Archive for October, 2009

Recommended Reading – Updated

Posted in General Management, Life Management, Recommended Reading with tags , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Reality CheckEvery Saturday, I update my Recommended Reading list. New topics each week. I think you’ll find my suggestions thought-provoking, inspiring and educational.

To see the entire Recommended Reading list, please click on the link. “Recommended Reading

*If you’re interested in purchasing any of the books on my Recommended Reading list, for your convenience, I’ve linked all the covers directly to their respective pages on Amazon.*

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

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How to Provide Great Customer Service (Part 1)

Posted in General Management, How to Provide Great Customer Service with tags , , , , , on October 30, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Customer serviceIf there’s one thing in business that we all appreciate, it’s great customer service. It can make such a tremendous impact on our perception of a company. Equally so, one terrible experience can end a business or a consumer relationship. Let’s explore some simple ways of making sure your customer service is always great!

Listen to your customer1. Is the customer always right? Not exactly. But what I do recommend is the following: Listen to them. Everyone has their own perspective and you’ve got to respect that. Realize that you can’t please everyone all the time…but you can certainly give it a good effort. Consider how many times you’ve told a customer service representative your whole story only to find out they’re not the right person to be talking to or they weren’t really listening at all. Then you get to repeat it all over again…in hopes that this time your story won’t fall on deaf ears. Frustrating, wouldn’t you say? Bottom line…make an effort. Listen to your customers and try to resolve their problem as best you can.

Answer the phone2. Come on, answer the phone! Since the first automated telephone response system was created, customer service has gone down hill. I called my satellite radio company the other day and it took 20 minutes to get through the 1000 questions they had for me. Then at the 40 minute mark, I finally got a real person. At the 43 minute mark, we got disconnected! So what am I getting at?! Answer the phone!! Look, I understand that some companies are just too big to answer every call live…most companies aren’t. Set up call forwarding, if that helps. You know as well as I do, it’s such a relief when someone answers. Pride yourself on answering within a certain number of rings. If it’s after hours, then I suggest your recorded message promises a call back the next business day. It’s not too much to ask…and it will be greatly appreciated.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

Follow me at NetworkedBlogs

Posted in General Management with tags , , , on October 29, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Behind the ScenesThank you for visiting my site. I trust you’ll love it. It’s updated daily, with lots of great life and business tools. Take a look at the my “Inspirational Quotes and Images,” and “Recommending Reading” pages as well.

Please following my updates at NetworkedBlogs

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

Great Ways to Save Money in Your Business (Part 8)

Posted in General Management, Ways to Save Money in Your Business with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Saving moneyFirst and foremost, I want to acknowledge those of you who have taken action and applied some of the ideas/tools I’ve suggested. I also want to thank those who have emailed me questions. Continue to be proactive about your business. Complacency has no part in a successful business.

Smart Thinking
Smart thinking1. ASK! I can’t stress this enough. We all know that if you don’t, it’s very unlikely someone is going to offer you a better price, deal or discount. So…ASK! Just treat people with respect and be friendly…and then ASK! And don’t forget about your vendors, clients, attorneys, insurance agents, accountants, everyone…ASK! You’ll be surprised how far it will get you…and how much money you’ll save.
2. Get it in writing. Whatever it is, whatever deals you’ve got going on, nothing is too big or small. Have it in writing…so it can’t come back to bite you or your business.
3. Know the rules of engagement. If you’re doing interstate or international business, the responsibility is yours to know what you can or can’t do. The last thing you need are careless fines or lawsuits. Additionally, depending upon who your customers are, for instance big box companies like Target or Wal-Mart, charge huge fines (chargebacks) for errors in shipping and documentation. Again, many of these can be avoided by just doing your homework.
Save money4. If you’ve got a product or service that others want…and I trust you do…then you might be able to save money by bartering. If someone’s got what you want, and vice versa, this could be a win-win for you both.
5. Make sure your finance department knows if there are any discounts or incentives for early payments to vendors. If cash flow is not a challenge for you, then take advantages of opportunities that might exist. And on the flip side, when there are no incentives, pay as late as you can without incurring fees. Hold onto to your money, have it working for you…unless there’s a very good reason not to.
6. Shop around. Check out the local shops, look online, get bids from vendors and manufacturers – spend wisely.
7. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs – join associations and trade organizations. You might get access to discounted products and services, like travel, insurance, preferred vendors, etc. The annual fees may be hefty, but you’ll have a weigh out the benefits.

