Archive for the ‘Business Tips’ Category

Master the Art of Suggestive Selling for your Service Business

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Suggestive Selling for your Service BusinessWe all encounter suggestive selling while visiting places like fast food restaurants or retail stores. You know, that awkward moment when you’ve already selected the product or service you wish to purchase when that young worker behind the register asks if you’d like to add something more to your order, such as dessert or another pair of shoes for half price. While it may irritate us at times, more often than not we are able to take advantage of something we honestly hadn’t considered previously.

Suggestive selling doesn’t only apply to restaurant and retail businesses. In fact those of us who own and operate a home improvement or property service business should learn from this and take advantage of the opportunities to increase profit from each customer.

As a long-time owner/operator of a lawn and landscape service, I can tell you from personal experience that suggestive selling works like a charm. It’s actually very simple and can be done in person, over the phone, by email, or even via text! The good thing about suggestive selling for a property service and improvement business is that your customer is already interested in maintaining and upgrading their home and landscape. Therefore, suggesting another way to make their property look even better will usually be acceptable. What do you have to lose? The worst they can say is no, or not at this time.

A perfect example in my business is the following: A new customer requests mowing, edging, weed-eating, and blowing – the “basic” lawn service. While at the property performing the services, I will look at the customer’s hedges, palm trees, flowerbeds, and anything else that stands out needing attention. When we are finished, I have a quick chat with the customer before leaving. This is the prime time to suggest other services since I just finished making their lawn look great. I would mention how the overgrown hedges would look great if they were trimmed below the windows, or that the hedges touching their home should be trimmed so that insects do not have easy access to the home. I might mention the palm trees that would grow faster and look healthier if more of the low-hanging and dead fronds were cut off. Or how about a fresh layer of mulch in the flowerbeds that will suppress weeds, provide nutrients to plants, help retain moisture, and increase curb appeal. The list goes on and on. Of course, the more visits to the property, the more opportunities for suggestions.

I cannot recall one time where a homeowner became upset with me for suggesting something that would enhance the beauty and even the value of their property. Every time a suggestion is made, my customer is at least happy to hear my professional opinion. And whether or not they take you up on your offer right away, at least you put the bug in their ear and gave them something to consider. So if you own a landscaping business, tree service, flooring company, or other home service, surely you can go through your existing customer list and think of a few suggestions that might strike their fancy!

9 Quick Business Tips for a Great 2015!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

january-february-business-tipsAll of us start the New Year wanting better for ourselves and our business. Here are some quick tips for how to get your business off on the right foot in 2015 and get your mind set on growth!

Organize your desk – a clean workspace makes you much more productive

Purge your paper files that are piling up.  And you know they are!

Clean up your email

Tidy up your books:

Total up your income, expenses, loan payments, etc.  Prepare your Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet reports.  Instead of printing out your financial reports this year, ask if you can email them to your CPA.  Of course, this saves you paper, but it will save you time when you meet with your tax pro since he/she will have the information in advance.

Get a jump on your tax preparation and filing:

For me, each year doesn’t officially start until taxes are DONE.  I always try to have them filed by the first few days in February so I can rid of that pressure as soon as possible.  Contact your tax professional to set up a meeting by the end of January when you should have received most of your year-end documents.

Start preparing for tax documents you will need next January:

Start a new file folder or box labeled “Tax Prep 2015”.  Throughout the year, you will put every document, business and personal, that you may need for filing taxes: business expense receipts, charitable deductions, medical costs, tuition paid, investments made, and any new loan information.  Next January while you are waiting on year-end statements to arrive, you will pull out this folder or box and separate business and personal.  You will be happy each year that you do not have to wonder if you have everything needed to maximize your tax deductions.

Tune up your marketing and advertising campaigns:

– Update your business website.  Add or change content, links and images that are useful to your visitors in understanding your business.  Help make it an easy decision to contact you for the work they need done.  If you do not have a website, it should be Priority #1 this year.  Having a website for your business is a must and if you do not have one, you are missing out on a ton of potential clients.  In addition, owning a website and advertising it online is much more affordable than traditional print advertising in newspapers, phone books, etc.  Check out sites like Squarespace to get started easily.

– Google Analytics – Review the performance for your website from the past year to see where the traffic is coming from, what pages were visited the most and for how long.  This will help you make better decisions on what to add or change on your website to optimize for better results this year.

– Google Adwords – Adjust your bidding, add different keyword phrases to target, and try out some new ad structures.  Adwords is a must-have for local advertising and works well to attract qualified leads to your website.

– Get your design on!  Open up Photoshop and get to work.  If you own a home services company, it might be time to finally do that door hanging campaign you’ve been thinking about forever.  Or how about ordering some yard signs to leave at your client’s house after each service?

– Are your business cards up to date?  If you added or changed any contact information or services you offer, it may be time to update your cards.  Services like VistaPrint are easy and affordable, so don’t delay!

