If you Run a Small Business Park In the Back of the Parking Lot

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This story is from the skyclerk blog
September 25, 2019

by Spicer Matthews

Just about every morning as I drop my daughter off at daycare I have a bit of nostalgia for an important business lesson my dad taught me as a kid — as a small business owner you should always park your car in the back of the parking lot. At my daughter’s school, there are limited parking spots in close proximity to the front door while the rest of the parking spots require lugging my daughter across a sometimes busy parking lot. Morning dropoff is stressful, to say the least, we are always late, my kids never cooperate, and there are always multiple belongings that need to make it into the classroom or a four-year-old meltdown is inevitable. As I am tracking across the parking lot there is one thing I always notice — the owner of the school has parked her car in a prime front row parking spot.

My father was an insurance agent with his office in a big 3 story office mall. The parking lot for this building must have had room for 500 cars and almost never completely filled up but my father made a point to always park as far away from the front door as possible. Even on 30 below zero days with 3 feet of fresh snow on the ground, he would not waver and park any closer to the front door. At a young age, I asked him why he parked so far away and he told me the experience his customers have while visiting him was very important to him and it started when they pulled into the parking lot. In his view, they should have front row parking.

Obsessing with Customer’s Experience is a Win

Want to take your small business and turn it into a big business? Then obsess over experience. This is not a new concept, Jeff Bezos has been preaching this for years through his customer-focused culture at Amazon, but this is something most business owners tend to neglect or are not detail-oriented enough for.

In another example, there is a plaza near where I work that has a number of eating options but my preferred is a sandwich place at the far end of the building. When I pull in I often look for parking in front, if there is not I might need to go to the opposite end of the plaza to find parking. While walking to the sandwich shop I pass by 3 other places to eat. I almost never make it to the sandwich shop. I always convince myself to try something different before getting to the front door of my go-to lunch spot. Something I recently observed is the owner stops by most days during lunchtime to support his team during rush hour. Guess where he parks? Right in front. His choice to park upfront cost him the $15 I was about to spend that day. Had I gotten his parking spot I would not have been tempted by other offerings.

My guess is both the sandwich shop owner and the daycare owner were far too consumed with countless other concerns a small business often has to even notice the negative impact they had on their customers and revenue. As a small business entrepreneur, it is nearly impossible to prioritize everything but one simple thing has always made my life better as a business owner: more revenue. I have found if I focus on delighting my customers, revenue will follow, and the rest of my day to day worries will be far easier to manage.

Customer Experience is All About the Little Things

The examples above are small. I am sure no business will succeed or fail based on where the owner parks. Still, these subtle things can add up and subconsciously turn customers off. I tend to notice these things, thanks to my father. Other customers, however, may not, and they could be turned off without even realizing it. A different person might stop eating at the sandwich shop without ever defining why they are discouraged. I think many business owners do not consider the subconscious effects on how they manage their business.

One of the earliest interactions with a customer is to signal a lack of trust. The bartender is suggesting the customer will leave without paying.

Have you ever walked into a bar and the bartender asks for and holds your credit card while opening a tab? This is a very negative and I submit it is often poor business practice. In this example, one of the earliest interactions with a customer is to signal a lack of trust. The bartender is suggesting the customer will leave without paying. It would be one thing if the bar was making the customer’s life easier so when they were done they could simply walk out effortlessly paying the bill but that is not the typical case. I understand some bars have issues with people “dining and dashing”, so a bar owner has to weigh the pros and cons – but few realize there are cons that should be deeply considered.

For my last example, have you ever noticed some subscription businesses make it very hard to discontinue the service? Cancelling the service might lead to a great deal of time on the phone going from department to department. Some entrepreneurs think this is a strategy to save the customer. In reality, it is a great way to ensure a customer never comes back and likely does not recommend the company to others. This approach is trading short term greed for long term growth. A leader obsessed with customer experience would make sure cancelling their service is painless as it will likely lead to revenue in other ways — counterintuitive right?

As a rule of thumb business owners should be primarily focused on delighting their customers in any way possible. The customer experience is often the key to sustained long term growth. Every subtle interaction should be closely optimized for customer enchantment, and a decision as simple as where to park your car can subconsciously attract or detract a customer.

Original Article

Calendar / Booking Module

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How to set up Auto-reminders with our Calendar/ Booking Module

Set up auto-reminders so that you won’t forget about meetings or to remind the client about the meeting.

Go to File > Bookings/ Calendar or you can select the Calendar button

After selecting Booking/ Calendar the following form will open.

Settings

·Go to your settings in the top right hand corner.

·Set your working hours and time zone, as well as default reminder.  Should you want an SMS to be sent to either the client and or the staff member by default, select these boxes.

·Select or name your resources. This would be for regular meetings/ bookings e.g. conference room 1, 2 and 3, you would select the employee responsible for this or the employee who should attend.

