Opening a Bed and Breakfast? 4 Tips for Helping Your Guests Feel Right at Home

A bed and breakfast is one of the coziest lodging places a person can experience. As the proprietor of a bed and breakfast, you are responsible for giving your guests a place to stay that makes them feel as if they are not just a customer, but also something like a family member. These four tips will help your guests to feel right at home at your bed and breakfast. 

Cater to Requests 

When someone books a room at your bed and breakfast, you should ask them about any preferences they have. While most people will be fine with whatever default conditions you have, there will be some with special requests that need to be addressed. For instance, if you have a dog and someone is allergic to dog fur, you need to make sure they can keep their distance. Similarly, there are many who can’t or choose not to consume gluten. Ensuring you serve them gluten-free food will increase the odds they will write a positive review online and return to your establishment.

Parking 

Depending on where your bed and breakfast is located, there might be limited parking around. Make sure there is parking available in your garage or driveway. It should be cleared and roomy enough for vehicles or different sizes. When a guest books a room, make sure to ask them if they’ll need to park a vehicle and get things ready as necessary. 

Internet 

There’s likely to be people coming through on business trips. To give them the best experience possible, there should be customer Wi-Fi access. You can make this your own home network or a special one for guests. It should be password protected and from a reliable internet service provider. The last thing relaxing guests want to deal with is spotty internet service.

Cleanliness 

Few things can harm your reputation as an innkeeper more than a lack of upkeep in your bed and breakfast. You want to keep everything organized and free of dust and dirt. Don’t just do this after your guests leave for good. If your guests go out for the day, they should come home to made beds and dishes washed and put away. Your guests will greatly appreciate how much thought you’re putting into helping them feel comfortable. 

The quality of your bed and breakfast depends on how much you are willing to show your guests that you care. You’re going to meet all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. You need to make it clear that you see them all as being equally worthy of your respect. These tips will help to make your bed and breakfast one of the top spots to stay in your town.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

5 Ways To Encourage Customer Loyalty

Many companies focus all their energy on gaining new customers, but often it can be loyal customers that give businesses a steady income. If you want to get more customers coming back, here are just a few tricks that could help to encourage return visits.

Get to know your customers

Getting to know your customers can make them feel more appreciated and can build trust in your company. You don’t have to become friends with your customers, but being able to engage in a bit of small talk and understanding their needs can make them feel more comfortable using your company than any other company.

Keep ahead of your competitors

Loyal customers are likely to jump ship if another company is offering better value services or perhaps doing something fresh and innovative.You don’t want to get too obsessed with chasing competition – instead of trying to copy or outdo them, focus on creating your own unique selling point. This will help you stand out from competition and will give you your own pull factor that no other company has.

Reward customer loyalty with discounts

You can also encourage return customers by introducing loyalty discounts. A loyalty card or a points card could be one way of doing this – after a certain amount of purchases, they can get rewarded with a freebie. You may even be able to give away vouchers with a purchase that encourage people to come back.

Sell gift cards

Another way to encourage loyalty could be to sell gift cards. People will buy these gift cards for friends and family members,encouraging these people to make return visits to your company until all the money on the gift card is spent. Even if these gift cards never get used,you’ll still be making money out of them. You can design your own custom gift cards with your own branding on. These could be sold in your store.

Keep loyal customers in the loop with notifications

By keeping customers aware of deals and events you can encourage them to return. Mailing lists are one of the most popular ways to keep customers updated. This could involve emailing them information or texting them updates. In order to do this, you’ll need their email address/phone number and their consent – you use surveys and pop-ups on your website to ask customers if they’d like to join your mailing list. Social media can also be a great tool for keeping customers in the loop. Here you can post news on events and promotions. You can then encourage your customers to follow you on these social media channel in order to see these notifications.

Easy Business Growth Strategies to Follow Right Away

It is difficult to grow a business and requires considerable effort. You must begin by handling your own marketing, sales, corporate compliance, taxes and customer interactions. You can grow your business efficiently and quickly with the right perspective, hard work and a good growth strategy. The strategy you choose will impact your profits and the bottom line of your business. The value you build must be honest and help your customers. Your foundation should be based on genuine caring.

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The Sales Funnel

Building your sales funnel is the first step in growing your business. This will help your business become automated resulting in easy and fast growth. You will have to put in some work on the front end but once the process is established it leads to smooth sailing. You need to think about the different types of funnels such as high-ticket coaching and free shipping offers. To establish growth, you must have an automated selling machine for your business.