– Be more social.  Marketing by engaging in social media is starting to dominate this day and age.  If you don’t have a profile on the top social media sites, then you are missing out on networking with potential clients without high costs.  Show off the latest project completed by your business, offer special promotions to your followers, share tips about the work you do for others to learn, or just let everybody know where you are treating your work crew to lunch that day!  Whatever you do today will be more than you probably did yesterday if you are new to social media.  Just think about this, it is highly likely that your potential clients all use social media today.

Lists, lists, lists:

If you own a service business, you have tools and equipment that need maintenance and eventually an upgrade.  Make a list of repairs/maintenance items that need to be done and when you plan to do them.  Decide if it is time to purchase that new pressure washer, mower, nail gun, or other critical piece equipment.  Start planning for how and when you will pay, by starting with listing everything you can think of that needs attention.

Streamline your estimating, invoicing, and payments process:

If you are a little behind on how you create and send client estimates and bills, you will find relief using online invoicing software.  Sign Up for services like GreenerBilling to make it a breeze sending professional invoices and estimates to your clients.

While this is not an all-encompassing list, it’s enough to get any business-minded professional a proper checklist to promote growth and an opportunity for more invoicing and moneymaking! Greenerbilling hopes to see you through a very successful year!

A Little Thanks to Your Customers Goes a Long Way

Monday, December 8th, 2014

customer-holiday-cardDecember came quickly this year, at least for us, and we don’t want to miss the opportunity to talk about the benefits of showing a little gratitude with a holiday card and / or a token of appreciation, otherwise known as swag. Many of us fail to realize that a simple, “Thank you for your business,” could be the deciding factor for a customer the next time they need a job done.

Holiday cards are the easiest and least expensive ways to say thank you, but can be the most personal. Perhaps you had a brief conversation with the customer while painting their house, or you knew you were getting their lawn done before a 50th anniversary party; these are things you can mention in a quick note inside a holiday card letting your customer know you care. This kind of personal touch will set you above other vendors. Holiday cards can also include your entire staff; allowing everyone to sign teaches your staff (however large) that your customers are a priority, and it lets your customers know that you also value your staff; you are viewed as a team. Holiday cards are not expensive, the ink to write in them isn’t either, and the postage for each card will be reimbursed by the increase in jobs you receive because you’ve now tugged on your customer’s heart with the personal touch!

Maybe you have more in your budget to include a little company swag with your holiday cards or in lieu of your holiday cards this year. As with all things in business, your choices should always reflect your brand as a business and your target audience. The idea is to get your company in the mind of your customer when they think of the need. For example, they will notice their lawn needs when walking to their car so a keychain would make a good swag idea for landscaping. Pens are probably the most popular swag item for any business and the reason is simple, there is always a need for pens. People won’t throw it away, which means at some point, your pen, with your company name and info, will be in their hand and in their mind enough times to become a part of their memory. So when they are wondering who to call for a need, your company will be the most familiar, whether they realize why or not.

Swag can be costly, especially when you think of mailing these items, but if you think creatively, there are always ways to save money. The swag business is competitive and you should take the time to shop around. Be sure to check all online coupon offers and even take the time to call the customer service department of the company you are shopping with to inquire what the best money saving items are at the time. You would be surprised how willing these companies are to help you save money … they too are interested in the repeat business! If you’re concerned about postage of swag, don’t be. If it’s not in your budget, then schedule an afternoon to door hang your customers with a holiday card and little bag of swag. It might seem silly to you, but it makes an impact.

When we think about the holidays, almost all of us start to sweat the small stuff – how will we get everything done in time, in business and in our families. What we like to remember is the holiday stretches between Thanksgiving and the New Year, giving us plenty of time to find a little way to thank our customers for their business. We need those customers. And even if they were a hard sell, or they hovered while we tried to do the job, or they asked for three estimates before they finally decided; they are paying customers for our service businesses and for that, we are grateful for the work. Take the time this year, and every year, to thank your customers … give them more of a reason to hire you again next year!

And to all of our GreenerBilling customers, THANK YOU for your business! We appreciate you and look forward to continuing to serve you for many years to come!

7 ways GreenerBilling will Help You Save Time

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Save Time with GreenerBilling Are you are a lawn or landscaping service owner, building contractor, or other home services pro? Chances are you could use a little more time in your busy day!

Emailed Estimates

In your service business, promptly providing a professional estimate to your potential customer can make or break the deal. Most of the time, simply being quick will land you the job. Customers put a high value on timeliness when looking to hire a contractor. The GreenerBilling Estimates make it a breeze to create and send an estimate by email. You could easily create the estimate in your vehicle on a laptop or other mobile device right after viewing the potential job. You could have an answer by the time you get to your next stop!

