30 Oct 2016

The Opportunities Are Everywhere - Even When You're Not Looking For Them!!!

Yesterday was one of those days that started out like it could be a real "bummer" and ended up revealing so many business "gems" that I have to share them with you!!!

I'm not sure if I have mentioned this before, but my wife runs a business called Krondorf Trading Co and when we checked her stock out at Rockford Wines on Friday we found that her Apricot Jam and Apricot Almond and Grand Marnier Jam supplies were almost out.

Saturday morning Annie - my wife - gets up early and heads off to her supplier of dried apricots to restock the jam supplies only to find out that her supplier has removed the majority of their supplies from their shelves during renovations and there are no dried apricots available for sale until next week.

What are we to do?!!!

In a last ditch effort to find some dried apricots we packed up the family and headed out to the Barossa Farmers Market in the hope that there may be a stall there that was selling dried apricots - and we hit pay dirt!!!

Not only were there numerous local suppliers selling dried apricots there, but we also met a farmer who has a ton of second grade apricots that they are trying to sell prior to the next harvest of apricots which starts in a couple of months.

I'd better explain something here - second grade apricots don't mean that they don't taste as nice as the first grade - they taste exactly the same only they don't look as "pretty" and because of this they can't be sold at the same price as the first grade apricots.

Now, I'm sure you have already worked out that the "prettiness" of the apricot is not a consideration with jam - because it's turned into jam!!! - so the fact that Annie had found a supplier of delicious apricots for a substantially reduced price is great for her business.

It gets better - we're walking around the market feeling all chuffed about our "apricot win" when we come across a stand run by Paul of Barossa Coffee Roasters.

Now, Annie loves coffee so we head on over to check out what's on offer and while Annie is talking to Paul, I am fascinated by a little electronic device Paul has on his table with a PayPal sign on it.

I asked Paul what this device was and he explained that it is called PayPal Here and is an alternative to processing credit card card payments at a fraction of the cost to having a traditional merchant account.

My ears immediately prick up - Annie has resisted setting up a merchant account for as long as she has been running Krondorf Trading Co because the fees to do so are obscene and when Paul explains to us that you pay a small fee for the "Tap N Go" reader - and then the only fee you get charged is the regular PayPal fee - Annie and I look at one another, smile and say "This is it!!!"

Paul then explains that his coffee is on sale at a small coffee stall over on the other side of the market, so we head on over to this stall, Annie buys a coffee, gives me a sip and when I taste how nice the coffee is (and I'm a tea drinker!!!) we head straight back over to Paul's stall and buy a large bag of his Mexican De Angel Albino Corzo coffee - and I pay for it using his PayPal Here reader to see how easy it is to use!!!

By the end of the day, not only did we have cost of goods for Annie's Jam at a substantially reduced price, but we had also found a cost effective way for Annie's clients to purchase her products with nothing more than a phone call to her.

How many opportunities to increase your business are sitting there in front of you and are being missed simply because they are not being noticed?

26 Oct 2016

Are You Encouraging - Or Discouraging - Customers?

I want to share a trend with you that I have recently seen emerging because I can't for the life of me work out why small business owners are doing this.

Over recent times I have seen a marked increase in small business owners - in particular takeaway food outlets - adding a credit card fee to sales when customers pay using the old "fantastic plastic"!!!

I don't know about you, but this really "erks" me - I know that these same small business owners get hit with a merchant fee based on the amount of each sale, but when the business owners say "Are you ok with the 50 cent credit card fee?" it just seems so trivial in the overall cost of the meal.

Using my family as an example, an average cost for takeaway food for us is around the $30.00 to $40.00 mark so being asked to pay some trivial "credit card fee" seems to me to be a bit of a slap in the face when you take into account the total cost of the meal/s.

I was chatting to a business owner who is doing this to his clients (me being one of them) the other day and I suggested to him that instead of asking for a credit card surcharge, why didn't he just add 10 cents to the cost of everything on his menu.

As I pointed out to him, it is very rare that customers buy less than five "things" from his menu, so if he added 10 cents to the price of everything on his menu he would recoup the credit card fee and then some, because (often) people are buying more than five things at a time.

His reply astounded me - "I couldn't do that - my customers wouldn't be too happy about me putting everything up by 10 cents" to which I replied, "but they're happy having you ask them for an extra 50 cents every time they come in to buy something from you?"

I must have been speaking too fast because he just stood there looking at me with a blank stare, so I collected my order and walked out of his shop shaking me head!!!

This little incident got me thinking about how much we encourage - or discourage - customers to buy our products or services.

Have a think about the interactions you have with your customers and spend some time thinking about whether of not the process to buy from you is quick and easy, or are there a multitude of obstacles that your customers have to "climb over" before they can buy your "stuff"?