Setting up your meetings/ bookings

Select the date(s) meetings/bookings are to occur. Double Click to open your appointment form.

Fill in fields as required.

·Should this be for a customer, select the customer from the dropdown, or create a new customer using the quick add button.

·Now you can select to email and or SMS the employee and customer.

·Should this appointment involves or results in a job card or sales order, you can reference it in the workshop/ sales order portion, and if the job card/ sales order has not as yet been created, it can be created from here.

·Once done, press OK.  Your meeting/ appointment is now set.

·To view all appointments tick all resources (Employees, Assets, etc) in the resources box on the right hand side.

Please contact us if you require further assistance.

Stock Turnover

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Know exactly how much money you are making – line-by-line in real-time.
Calculates the gross profit, cost, markup percentage and more.

How to see these reports

Go to Stock Items > Stock Turnover

  • Select out your date range for the data you want to view.
  • Click on “Retrieve Results”
Click on the Analysis Tab for summary and graphs.

Aim of this report:
To get a summary of data and pull various reports such as sales per salesperson, per item, best sellers and top customers. The report can be manipulated to suit your specific needs. There are pre-set reports, but they can also be changed to suit your needs.
All reports can be changed to suit your needs.

Please contact us if you need help setting up your own custom reports.

Want to Make a Deal? Stop Selling and Start Connecting.

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Sales isn’t about pushing. It’s about persuasion. Here’s how to be better at it.

This story appears in the September 2019 issue of Entrepreneur.

ABC. Always be closing.” Everyone in sales has heard that line. The rest of the world probably knows it from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross, where Alec Baldwin’s character treats it as gospel. It’s taken as truth in the sales world. But here’s the thing: It’s completely wrong.

In fact, the “always be closing” approach to sales is the enemy of persuasion. It may have worked in the past, but today’s low-trust world demands an entirely different approach.

The basic presumption behind that infamous saying is that everything a person says or does in the course of persuading someone should be aimed purely at getting to yes. It’s about aggressively pushing your audience to make the decision you want them to make, whether it’s in their interest or not. It’s about finding a way to close the deal at all costs.

This is short-term thinking at its crudest. It’s manipulative, and it doesn’t work. Sure, persuasion is about getting someone to say yes. But people don’t want to be forced into a decision; they want to make up their minds for themselves. In order to create the conditions that compel people to side with you, you must be clear that you care about more than just your own immediate gain.

Being an authentic human being in all your interactions is essential to developing a persuasive character. Emphasizing your humanity and forging human relationships is what pays real dividends when your goal is to win someone over.

When we’re swayed to a particular decision, we’re often evaluating the person delivering the message as much as anything else. We’re thinking, Is this person trustworthy? or Is this person someone I can see myself doing business with? or, more often, What’s in it for her? or What’s his angle here? If a person’s obvious objective is simply to get us to buy something or sign a contract, it will show through, making that person far harder to trust and much less persuasive.

Persuasion, then, isn’t about coercing your audience to do what you want. Rather, it’s about attracting them to a particular conclusion, and letting them get there on their own. Being pulled is always preferable to being pushed. And one way to draw someone to your position is by engaging your audience’s emotions through that most human of activities — storytelling.

More than any other form of communication, stories have the power to inspire loyalty, to take us out of the present moment and let us consider ideas from a fresh perspective, and to make us understand things on an emotional level. When told well, a great story draws people into the narrative, absorbing them in a world that is separate from their own. And once they’re immersed in a story, they’re far more willing to let their guard down and loosen their grip on preconceived notions.

To do that, consider that great storytellers are also great truth seekers. If you can’t state your message in a single, uncomplicated sentence, you might as well not have a message. I suggest sticking to a classic structure. Identify the goal (who are your characters, and what do they want?), the obstacle (what’s in those characters’ way?), and the resolution (what’s the preferred outcome?). This format works equally well in a 30-second commercial, an in-person sales pitch, or just a conversation with a customer. You know you’ve got something special when you (or a client or a customer) are excited to repeat it.

Storytelling moves, connects, and creates meaningful bonds between brands and consumers. It holds the greatest power of persuasion — and not just to sell a product. We tell stories to communicate our values and compel others to adopt those same values. Once you’ve done that (and done it well), you’ll have won the customer — and their trust.

Original Article

Adapted from The Soulful Art of Persuasion, copyright © 2019 by Jason Harris. Published by Currency, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Bulk Email/SMS function

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The Smart iT bulk email or SMS function has many uses.
One that I enjoy using the most is sending my customers an email or SMS reminding them that their account is outstanding.
In just a few minutes you can send reminders and Smart iT will automatically fill in the customer’s name and the amount outstanding. Saving you the trouble of sending out emails/SMS one by one.

