Archive for Business
Before praising a vendor as the perfect business partner or giving underperforming suppliers the boot set up a clear and easy to use system for choosing the right vendor. Using metrics helps you objectively assess whether or not you should choose or release a potential business partner. Severe relationships with poor vendors quickly to make room for new, prospering relationships with quality suppliers.
Build a Plan to Evaluate Vendors
Use software applications, system metrics, surveys and forms to rate a vendor. Build an intelligent plan to evaluate vendor performance effectively. Ask employees to rate vendors via software packages and do audits to see who is up to the task. Track customer complaints due to bad vendor service, product returns due to a vendor’s inability to meet specifications and list each corrective issue you encountered to gain a better understanding of how vendors can improve their performance and how they stack up against competitors. Build reports running through the purchase point on through the vendor and supplier relationship to pick the right vendor for your needs.
Classify Your Vendors
Applying the same strict standards and surveys for similar vendors can help you organize potential long term partners. Categorize each vendor based on their level of importance to your organization. You can use levels 1, 2 and 3 to gain a better understanding of which vendors you truly need to grow business. Check to see what percentage of vendors handle your overall volume of work. Typically 20% of your vendors handle 80% of vendor business. Trim the fat to streamline your vendor relationships and grow your business.
Set Up Performance Indicators
Decide what characteristics your vendor needs to embody in order to continue your relationship. Track vendor metrics on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis to spot trends which might be helping or hurting your business. Observe the financial stability of the company as well as complaint history, quality management systems, number of certifications and size of the company to determine if you have a good fit between a vendor and your organization. Determine how quickly vendors respond to quote requests, how frequently your business receives a quality product from vendors and the percentage of on-time performance. Does the vendor have a system for handling complaints or products? Check for corrective or preventative protocols to effectively handle crises.
Gauge Your Red Flags
Decide protocols for issuing a red flag to effectively label which vendors are on the hot seat. Causing customer problems or offer a substandard or flat out poor product or service are grounds for receiving one or a series of red flags. Dropping an underperforming supplier is a possibly but it is more wise to retain vendors who might be slipping up from time to time instead of changing business partners frequently. Firing and replacing vendors on a persistent basis destroys your business continuity and delays the all critical relationship-building process between business and vendor. List number of corrective actions, return rate and on-time delivery rate to gauge whether or not a vendor is performing as it should.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of topics related to business-vendor relationships, from purchase order finance to how to negotiate better prices.
In the last couple of decades, the number of employee labor laws and regulations has exploded. Even a business owner with just a handful of workers can feel a bit overwhelmed by payroll taxes, benefit administration and other employee-related duties. You may worry about liability issues and staying compliant. This is where professional employer organizations, or PEOs, come in. Here are some frequently asked questions about these companies and the services they provide.
What is a PEO?
A PEO serves as a co-employer. While you continue to manage the day-to-day aspects of your business, such as customer service, product development and the like, a PEO takes over the administrative tasks associated with human resources, such as payroll, benefits and worker’s compensation.
Who Uses PEO Services?
At first glance, this may seem like the type of service utilized by big, fancy companies, but actually, the average client only has about 20 employees. Larger companies tend to handle all HR matters within house, but an increasing number are turning towards PEO companies because of their expertise in HR and the advanced web-based technologies used to administer their services. In these cases, the PEO usually works in tandem with the in-house HR staff.
Why Should I Use a PEO?
There are numerous advantages to outsourcing your human resource functions to an employee services company. First and foremost, it allows you and your staff to focus on the activities that directly contribute to growing revenue. Payroll taxes can be complicated and mistakes can be expensive; and with a PEO, you have the experts handling it. Because the firm serves as a co-employer, much of the liability and risk related to employees is shifted from you to them. Because the PEO handles all human resource functions, companies typically have no need to pay in-house staff, or are able to maintain a very simple infrastructure.
