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when-to-say-no-to-clients

One of the biggest initiatives for many companies as the economy continues to improve focuses on the customer experience. Businesses are currently investing millions of dollars a year to improving the overall experience of their customers. With that being said, there are times in which a business should say no to a client. This may seem like conflicting advice for companies that are focused on making their customers happy. However, there are situations that call for businesses to put their foot down and let their customers know that their expectations are unreasonable.

How to Say No to a Customer

For years many people in business believe that the key to customer retention was simply always saying yes to the customer. However there are many studies that show over the long term this is actually not the best strategy. In fact, over half of customers reporting that they had a negative experience with a company also report having multiple bad experiences with other companies. This simply means that many customers who have had negative experiences with one company have had them at many more.

Learning how to say no to a customer is a skill that many in business need to learn. If a customer asks for something that is simply unreasonable a business should not always comply with a customer’s demand. Instead of simply using the word no, a business should explain why the request cannot be accepted and offer an alternative solution. When another solution is offered, a customer will feel as though they made a difference in getting their point across.

How to Determine When to Say No

Denying a customer request can be a scary proposition for any business, especially one with only a few clients. An unhappy customer can cost a business thousands of dollars in loss of business and in brand name erosion. There are many ground rules that a business can go by on when it is appropriate to say no to a customer.

One of the most obvious situations for this is when one customer is hurting the experience of another. If you own a restaurant and a customer comes in demanding to cut in front of everyone else, this is not a situation where the business would be in the wrong by not complying with a customer request. Once a customer has a bad mental picture of a company it is almost impossible to turn that around. Instead, the business should concentrate on keeping their current happy customers even more satisfied.

Turning the Situation Around

Even if a business has to tell a customer no on their request, a business can still use the opportunity to reach out to the customer to see if there are any other needs that the company can fill. Just because a company cannot comply with one request, this does not mean the business should say no to each incoming request. Over half of new businesses will fail in the first couple of years after starting, and businesses can reduce their odds of failure by going the extra mile in addressing any other concerns that a customer has.

Final Thoughts

Retaining customers is one of the most important initiatives that a business can take on. It costs three times as much for a business to go out and win another customer rather than simply retaining one that they already have. With that being said, there are times when a customer request can simply not be complied with. There are certain ways that a company can handle this situation that makes it so the customer can still have a positive experience with the company and come back next time.

About the author: Cameron Johnson is a business consultant and entrepreneur. Over the course of his career he has conducted case studies on both social media optimization and non-profit marketing. Cameron has also had the opportunity to speak at international business conferences and was recently recognized as one of the world’s top 100 advertising experts to follow on social media.



 
  


Business-Ethics1

Seven-year-old Ransom Duel noticed his classmate choking after eating a bite of a Nutella sandwich. Ransom picked up the jar, read “hazelnuts,” and knowing that his friend has an allergy to nuts, ran to get his teacher who brought an epi-pen and saved the friend’s life.

When asked about it afterwards, Ransom said, “I just did the right thing. I didn’t think, ‘Oh I’m gonna be a hero.’”

What can we learn from Ransom about business ethics?

First, do the right thing regardless.

At first, you might think, “What else would Ransom do?”

Nothing.

He could have done nothing as his friend grew sicker by the second.

The opposite of doing the right thing isn’t necessarily doing the wrong thing. Doing nothing is just as damaging to your business operations. Apathy drains profits. Lack of engagement lessens productivity. The more employees there are, the easier it is for you to say, “Somebody else will do it.”

Take personal responsibility for acting. Make it your business to do the right thing regardless.

Second, depend on someone always watching you.

Ransom didn’t realize his right-thing action would be so public.

At work, when you face an ethical decision, assume someone is watching you. Odds are good they are regardless of whether you see them or not.

If you catch yourself saying, “No one will ever know,” you’re headed down a slippery ethical slope that leads away from doing the right thing. Be assured—someone will know. At the least, you will know. Knowledge of deliberate, unethical behavior erodes your core values, maliciously rearranges your priorities, and removes power from your unique contribution to a profitable business.

Depend on someone always watching you.

Third, deal with consequences either way.

When you do the right thing regardless while fully aware that someone is watching you, you create consequences that are far easier to deal with later. Ransom’s greatest challenge was dealing with all of the attention that comes with being dubbed a “hero.”

When you do nothing or the wrong thing and hope no one sees you, your consequences are extremely difficult to explain away when they come to light. And be assured they will.

The business you work for eventually displays your unethical choices either through loss of customers, key employees, or critical supplier relationships—all of which lead to lower profits.

You deal with consequences from every decision. Choose easier outcomes to live with.

Work Positive with Ransom Duel today. Do the right thing regardless. Depend on someone always watching you. Deal with consequences either way.


business-credit

So you want to be the boss, of your own life and possibly future employees. Entrepreneurship is tough enough, but lots of would-be business-starters are hit with a double-whammy when it comes to funding their dream businesses, because of one thing:bad credit. Bad credit sucks, but luckily, there’s hope!

