Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Signs You're A Terrible Boss

Do you think you're pleasant to work for? Do you often inspire your employees to do better and grow with the company? While we all might say 'yes', this can't be true 100% of the time. That's why I am posting how to tell if you're a terrible boss. OK, here we go.

Do you promise things that never materialize? If so, you're a terrible boss. What a great way to keep people from wanting to work for you. This happens over and over again in business. "You'll all get bonuses if we meet this month's sales quota." Once the quota is met, no sales bonus and a really bad reason why. If this sounds familiar, it's time to start rethinking your motivation for making empty promises.

No follow up. Nothing irks me more than a leader who sets up goals for the company and the employees engage and each the goals. Why does this irk me? Well, it irks me when the leader doesn't lead by example. No follow up, shows he or she doesn't take the goal(s) serious, etc. If you're too busy to follow up or meet a goal, don't ask your employees to do the same thing. Lead by example.

Well, it's that time. Thanksgiving is in a few days. I will not be blogging again until next Monday. Stay safe, stay warm, stay grateful!

Twyla

Monday, November 25, 2013

2 Ways to Kill Your Business This Holiday Season

It's time to start winding down. It's the holiday season. WRONG! Most people believe because there are many holiday celebrations between now and January 1st of 2014 that this is an excuse to call in your workload and do nada. Well, this belief can kill your business. This got me to thinking of the top two business killers.

1. Thinking the customer is always right.

This will kill your margins. Reducing costs, giving away freebies, comping things.... all of these practices will put you out of business. The customer isn't always right. While you want to try and smooth things over with an annoyed client, you don't want to destroy your business in the duration. Think about how to resolve a problem with value added services, not discounts or freebies.

2. Toxic employees.

This should seem obvious but toxic employees can cost you customers and turn off great employees. Bad HR practices will hurt your company. Even poorly behaved contractors can ruin your company. Avoid this problem all together by looking beyond experience and more at attitude. Remember, external customer service starts with internal customer service.

Don't let these two things ruin your company or potential growth. Know that the customer isn't always right and that your employees' bad behavior will hurt your profit margin.

Twyla

Friday, November 22, 2013

3 Ways to Keep Customers Wanting More!

I talk a lot about customer engagement on this blog. I was asked a great question recently. "How do you keep customers coming back?" It's a good questions because once you offer a product or service, how will you engage that customer to buy more? Well, here is what works for me.

1. Get personal. Stage 5 clinger personal. Follow your customers online. Interact with them. Make follow up phone calls. Always be in a state of reminding them you're around and that you care.

2. Be consistent. Don't do right by your clients some of the time. People love paying $5.00 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks not because it is the best coffee in the world (in fact, it's been proven otherwise), but because the staff makes it their business to be personal and to be consistent.

3. Reward people. Who doesn't love getting rewards. Again, think Starbucks. They have a Gold card system that is awesome. Buy 12 drinks and get anything on the menu for free. There is no minimum, either. If you buy twelve cups of regular coffee, your free drink can still be a Venti Frap or you can get a chicken salad sandwich- whatever you want. So, think of a way to reward your customers that actually presents value and not percentage discounts.

Next week I will only be posting a blog on Monday and Tuesday. I'm taking a break from blogging the rest of the week for the holiday.

Happy Friday and I'll post more on Monday,

Twyla

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Secret to Getting Your Customer's Attention!

Here's a challenge, a client pays you and then doesn't respond or is too busy to provide additional information. Or, worse, the client is too involved and telling you how to do your job. How do you deal with these situations? By getting your customer's attention.

Your customers hired you for a reason. Now, you just have to get them to listen to you. Not tell you what to do, not be unresponsive- but actually listen. Start by eliminating a lot of jargon. Be direct and simple. Instead of using big, fancy works every two seconds, just say what you need from the client (or what you're doing) in a sentence or two. Long emails will lose your clients. Even if you have to send a bullet list with a "let's meet" note at the bottom, do it. Don't ever send too much information or overused copy at once.

