Redefining Customer Engagement for your Small Business in 2019

It’s the start of a new year, and while many people will announce new year’s resolutions and tout “new year, new me” thinking, self-improvement is not the only focus you might have in January.

If you’re an entrepreneur, the start of a new calendar year also marks a new year in business. So as you put a bow on 2018 for good, spend some time reflecting on your small business and exploring ways you can boost customer engagement going forward.

Assess Business Success

Your reflection can and perhaps should start by assessing your company’s financials. To that end, look at your profitability and compare those numbers to where you stood last year. You can also look at overall profitability, but be sure to dig deeper. Compare your balance sheet, cash flow and income statement to those from last year. Your financial statements will help you clarify your worth as a business as well as how much liquidity and free cash flow you have.

Next, look at customer satisfaction. While making money is important, you won’t be profitable for very long if you aren’t taking care of the people that help you get there. Check in with your employees and suppliers, and try to gauge their level of satisfaction with you as a company and as a manager.

Finally, examine the relationships you have with your customers. After all, satisfied customers are repeat customers, and surveys and reviews are typically a good place to start. Of course, you can also conduct informal polls at checkout. Asking something as simple as, “Did you find what you were looking for?” is usually enough to get people talking.

Find Ways to Connect

Once you have an understanding of where your company stands, it’s time to look at ways you can engage customers and grow your business. As much as you may want to always be closing a sale, the reality is that it’s not always in the cards. Customer relationships require nurturing to grow, especially in 2019.

As a society, people are fed up with the ever-present sales pitch and the glossy “after” shots. They don’t want sales-driven customer engagement, and if they feel like interactions are only about sales, many will choose to simply take their business elsewhere. Whether it’s down the street or halfway around the world, your customers are looking to solve a pain point and will do business with companies that best fit their needs.

Thus, make it a point to connect with your customers rather than constantly trying to make a sale. Offer value during every interaction, like providing advice, when customers are shopping. You may want to reinvent your social media as well. Instead of selling your brand, try reinforcing its image by posting interesting stories and industry-related facts.

Think Omnichannel

You can also provide value to your customers by introducing different communication channels. This could include starting an email newsletter or hosting events (even if your business is digital) as a way to draw in customers, as well as providing post-sales support, like a short email asking a customer how he or she liked a recent purchase. It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way toward making sure your customers are happy with your products or services.

Additionally, think about adding some technology to your operations. Implementing a cloud contact center with a customer relationship management platform could help you streamline customer communication to deliver a truly omnichannel experience.

The right service will let you offer a variety of contact options, from phone support to live chat, while integrating demographic data and history within your CRM. This way, you have context for every interaction so issues can be resolved quickly.

It Takes Careful Planning to Create Lasting Customer Relationships

Help your small business be successful in 2019. Start by assessing where you currently stand, then look for ways to engage with your customers, and offer omnichannel support for the best customer experience possible. When you help customers solve their pain points through your brand, you can start a business relationship that lasts.

How to Include Your Mother in Your Wedding Planning

Moms can be your best friends and the best person who can help you in streamlining and outlining things to fall in the right place. You can always count on your mother to help you out when you feel her need. Starting from your childhood days to your wedding day, mothers are someone who will be happier to be there when you need her. She can stand out as a hero and take charge of things as a pro. So here is how you can include your mother for planning out your wedding day essentials:

1. Budget Making:

Budget making is one of the things that your mother may master at. She has been managing her home as a home minister for years, and she may have all the hacks to chop down the wedding costs. Ranging from hiring the wedding planners to making the arrangements and even to walking into JJ’s House and doing the shopping chores, she can be a perfectionist to show up to her being in the budget talent. You can sit down with your mother and chalk out the things that you can splurge on and the things that you won’t mind eliminating from your wedding planning list. She may be the best person to provide you with counseling for the same.

2. The Venue Hunt:

You can also think of taking your mom while picking on a venue. You can take her along and share your views and ideas for a particular place that you like and take her suggestions for the same. She out of her experience may have more knowledge and throw some questions to the owner which you may not have even popped up in your mind. Both of you may have a different taste for the reception, but you can streamline the best wedding arrangement layout using each other’s opinion.

3. Wedding Dress Shopping:

You might have grown up asking your mom that how does this dress looks on me, Am I looking good in this dress, isn’t it? So why not take your mom along when you are going to buy a dress for your big day? Not only can your mother help you out with the purchase and tell you what looks great, but you can have some memorable moments doing the shopping errands. It is always good to shop and dress up together. You can also pick on mother of the bride dresses at the same time and create some matching – matching mother-daughter goals on the wedding day. She can help you out to find your dream dress and make things more special and memorable.

