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By creekmoremarketing 30 Jul, 2015
The 7(a) Loan Program, SBA’s most common loan program, includes financial help for businesses with special requirements. Learn more about the 7a loan program by watching the short video below.
By creekmoremarketing 29 Jul, 2015
By creekmoremarketing 29 Jul, 2015

Are all Your Customers Created Equal?

 

“The customer is always right.”
“We have to take care of the customer no matter what.”
“The customer focused business is a successful business.”

 

We’ve all heard or probably said those things.

 

Have you ever had a customer that you were always happy to see and were happy to see you? Your transactions always went well, were profitable and they never complained about price, paid on time or early and generally were a pleasure to work with. You probably found yourself looking for ways to make them even happier, right?  This was why you started this business, right?

 

Then there’s the customer that complains about everything, never happy, never satisfied, complains about the price, demands discounts, pays late, and is overly demanding. Everything is a crisis and is never his fault. Your stomach tightens and you can feel the perspiration on your forehead the moment you see his number on the caller ID. It shouldn’t be this hard. It would be great if you didn’t have to deal with this customer but sales are sales and you just have to put up with it.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if all customers were like our best customer? How great would it be to only have to deal with the great customers? Well, maybe it’s time to fire some of those pain-in-the-neck customers and, believe me, this will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. We as business owners only think about that next customer, that next sale. If we take a deeper look, we may see that all customers are not created equally and, more importantly, some customers are not worth having.

 

We’ve all heard of the Pareto Principle, that 80% of our revenue usually comes from 20% of our customers. What if there was a way to use the Pareto Principle to really concentrate on your best customers, meet their needs efficiently and have plenty of time to think of ways to make their experience with you better. What if you could forget about all those other customers that are constantly complaining and demanding this or that taking up far too much of your time. There is – fire those customers!

 

So how do you know which are the best customers to get rid of?

 

Try these steps to identify customers you may want to fire:
1. Copy your customer list down the first column on an Excel spreadsheet.
2. Across the top columns, list all the attributes of a great customer: profit generator, pays on time or early, orders regularly, etc.
3. In each attribute, rate the customer from 1 – 5 with 1 being worst and 5 being best. After the last column sum the row to get that customer’s score. You can then use the sort function to sort your list from best to worst by using the sum column.

 

Now that you’ve objectively identified your problem customers, you have to come up with a plan. Here are some strategies to think about:

 

Fix what you can fix. Review each problem customer and think about all the things that cause you pain. Are there ways that this customer can be saved? What can be done to eliminate the problems? Maybe there are solutions that can be used to save the relationship.

 

Be honest. You don’t want your customer bad mouthing you to other potential customers so you need to be very sensitive as you explain your decision. Tell the customer that you have worked hard to service their needs but feel they would be a better fit elsewhere. Refer them to a competitor and make the introduction for them. Follow up to make sure that the transition went well.

 

Don’t look back. You’ll miss the lost revenue at first but the extra time will allow you to focus on maximizing sales from your remaining customers. The most likely outcome will be a drop in sales but usually your gross profit will hold steady.

 

Look in the mirror. If you seem to continually attract the customer from hell, perhaps the problem is you. Maybe your marketing is not targeting your ideal customer. If you did the customer analysis you should know who your ideal customer is now. Test different marketing tactics to attract only that customer.

By creekmoremarketing 29 Jul, 2015
Get Your Business Online.
By creekmoremarketing 29 Jul, 2015

Several years ago, the business I owned at that time was struggling and finding cash just to operate was a daily problem. Needless to say, I wasn’t sleeping very well. One day, my CPA called and said the company’s tax return was ready and wanted me to stop by and go over it. When I arrived at his office, he had a big smile on his face as he extended his arm to shake my hand.

 

“Fantastic job,” he said, “you’ve really turned this company around and I’m impressed how profitable it now is.”

 

Me, profitable? I had just been wondering how I was going to find enough cash to make payroll on Friday. I decided to come clean with him.

 

“The truth is, I probably don’t deserve your praise because I don’t have enough cash to make payroll on Friday and I’m really not sure I can keep the doors open for much longer,” I said looking down in shame. “How can I be profitable when I don’t have any money? Where did it all go?”

 

He was quiet for a few moments. Slowly, he picked up the tax return and slipped it into a big white envelope with his company logo emblazoned on it and placed it on the desk in front of me.

 

“Do you know the difference between cash and profit?” he asked quietly.

 

“What do you mean? Aren’t they the same?”

 

“Not at all,” he said. “Let me explain. Profit is only an accounting term used to define the result of the accounting equation: Sales minus cost of sales and expenses equal profit. It’s very simple. We sell something, pay our bills and whatever is leftover we call profit.”

 

“Cash, however, is not generated by some equation. Cash is generated only through the receipt of cash in some manner, either through sales, borrowing or taking in investment dollars. When we pay our expenses, whether they are for equipment, materials, labor or taxes, we must use cash to do so. For example, when your company gets a new contract, you usually have to buy about $20,000 worth of equipment to place at the new customer’s location before you get the first new sales dollar. And, you need to pay those suppliers off in about 60 days, correct? And, you won’t bring in enough profit in those 60 days to pay that bill, correct?” He paused so I could think about this.

 

“Now, on your profit and loss statement, it will show that you had both an increase in sales and an increase in profit. You as the business owner spend most of your time trying to grow your business by increasing customers and sales. The problem, and one that most business owners fail to realize, is that increased sales cost money.”

 

“Most businesses need new assets to support an increase in sales and these new assets need to be paid for usually before the new sales can generate sufficient profit to cover the increased cost. Sometimes it is new equipment, new staff or a big order of materials. Sales growth has to be planned and, fortunately, there are tools that you can use to make sure you can afford to grow and take advantage of new opportunities.”

 

“Let me ask you this,” he asked, “how do you decide what bills to pay and when?” he asked.

 

“Well, lately I go online and check the bank balance and will pay whoever is calling and threatening the most,” I said being very honest.

 

“That’s what I thought,” he chuckled. “Cash is the most precious resource that any business possesses. You have to plan carefully who you pay this week as well as the rest of the month, next three months and the year. The only way to do this is to forecast your cash inflows and outflows on a weekly and plan 13 weeks forward. It can be hard at first, but if you do this habitually, you will be able to predict when you will be short on cash and hopefully find ways around the shortfall.”

 

“You mentioned ‘tools’ that I should be using to plan my cash inflows and outflows. What are they?” I asked.
He pulled out a single piece of paper from the top drawer of his desk and handed it to me. It was a copy of a spreadsheet with 14 columns and was full of numbers.

 

“This is my firm’s cash forecast and we use it every week. I’ll send you a blank template that you can customize for your company,” he replied. “Try it for a couple of weeks and if you get stuck, give me a call and I’ll help,” he said as he stood up.
I knew my time was up and shaking his hand, I thanked him again and again.

 

This is a true story and learning how to forecast my cash inflows and outflows allowed me to grow my business methodically and kept me sane. If this is your story too, send me an email and I will be happy to send you a template that you can use to forecast your cash. If you need help to get started, call our office. Once I started using the template, it wasn’t long before I was sleeping much better.

David Oetken
Director Louisville SBDC

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By Robbi Meisel 04 May, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky., (May 4, 2017) - Kentucky’s small businesses were celebrated recently in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort during Kentucky Celebrates Small Business. The Kentucky Small Business Development Center and the Kentucky District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration presented the awards ceremony.

Acknowledging the importance of National Small Business Week in the state, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton recognized the contributions that Kentucky’s small businesses and entrepreneurs make to the state.

“Small business is the backbone of the American economy,” Hampton said. “As you’ve seen over the last several months, Kentucky is experiencing an unparalleled renaissance of economic growth, and it’s only going to continue as we nurture a climate for small business to thrive.”

WLEX-18 chief meteorologist Bill Meck served as emcee, and Connie Meck, from the Sign Language Network of Kentucky, provided interpretation for the event.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center presented Kentucky Pacesetter awards to 10 businesses. The winners were chosen based on how they are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape by introducing innovative products, increasing sales and/or production, boosting employment and serving their communities.

This year’s Kentucky Pacesetters are Bluegrass Electrical Consultants Inc., Burlington; Doc Lane’s Veterinary Pharmacy LLC, Lexington; Imperial Fisheries LLC, Middlesboro; Limestone Branch Distillery, Lebanon; Oscarware Inc., Bonnieville; The Miller House Restaurant, Owensboro; Two Rivers Fisheries Inc., Wickliffe; Universal Compressor Solutions LLC, Mayfield; Verbal Behavior Consulting Inc., Lexington and Victory CNC Plasma, Owensboro.

