Tag Archive | "business"

Building a Business Within a Business

I look at the Finance and Insurance office in a dealership as an opportunity to exercise an ambitious spirit for running a successful business within a business. Being in business for yourself is the “American Dream.” It offers the opportunity to develop repeat and referral business that translates into growth and personal success. The harder you work, the more reward you can expect to see. The more you prepare yourself for the challenges, the more you can establish solid and obtainable goals in your finance office. This position carries not only legal, but also ethical responsibility within the dealership. It requires knowledge of local, state and federal regulations, which encompass the retail automotive business. It requires the understanding of lender criteria in order to create efficiencies in the finance office. It requires knowledge of products and how the contracts work. With the position comes a lot of responsibility, but it presents the opportunity for much reward as well.

What does it take to open a business today? The first and most important aspect is to have working capital. The number one reason for failure in new business startups is being undercapitalized. Therefore, you’re put into a position to raise capital either by borrowing and/or leveraging the assets you have worked hard to accumulate. You can go to family and friends to borrow or you can take on a partner with capital to help. The next step is to establish a marketing plan that ensures you have customers. Time and energy is a real commodity in this area and the ability to leverage yourself becomes very challenging. Investment in technology, office equipment, and help can cut into your marketing budget if not calculated correctly.  I could go on and on, because I haven’t even mentioned the paper work required for licensing to go into business, or hiring an attorney and accountant to keep you on the legal side of state and federal requirements. Needless to say, there is risk and work involved in taking on a business adventure. We have that opportunity in the finance office without the downside of the personal investment needed to go into business. We have a business within a business.

Understand that the finance and insurance office presents efficiency, consistency and legality to the customer and to the public Those guideposts enable a finance office to be perceived as credible and performing with integrity. When we talk about efficiency, it is important not to hurry customers along, but to ensure that their experience is informative and beneficial in choosing financing or leasing options, along with the protective products you are offering them. Most customer information presents itself during the discovery step. By using information shared by the customer during discovery, we can begin building amicable finance and protective packages that are suitable to each customer. By repeating this process without omitting critical steps to the sale, you become more efficient in your processes, thus creating more time for presenting features and benefits and answering questions. The sale should never be a struggle; it should be consultative selling that offers solutions to customers’ real wants and needs.

Bringing consistency to your business allows everyone you rely on daily for your business (sales staff and management) to be aware of your processes and time. The real market for your business is your sales and service departments. They provide you with customer opportunity daily. It is important that they know what is being asked of the customer and what is being said to the customer. This will build their confidence in your ability to treat the referral with courtesy and in a professional manner. If your referral sources do not know what you sell and how you sell, it can become a nuisance instead of an asset. Educate your resources on the virtues of your products and how they work. Their understanding will enhance your opportunities.

You have to be an active participant in building and maintaining a solid finance office. Your business also depends on your ability to access and communicate information. Blame is not an option. If you are confronted with difficult employees, you need to sell them the reasons why customers are willing to include protective products into their transactions. If your resources (sales, service and parts) don’t understand the features and benefits of the products offered in F&I, they will not be enthusiastic about introducing their customers to you. Do not take anything for granted. Help your resources succeed and in turn, they will help you as well.

How can I help my sales resources with their business? Everyone in the retail automotive business seeks to build a business that will yield additional income each year. Sales people look for repeat customers, referral customers, and walk-in customers. How can you help? Each customer who finances an automobile is required to fill out at least two complete references. It’s a wonderful time at the end of paperwork to ask, ”Did Joe do a good job and explain everything to you? Did he answer all your questions and address all your concerns?”

The answer should be “yes” because they just completed all the paper work. Give them an opportunity to share the referrals on the credit application by sliding a post card in front of them that says, “Joe did a good job and we recommend visiting him at the dealership when you have transportation concerns.”

If the average sales person sells ten vehicles a month and six of those customers are financing, you should have at least 144 post cards going out a year for your sales people. You are helping create a marketing campaign for your sales associates and monitoring customer satisfaction at the same time. Reciprocity makes the world go around; providing opportunity to others will bring you more opportunity. The law of large numbers will procure customers and ultimately more profit for your finance office.

So look at your opportunity as one that has no ceiling, no obstacles and plenty of resources that can help you build a successful business within a business. It’s an opportunity to build and prosper; it all depends on how well you organize your business.

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These Problems Keep CEOs Awake At Night

There are few things that Deloitte’s consulting arm and Box’s file sharing business have in common, reports LinkedIn. Yet the CEOs of these respective companies agree on two big problems at their respective companies that keeps that up at night.

