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Interesting News From Around The Globe

This week I am sharing a different kind of newsletter…

Updates, business news, and marketing tips from around the world. Let me know what you think.

Would an AI Boss Be Better Than A Human?

The concept of AI managers is pretty out there, right? This is about a Vancouver, BC company who experimented with AI as a manager of their Team, Fascinating results, especially the hybrid approach!

As in all these cutting edge, new technologies emerging in the AI space, cybersecurity risks are lurking.

The 5 Maverick Rules for Social Media Marketing Success

Social media marketing is not for the faint of heart. Implement these five unconventional techniques into your social media strategy to streamline efforts, reduce stress, and consistently deliver value to your audience.

Tips for Successful Lead Generation (Insights from Experts)

Building a high-quality pipeline is challenging, and Google isn’t making it any easier. Discover nine expert insights from a recent webinar to elevate your lead generation efforts.

Understanding Customer Sentiment: Definition, Measurement Methods, and Best Practices

Customer sentiment measures how customers perceive a company, its offerings, and customer support. When utilized effectively, it enhances customer retention and satisfaction, offers insights for product improvement, and sustains competitive advantage.

Key SEO Metrics That Matter in 2024

Tracking essential metrics is key for maximizing online performance and ensuring sustained SEO success. This article identifies the critical metrics for 2024 that will enhance your SEO performance.

Elements of an Effective Retention Strategy

Amid ongoing reports of the Great Resignation, employers must bolster their retention strategies to avert a mass exodus of talent, which could lead to declines in work quality and operational disruptions.

How Your Email Address Could Be Undermining Trust

Your email address presentation significantly affects how recipients perceive your communications. In an era of cybersecurity concerns and phishing attacks, the choice of email address can either build or undermine trust.

Get in touch

Thanks for reading, and know if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

3 Tier Pricing – Add More Value and Get More Clients

Three tier pricing – sounds fancy, what the heck is it for?

I love stealing ideas from other industries and applying it to ones no one expects would fit.

When we had an office in Victoria, BC we ushered clients into our conference room, and presented them with a leather-bound menu. As in a high-end restaurant.

We offered large, organic lattes, and expressos. Organic teas, and organic snacks from the Cascadia bakery up the street. Oh, and fresh squeezed orange juice.

In an accounting office??

Yes! And it blew people away. We had clients who would stop in, order a latte, and ask if they could work in our conference room. They loved it, and so did we…

Okay, back to the topic at hand – 3-Tier pricing.

Which industry are we “stealing” this concept from?

3 Tier Pricing in The Software Industry

The pioneers of 3 tier pricing are software companies. Precisely, companies offering software as a service online, in the cloud.

They did it for 2 exceptionally good reasons.

First, let us define it…

3 Tier pricing (we have all seen it by now) is where a software company offers 3 levels of pricing. The levels can be called anything.

Examples are – Core (level 1), Professional (level 2), and Pro Plus (level 3).

Or, Bronze, Silver, Gold.

I have seen a gazillion labels being used. The labels are less relevant as the simplicity of seeing quickly what is included in each level.

By the way, I have never seen 2 tier pricing, nor have I seen 4 level and above.

Two tier is too basic, and anything above 3 levels is too complex.

Simple choices lead people to decide.

Complex choices stop people from deciding (even when they want what you are offering).

What is The Purpose of 3 Tier Pricing?

First, it gets more people try out what you are offering because they can start at a basic, cost-effective level with your core service.

Second, and most important, it gives people real value and does not mean you reject good, potential new customers or clients.

Third, by giving people a choice you do not need to go into hard negotiations on discounting. You have done the discounting for them.

How to Implement 3 Tier Pricing?

Number one, come up some creative and relevant labels for the 3 tiers you want to create.

Start with your basic level and add features that you are offering in a language that your customers/clients will understand.

Make sure they are benefit driven and what they really want.

In the basic level, do not include too much.

Why not?

Because if you include too many features there will be zero motivation for your clientele to move up to the next level.

Make Sure Level 1 is Profitable

Offer enough features in level one that will delight your clients. (Do not leave them starving for more!)

Set the pricing at a level that will encourage people who cannot afford the higher levels to buy.

Set the price of level 1 at the value you feel your clients/customers will pay.

Do not think of your costs.

Now Reverse Engineer Your Offering

Now that you have tentatively set your price, look at what your costs will be for delivering this bundle of products and services.

Make sure you are profitable.

The beauty of 3 tier pricing is that, even at the basic level you will have clearly defined what is included in your offering.

If your clientele demand more, they have simply moved up to the next level of services.

If they do not want the next level, you simply can add some features and add additional pricing for them.

How to Setup Level 2 of Your 3 Tier Pricing?

For level 2, add new features, unavailable in level 1, that you know many of your clients want and will value.

Many of your customers/clients will choose the middle level.

It has to do with core psychology of us humans.

Many of us, do not want to be in the Basic level. Yet, we may have sticker shock with the premium level. The mid tier level will fit most of your clients.

Therefore, spend more time at this level to get it exactly right.

Include more features than the Basic Level, yet not too much more, or it will cost you too much to deliver the total package.

Your Top or Gold Level Package

For the Gold level, add all the features that will offer a white-glove level of service, and will be priced accordingly.

Once done, you will end up with a kind of bell curve of new clients. 20% may choose level 1, 70% level 2, and 10% the Gold or top tier level.

Once you have set your included features, sharpen your pencil, and see if you can profitably offer the Gold package.

It will do you little good to offer so much and find out it will be costing you even more to deliver to your Gold clientele!

How to Present your 3 Tier Pricing?

If you are doing presentations to your customers or clients either online or in person, then here is how it should proceed…

Start with your Gold level. Go through your Ultimate, Level 3 package with all your bells and whistles.

Why?

In order to create some sticker shock!

If you see your client having difficulty breathing after showing level 3, you are doing good! 😊

Once the sticker shock has passed and your client is breathing again, you can present the other 2 tiers.

Many will choose the Silver Package or Level 2.

It will occur as more affordable and just the right amount of features.

For those with tighter budgets, or just wanting to check you out, they will go with Level 1, or Bronze.

In Summary

If you only offer one size pricing, you force your clients/customers into a negotiating stance.

They may want you to strip out features and reduce the price.

By offering the tiers, you leave your customers with the opportunity to simply choose for themselves.

This leads to more customers, and happier customers, who are getting exactly what you promised.

Last bit of advice – do not offer too much in the lowest package, or all of your prospects will choose that level.

And, also, do not offer too much in the middle package or your costs will be driven up.

Thanks for reading….

Do You Have a Strategic Mindset or A Visionary Mindset In Your Business?

In business it is quite easy to fall into a common mindset trap…

I call it the Strategic Mindset Trap.

What do I mean?

The Strategic Mindset Trap

Being strategic is not a bad thing. As a kind of mindset or initial focus for your business, it is deadly.

Having a strategic mindset is when you look at everything through the lens of “how can I maneuver my business to make money based on what the market will pay for?”

Everything is based on the following distinctions:

  1. How can I make money?
  2. What are people paying for now?
  3. What do they need?
  4. How can my business add more services to take advantage of what people will pay for?

So, what is wrong with that?

Nothing. It is just in the wrong order.

The right questions and focus have been neglected if you start with strategy before this…

Vision Comes First

Why are you in business?

What excites you?

What will get you out of bed early in the morning and keep you up late?

What difference do you want to make for others?

If you are only in business to make money, you will not be able to sustain your focus for the long-term.

Here are some examples of a vision statement –

“To give our clients the tools, system and support to create an extraordinary business.”

“To empower entrepreneurs to make better, faster decisions to help their businesses and families prosper.”

“To help small businesses grow by providing automated and reliable accounting services.”

Do you see how the focus is entirely on being a contribution to others?

Boring Strategy Statements

“We will do 5,000 tax returns this season (subtext – so we can make a lot of money and take a few months off work).”

Maybe the business is passionate about doing 5,000 tax returns, if yes, it should be stated as something about the people the business has the privilege to serve.

“We love to legally save taxes for our clients, so they have more money in their pocket.”

Shiny Object Syndrome

Strategic thinking leads to shiny object syndrome.

When a businessperson is thinking strategically, they tend to look at every new idea that passes their desk as an opportunity to…do what? make money of course.

When you have a burning why for your life and your business, you get focused.

What fits your why, you grab. What does not fit you say no to.

When do people get the most strategic in their business?

A Business in Trouble

What I have seen in my coaching of hundreds of businesses is that when a business is in financial distress, they slip into strategic thinking.

They are desperate for a way out of their cash-flow woes.

Every shiny object becomes an answer to their dilemma!

And the problem is this – it will not last.

Without a burning why, you cannot sustain a strategic focus.

Money is never a long-term motivator – for you, nor your Team.

The best thing to do when having cash-flow woes is to revert to your why.

What to Do Next?

Once you have your why, re-focus on your service/product deliveries and create something unique. Package it in a unique way so you stand out from the others.

Find out what problem your why solves.

Price your product and service in a way that relates to the value you bring to your customers and clients.

In Summary

Here are some questions to help develop your why statement…

  1. What do I love to do? What am I passionate about?
  2. What impact do I want to make in our customers/clients’ lives?
  3. What problem does my business solve?
  4. How can I package my services/products in a unique way that excites me, my Team, and our customers/clients?
  5. What are people willing to pay for?
  6. What am I good at, or willing to get good at?

Even if you have a well-established business, these questions can help you get re-focused on what really matters…. making a difference for others.

Lastly, I am sure you noticed that strategic thinking is all about you, and visionary thinking is all about making a difference for others.

Thanks for reading…

If You Could Track Only One Key Performance Indicator, What Would it Be?

What? Track only ONE Key Performance Indicator? That is like flying a jet plane with, say, a choice of fuel level, altitude, airspeed. Pick one, and good luck. Crazy, right?

A business is like a jet airplane in that to hit its target with accuracy it needs more than one Indicator to really fly. Likely about 8-12 Key Indicators.

I agree with that.

However, there may be one Super Key Performance Indicator that if you could discover it, it would be a kind of early warning siren for your business.

This early warning would wake you up to take immediate corrective action if it is off target or relax with a glass of wine if it is on target.

Let us take a look and explore this concept together…

Super Key Performance Indicator

Behind every business, in every industry there may be a kind of magic number. A Super Key Performance Indicator.

This number will act like an early warning sign of trouble brewing.

A Super Key Performance Indicator for an Airline

I read once that the CEO of British Airways looked daily at this Super KPI – flights leaving on time.

If flights did not leave on time, everything spilled out of control:

  • Costs went up from the delay.
  • Passengers would be irate and expect refunds.
  • Passengers would need meal tickets and sometimes hotel costs covered.
  • Employees may have to be paid overtime and booked in hotels with meals.

A flight not leaving on time does not arrive on time, adding more costs from the bottleneck.

You can imagine the snowball effect of one flight not leaving on time.

An Unusual Super Indicator for a Restaurant

Super Key Performance Indicators can be incredibly unique!

I heard of a restaurant owner who could roughly predict the number of guests he would get at his restaurant on Saturday from how busy Monday was.

Honestly, I have no idea how the two interrelate.

And that, in part, is the key.

An Accounting Firm Super KPI

For an accounting firm longing for long-term client retention, a Super KPI could be a simple one – the growth rate of sales combined with cash in the bank (cash in the bank of the clients, not the business).

Okay, okay I know that is two – sales growth and cash on hand.

Cash on hand (from sales growth) could indicate the following:

If the client’s cash is declining:

  • Low cash causing stress paying bills including the accounting firms.
  • Higher demands for the accounting firm to help them attain positive cash flow.
  • Loss of the client if they go bankrupt.

On the other hand, high monthly cash flow means:

  • A happy client eager to listen to your advice.
  • A client who is growing and will likely expand their demand for more services from you.
A Super KPI for All Businesses

In the area of marketing, it will be relatively easy for a business to find a Super KPI…

To find your unique Super KPI in the marketing area do this – find the one activity that drives sales more than any other.

It could be phone calls, direct mail, events, or website contacts.

Find the activity that gives you the most sales.

To get more business, first track that activity and then increase the activity to grow your business.

Simple, right?

Lastly, keep examining new and innovative ways to market because your business tools might change. Phone calls that worked last year, might not now. Perhaps it is something online.

The key is to keep looking.

How to Find Your Super Key Performance Indicator?

A Super KPI will emerge for your business by you thinking deeply about and examining patterns.

To help you find the patterns ask yourself some questions:

  1. What one thing that we are doing as a business has the greatest impact on our business within the next 12 months?
  2. What one thing that we could do would have the greatest impact on our business results?
  3. What bottlenecks do we have?
  4. What is the single thing that drives our clients/customers crazy when we do not do it? (i.e. it could be on-time delivery, or what is delivered is not high-quality).
  5. What is our review score on Google?
  6. What strange pattern is there in our business (like Monday guests as an indicator for Friday guests!) that I have not seen yet?
  7. Ask your Team for patterns they may see that you do not.

