10 Ways to Build Your Customer Base

Posted: May 30th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

No company can be successful without a healthy, growing customer base. Of course, building a loyal customer base can be difficult, particularly on a timescale that’s good for your bottom line.

Thankfully, there are quite a few options that can help not only build your customer base, but do so in a relatively short amount of time, provided you can put in sufficient effort.

Connecting with individuals and forging valuable relationships with potential customers can be simpler than you think. Here are 11 proven methods of building your customer base:

Loyalty Rewards Programs

The best customers are those who’ve pledged their loyalty to you. They’re long-term customers, who buy from you time and again. They can also double as brand advocates, telling others about your products or services. Build that loyalty by offering a “loyalty ladder” that gives your best customers more things that are important to them.

Direct Mail

You might think that direct mail is dead – not so! It’s still an effective solution for reaching a highly targeted and defined audience, and you can use it to get your message right in front of those who’re most interested in what your company has to offer.

So while we’re not big fans of blanket direct mail pieces, when used strategically and with specific goals this tactic can still produce good results.

Develop A Referral Program

The best marketing is word of mouth, but getting your current customers to recommend your business can be tough, even if they love your product or service. Creating a referral program can help encourage your customers to market on your behalf in exchange for rewards.

Strategic Alliances

No business operates in a vacuum, and if you try to do so, you’ll find you’re fighting an uphill battle. Allying with other businesses and business owners can give you access to their customers – untapped markets ripe for your message.

Strategic alliances can also include other businesses in similar industries that you can refer business back and forth with, as well as perform joint marketing activities. For instance, if you’re a real estate agent, an appraiser or title agent could be a good possible strategic alliance.

Ask for Referrals

It’s an amazing phenomenon we see in many businesses – the assumption that happy customers will refer you to their friends and business associates. The simple fact is that you still have to ASK for referrals. Those who ask usually receive, and those who assume usually wonder why they’re not getting more referrals!

Invest in Your Employees

What’s your company’s single most important and valuable asset? It’s your workforce.

Your employees form the lens through which your customers view your company. Invest in your workforce. Build your success by building theirs through training and ongoing support.

Maximize the Value of Your Leads

Not all leads are created equal. If you have leads that are growing cold, it’s important to warm them up and convert them into buyers. Doing that can be tricky, but it’s possible with the right conversion strategies and techniques.

Get More from Each Customer

Sometimes, creating new customers is more time and money-intensive than maximizing the value of your existing customer base. By upselling and cross-selling your existing customers, you can double or even triple their value to your organization.

Drive Traffic from the Internet

Internet marketing can be a powerful tool, and it’s not all about getting your customers to buy online. Leverage ongoing consumer search trends and use the Internet to drive traffic to your brick and mortar location.

Be Visible With Your Clients

Branding is about more than just building a relationship with your customers. It’s also about building visibility online and offline. Visible exposure of your brand reinforces your message and makes potential customers remember you.

At Action Coach Business Coaching, we’re dedicated to helping you succeed and build the most successful business possible. For more on building your customer base contact us today.


What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur?

Posted: May 15th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

Do you wonder if you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Maybe you’re no Bill Gates, but there are not alot of people like that.

You likely still have qualities that you can draw upon that will help you to become successful in business. The key is to identify your particular strengths, and then build on them in order to ensure your success in whatever business venture you choose to embrace.

The following are just a few of the traits that make a successful entrepreneur.

1. You’re Willing to Invest In Yourself

Even if you’re an expert in a particular field, you know that there’s always room for improvement, and that the process of educating yourself is endless. You subscribe to trade journals, and visit websites related to your field of business.

You attend seminars, training courses, and workshops even if you’re already pretty sure that you know everything that’s worth knowing. You join professional associations and network with others in your field. You never stop building on your skill set and you strive constantly to be the best you can be.

2. You Do What You Enjoy

This is pretty basic. If you don’t like what you do, the chances of your succeeding at it are limited. If you have an idea for a business, make sure that you have the enthusiasm that will carry you through the long term. Believe in yourself, and believe in your product or service.

