Costs to Cut and Costs to Keep: 6 Financial Tips for Small Businesses

Your business has a lot of costs that need to be managed. Without a guide, this can be confusing and difficult. What should you invest in? What can be cut from the budget? But don’t worry. Here are six financial tips about what costs to cut and which to keep that can help you along the way. That way, you can get back to doing what you are best at in your market and industry. 

Keep: Performers 

High performers make your business run better than anyone else. High quality workers mean you get high quality products and service. They should be kept around to keep boosting profits and overall quality. A great salesperson or someone who brings in revenue should be invested in. Potential customers won’t turn into returning customers if your employees drive them away. 

Cut: People Not Pulling Their Weight 

When employees start to get entitled and lazy, you can get into trouble. You need to get rid of people who expect to get paid more than they are worth. If they can’t justify their work to you, then it’s time to let them go. Additionally, if you can’t justify paying them what you are for what they actually bring to your business, they’re just creating a “money black hole” in your budget.

Keep: Researching Your Supplier 

Who your supplier is makes a major difference in your brand. It will affect the end result of your product, how fast products reach customers, and how happy your customers are with your end results. Invest the time and money into researching and verifying your suppliers. Seek out a third party to get supplier risk mitigation from those who are experts in helping businesses like yours. Your suppliers should be trustworthy and high quality at every turn. If they are, the time, money, and effort you put in will pay off.

Cut: Extra Long Lunch Breaks 

People need a certain amount of time to take a break during the day. As long as this is not being abused, then that is fine. However, you might find that your team’s breaks get longer and longer. Perhaps they are not keeping up with production. This might be time to start logging breaks and requiring them to keep a time sheet. Consider consulting with HR professionals about the right kind of break and time recording strategy for your business.

Keep: Customer Service 

If there is one thing you can do today to stand out from the competition it is having great customer service. Word of mouth travels fast. If you cut your customer service, you are only going to have more frustrated customers. Find the best people, invest in top-notch customer service training, and regularly consult customer reviews and feedback so you can be constantly working on and improving your system.

Cut: Advertising that Doesn’t Sell 

Just because radio and TV worked back in the day doesn’t mean they’re the way to go now. Whatever your advertising spend is, reduce it where you are not getting results. Then, double down on methods that are working. However, keep in mind that marketing that works takes time. Try looking into SEO services, social media help, and marketing firms that specialize in local or small business work. If you find what’s right for your business, you’ll begin to see growth and results.

Getting your business to a place where it is operating profitably can be difficult—it definitely takes a lot of work. However, it always starts with finding ways to cut costs you don’t need and keeping those that actually help you. If you use the tips above, you could find that your profit and loss statement is looking better every time you check in.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

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

Why You Should Invest in Business Technology

With technological innovations influencing every single part of our lives, there is little doubt left whether it should take its rightful place in the business sphere. Yet, some businesses are still reluctant to invest a considerable portion of their income in technology, and might need a bit of a push. So in order to help you understand why this is not a choice but rather a necessity, here are some essential reasons why you should invest in business technology.

Improved productivity

There is no argument that all businesses are striving towards an improved productivity. And in today’s business world most of it comes from technology. It is no wonder that 81% of business executives in Europe believe AI will impact the overall business functioning in the next four years. And this involves all aspects of business, from manufacturing and distribution to customer support and data entry. According to Forbes, manufacturers will invest $267 billion in IoT by 2020 to improve their product development and manufacturing efforts. This types of automation enabled by the technology will allow for employees to be less burdened by the everyday routine tasks, thus freeing their time and allowing them to focus on resolving more complex issues.

Higher levels of communication quality

The days of fax machines are long gone. Now you can send data and establish communication with just a click of a button on your smartphone. Of course, having a well connected office space is essential for maintaining a higher level of intra-company communication. This is why a lot of businesses turn to trusted providers like Orange for getting company phone networks along with the actual phones.This is just one of the ways to increase and speed up the communication within the company. It is also imperative to acknowledge the value of smartphones, and the effect they have on the speed and quality of communication when it comes to businesses. So it is important to consider investing in both if you want to have clear, undisturbed lines of communication not just with the respected customers but also with your employees.

Better sources of information

Investing in technology can lead to better sources of information when it comes to your customers. This in return leads to improved services and products and increased customer satisfaction which is clearly translated into a higher ROI. For example, big data analytics and real-time data tracking are helping management make informed business decisions. This means that you will be able to provide your customers with products and services tailored to their individual needs, and technology is there to tell you what those needs are. And not only that, it is also important to consider that technology allows companies an unhindered means of communicating with their customers, thus enabling real-time reaction monitoring, which in return can speed up the process of adjusting a certain product or service to the needs of the customers, resulting in a far better response and customer satisfaction.

Better security options

Some might say that the use of technology such as cloud computing and IoT exposes your business to additional treats. But at the same time with the right security plan it can be argued that theses things actually keep your business safe. With cybersecurity being the number one priority, investing in technology related to this aspect of doing business is of absolute priority. This is one aspect that you can’t overlook or put on the back burner, recent statistics have suggested that the average cost of a data breach at a larger firm is £20,000, but  the damage is actually much bigger if you take into consideration the effect a breach can have on customer trust. Now with hackers getting more and more sophisticated, it is important that a company keeps investing in this type of security so as to be able to guarantee the safety of both its data and the data of their customers.

Now, these are just some of the reasons investing in technology is essential for any modern businesses. Apart from increased productivity and communication, the information gathering and data safety present an imperative for any business owner who strives to succeed in this technologically driven business landscape.

Guest Author, Raul Harman, s 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 travel, football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com.

You Just Lost Client Respect

Clients and customers can be fickle, and they may choose to stop buying from one business to switch to another for a whole variety of reasons. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t plan for a problem like this and ensure your company doesn’t slowly crumble due to lost demand. To avoid that, you need to know some of the key factors that will cause a customer to stop buying and lose all respect.

Terrible Customer Service

If you have long waiting times, poor management and a low level of staff for customer service, you might want to readjust your business model. It’s become quite popular for business owners to save money by reducing the number of employees for customer support. But don’t be surprised when any customer left on hold starts to look at the competition.

Bad Reviews

Yes, you certainly need to be careful of bad reviews. Eighty-six percent of people will think twice about buying from a company with negative reviews. That’s a problem because even if your company is perfect, there’s always going to be at least one negative review. You can’t please everyone all the time.

No Quality Check

Anything released related or linked to your business needs to be under quality control. If you deliver a truly awful service or product one time, customers will remember. They will think twice about buying from you again, and this extends beyond services and products. You need to think about marketing materials as well such as website content. Everything published should be proofread and edited. You can find out about the importance of these two processes in the following infographic.


Infographic ByScribendi

College and University Accreditation: It Gets Confusing

Accreditation in the United States

The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality. You can find out more about accreditation online – http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html

Accrediting agencies, which are private educational associations of regional or national scope, develop evaluation criteria and conduct peer evaluations to assess whether or not those criteria are met. Institutions and/or programs that request an agency’s evaluation and that meet an agency’s criteria are then “accredited” by that agency.

The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs. The DOE does maintain a database of all accredited post-secondary institutions – http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/GetDownloadFile.aspx

 

Types of Accreditation

There are two basic types of educational accreditation, one referred to as “institutional” and the other referred to as “specialized” or “programmatic.”

Institutional accreditation normally applies to an entire institution, indicating that each of an institution’s parts is contributing to the achievement of the institution’s objectives, although not necessarily all at the same level of quality. The various commissions of the regional accrediting agencies, for example, perform institutional accreditation, as do many national accrediting agencies.

Specialized or programmatic accreditation normally applies to programs, departments, or schools that are parts of an institution. The accredited unit may be as large as a college or school within a university or as small as a curriculum within a discipline. Most of the specialized or programmatic accrediting agencies review units within an institution of higher education that is accredited by one of the regional accrediting agencies. However, certain accrediting agencies also accredit professional schools and other specialized or vocational institutions of higher education that are freestanding in their operations. Thus, a “specialized” or “programmatic” accrediting agency may also function in the capacity of an “institutional” accrediting agency. In addition, a number of specialized accrediting agencies accredit educational programs within non-educational settings, such as hospitals.

Regional and National Institutional Accrediting Agencies

http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html