Thank you for reading…

 

 

7 Reasons to Switch from Wire Transfers and EFTs to Plooto

We live in a fast-paced digital world, and cheque writing has gone the way of the horse and buggy (sorry to all pen and paper lovers).

The fact is that paper cheques, sent in the mail, are significantly more insecure than paying and receiving money online. Physical cheques are stolen from mailboxes, acid washed, re-inscribed and cashed by the thief.

For our clients, we have been paying all their bills online for years. The service we use for this is called Plooto, and they are awesome!

Paying bills via wire transfer or Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), using the big Canadian Chartered Banks is time consuming and expensive. And it is not automated. Well, okay, it is partially automated in the sense it is digital. It is just not synced to your accounting system. Plooto is.

Here are 7 reasons to make the switch from cheques and EFTs to Plooto….

Reason Number One – It is Fast

All of your bills in Xero (or QuickBooks Online) are synced to Plooto. The instant you log into Plooto, there are all your approved bills, ready to pay.

When you are an e-signer (like a cheque signer only online) you will receive an email showing you the bills that are ready to be e-signed.

You login directly by clicking a link in your email.

You will see each bill that is ready to pay, with the source document attached.

Think of it like this. It is like your bookkeeper has recorded all the bills, printed the physical cheques, and brought the cheques with source documents attached to the cheque. He or she places on your desk, and you sign away.

The difference is that you can be anywhere.

All of this processing is fast!

Reason Number Two – It Saves Time

Because Plooto processes are online and fast, it saves time…

Time is saved in a few ways:

  1. The lack of physical movement of bills and cheques from office to office.
  2. The fact that the payment is synced back to your accounting software and recorded as a payment against the bill being paid saves the time of the bookkeeper having to record each payment as in the old systems.
  3. You can have multiple approvers and the flow is all digital, online. Once you approve, if you have a secondary approver, the bills will instantly go to them to e-sign. This saves a lot of time.
  4. The source documents are all attached to each transaction, so you are no longer hunting around for the physical copies of bills.
  5. You can pay multiple bills at one time, which saves time.
Reason Number Three – Pay Bills From Anywhere

Your bookkeeping Team can be in Vancouver. Your headquarters could be in Toronto. No problem.

Everything flows online and is accessible on your browser and through a browser app on your phone.

You can be on holidays and ensure bills get paid on time.

First and second approvers no longer need to be in the same office. They can be separated by oceans!

Reason Number Four – Multi Person Approval Workflows

You can set up a complex Approval Matrix with bookkeepers setting up the bills which in turn go to, for instance, a Department Head.

From there it can be routed automatically to the e-signers. For payments under, say, $1,000 perhaps maybe only one signature is required. If it is greater than $1,000 then 2 e-signers.

You have the power with Plooto to set up as simple or complex a Matrix as you want or need.

Reason Number Five – It Avoids Errors

Errors are avoided as follows…

Once the bill is recorded, checked, and approved in your accounting software, the source document gets attached to each transaction in Xero or QuickBooks.

This source document is attached to each transaction in Plooto, so you can look one more time before paying.

Multiple approvers means more than one set of eyes on each transaction.

The payment is synced back to Xero or QuickBooks which avoids duplicate entries.

To summarize, recording data once only, having multiple approvers looking, and source documents attached for a final look all lead to error avoidance.

Reason Number Six- It is International

Plooto can easily and seamlessly pay vendors and contractors in over 50 countries.

You do not need to call your bank manager to assist with a wire transfer and all this entails.

We have made many international payments with Plooto, and we have encountered no errors in doing these transfers. It is like paying a local supplier.

Reason Number Seven – It is Secure

Plooto uses Multi-Factor Authentication to login to its platform. The money is transferred directly form your bank account into your supplier’s account.

By the way, if they do not want to give you their banking information, as long as they have online banking, you can just email them the transfer and they login to their bank and deposit the funds themselves.

Multiple approvers make it more secure because more eyes have been on each transaction.

There is no risk of physical interception of cheques.

Plooto has banking level security and encryption running in the background.

They started in Canada in 2015 and have been a reliable and trustworthy partner of ours for many years now.

Thanks for reading….

 

You Say You Have Awesome Service…Does it Show Up on The Phone?

**The following blog is a re-print of one I wrote in early 2019. I believe it is more relevant now than ever.**

Every single touch point in your business is an opportunity to wow, or not, your customers…

In a competitive business world, (when is it ever not?), often the only way to rise above the crowd and risk being a tall poppy is through awesome service.