3. You Know That It’s Not All About You

You understand that being in business isn’t about feeding your own self-image. It’s not even about promoting your service or product. A successful entrepreneur knows that the cornerstone of his or her business is the customer – that’s who is ultimately going to be responsible for the success or failure of your business. You strive for excellence in customer service at all times.

4. You Are Self-Motivated

You take your business very seriously. You’re willing to put in long hours, and focus on what needs to be done. You’re not easily sidetracked, and you have the commitment to seeing a project through to a satisfying conclusion. You know that “done” is not the same thing as “done right,” and you are committed to excellence in everything you do.

5. You Use Your Resources

You know that even if you’re operating a sole proprietorship, you can’t go it alone. You seek advice and support from business peers, suppliers, family, friends, government agencies and the community. You consider points of view other than your own, and even though you have the final say in how your business is run, you understand the wisdom of looking outside yourself for input.

6. You’re a Good Planner

You don’t go charging off in every direction. You set goals, and you devise strategies to achieve them. You assemble facts and figures, and go from there.

You follow your plan closely, but you don’t shy away from tweaking it or re-working something that’s not going the way you intended. Management by the seat of your pants is not for you.

7. You Know When to Take Time Off

Although you’re very good at keeping your nose to the grindstone, you understand the importance of taking the time to relax and enjoy time with friends and family. Work is a very important part of your life, but you understand that in order to be a well-rounded person, every so often you have to close up shop and have a little time for yourself.

Does this sound like you? If it does, you may have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.


4 Tips To Help You Rediscover Your Motivation

Posted: April 28th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

Let’s face it – it’s hard to stay motivated all the time.

You work hard and you’re committed to your job, highly invested in succeeding, and usually in top form. Lately, though, you’ve been feeling a bit uninspired, and you’re wondering how to get yourself back on track. You can do it by changing the way you’ve been working.

Here are 4 tips to help you rediscover your motivation:

1. Avoid the Mundane When You Can

There’s a very good chance that if you’re feeling unmotivated, you’re spending far too much time on tasks that are boring, repetitive, or just generally not designed to foster creativity. Are you constantly responding to emails, answering the phone, or dealing with routine inquiries from customers or co-workers?

Perhaps you need an assistant, or you need to delegate some of the tasks you’re spending so much time on to a subordinate. If that’s not possible, then you’ll have to prioritize.

Deal only with urgent phone calls, texts or emails. For less important communications, set aside a block of time at the end of the day – you’re bound to be less productive after a full day’s work, so handle tasks that don’t require much creativity during that part of the day when you’re not really at the top of your game.

If you spend the more productive hours of the day on tasks that really require your unique abilities, you’ll be using your time more effectively, and you’ll feel more motivated.

Set time aside during the day just to think. Relax with a cup of coffee, and use the time to toss ideas around in your head. It’s very possible that you’re feeling uninspired because you’re not allowing yourself to come up with the innovative strategies you used to be so good at.

One good way to evaluate the tasks you’re spending your time on is to take our business evaluation quiz. It’s free! Click here to take the quiz

2. Push it Forward

Now that you’re getting back on track, keep it up.

Don’t put off working on your great ideas. You’ve broken the cycle of boredom that you were in due to too much focus on the ordinary, so keep going.

Talk with others, brainstorm, and motivate others while you motivate yourself.

Have regular meetings with stakeholders and co-workers, and collect their ideas.

If something isn’t working, scrap it and move on. Focus on what’s actually creating results. Don’t look backward; you’re not going in that direction.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

Much of the time, what might seem like lack of motivation is nothing more than a fear of failure. If you find that you’re spending a lot of time at your desk, arranging your file folders or dusting off your family photos, the problem may not be a lack of motivation.

Often, people resort to mindless work as a means of procrastination. If you’re afraid that your idea isn’t going to work, you may be putting off implementing it.

