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Is Your Business Customer-Centric? -

Is Your Business Customer-Centric?

Today’s customers expect you to stand behind your products and services, care about their issues, and promptly resolve their problems. They expect you to be customer-centric.

A customer-centric organization is one in which customer satisfaction is the absolute highest priority. Customer centricity is a deeply embedded business mind-set based on the principle that every aspect of your company is focused on creating an optimal customer experience.

How can you do this?

It begins with clearly articulating a philosophy of putting customers first.

Create awareness both internally and externally. Communicate the impact of customer satisfaction on the company’s performance, and make sure all stakeholders know that customer satisfaction is a core business value. Make it obvious to anyone who walks in the door that customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal.

Walk the walk and demonstrate your personal commitment to customers. At the same time, empower your employees by giving them the authority and confidence to do what’s right for customers.

Reward employees who go the extra mile for customers. Integrate customer centricity in compensation plans with incentives, bonuses, and rewards that celebrate customers’ successes.

Get the entire team involved with customers, including back-office personnel, your marketing and services associates, and key decision makers.

Of course, the process of creating a customer-centric culture in any organization starts with hiring the right employees and creating the right expectations. Developing a customer-centric culture requires time, resources, and dedication, but its long-term financial and branding benefits are well-documented, demonstrating that the rewards are well worth the efforts.

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What to Look for When Buying a Business

Potential business owners often view buying an existing business as less risky than starting a company from scratch. Turnkey businesses provide an established client base, a recognizable name, and a predictable cash-flow pattern.

But shrewd investors can further reduce their risks by evaluating the following areas before purchasing:

Franchise vs. an independent business

The brand recognition that comes with an established franchise business is a positive. However, many franchises will require investors to go through an approval process and agree to pay franchise fees, which may also include a percentage of quarterly or yearly profits. Review the franchise agreement in detail prior to investing so that you are aware of franchise stipulations regarding brand image, fees, and mandatory upgrades.

Independent business opportunities may offer more flexibility with marketing and branding. Plus, there are no upfront franchise costs to pay, and the year-end profits are yours either to reinvest in the business or to spend as you see fit. A prudent sole proprietor with a strong, well-thought-out marketing plan would be well-suited to this type of investment.

Financials and infrastructure

Business owners should be able to draw a discretionary income from their business. When examining your potential buy, look at whether the discretionary income has gone up or down over a period of years. If the owner’s income is shrinking, you will need to evaluate why: Is it poor management? Has competition increased? Are community demographics or political changes having an impact on the business? It may be possible to turn around a faltering business, but you must be prepared for the potential financial ramifications.

When you purchase a business, certain chattels may be necessary to run the company’s day-to-day operations. For example, a convenience store will require a cash machine, shelving to display products, and refrigeration units to house perishable food items.

It’s important that the seller clearly stipulates which chattels are and are not included as part of the sale of the business, and an inspection may be required to ensure that all included chattels are in good working order prior to your taking possession.

Goodwill

Goodwill is the amount of perceived value assigned to the business due to its community reputation and appeal within its existing customer base. A valuation of goodwill is included in the purchase price. And while a positive community outlook increases the goodwill value, a poor perception of the business in the community could have serious long-term consequences that may take more time than you have to correct. 

Existing employees

These can be a big help. Or not. Existing employees likely have the training, experience, and customer rapport required to help smooth the transition. And customers who see the same employees continuing to provide the same level of service may be more open to the change.

On the other hand, existing employees who are resistant to the ownership change may cause problems, both from a public/customer relations perspective and in challenging new processes and procedures designed to improve the operation.

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Accessibility Features Can Attract New Tenants

As the North American population continues to age, people are facing mobility challenges that have a detrimental impact on home ownership.

Shoveling the driveway and mowing the lawn get harder as an individual ages. Household maintenance requires more outside help as the physical realities of aging take hold.

Investors can expand their portfolio by investing in properties with accessible features. By removing barriers to mobility, many property owners can target and attract affluent aging individuals to their units.

Barrier-free is a design concept that minimizes or removes barriers to access for people struggling with mobility.

Investors can adapt existing structures to be more mobility-friendly, but there are limitations to retrofitting an existing building. Correcting narrow stairwells, doorways, or hallways is not always feasible in an older building; however, installation of automatic door openers can go a long way toward making a building more accessible. Consider automatic doors for every common area in the building. Elevators are often cost-prohibitive to install within an aging infrastructure. Due to these costs, the biggest areas for advancement with barrier-free design tend to be in new construction.

Stairs can be one of the biggest challenges to overcome for someone with a mobility issue.

Those few steps at the front of the building might as well be a “Do not enter” sign for someone who requires a wheelchair or a walker. Ramps can make access easier, and elevators can remove the barrier to access on upper levels of the building for individuals with mobility challenges.

Narrow hallways and doorways are often the next barrier that becomes obvious once a person with mobility issues has obtained access to the building.

Struggling through a narrow hallway with a wheelchair or walker can be dangerous and frustrating. Walkers and wheelchairs also require a larger turning radius, forcing users to back out of tight doorways and elevators. There simply isn’t enough room to turn around safely.

When you add raised thresholds to the mix, you have an increased potential for entrapment or a fall or trip. Power wheelchairs and mobility scooters may assist a person in overcoming the physical constraints of the raised barrier; however, the jarring bump often causes pain and instability, which further contribute to the fall risk. Many flat or zero-clearance threshold options that will provide both form and function are available to landlords.

Little improvements can go a long way toward enhancing a space for an individual who has mobility struggles.

Items like raised toilets, strategically placed handrails, and supports can make a home more livable. Single-lever faucets are a cost-effective and easier-to-grip option for sinks and showers. There are many other low-cost adaptations that can help landlords remove a barrier to tenancy. 

Big-ticket renovations like updating kitchen cabinetry, installing personal alarm systems, and bathroom retrofits may not make financial sense for some properties, but would be easily integrated into a new build.

Investors should closely analyze the cost benefits of these types of renovations as they develop and implement their business models.

How to Maintain Customers during and after a Move -

How to Maintain Customers during and after a Move

Changing your business location poses significant challenges. If not managed properly, a move can disrupt clientele, which can result in a dip in customer satisfaction and a reduction in foot traffic.

To avoid this disruption and maintain existing customer relationships, use the following moving tips.

Update your online presence: Many businesses maintain an active online presence. This includes a website and social media platforms. Cross-promote your move on all your web-based platforms. This will not only direct new patrons to your business but also keep the existing ones informed during relocation.

Reconnect with clients: Some customers may be irregular, with long stretches of time between visits. It will be important to reach out to these clients to ensure that they continue to see you as their first choice when they are ready to use your services again. A mailer can be an effective tool to announce your upcoming move along with a more personalized follow-up call to encourage them to visit your new location.

Consider customer incentives: Rewarding customer loyalty with an incentive is one way to maintain a positive relationship with existing clients. This can be a discount on goods or services or another customer reward that is suitable to your business.

Celebrate the move: Everyone loves a party. Inviting customers past and present to celebrate your move will engage customers and invigorate your business. Attending a celebratory event can remind people why they patronize your business in the first place.

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