Yes, all businesses must DO great work, yet how they deliver that work, the way they present it to you, if you will, is the fulcrum point, the centre of gravity on which all else rests in your business.

In fact, I would assert – because how you do one thing is how you do everything – that awesome service practiced with rigorous performance standards will elevate the technical work of your business.

Said another way, if you have extraordinary service in, say a restaurant, with hyper-clean bathrooms, tables, floors, and so on, then it is unlikely you will walk in the kitchen and see a dirty mess.

How You Do One Thing is How You Do Everything

How you do one thing – clean bathrooms – is how you do everything.

This translates to the phone…

How you talk to your Team on the phone is likely how you are with your clients.

Or is it?

Are you gruff, abrupt, curt with Team members, and gushy and sweet with customers when they call?

Ok, better hope your customers are not listening when you are on an internal call then.

I am really surprised at how few businesses get that the phone is one of the most frequent contact points for your business, especially in today’s virtual world, where it is often the only point of contact.

What happens when you call your own business?

Is the phone answered on the second ring? (First ring is too abrupt for most, on the 3rd ring impatience is kicking in…)

If not, why not?

How is someone greeted on the phone when a customer/prospect calls?

Do you have a script? “Good afternoon/morning, ABC Company, this is Mary Jones, how may I help you?”

How does the call end?

On a high? Do you say, something like, “thank you for calling, have a wonderful day!”

Who hangs up first?

Always hang up last. Why? For that one out of five times where the customer says, “oh, one more thing!”. And you are right there waiting for them…

Also, better that you get the hang-up clunk in your ear, than them. Again, always leave them on a high.

Customers in the Store Versus on Phone

People in line at your store take precedence over people just phoning, right?

Wrong.

Let’s say you are a computer store selling high-end computer systems, and some parts too.

The fellow in your store is looking for a $6 USB cable, and wants to know all the different makes and sizes, and after spending 30 minutes with your sales clerk decides to leave and order on Amazon for $4!

Meanwhile the clerk ignored the phone (person hung up after 12 rings, which shows amazing patience, most of us will hang up after 3-4 rings). The person on the phone was interested in talking about a high-end computer system for her business that she was budgeting $50,000 for and had a few questions to ask before coming in.

I admit my example is extreme, yet I bet most of you reading this have had similar experiences of calling to ask about a high-end, expensive item (maybe to find out if it is in stock), only to be treated with total indifference on the phone! Perhaps ignored completely or left on hold while they serve the “real” customers at the till.

Ok, so what happens if your Team is serving customers in the store and the phone rings?

Easy, you look the person in the eye you are serving and ask if they mind if you take that call and you will only be 30 seconds.

You take the call, answer with a grin and a script, “good afternoon, ABC Company, this is John Smith, how may I help you…”

Then very quickly say this, “I am just finishing serving a customer in the store, would you mind if I place you on hold for a brief 1-2 minutes?”

Buzz for help if you can, or quickly serve the customer and get back to the phone.

You may need to hire more people if you get a lot of calls, or walk-ins to deal with this if it persists.

Poor Service in Stores

In many stores these days the service is so bad that you don’t get service either on-the-phone or in-the-store!

A couple of weeks ago I came back to Vancouver from Salt Spring Island, and I usually am very careful when I pack up my laptop, second monitor and all the little cords that join it all together in road-warrior fashion.

This time I forgot one small simple cord.

No problem, I will go to Staples and see if they have one – good service from the young man in the electronics section, but no such animal in the store.

Ok, no problem let’s try 2 other well known big box retailers (I won’t mention who). Nope, no cord, no service, no care.

So, after spending hours really trying to buy local, I went home and late Saturday ordered the item on Amazon (for 25% the price), and it was delivered to my door on Monday at noon!

In fact, at one retailer (a big one too) there is just no one on the floor to serve people. No one. I even asked a customer who looked like he worked there for help.

One clerk I finally found was stocking shelves and with total indifference barely even pointed the approximate direction of the item I was looking for. He mumbled the aisle number and I had to ask him to repeat it. He looked annoyed that I had actually interrupted his real work of stocking shelves.

And, people wonder why Amazon has gotten so big.

Perceived Indifference

You see, perceived indifference is the number 1 reason (for 7 out of 10 people) why people stop doing business with a company.

Coming back to the phone…

That is how you can show perceived care. How you answer and handle each step in the phone call.

At our firm we have 8 Performance Standards just for the phone…

Thanks for reading….