When starting a business, you often operate with the bare bones necessary to operate. You may be shipping items out of your garage or having your staff hand-write receipts, entering the sales on an old-fashioned cash register. However, as your business grows, you may find these processes cumbersome and inaccurate. These tips can help you bring your business into the modern world and may actually increase your bottom line.
Too often, small businesses begin to expand without doing the proper planning. This means that staff and owners are spread too thin so that customer service suffers. The best way to keep your business up-to-date and modern is to focus on the things that you and your staff do well. Rather than adding new products or services, focus on the ones you offer currently and make sure that any issues are addressed, that customer service is far above what is expected and build a reputation as an expert in the area where you focus. Once you have established that you and your staff are experts at what you do, then consider adding other goods and services.
A point-of-sale system, or POS as it is often termed, is a computer with a monitor, cash drawer and receipt printer. A POS can provide you with detailed inventory information, data on the purchases made by customers and allow you to offer a customer rewards program. In addition, a POS gives you marketing insights that you can’t get from regular cash register systems. By generating key analytics, a POS system can generate sales volume and basically pay for itself in a relatively short time.
The use of mobile devices to purchase goods and services is growing rapidly. Consumers are looking for speed when it comes to purchasing and this means that any payment system must include the capability of taking mobile payments. By adding the ability to accept mobile payments to a payment system, you can get insight into what the peak hours are for your sales so that you can better plan your marketing strategy.
According to Andy Fox from Element 7 Digital, there is no question that today’s businesses must include social media in their marketing plan. If you want to bring your business into the modern world, you must be active on media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. However, it is not enough to create an account on social media, you must actively post and monitor the site on a regular basis. When a customer sends a question through social media, answer it as quickly as possible. Even if a customer is expressing dissatisfaction about the service or product they received, take the time to acknowledge their complaint publicly. This sends a message that your company cares about customer service and that you will respond to problems as quickly as possible.Website Pages
Almost every company with a website has a “contact us” page. Some allow visitors to send an email through a program such as Microsoft Outlook while others have a form that is completed and sent in with questions. Unfortunately, too many companies put the page on the website and then never monitor the mailbox where those requests are sent. This means a customer who may be unable to call during normal business hours or who simply wants a quick answer, is ignored when their query is left unanswered. Always have staff monitor all email addresses and respond to requests within 24 hours. If the person receiving the request is not the proper person to handle the request, demand that they forward it to the proper staff person immediately so that the customer gets an answer in a timely fashion. In today’s modern world, companies that do not utilize email are certain to fall behind those that use the contact method to their advantage.
Metrics are critical in today’s modern business world. You can measure almost every aspect of your business, from employee satisfaction to predicting revenue. There is no doubt that tracking everything in a small business is difficult, if not impossible, even with today’s technology. Therefore, choose the metrics that you find important to your success. The top ten metrics most small businesses should track include:
- Sales revenue
- Customer retention
- Cost of customer acquisition
- Gross margin
- Monthly profit
- Overhead costs
- Variable cost percentage
- Inventory size
- Hours worked
These ten metrics provide a pretty clear overview of how your business is doing overall.
These simple tips can help you bring your business into the modern world and may actually help you improve your bottom line. As your business grows, simply expanding on these tips can help you adjust to higher volume, manage staff more efficiently and provide you with the information you need to keep your business growing.