Since PEO firms act as co-employers to hundreds or even thousands of employees, they can offer benefits packages that would normally be out of reach for your company. This co-employer relationship also means that smaller businesses with less than 50 employees, can offer protections and benefits to workers that normally would not apply. While hiring is still ultimately in your hands, the PEO can provide valuable services to help you recruit and maintain quality employees. All of these aspects can give you a competitive edge in hiring.
What is the Difference between PEOs and Employee Leasing?
Much of the terminology used to describe employee leasing carried over into tasks that are now considered the purview of PEO firms. For this reason, there is often confusion about exactly what these companies do and whether it is similar to employee leasing. These two services are very different, however. Employee leasing involves staffing firms providing workers to a company, either for a specific project or set amount of time. Once the work has been completed, these workers go back to the staffing service for new assignments. PEO firms do not provide employees, they simply manage the ones a company already has.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers all things business, from human resources to internet marketing tips.
If you are ready to open a frozen yogurt shop take a few key steps to streamline the process. Set up a detailed business plan, design your shop to stand out from the crowd and pick a prospering location to grow your venture quickly.
Create a Business Plan
Without a business plan for your frozen yogurt shop you will be dead in the water. List out a description of frozen yogurt products, serving sizes, variety of toppings offered and decide if the yogurt will be produced onsite or offsite. Include a comprehensive marketing plan, income projection, monthly overhead costs, start-up costs and how much you plan to charge for your frozen yogurt products. Choose a per-unit price by factoring in amount of profit, overhead costs and the wholesale price of ingredients. Painstakingly work through your business plan to save yourself precious time and energy in the long run. Developing a comprehensive, detailed plan now can save you headaches in the future.
Set Up Shop
Purchase a frozen yogurt machine, cash register, display containers, credit card terminals, cleaning supplies, cones and cups, tables and chairs and decorative items to ready your store for opening day. Record inventory and sales by investing in retail software. Attempting to keep track of inventory manually is too big of a challenge for any aspiring store owner. Think about the image you wish to convey. Brand your store by visualizing how you want customers to see your shop. Choose an enticing design including an easy to navigate, attractive store layout, attractive color scheme and intriguing business logo to pull in customers from the street. Make sure your shop sign can be easily spotted by street traffic.
Pick a Prospering Location
Visit potential store locations to find the right fit for your brand. Pick a spot with heavy foot traffic and steady car traffic to optimize your customer base. You might want to visit locations close to local restaurants or movie theaters to draw in potential customers. Scour downtown areas, malls and grocery stores to see where your store might fit in. Think about your experience with visiting frozen yogurt shops. What motivates you to walk into a store and buy a refreshing confectionary delight? By seeing yourself as the average customer you can better conceptualize what drives consumers to buy frozen yogurt and pick the optimal location for your new business.
Watch out for Competition
Visit your competitors to get a feel for how you can stand out from the crowd. Mimicking some aspects of a successful store can be beneficial but copying a branding strategy step by step might be the kiss of death for your new shop. Most people can spot a knock-off from a mile away. Innovate based on the inspiration you receive from competitors. Never set up shop in the same neighborhood as your competition. Most buyers will gravitate toward the established shop before visiting your new digs because people like the familiar. Open your business in a well-traveled location independent of direct competition to stand out in the eyes of the average consumer.
About the Author:
Ryan Biddulph shares tips to help you grow your new frozen yogurt shop quickly.
Written by Mark Saghy, salesperson for the trade show exhibit company, ExhibitDeal.com
- General advertising broadcasts widely and allows potential customers to “self-select” for your product or service;
- Direct marketing means that you create methods of knowing where the customer pools are, and you cast your net in those pools.
Understanding that key difference, the question now arises: how do you convert one-time direct buyers into long-time, loyal customers?
Many volumes and treatises have been written on the topic of customer psychology, and the subject of brand loyalty is the topic of intense debate and discussion in business schools and boardrooms alike. The discussion always seems to boil down to this:
- Direct marketing and advertising campaigns are short-term efforts to interest customers in your product or service; however,
- The treatment that customers receive during and after the sale determines whether or not brand loyalty exists; and
- Inferior products and poor service cannot in the long run be compensated for by vigorous direct marketing campaigns. All that can be achieved by that approach is a high turnover of customers.
