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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

3 tips para convertir tu pequeño negocio en una máquina de vender

Por Al Lopez, Director Ejecutivo de EGBI
Traduccion: Veronica Trevisan, Wester
Convertir el negocio en una máquina de vender es un problema muy común para los emprendedores. Ellos tienen una gran visión de su compañía, un excelente producto y tal vez inclusive una gran estrategia de mercadeo, pero no pueden hacer crecer sus ventas tan aceleradamente como quisieran. La solución es simple: un compromiso más efectivo con el cliente.
El problema para los que recién empiezan, es que todavía no se sienten cómodos con el proceso de venta. Ellos creen que su producto es tan bueno que se va a vender solo o están enfocados en presionar la venta de manera fuerte y rápida y nunca se comprometen con el cliente.
Si esto te suena conocido por experiencia propia, entonces aquí tienes algunos tips para convertir tu pequeño negocio en una máquina de vender.
Tip #1: Enfócate en una relación a largo plazo
Es fácil enfocarse en una venta a corto plazo. Después de todo, son las ventas rápidas las que van a poner dinero en el banco y ayudar a que el negocio crezca. No obstante, también debes tener una mirada de largo alcance en la relación con los clientes. Y esto es especialmente cierto si estas vendiendo productos relativamente caros o de alta gama. Necesitas desarrollar primero la relación y luego, construir tu credibilidad a través del tiempo.
Por ejemplo, digamos que acabas de lanzar al mercado un pequeño negocio de joyas. La primera vez que el cliente llega a tu tienda, puede que no hagas una gran venta. Pero si puedes educarlo acerca de los tipos de materiales que usas con tus joyas, o de los artesanos que trabajan esas piezas, así, estarás preparando al cliente para que efectué una compra más grande en un futuro.
Tip #2: Escucha al cliente
La mayoría de la gente cuando piensa en ventas, lo hace en términos de “repetición” de un guión o mensaje. Ellos piensan que existen frases perfectas que cerraran la venta. Ese no es el caso. Tú también necesitas escuchar al cliente. ¿Qué problemas trata de resolver? ¿Qué es lo que realmente está buscando?
Y este proceso de escuchar, incluye algo más que prestar atención a las palabras usadas por el cliente. Presta atención a su lenguaje corporal y a todo lo que ellos están diciendo con esa postura. Y si no estás seguro lo que ellos quieren, haz preguntas para entender. A menudo, la gente te dice que quiere una cosa, pero en realidad desean algo totalmente diferente.
Tip #3: Recuerda que el precio es solo un factor en la decisión de la compra.
Todo buen vendedor sabe que no se puede hablar del precio demasiado pronto (¡inclusive si el cliente pregunta!). Primero debes lograr que el cliente visualice el concepto de poseer tu producto o servicio y disfrutarlo. En ese momento, ellos podrían estar preparados a pagar cualquier precio que les digas.
Aquí un pequeño ejemplo: ¿Has ido a algún restaurante y visto “el especial del día”? Luego, el camarero/a llega a la mesa y describe ese especial de una manera tan deliciosa en detalles que simplemente no puedes evitar ordenar ese plato aún si es uno de los productos más caros de todo el menú.
Y si finalmente no haces la venta, todavía puedes tener el compromiso de este cliente para cómpralo en otro momento. O puedes tomarlo como un proceso de aprendizaje para hacer que tu producto o servicio sea ofrecido de una manera aún más atractiva.
Una vez que tengas la respuesta a esa pregunta, tu puedes realmente volver tu emprendimiento en una máquina de vender. Puede que descubras que necesitas ampliar el rango de tus ofertas. O, que ciertos aspectos de tu producto o servicio simplemente no son lo suficiente atractivos para tus clientes. Al saber exactamente lo que tus clientes están comprando, te sentirás aún más cómodo con el proceso de vender, y eso es lo que realmente te permitirá ejecutar una estrategia de venta.