Explain things as if you're talking to a five year old. I know this sounds condescending, but if you use the right technique, your clients will appreciate it! Clients don't need to know how your office works, just that projects are being worked on or your products work. Again, simplicity is key.

Finally, if you have a difficult client over the period of a year, fire the client. You don't need to spend a lot of time on a client who needs extra hand holding or who is unresponsive. Instead, put your energy into finding a better client who is easier to work with.

Until next time,

Twyla

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Homeland Security ; The Mall!

Every Black Friday we come across one or two tragic stories. This happens each and every year. Is it a surprise masses will gather, and push there way forward, for great deals on electronics? No. So, why are we constantly watching people get trampled at Walmart on the news? Well, frankly, the answer is a lack of serious planning and procedures.

This actually is a homeland security issue, too. You have mass crowds in a confined space with almost no real security to prevent an issue. Beyond the tragic acts of people getting trampled on Black Friday, terrorists are presented with an opportunity of lots of people combined with poorly trained, seasonal security. We can do better than this. We owe it to one another to do better than this. Spending the extra money to have a company like mine (any company really) come in and identify potential issues before they happen is worth its weight in gold, and human life!

Right now is the time for malls and major department stores to be conducting lock-down drills and testing their security cameras. "Each of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 56 field offices is meeting with local police and security personnel at area malls and shopping centers this month", said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson. But, mall operators and retailers have to be proactive about security year around and especially two Fridays from now.

I did some research and found a website with really great consumer advice for staying safe on Black Friday. Here's the link: http://www.moneycrashers.com/black-friday-tips-for-safe-shopping/ In the meantime, retailers are welcomed to connected with me at HireIme.com for further info.

Stay safe out there,

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two Types of Entrepreneurs

There are many thoughts on the "types" of entrepreneurs walking around the business world. Some people say there are five types, other say there are four, and some people believe we are all cut from one rigid, opportunist cloth! Well, I believe there are only two types of entrepreneurs in the world.

The "I Can, I will":

This type of entrepreneur is goal-orientated and goes into every business investment or bootstrap concept with very clear goals and expectations. This is the type of person who likes to collect, review and rereview data before, during and after specific business milestones.

The "Let's Go Get Them":

While data is important to this type of entrepreneur, it isn't going to make or break her dream of starting or investing in the right company. This person relies more on innovation and the promotion of the business then data that may predict failures or success. They are more street smart than book smart. They have a vision and they will do anything to make it happen, regardless of what any data sheet says.

There isn't a right or wrong type. In fact, the world is infused with both types, making "I can, I will" and "Let's Go Get Them" entrepreneurs resilient and also reliant on one another!

What type of entrepreneur do you think you are and why? Let this be your thought of the day.

Twyla Garrett

Monday, November 18, 2013

5 Questions to Ask When Measuring Social Media ROI

You blog; You Tweet; You use every social media outlet out there.... you don't see more customers coming through the door. You're frustrated.

Don't worry. Social media ROI takes a while. You need at least a year or two to start seeing real traction. I know social media is updated every second, but the ROI isn't. In fact, when was the last time you purchased something because of a Tweet? Or you read a person's entire blog based off of a Facebook post? Exactly. Unlike popular belief, it takes a long time to build a substantial and attentive social media following where simply reading the post makes a person actually click through and engage with their wallet.

So, when measuring your social media efforts over a long period of time make sure you ask yourself these five questions;

1. What are my goals?

2. Are my goals reasonable to who I am and what my brand is?

3. How much content can I put online each and every day?

4. How will I measure offer-based content vs. non offer-based content?

5. How do I turn my views into email address subscriptions?

If you have an answer for all give of these questions, you can then measure your social media growth based on your answers. Yes, it is this simple. Using the answers to gauge growth, along with Google analytics , truly helps you see how many people are engaged and buying after a year, two years, or longer!

Until next time,

Twyla Garrett

Friday, November 15, 2013

Save Time ; Outsource

Time is worth its weight in gold. The problem is many business owners run short on it daily. Don't do a bunch of things with partial attention to detail. Instead, do one thing and do it well. You want to live by this rule. I suggest hiring virtual personal assistants to take care of anything and everything for you. It will free up your time, make you pay more attention to detail, and you will be less stressed out.

