Please Remember that I am Your Customer and Not Your Friend

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Our recent purchase for basement carpet was a good reminder about how and how not to treat your customer.  We were referred to a specific sales person at a local carpet company.  When we got to the showroom, he was busy with another customer and the manager (we’ll call him Frank) told us it would be at least an hour before the other person was free but that he would be more than happy to help us.

We proceeded to tell Frank of our situation and our carpet needs.  Frank proceeded to tell us story after story that had nothing to do with our carpet.   Frank thought he was funny.  Frank talked way too much about things other than our carpet.  I kept trying to bring Frank back around to the subject at hand.  The visit was exhausting!  Here’s the thing, we have used this company multiple times in the past and have always been very happy with both the product and their installation.  We were easy!  We were a sure sale!  We were going to buy from this man if he would just stop talking over us and sell us a piece of carpet!  Frank, I am your customer…stop talking and listen to me.

We chose our carpet and Frank set up a time to come to our home for drawings and measurements.  He told me that he would be out on a certain day between 1:00-1:30.  The day came and the 1 o’clock hour went.  Frank, I am your customer…call if you have been delayed.

I called Frank’s cell and left him a message that it was my understating that he was to be out between 1:00-1:30 and that it was now 2:00.  Frank promptly called back and when I answered he said, “It’s your friend, Frank, I can be there in about 20 minutes.” So instead of between 1:00-1:30 now Frank was going to be here closer to 2:45.  Frank, I am your customer…my time is important.

When I opened the door to let him in, Frank loudly proclaimed, “It’s your friend, Frank!”  I swear, I think I rolled my eyes at him.  Frank, I am your customer…not your friend.

During the course of his measurements, Frank told stories and jokes and laughed at them all. Worried that he was not focused on the job at hand, I excused myself to go upstairs.

We ended up purchasing our carpet from Frank and his company because of our history with them but most of all because we have been very  pleased with one of their employees who has laid our carpet in the past.  Bless his heart, Frank did end up giving us a good deal for our carpet.  But I am afraid that if this were the first experience that we had had with this company, I would have gone elsewhere due to my lack of confidence with Frank.

When I am your customer, I want you to treat me friendly but professional.  I want you to listen to me more than talk to me.  I want to be confident in the service that you offer.  I want to be your customer…not your friend.

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks and customer service.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.                          http://www.anotheryouerrands.com                                                  937-416-2207

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Small Business Savings on Office Supplies

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Now that you have reviewed your expenses (End of Year Checklist for Small Business) and understand how your money is being spent, what are you going to do with that information? For many small business owners office supplies seem like a minor expense. But every year, businesses in the United States spend billions of dollars on office products. If you do not manage and control your office supply expenses, these purchases can add up very quickly.

• Buy Generic:  Name brand supplies have name-recognition but most of the time they are not always cost-effective. Many generic supplies are just as good and can be purchased for less. Generic or “house brands” are also more likely to go on sale.

• Dollar Stores: Dollar stores buy up products that have been discontinued, have packaging problems, or did not sell somewhere else. The stores purchase products for great prices and these savings are passed along to you. Making a special trip to a dollar store may not make sense but if you pass by one when you are out, you might as well stop in and check for discontinued name-brand supplies.

• Office Superstores: Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy and other superstores frequently offer the lowest prices on supplies. Most major national retailers offer a discount by signing up for their free rewards programs. For example:
Staples Rewards: Members receive up to 5% back on everything except postage and gift cards. They have a price match guarantee, $2.00 back per recycled ink cartridge, and they offer members free shipping.
Office Depot/Office Max Rewards: Members receive 10% back on paper, ink, toner, copy, print, and shipping. They offer rewards for recycling ink cartridges with a purchase, member’s only coupons, and birthday bonus rewards.

• Negotiate with your Supplier: If you have a favorite supplier for office supplies, you may be in a position to negotiate pricing. It never hurts to ask!

• Shop Online:  Check out discontinued and online specials before heading to the store. Online stores typically offer better discounts than in their walk-in stores. In most cases, shipping is quick and efficient, which means you can schedule automatic delivery of things you need on a regular basis. When you order online, Staples and Office Depot usually ship from your local store and you can get in-stock items delivered, free of charge, in 1-2 business days.

• Bulk Ordering: Look for items that you can purchase in bulk but remember just because something comes in a larger package does not mean it is cheaper.   You may actually find it is cheaper to buy 10 small packs of 10 pens than it is to buy 1 pack of 100.

• Buy Ink Off-Brand: Perhaps one of the most common ways to save money is buying off-brand ink cartridges. A few suggestions before you buy:
1.  Know your warranty:   If you have a new printer, you may want to consider letting your warranty expire before you try off-brand ink. Not using the manufacturer’s ink cartridges can void your warranty.
2. Know your cartridge: Get a good look at your brand name cartridge and know the numbers printed on it. Be sure to purchase the correct cartridge.
3.  Know your price:  Depending on your printer’s make and model the off-brand ink may be just as expensive as the brand name.

Do you know how much you spent on office supplies in 2016?   What can you do to save on office supplies?