4. Dealing with the Vendors:

Though you may have made the arrangements but still dealing with all the vendors, especially when your wedding date is nearing can be a cumbersome task. You can ask your mom to help you out with it; she can plan and figure out the right ways to deal with the vendors, the time they have to reach, the things that they have to do and a lot more. Your mother can take up the responsibilities and shell things in the right way.

Conclusion:

So these were a few areas where your mother can be your unsung hero and can help you with the planning process. There can be many more things where she can show her talents and help her pretty girl when she walks down the aisle on her big day.

Image: NDGphotoworks

What’s Right For You: 6 Types of Commercial Garage Door You Need to Know

Not two businesses are the same. No two business locations are the same. And, they all need a specific look at their commercial garage door needs.

Most business owners don’t even notice their garage door until it needs repair or replacement. For example, distributors may open and close their doors hundreds of times a day especially where the weather affects the business. You may need security as well as speed and performance out of your commercial doors.

Other businesses need easy access for visitors and customers. But, that access could invite invasive entry by thieves, burglars, and hijackers. A segmented commercial garage door with a  limited entry will help with security and air circulation.

Some operations in healthcare and hotels are at special risk of a spreading fire. They may need garage doors to close automatically when alarms are engaged. Such fireproof doors stop the spread of fire or other threats to people and property.

And, some businesses require good looks. Doors that face the street should be presentable enough to say positive things about the operation behind the doors. They need a durable but attractive appearance and utility.

So, when thinking what type of commercial garage door is right for you, you must consider your business purpose and plan, your building’s architecture and space, and your budget and time constraints. You might start with research among the Technical Data Sheets made available by DASMA (The Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association International).

6 types of commercial garage doors:

Chances are your residential garage door is pretty standard. Home developers and local ordinances usually standardize the doors they frame and install. So, other than color and features, they are similar.

Your residential door will open only a few times a day, is usually operated with a remote, and is easily repaired or replaced. But, business doors serve different purposes.

1. Sectional garage doors raise and lower like your home garage. Hinged panel sections are pulled by a powered chain drive to raise and lower on wheels inside a vertical and horizontal track.

The open usable space is determined by the width and height of the building design. Commercial garage doors will be thicker and heavier than residential doors, so the spacing must allow for the hardware that runs the size and weight. But, the latest sectional garage doors come in different weights, and some have full view glass panels. Each option changes your space and construction factors.

2. Fire-rated garage doors operate like other door configurations. The difference is they offer greater protection against fire or the spread of fire. Typically roll-up doors, they are thicker and heavier.

Fire-rated garage doors are made of stainless steel or other durable metals. Used in warehouses, regional distribution centers, and parking garages. They are custom-built for location and building design with automatic closing hardware to respond to fire alarms.

Fire-rated garage doors must be UL and fire-rated to prevent a fire breach for four hours. Providers work with business owners to integrate fire doors with their escape and emergency plans.

3. Tilt-up garage doors are lightweight doors. Instead of rolling up like sectional doors, they are one piece. They lift on a pivoting hinge. When the door is open, it lies parallel to the garage roof and sticks out from the building. The tilt-up device uses a fulcrum for balance and leverage, and while the system makes lifting some weights easier, it has its limits with larger bay commercial needs.

They take up more space than sectional garage doors. But, they are light enough to lift by hand. Low-budget, they lack the durability and insulation features of other doors. For small businesses with little traffic in their garages, they are the go-to option for budget-conscious owners.

4. Scissor-gate garage doors are unique in looks and operation. They work horizontally rather than vertically. The door sections move to the side. Constructed of durable and secure steel, one panel opens like a regular door before moving to the side. And, you can design them in trifold and four-fold configurations.

Scissor gates are a modern spin on the original garage doors in barns and stables. They require enough room for the panels to sit at the side when open. They do provide a lot of flexibility, versatility, and headroom because they run along trolleys in tracks. And, they may be moved manually or by motors without the need for ceiling mounts.

5. Hinged garage doors are simple in design, hanging and opening like normal doors from hinges on either side. However, hinged commercial doors are larger and heavier depending on the material and insulation. The galvanized steel, aluminum, or wood doors are installed in existing door frames or with pre-configured door frames.

They open at the center to present a good experience and can be customized to include windows and other features. They are no-frills doors that can be managed manually or with powered automation.

6. Roll-up garage doors fill large spaces at distribution centers and warehouses. Springless versions provide a high-speed and programmed operation that manages speed, gathers traffic data, and assures emergency stops.

Appearance is standard, but materials vary in strength, durability, and insulation. Some roll-up doors include pedestrian entry to avoid engaging full operation. Larger doors should be rated for wind and other tough weather conditions. On a smaller scale, roll-up doors can be powered or operated manually.