The Customer Management System

It is difficult to manually track your transactions and becomes harder as your business expands. The best solution is a customer management system. There are numerous types available depending on your business type. There is software based in the cloud, accounting software, sales and marketing software, etc. You need to figure out which software will best suit you needs and run with it.

The Competition

You must take the time to research your competition to assure your offer reaches your target audience. There are different platforms available but they all provide competitive intelligence. This is the way to see your competitor’s ad copy, landing pages and every stage of their funnel. You will reveal your competitor’s online strategy and their longest running ads. Emulating these ads will help scale your business. If the add was effective for your competitor, it will work for you as well.

The Loyalty Program

A good loyalty program will increase your sales. Acquiring a new customer is three times more expensive than selling an existing customer. It costs a lot of money to acquire new customers. You can retain customers with a customer loyalty program. You need to provide your customers with an attractive incentive. This can be anything from free shipping to buy one get the second product at fifty percent off to five-dollar coupons. You can also try to arrange different kinds of wellness programs like health tips seminars, informative session on ‘what is calisthenic’ and how to maintain health. These programs may increase their loyalty towards your brand as it shows that you care. When your loyalty program is accessible to your customers, your sales will soar.

The New Opportunities

When you analyze any new opportunities, it will help you understand the demographics for your business better. This includes your distribution channels, analyzing other industries with potential, foreign markets and your direct competitors. Your analysis will reveal dozens of opportunities with immediate potential.

The Email List

An email list is an excellent way to grow your business quickly. Once you have a lead magnet, an email list and a sales funnel, your customer base will begin to increase. You must provide a good incentive for consumers to subscribe to your email list. The more creative and unique you make your emails, the better the results. There are also excellent online tools available to help you manage your list efficiently.

The Strategic Partnerships

Forming a strategic partnership with the right business will make a big difference. This will enable you to reach a wide variety of customers much faster. It can be difficult to identify the right companies. Find the businesses that compliment what you do, make contact with them and propose a business venture beneficial to both companies.

The Franchise Model

If you already have a successful business but are looking for fast growth, considering franchises. A franchise model is complicated and will require significant research, expenses and marketing knowledge. This being said, this is an excellent opportunity to procure growth extremely quickly.

The Diversification

Your offers should be diversified. Your business should include any complimentary services or products appropriate for your customers. This will help expand your business and achieve growth. Look for any new opportunities available in your niche. You need to figure out what you can sell your clients to add extra value to their purchases.

The Passive Income

Passive income streams are incredibly beneficial if your margins are razor thin. This will enable you to make errors without losing everything. The ample resources provided by a passive income will help your business market excel and achieve growth more quickly.

The Business Acquisition

One of the best ways to grow your business quickly is to acquire other businesses. You need to look for businesses or competitors in industries that will compliment your business. These acquisitions can be used as a launching platform to scale your business at an increased rate of growth. Do not limit yourself to just looking inside your industry, look outside of it as well. You will find the potential for numerous opportunities.

International Expansion

You may be able to use your existing offers for international expansion. Your offers may scale well for Europe, Mexico or Canada. International expansion is an excellent opportunity if you have an offer capable of converting. There will be costs involved but the potential for future profits is astronomical.

The Webinar

A webinar is a great way to promote your services or products. This is also a way to establish fast business growth. A webinar will help you reach a large audience extremely quickly and is an automated selling tool for everything your business has to offer. A webinar will help captivate your audience and make sales automatically.

Conclusion

Growing a business takes a lot of hard work but the results are well worth the effort. Following the above tips will help ensure your hard work pays off. Remember your goals and celebrate every milestone.

7 Reasons Why Branding Matters

Despite what you might think, branding isn’t reserved just for Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and and it’s not just your logo or mission statement. Branding is important for your company. It defines who you are and what do you do; how you see yourself and how do you want to be seen; where do you want to be and how will you get there; and what makes your business unique out of all the others. Branding requires your attention since it can also increase the value of your company, help you grow, make it easier to connect with customers and determine your success. If you’re still unconvinced, here are seven reasons why branding matters in business.

1. Makes Companies Relatable

When people first heard Apple’s “Think Different” ads they were immediately able to identify themselves with the brand because they shared that vision. Even if most people at the time didn’t own an iMac, or didn’t want one for that matter, they could still relate to the brand message. Since a company is something artificial and distant, branding brings it closer to people, shapes their opinion and how they perceive it.

2. Delivers a United Message

Branding connects all aspects of a company. For example, a creative professionals from Studio X achieve this by developing brand strategies that combine physical features (interior and graphic design) with virtual architecture (web design and development). This consistent presence delivers a united message across all channels of communication. Everyone involved with your company, from clients to partners, will have a clear understanding of what your business represents.

