Laying Your Business Foundation: Proper Telephone Etiquette – Part 4

In this series we will discuss Proper Telephone Etiquette. Again, if you have not read the previous series I encourage you stop what you are doing and review the articles NOW!

Your receptionist should have a clear speaking monotone voice. This is the first impression the customer hears when calling your company. The receptionist will have the authority to draw customers in or send them away to your competitors. In essence, selecting the right person is crucial to your company image.

I will cover basic telephone etiquette fundamentals so that you and the receptionist are clear about what and how to communicate with the public.

LET’S BEGIN…

Hire someone with a pleasant, friendly and outgoing personality. This type of person has a knack that captures attention; people are drawn in by their magnetic personality, know how to use their voice and speak intelligently. It is very imperative that the receptionist know how to speak, when to speak and when not to speak.

The receptionist should have an after-hour pre-recorded greetings stating what your company offer. The reason being is to turn callers into customers, if they aren’t already. You would be surprised how this small procedure will increase your sales. Be mindful to set the pre-recorded greetings for 30 seconds or less. You do not want to bore callers by listening to everything about your company; however, you do want the recording to mention key points about your services or products as well as the benefits for utilizing your company.

Select a location in your office to position the receptionist in a non-congested place so there are no interruptions. Inform your staff not to congregate near or come within close proximity to the receptionist area to avoid the caller hearing sensitive discussions. Doing so will not jeopardize the receptionist relationship with the caller nor do you want your company portrayed negatively in the caller mind.

Ask the receptionist to always answer the telephone with a smile in their voice. The customer will hear the smile; once again the receptionist is building a relationship with the caller. If the telephone receptionist makes the caller feel welcome and appreciated over the telephone this caller will likely become a customer very shortly.

Finally, train the receptionist to answer the telephone via the mouthpiece, never over the speaker. The caller will probably perceive your company as being unprofessional. Callers want to know they are talking to a person that values what they have to say.

There you have it, the fundamentals of Proper Telephone Etiquette. Although there are various methods to improve Proper Telephone Etiquette, feel free to implement your own procedures when hiring a receptionist.

Until Next Time! Stay tuned to “Laying Your Business Foundation.”

Building a Solid Business Foundation for Financing

The single most important thing a business owner can do for their business is to build their business to sell it.

Sell it you ask?

Yes. Build to Sell.

Every decision a business owner makes should be based on that thought. If an entrepreneur can base their business decisions with that underlying idea (in terms of financing), they will be set up for long term success.

The lending institutions base their acceptance or declination on one thing.

Is the business an attractive lending risk.

There are 20 key points every business owner must have in place to be approved by financial institutions when their underwriting team is determining to approve or decline a loan app. Many of these are small, seemingly meaningless ideas. However, lets take a look at it from the eyes of the lenders.

Banks and lending institutions get so many applications from business owners who, quiet frankly, have no business applying for a loan. Their business is not set up to be lent to. The banks are not even viewing these entities as a viable businesses. So the first stage of getting past the computer guidelines is to have these in place.

Additionally, if you were to go to the bank and not have these in place, the loan officer would get a two digit code back from the computer system and all it was say was “Loan application declined.” Your loan officer, without investing some time into the issue, would not know exactly what you needed to do differently to be approved. The loan officers surely do not have the underwriting guidelines for their firm.

In this article we will examine the top three reasons business owners fail at business credit building and business financing.

The first is simply the business owner does not have all the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed in their business. Things like having an 800 number, being listed in the 411 directory, and having a dedicated fax line is a must to a business owner seeking financing. Many business owners I speak with are small businesses, who are just seeking their financing options. It’s impressive to see the amount of businesses that do not even have these first three steps accomplished. Remember, the goal here is to have your business look attractive on paper. In the eyes of a lender, if you do not have an 800 number it is suggested you own a “mom and pop shop” and are not setup for success.

Secondly, business owners have not started to build their business credit. There are right ways and wrong ways to go about building your business credit structure. In the eyes of the lender business owners who go out seeking to open revolving lines of credit and are turned down (due to reasons outside the scope of this article) it appears as though they are fishing for financing. It’s imperative to apply for the right types of credit lines and being approved for those lines when establishing your business credit from the get go.

Thirdly and most relevant to most entrepreneurs: they have not separated their personal liabilities from their business. It’s important for a business owner to have good receivables in his/her business. But, and what’s equally important, is that business owners personal credit is not tied to the business, in any possible way. There are two reasons why you’d want to separate yourself from your business. If something happens to your personal financial situation, you do not want that to be the reason your business is unsuccessful in obtaining financing. Secondly, should something happen to your business, you do not want that to affect your personal credit.

Laying Your Business Foundation: Where to Find Customers? – Part 5

This is a short and precise series filled with suggestions about Where to Find Customers? Again, if you have not read the previous articles I encourage you to build on the previous lessons of this series before reading the current issue.

You’ve asked yourself hundreds of times, where are the customers? Entrepreneurs and business owners alike has posed this one particular question more times than any other question. My response to that is, they are everywhere and the primary reason you haven’t noticed is because you are not actively looking for them. Case and point, how many people did you pass today? Start with this number then add the previous weeks so on and so forth for the past month. If you’re honest I would guess hundreds maybe thousands of people who probably need your service or product but you did not bother to share what you have to offer.

Locating customers is much easier than you think. Let me expound further. Most entrepreneurs and business owners or a staff member will frequently visit the post office, office supply stores, courthouses and other businesses where people are gathered. On average you will personally come in contact with a minimum of 15 people per day times 365 days per year equals 5,475 potential customers. Now multiple 5,475 x 2% = 110 customers. Notice I said customers because 2% is your conversion rate. Not only will you meet customers personally but via the internet, telephone and referrals are potential customers too. Factor these prospects with the others and watch how easily your pipeline fills up.

For illustration purposes, multiply 110 (which is the number of customers) X $25 (your average sale price) = $2,750 (the amount added to your bottom line). See all the money what you’ve been passing.

Let’s Begin…

Have in mind who is your ideal customer. In essence, know your targeted audience. Your ideal customer may or may not be the person you encounter on a daily basis but they may know someone who is your ideal customer; therefore, always treat everyone with genuine courtesy and respect. People will remember how you made them feel longer than what you said to them.

Make it your mission to expect five new customers per day than increase this amount to whatever number of customers you want in your pipeline. Remember, without customers your business will definitely derail and you will be responsible for getting everything back on course. Avoid this at all cost, the reason being it is time-consuming to convince your regular customers to come back without jeopardizing your relationship with them. Winning back regular customers will cost you more because they will expect something greater than what you originally offered.

So the next time you are at the grocery store, shopping mall, movie theater, doctors office, parking lot, restaurant, sporting event, music festival or any place where people gather, have a business card or pamphlet about your business to leave with your next customer.

Word of Caution. Never leave any of your business materials with other businesses without their permission. By doing so you are showing them respect which they will remember your professionalism and probably send you several referrals.

This is enough information to point you in the right direct to finding customers.

Until Next Time! Stay tuned to “Laying Your Business Foundation.”

The topic of discussion for the next article of “Laying Your Business Foundation – Part 6: Marketing Your Services or Products.