Local Business Information – Maintaining Contact

Once you have made contact with a new prospect, or acquired a new customer, how do you help them remember your local business information? This is smart planning for long-term success for your small business.

Your small business needs a break from the grind of attracting new customers. Repeat business and generating new business from a contact list can increase your bottom line dramatically.

So how do you keep in touch with people?

1. Build an email list with Get Response or another brand of autoresponder. All you need is a name and email address and you can follow up right into their in box.

This is an easy way to create a mailing list and follow up with it. You can start one list for your current customers and one for your prospects.

Publishing an ezine, or electronic newsletter as it is known, is a good way to keep in touch with both lists. The more subscribers to your list the more income they can bring to your business. Plus this is a good way to keep your local business name in front of them.

2. Create a blog and add articles a few times a week. Invite people to keep up to date using your RSS Feed. Google owns Feedburner and this is an easy way for you to get new subscribers and maintain contact.

3. Have your secretary type than you notes and you sign them an mail them out. This is a powerful way to show appreciation to your customers. This is not very time consuming to do. Just get in the habit of doing it.

4. Brand your business with an attractive logo in every advertising you do. Include it on pens, magnets, flyers, note pads, key chains, and so on.

5. Email or snail mail discount coupons regularly. You see pizza companies do it over and over so you know it works. No matter how small the amount people like to save money.

6. Add a contest to your blog or website. Advertise them and asked people to get involved. To maintain a person’s interest give away really good prizes.

7. Encourage people to promote you by giving them cash for referrals. Satisfied customers will refer you on their own, but it doesn’t hurt to offer an incentive. Anytime you can get someone talking about your local business it is a good thing.

8. Use Internet marketing with off line tactics together to reach a greater number of people on a regular basis. Do as many of the things we have written about here plus add some you come up with.

Use the 8 things we have written about in this article to keep your local business information in front of existing customers and prospects. Maintaining contact is a smart thing to do and it is easy to do once you get in the habit!

Catering Business Information – Foolproof Success Strategies

If you’re like an ever-growing number of small business entrepreneurs today, perhaps you’ve considered the benefits of starting a catering business. Even folks who don’t consider themselves to have a knack for cooking have been drawn to the freedom and flexibility of catering. For those who do like to cook, this could be a match made in Heaven.

In any event, a catering business can help you break free from the monotony of a desk job, or any other 9-5 for that matter, but you need to get your hands on some solid catering business information. The good news is that catering services are actually in growing demand. More and more people, businesses, and government establishments have recognized the benefits of having their events catered.

Catering for organizations is a win-win situation. Outsourcing the food allows organizations to focus on the event itself. And it presents a great opportunity for you and your new catering business. The forums are numerous and diverse. The event could be a conference, wedding, retirement celebration, or graduation party. You name it, and food is an integral part.

A common misconception is that it takes a certain type of person to run a catering business. There’s no question that it helps to be an extrovert. And a little business background couldn’t hurt. But the truth is that anybody can learn to be a caterer, and this exemplifies why you need to get your hands on solid catering business information before you begin.

Perhaps the best attribute you could possess as the head of a catering business is simply flexibility. Consider that one day you might be sponsoring a business meeting with executives in three piece suits. The tone would be more formal and “professional,” however defined. The very next day you could find yourself at a party of sorts, where perhaps someone is celebrating the end of high school, the completion of college, or perhaps the culmination of a forty year work career. Juxtaposed against all of that joy and exuberance could be the sadness that typifies the funeral you cater the following weekend.

As the breadth of catering opportunities grows, caterers find that they are dealing with folks in an increasingly broad range of circumstances. All told, simply being adaptable to adjust to the sentiments of a variety of clients can go a long way. Ply your trade with a sensitivity to the reason for the event and you’ll meet your customer’s needs better than if you simply showed up with great food without an appreciation for these “unspoken” factors.

Your business will live and die in accordance with your ability to bring aboard new customers. The best place to start is simply by creating a network of folks who know what you have to offer and are willing to spread the word. Remember that there are other people in the services industry who serve the same clients you’ll be seeking. You may want to introduce and align yourself with wedding planners, florists, bakers, card shops, and wedding stores. If you have some of your basic catering business information, such as promotional material, you can leave with them. This will help them remember you. But, rather than counting on them to refer you or use your services, you can make it a point to stay in touch, whether in person or by phone (or both).