On a Monday panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, Jim Moffatt of Deloitte and Aaron Levie of Box first agreed that recruiting and retaining top Millennial talent is top of mind for their diverse companies. While Moffatt is working to empower young employees to stay at the firm longer by giving them more diverse work, Levie is grappling with the challenges of running a 1,300-person workforce with the average age of 25 or 26.

“It is very apparent that managing and attracting this demographic of workforce is certainly interesting especially in Silicon Valley,” Levie said. “There is this constant dynamism in the workforce that is very very hard to build the right part of platform and environment for people to accomplishment what they want.”

Levie acknowledged that there is an ever-growing group of interesting companies for top talent to work at in the valley. His solution to try and keep his best employees is to try and compress the amount of times that it takes them to accomplish certain tasks and move ahead within the company. In the past what may have looked like a five-year career trajectory, Levie said is now more like a two-year trajectory.

“This generation is very very accustomed to moving quickly ahead in every part of their life and when they get to work and things move slowly and they can’t get ahead quickly it impacts their ability to stay,” he said.

For Moffatt of Deloitte, the challenge lies in disrupting the way Deloitte rewards Millennial talent. Unlike perhaps the generations that came before them, the youngest generation in the workforce is unmotivated by a staple in the consulting world: title changes and promotions. Instead, he said young Deloitte workers are value and impact driven which is forcing the firm to re-evaluate their HR priorities.

The talent crisis was not the only point during the panel that both Moffatt and Levie agreed upon. With the influx of data breaches suffered by companies as diverse as JPMorgan, Target and Sony, both CEOs have elevated the data security responsibility away from just the CIO or CRO level and directly into their office and the boardroom. Pointing to both the regulations and the massive size of the workforces that big companies have to deal with, Levie argued that small tech companies may be at an advantage when it comes to effectively coming up with solutions to tackle cyber security.

“The bigger the organization is the harder it is to solve the problem,” said Levie. “But if all a company had to do was stay secure, that wouldn’t be very interesting because you would just buy lots of security technology. It’s in the same time that you are being disrupted by new technology that you have to figure out the nuanced way… to balance risk.”

Levie called Silicon Valley a “dangerous place right now” that is going after specific industries in the data space, but without being the baggage that comes with being an established company with hundreds of years of processes, behaviors and information.

Moffatt’s answer to combating new market entrants and protecting client data goes back to increasing the access points that need to be protected. He also said he is taking a hard look at the data that his company actually needs to keep. Alluding specifically to the email hacks that Sony suffered in late 2014, Moffatt said that data strategy is something that he is always thinking about as a top priority within his firm.

Levie’s security advice for Moffatt and the other CEOs on his panel?

“You could just say fewer things in your emails,” he joked.

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5 Keys to Running a Successful Business

There are a handful of principles that work in virtually every situation when you’re trying to establish and grow a business, reported FoxBusiness. They work if you’re trying to build an email list or close a sale. If you ignore them, you are almost certain to fail. If you do them halfway, you will soon be standing there watching your business as it is eclipsed by someone who is following all the principles, all the time.

So let’s not waste any more of our time. Here they are:

1. Use Few Words

From an elevator pitch to a killer headline, the overriding principle is to use as few words as possible. If you can’t tell someone what you’re doing in a few sentences, your only hope is to eventually work for the government. If you can’t explain the benefit of your product or service in an extremely short sentence or phrase, give up. Look at these examples:

  • 1,000 songs in your pocket.
  • Lose 5 pounds in 1 week.
  • How to avoid lawyers.
  • Increase conversions 132%.

You can probably think of several short phrases that got you to go to a web page, or push “add to cart” or fill out a contact form. Putting a well-crafted, short, descriptive phrase in front of your ideal customer is very powerful.

2. Make Things Easy and Obvious

Humans are by their very nature:

  1. Lazy
  2. Busy
  3. Both A and B

I don’t care how you answer that, because the implications for what you do are the same: You have to make things as easy—and obvious—as possible. This is true whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or a website, but it’s doubly true if you’re trying to accomplish something on the Internet, where patience is as scarce as hens’ teeth.

I am still constantly amazed how small Internet conventions that cause me no navigational problems are major stumbling blocks for others. Because you’re reading this on a sophisticated website frequented almost exclusively by people who live on the bleeding edge of new technologies, you are light years ahead of most Internet users.

Dumb down everything. Make your webpage logic simple and obvious.

3. Sell the Benefit

Look at those sales phrases under the first point I made about keeping things short and sweet. Each one expresses a tangible benefit in six words or less. For many in business, it becomes difficult to separate the features from the benefits. Further, we tend to become so deeply in love with the features we have developed, we think that everyone should love them just as much.

Janet Jackson had a hit with the song What have you done for me lately? That’s what you should always be asking yourself in regards to your customers, and the important word is “done.” How will the action you want your prospects to perform benefit them?

4. Repeat Everything

If you’ve watched a Little League game, you’ve heard the guys on the field yell, “Hey, batter batter! Hey, batter batter! Hey, batter batter!” They repeat everything! Things that work and are important should be repeated.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to share or credit something in the social media, but the page I was on didn’t have sharing icons or links to the social media accounts. They were on the front page, but not on inside pages. And because I might just be a little bit lazy sometimes (see #2 above) it’s possible I’ll just drop the idea of sharing or crediting the source.

Landing pages also fall in this category. You should have a great landing page for all the different attributes or “hooks” that will pull someone into your website. They are almost free and it’s impossible to have too many.

5. Always Distill

You need to have good analytics that show you what is working and what isn’t. With that information you are able to do more of the good stuff and stop doing the bad stuff. Pretty soon you have a business or website whose performance has significantly improved.

A business is never “finished.” If you aren’t always involved in an improvement project, the competition will eventually pass you.

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4 Ways to to Deal with the Fear of Failure

Every entrepreneur deals with the fear of failure, reported Inc.

Fear is a problem, because it can damage everything in life. It ruins your productivity, destroys your dreams, and keeps you from building the business you’re trying to build. Fear robs life of its joy.

Entrepreneurs are audacious people–forming businesses ex nihilo, disrupting industries, transforming conventions, shaping cultures, and improving lives. We grit our teeth, muster our powers, focus our minds, and make stuff happen.

And sometimes, we’re afraid.

In order to do something big, you have to overcome something big. One of the biggest things to overcome is fear. Fear isn’t a business problem. You can’t solve it by spending more money, working harder, buying software, or delegating it.

You’ve got to deal with it in other ways. Here are four principles that I’ve discovered for helping me deal with the fear of failure.

Accept that failure will happen.
We fear the unknown. Is this business going to go bankrupt or succeed? Will I burn out, or stay alive? Will I lose a million bucks (been there), or make a million bucks?

To deal with fear, let’s get the unknown factor out of the way. Here’s how: Realize that you are going to fail.

We need to readjust our view of “failure.” We tend to think that failure is a bad thing, but that’s simply not true.

“Failure” is a matter of perspective. You may have “failed” at starting a company or gaining funding, but look at what you’ve gained. You’re one step closer to success. You’ve learned valuable lessons. You’re that much more experienced and knowledgeable.

That sounds to me like a step towards success.

Thomas Edison said, “I failed my way to success.” A pile of failures can turn into a mountain of success, so go ahead and fail. Better yet, fail as fast and as early as you can. Failure is temporary, but success is permanent.

Rather than turn and run from failure, run towards it. You’re not running towards disaster, you’re running towards success.

Find the true cause of your fear, and solve it.
When we fear failure, we’re at a crucial point of development. We’re admitting to ourselves that something is bigger than we are. In this case, it’s our fear.

Take a step back mentally, and ask this question: “What am I really afraid of?” “Failure” is not clear enough. There’s something more, something concrete.

Keep thinking, and find the big monsters that are freaking you out:

  • “I’m afraid that we won’t be able to get enough funding.”
  • “I’m afraid that I’ll screw up my SEO.”
  • “I’m afraid that the developers won’t meet production deadlines”
  • “I’m afraid that my mailing list isn’t big enough.”
  • “I’m afraid that my content marketing is crap.”

Okay, that’s better. Now you’ve distilled your fears to actual objective, concrete challenges.

What do you do now? You can either solve it on your own or ask for help. The biggest gain is boiling down the hairy problem of “fear” into a few scary objects.

This may take a few tries. Once you understand why you’re afraid, you can deal with the problem rather than suffer from the fear.

Never stop pursuing your goals.
Your fear should never erase your goals. As real as fear is, your goals and dreams are just as real and just as big.

Once you’ve accepted the fear will happen, have a plan for getting back up. Another business to start. Another objective to conquer. Another challenge to overcome.

The minute you start doing something audacious again, those fears will come back. But by this time, you’ve learned the lesson that your fears aren’t worth being afraid of.

And even if your worst fears come true, you always have goals to pursue.

Do what you fear.
“Do what you fear, and fear disappears.” (David Joseph Schwartz)

When you do the very thing you fear, then the fear goes away. You fear failure? Go ahead and fail.

Oddly, we often fear most what we desire most. If we can just realize that the other side of our fears is success, we’ll be more willing to do what we’re afraid of.

It’s easy to type those words on my keyboard, but way harder to actually do what I’m talking about. Doing is never easy. But it is rewarding.

Ask any entrepreneur, world leader, business mogul, high achiever, or otherwise well adjusted person.

Every single one of them has experienced fear. They’ve also dealt with those fears, not by shrinking back, but by going forward.

What is that you’re afraid of?

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How to Make Your Business Unforgettable

Via Fox Business

There are many different theories as to what creates more revenue for a business. Some methods are successful, and some are just a waste of time. There are, however, a few general guidelines that have proven to be effective over time.

Keeping a positive image of your business in the minds of your customers will always help you create more revenue. This will not only make your customers want to come back to your business, but they will also provide great word-of-mouth advertising for your business, sometimes without even realizing that they are doing it. Use this list of advice to keep that positive image of your business in the minds of your customers to help your business move forward.

Provide outstanding customer service

Not a groundbreaking new piece of information, but still probably one of the most difficult to achieve and most commonly neglected aspects of good business practice. As the old adage goes, “The customer is always right.”

Keeping your cool and being patient can be extremely difficult in any customer service situation, but going the extra mile to remain pleasant and friendly will resonate with your customers like no other technique in the book.

Create a mobile app for your business

Customer mobile apps keep your brand and business at your customers’ fingertips all the time. What better way to ensure that you will keep popping up in their minds with little effort on your part?

Creating a mobile app is now simpler than ever. Using a program or company, create an experience similar to your website, or even similar to the experience they would have when they set foot inside your place of business. You can use the app to advertise, enable push notifications, and create a customer service portal.

Advertise locally

Use what you have around you to attract potential customers who are already in your area. Use things that are inexpensive but still effective. Such items include advertising in the local newspaper as opposed to a larger publication, or spending some time on air with your local radio station. You can also look for websites that promote a niche that is specific to your area and use it for target marketing.

Launch a blog

You already have a website, so why not add a blog to it? Blogging can help you do a number of things for free that you would have to pay a lot of money for if you used other methods. For example, you can advertise events for your business from your blog, use link-building from other sites to get more traffic to your site, post regularly to entice customers to come back to your site often, and other free forms of advertising and improving brand recognition.

Do not neglect social media

Forgetting about social media is one of the biggest and most common mistakes that businesses make today. Use you social media site to engage customers on a more personal level. Respond to all comments and messages on your social media sites as you would customer satisfaction emails or other requests in house.

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Don’t Lose Business to a Slow Website

Just as a busy highway backs up with cars, websites often encounter the same effect when dealing with large amounts of traffic. Any website can experience slow traffic, online traffic jams, or worse, a crash. What can be done to keep your site up and running, especially if you have an e-commerce site and the busiest season is rapidly approaching?

1. Add a server. As your business grows, website usage and traffic increase. That single server may need a buddy or two to handle the traffic capacity. One server can be used for data such as e-mails, and the second server can be deployed to manage the website.

2. Balance the load. If you already have two or more servers and performance is still not up to par, you might want to consider a hardware or virtual appliance that can provide load balancing and application delivery. These small appliances take on the big traffic loads and manage them so that traffic is always being routed to the less-taxed server or the less-crowded lane.

3. Monitor the network. Adding a network monitoring tool provides a better snapshot of your site’s traffic patterns. Once you have a better picture of your site’s peak usage times, you can consider what measures to take to make sure those peak times are addressed immediately. Also, if the website should crash, the network monitoring tool can provide an immediate alert on the status of the website traffic, allowing you to act immediately.

4. Control the content. Websites featuring Flash or heavy graphic elements tend to load slower. Keeping your site simple will make it a lot easier on the performance and can help keep users cruising right along when navigating to your site. A slow site leads to discouraged visitors, who may leave rather than wait for information to appear. Of note: Google includes site speed in its rankings.

As more companies expand their e-commerce presence to match users’ online shopping habits, it’s critical that their websites are available 24/7, performing flawlessly. Don’t lose sales and customers due to slow website performance and lost website connections.

This article was written by Peter Melerud and published in Bloomberg Businessweek magazine.

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