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Couch Sessions: Help, I'm Afraid I May Have Spoiled My Clients!

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Back by popular demand… “Couch Sessions.” In today’s fast-paced world, small business owners are even more hyperconnected and overloaded with information, choices, and distractions. One of the hardest things to determine is whether you’re on the right path or not. Great work requires taking risks. Couch Sessions offers practical information, new perspectives and quick tips to help point you in the right direction.

Are you a struggling, frustrated or just inquisitive small business owner? Got a question you just can’t seem to find the answer for? Please submit your small business questions here. Be sure to bookmark and check this page each week, your question and the reply may appear right here in “Couch Sessions” for the Small Business Owner. This week on Couch Sessions…

Q: I'm afraid I may have spoiled our clients! We create quarterly reports 
(in Word) of all our activities in painstaking detail. As we grow and 
service more clients, the time it takes to report what we do seriously eats 
into the time we have to actually do the work! I'd like to give the clients 
more of a summation than blow-by-blow. What's the best way to break them in
 so they don't feel that we're skimping on the work? Julie Taylor, www.taylor-pr.com

A: It’s easy to provide “value” when you are starting your business, however, it’s difficult to scale back on those same “value” services when you begin to grow and it becomes time consuming. The actual “value” of a product or service is always determined by the client. You may want to provide your clients with an opportunity to choose for themselves whether or not they would like to continue to receive a “detailed” or “summary” quarterly report. This will give you an idea on just how “valued” it is by your clients. In addition, if you find that a large number of clients prefer the “detailed” report, perhaps there is a more efficient way to aggregate the information (i.e. automation software), can you change the schedule from quarterly to 2x per year or annually or can you provide a summary of the information during a brief phone call. This may be just as time consuming, but it gives you a chance to “summarize” the information while directly exploring any new needs or opportunities for additional services.

Q: How does my small business (restaurant) compete against new government-funded restaurants, restaurants that have received taxpayer monies, business incentives (my collected tax money) who are now competing against my restaurant? Marc Renson,
 www.ambitionbistro.com

A: Are you clear about “how” you are competing? (i.e. in food type, quality, service, location, etc.) A good defense will always be exceptional service. People will pay for mediocre food with great service, but not so much for great food and poor service. Sometimes the best advantage for a small business is its flexibility and local appeal. Maximize local free online marketing (i.e. Foursquare, Yelp, CitySearch, etc.) and customize your marketing for local appeal: reach out to local bloggers, encourage your patrons to write reviews, reward “check-ins,” etc. In addition, you can cross-promote your business with another local business (i.e. coffee shop w/bookstore, restaurant w/ independent movie theater etc.); or you can host a quarterly event or fundraiser. Have a “special day” for regulars. What local activities can you take advantage of? Can any of your products be sourced locally? When combined with great service and great food, increasing your local profile and finding a way to authentically connect with patrons, strengthens and supports your connection with your local community.

Q: I've come in as CEO of a small company, with the owner and founder previously hiring his daughter. The daughter is smart, but has an unrelated background to our company and doesn't work very hard to get back up to speed. I would like to let her go; however I will clearly need to proceed very delicately. How should I bring this up to the father/owner? Kenny, www.slumbersage.com

An honest, straightforward conversation is in order. Focus on the agreed upon goals and objectives to grow the business and what is required of “staff” to accomplish them; including the relative. It’s always prudent to express expectations of people and then provide them with an opportunity to fulfill those expectations (with deadlines/benchmarks). The unrelated background is less of concern than her actual interest and capacity to fill the position. Is there another position that is better suited for her? Don’t be afraid to “offer her a way out” so that feelings are spared if it looks like termination is the ultimate decision. At the end of the day, you owe it to the business, other staff and clients to have the hard conversations and make the tough decisions that affect the bottom line.

Now let’s talk about YOU! Are YOU a struggling, frustrated or just inquisitive small business owner? Need help NOW? Click here or call (916) 287-1432

A.Michelle Blakeley is the founder of Simplicity Mastered. Blakeley is a Micro Business Therapist professional with extensive experience in business organization and has successfully counseled hundreds of small business owners through the daily challenges of operating a small business. When you need to reorganize your business, there is one place that has everything – Simplicity Mastered. Maximize your time and budget with a Micro Business Audit, Customized Business Organization and Micro Business Therapy™. Get your business DONE.

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