By: Monica Peña

We are consistently encouraging our alumni to increase their circle of influence by attending professional events in the area. We are proud of the community partnership that we have with the four chambers; including Austin Young ChamberGreater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (GAACC)Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce (GABC), and Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC). When our clients graduate from the Build Your Business PLAN workshop series, they qualify for one year membership to one of these chambers. Each chamber has unique opportunities for business owners.

Here are some of the opportunities the chambers have this month to learn something new or meet other business owners.

March 20th- Coffee Connection Presented by Rudy’s

March 22nd and 23rd- Asian Eats Night Market

March 28th- Small Biz U


Por: Mónica Peña

Constantemente alentamos a nuestros alumnos a incrementar su círculo de influencias atendiendo a eventos profesionales en el área. Nos sentimos orgullosos de la asociación comunitaria que tenemos con las cuatro cámaras de comercio; incluyendo, Austin Young ChamberGreater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (GAACC)Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce (GABC), y Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC). Cuando nuestros clientes se gradúan de la serie de talleres; Construye tu PLAN de Negocios, ellos califican para una membresía de un año a cualquiera de las cámaras. Cada cámara tiene oportunidades únicas para dueños de negocios.

Aquí están algunas de las oportunidades que las cámaras tienen este mes, para aprender algo nuevo o conocer a otros dueños de negocios.

20 de marzo- Coffee Connection Presented by Rudy’s

22 y 23 de marzo- Asian Eats Night Market

28 de marzo- Small Biz U

Membresia de camara y eventos de febrero

Por Monica Peña

Estamos orgullosos de la asociación comunitaria que tenemos con las cuatro cámaras; incluyendo  Austin Young Chamber, Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (GAACC), Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce (GABC), y Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC). Cuando nuestros clientes se gradúan de la serie de talleres Buils Your Business PLAN, califican para la membresía de un año en una de éstas cámaras. Cada cámara tiene diferentes beneficios de membresía que ayudan a sus miembros a aumentar la visibilidad en línea, y tarifas especiales para eventos de desarrolo profesional/de red.

Siempre animo a nuestros alumnos a visitar cada cámara o visitar al personal de la cámara  para ver qué organización se adapta mejor a sus necesidades comerciales. Estas son algunas de las oportunidades que las cámaras tienen éste mes para aprender algo nuevo o conocer a otros dueños de negocios.

21 de febrero – Power Networking Breakfast con GAHCC

27 de febrero: Leadership Talk with Minoj Saxena quien compartirá su experiencia como empresario con GAACC.

28 de febrero: Reúnase, salude y asista al Mixer con la Austin Young Chamber.

Asegúrese de visitar cada uno de sus sitios web para obtener más información sobre las cámaras y sus eventos. Por favor déjeme saber si usted es un ex-alumno y tiene alguna pregunta sobre las cámaras.

Chamber Membership and February events

By: Monica Peña

We are proud of the community partnership that we have with the four chambers; including Austin Young Chamber, Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (GAACC), Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce (GABC), and Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC). When our clients graduate from the Build Your Business PLAN workshop series, they qualify for one year membership to one of these chambers. Each chamber has different membership benefits that assist their members increase online visibility and special rates to network/professional development events.

I always encourage our alumni to visit each chamber or visit with chamber staff to see which organization would best fit their business needs. Here are some of the opportunities the chambers have this month to learn something new or meet other business owners.

February 21st- Power Networking Breakfast with GAHCC

February 27th- Leadership Talk with Minoj Saxena who shares his entrepreneur journey with GAACC

February 28th- Meet, Greet, & Give Mixer with the Austin Young Chamber

Be sure to visit each of their web sites for more events and information about the chambers. Please let me know if you are an alumni and have any questions concerning the chambers as we are active with each of them.

Yelp Logo

The Yelp Experience

By: Michelle Rutan, owner of Prescription Pest and EGBI volunteer

Three years ago I bought an existing pest control company.  I had large dreams and not always realistic expectations, but despite some missteps, owning my own business is amazing and going great.

Our company’s differentiators are that we are family owned, good values and no contracts.  I have learned many times over that thinking big will not get us as far as focusing on doing the best job possible and those people will tell others.

Our Yelp profile started to bring in organic leads so I started to focus on it. I made sure to have compelling pictures and content to make things personable.  We do everything we can to keep customers happy so they leave more good reviews. After a couple months, I decided to do some paid advertising to try and build up our customer base and review count.

One of my first jobs out of college was buying online advertising for a large tech company, so I was familiar with the terminology of online advertising contracts. When reading the Yelp contract I came across this verbiage.