3 Tips For Turning Your Startup Into a Sales Machine

By Al Lopez, EGBI Executive Director
It’s a common problem faced by many first-time entrepreneurs in Austin. They have a great vision for their company, a great product and perhaps even a great marketing strategy, but they just can’t seem to grow their sales as quickly as they would like. The solution is simple: more effective customer engagement.
The problem is that many first-time entrepreneurs are still not comfortable with the sales process. Either they believe that the product is so good that it will literally sell itself, or they are concerned about pushing too hard and too fast so they never really engage with the customer.
If that sounds like your entrepreneurial experience, then here are some tips for turning your startup into a sales machine.
Tip #1: Focus on the long-term relationship
It’s easy to focus on the short-term sale. After all, it’s those short-term sales that are going to put money in the bank and help your business grow. However, you also have to take a long-term view of customer relationships. And that’s especially true if you are selling relatively expensive or high-end products. You need to develop the relationship first, steadily building credibility with the client over time.
For example, say that you have just launched a small jewelry business. The first time a customer comes into the store, you may not make a big sale. But if you can educate the customer about the types of materials you use in your jewelry, or the types of artisans who are working on these pieces of jewelry, you will be preparing the customer for a much larger purchase later.
Tip #2: Listen to the customer
Most people, when they think about sales, think in terms of a rehearsesd “script” or “messages.” They think that there is some perfect sales script that will convert every time. That’s just not the case. You also need to listen to the customer. What problem are they trying to solve? What are they really looking for?
And this listening process includes more than just the words that customers use. Pay attention to their body language and all the things they are saying with their posture. And if you’re not sure what they really want, ask questions to get clarification. Often, people may tell you they want one thing, but really have something entirely different in mind.
Tip #3: Remember that price is just one factor in the sales decision

The Importance of Managing Your Expenses Carefully for Small Business Owners

By Al Lopez, EGBI Executive Director
Start-ups and small growing businesses face a common problem: how to manage cash flow so that all the expenses get paid on time. By managing your expenses carefully, you can improve your opportunity to grow slowly and surely. Here are a few tips on how to do that:
Tip #1: Create a realistic budget
It’s not just enough to come up with a budget – you also have to come up with a realistic budget. And in order to do that, you need to have a good understanding of all aspects of your business. Take sales, for example. If you know when you are booking key sales, and when these customers are going to pay, you are going to have much more visibility into the overall profitability and the when that profitability will come. If you know that you can expect an amount in revenue a month, then you can start thinking in terms of affordable dollars in expenses.
At a minimum, you should have visibility into the sales for your upcoming three months. Preferably, you should be able to project out 12 months in advance. This is particularly important because every business naturally has ups and downs in sales over the year – such as during the holiday selling season – and those ups and downs need to be planned for.
Tip #2: Develop a solid business plan
Once you have a budget in place, you need to make sure you have a business that supports it or change the one you have to match your new budget expectations. Start to think about what percentage of your profits you will need to invest back into the business. Maybe you have to buy new inventory or maybe you need a new piece of equipment. Or maybe you are planning a new marketing approach to promote your product or service.
A business plan helps you to understand how these costs fit into the bigger picture and keep you from spending on things that aren’t part of your plan. Too many businesses live week to week, month-to-month, or quarter-to-quarter, and are never able to put together a solid business plan for moving forward. Expenses tend to grow with nothing to show for it. A business plan helps to keep you focused, and helps you manage your expenses more wisely.
Tip #3: Plan for unexpected expenses
The business world is full of uncertainty, and that’s why most small business consultants advise companies to have enough cash on hand to handle any unexpected emergencies. In the same way as you might create a “rainy day fund” for your family budget, you’d also want to make sure that you have enough cash to cover adverse market changes or unexpected events for your business.
There are various ways to protect against risk, of course, without simply having to save a bunch of cash. You don’t want to tie up too much cash, because you’ll need that for working capital. But you should have business insurance to protect your inventory. Or, if you operate a food truck business, you might think about ways to limit your downside if anything happens to these valuable assets.
At some point, all of the cost savings, bootstrapping and careful financial management will really pay off. You’ll have extra funds to handle unexpected emergencies, and you’ll also have plenty of funds to re-invest in the success of your growing small business.