3. Supports Marketing Efforts

Marketing plays an important role in building your brand. It allows you to gain visibility with key demographics and creates brand awareness. As your brand awareness grows, marketing can rely on that recognition to support its own efforts. This mutual dependency between branding and marketing will allow your business to grow. Once you start dominating one specific market, the reputation of your brand will make it easier to market yourself to target a completely different audience.

4. Drives a Premium Price Point

Brand awareness can increase the value of the products or services you sell. As people start associating your brand with quality and it starts trending, what you sell becomes more desirable to your audience. This allows you to increase the price of your products. Quality brands are able to put a price on their brand name because people are willing to pay extra to be associated with it. That’s one of the main reasons why Starbucks coffee is more expensive than regular java at your local coffee shop.

5. Encourages Employee Endorsement

A company can improve the extent of its reach if it encourages employee endorsement. Branding helps with this since employees will tend to be more productive and promote the company when speaking to others. By feeling the value of your brand, they associate themselves with its message. This makes them more likely to endorse a positive experience about your brand, and can even turn employees into brand ambassadors that regularly share the company message at their own free will.

6. Creates Trust Among Customers

A strong brand is centered around its customers. When you have your customers (and their desires) in mind first, and profit second, it creates trust among them and marks you as a professional. As customers perceive a company’s intentions as sincere, authentic and transparent, they will transfer those feelings to the products or services you offer. They will believe that what you offer has enough power to improve their lives, and that justifies their decision to buy from you, instead of the competition.

7. Builds a Loyal Customer Base

Branding can inspire loyalty among your customers. After they convert from prospects, customers will ultimately shape their future feeling towards your brand through their experience. If you do introduce the feelings of trust, they are far more likely to make a purchase again.

Not only that, but great branding values customer loyalty and will look to reward it. In turn, your loyal customers will want to repay for your care by promoting your brand. They will become brand ambassadors and will spread a good word about your company, even remaining loyal during bad times.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

7 Ways to Measure ROI for Marketing Activities

In the dynamic marketing world, it all comes down to doing what works, not what other businesses are raving about. And you do not know what kind of approach bears fruit until you try it and measure its results. Therefore, marketers are under increased top-down pressure to demonstrate the value of their activities. Drawing this picture of success has nothing to with empty promises and big ideas and everything to do with facts and figures. Note that nowadays, there are tools powerful and diverse than ever. Thus, you cannot afford to forgo the opportunity to fine-tune your marketing efforts.

Revise the basics

In a nutshell, measuring ROI revolves around the process of quantifying the business impact of marketing. Of course, ROI stands for the ratio of net revenue and cost and marketers use various tools and techniques to link their campaigns to improved revenue and performance across different KPIs. There are many challenges linked to this equation that looks simple on paper. One has to determine the methodology for calculating multiple variables and then tie them to a tangible result.

Establish a basic formula

The first part is rather straightforward. You use simple arithmetic to subtract the cost of the campaign from its net profit. Next, you divide by the campaign cost to come up with ROI in its rudimentary form. Thus, the formula looks like this: ROI = (incremental Profit – Campaign Cost) / Campaign Cost. With advanced analytics tools of today, you can make short work of any calculation. It has really never been simpler to keep track of and report ROI. Alas, moving on, we face various obstacles.

Take a long view

The problems arise when you have to deal with marketing initiatives that have a longer timeframe. Then, the dollars-in vs. dollars-out formula falls short.  Take the example of content marketing campaigns, which usually stretch on for months. A single post does not immediately produce a sale or subscription. What drives sales is a stream of cumulative interactions that occur over a longer haul. To make it even more complicated, there could be a number of elusive and unaccounted variables at work.

See the big picture

Factors that often get overlooked are brand awareness, touchpoints, and customer lifetime value. So, let us start with brand awareness. If a company decides to measure it on a short time frame, it could fail to detect any ROI. Even if there are spikes in engagement right away, such as the increase in clicks and comments, it is hard to attribute it to revenue. That does not mean ROI benefits will not kick in later on. The takeaway is that one has to learn to look beyond immediate avail and set up the system for gauging ROI that builds up further down the road.

Play the numbers game

Do not fall for fads and focus just on digital marketing. The traditional school still does the trick and it is possible to prove it with numbers. For instance, in countries like Australia, inbound 1300 numbers are associated with lower, local-like costs. Many companies rely on them to come across as professional and also launch cost-effective marketing campaigns. Here, it is sentential to figure out the response rates see who most suitable targets are. You can evaluate factors like time and location, make inquiries and produce inbound call reports.