Here’s the thing – an idea that isn’t hauled out and acted upon is inevitably going to fail. You didn’t get this far by sitting around doing nothing, so whatever’s holding you back, let go of it and get the ball rolling again. If your great plan doesn’t work out exactly the way you intended, salvage what you can and then re-work it.

No one is ever immune to failure all the time, so if things don’t work out, just consider that part of the learning experience. Don’t let it destroy your chance of success over the long-term.

4. Embrace Challenges

In any job, any project, virtually any aspect of life, there are going to be challenges. The key is to view them not as roadblocks, but as an opportunity to flex your brain power.

If you’re stuck in a rut, find new challenges that will excite you and get you moving. You’ll be back on track and self-motivated again, to your benefit and that of your co-workers.


6 Characteristics of an Effective Leader

Posted: April 15th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

If you were asked to list all the characteristics that great leaders possess, chances are it would be a very long list.

There are a wide variety of leadership styles, and what works for one person may not work for another. Just as an example, you may be comfortable exercising a great deal of control over your work force, or you could be highly averse to micro-managing.

Techniques notwithstanding, there are some characteristics that are common to virtually every type of leader.

1. A Good Leader is Honest

When you have the responsibility of managing a team, the standards that you set are the standards to which your people will aspire. An effective leader is honest with his team, both because it’s the right thing to do, and because if he or she is deceptive, then the trust the team has in the leader is irrevocably broken.

Also, you can’t expect people to deal honorably with you if you’re not straightforward in your dealings with them. It’s important to set high standards for yourself and for others.

2. Effective Communication Means Effective Leadership

There are few things more frustrating than trying to deal with a person who’s not stating their position clearly. In order to have a productive work environment, it’s essential that you communicate effectively with your team. You need to get your vision of what needs to be done across to them in a way that they can understand and act upon. If you can’t do that, then you can assume that very little is going to actually be accomplished. Good leaders are available to communicate concepts clearly and concisely.

3. Effective Leaders are Confident

An effective leader is confident in his or her ability. Even when circumstances are difficult, the confidence of the leader does not diminish – he or she doesn’t perceive roadblocks, just challenges that can be overcome.

Again, as with honesty, your team members are going to take their cue from you. If they see you as someone who can roll with the punches, they’ll do the same.

4. Effective Leaders are Committed

Whether you have a project at work that needs to be completed, or you’ve offered your time to someone outside of work, you stay the course. Even when the going gets tough, you forge ahead in pursuit of the best possible result. This level of commitment inspires respect in your team, and that’s vital, because a leader without respect is no leader at all.

5. Effective Leaders Sometimes Go With Their Gut

Leading is considerably easier when everything is going the way it’s supposed to. In any type of business, though, there are going to be times when things aren’t going according to plan. Your team looks to you for guidance in such situations, and you won’t always be a hundred percent sure of what should be done.

In a situation like that, a good leader frequently just goes with what their gut tells them. That tells your team that you have the confidence to take a chance on making a decision quickly – you know that most of the time, you’ll probably get it right. The trust you place in yourself will be reflected in the trust you get back from your team.

6. Effective Leaders Know When to Laugh

A sense of humor in the workplace is more important than most people realize. Cracking a joke once in a while with your team is beneficial to the overall morale.

Even more important, an effective leader knows how to laugh at his or her own mistakes – it makes for a healthier work environment.

These are just some characteristics of effective leaders. Obviously more goes into the leadership role, but these basic traits make for a well-rounded leader.

At Action Coach, we believe that developing good leadership is an important piece of the puzzle to running a profitable business. Click here to learn more about our coaching program options and how they can help you develop your leadership qualities.