Now, you can hire cheap or you can hire American. Many website are dedicated to providing virtual assistants as low as $3 dollars per hour but you're not getting American help. Other websites will provide you will American virtual assistants but the pay starts around $8 to $20 dollars an hour. Do what will work for you and within your budget. Note: If your company banks itself on hiring American- stay consistent with this belief.

The rule in business is you will close 20% of pitches. If you free up more time, you can bump this number to 30%!

Try to spend this weekend thinking about this and the benefits it can bring.

Until Monday,

Twyla

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Texting Clients- Why You Shouldn't!

I was recently asked if it is ok to text a client. My answer is always going to be 'no' and for a variety of reasons. First, let me say that office phones are still a must. I don't understand people who give their personal cell phone numbers to a client to close a deal and then become annoyed when the client texts or calls him or her. If you give your cell phone number to a client, you are giving him or her permission to call or text you anytime of the day, holiday or night! You can't become annoyed when they use the number after you made a sale.

Second, if you send a text to a client from your phone, you are opening up Pandora's box. Autocorrect's inability to work properly can result in the loss of the client or, in extreme cases, a lawsuit. Second, if you send or respond to a text, you're going to work outside of your designated hours. If you're not ok with this, don't respond or text the client.

Some people love texting their clients, but there is a lack of boundaries that comes with this practice. I say, to remain professional, refrain from texting your clients or providing them with your cell phone number in the first place. Use Twitter instead.

Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cyber 9-11 | It IS Possible

Today's post is dedicated to the topic of homeland security. My company, IME provides homeland security services, such as computer forensics. This brings me to the topic of a cyber 9-11. In a couple of weeks, this country will celebrate cyber Monday. A time when people spend the Monday after Thanksgiving shopping online and sharing personal information. Oh, and retailers receive a large amount of cash via the internet. So, is a cyber 9-11 possible? The answer is yes.

Many retailers are not aware there is a cyber security issue until the attack has occurred and already performed damage. Any business with a heavy web presence, especially one that collects data or money online, needs to have a reliable back-up plan should an attack occur, new approaches to identifying potential security breaches should be sought after, and we as consumers and business need to practice vigilance against potential threats. Cyber security and hackers should be taken seriously. Identify theft through cyber security tasks can help mask terrorists and transfers of cash can help fund plans- never a good thing!

While the majority of true potential internet risks surrounds our military data when it comes to security in cyber space, we should always be aware of our security systems and our weaknesses online.

Have questions on this topic? Let's talk! Join me on Facebook or Twitter to ask questions, notate examples of training, etc.

Twyla Garrett of IME

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The 3 Worst Business Credit Cards

Here's my opinion on business credit cards - don't use them if you don't have to. You should be self bankable, but I know this isn't always the case. If you do need to obtain a line of credit for your business then avoid the business credit cards offered by Wells Fargo, HSBC, and U.S. Bank.

Why?

I did my research on the worst credit cards for businesses on the market today. What I found was the repetitive ranking of Wells Fargo, HSBC, and U.S. Bank's cards within the top 3 lists of several other financial bloggers. This prompted me to do a little more digging. Not a single one of these cards adheres to the CARD Act protection clause and none of them have open and transparent policies regarding their credit reporting practices- or any of their practices for the matter.

Basically, the three banks mentioned above aren't looking for a long-term partnership with new business owners. Instead, they're looking to make a quick buck and not tell you how they are going to do it. Stay away. There are plenty of great credit cards out there. In fact, there are so many available that I'm not going to list them. Just don't accept any credit cards from the above mentioned banks!

Again, if you can stay away from putting any business expense on a credit card- do it. If not, select a card that reports your good payment history and has open and honest policies when using the card.

