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Small business after sales service

After sales service

Probably the most important part of your business.

No matter what you sell, make or do the after sales service is as important as the marketing.

Lets call it THE FOLLOW UP…if you do just that your business will be just fine. By this process you will not only learn from your clients what they think about your product but you will also learn how to improve/add or change. You will soon learn to differentiate between real complaints and compliments or fake ones. Either way, research both.

 

How to do after sales service

  1. Carefully compile a client list on a spreadsheet. Take care to have telephone numbers, items bought or service rendered etc.etc.
  2. Firstly follow up with your invoice if the sale was not cash on delivery. Give it two weeks and then if are not paid yet..don’t let it go.
  3. Write a note to thank your client for his/her sale or support.
  4. If they stayed at your guest house follow up with a thank you note.
  5. At the guesthouse or business have a form ready where clients could react immediately by leaving a comment about the service
  6. Remember to a point, the client should feel that they are always right (even if the aren’t). You should listen carefully, make notes and never react on the spur of the moment. Take a deep breath, keep calm and tell the client that you will look into the matter. DO REPORT BACK!!
  7. Send all clients an update on your product and new products available.
  8. Have a discount ready for good customers.
  9. Surprise customers with a small gift when the seem to be happy.
  10. Never let bad customers know that they have upset you. If you have a guesthouse just make sure that they know in feature what you do or do not allow at your guesthouse.
    In Cape Town we are not know for the best service but everybody comes back..often!!

Small business rescue

Help my small business is in trouble

 

You feel devastated and about to throw in the towel and let go of your dream. Well don’t..just take a break from yourself and your project and take a step back.

You have come to the right person. I can help you. I have years of experience fixings things.

Our team of experts are available to assist you. Please contact us via the email spekulasie@cornergate.com

1000 Days challenge:
Any new business has to at least try to hang in there for at least three years.

During your first few months you will have to adjust your business plan constantly. Projections that have been made while compiling your business plan would not necessarily be the final plan. You will quickly see who your real customers are and when and how they spend money. You will also be able to see where you are spending too much money and on which item you should rather spend more money. Sit down each week and evaluate your business -recap to see where and how you should spend less money and which department of your business is not performing well

Ask a friend:

Careful there.. your best friend is not necessarily the best judge of your business. Just because she likes to tell you things you need to seek help from outside your close circle of friends. So many business coaches out there..read and read again..compare their bits of advice and you will quickly see a pattern.
or

Let me and my team of experts help you to make your dream come true.

Small businesses and etiquette

Small business etiquette

To many small businesses in the tourism section fail because of the lack of style.

The White Cottage

In my previous blog post I spoke about the how’s and what’s of having your own small business. I used a guest cottage as an example. This is mine. It is situated in a small seaside village of Hartenbos. The unique selling point is the view.

Etiquette

You could have the most beautiful cottage and superb view but if it lacks style and etiquette you are simply wasting your time. Guests do not tolerate bad service. What to do..What to do? Uhmm let me think!

Oops! forgot to ask..Are you sure your cottage/flat/room is equipped with the right kind of hospitality stuff? Will talk about that later.

Numero uno is off course flowers. They always to the trick! Very few people are not immediately impressed with your effort.

Some guidelines for the host

  • Send the guests a welcome note a week before arrival
  • Make dead sure that your guests knows exactly where and how to get hold of the keys if you are not welcoming them yourself
  • Have the curtains drawn open and open up the windows for a fresh smell when guests arrive. A little bit of room spray will definitely help.
  • Have Coffee/tee/milk and sugar available for their first cup after arrival.
  • A file with information about shops/activities and things to do and see is an absolute must. It should be done carefully and in a way that it always looks fresh. Preferably in a few languages.
  • See to it that soap and hand cream are available, also fresh hand wash towels.
  • No need to tell you but the WC should be extremely clean and soft toilet paper is a must. I know you want to save money but not on this item.
  • Be clear in your house rules of what you expect from guests.

Hope you find this information helpful as I have had 12 years experience in the hospitality industry.
In my next blog I will touch the topic regarding etiquette for guests.
Happy hosting!

How to buy a house in france

The house with the blue shutters

 

So many people have asked me if it difficult to buy a house in France: how should I know? is what pops up in my mind. I am however also intrigued by the French lifestyle and  decided to do some research.

Step 1

Find the right place. Where in France would you like to live or have your dream holiday house. The country is divided in regions, areas departements etc etc. Will it be Provence, Normandy, Loire Valley..your choice!