See steps below

Step 1:

  • Go to Customer > Age age Analysis

Step 2:

  • Use the tick boxes to your left to select the customers that you want to send the reminder.
  • Click on Email or SMS

Step 3:

  • Fill in your subject line.
  • Write your message that you want to send.
    You can use substitutions for example {name} and {total}. The substitution will then be replaced with the customer’s name and the total that is being owed.
    Saving you a lot of time.
  • You can use the Add/Edit template to create a template so that you do not have to type out your message every time.
  • Click Send when ready.

Please feel free to contact us for any assistance.

3 Major Benefits of Updated Bookkeeping and Accounting Records

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Every business big and small should have regularly updated bookkeeping and accounting records so business leaders can make the right decision with a foundation in the data.

This story originally appeared on Due

Last week in a discussion with a business coaching client, I asked if she had updated bookkeeping and accounting records that would help her make the best business decision for a big question about her business. “No,” she replied, she didn’t have updated books. Without them, any decision regarding product lines, pricing or customer capacity is just a guess!

Guessing is not the way to run a business. On the contrary, every business big and small should have regularly updated bookkeeping and accounting records so business leaders can make the right decision with a foundation in the data. Follow along to learn three big benefits of keeping your bookkeeping and accounting records updated on a regular basis and some tips to get you started with your bookkeeping for your business.

1. Strategically ladder-up your revenue

As a freelance writer for my primary income, one of my biggest goals is finding the best clients that offer me the most significant return on my time invested. While freelancing is a business that is tough to scale, I like to do something I call “laddering up” my clients where I climb up and add new high-quality clients while letting go lower-quality and lower-paying clients as they are replaced.

This process is great in theory, and most freelancers and business owners understand the concept. But why do they continue to struggle with low-quality clients? Because they don’t look at the numbers and objectively look for ways to bring on better clients and get rid of the bad ones. With no metrics, you might not even know which clients are draining your resources and which lead to the best profitability in your business.

A few months after quitting my job to go full-time online, a look at my own updated bookkeeping records showed that about 76 percent of my income came from writing while around 15 percent came from website development and support. That is a clear 80/20 rule example. I cut the 15 percent of my income that was taking way too much of my time and my total income roughly tripled over the next few months!

2. Cut underperforming products and services

The focus of my conversation with the coaching client focused on turning her services into a product she could sell for a fixed monthly subscription rate. But with no detailed accounting records beyond the reports she gets from her payment processor, she didn’t have any real records to show her income by customer or product. It doesn’t matter if you are a solo freelancer or a business with thousands of employees, you absolutely need this information!

With the right details in hand, you can pick out the one product that sucks away too much of your time for too little money. You can identify expensive recurring tasks you may be able to outsource or eliminate. As you can see from the example above, sometimes cutting underperforming products or services can lead to significant growth.

Success in this area of your business comes down to focus. But without properly updated bookkeeping and accounting records, you don’t know where to focus. You might be wasting hours and have no idea because you don’t have the data. End that big mistake right away. Get those accounting books together and keep them updated, at least monthly, so you can make the best management decisions.

3. Save time and money at tax time

If increasing revenues and cutting costs were not enough motivation to keep your books updated, here is one last lynchpin: your taxes. You have to do taxes if you have a business. That is not optional. What is optional is making it a stressful period by ignoring your accounting throughout the year and rushing to get it all done in April before the deadline.

Instead of this method, plan and keep your books updated at least once every month. I go a little over what most people need and update my accounting records weekly. But whatever you do, quarterly should be the bare minimum for bookkeeping updates for tax purposes.

While most individuals have to file and pay taxes once every year, most business owners and many side hustlers have to pay quarterly estimated taxes. While you can file and pay based on last year’s tax rates, keeping your books updated can help you get a better estimate if you need to pay more quarterly to avoid the big one-time lump payment in April.

If you have your bookkeeping updated, you just have to print out a P&L and balance sheet and can finish your taxes from there. No other prep needed!

4. Don’t ignore updated bookkeeping and accounting needs!

If you find the idea of accounting and bookkeeping intimidating, you can always hire an expert to handle it for you. My friend Eric Nisall at Account Lancer helps me when I have questions with my books and handles accounting for a long list of solo business leaders. But for the most part, I like to handle things myself.

However you decide to do your bookkeeping is great as long as you stick with it! If you don’t, you’ll quickly find yourself behind and with useless financial reports. With the right focus on your books, you have the right information to put your business on track to thrive for years to come.

(By Eric Rosenberg)

New bulk price edit feature

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New bulk price edit feature

Our new module will allow you to change prices in the lookup form so that you do not need to open up each individual item. This new module is especially handy for customers that are working on fixed pricing instead of mark-up pricing.

Step 1:
Go to Stock items > Extra > Bulk price edit.