Until next time,

Twyla Garrett

Friday, November 8, 2013

Recommendations - Growing Your Business

There is a restaurant in New York that has been around as long as the city has- ok, that's a stretch. But the deli I'm referring to has been around for what feels like forever. This deli hasn't paid a single dollar for ad space or PR pitches. So, how is the business thriving? I asked the owner. He simply stated "treat em' like family."

The more I thought about the owner's answer, I decided he is a genius. Imagine if everywhere you went, you were treated like family. Starbucks practically thrives on this concept. Think about it. Most of us pay $5.00 a day for coffee because the cups are adorned with our names and most of the time the man or woman making our coffee calls out our name with a friendly smile.

If you really want to "treat em' like family" then you have to start within your own office. I watched the deli owner talk to his staff as if they were his brothers and sisters. If you can create a family-like environment at your office then your internal customer service will float outwards.

Think relationships more than business deals if you want to have a family-atmosphere within your business. If you treat potential customers like potential profit then you're dead in the water. Treat potential customers like you would a sister or brother-in-law. Be cordial, be genuine and talk about what both parties have to gain from a long relationship. Don't just go after a person's dollar, go after their recommendation and continued business.

Finally, be respectful of everyone. The deli owner I mentioned has a customer who comes in every morning and buys a single two dollar coffee. He sits in a booth (taking up three seats versus a single seat at the counter) and he stays for hours. The waitresses aren't annoyed and the owner sits and talks with him daily. The owner could say something about the money he is losing on each cover that walks out because a booth isn't available, or how there is more than a coffee minimum to sit at the booth, but he doesn't. He appreciates the business and the brand loyalty. In fact the owner told me this about the man in the booth, "I don't know his full story. I don't know why he comes here for his coffee. I'm glad he trusts us enough to serve him coffee everyday. We could lose the two dollars to the expensive franchise down the street. I rather have customers I know who like what I'm serving then fight over numbers with the competition."

As we head into the weekend, think about how you can treat your customers more like family.

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Entrepreneur Life Test

Do you have what it takes to own a business? I'm not talking money or ideas. I'm talking grit and getting your hands dirty. Not sure if you have what it takes? Take my test. Answer yes or no if you agree or disagree with each statement below and see what I have to say at the end.

1. You believe you can balance work with a personal life.

2.'Fake It To You Make It' is the best advice you ever received.

3. You can't wait to be rich, which will be soon since all business owners have tons of money.

4. You can have a day job and run a business at the same time.

5. There is nothing to fear about employing other people. It is great to have people work for you.

6. You're going to be loved by everyone because you have a business and your business will take off right away.

7. You believe a mentor is important.

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you don't have what it takes to be a business owner. The above statements are all myths and some of the most popular reasons why businesses fail. Grand ideas, assuming riches will happen overnight, faking knowing how to provide a service or products, etc. are all big red flags in the business world.

If you answered "no" to any or all of the questions above, pat yourself on the back! You're a true entrepreneur.

Twyla

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homeland Security Blog: Drug Tunnel Shut Down Near San Diego

Drug tunnels are a homeland security issue. While many people might thing the drugs being brought into this country don't possess a threat to their daily lives, the opposite is true. Drug tunnels can facilitate the transport of more than just drugs. In fact,these tunnels are also often used to facilitate smuggling of illegal aliens and, potentially, terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. This can potentially impact everyone, not only those buying or selling the drugs.

This past Thursday the DHS announced they had discovered a newly completed tunnel that connected a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico with a building in San Diego’s Otay Mesa industrial park stretched the length of nearly six football fields. The tunnel was equipped with lighting, ventilation and an electric rail system. It was described as “the largest, most sophisticated tunnel uncovered along the southern border in two years.”

While the discovery of the tunnel is great news for our country (since we could now close it and recovered the drugs), it isn't that great of news for the DHS. These tunnels are popping up all over southern California. How we assess various issues related to the war on drugs and illegal immigration can impact our national security directly related to potential terrorist threats. This leads to my next question... "are we doing enough to prepare and prevent?"

I might do a webinar covering how one non-national issue can lead to a national disaster. Preventing tunnels from forming is impossible, but we can decrease the rate of which they are forming. The issue itself is too complex to cover in this blog, which is why I have a homeland security book coming out shortly.