23 Oct 2016

How Well Are You Reducing Resistance?

I'm beginning to wonder if I am going mental!!! LOL

Every interaction I seem to have these days reveals business "nuggets" that can be used in any business.

Let me share with you what happened today ---

I arrived back in Adelaide today after a quick, two day trip over to Victoria to celebrate my brother's 50th birthday.

On the way home from the airport I drove past a "Big Box" retailer that is in the process of closing down and I decided to drop in there because my wife is looking for a new cooker for her business and I knew that this retailer has heavily reduced the prices on all their goods because they are only weeks away from closing their doors.

Anyway, I find that cooker up the top there and I knew that it would be exactly what my wife was looking for so after a few pictures of it being sent to her by text - and a couple of discussions with the sales rep - I buy it.

There's only one problem - it won't fit into the back of my car - so this means a quick trip back to a petrol station to grab a hire trailer and then back to pick it up.

When I get to the petrol station I approach the staff at the counter to book the trailer hire and I am directed to a newly set up terminal where I have to choose the trailer I want and how long I want it for online.

Now, the last time I hired a trailer from a petrol station, the process took almost 30 minutes with paperwork having to be filled out, ID presented, two or three trips back and forth to both the trailer being hired and my car to get the registration details (I can never remember the registration number of my car!!!) and all the while, a larger and larger group of patrons are lining up at the counter waiting to pay for their petrol purchases and - as you can imagine - they are kept getting more and more frustrated having to wait for all my paperwork to be completed.

This last experience of hiring a trailer was very much front of mind when I was directed to a terminal away from the main counter area where I could quietly proceed in going through the process of entering all the information into this terminal while the staff at the petrol stationer were free to continue serving customers.

When I returned to the petrol station after collecting the cooker and taking it home, I was even more impressed!!!

I approach the counter staff to complete the return paperwork and I was once again directed back to the same terminal to complete the return process.

I punch in all the details of the return and the system then checks that I have returned the trailer in the time allocated (I had booked it for 4 hours) and once everything "checks out" ok I am directed back to the staff to have my security deposit returned to my credit card.

While the terminal is checking that I have returned the trailer in the allocated period of time I am thinking to myself "In the past, I wonder how many times the petrol station staff been abused by people who return the trailers late and are told that they are going to lose their security deposit? This process is great because if someone does lose their security deposit for returning a trailer late, they can't abuse the staff, because it's the terminal's "fault"!!!"

As someone who has hired many trailers from many petrol stations over many years, this new way of hiring a trailer really did impress me because not only does it make the process very seamless from the hirer's perspective, but it also frees up the staff at the petrol station to continue servicing clients while also reducing the incidence of these same staff members getting abused by disgruntled customers who have done the wrong thing and cop a financial penalty as a result.

What are you doing to reduce resistance between your customers and your business so that each transaction is a quick and seamless process?

21 Oct 2016

Are You Staying True To Your Core?

Today has been a fascinating day and I want to share one aspect of it with you because I think that there's a valuable business lesson in it.

I am on a "Blitz Trip" interstate for my brother's 50th birthday party and I boarded a plane this morning to head over to the celebration.

I can't remember how many flights I have made over the years, but it has been a substantial number and I have become a little blasé about the announcements that are made over the PA system during the flights.

Saying that, an announcement was made today that made my ears prick up - and for all the wrong reasons!!!

Part way through the flight an announcement was made that the cabin crew were going to proceed through the cabin shortly offering a $5.00 "ticket" (I can't remember the exact name) for purchasers to go in the draw to win a $1000.00 price that is drawn each month.

Sure enough, a short time later through came the cabin staff asking if anyone wanted to buy a ticket!!!

My first thought when I heard the announcement was "What?" and then - when I saw the staff walking down the aisle asking passengers if they wanted a ticket - my next thought was "Am I on a flight, or have I taken a "wrong turn" somewhere and ended up in a pub and found myself in the middle of a chook raffle?"!!!

This incident got me thinking about "value adding" to your customer's experience and how the "value add" has to have a direct correlation with the initial experience that they have with you.

We all know the "Would you like fries with your order?" upsell of the major fast food companies and this makes sense to me because it enhances the initial experience you are having with the business, but "Would you like to buy a "raffle ticket" and go in the draw to win $1000.00?" when you are on a flight - really?!!!

What "value adds" are you providing to your customers and are they enhancing your customer's experience with you or are they making your customer scratch their heads in confusion?

9 Oct 2016

Are You Listening To What Your Customers Are Saying?

I can't remember if I have made mention of it before, but earlier this year my wife took over the running of her mother's business called Krondorf Trading Co.