Convert Estimates to Invoices

Now that you’ve used our Estimates, imagine this… You quickly sent the estimate while out in the field, and because of your quickness, you impressed your customer and landed the new job by the time you got home that day! Now you will need to create the invoice for the upcoming job. All you have to do is click once and your estimate becomes a new active invoice. Now that’s saving some time!

Invoices by Email

If you send invoices to customers via the Postal Service, you can expect them to receive the invoice within 1-5 days. This can delay payment to you for quite awhile longer, depending on the customer. If you are a small service business, you really need that cash flow to manage paying for gas, supplies, bills, employees, etc, ETC! No worries, you can speed up your customer payments simply by sending invoices by email. With the click of a mouse, your online invoice will arrive in your customer’s email inbox immediately. Your customer could potentially turn around and send payment immediately to you!

Due Date Reminders

With so many businesses starting to email invoices to customers, follow-up becomes a necessity. Ask yourself this… “When I receive a bill from my utility or other company, do I immediately print this bill out or set a reminder somewhere, like my phone calendar, so I make sure I send that company the payment on-time? Let me guess, you answered no, or sometimes. With GreenerBilling, you can set up automatic invoice due date reminders by email. This greatly increases your chances of receiving payment faster and helps the forgettable customer avoid a pesky late charge.

Past Due Reminders

No small business owner likes to have past due invoices sitting out there aging away. Regular cash flow is the lifeline of your business. The last thing any business owner wants to do is call the customer letting them know they need to pay up or no further services will be rendered. GreenerBilling takes the pain away by allowing you to set Past Due Reminders so that your customer receives an email notification, kindly letting them know the invoices is overdue.

Scheduled Invoicing

If you have customers who pay you the same amount on a set frequency, such as monthly, you will find great relief with the GreenerBilling Scheduled Invoices feature. Rather than creating the same invoice over and over, you can make it once and set a schedule for its creation. Save yourself a lot of time every month by setting your invoicing on auto-pilot.

Online Payments

In this day and age, almost everything can happen with just a click. Now that you’ve made the step to send invoices by email, directly to your customer’s inbox, you might as well offer them the fastest payment option available on the planet! With GreenerBilling, you can create and send invoices to customers online and potentially receive payment that very day, online. How much faster could it be?! Urging your customers to use their computer to make payments online will get that money to you faster than ever!

Are you already an invoicing ninja? Share your time-saving tips with other GreenerBilling users!

Simplicity: The New Mantra on the World Wide Web

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

"effective web site"Less is More… Don’t we love hearing these words? Imagine yourself going to a restaurant, where the waiter handed you the menu – only it is 520 pages thick. Your confusion will overpower your need to eat as you try to make a choice. In any business, making your customers confused is a great way to push them away… for good. So, what will make things better? If in doubt, it’s always best to keep things SIMPLE. (more…)

What’s in a Word?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

"copywriting"From Abracadabra to J.K. Rowling’s Avada Kedavra, the power of words can bring in $3.5 billion dollars worth of box office tickets worldwide. That’s a Fact! How many times do we hear people say, ‘never underestimate the power of words.’ Techie startups and nimble firms have been harnessing the same power to control the Web unlike anything we’ve seen before. We see a simple sales copy page converting into millions of dollars in revenues. Is that even possible? YES. If you know how to write a copy that sells like pancakes. (more…)

Greenovation at Work

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

"green office"Last time, we talked about 30 ways you can go green even on a tight budget. Green is not an over-hyped buzzword these days. It is not even a fancy option for the elite. To go green means to take a shot to make our planet a better place. It may sound cliché, but your actions can really make a difference, not to mention that it save you money. Whether you run your enterprise at home or at the office, it’s never too late to wipe off your carbon footprint – for good.

Which Brand Are You?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

"branding"In today’s competitive world, your business brand is more than just a pretty logo and unique name. A few years back when social media was born, many believed that crafting words into print and digital media would work. As consumers begin to demand more transparency on the Web, it’s simply not enough to talk the ‘talk.’ You have to engage people and have meaningful conversations. In the age of social media, creating a buzz is like sharing a 14″ pizza with your audience; You can’t eat it all. (more…)

Do They Love You?

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

"make customers love your website"What business doesn’t have a Web site these days? When connecting online is the standard, it’s only logical to use the Internet as your marketing tool. Now, the only question that comes to mind is: Are you maximizing the power of the World Wide Web through your Web site? (more…)

Stop. Ask. Assess!

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

"starting a business"Starting a business can be a very exciting thing, especially when you believe you have the next big thing. Days and weeks of planning just pump up your adrenaline, giving you sleepless nights until that big launch date. You may have the money, energy, time, and people that will help you get your business out there, but do you have what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur? Overconfidence can be road kill and the last thing you want is to fail. You can avoid that by asking yourself these 10 crucial questions before you start your business: