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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Customer Service Matters Now More Than Ever

sterlingbmwI love to play games.

All different kinds – from sports to board games to video games and cards.

However, I don’t enjoy playing games when it comes to my finances.

In the past, I have chosen to lease cars. I felt that with California driving (i.e. a lot of wear and tear) and the instant depreciation of automobiles once driven off the lot, it was the best option.

My current lease was set to expire in April 2009. Due to my lack of employment and the current recession (not to mention a couple of “minor” accidents and the fact that I was over my mileage allotment) I decided that I would try to buy my car out of the lease early.

Sounds easy enough, right?

The first place I called was Sterling BMW in Newport Beach.

I was connected with a friendly associate who quoted me a price that included a certified warranty and knocked a reasonable amount off my monthly payment.

Ever the savvy shopper, I also called three other dealerships, including the one I originally leased the car from. To my dismay, each of the other salesmen initially quoted me substantially higher rates than Sterling BMW. When I told them about the Sterling BMW offer, they ALL came back to either match it or beat it.

In the end, even though one of the other dealerships ended up offering me a slightly better rate, I went with the associate from Sterling.

Why?

It’s simple.

She gave me the very best rate from the start. She wasn’t trying to “play” me or wring me for as much money as she could. So, I met with her, signed the papers and drove home in my “new/old” car.

Making it in this economy is going to require building new relationships and sustaining the old ones.

People like me aren’t spending frivolously right now, they’re spending smart.

If a business gains someone’s trust and provides them solid customer service, they can lock in a loyal customer who will continually return knowing they are getting a great product at a fair price.

Exactly the way Sterling BMW did with me.

Erin Pryor, formerly with Salon.com, posts every Friday here at OCBizblog.

Constant Contact Brings Small Business Expert to LA & Orange County

cc_logoKelly Flint, of Constant Contact, has a mission.

“To help greater Los Angeles (and Orange County) area small businesses better connect with their customers”.

Kelly will soon begin holding seminars for small businesses in the Los Angeles and Orange County area.

Her seminars will focus on how email marketing and other online tools can help owners reach their goals.

For the Constant Contact press release, click here.

For more on the seminars, here.

Small Business Survivor – Outwit, Outplay, Outlast

survivorWe are all living on Recession Island.

The good news is no one can vote you off.

The bad news is there’s no food, no shelter and no place to go.

So what are you going to do?

Make the best of it.

Survive.

Hang in there and try and get through the next 18 months, which is how long many economists are saying our stay on the island will  last.

You can take a page out of Survivor and employ these six tactics to outwit, outplay and outlast your competition.

1.  Build alliances quickly.

Now is the time to find out who your friends are and get them to help you with the returned favor of you helping them.  “We are all in it together”, should be the mindset.  If you have doubts as to their loyalty, stay away.  Now is not the time to be blindsided by a frenemy.

2.  Have a strategy.

Know what your endgame is and have everything drive off of that.  Don’t just think daily tactics but make those actions have purpose and lead you to the goal.  Anyone can be busy.  Anyone can look busy.  Not everyone is capable or willing to think through an endgame and work backwards to develop a plan to make it happen.  There is time to do this now.  Do it.

3.  Conserve your energy.

This goes back to being busy for busy’s sake.  Recession Island is a place of limited resources, so it’s important to hold on to what you have and not expend those resources in a wasteful manner.  Cut where you can cut.  Conserve cash.  Keep your best people if you can.

4.  Strike at the right time.

If a competitor has gone out of business, how much of their market share can you grab?  Not much if you sit back and wait for their customers to find you.  Maybe you can call your former rival and work out a referral deal or finder’s fee.

5.  Know your weaknesses.

Do what you are good at and stick with that.  Respect your time and remember that if you overreach you can get blindsided.  We all know someone who has false confidence and how badly they repeatedly get burned.  “Know thyself” and good things will come.

6.  Capitalize on your strengths.

Hammer away at what you do best.  Do it over and over again.  Send a message to the marketplace that this is who you are and what your exact intentions are.  Let no one doubt you are a player and here to stay.

Do all that…and who knows?

You may end up the sole survivor.

Make Your Small Business Website Talk

waxpoetixnewlogo2The future is here and it is open and transparent.

As a small business owner, you have a tremendous competitive advantage over larger companies to not only present a face to customers, but a voice as well.

You truly can strike up a relationship with prospects and customers by engaging them in the real world and online.

You can do it online by making your website a more friendly and inviting place to visit.

Friendly, as in a place to carry on a conversation.  How to do it?  Start with adding a blog.

In the future, every business website will have blogging capability.

So why not get started today?

We relaunched our company site to reflect these new demands and are looking for feedback.

You can click here to view the site and leave a comment or email us at info@waxpoetix.com

And a big thanks to Justin Moore-Brown, boy genius from Big Head Design.

By |January 27th, 2009|marketing, small business|Comments Off on Make Your Small Business Website Talk

Small Business and the Circle of Trust

meetparents2We had to cancel our son’s birthday party this weekend.

We couldn’t do anything about the weather, but we could adjust and give the little guy a party at home with family and a few close friends.

We just needed some cooperation from our party vendors.

And cooperate they did.

The folks who were providing the entertainment did not charge us for canceling and the food vendor gladly accepted our order being cut in half.

So guess who my wife and I will be telling all our Orange County friends to go and see when it comes to kids birthday parties?

(We’re going to highlight both of them later this week)

I can not contain myself when I find a business that I trust.  I want to scream their name from the rooftops and tell anyone who will listen all about them.

It’s a rare thing to find.

Because of the current climate and the collapse of some huge supposedly trustworthy brands, there is a massive opportunity to build and market your small business through trust and transparency.

Here are five simple ways to do it:

1.  Walk Your Talk.

If you say you don’t charge for a cancellation, don’t charge for a cancellation.

2. Keep it Simple.

Don’t confuse the customer with a lot of if/then scenarios and wordy policies.  Be straight, direct and honest.

3.  Be human.

Answer your own phone.  Be friendly and likable.

4.  Go Above and Beyond Expectations.

Surprise us through your actions.  I was shocked that our entertainment vendor did not charge us when we canceled after the deadline.  They went straight to my Top of Mind list.

5.  Follow Through.

See 1-4.

There is a small circle of people in your life you trust.  If a business can get into that circle, it will never leave.

First Pryority – A Generation Y Job Search

erinpryor1Erin Pryor, formerly with Salon.com, is now posting every Friday here at OCbizblog.  Erin is looking for a new gig and is kind enough to share her experiences with us.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate was 7.2% in December 2008 and the California state unemployment rate was 8.4% in November 2008.

The economy sucks and the job market is brutal.

Tell me something I don’t already know, right?

Unfortunately, I too am currently part of that 8.2% (I’m sure it’s risen since November) and am experiencing the difficulties of a tough job market. Even with a background combining experience in journalism, marketing and sales I’m finding it hard to even get an interview.

The most common thing I hear is, “You have great experience, but we think you are overqualified.”

Recently, I had a local business owner tell me that he “wasn’t sure I would be content working in a local market since I had national experience and have lived in both NYC and LA.”

Really?

Bottom line…if I didn’t think I could do a job well and enjoy it at the same time then I wouldn’t apply.

It seems as though many small businesses are limiting themselves in terms of hiring. It’s an employers’ market and it’s baffling how some aren’t using it to their advantage.

Rather than being fearful of hiring an ‘overqualified’ candidate because they may only stay until the market turns, companies should take full advantage of these people and their experience.

Isn’t it better to get the blue chip recruit and take the franchise to the next level even though he may ask for a trade a couple of years down the road?