Krondorf Trading Co sells the most delicious jams, mustards, relishes, pickles, sauces and chutneys that money can buy and as well as being online, you can also buy their products from Rockford Wines in the Barossa Valley region of South Australia.

Anyway, each weekend I help Annie (my wife) by going out to Rockford Wines to restock the shelves in cellar door.

I was out there earlier today and I want to share with you comments that the customers were making about her produce because I think it is a wonderful example of the importance of paying very close attention to what your clients are saying about your products or services.

While I was restocking the shelves, a group there was looking over Krondorf Trading Co's products and as I brought more stock out to replenish the shelves I was most surprised with what they were saying about the products.

On the face of it, you would think that customers would say things like "That chutney would go wonderfully on a roast" or "I'd love to try that jam on my toast of a morning" but I was fascinated when I started hearing comments like "Look - that jam has a much darker colour than that other jam" and "Oh look, that mustard is almost orange in colour!!!"

I was even more fascinated when this same group bought a jar of each "colour" - I actually stood there while they said "I've got the green one, why don't you grab a red one" - not once was a comment made about what they were going to use it on - this group was enthralled by the beauty of the colour of the products.

I left the winery with a much greater appreciation of the importance of paying very close attention to what your clients are saying about your products and services - on the face of it, you may believe that customers buy from you for one reason, but when you are paying close attention to what they are saying about your products and services, the reasons why they buy from you may be very different to what you first thought.

As an aside - regardless of whether or not you are interested in the colour or the taste - check out the products on offer at Krondorf Trading Co - they are absolutely delicious!!!

How Close Is This To Your Life?

I had a most interesting discussion with some friends of ours that we had not seen in ages last night and I want to share this discussion with you to see if you can relate to it in any way.

This couple run their own small sports store business - they're both "gym junkies" who love health and fitness and sell gym gear, health food supplements and that sort of thing both online and through gyms and health food outlets in their local area.

They have two boys - 14 and 11 - who are mad keen sportsmen themselves - the 11 year old loves his "footy" and the 14 year old shows some real potential at basketball (he's already over 6 feet tall - what are we feeding them nowadays?!!!).

Anyway, we got talking about the BookPals project.

Let me explain how the conversation got around to BookPals - this couple was complaining about how chaotic their lives are and how they never seem to have time to do anything themselves anymore because their time is totally consumed with their work and taking their kids to their chosen sports.

I suggested to them that BookPals was the answer and they asked "How?"

My reply was quite simple - "Why do you have to be sitting at home doing your bookkeeping?"

They looked at each other for a minute and then he said "Well, where else do you do it? Our bookkeeping program is on my computer in the office and I am not carrying that around with me everywhere I go".

My reply was quite simple - "When was the last time you didn't have your iPad at your kid's sporting events?" (Full disclaimer - I already knew the answer because they take photos of their kids at their sports matches all the time to help them improve their game!!!).

His reply - "We always have the iPad with us when we are at their games."

My reply - "Then do your bookkeeping at quarter and half time breaks while you're waiting for the boys to come back on and continue their games!!!"

Lets face it - the reality of small business life is that it is a constant turmoil because we are always running around doing everything else we have to do as well as all the "business stuff" that is forced upon us, but there is always those "5 minutes here and 10 minutes there" down times throughout the day where we can grab a receipt, take a quick photo of it with our iPad or tablet and then either check a few numbers while we are there to finish processing it or - if the "siren sounds" for the game to begin again - just leave finishing our bookkeeping until we get time to look at it again at the next break - or some other time when we have a spare moment.

BookPals has turned bookkeeping into a quick "filler" between game and ad breaks on TV so that now - instead of spending hours out in an office, missing out on your kid's sports events and missing out on quality time with your family and friends - you simply grab your tablet when you get a quick 5 minutes, upload your receipts into your BookPals account, finish off the bookkeeping while you are there or just leave it until later, safe in the knowledge that you know where all your receipts are.

Your bookkeeping is no longer a chore - join us at BookPals now and get back to doing those things that are most important in your life.

4 Oct 2016

Change - It's Inevitable

As small business owners, we are constantly reminded that change is an ever present aspect of our lives that we should be ready and willing to embrace.

These kinds of comments are are all well and good in theory, but let's be truthful with ourselves -

Are we truly ready for change when it does hit us?

Well, in this episode of BookPals Business Sanity we put that questions directly to you -

Are you ready for change?

To highlight the importance of how important it is to be ready for the changes that throughout our lives I have highlighted two instances that I have recently been involved in - one is fantastic and the other is absolutely tragic - that will impress upon you the importance of having systems and processes in place if ever (whenever?) you get hit by these unexpected changes in your life.

Start having a serious think about how you prepare for changes in your life after listening to this thought provoking episode of BookPals Business Sanity.