If you really want to impress, consider the impact you’d make if you whipped up some samples of your best dishes and dropped by for a visit with a sampler plate. If you drop by to visit these folks after making a few contacts, actually sharing some of what you’d be providing to your common clients might just be what it takes for them to have faith in your abilities and to tip them over the edge and cause them to “roll the dice” on your catering business. Especially after doing something impressionable such as this, be sure to follow up with a phone call to “button up the sale.” When all else fails, simply ask them to use your services at their next event.

Business Best Practice and the Power of Business Information

Do nothing and you get to stay as you are.

Best practice is the goal of each individual business and will probably be described as looking after matters of ethics and integrity, good customer relations, supporting staff and maintaining good standards of service, accountability and fiscal compliance. Or the description might include positive management styles, high productivity and good economic strategies.

Most would agree that best practice is leadership, goal setting, teamwork, maintaining a culture of compliance, supervision, discipline, support, training, accountability and responsibility.

What if all of these were the focus of a new way of managing business information that provided everything that was needed to manage the business for success and peace of mind?

What if your most precious asset is your business information and what if the success of your business is affected by a lack of order and control over what happens on your business computer network? When you have no control over your business information you have no control over best practice and you might as well forget about it being in control of the business.

Best practice is available through an intelligent network that uses Business Information Organization (BIO) to create the kind of framework that allows for everyone in the business to have access to what they need to achieve the outcomes the business needs. You won’t have best outcomes unless you have best practice. You won’t have best practice if your business information is in a mess.

This is not about the way that your computers and peripherals communicate and it is not about any software. It is not about having the newest and the best equipment. It is not about hiring smart consultants and contractors to take over what should be the role of the business. It is about the power of content and the context of that content.

To explain this approach to best practice there is the example of a new office goods company. They had purchased a new warehouse and were planning to sell their goods online and in a large new showroom at the business end of town. They hired a new business management consultant with links to software companies who advised that they have two ways of managing their stock. Option 1 was to leave everything on pallets and use barcodes to locate the right pallet to get the stock to fill an order. Option 2 was to unload the pallets and store all of the same items together. Both options would be supported by software and equipment.

They chose Option 1 because they could unload the trucks faster and by having a pallet friendly storage system, get a more even distribution of bulk throughout the warehouse. It went well for a short while but they suddenly found that they had to hire more people to work in the warehouse running around to different stacks to fill a single order of multiple stock of the same item and when the computer that managed the warehouse was hit with a virus, everything stopped.

You would be highly unlikely to have chosen Option 1 but the point is that business information is like stock and you may be unwittingly using that scatter option for your business information. The more information is scattered and the more the content is hidden, the less it is available for the business. If that business information includes policy, training, resources and business knowledge the business can be in dire straits or just not doing what it should be doing.

So what if the most important stock of the business was its information content and what if it was no longer hidden and available to achieve the best practice you so desperately want to achieve? Look at your information now. How much do you know about the way it is managed? Where is your policy? How accessible is it and who created it? How often is it reviewed and updated and who does that review?

Look at your own information. Do you organize it at all or is everything bundled in my documents, my pictures, my albums? Is everything haphazard or loosely organized because you tell yourself you are the only person who needs to know what is there and where it is? If you create new folders do you think hard about how they are named and sited? Are there times when you can’t find anything? Is there time when you waste time and money looking for it?

The bad news is that the way that you don’t organize your information is exactly the same way that you everyone on your staff can’t and won’t organize the information they collect or create and store as they work. And the even worse news is that they are quite sure that they are the only ones who should know where it is and what it is. And even worse than that, they think it belongs to them and will delete it without asking anyone whether the business wants to keep it. So how does Option 2 which is about sorting and control sound when it comes to business information and protecting what belongs to the business in a place where it can be seen?

If you were able to make policy, training, resources and business knowledge (current and past) available where and when it is needed, you will have what you need for leadership, goal setting, teamwork, a culture of compliance, supervision, discipline, support, training, accountability and responsibility. You will have best practice leading to productivity and business success. Can you claim that this is available to you now?

Don’t let the IT industry keep dictating Option 1 for your business information content. They have a one-size-fits-all solution to your business information needs and they won’t be in your business to see how chaos slows it down and sometimes brings it to a grinding halt.

Option 2 is about the Intelligent Network and Business Information Organization (BIO) and it will cost you nothing to set it up. It is time to find out how it works and why it will work in your business. If you do nothing more than creating a network place for information based on what the business is and what it does you will be on a winner.

If, after reading this article you start asking questions about policy in your business you will start to move forward with velocity.

It is time to reject the ‘my documents’ solution and the promise of the virtual organizers in favor of ‘real’ order and control. It is time investigate the potential of the intelligent network and business information organization. It is time to explore best practice in information that got lost along the way and take back the control of your business.