welcome in

Customer Etiquette to know for your business

By Alison Flangel

As a small business owner, creating a trusting environment between you and your customers is essential. Happy customers equate to a happy business. Sometimes despite our best efforts, customers can have unhappy experiences at our businesses. Below are some etiquette tips on how to deal with angry customers, as well as how to build customer trust.

How to Handle Angry Customers

  • Don’t take it personally
    When dealing with a customer who is angry or unhappy with their experience at your business, although it may seem like a personal attack against you as a business owner, it is important to put the situation into perspective. Your personal feelings about the situation should not affect your attitude or demeanor.
  • Stay calm
    If a customer begins to raise their voice or yell at employees, nothing is gained from returning that behavior. In fact, by acting in a similar manner you will likely cause the situation to escalate. It is essential to maintain control over yourself and your emotions.
  • Apologize
    Whether or not you agree with the legitimacy of what a customer may be angry about, in order to come to a resolution an apology is almost always necessary. If you want said customer to return to your business, an apology is what does the trick.
  • Find a solution
    Sometimes, apologies alone do not solve the problem at hand. One way to create resolution is by asking the customer what they feel should be done or put forward to solve the issue. This way, customers feel as though you are listening and valuing the feedback they are giving.
  • Keep it brief
    It is in the best interest of both parties to resolve problems quickly. The longer you linger with an unhappy customer, the more opportunities there are for further issues to arise. The less time you spend dealing with a customer like this is less time you spend with other productive customers.

How to Build Customer Trust in Your Business

  • Keep it transparent
    Most of the time, trust is built off of honest communication. Make sure you are being straightforward and honest with your customers about variables such as shipping times and product costs.
  • Own up to mistakes
    Bumps in the road are inevitable when you own a business; the best thing you can do as a business owner is take responsibility for your mistakes. Despite a customer’s feelings, humility goes a long way.
  • Anticipate customer needs
    As a business owner, it is important to evaluate your customer base frequently. In doing so, attempting to anticipate the needs of your customers will automatically build trust in your business. If customers trust that you deliver their needs without even needing to ask, a strong environment is created.
  • Communicate
    As they say, communication is always key. Putting in an effort for strong communication between business employees and customers is necessary to maintain trust in your business. Communication can solve many problems before they even have the chance to arise.

website unique

How to Make Your Website Unique

By Alison Flangel

In the age of digital technology, shopping has changed exponentially. Whether your small business offers a series of products or services, having a professional website is essential for sales. A website is essentially showcasing your business to the world, which means it must be unique and memorable. Refer to our previous blog on Establishing a Professional Domain, which explains how you can create a website from scratch.

Tips on Making your Website Stand-Out:

  • Create a gallery page! Consumers love seeing visual representation of what your business offers. Having a page on your website dedicated to pictures can give customers an idea of what they would be getting when supporting your business. Make sure that the pictures showcased on a gallery page are high-quality and professional.
  • It is important to showcase your staff on your businesses website. Clients often want to know who they will be working with, so creating short employee bios is a great way to allow for easy introductions. Consider adding in some fun questions to these bios, such as your favorite movie or best childhood memory.
  • Do your best to keep website content fresh and updated. It is never fun to read old information that is no longer relevant, especially if you are a consumer looking to buy a product in real-time. Post announcements, accomplishments, and everything in between on your website.
  • Encourage sales by including customer testimonials on your website. Success stories and examples of how you have helped people naturally encourage and inhibit trust between your business and potential customers.
  • Don’t be afraid to use color and fun fonts on your site! While minimalism can often hold true to the motto less is more, a memorable website will often have elements that stick out which forces us to remember them. Using bright colors and lettering is one way that you can make your website unique.
  • Add a blog component to your business website. Becoming a nuanced expert in the form of blogging can grab the attention of customers by teaching them new things. Share your knowledge in the form of a blog that can be regularly updated!
Personal touch

Tips on Maintaining a Personal Touch on your Small Business

By Alison Flangel

Small businesses bring charm to our economy, which is one of the many reasons they are so beloved. Despite the success your small business might face, maintaining a level of personal touch is important in order to keep customers engaged. By finding the delicate balance between technology and human interaction, customer loyalty will likely increase.