Determine what’s right for you before you buy

Function usually trumps appearance in the selection of commercial garage doors. The doors must work dependably and securely. They must comply with building and health and safety codes. As the Door and Hardware Federation recommends, “Manufacturers and building owners/managers must be aware of their maintenance obligations under both health and safety legislation.”

Owners want insulation, convenience, endurance, and easy maintenance. Employees want ease and speed of operation. You should read more about roll-up doors and other commercial garage door options before you make your choice. Materials, durability, power, and space requirements can mean so much more than price.

Image: Jill 111

Your USPS Service: 7 Steps to Sending a Certified Letter Successfully

Sending a certified letter is a great way to get important documents to someone, especially if you need proof that they received the mailing. The United States Postal Service has been offering this service to its customers for decades, delivering millions of certified letters to the recipients on time and with proof of delivery.

In the past, sending a letter via certified mail required a cumbersome process that was time-consuming and stressful if you didn’t know what you were doing. You may have had to wait in long lines and fill out forms by hand with repeated information multiple times. Now, however, you can send a certified letter successfully in 7 easy steps.

What is a Certified Letter Used For?

 Before you take the time to learn how to mail your letter certified, be sure that this is the method that you need. There are other ways to send mail and still have proof of delivery, so take a minute to understand what certified letters are generally used for. If you’re not sure whether or not you need to use certified mail for your document, this will help you make the decision.

Certified mail is used for the following reasons:

1 . If you need to receive proof of postage, you can use a certified letter. Important documents that need to be received by a deadline, such as your tax filings or important bills, should be sent via certified mail. This helps you track your mail at each stage of the process and gives the intended recipient proof that you did your part. You can see how long it takes for your document to get there and have the peace of mind of knowing it was received.

2 . If you need to ensure something is delivered, certified mail is the way to go. Millions of letters are sent every day through the USPS. With this tremendous influx of mail constantly going in and out, it becomes statistically possible for the USPS to lose or misplace your envelope. With certified mail, you can ensure that your mailing was delivered and track it every step of the way.

3. When you need to ensure that your document is not accidentally tossed with the junk mail, certified mail is a good choice. Nowadays most people only get mail they are expecting and junk mail. If yours doesn’t quite fall in either of these categories, it may get tossed with the junk. Instead, be sure it stands out as important by sending it certified.

4. If you need a signature confirmation of receipt. Certified mail automatically requires a signature from the recipient when it is delivered. If the person is not available, they will receive a notice that they have a certified letter waiting for them and they can then schedule a time to have it delivered or pick it up.

If your needs for your mailing falls into any of these categories, keep reading on for the 7 easy steps to send a certified letter successfully without stepping a foot in the post office.

How to Send Certified Mail

 Isn’t technology wonderful? That long line that you once had to wait in while filling out multiple forms to send a certified letter is a thing of the past. Now you can do it online from the comfort of your home and only have to leave to put the letter in the mailbox.

Here’s how you can send certified mail directly from your computer:

1. Sign up for a free account at a web business that offers USPS Certified Mail delivery. Be sure to find one that does not require monthly fees. Shop around and check the prices that each business charges until you find one you are satisfied with. Reputable businesses have prices comparable to the post office.

2 . Decide whether you want the web business to mail your letter or you want to do it yourself. Some mail services offer the option of online pdf scanning and mailing. This means that you can scan your document, upload it to your account, pay for the delivery fees, and the service will mail the letter that same day. Otherwise, you can purchase certified mail envelopes ahead of time and then pay for and print a label.

3. Prepare your letter. Create and compile your document. Scan and upload it if you have chosen to allow the web service to send your mail to you.

4. Add the address and information. Use your web service to import the addresses from your address book or manually insert them yourself. You will also need to know the weight of your package.

5. Print the forms. Now you need to choose the USPS service that you want to use. Certified mail is only available with Domestic First Class and Priority Mail. Then you can choose to receive an electronic return receipt. Once you choose your preferred method of delivery, your web business will compile all of the information that you provided and either print and send it themselves or you can print it from your printer on the envelopes you had ordered earlier.

6. Affix the labels correctly. Be sure you put the labels on as shown in the image on your computer. Save any receipts if applicable.

7. Mail your letter. Your mail carrier can now pick up your certified letter and send it out for processing and delivery. You didn’t have to write anything by hand, fill out copious forms in triplicate, wait in a long line, or even leave your home.

For Those Important Papers, Use Certified Mail

 Sometimes, the thought of dealing with the post office is simply overwhelming, especially if you live in an area where the lines are always long. When that happens, you may have decided that the document that you needed to send really didn’t have to have to go via certified mail, and that may have been a wrong choice that caused you difficulties later.

Now, you don’t have to make that decision. Instead, simply sign up for online mail service and you can submit all of your important documents without any inconveniences.