Cost-Per-Click (“CPC”) Auction-based Auto-bidding Program: Yelp delivers a variable and unguaranteed number of ad impressions to the Site to promote Client’s business, as determined at Yelp’s sole discretion based on available inventory and other factors, and Client pays Yelp for the number of clicks during a given period of time. A “click” is a single instance for which Yelp records that a user acts on an ad impression, such as clicking on it (including clicks that drive traffic to Client’s Yelp listing or that lead to phone calls and reservations) or sending Client a message in connection with it.

There are several alarming words and phrases in here: variable, unguaranteed and Yelp’s sole discretion. So they decide how many impressions (views of your ad) they give and only charge you for the clicks you get.  This is standard in the industry.   I asked the account representative what the CPC would be and she said it varied and gave me an estimated range.  It is not standard that they only list how much you are willing to pay per month rather than CPC in the contract. We discussed my goals and I assumed everything would work out. At $350 per month for 6 months, we would need 5 new sales a month (or 30 overall) to pay for this experiment which seemed reasonable. We created our ads and we were off.  I always put people on everything as it makes things more personable, especially when one of our main differentiators is family owned. You can see one of our ads below:

The first thing I learned is that Yelp “clicks” are just to your Yelp profile, not to your website. I was, in essence, paying Yelp to make even more money by having people click around on their site. After a week or so, I was not seeing conversions from clicks to leads or actions and I called Yelp support.  They looked over my profile and said that everything looked good and that it might help to add more pictures. We had 6 professional pictures and I couldn’t see how more would help.  I believe an issue with conversion was once visitors made it to your Yelp profile they could get distracted by ads by other pest control company ads (see Image 2).  There are no real guarantees on leads, since CPC is based on a “formula”.  For example, in July, I spent $335 for 31 clicks to see my Yelp profile, which resulted in 11 calls, emails or visits to my company website. This did not result in 5 new sales.

I contacted Yelp support weekly and it was painful. They had pleasant young women answering the phones that would only repeat pre-authorized phrases even if they didn’t answer or address my question, which was maddening.  Right away I could see this was going to be an issue.  I did everything I could to get credits and see what they could change to better fit my company’s needs.

The campaign did result in leads, but we had two main issues with the people that contacted us. The first was that people expect to hear back right away, and we have specific business hours.  If Yelp flooded our impressions over the weekend and people contact us, we didn’t respond until Monday, which was too late. Yelp support said they had no control over what days the ads were shown.  The other issue was people primarily shopping for bargain priced pest control.  Some companies will offer $25 pest control and they don’t do much.  We provide a quality service, guarantee it and treat our employees fairly, which is not cheap.  This meant that many of the leads Yelp generated for us were not good match. Over all the advertising campaign did not meet our goals of 5 new customers a month and resulted in a lot of work and frustration on my part. Below is a snapshot of three months .

On the bright side. The organic leads we get from Yelp are usually good so we switched went back to that model. The leads we received in 2017 were about steady with what we did in 2016.  In 2018 our leads shot up. I am not sure if it was how long we had our profile up or that our reviews increased, but we got better in their “formula” and got more leads .

While my experience was not great with Yelp paid advertising, their organic leads are great.  I believe if a company has a more expensive service, or product, it could be more beneficial. I don’t believe Yelp will be flexible with their pricing, duration of contract or other details to make businesses more successful, but you can always try. Yelp itself is a good platform for our business as we get more leads than through Google or other advertising methods.  I would suggest going into it knowing exactly what you need to get out of it. For us it was not enough to continue paying and the organic leads far outweigh the paid. Free and better is good enough for me, even if it won’t double our business.

Do I Need a Real Estate Attorney?

What is a Real Estate Attorney?

There are two types of real estate lawyers.

  • Residential real estate lawyers can help you buy a home, deal with foreclosures, and resolve landlord/tenant disputes.
  • Commercial real estate lawyers deal with construction and development projects, as well as zoning issues. If you don’t own a business, you probably won’t ever have to deal with a commercial real estate lawyer.

Real estate attorneys specialize in the particulars of real estate law. Their job is to preside over proceedings in any way a client requires. An attorney brings experience that takes a level of risk out of real estate transactions and can aid all parties in understanding the associated legalities.

You should consider hiring a real estate attorney if you need help with:

  • Creation of documents such as deeds, rental agreements or purchasing contracts
  • Proper filing of deeds with local government offices
  • Negotiating terms with banks and brokers
  • Establishing a business
  • Doing a title search to determine if there are any liens or encumbrances associated with a property
  • Reviewing a sale before it becomes final to check for potential legal problems
  • Mortgage and trust deed foreclosures

Benefits of a Real Estate Attorney

Working with an attorney who knows Texas real estate law makes buying or selling your real estate less overwhelming. In every transaction, having an attorney guarantees that all legal requirements are met. This includes wording on deeds or contracts and any specific regulations regarding rentals that need to be included on leases.