Here are four ways that small business owners can maintain their personal touch:

  1. Keep customers informed
    As you are working with clients to sell a product or perform a service, let them know where they are in the process. This can be executed through text updates, emails, or letters that are sent directly to individual households. By providing clients with direct contacts they can reach out to if they need assistance, people will feel personally connected to your company.
  2. Show customers growth
    It is important to let clients know that you are not only aware of their needs, but you are excited to support them in the future. Taking the time to get to know your customers can help to navigate a mutual understanding, which will help not hinder communication and loyalty. Individuals will feel more prone to support your business if you take the time to get to know them.
  3. Use a CRM System
    A customer relationship management system (CRM) allows all your team members to access data about past and present clients that have supported your business. Using a CRM system allows you to write down notes and details about a customer, so that connection and the growth of trust can be built between consumers and employees. Remembering details as little as someone’s name or birthday can make customers feel special.
  4. Use social media to your advantage
    Oftentimes small businesses become involved in their local communities. If your company is involved in local community service work, or helps the community in any capacity, consider posting pictures and updates to social media sites. Featuring the work that you do to give back to the community can highlight the human elements of your business, which oftentimes makes customers inclined to support you in the end.
Build a strong team

How to Build a Strong Team for your Small Business

By Alison Flangel

Owning a small business requires help and cooperation from the people we chose to surround ourselves with … which means the teams we build must be strong ones. Employees should lift you up and contribute positively to your business, which in turn creates a healthy work environment.

How to build a great team for your small business:

  1. Create and explain your business vision
    Before you make the decision to hire employees, it is important to communicate your goals and what you are aiming for within your company. Some components of a vision include: the type of culture you want to build, your future plans, and the environment of customers you hope to cater to. By explaining your vision to potential employees, you will get a sense of which individuals are the right fit for your business.
  2. Define roles clearly
    Once you have made the decision on individuals you want to hire as employees, it is essential to determine each person’s strengths and weaknesses. By doing so, roles will naturally be defined. As a small business owner it is important to constantly remind employees of the roles they are assigned to, in order to make sure work is effectively done. If roles are not clearly defined, progress and efficiency will be affected.
  3. Implement team-building exercises into your routine
    Small businesses often hinder fast-paced work environments, which means that your team must work fluidly. Team-building exercises can oftentimes help employees bond and get to know eachother better, which equates to becoming more effective in the business setting. Examine your employees to determine what type of bonding exercise would be most beneficial; paintball, go-karting, yoga class, etc… Something low budget such as providing drinks and snacks on a Friday afternoon can also work very well.
  4. Identify problems head-on
    As much as problems can be avoided, there is no doubt you will run into issues with employees. In this type of situation, you must carefully address the situation, because oftentimes problems can arise when someone is having crises arise in their personal life. Other times employees just may not be the best fit for your company. Firing someone should be a last resort, although make sure to follow local legislation if you make this decision.
delegate tasks

How to Delegate Work as a Small Business Owner

By Alison Flangel

Being the owner of a small business is often compared to being the parent to a child … small businesses are close to the heart. This being said, an effective business owner must learn how to delegate their responsibilities to other employees in order to run a successful company.

How to Delegate Responsibilities as a Small Business Owner:

  1. Determine which parts of the business you would rather not do –
    No one loves doing every part of their job equally. Sometimes there are things that we do not enjoy, or are not one of our strong suits. If there are things you find yourself avoiding as a business owner, it could be something to consider delegating to others. For example, if you are not the best with technology, consider leaving social media posts to a colleague.
  2. Choose whom you delegate to wisely –
    Similarly to how we don’t enjoy doing every aspect of a job, each individual within a business has various strengths and weaknesses. It is important to take the time to learn about your employees skill sets before you delegate tasks. As a business owner, your priority should be setting up your employees for success. Trust is key!
  3. Define expectations clearly –
    In order to ensure a job is well done by an individual other than yourself, clear expectations and mutual understanding is necessary. Business owners are responsible for explicitly explaining to employees how they want a task to be completed, with an outline of each step in the process.
  4. Don’t forget to praise hard work –
    While this may sound elementary, acknowledging someone’s hard work, especially when it is your employee, goes a long way. Making a conscious effort to communicate with your employees and remind them they are doing a good job can make individuals feel appreciated, and gain respect for the importance of the task.
interview employee