Cyclical and cumulative

The whole process of evaluating ROI is not linear as much as it is cyclical. Businesses that realize this are in a better position to quantify and optimize vital metrics and use them as early indicators of success or failure. So, if you really mean to elevate your marketing strategy, improve your ability to track and predict cumulative effects of marketing activities. Avoid the pitfalls of having a tunnel vision when driving traffic and converting it into sales. Employ metrics like customer lifetime value that forecast the total future value.

Attribution across touchpoints

It is of the utmost importance to keep an eye on main touchpoint and recognize how the shape the customer journey and influence purchase decisions. After all, it usually takes more than one touch to seal the deal. The only problem is how to relate separate touch points that led to the sale to ROI. The way to pull it off is via single-touch or multi-touch attribution. These methods refer to the branching of attribution across multiple touchpoints. They complicate the ROI calculation, but the alternative is relaying inaccurate ballpark figures.

For good measure

Every company wants to spend the marketing dollars where they count the most. Consequently, marketers are preoccupied with justifying the short-term and long-term effects of marketing spend on the bottom line.  They have to optimize ROI pursuit across different channels and touchpoints. So, if you mean business, account for every marketing activity that contributed to the tangible financial outcome. Gain data-backed insights to support the decision-making process. Grasp how a matrix of interwoven marketing efforts generates resonance, value, and traction in the long-term.

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

7 Helpful Hacks to Get the Best Out Of Your Super Staff

When you started up your business, you never thought it would grow to the size it is today. You started off scribbling ideas on the corner of a notepad whilst in corporate meetings at your old 9-5 job. You knew this life just wasn’t for you and you longed for an escape from the rat race. Your initial business idea stemmed from your lifelong passions and since then it has grown into a somewhat successful company that you are extremely proud of. Although you have conquered a lot in the last few years, you are always looking for ways to build up your company. Hiring employees to help with your workload is the top of your priority list at the moment, but you have no experience in managing and recruiting a team of people. Bringing new people into your company is a scary step for any entrepreneur to take, but it will all be worth it in the long run. You need to focus on what is best for your company when hiring staff; once you know a person is going to fit in, you can then shift your focus onto them and nurture them as they progress through the ranks. You were once a new starter at a company, so you know how daunting this can be. Be kind, considerate and fair at all time and you will soon have a new team of super staff to be proud of.

  1. Innovative Interview Techniques

If you have never interviewed anybody before the thought of this might terrify you. However, you will have been through interview processes before in your previous jobs, so you will have more knowledge than you think. Write down the key traits you’re looking for from each candidate and don’t forget to research great exit interview questions. You will only be able to gain valuable information, by asking good questions. Use open questions to gain a deep insight into your prospective employees, so that you know you’re hiring the right person for the job.

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  1. Explain the Job Description Clearly

When you put out the advertisement for the job, make sure you are laying out the job description clearly and concisely. People can often be misled by job descriptions and this will ultimately end up wasting your time. You should clearly state the qualifications, background and experience you are looking for, as well as the salary details and start date. If you miss out this important information from the job description you might just be leading somebody on. You want people to know exactly what they are signing up for, so clearly list their roles and responsibilities before you offer them the job.

  1. Listen to their Problems

When somebody first starts working for you, they might not feel completely comfortable coming to you with their issues. Make it clear from the get go that you offer an open door policy in your workplace and you are available to talk at any time. You never know what people might be going through at home, so make time for them and help them out as best as you can.

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  1. Allow them to Progress

Every worker wants to know that their career will progress over time. Clearly outline the opportunities for promotion and progression to everybody who joins your company. They want to know there is something to work towards and it will keep them motivated every time they step into the office. Allow certain employees to shadow their superiors and offer insights into what their other colleagues do on a daily basis. Growing their knowledge and enhancing their skills will benefit you, them and your company as a whole.

  1. Trust Them

Nobody wants to be micromanaged at work; it is extremely demotivating and demoralizing. Make sure you establish a level of trust amongst your staff so that they feel free to carry out their duties effectively and without being judged. Schedule regular catch ups with each of your members of staff, so that you can monitor their progress regularly and talk about where improvements could be made. Equally, make sure you give them credit when they deserve it and offer incentives for those who are excelling.

  1. Spend Time Getting to Know Everyone

Your employees want to feel important and valued in your company, so don’t just see them as another body to carry out an important task. Get to know them on a human level and it will work in your favor. You will be able to learn their hobbies, likes and dislikes; this will actually help you to schedule them on shifts, organize business trips and other work related activities. You might find that someone is really interested in travelling, so they would be the ideal person to send on a business trip overseas. Getting to know people and how they operate will work wonders for your business as a whole.