“Kentucky has so many outstanding small businesses and entrepreneurs offering amazing products and services. They are critical to Kentucky’s economy and quality of life. We cannot thank them enough or celebrate them enough, but it’s great to try,” said Becky Naugle, KSBDC state director.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has recognized outstanding small businesses each year since 1963. The Small Business Person of the Year winner from each state was acknowledged at both regional and national levels. The 2017 Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year is Debra Dudley, co-founder and president of Oscarware Inc. in Bonnieville. She is also the runner-up U.S. National Small Business Person of the Year.

“I’m so happy, so grateful for this honor,” Dudley said. “It’s not an award I’m just going to put on my desk. To me it’s a reward for the hard work we’ve done in the 28 years we’ve been in business.”

The 2017 Kentucky Small Business Administration award winners are:

Kentucky Small Business Media Advocate of the Year: Tim Preston, editor of Grayson Journal-Enquirer and Olive Hill Times, Grayson.

Kentucky Financial Services Advocate of the Year: Robert Brandon Feltner, business banking officer at Citizens Bank of Kentucky, Prestonsburg.

Kentucky Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year: El Kentubano LLC, Frankfort. Luis David Fuentes is the owner and publisher.

Kentucky Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year: Land Shark Shredding LLC, Bowling Green. Don Gerard is the president and CEO.

Kentucky Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year: Puzzles Academy and Puzzles Fun Dome, Louisville. Kimberly Stevenson is the president.

Kentucky Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Josh Barrett, owner and operator of Josh Barrett and Associates, Richmond.

“All of us owe a deep debt of gratitude to the entrepreneurs of Kentucky who do so much to make our Commonwealth a prosperous and happy place,” said Ralph Ross, district director of the Kentucky office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services can be found on their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .

 

Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-0104

 

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

By Robbi Meisel 21 Mar, 2017
WASHINGTON – Kentucky businesses and residents affected by severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, winds and hail from Feb. 28 through March 1, 2017 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA Administrator Linda E. McMahon announced today.

McMahon made the loans available in response to a letter on March 16 from Michael E. Dossett, Authorized Representative of Gov. Matthew Bevin, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA. The declaration covers Estill County and the adjacent counties of Clark, Jackson, Lee, Madison and Powell in Kentucky.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Kentucky with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” said McMahon. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

SBA’s customer service representatives will be available at the Disaster Loan Outreach Center to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete their applications.

The Center is located in the following community and is open as indicated:
Estill County
Estill Development Alliance
177 Broadway Street
Irvine, Kentucky 40336

Opening: Thursday, March 23
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Days: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Closed: Sunday, March 26
Closing: Thursday, March 30, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may now include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 3.15 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela .

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster . Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to submit applications for physical property damage is May 19, 2017 . The deadline for economic injury applications is Dec. 20, 2017.

For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, visit their website at www.sba.gov/disaster .
By Robbi Meisel 27 Feb, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky., (Feb. 14, 2017) – Kentucky Small Business Development Center is seeking nominations for the 2017 Pacesetter Awards. The recognition program was created to honor high performing, second-stage businesses that are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape. The deadline to submit nominations is March 15.

KSBDC encourages small businesses that meet the following minimum qualifications to apply:

         ·  Privately held

         · In business for three or more years

         · Employ six or more full-time employees, including the owner

         ·  Annual sales meet or exceed $500,000

         · Located and headquartered in Kentucky

         ·Demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow evidenced by the judging criteria.

Pacesetters will be selected based on two or more of the following criteria:

         · Growth in the number of employees

         ·Increase in sales and/or unit volume

         · Innovativeness of the product or service

         ·Response to adversity

         ·Employee engagement and commitment

         ·Contributions by the nominee to aid community-oriented projects

Pacesetters will be recognized at the Kentucky Celebrates Small Business event held at the Capitol rotunda in Frankfort during the first week of May. Each honoree will receive an award inscribed with the business’s name and a promotional video for their own use that highlights the business. In addition, KSBDC will send a customized press release announcing the award to local media and trade associations. Honorees are given the rights to use the Kentucky Pacesetter logo and event photographs in promoting their business.

Anyone may submit nominations, including third parties associated with an eligible second-stage business. A business may self-nominate by completing the required form. Winners will be notified by March 27. Full nomination requirements and the application are online at https://www.ksbdc.org/kentucky-pacesetters1 .

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 12 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services can be found on their website, http://www.ksbdc.org/ .

 

Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-0104

 

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

 

 

 

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