Tips for Hiring the Right Employees for your business

By Alison Flangel

The people we surround ourselves with can either bring us up or drag us down – this goes for employees too! As a small business owner it is important to be selective as you are hiring staff, as these are the people you are trusting to help run your business. Here are some tips on what to look for when hiring your own employees …

  • It is essential to clearly define your job descriptions before you even look for individuals to hire. Things to include are:duties, responsibilities, necessary skills, outcomes, and the work environment of a particular role. If the job description is true to your expectations, it will be much easier to find someone who is fit for the job.
  • Creating a checklist can be an effective way to narrow down the hiring process. A checklist can include the aspects of a new hire that you feel are essential for decision making. A checklist for hiring employees also keeps your efforts on track by communication progress to interested employees.
  • The search for new employees can involve a lot of resumes, cover letters, and applications. It is important to closely analyze all materials in order to make an informed decision regarding new hires. Consider screening all applicants against a list of qualifications, skills, and characteristics.
  • When you ultimately get to the interview stage of the hiring process, as a business owner you are responsible for asking the right job interview questions. The questions that you ask individuals during an interview are critical in helping you to hire the right employee. Questions you ask should target an individual’s character, experience, and
  • While the line between business and personal life can sometimes be thin, it is important to check backgrounds and references when hiring new employees. As a business owner, you need to ensure that employees’ previous experiences and credentials are legitimate and verified. Background checks should include work references, criminal history, etc…
Apps for small business

Useful Business Apps for Small Business Owners

By Alison Flangel

As a small business owner, apps are a great resource to manage various aspects of your business. With thousands of apps available at our fingertips, it can be hard to determine which are actually helpful. Below are some apps to consider using if you own a small business.

  1. Microsoft 365
    Microsoft 365 is one of the best, if not the best, office software app out there. Previously only available as a software program on a PC computer, Microsoft has rebranded to make this application now available for Android and iOS mobile devices. Within the Microsoft 365 app are 3 essential office software programs that you can use: Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Word can be used to create written documents of all sorts, which will likely be used daily within your business. Excel and Powerpoint are slightly more niche, although also extremely useful. Excel can help the organization of your business by creating spreadsheets, and Powerpoint can assist you in the making of presentations. Microsoft 365 is a must for small business owners, as it is universally used by the majority of the world.
  2. Quickbooks Online
    Quickbooks online is one of the most powerful business tools available in the new age of technology. Whether you are looking to convert tax accounting to payroll, organize inventory management, or analyze profit, quickbooks can do it all (depending on the version that you pay for!). Quickbooks has various versions and price points that cater to small businesses needs. Now available as a mobile accounting app, you can create invoices, track and manage expenses, and more on your mobile phone.
  3. SOS Inventory
    SOS Inventory is an app that helps you manage everything manufacturing; inventory tracking, order management, and more. With this app, you can manage all of your inventory from multiple business locations, track your items, and create tickets and packing slips. The mobile app is free with a software subscription, although plans for the software start at $39.95 per month.
  4. Square
    If you are a small business owner who owns a retail location, you have likely heard of Square. Square is the largest Point of Sale (POS) provider that has changed how businesses process credit card transactions. Square offers various software and hardware solutions, with the most basic version you only pay 2.6% + $0.10 for every in-person payment that you accept. Square is clean and professional, and guaranteed to make credit card payments easy for your customers.
  5. Gusto
    Gusto is a full-service payroll and human resource application, available on a desktop computer or mobile device. Gusto allows you to manage payroll, benefits, and compliance for your employees. Additionally, you can calculate and file payroll taxes, and track vacation/sick time on the app. Gusto is currently available via a monthly subscription, with the base plan starting at $39 per month. The cost is worth it for the effortless organization that Gusto provides.
Money spent

How are operational costs for your Business calculated and what are they?