Step 2:
You can use any of the following columns to change the price of the items
– Price 10 Excl.
– Price 10 Incl.
– Pr 10 MU%
– Pr 10 Margain/GP%

If you change, for example, the Price 10 Excl then it will automatically update the other 3 columns, and vice-versa if you change anything in the other 3 columns.

Note: You can also use the blue filter/ search bar to filter out, for example, all items that are being sold under a 20% GP.

Step 3:
Select the items on the left for the prices that you amended.
Click on “Print Labels” at the bottom to reprint new labels for the items.

Import your bank statement via Bank Manager

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The SI+ Bank Manager add-on module eliminates the process of manually capturing transactions from your bank statement.
Reconciling your bank account has never been quicker or easier.
Go to Ledger> Bank Manager

Overview

  • The Bank Manager compiles the cash book by using an electronic bank statement and either matching existing customers, suppliers or General Ledger entries or creating new GL entries.
  • It uses bank statements in OFX file format that are available from all major South African banks.
  • The system will automatically remember previous matches and the next time you import an OFX file it will automatically fill in the GL Account, Customer, Supplier, etc.
  • You can split lines into multiple accounts.

Setup

Step 1:
Add your Bank and bank details.
Select your general ledger bank account.
Click Save.

Step 2:
Import your bank OFX  file.
Your bank statement transactions will now populate the Bank Transactions grid as well as the date range, bank opening, and closing balances.

Matching Transactions

Step 1:
Select a transaction to work within the grid on the left.

Step 2:
You either need to select an existing GL entry or create one.

Select an existing entry – e.g the first line displaying R4000.

If you had previously posted the journal the system will find the match (based on the date and amount) and the data will be displayed in the Existing GL Entry form, see image below.

If a match is found the Post to GL button will be greyed out, preventing you from posting it twice.
Click the Save button (image above) to save the match and reconcile the transaction.
OR
If the entry does not exist because you did not post it beforehand, the New Journal Entry form can be used to post the entry.
 – Select the GL Account, if it is a cash book posting
– or the Customer field ( ) if it is for a customer payment
– or Supplier field ( )  if it is for a supplier payment.

Click the Post To GL button to post the transaction. The next time the same transaction appears on your bank statement the account will automatically be selected.

Step 3:
After clicking Save or clicking Post To GL the transaction will change to Reconciled.
The transaction will now be marked as reconciled and removed from the Unreconciled GL Details tab.

Please contact us for info about the bank manager or have a look at our help file
http://www.smart-it.co.za/help/bank_manager2.htm 

CRM Features

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Let’s have a look at some CRM (Customer Relationship Management) features that can help you improve your relationship with your clients.

Step 1:
Open up a customer profile. The first tab we can look at is the “conversations” tab.

This form will allow you to make all the notes that you need to follow up with the client.
I.E – The customer wants a demonstration on a product or
the customer’s account is in arrears and he needs to pay up.

Smart iT will notify you with a reminder when you need to follow up with the client, on top of that, you can also create a booking or task in outlook from Smart iT by using the right click option.

In the “memo” field at the bottom, you can store more permanent info about the client
I.E – If something happened in his/her life that was significant or what type of personality the client has so that when you get a new employee, that person has a bit more background about the client.

Please click on the link below to see more about “conversation” or contact our office for support.
http://www.smart-it.co.za/help/customer-conversations.htm

Step 2:
The second tab that we will look at is the “classification” tab.
This form will allow you to classify your customers into categories. You can customize your own labels so that it is specific to your business requirements.
Classifying customers can be very useful, for example.
Example 1:
You can target a specific group of people when sending out an SMS. Making your result a lot more productive.

Example 2:
You can classify how the new customer got hold of you, via Google, Facebook, cold calling, etc.
This will help you to see how many new clients you signed up for the month and what market strategy yielded the best results.

Click on the link below to learn more about getting these reports or contact our office for support.
http://www.smart-it.co.za/help/classification.htm

Promo vouchers

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Show appreciation by sending your clients a Promo Voucher that they can redeem in your store.

How to send a promo voucher.
Step 1:
Go to Customer > Customer Contacts & Bulk Email / SMS

Step 2:

  • Filter out and select the customers you want to send the promo voucher to.
    I.E – Everyone whos birthday is this month.
  • Fill in the voucher amount and the expiry date of the voucher.
  • Click on “Send Promo Voucher by SMS”

Step 3:
Fill in your message (See example below)
Click on send SMSs

Please click on the link below for more info regarding bulk SMS and  Promo Voucher SMS
http://www.smart-it.co.za/help/contacts–bulk-email–sms.htm
Here is a list of SMS providers that you can use

  • Clickatell
  • bundlesms.co.za
  • Bulksms
  • FoneWorx

Please feel free to contact the office if you need any assistance.