  1. Socialize with your Employees

The time you spend with your staff doesn’t need to be limited to the office. Organize social events and seasonal activities so that everyone gets the chance to blow off some steam after a big deadline. Offer to take everybody out for a coffee at lunchtime, or throw a surprise birthday party on somebody’s special day. Socializing with your colleagues and going that extra mile is really important, as it helps you to build friendships and solid professional relationships outside of the workplace.

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Every entrepreneur has to take huge leaps at some point in their career and now it is your turn. Allow your company to grow and flourish, by hiring people that are going to be excellent representatives of your business. As long as you trust each individual and you treat them with respect you will be able to have excellent working relationships with them all. Over time you will become confident in your interview skills and managerial know how; your employees will grow to respect you and you will be setting yourself up for huge success in the future.

4 Ways Surveys Can Help Build Your Startup Company Strategy

Running a startup business is, in fact, quite difficult. Aside from trying to find a way to make it on the market, there are also a lot of challenges and obstacles startup owners face. It’s also quite complicated to fully understand whether or not your business idea will succeed on the market and if there’ll be any demand for your products or services. What’s more, startup businesses usually lack the sufficient funds to conduct extensive and thorough market research.

Luckily, where there’s a will there’s a way – and that’s conducting surveys. That way, startup owners can obtain the necessary information that will help them create a good strategy, without investing too many resources into it. In addition, you can rely on relevant data you’ve obtained directly from your target audience and potential customers. Simply put, you’ll be able to make more strategic and smart decisions. Here are a few ways surveys can help you build a startup company strategy.

Identifying your target audience

As mentioned before, startup businesses are generally not funded enough to conduct in-depth market research. You can assume who is most likely to be interested in your products and services, but you can’t know for sure nor do you know anything important about those potential customers. However, the key to success is knowing all there is to know about your target audience. Fortunately, surveying people doesn’t involve a hefty investment at all.

When creating a survey for your research purposes, make sure you include questions that will shed light on your audience’s demographics, overall interests, preferences and expectations. This will help you familiarize yourself with your target audience and understand their needs as consumers. That information will help you improve your products or services, so that you’ll have a better product/market fit for your startup. You can conduct the surveys both online and in person. Just make sure you analyze the data properly in order to extract vital information from it.

Tracking customer satisfaction

If you’ve started to build an online presence for your startup and also started making sales, it’s important to know how your audience perceives you so far. Customer satisfaction is essential for business success. The main reason is that if your customers aren’t happy, your reputation, bottom line and chances of success may drastically decline. That’s why it’s important to follow-up with your customers after interactions, sales and other activities.

Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask your customers for feedback. You can offer a simple incentive to your customers and ask them to participate in paid surveys online. That way, in exchange for their feedback, your customers will gain something of value in return. This will help you gain information that will assist you in improving your customer service and support. Not only that, but it will show your customers that you’re making an effort and that their opinions matter to you.

Testing products and features

Every business looks to grow and develop further by introducing innovation. Adding features to your products or services may be a good way to boost engagement with your customers, but it may also backfire if not done properly. If you want to add something new, it’s safer not to surprise your customers, but instead, ask them for their opinions. You can conduct a survey where you’ll describe new features to customers in detail and ask them what they think about it.

If your audience is generally pleased with the improvements, you can move on to the implementation stage. If not, you should avoid it altogether. That way, you not only show your customer that you care and that their best interest comes first when designing new features, but it also saves you time and resources on developing features that might fail from the start.

Assessing your marketing performance

When launching a marketing campaign that has a purpose of promoting your startup business and inspiring your audience to engage, it’s always a good idea to track important metrics and key performance indicators (KPI). However, without a general input from the customers themselves, you can’t be absolutely sure how well-received your marketing campaign actually is. It’s very risky to keep an ineffective marketing campaign running.

That’s why you should turn to surveying your audience once again. Ask for feedback on your marketing efforts and encourage customers to speak up. Make sure you ask the right questions, so that you can gather the most valuable information from the answers. Their feedback will provide you with information on how to improve your content, promotions and offers. In short, it will help you improve your marketing campaigns, so that they become more efficient in delivering value to both your customers and your startup.

It’s no secret that many startup businesses have difficulties maintaining their growth while trying to figure out the best approach to stand out on the market. That being said, surveys can be quite beneficial to startup owners, especially when they lack the means and the funds to conduct proper research. If you ask the right question from the right people, you’ll gain valuable information that will help you develop an exceptional startup company strategy.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com