Here’s the good news: A continued direct marketing effort in conjunction with a strong product line and great service is the only time-tested way to cement brand loyalty.
In other words, direct marketing doesn’t end when the customer shows up at the door.
Direct marketing can be used to continue to build the customer relationship after the first, second and third sale. Here’s why it’s important to continue your direct marketing efforts after that first sale:
- Acquisition costs for gaining a new customer are lower than the costs of maintaining a relationship with an existing customer;
- Your ‘first sale’ customer may not know all the services you provide, and continuing to market to that relatively new customer is how you turn the first sale into the second sale, the third sale, and so forth;
- High quality printed communication materials are relatively cheap to produce if you deal with a full-service company – and these products come in a large variety. It’s perfectly reasonable to think that for every dollar you spend in printed marketing materials, you ought to be able to harvest three, four or more dollars in repeat customer sales;
- With careful monitoring of your direct marketing customer lists along with your sales results, you can increase your profitability in the following ways –
- You can tailor your direct marketing efforts based on the proven purchasing patterns of your customers;
- You can pare your lists of unprofitable (unresponsive) customers.
Understanding the importance of continued direct marketing to existing customers, you now have only to consider the wide range of tools available to you from full-service printing customers:
- Product catalogs – full catalogs or specialty lines
- Mailing inserts
Give it a try and see how these printed products can bolster your efforts to turn first-time buyers into loyal customers.
Starting your own business can help you create the lucrative life of your dreams; but with great reward comes great risk, which is why relatively few take the path of entrepreneurship. The beginning can be a bumpy road, and it is easy to forget that the most wildly successful ventures were once a mere start-up with limited funds and profits. You are about to embark on an exciting, but challenging journey, and money is the biggest issue to be dealt with. Here are some helpful money tips for your start up.
Keep Your Job For Now if You Think You Need To
Many an entrepreneurial venture has been built slowly on the side while continuing to work at the current job, where you reap the benefits of steady income. Unless you have a nice cushion built up, it may not be the wisest idea to up and quit your job. Yes, your venture requires a lot of time and you may think that heading in full force and forsaking your old life is necessary, but think carefully before burning that bridge. Ventures take time to flourish, and you might want to take advantage of the fact that you have access to steady cash that can be used to help speed things along. There are also other benefits to keeping your job for now, such as not having to worry about getting your own health insurance, where you have to shell out 100 percent of the costs.
Pay Attention to Cash Flow
It takes money to make money, and poor cash flow management can be the kiss of death for your dream business. This is vital for any business, regardless of its stage, but absolutely crucial for a start up. If you are not diligently tracking where your money is coming from and where it is going, you are setting the stage for a lot of problems. Develop systems that will help you hold onto your cash as long as you can, minimize unnecessary spending and get paid as quickly as possible. There are many ways you can boost cash flow—if you extend credit to customers, for example, you may want to looking into companies that provide start up factoring services, where you can sell your receivables to them at a discount for an immediate cash infusion.
Focus on the Sales
This one seems kind of obvious…without sales there is no business. But, in those early stages, it can be all too easy to focus on setting up your office, researching trade shows, and other tasks that involve spending money rather than bringing it in. Yes, it costs money to run a business, but many of the issues you may be wrestling with now are not absolutely crucial to getting things off the ground.
Think of Your Start Up Like a Baby
While money is usually the crux of business issues, particularly feeling like you do not have enough of it to grow your company the way you would like; it is important to remember that money alone is not what makes a company grow, and throwing large amounts into your business may be counterproductive. Like a baby, you have to nurture your business and let it naturally grow into what it is supposed to be. Be picky about choosing partnerships, products and employees. Carefully scrutinize your spending habits to ensure you are not wasting money on things that are really not necessary at this stage and act like the small company you are. Yes, you have a vision, but do not feel like you have to act and spend like the big boys. Do not worry about having the best website possible, or the most comprehensive marketing package.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about all things business.