Image: Gellinger

Buying Vs Hiring: Which is The Best Remedy for Your Generator Problems

It can be upsetting to have your power go off when you need it most. But power failure is a tragedy any savvy home or business owner should be prepared for. No one wants to lose revenue due to a blackout or have their party ruined because of an outage.  Luckily, there’s a simple remedy for it; a backup power source— most times a generator. There are different types of these, the most popular ones being the diesel generators which are an economical and convenient option.

But which is the most cost-effective solution— a hire or a purchase? Well, whether you settle for a purchase or a rental will depend on several factors from availability to finances and maintenance, but eventually, it’s you to determine what will work best.

While there are indeed a few advantages that come with a rental generator, discover why buying will save you more dollars in the long run.

The Many Perks of a Purchase

 1-Instant Automatic Backup for Your Home

Power cuts can ruin your entire life at home; and lack of electricity means no lighting, no power for entertainment equipment, no security, and you won’t be able to use all your electronic household appliances.

Having a personal diesel generator, and not depending on rentals, makes sure you have immediate household backup power. You can have a technician make an automatic connection made such that your generator kicks into action as soon as your home power cuts, so your food stays fresh, security systems stay live, and those with health concerns involving the use of electrically-powered medical gadgets are not in danger.

 2-An Extra Layer of Insurance for Your Businesses

You know well your business needs and what a few hours of blackout could to your bottom line.  Think how much you’ll have lost by the time you order and have the backup power source installed and you’ll realize buying your own is a solid investment.

Apart from instant backup power, a personal generator adds another layer of insurance to your business by making sure you stay in operation uninterrupted. That way, revenue that’s strictly dependent on power supply keeps flowing in. All firms that offer online services, malls, farming, mining, farming, hospitals services (mostly those that power life-saving machines) or business that serve in areas prone to power failure, can depend on generators.

Furthermore, generators also offer protection from voltage fluctuations in power grid to safeguard delicate equipment from sudden failure. Having a standby generator gives your businesses a competitive edge.

3-The Cost-Effective remedy

In the long run, you’ll realize buying your home or business generator is a cheaper alternative. Hires can be expensive, depending on how frequent you’ll need one, the supplier’s rates and many other factors.

Some hires don’t offer transport so that’s an extra cost you’ll need to cover. Plus, any extra fuel will go back with the generator vs. when you have your own where you can save it for next time. Lastly, some vendors will make you pay for complex installations like load sharing generators and use exorbitant payment models like hourly rates.

4-No restrictions on Size or Different Power Demands

Buying your diesel generator allows you to select your size— one that will serve your different power needs; both low and high. Sometimes it is not easy getting the right rental generator for your needs when you need it, yet some of your demands are time conscious, and power failure is unpredictable. Owning your generator ensures you don’t experience delays waiting for backup power.

5-Safety for Homes in Areas Prone to Power Failures

Severe climates like floods, tornados, and hurricanes suffer frequent blackouts. If your area experiences these weather conditions, then a power outage is the next worst thing that can happen to you. Having a generator can help you power portable heaters or a furnace to warm up the entire family.

Coastal regions are prone to such climate conditions— so a diesel generator is a must-have. Plus, it needs to be set up correctly and on standby for emergencies instead of waiting for last-minute hires when severe seasons are around the corner. Though you’ll have to cater for maintenance costs, a purchase remains the most economical and safest solution for your case.

The few perks of a rental generator

  • Support Services— An excellent generator rental offers field support right to your doorstep. So it is a safer and faster remedy for if you know little about generators.
  • No Maintenance costs- Generators require maintenance from time to time depending on how much work they do. With rentals, you don’t have to worry about maintenance at all.
  • High-performance generators- rental companies work to ensure their customers are getting the best generators— industry latest models to provide convenience.
  • You get to test Before You Buy- some service providers agree to sell you rental generators under special terms. Or if you have been looking to buy one, a hire is an excellent way to test the model you’re eyeing before you make the purchase.

 The Verdict

Whether you buy or rent is your decision. But the choice should be determined by many factors including:

  • How often do you need the generator?
  • How stable is your power?
  • Do you have technicians who can monitor your generators, or are you willing to outsource one all the time?
  • How much harm can an outage do to your company’s bottom line?
  • Which decision is more economical for your business or home

Still, you will realize buying is cheaper.  But be sure to scrutinize your service provider if you have to go with rentals. Compare rates vs service quality, look for nearby suppliers so that you reduce time wastage due to long waits.

Wrapping Up

Backup power is a necessity you can’t ignore, don’t wait for a power cut only to start running up and down trying to make a desperate order. Late deliveries can be more harmful than helpful especially in cases where the demand is an emergency.

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