Lots of great idea. Save a little or save a lot. I suggest the latter. Good luck.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

Great Ways to Save Money in Your Business (Part 7)

Posted in General Management, Ways to Save Money in Your Business with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Saving moneyI’ve offered quite a few tools to start saving money in your business. We’ve covered The Team, Promotions and Location, Internet, Office Supplies, Insurance and Shipping. I hope you’re all over it. If you’re not, why not?

The Financials
Credit cards1. There are important banking and credit card decisions that can save you money…or make you some. If you actively use cards and run a balance, shop around for low interest rates. They really vary. Ask you’re existing accounts to lower your rate – if they have an existing promotion going on, they might just do it. You don’t have to be loyal to one bank. That’s old school. And if you are in the habit of taking cash advances, keep in mind that most banks charge 2-3% fee up front and then the interest starts immediately. Some banks offer 0% for 6 months. They’re out there, you just have to find them.
2. Make your deposits early in the day. If they hit your account earlier enough, you’ll start earning interest that day.
3. If you’re part of a business or trade association, you might have the opportunity to be a part of a buying alliance, allowing you to save on bulk purchases. You might even get better payment terms.
Financials4. Now this one is very important…and a bit confusing…so bare with me. If you are paying a manufacturer or vendor for product upfront and then selling to various retailers, you’re going to be out of pocket for what might be quite a while. If you have ongoing contracts with retailers that take your products as soon as you get them, they’ll probably demand terms for payment. Net-30, Net-60. They’ll want to pay you 30-60 days after receipt of goods. This could mean you’re out the money for 2-3 months. Keep this in mind when negotiating and managing your cash flow. If not managed well, this can kill your business.
5. Another concern can be a business credit line that’s based on your inventory and your account receivables aging. With time, the value of both of these decreases. If you don’t turn your inventory, the bank will devalue it. If you don’t collect on some accounts, as time passes, banks assume you won’t, and devalue them as well. As your line decreases, your ability to do business will become more challenging. Keep on top of these!

Managing these can be tricky, so make sure your financials are in good hands.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.

Recommended Reading – Updated

Posted in General Management, Recommended Reading with tags , , , , , on October 24, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

The Granularity of GrowthEvery Saturday, I update my Recommended Reading list. New topics each week. I think you’ll find my suggestions thought-provoking, inspiring and educational.

To see the entire Recommended Reading list, please click on the link. “Recommended Reading

*If you’re interested in purchasing any of the books on my Recommended Reading list, for your convenience, I’ve linked all the covers directly to their respective pages on Amazon.*

If you have any comments, please write them below. If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com.

Great Ways to Save Money in Your Business (Part 6)

Posted in General Management, Ways to Save Money in Your Business with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by Robert Finkelstein

Saving moneyIt’s been a few days, since my last entry, so I trust you spent some time evaluating your businesses. Are you doing what you need to do in order to save money in your business? Saving in one area will allow you to put that money to other areas…or put it in the bank for a rainy day. Let’s start today looking at Shipping.

Shipping
Shipping1. U.S.P.S. The U.S. Postal Service offers a lot of great value if you know what you need and what to ask them. Check out the various box sizes they have that allow you to ship any weight, as long it fits in the box. They can help you clean up you mailing lists, getting you zip codes + four numbers, bar codes, bulk rates, etc. Their international expedited rates are very competitive as well, but they don’t track door-to-door, as FedEx, UPS, etc. do.
2. Clean up your list. Are you sending duplicate marketing letters or ones to old, defunct addresses, or prospects that are a waist of postage (nonresponders). Evaluate, improve, and amend your list.
Freight3. If you ship internationally, talk to a rep from each of the major carriers. They will compete for your business and, in my experience, will provide solutions you probably didn’t think of. They get you set up online, with the software and equipment you need.
4. Don’t wait until the last minute. Obviously, you’ll save money when you’re not forced to ship overnight. If you offer free shipping in your business, make sure you’ve covered this expense elsewhere. It’s one of those costs that can easily get out of control.
5. If you ship on pallets, talk to various freight forwarders. Prices vary…radically. They offer a lot of different services – pickup, delivery, customs, taxes, etc. Don’t pay for what you don’t need.
6. Overseas manufacturer? HUGE savings if you don’t touch every product you ship. Can your manufacturer ship directly to your customers? Look into this.

If you’re interested in a consultation or have questions, please email me at Robert@RobertFinkelstein.com. If you have any comments, please write them below.