Good credit is like a good relationship. You work on it for years and it doesn’t happen in one day, or even one year. However, unlike most good relationships, the ways to achieve good credit can be confusing in their technical complexity. When you have a bad credit score, fixing it can take years and be incredibly frustrating. But don’t give up, even if your credit is less than perfect.

Are you a GOAL digger? You just need dedication and a smart approach. Almost no one has flawless credit, so don’t feel ashamed! There are some tried and true steps you can take today to kick-start your credit score. You are investing in yourself; a little work here can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

1) Deal With Debt
Debt drags down your credit score, whether it’s old student loans or unpaid medical bills. Stop feeling guilty about the money you owe, because guilt isn’t productive. Instead, take a deep breath, rev up your willpower, and make a plan. If tackling a pile of scary paperwork is overwhelming, then enlist someone to help you. Support from a friend, family member, or professional can keep you committed to progress.

Here are the steps for addressing debt: 1) Evaluate what you owe. 2) Figure out your budget for daily life. 3) Plan how much you can pay off on a regular basis. 4) Negotiate with your creditors. People can be more forgiving than you might expect! 5) Most crucially, stick to your plan.

2) Be Careful With Cards
Stay on top of your credit cards. Don’t spend more than you can pay back, don’t have a zillion accounts, and don’t open and close a bunch of them quickly. This is not to say that you shouldn’t have a credit card at all. As noted on myFICO, “having credit cards and installment loans (and paying timely payments) will rebuild your credit scores. Someone with no credit cards, for example, tends to be higher risk than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly.”

Keep this in mind also: According to Bankrate, “One of the major factors in your credit score is how much revolving credit you have versus how much you’re actually using. The smaller that percentage is, the better it is for your credit rating.”

3) Pay Bills Promptly
Pay your bills on time! This is hugely important. If you have trouble remembering, use payment reminders or an automatic online bill system.

If you can’t pay because you’re truly out of money, don’t avoid the issue. Instead of dodging phone calls and throwing “URGENT” envelopes in the trash, talk to the person or company you’re dealing with. Picking up the phone is stressful, but the results will be far better in the long run.

4) Be Skeptical; Be Cautious
The reality of life, and especially of finances, is that there are no shortcuts. Change takes time, effort, and strength of character. You will have to do hard work and make sacrifices, because very seldom can you have your cake and eat it too, as they say. Don’t fall for the hucksters who try to convince you that they know a secret no one else has discovered.

As the MintLife blog advises us:
“If someone tells you they can double your money in no time with no risk, tell them you already know how. Then fold your money in half and put it back in your pocket. Risk and reward are correlated.”

5) Maintain Good Habits
Read the fine print. Do plenty of research—it’s a good sign that you’re reading this article! Spend less money than you earn. Start saving now, even if you’ve only just started to pay off debt. Set goals for yourself (“I ain’t sayin’ she a goal digger”). Place higher value on what money can’t buy: family, friends, partners, and experiences. Love and accomplishment are way better than owning the latest shiny thing.

About TrustLeaf.com

TrustLeaf is a new funding service that helps self-started businesses and entrepreneurs get starter loans from friends and family, without straining their relationships. Because loaning money to friends and family for new ventures can be tough on relationships, TrustLeaf formalizes personal loan agreements, keeping money far away from affecting relationships, so entrepreneurs can get their business going and friends and family can feel more secure.


engagement21

“What have you done for me lately?” is the client attitude du jour. And by “lately,” they mean very recently. The number of client experiences with and impressions from your competition expands daily with a multitude of tech-driven access points.

Client engagement—from relationship to results—is a key to your increasing sales with greater productivity to get out of the office earlier to do what you love with those you love.

How do you strategically engage your clients?

Here are 3 Strategies to Engage Clients for more business:

Be Initiating

Your clients are inundated daily by distractions. Some of it is part and parcel of the 24/7, always-on culture today. There are welcome distractions from friends and for entertainment. There are more interruptions they didn’t ask for or anticipate.

Initiating contact with your clients helps you rise above the distracting crowd. Your company name is quickly recognized and welcomed. You maintain your top of mind position as a part of their home team. You are someone whom they trust to help.

By initiating, you give them a reason to strengthen their grip on you. They remember what you’ve done for them.

Be Interesting

Since you’re initiating, your clients remember what you’ve done, but the “lately” factor is important to consider.

Of course you benefit from their doing business with you as often as appropriate as do they. As you initiate, remind them of the continuing benefits of doing business with you. Reward them for sending their friends. Or, ask specific questions that build on your current relationship, e.g., “You find value in xyz service/product. Other clients like you have also found benefit from abc service/product. When is best for us to talk about it?”