“8 Keys to a Profitable Business” – Free Workshop – April 9

Posted: March 31st, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

Would you like to transform your business? Come find out how to increase your profitability at our free workshop, April 9th from 1:00 to 2:30 at the Northshore ActionCOACH offices, 201 Holiday Blvd., Suite 400. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot today. Call 985-237-4200 or e-mail us at info@WeSimplifyYourBusiness.com


3 Tips for Protecting Your Business from the Unexpected

Posted: March 24th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

Let’s face it, there’s not much you can do to control the outside forces that might disrupt even the best laid plans.  And sometimes, the unthinkable actually does happen.

It is nearly impossible to predict if or when a key client may close an account, a supplier will become unavailable or raise their prices, or other negative things will happen.

While we can’t always anticipate these types of events, what you CAN do is change how prepared you are for when the unexpected happens.

Keys to Making Your Business Less Vulnerable

There are many small businesses that are unable to stay afloat because one unexpected hit is enough to take them down. If this happens, it means that the business did not have the necessary cushions and safety nets in place to safeguard against these types of occurrences.

The key is to take actions now to ensure that your business is less vulnerable when it comes to the unexpected. Even if you are a brand new business, and do not have a large amount of resources, there are still steps that you can take to protect your business.

Tip #1 – Avoid Unnecessary Risks

This may seem very obvious, but new businesses make the mistake of being too trustworthy all the time. To attract new sales, businesses will sometimes extend credit to customers who are not credit-worthy. Especially when your business is just starting, you cannot afford to extend this much trust, even for small transactions.

CBS News recently reported that completing an order, and then not receiving payment, is approximately twice as costly as having no transaction at all. If you work in an industry in which it would be unreasonable to ask for full payment upfront, there are ways that you can protect yourself from risky buyers.

First, you can require credit or reference checks. If the results are in any way questionable, you should forego the transaction. Other possible solutions include:

  • Requiring a down payment
  • Not completing the service or providing the entire package until payment is received
  • Receiving a pre-authorization for a credit card payment, but not processing the payment until after the goods and/or services have been delivered
  • Offering discounts for clients who pay upfront or early

Always be polite, but clear, about your payment requirements.

Tip #2 – Diversify Your Business

Diversity is essential when reducing the vulnerability of your business. It can be very dangerous for a large portion of your revenue to come from a single client, a group of clients, or a particular type of transaction. If an unexpected change wipes out this revenue source, it could mean the end of your business.

For example, if the majority of your revenue comes from the sale of one specific product, and that product stops being profitable or even viable, your business is going to be in a world of trouble. Even if you specialize in producing a product, you should look for ways to offer different versions of that product, and additional products and services to accompany it. If something happens to stop the sale of one product, you will have the others to keep your business running.

Tip #3 – Continually Track & Measure

It is possible to reduce the number of unexpected problems that occur when you have a strong business plan in place and you track and measure your progress regularly.

It is not enough to simply have a plan when you are launching your business, and never look at it again. When you track how well your strategy is working, you can identify strengths and weaknesses and adapt your plan for the future. You can also incorporate contingency plans that can be followed in the event of a problem. A business that is prepared and aware will be ready for anything.

 

Source:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-protect-your-business-before-things-go-wrong/


Experience is a Valuable Commodity in Business

Posted: March 10th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

You can read every book available and take every course offered covering your chosen career field, but nothing will prepare you for the real world quite like getting out there and living in it. There are many different lessons that you can only learn from personal experience.

Calling Upon Past Experiences when Moving Forward

The more experience you have, the more valuable information you have at your disposal. When it comes time for you to make a challenging decision, you can think back to similar circumstances to determine your best course of action. You already have a rough idea of what will lead to the most advantageous outcome, because you’ve been here before.

This does not mean that you necessarily never try anything new. However, because of your past experiences, you have a better idea of which ideas and strategies do not work. You can save time and reduce your risks by avoiding mistakes that you have made before or that you have seen others make.

What to Do if You Do Not Have Experience Yet

One of the main problems with experience is that it is not something that you can just instantly get. By definition, experience comes with time. You only gain it through trying new things and working hard for many years.

So, what can newcomers do who want to have experience now?