By Shamitha Ramanan

Operating costs are any expenses that are required for the day-to-day maintenance and administration of your business. Commonly referred to as “overhead,” these essential business costs include electricity, payroll, and office leases. Businesses can cut wasteful expenditure and save costs by routinely reviewing operating expenses.

The cost of products sold is one of the main elements of operational costs (COGS). The direct expenses incurred in manufacturing the products or services offered by your company are known as COGS, Cost of Goods Sold. 

Operating cost ratios

The operational income and operating expense ratio are the two most crucial pieces of information you may gather from operating costs. 

Operating income

The total profit generated by the operations of your business is known as operating income. Operating income is calculated using the following formula:

Operating Income = Total Revenues – Operating Costs

Operating expense ratio

On the other side, the operating expense ratio does suggest financial soundness. No matter how big or small your firm is, it is simpler to compare yourself to others in your field when efficiency is expressed as a percentage. 

By directly comparing your expenses to your income, operating expense ratios (OER) allow you to monitor your efficiency. OER’s equation is as follows:

Operating Expense Ratio = Operating Costs ÷ Total Revenues

customer writes reviews

Tips for ENcouraging Customers to Write REviews

By Alison Flangel

There are many recommendation sites online that business owners can use to encourage new customers to use their product and services. Once you are registered with some of these sites, here are some tips in encouraging present customers to write reviews.

  • Simply ask! The best and most straight forward way to encourage customers to write reviews is simply by asking them to. More often than one might think, customers will be happy to write about their experience with your business. This could be something such as a link to a review site at the bottom of your emails, or a simple statement said at checkout.
  • Creating a pop-up form on your website is an easy way to encourage customers to leave reviews. If your business has a website, programming can be used to create a pop-up form that appears after customers have made a purchase. Customers are more inclined to write a review directly after they make a purchase, before they leave their computer, which is why pop-up forms are so effective.
  • Automated messages are a good way to remind customers to leave reviews. For example, if your company provides a service, after their appointment is finished customers may receive an automated message (text, email, etc.) that asks them to leave a review. This is a good tactic to engage with customers to assess the quality of your business while the service is still fresh in their minds.
  • Create incentives; if you reward customers with a discount code or free product when they leave a review for your business, they are much more likely to take the time to do so. Consider awarding your customers with a promotion as an incentive for leaving reviews.
recommendation sites

Customer Recommendation Sites to benefit your Business

By Alison Flangel

Customer recommendations are one of the most essential parts of owning a small business. Not only do customer reviews provide important feedback for business owners themselves, but they encourage other local consumers to give your company a chance. We are going to go through places where you can get customer reviews.

Top 5 Places for Customer Reviews

  1. Angie’s List
    Angie’s List is considered a “higher-end” review site, as users have to pay for an annual membership. This site is geared towards service-based businesses. Reviews can not be anonymous, and are given on an A-F scale. It’s free to set up a page for your company on Angie’s List; once you have yours, encourage your customers who have an account to leave reviews.
  2. Consumer Reports
    Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that product tests to write unbiased reviews and recommendations. With 7.7 million products reviewed in the U.S., this site does not accept advertising, and pays for all of their products themselves. This site is very legitimate, and is a great way to gain exposure.
  3. TripAdvisor
    TripAdvisor is a review site that caters to the following industries: travel, hospitality, airlines, entertainment, or restaurants. Currently, as the largest travel site in the world, TripAdvisor has over 200 million reviews taken by customers. If your company has any leg in the travel industry, creating a profile on TripAdvisor can boost customer reviews as well as overall sales.
  4. Yelp
    Yelp is one of the most popular and well-known free review sites. Any business can create a free profile on Yelp, which allows users to set up their own free profiles to review businesses. The great thing about Yelp is as a business owner, you can respond to revieweres that leave comments on your page. Additionally, you can put information on your Yelp page such as store hours and location, so your profile will often come up when people Google your business.
  5. Google My Business
    Google My Business is one of the most accessible review sites, as the reviews show up when you search Google for a business. Receiving reviews, comments, or pictures on Google can boost your business as it is almost always guaranteed to pop-up on customers’ mobile devices.