus far – how can a business achieve anything at all with communication? Think about your staff. How can they know their job, roles, tasks and functions without effective communication? How will your business promote its products? Communication might be where your business dies – or the area that sees your business thrive. We’ve covered the benefits, so let’s now take a look at how a business can use communication and how it can be more effective at communicating!
Aside from marketing, no form of communication is more common in a business setting than the meeting. It’s a place where you can set goals and bring motivation to a team. It is an environment where your team can also be heard and air their views and frustrations. A meeting is key to the inner workings of a team. Equipment is also essential in communication. Small business phone systems allow you to speak to your audience and customers as well as communicate internally, while computers can help your staff stay organized as well as launch marketing campaigns while staying in touch with clients. Good communication and good tech to support comms is critical. It’s not just equipment though; the layout of your office could have a huge impact on staff communication. If you and your employees are separated and isolated communication is going to be muted and collaboration stunted – move desks together for more effective collaboration. Are your computers separated and not linked over a network? This means that your staff won’t have access to all the materials needed to complete work – make sure your computers are networked. Of course, there are plenty of communication software options available to help your staff talk. Slack functions as a virtual office and is a godsend in remote working setups. Basecamp is a lot more fully functioned. Basecamp can do it all from communication, to to-do lists, daily reports and staff check ins. If you can correctly identify the right software for your company and use it in the right way, you’ll solve a lot of communication issues and you’ll be able to communicate more effectively.
Customer service is also a crucial part of communication. If you shut yourself away from your customers, they will be irate when issues arise that you refuse to solve. A customer coming to you with an issue isn’t a negative; it’s a chance for you to solve a problem and prevent it from happening again. This is a huge positive. Why? Because most customers stay silent about issues – this sort of feedback is golden and means that you can patch up huge problems! This feedback can be oft, but it is worth it if it means you’ve found an area to improve in your business. If you do not respect the views and wishes of your customers, you’re going to create problems in your target market that could have serious for your business. In customer service, every customer should be treated with respect by your business.
There’s a reason communication is so important – in fact, there are a whole bunch of reasons why good communication is needed in business. If your business can’t talk to customers, it can’t sell products or resolve issues and queries. If your business can’t talk to clients or investors, it can’t pitch ideas or attract funds. If you can’t speak to your staff, you’ll be steering a rudderless ship and productivity in the workplace will suffer. If you’re communication skills are lacking in the workplace, work away right now at rectifying that with the help of good technology and good policy. Communication is crucial to success in business, so don’t avoid success by developing terrible communication habits!
With the rise of social media, some analysts sounded the death knell for email marketing. However, email marketing hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, it’s arguably bigger and better than ever, despite all the newfangled digital marketing techniques that have been and gone during its tenure.
It turns out that people respond well to email marketing. Thanks to new facilities that separate emails into different categories, like “promotional” and “social,” those who are interested are free to peruse them at their leisure.
The aim of companies, therefore, is to create emails that are so compelling that customers can’t help but read on to find out more. But how exactly is this achieved? And how can you adjust the writing in your emails to make sure that they lead to conversions?
#1: Use Actionable Language
Using actionable language in the headline helps to create a sense of urgency in the reader. For instance, Opentable has sent out marketing emails in the past saying “Take dad out for lunch.” Words like “take” and “ask” help to provoke the reader into action, compelling them to take the next step and use the service.
You can also use actionable language in a way that doesn’t rely on the use of particular verbs. For instance, many companies go with headlines like “Don’t miss out on our half-price sale.” Although there is no direct call-to-action, a call to action is implied.
#2: Personalize When Possible
In general, people prefer personalized messages to generic emails. Studies have shown that targeted and segmented emails drive more than 58 percent of total email revenue. As such, it’s a good idea to use tools, like email newsletter software at Postman Newsletter, to segment your market. For instance, if you’re an estate agent, you know which of the people in your marketing list are looking to rent or buy. As a result, it only makes sense to sent emails about renting to the renters and emails about buying to the buyers.
You can also do more technical things, such as make use of dynamic fields – fields that automatically adjust based on information in your customer database. This helps you to send emails out to all your customers named Jill, starting with “Dear Jill.”
#3: Establish Relevancy
The heading of the email should be relevant and personalized to the person it is being sent to. And so should the copy in the email itself.
In practice, this means including more than a dynamic name tag. For instance, suppose you’re a prescription glasses company, like Warby Parker, and you want to remind customers that their prescription is coming up for renewal. It’s a good idea to put a personalised date in the header for their renewal based on their last prescription.
#4: Write In the Second Person
Finally, it’s always a good idea to write emails in the second person using words like “you,” “your” and “yours.” The reason for doing this is to make sure that the content of the email is focused on the reader, rather than on the business providing the service. After all, people just want problems to be solved.