They must rely on the guidance of those who are experienced. As Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, explains, sometimes you have to surround yourself with mentors who can give you good advice. Even if you think you have the greatest business idea of your generation, there are always new and valuable things that you can learn from those who have come before you.

To illustrate a point, I recently met with a client who had just returned from an industry conference with pages of notes and handouts from well meaning speakers trying to help them improve their business.  With calls to make, bills to pay and problems to solve, this client was wondering where he would find the time to try and distill the volumes of information down to something he could actually put into use.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Our job as coaches is to help distill all of the theoretical, best practice type information down into a concrete business plan that will have a measurable impact on your business.  We do this either via group coaching or in our one to one coaching.

What Are the Benefits of Working with an Experienced Business Coach?

Entrepreneurs and business managers who choose to accept the guidance and support of business coaches enjoy many different advantages, including:

  • Knowledge – If you want to innovate within your industry, you must be aware of its history and where it is now in order to identify methods of improvement. An experienced coach can pass along the industry knowledge you need to create a strong foundation upon which to build.
  • Perspective – It is easy to develop tunnel vision when you are the main catalyst building and working in your own business without a lot of outside input. An experienced outside perspective can help you see your business the way that potential customers and partners see it. The perspective of someone with a lot of industry experience can be especially valuable because they can typically tell you if you are making any mistakes that other business leaders in your industry have made.
  • Brainstorming – Your coach can act as a valuable sounding board off which you test ideas. You can work through half-formulated strategies, growing them with the help of someone who is very knowledgeable and familiar with your work.
  • Contacts – When gaining experience, you also gain connections and expand your professional networks. If you choose to surround yourself with people who are highly experienced, you can also be introduced to many of their business contacts, which can be very important to your business in the future.

Always Look for Ways to Gain Experience

In addition to working with experienced people, and learning from them, always look for ways to improve your own experience. You naturally gain experience just from working and advancing your career, but there are ways that you can make your time more meaningful.

Always be willing to try new things and learn new skills as you work. The more you expand your knowledge, the more valuable you will be to yourself and others.

 

Source:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140103115724-204068115-the-benefits-of-experience?trk=eml-ced-b-art-M-0&ut=0URt7pLEyRbC41


7 Pieces of Critical Information Every Business Owner Should Be Tracking

Posted: February 24th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

To run a business successfully, you have to be able to identify which efforts are increasing your profits and which are draining your resources. The only way to do this is to be able to monitor and analyze your finances.

In short, you’ve got to know your numbers!

Whether you work with an accountant, or if you are keeping track of your finances on your own, every business owner needs to understand which types of financial information are most important to track and measure. With so many different varieties of data available to you, this can easily become very overwhelming.

Much of what we teach at Action Coach focuses on the process of establishing the most important metrics for each client’s business, and here are 7 core metrics you should learn to track and measure:

7 Types of Financial Information to Track & Measure

Net Profit – Your net profit is going to be the amount of revenue you receive after all of your costs are deducted. Even if your sales have increased, if your costs have also increased, you may only be breaking even or you could be losing money. By studying the net profit, you can determine if certain projects are truly worth your time or if they need changes.

Overall Sales – By studying the sales figures for the entire company, or a particular product or service, you can measure things such as how well your marketing efforts are working. Are customers eager to make purchases or are the sales figures dropping?

The experts at Inc. recommend comparing your current sales figures to where you want them to be in the future. This will help you make a plan for how to proceed.

Sales Per Capita – Sales per capita data allows you to take your sales figures and separate them into smaller divisions. Instead of looking at your sales figures as a whole, analyze the sales numbers for particular team members. Score recommends also looking at which days and times of the day bring you the highest average sales. This allows you to identify opportunities for improvement.

Quick Ratio – The quick ratio is determined by dividing your total accounts receivable by your total accounts payable. This ratio indicates your business’ ability to pay its bills. The ratio should be at least one to one, meaning you can cover your expenses, but ideally, accounts receivable will be twice as large as accounts payable.