Step 2

Do research. What do you like about the area? Is it because you want to ski, be close to the beach, near a big city, love wine drinking areas or because you like the country life style. These questions will help you to narrow down and select a few areas.
Once you have decided on an area you could start doing research and it is so easy as you just google a few property sellers.

Step 3

 

Red tape (admin): this is the more tricky part. After finding your dream property you will have to start the negotiation process and hopefully the notaire will be able to speak french..don’t count on it. Usually the attorney of the seller is used. You will be provided with a diagnostic report. Before you sign read it very carefully.
Find a french friend who speaks English fluently otherwise you will fall into a deep hole of frustration or grap a bike and hit the road!

Next blog will share some info about the restoration process

 

Marketing a small business

What if I can not sell my product

Your plan looked super good on paper but it is not working in real life..so what is the problem?
 You!

  • Harsh words but the truth. Take a deep breath and sit yourself down with a pen and paper and start thinking. Very important: do not brainstorm with yourself..if you don’t know the answer, your alter ego won’t either. Here’s what you do:1. Pretend you are the customer and answer this question honestly: would you buy this product ?
  • If the answer is NO..then write down why not.
  • If the answer is YES then you have to take a good look at
    * the packaging
    * the look and feel
    * your competition
    * What makes your product unique
    * Does the client understand the concept
    *Where do you sell
    * Who sells in on your behalf?
    * Is the people selling your product competent and do they know enough about your product?
    *Are you following your marketing plan?
    The AH Ha moment will only come with lots of effort and research.Don’t give up..help is everywhere. Remember working implies 8 hours a day and if you are working for yourself add a few extra hours.
  • Be out there:
    * place your visite cards everywhere
    * use every social media tool. But be different to your competition.
    * Again, work with your unique selling point and focus on after sales.
    * Follow up on your clients.
    * Attend meetings where you could meet people who could be valuable to your business.
    * BE ASSERTIVE..if you do not believe in your product..why should a client?
  • Be the CEO of your business
    Do not keep yourself so busy with the daily chores that you do not have  enough time to do the CEO work.
  • Enjoy!!
    Your business is probably something you dreamt about for years..remember it takes 3 years only 1000 days. Do not give uprustic charm

 

 

 

 

 

I am going to try this myself and will repot back in a month. Maybe I could then afford to have  breakfast on the lovely balcony of 29 Rue l’Epic, Montmartre.

#Small Business etiquette

Etiquette

What is that? In a modern society where anything goes…is it still necessary to take care of the way you conduct your business? If you don’t care then just save yourself the effort and close up shop. These are harsh words but the truth.

Some pointers on good business etiquette:

  • Do not bring your personal problems into your workspace
  • Remember that aftersales service is more important than anything else. A satisfied customer will spread the word!
  • Listen carefully to your client’s needs and make sure you clearly understand their needs
  • Be on time..if not let the customer know that you will arrive shortly.
  • Your customer pays your salary
  • Make sure your staff has the correct attitude and is well informed.
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep.
  • Your packaging should be awesome and not hush-hush
  • Follow up with a email or sms to make sure the customer is satisfied.

Happy days will be ahead if you consider your business as one which you yourself respects and adore.

Guest room

heart shaped plant container

 

#Growing your small business

You have now decided that your small business idea can become a real business.

heart shaped plant container

A few tips that will help you be successful

  1. Unique selling point:
    What is going to make clients want to use your service/ products or whatever it is you plan to do? What will differentiate you from the opposition? Why your business?
    Let me help you: you have a guest cottage located in a town where there are hundred other accommodation sites available. Research! research! Magazines, internet and travel websites are a wonderful source of information. Check out the websites where reviews are available. Make a list of what people do not want. Then make a list of the things you liked very much. Then decide what your USP could be.
    Your unique selling point could be the high standard of your bedding and linen, the interior, your friendly and effective service or your specials. No matter what it is you have to have an unique selling point.
  2. Social media:
    Your advertisement should be eye catching, well written and true to what you are offering. You can’t fool people, social media is powerful and once you have a bad review it is difficult to change people’s opinions.
  3. Remember the client is always right. You can prove them wrong later on but at first listen carefully and address the problem with endearment..it always pays off.
  4. After sales service. So important to follow up and with a kind note thanking people for their business.
  5. Networking. Have information available of other businesses that could benefit your client. If you have a guest cottage have enough information available of all the activities in the area. If you sell flowers,  have information such as, flower decoration courses, venues or packaging outlets at hand.