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    www.anotheryouerrands.com  937-416-2207

 

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Small Business Owners are Wise to make a few New Year’s Resolutions.

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It’s that time of year again; a time to look forward to the New Year and reflect on the changes we want or need to make in order for our business to grow. With that said, try to remember to strike that delicate balance between work and life.  For many small business owners, the two are so deeply intertwined that it’s hard to separate.

1. Plan your day. Every morning make a “To Do List” and keep it in front of you. Make sure it is reasonable and achievable. Many people are their most productive in the morning so add your toughest item(s) and the ones that you dread most to the top of your list. After you get these items completed your day will seem easier and you just might find yourself whipping through the rest of your tasks.

2. Put time for you on the calendar. While you are planning your day be sure to schedule some “You Time”. It is so important to take the time to recharge and refresh yourself; a healthy work-life balance demands time out. Get used to scheduling time regularly to “meet with yourself” and stick to that commitment. If you don’t invest in yourself, who will?

3. Make customer service a priority.  It’s a fact that customer service can make or break your relationship with current and future customers. Looking ahead to 2017, customer service should be a priority for every small business. A key resolution would be to look at ways that you can get closer, strengthen your relationship, and stay on your customer’s minds. Remember that keeping a customer takes less of our time than finding a new one.

4. Promote your business regularly and consistently.   Too often the task of promoting our small business slips to the bottom of our “To Do List”.  If you want to attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Make a New Year’s resolution to hire a marketing expert or take the time to create a marketing plan on your own and follow through.

5. Grow your business through partners.   When you’re feeling stuck with your business and you don’t know which way to turn, look to partners. With each year, I believe more and more that partner relationships are a huge key in running a successful business. No matter how small in scale the partnership is, it can reap huge benefits for your (and their) business.   I find that meeting with my partners is enjoyable, helps clear my head, and can easily be part of my “You Time”.

6. Join a new business organization or networking group.   There’s nothing like talking to other business people for sparking new ideas and making contacts. Whether it’s a group specifically designed for networking or an industry organization dedicated to a particular type of business,  making the effort to be a part of a group will revitalize you and your business. Give yourself a break and take some time “out of the office” to meet with like-minded individuals to network.

7. Learn how to delegate and get more help. Your business may not be growing sufficiently because you are trying to do too much yourself. Examine your operation for routine tasks that take too much of your time or for the ones that you dread.  Decide to let someone else handle these tasks. Delegation is key to a healthy work-life balance.

8. Give something back to your community.  Make a New Year’s Resolution to find a cause that matters to you and give what you can; money, time, or both.  Not only does it feel good on a personal level, but doing good is just a smart business practice. Those that give get.

Building and maintaining a successful  business can be time consuming and difficult. Use these resolutions to help your small business grow and just as important remember to make time for yourself, family, and friends.

Happy New Year and may Your Business Prosper in 2017!

About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.

http://www.anotheryouerrands.com                      937-416-2207

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End of Year Checklist for Small Business

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Here are some things every small business should look at as the year-end approaches. With so many things on your plate, it’s a good idea to create a checklist for your end-of-year activities.

1. Get your books in order. Whether you are a solopreneur with a box full of receipts that haven’t yet been entered or a small business owner who has a bookkeeper on your payroll, you have to get this step done before you can do anything else.

2. Review all your systems from top to bottom. A system review can be an eye-opening experience for business owners. Carefully examine what is working and what isn’t. Don’t assume that just because you have had a certain system in place from day one that it is adding value to your business or your customers.

3. Review your expenses and vendor contracts. Run an expense report and see where you are spending your money. Is it money well spent? Are you getting a good ROI from all of your memberships? Are you really reading all those magazines that come each month? Take a look at how much business you are doing with each vendor. Are you getting optimum pricing based on how much you are working together?

4. Touch base with your best customers. Be sure to tell them you appreciate their business and ask if there is anything you can improve on or do differently to help them grow their business. Send them a Christmas card or gift or plan to send them a card at the beginning of the New Year.

5. Take a good look at your website and social media platforms. You need to make changes to your website to keep people coming back and take advantage of SEO. Is the content on your website and business social media profiles up to date? Dedicate some time for touching up, revamping or overhauling your digital presence.

6. Revisit your pricing. Once you understand your business’ financial picture, it’s time to get honest about how things are going. Many freelancers and small business owners make the mistake of under-charging their clients: is your pricing adequately compensating you for your time, experience, and costs (which include taxes, retirement plans, health insurance, and more)?  The start of the New Year is a natural time to bump up your rates.

7. Goals. Pull out your business plan and any other planning documents and review this past year’s goals. Did your business accomplish what you set out to do? Why or why not? Set Goals for next year. Be specific, give them a timeline, and make sure they are measurable and written down.

8. Revisit Your Business Plan. If it has been a while since you examined this critical document, now’s the time to get to it. Review it to ensure it’s still aligned with your company goals. Change what needs changing. And if you never had one, this is the time to make one.

9. Meet with your accountant. The end of the year is the perfect time to meet with your accountant to plan your taxes. Discuss with them what you should do with excess cash and take a look at anything you can write off.