I am interested in your thoughts on this discovery and how you think we , as a country, can prevent further tunnels from forming.

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Best Business Habit to Have!

I recently met a woman who wouldn't tell me how she failed in business. She insisted everything was perfect. I insisted she was wrong and did a little digging. My results? The woman had failed in business several times- which is to be expected, not something to be ashamed of.

I couldn't figure our why she tried to hide her business failures. Everyone in business has failed at one time or another. In fact, business leaders don't even refer to these events as failures anymore, rather they are called learning experiences. The best business habit someone can have is to flaunt a failure, not try to hide it. Here's why;

There are two types of people in this world. The kind who accept failure as a signal to give up and the kind who will not accept failure as their destiny. Giving up distinguishes wanna-be business men and women from true go-getters. Flaunting your failures and showing how you rebooted and had the umph to go at it again really is a character attribute. Hiding your failures, or lying about them (as in the woman's case) also tells a lot about who you are. So, which side of the fence would you want to be on?

I'm going to develop a series of books dedicated to this topic. In the meantime, connect with me on Twitter and let's discuss your failures and how you overcame them!

Twyla

Monday, November 4, 2013

3 Not So Fab Customers!

Where's your next paycheck coming from. If you own a business, you might not know the answer. I received a question over the weekend dealing with customers and payments. When do you let one go? Well, I have some answers. First, you don't turn down money -ever. Instead, you screen potential money vs. people think they have money. Trust me, everyone does this when providing services. Next, know who the customer is and then decide if you want a relationship or continued relationship with him or her. Here is how to tell.

1. The Sour Puss. This is a customer who is happy with you for the moment, but not loyal. If he or she could find cheaper- they would. This type of customer is dangerous. Why? He or she can be unhappy for one small reason and will forget all the major things you have done to help him or her. These customers sour pretty fast and don't hesitate to write nasty things all over the Internet about you and your company. If you'd bidding for a contract with a sour puss, pass. If you have one now, don't renew.

2. Oz The Not So Powerful. Every have a client remind you ten times a day how much money he or she is spending at your company? Well, that is because he or she has no authority in every other aspect of their lives and will use whatever they pay for as a chance to try and command power. This type of person is a pain in the butt and not worth the money they will pay you. They are seeking a chance to flaunt authority more than anything else. Don't renew this client if you have this type of person as a customer.

3. The Check Was Mailed Mama. Have a client that doesn't pay on time or needs payment arrangements? Pass! If they can't afford you, find someone who can. The second you lower your rate, give a break on a late fee penalty, etc. know that you're sending a message that your time and payments aren't important. Ditch this type of client.

Doing business with people isn't always pleasant, but it doesn't mean you have to be a doormat. I say never turn down money but these three types of people are the exception to the rule.

Happy Monday!

Twyla

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ask Your Clients The RIGHT Questions

I overheard two businesses owners complaining about their clientele the other day. It can be frustrating, just like you- clients aren't alike. You will have clients who require extra hand holding and you will have clients who you never hear from, refuse to give you direction and then expect the world from you. Regardless, your clients pay your bills and you have to honor their work style just as you want them to honor yours.

To get a sense of the type of client you will soon be working for, and how to approach him or her, ask these questions:

1. What are your priorities and goals and what are your timelines.

Asking this question will help you understand what is important to your client and how fast the client expects you to work. This question series eliminates a lot of guess work.

2. What is your preferred form of contact.

I knew a lady who hated phone calls. Every week, on Friday, her servicing contractor would call her. He told me she always seemed annoyed but would insist on finishing the call. Finally, after this went on for months, the client asked him why he always found time to call her in the middle of her pedicure. The contractor assumed the client wanted phone calls and he assumed the date and time of the phone calls. Don't assume anything with clients. If you don't know, ask.

If you implement these two questions when starting to work with a new client, you will have a more positive working relationship.

Happy Friday and a new blog coming up on Monday!

Twyla Garrett

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