As a seller, hiring an attorney frees you from having to juggle paperwork while trying to clear out your home and show it to prospective buyers. For buyers, obtaining the services of an attorney can make it easier to understand local rules and regulations and recognize any potential problems. Business owners or investors looking to purchase new property may benefit even more from the services of a real estate attorney. Running a business and preparing for a move or expansion is hard enough without trying to understand everything about real estate law.





Law Office of Roberto A. Ramirez



10 Essential Contracts for Every Small Business

By:  Roberto A. Ramirez with Law Office of Roberto A. Ramirez, PLLC 

Starting and running a small business often involves a staggering number of legal contracts.  Below are a list of essential contracts for small businesses.

1. Business Contracts – You need more than a handshake. Make sure it’s a done deal with a professional Business Contract. When it’s in
writing, it’s easier to prevent miscommunication because the details of your agreement are clearly outlined.

2. Service Contracts – Service contracts outline exactly what you will provide as a business. Service contracts are agreements for
specific acts, such as painting your house or tuning your car, and are distinguishable from contracts for goods.

3. Independent Contractor Agreement- Independent Contractor Agreements are a way of clearly outlining the scope of the work, payment schedules
and deadline expectations of a freelance arrangement. Make sure you have signed agreements with every
consultant or short-term employee you use.

4. Release of Liability – As an operator of a business, use this form to release your company from liability for any injuries or damages
sustained by a participant in an activity either owned or sponsored by your business.

5. Equipment Lease – Use this contract if you will be leasing equipment or plan to lease out your own equipment. You’ll want to
complete your equipment lease agreement before the equipment changes hands. That way, if either party has
any questions or concerns, you can refer to your lease agreement to resolve things.

6. Non Disclosure Agreement – Nondisclosure agreements are fairly common in many business settings, as they offer one of the most surefire
ways to protect trade secrets and other confidential information meant to be kept under wraps. Ask potential
employees or current employees to sign this so your proprietary information doesn’t leave your business.

7. Provisional Patent Application-  Protect your product or invention in advance of a full patent filing. A provisional filing allows you to use the
“Patent Pending” notice and establish an official patent filing date.

8. Noncompete Agreement- Noncompete Agreements are intended to help you protect your business. They restrict your employees, business
associates or clients from directly competing against your company.

9. Employment Agreement- This agreement between an employer and employee specifies the rights and obligations of each party. The
employee’s compensation, job duties, expense reimbursement, benefits, and confidentiality obligations may be
described in detail.

10. Employee Handbook- Employee Handbooks are an important part of your hiring package. They include necessary legal statements,
outline employment expectations, relate your business vision, and define benefit packages.

Why There’s Only One Ideal Type of Salesperson

By Ronell Smith

Last year Rand Fishkin, a Seattle software executive, started an exciting Twitter thread when he let loose a provocative comment regarding sales tactics:

“Best way to sell something—don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, & trust of those who might buy.”

As you’d expect, the comments that flowed in ranged from total agreement to disagreement bordering on denouncement.

In many ways, everyone is right and wrong: Sales and salespeople get a bad rap, some of it deserved, in large part because the worst examples (i.e., pushy, sometimes sleazy tactics) stick out in our minds and override those occasions when salespeople were actually quite helpful.

We have our brains to blame for the contempt, says Clifford Nass, a Stanford communications professor and co-author of The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships, said in a New York Timespiece on the topic.

Click To Enlarge
Why There’s Only One Ideal Type of Salesperson Infographic

Don’t Forget About Good Customer Service When Growing Your Business

By Al Lopez, EGBI Executive Director
Too often, small business owners and startups are so focused on becoming known and marketing themselves to the wider public that they forget about the importance of good customer service. Either they fail to take into account customer satisfaction or they begin to take their earliest customers for granted. However, don’t let the pursuit of fast growth blind you to the need for good customer service.
First and most importantly, good customer service is the foundation of building a trusted brand with an engaged and loyal customer base. Especially in the digital era, the power of word-of-mouth marketing cannot be underestimated. If customers aren’t happy with the service they have received, they won’t just tell their friends – they will also let everyone on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram know about it as well.
But look what happens when you keep a close focus on customer service: you can convert regular customers into super-customers of your business. Marketers often refer to these super-customers as “brand ambassadors” or “evangelists.” And it’s exactly these ambassadors and evangelists who can really help your startup grow and take it to the next level. After all, it is much cheaper to retain a customer or gain a referral than it is to find a new customer.
The most obvious way existing customers can help to jump-start your growth is by bringing repeat business. You no longer have to worry about churning through customers and finding new ones. And, it is often the case that customers will trust you to take on bigger and bigger projects as they gain confidence with you. For example, a loyal customer who comes into your restaurant on a regular basis might decide to hire you for a big catering project that can help take your new restaurant in a new growth direction.
You also won’t have to worry about spending a bigger and bigger piece of your overall budget on marketing. Your customers will do your marketing for you. They will make word-of-mouth referrals for you and let everyone know what a quality product or service you deliver each time. Best of all, these are authentic reviews. Nobody is paying them to say something nice about you, and that’s something that readers or viewers will immediately recognize. Authentic customer testimonials can be very powerful indeed.
That’s why a satisfied customer is good, but a delighted customer is best. There are many ways to “surprise and delight” your customers with good customer service. If you’re paying attention on social media, for example, you can sometimes pre-empt any problems a customer might be having. It’s best to get ahead of a concern on Twitter than to let a few bad tweets get out there!
And, you can choose to surprise and delight customers around special times of the year – such as with a special year-end holiday gift. Even a small gesture – like giving away a complimentary dessert “on the house” to help celebrate a special anniversary – can create a very loyal customer.
So you can see why quality customer service is really the key to sustaining and growing your business. Every interaction with a customer can become an opportunity to deepen the relationship and ensure that your customers are as happy with you now as when they first started using your product or service.
In short, quick and rapid growth is not just about piling up new customers as fast as you can – it’s also about making sure that your existing customers are still enthusiastic about what you offer. Great customer service is the key to growing your business.