Debt to Equity – The debt to equity ratio, which is the business’ total debt divided by its equity, allows for a measurement of how well the business is able to manage its financing. This ratio is often observed while the business creates a strategy to reduce its overall debt.

Inventory – Inventory management is an essential element of financial analysis. Business owners must strike a balance between running out of stock and having large costly surpluses. Inventory levels must be monitored regularly to avoid any unexpected fluctuations or wasted resources.

% Of Sales – The only way to determine if your costs are growing too high is to measure them in relation to your sales. If costs become a high percentage of sales, this means overhead expenses are getting out of control and changes need to be made.

Not Sure Where to Start?

If gathering financial the information to track these metrics  seems like an impossible task to you, or there are certain pieces of it you’re not sure about, please contact us today.  Our coaches can help you create a system to begin tracking the most important numbers to your business – no matter where you’re starting from.

Sources:

http://www.inc.com/guides/tracking-critical-numbers.html/1

http://blog.score.org/2013/renee-butler/tracking-critical-numbers/


Dan Zimanski Earns ActionMAN Award

Posted: February 8th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

Las Vegas –Dan Zimanski of Mandeville, Louisiana, won an ActionMAN Award at the ActionCOACH Americas Conference at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 31, 2014.

Zimanski earned this award thanks to the powerful work he has done with his clients throughout Southern Louisiana over the course of the past year, including coaching two companies that won prestigious Business Excellence Awards, Acadian House Kitchen & Bath and Performance Analysis.


Give Your Business a Health Check to Start the Year Off Right

Posted: January 30th, 2014 | Author: Dan Zimanski

When we want to stay healthy, we schedule check-ups with our physicians.

If we want our cars to keep running smoothly for many years, we routinely take them to a qualified mechanic for tune-ups.

Using this same logic, if we want our businesses to perform well, and be successful, then regular business health checks with an experienced business coach are necessary.

Why Businesses Fail

Everyone has heard that it is extremely difficult and time-consuming to launch a new business, and that many of them do not make it past their first few years. It can be tempting to blame factors like competition or a tough economy when a business doesn’t last, but these are not often the most prominent reasons why small businesses go under.

In many cases, flaws within the basic business structure cause the organization to be weakened. The New York Times compiled a list of the top ten reasons small businesses fail, and these reasons included things like operational inefficiencies, lack of planning, and dysfunctional management, among others.

These are all issues that could be identified and addressed before it is too late, with the help of a thorough business assessment. They are also the types of issues that can be addressed and fixed with the right help in the form of business coaching.

A Basic Business Health Check

You might be thinking that you do not have the time or the money to have a consultant come in and do an in-depth analysis and breakdown of your business.

Fortunately, Action Coach offers a basic business health check that can be completed very quickly, non-intrusively, and at no cost to your business.

During this assessment process, all you need to do is answer a few questions about your business. These questions will allow your business coach to examine issues such as how you manage your time, how well your team works together, how well your finances are being managed, and the efficiency and productivity of your organization’s systems.

The Purpose of a Business Health Check

The ultimate goal of a business health assessment is to identify ways that your business could better use its resources. These resources take the form of time, money and manpower. When your business makes even the smallest changes, if these resources are used more efficiently and effectively, this will increase the sustainability of the business.

Putting the Results of the Health Check to Work

After your business’ quick evaluation has been conducted, you will then get a free report based on your answers, prepared by our team of business coaches.  After receiving your report, it may be a good idea to schedule a call with one of our business coaches to help you to understand where the most impactful improvements can be made.

There Is Always Room for Improvement

Even well established companies understand the value of business health checks. Routine evaluations allow businesses to stay competitive and catch weaknesses before they become costly problems in the future.

If you would like to give your business the support that it needs to lead in your industry, schedule a free business health check and set the right tone for 2014. Show your team, and your competitors, that you are committed to continual improvement, and that you will look for new and innovative ways to grow and progress year after year.

Source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/05/top-10-reasons-small-businesses-fail/?_r=0