04.19.17 | How To Put On The Best Show Possible
When it comes to getting your business known and promoting your products and services among a certain industry, you can do a lot worse than attending a trade show. The main reason for this is accessibility. After all, a lot of the people that attend trade shows can be nigh on impossible to reach otherwise. Think about it, a trade show is basically a place where every professional in your industry gathers for two or three days. It makes for ideal pickings.
However, attendance at these things can cost a pretty penny, to say the least, so make sure have a battle plan that will allow you to squeeze absolutely every drop of use out of it. You need a plan that will help you get the most out of your being there, and here is how:
Picking the One
As with everything, there are so many options these days, so you need to make sure you pick the right trade show. This means research. It means looking at each website, scrutinizing the attendee list, seeing who is speaking or what networking events are being promoted there. The more knowledge you have the easier it will be to make a decision.
Nailing Your Booth
The thing with a trade show is there is a lot of white noise. The whole space is packed full of competitors vying for business, and trying to lure in the business deal of their lives. You need to beat these people; you need to shout louder than them, which means you need to add all you can to your arsenal. If you don’t know what we mean then you need to look at this range from Dynamic Gift. Feather banners, floor mats, printed tablecloths, expo displays and display stands. All of these are things that will turn heads and start conversations.
Stay At the Sponsor Hotel
Most trade shows will have a hotel that is associated with the event, and this hotel is where you need to get a room. Sure, Airbnb may be cheaper, so may another hotel, but paying that extra premium is going to be worth it because this is where most of the retailers, buyers, customer and clients will be staying. They won’t just be sleeping there either. After each long day at the trade show, these people will be heading to the bar for a few cocktails, and what better chance is there than that to network.
Plenty of Business Cards
Have business cards, plenty of them, and have them on you at all times because they still matter. Yes, the event itself will be your biggest chance to litter the hall with your cards, but when it comes to networking at these things you could meet potential contacts everywhere. The lobby, the elevator, the bar, the smoking area; everywhere, so make sure have a card to hand out. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t.
Your Plan of Attack
Preparation is going to be your best friend here. You only have two or three days to get everything you need doing, done; so make it count. Have a goal and have objectives. Get there early and get both a map and a directory; this way you can map out which booths you want to hit and in what order. Once you’ve hit them, tick them off and then when you have hit them all, and only when you have hit them all, allow yourself to walk around at your own leisure. It could be you even have a list of secondary objectives to meet. Plan, plan, plan.
In many client-vendor agreements, the procurement department of a company will generally stick to strict and traditional working standards, which can often verge on being overly formal. There’s a degree of logic behind this kind of formality, but it can often hamper the communication and trust that’s needed for a truly effective supply chain. If you’re concerned about the state of your supplier relationships, here are some effective ways to improve it.
Establish Dependable Communication Channels
The key to any good relationship, within business or otherwise, is communication. It’s absolutely essential to keep this in mind when you’re dealing with your suppliers. Make sure that at any given time, you know exactly when and how you can reach your main suppliers, how you can see their products and assess their value, and how you can establish new standards and parameters in the supply chain. This will create greater transparency, and minimize the room for any mistakes and hiccups, such as missing purchase orders or an inaccurate inventory count. If your suppliers aren’t offering them up already, do a little research into tech tools you can use to allow both internal and external teams to communicate effectively and share documents. This will hone a more transparent and even platform of communication.
Be Fair When You’re Placing the Blame
When there’s a dispute or a technical slip-up that leads to a lot of confusion and frustration, pointing fingers is the typical knee-jerk reaction. However, you need to make sure you’re distributing the blame fairly in every given situation. If you point the finger at your supplier’s processes and methods every time something goes wrong, you’ll eventually ruin a potentially beneficial relationship. When communication breaks down and dilemmas get dropped in your lap, it’s important to try and look at both sides of the business relationship critically and objectively. By keeping the discussion about a given issue open and mature, and accepting that both parties could be at fault, you’ll demonstrate a lot of respect for your fellow business owner, and ultimately encourage a closer relationship and smoother processes in the future. Obviously though, there’s a chance of more clear-cut situations, where the fault was definitely with you or with them. If you point out the holes in your suppliers’ processes, and nothing is done about it, start looking for a replacement!
Remember you’re Not the Only Client
As a business owner, you’ll know what it’s like to have to deal with multiple clients when you’re squeezed for time, so try to be sympathetic towards your suppliers who are in the same situation. You’re not the only entity a supplier has to work with, so try to give them the benefit of the doubt if they can’t meet your needs at the drop of a hat in every instance. Make sure your procurement department is able to assert priority to suppliers, without over communicating or being too pushy. This will foster a mutual rapport, and motivate suppliers to spend more time working for you.
Follow these simple steps, and your supplier relationships will be stronger than ever.
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