Customer service

No se debe olvidar que un buen servicio al cliente hace crecer el negocio

Escrito por:  Al Lopez
Muchas veces los propietarios de nuevas y pequeñas empresas están tan centrados en llegar a ser conocidos por público que en general se olvidan de la importancia de un buen servicio al cliente. Ellos no toman en cuenta la importancia de la satisfacción al cliente o dan por descontado que esos primeros compradores lo serán eternamente. Sin embargo, no dejes que la búsqueda de un crecimiento rápido te nuble la necesidad de tener un buen servicio al cliente.
En primer lugar y lo más importante, un buen servicio al cliente es el cimiento para construir una marca de confianza con una base de clientes comprometidos y leales. Especialmente en la era digital, el poder del marketing boca a boca no puede ser subestimado. Si los clientes no están contentos con el servicio que han recibido, no solo le dirán a sus amigos, sino que también dejarán que todos en Facebook, Twitter e Instagram lo sepan.
Puedes convertir a clientes regulares en súper clientes de tu negocio cuando te mantienes enfocado en el servicio al consumidor. Los vendedores a menudo hablan de sus clientes como “embajadores de la marca” o “evangelistas”. Y son precisamente estos embajadores y evangelistas los que pueden ayudar realmente al crecimiento del negocio y llevarlo al siguiente nivel. Es mucho más barato retener a un cliente u obtener una recomendación de lo que es encontrar un nuevo cliente.
La forma más obvia en que los clientes existentes pueden ayudar a impulsar tu crecimiento es la llamada “clientes regulares”. Con ellos ya no existe la preocupación de la constante búsqueda de nuevos clientes. Y usualmente se da el caso en que ellos irán confiando cada vez más en ti que se permitirán incrementar sus compras debido esa seguridad que les das. Por ejemplo, un cliente leal que entra en su restaurante de forma regular podría decidir contratarte para un servicio grande de catering, lo que te ayudaría a que tu restaurante encuentre una nueva dirección de crecimiento.
Tampoco tendrás que preocuparte de destinar un monto importante dentro del presupuesto para marketing. Tus clientes harán esa publicidad por ti. Ellos transmitirán de boca en boca la calidad del producto o servicio que comercializas. Lo mejor de todo es que estos son comentarios auténticos. Nadie les paga para decir algo bueno sobre ti, y eso es algo que los lectores o los espectadores reconocerán inmediatamente. Los auténticos testimonios de los clientes pueden ser muy poderosos de hecho.
Es por eso que un cliente satisfecho es bueno, pero un cliente encantado es el mejor. Hay muchas maneras de “sorprender y deleitar” a tus clientes. Si estás prestándole atención a las redes sociales, por ejemplo, podrías prevenir cualquier problema que pueda tener un consumidor. ¡Es mejor salir adelante de una preocupación en Twitter que dejar que algunos malos tweets salgan por ahí!
Y, puedes elegir sorprender y deleitar a tus clientes en los momentos especiales del año como es un especial de fin de año- incluso el pequeño gesto de regalar un postre para ayudar a celebrar un aniversario especial – Todo esto puede crear un cliente muy leal.
Así que puedes ver por qué la calidad de servicio al cliente es realmente la clave para mantener y hacer crecer tu negocio. Cada interacción con un cliente puede convertirse en una oportunidad para profundizar esa relación y asegurar que tus clientes estén tan contentos contigo en la actualidad como cuando comenzaron a usar tu producto o servicio.
En resumen, el crecimiento rápido no se limita a acumular nuevos clientes lo más rápido posible, sino también, es asegurarse de que tus clientes actuales estén entusiasmados con lo que se les ofrece. Un gran servicio al cliente es la clave para hacer crecer tu negocio