10. Get Organized. If you’re like a lot of business owners, your desk is cluttered, and so is your desktop. Spend a few hours throwing away and shredding things you don’t need and organizing your computer files. I guarantee you’ll feel more together come January.

headshot2About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Personal/Virtual Assistant service based out of the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.

 www.anotheryouerrands.com                                                                 937-416-2207

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Networking and Loss

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Networking.  What do we know about networking?  We know it is big in Dayton, Ohio.  We know there are a multitude of networking groups that offer meetings in the morning, at lunch and after business hours.  We know the goal is to meet with other people to see if our business is a good fit with theirs, how and if we can partner with other businesses and to get to know people in hope of gaining referrals.

Loss.  What do we know about loss?  We know it is traumatic.  We know it is heart breaking.  We know there are a multitude of emotions that are ever-present with loss and grief.  There is shock and disbelief, infinite bursts of sadness, disconnection, feelings of anger and lethargy.

I met my friend, Linda Lee Rahn, at a networking meeting a little over 3 years ago.  Tragically, Linda lost her 29 year old daughter in October.  In addition to everything the Rahn family was going through they also found themselves with sudden and unexpected funeral and estate expenses.  Something that no one experiencing this type of loss should have to deal with.

Networking.  What do we know about networking?  I know that in less than a day and a half, 45 people from local networking groups helped to raise over $4000.00 in donations via a Go Fund Me campaign for the Rahn family.  I was overwhelmed with the donations, calls and e-mails from people that Linda and I had met at networking events.  So many reached out with prayers, meals and support.  I will now think of networking in a totally different way.   Yes, it is still about business but I have seen that for many of us it is also about friendship, compassion and encouragement.  Thank you so much to the people that reached out to Linda during this time.  Please continue to do so.  I am proud to be part of the Dayton networking community.

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    www.anotheryouerrands.com  937-416-2207

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Something Made of Leather

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I started my Virtual Assistant business 3 years ago last month.  What a life changing event!  Owning a small business has its ups and downs-but in my case the ups have definitely outweighed the downs.  Personally, 2016 has been rough on my family.  Having the flexibility of running my own business has afforded me the much needed time to spend by myself and with family and friends.  Today, life is good!

 In my 3rd year of business I have learned that if you are hard-working, honest and do your best… referrals will come.  I have had the good fortune to work on 3 new projects this year that came from client referrals.  I am currently speaking with 2 new prospects that were referred to me by another local entrepreneur.

 Unfortunately, I realized that it is still difficult to terminate a relationship with a client even though they continually pay their invoices late.  I do have to say that the majority of the people that I have had the pleasure to work with are good, dedicated, hard-working clients.  I am thankful for all of them.

 I was reminded of how blessed that I am to have good health as I watched a client go through a long and trying medical issue this year.  I admired her strength and positivity as she continued to work part-time during this difficult period.  I am happy to report that she is recovering and back to work full time.

 So what will this next year bring?  I don’t know.  I am still looking to build my client list.  It is my passion to partner with other small business owners to help then grow and sustain their businesses.  I can help them save time, money and frustration by taking on their administrative tasks.  If you would like to discuss how virtual assistance can help you please let me know.

 But for this weekend, I think I will go out and buy myself something made of leather for my 3rd Anniversary!

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time, money and frustration by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    www.anotheryouerrands.com           937-416-2207

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Do You Need Another You?

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Has your small business grown to so much that 24 hours in a day is just not enough?   Do you want to be more productive and less stressed?   Do you need help digging out from your administrative pile?    If you answered “Yes” to any of these, now may be a good time to consider hiring a Virtual Assistant.

Produce Income.   How many administrative tasks are you taking on in your business that aren’t producing income?  You aren’t making money while you’re scheduling, managing your e-mail or posting on your social media sites.  All would agree that these tasks are important, but they take up precious hours in your day that you could use to grow your business.  Do what you do best and leave the other tasks to a Virtual Assistant.

Improve Time Management.  The reason most people start looking for a virtual assistant is because they are too busy and they know a virtual assistant can save them time.  A good VA will literally add hours to your day.  Use those extra hours to work on obtaining new clients, on sales, or spending more time with your family and friends.

Save Money.  Time is money.  Hiring a Virtual Assistant is cost-effective.   You do not need to provide a VA with room for an onsite office, office equipment or furniture.  You only pay for the time they work for you.  It is the most inexpensive, affordable and productive way to get your tasks done and free up your time.

Reduce Stress.  You feel overwhelmed with your workload.  A virtual assistant will give you peace of mind.  Give a VA the projects and tasks that you dread, that you put off or that you do not like to do.  With a Virtual Assistant you have no worry about insurance and other benefits, payroll processing, labor relations and other stress-inducing problems of running a business.

Think about outsourcing your time-consuming tasks to a Virtual Assistant.  It will help you maintain a good work-life balance, enable you to increase revenue, and save you money and maybe even your sanity!

About the Author:  Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Personal/Virtual Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks.  Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business.    www.anotheryouerrands.com  937-416-2207

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