Be interesting by building on the current value equation with something that answers the “lately” question.

Be Engaging

To more strategically grow results from your client relationships and drive more revenue, insure you engage in two primary ways:

First, ask questions. These can range from more personally-oriented, e.g., “How’s that new grandbaby?” to “What’s working well for your business these days?” Our favorite subject is always “me.” Only positive responses arise from such questions.

Second, listen and offer solutions/answers. How will that new grandparent help meet the challenge of rising tuition costs? If you’re the financial advisor, you have a solution. How will the IT needs change as business grows? If you’re the IT consultant, you have an answer to make it easier to rake in more business, right?

Be engaging with your clients by initiating contact with them in interesting ways and prompt your business to grow!


summer_wed

Every year, starting in early May, wedding bells begin to chime. They don’t stop chiming until winter makes everyone put on ridiculous puffy parkas. The United States wedding industry alone produces $55 billion in revenue, as reported by research company IBISWorld. Who earns all that money? Everyone from salespeople on Say Yes to the Dress to indie vendors featured by Rock and Roll Bride. Sure, kids these days may be getting hitched later, but they still want to tie the knot eventually. You can help them and make a decent buck at the same time.

Here are eight wedding-themed businesses that you can start today:

1) Invitations & Stationery
Do you have beautiful handwriting or a fine touch with Adobe Illustrator? Consider creating save-the-dates and invitations for couples-to-be. Take it a step further by hiring freelancers to put together premium design bundles. Dribbble is a great place to find artists in search of assignments.

2) Flower-Arranging
Take your cue from Farmgirl Flowers: create and deliver fresh bouquets to embellish venue decor—or trick out the wedding party themselves. You can source the flowers from wholesale markets. If you have a green thumb and want to stay low-volume, pick the prettiest blossoms from your own garden!

3) Party Favors
After they receive a bunch of presents and hugs, the newly married couple will want to give their guests a token of thanks. Often this takes the form of a little bag of candy or a custom-printed pen (as if the world didn’t have enough random pens floating around). Innovate something less boring! Bring an awesome idea like Lego Stormtrooper cufflinksto the world of wedding favors.

4) Makeup Artist
Brides and their ladies-in-waiting want to get prettied up before walking down the aisle. If you’ve watched Bridezilla, you know this. (Apparently brides want a lot of things, and they want them right now.) Can you contour like Kim K? Do you have a personal lipstick stash equivalent to Sephora? Team up with your friend who can still text with crazy-long acrylic nails. Together you’ll do bridal beauty to the nines.

5) Commemorative Website
After the ceremony and the reception are over, newlyweds have to figure out how to share zillions of snapshots with the family and friends who couldn’t make it, includingfuture family and friends. Web-savvy couples want to keep their visual memories organized to revisit in the future. Help them put together a beautiful digital scrapbook.

6) Photographer
Do you have a camera? Are you any good with it? Start offering to snap wedding photos, for your friends and family and neighbors.

Starter Tips:

  • If you haven’t done this before, do the first one free.
  • Start with smaller weddings and work your way up.
  • Search sites like Craigslist for upcoming weddings that need photographers.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, but dress professionally.
  • Bring a spare battery and spare SD cards.
  • Look at wedding photos online from other companies (especially ones in your area).

Watch Out for:
People that don’t want to pay you 50% beforehand. Make sure you have a contract, and find out what rates in your area are. Have a signed contract before you do any of the work.

Don’t miss the shot. If you’re really new, make a quick check-list of shots you’ll need, no matter what.

7) Caterer
Do you like to cook? Are you good at it? You may make a great caterer.

Starter Tips:

  • Know how many people will be at the wedding and plan accordingly
  • Know if you’re supposed to provide drinks. If so, this can get pricey.
  • Keep it simple if you’ve never done this before. Wedding buffets are are cost-effective option and they’re easier to prepare.
  • Rent, don’t buy. To save money at the start, there are many rental shops and kitchen supply shops that rent out equipment, food-warmers, plates.

8) Cake Maker
Are you a crafty baker whose friends are always saying that you should, “do this professionally?” Maybe you should make wedding cakes.

Starter Tips:

  • If you’ve never done this before, start with friends and family (and friends and family of friends and family).
  • Ask the couple what they want, well before the wedding. Bring some sketches or photos (from the internet if you haven’t
  • You don’t have to make a multi-level cake. One solid round cake or sheet cake is fine if it’s well-done.

About TrustLeaf.com

TrustLeaf is a new funding service that helps self-started businesses and entrepreneurs get starter loans from friends and family, without straining their relationships. Because loaning money to friends and family for new ventures can be tough on relationships, TrustLeaf formalizes personal loan agreements, keeping money far away from affecting relationships, so entrepreneurs can get their business going and friends and family can feel more secure.



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GetEntrepreneurial.com is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of GetEntrepreneurial.com Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.