Being serious #small business

Congratulations! You have chosen your business venture and hopefully completed your business plan as I strongly recommended.

Very Important!!

Do not panic..I take it that you also work from home as you cannot afford to rent property and your business can operate from your home. I will use my business as an example: a self-catering cottage.

Guest room

You want to earn an extra income like me. I have a beach cottage and a few spare rooms in my manor house on the farm which could earn me some money. Rule no 1 research: not only about the area and your potential competitors but also the do’s and dont’s of running a self catering cottage..again the internet is a good source to start with. A good idea is to research on the various tourist accommodation web pages to see what type of accommodation you yourself prefer and do read the comments and reviews. Make a list of things people like and do not like..very handy. Rule no 2 Take a good look at your establishment. Before you begin with the interior check how much money you budgeted for the interior and do not go shopping crazy and over spend.  Sometimes a new layer of paint is all you need for cleanliness counts much higher than the colour of the walls. Rule no 3 Decide on a theme. Guests love a beautifully decorated cottage/apartment/room. Keep it simple and again do research by browsing through accommodation websites. Rule n0 4 Choose your method of advertising very carefully. Read the T’s and C’s of the various sites such as airbnb.com very carefully. There are quite a few options and the sites are very helpful. Have professional photo’s taken as they sell your establishment. Find a young and upcoming photographer, they usually have cheaper rates. Rule no 5 Design an eye catching quote document. Your potential client want to see from start that you make a lot of effort. Rule no 6 State clearly what you offer and do not provide. For example compile a list of items that they will have ready for use: linen, towels, hair dryers etc. Also state what you do not provide. in my case I do not provide any household items merely because I live very far from my guest house.Rule no 7 House rules. These are very important!! Take the environment into account when compiling the list as you do not want to anger your neighbors. Think and rethink. From the dustbin and garbage removal to the noise factor. Put it on paper in the nicest way ever. Rule no 8 follow up. Make sure they are settled in comfortably. Then leave them to enjoy the stay. Do not make a nuisance of yourself. Rule no 9 Follow up. A questionaire will show you how to improve and remember the client should be treated with respect. Rule no 10 Information.  Provide useful information about the area and activities to do specially with kids.

Small business start-up

tasting the first vintage

Starting up and keeping your small business is not easy. All businesses have the same rules. Don’t think just because you make chocolate fudge or write online your business is less worth than that of the super rich people. They also started small, some in their garages and some even while being a nomad, writing stories sitting on a bed.

My first business as an entrepreneur,was called Granny’s Linen. Beautiful bed linen with pin tucks, frills and lace. I did a lot of research after I came up with the idea. It was something I couldn’t find in stores and decided to make my own. As mentioned in a previous blog, I attended a short course on small business management and didn’t do a thing before I compiled my proper business plan.
Do’s and don’ts

  1. Stick to your plan.
  2. Don’t over spend on business cards etc. Try to find a happy medium.
  3. Find out what is your unique selling point
  4. Learn to quote.
  5. Follow up… after sales service is as important.
  6. Decide what to do with excess raw material
  7. If not comfortable with financial planning.. follow your goals on your financial plan. Use templates from the internet.
  8. Have a easy but effective administrative system.
  9. Follow up on debtors and if possible cash on delivery only.

    Granny’s Linen

My linen business didn’t last long. Why? Wasn’t driven enough and did it for the wrong reasons. Although it made enough money, I quit the business after a year. MISTAKE!! Solution? I should have adapted my business. It was way ahead of it’s time as it was then, early nineties, an ‘ on-line’ shop. I stopped as all the shops started stocking similar products.

I still, then, didn’t really settle with one business as I said I did it for the wrong reason’s. Did it because I was bored and only needed spending money.

My daughter after we made our first vintage

When my husband health took a wrong turn, after 20 odd years, I finally saw what it really takes to be an entrepreneur. The next blog will tell you more about that.

 

How to become an Entrepreneur

I had to become an entrepreneur after marrying a farmer. Being a professional archivist only landed me charity research jobs. That wasn’t good enough as I quite like to have money because I like to visit France once a year. So what’s wrong with that? I asked myself a few years back. Won’t get the money from my husband…farmer’s are not as rich as they pretend to be!

Paris street cafe

So, I had to come up with a plan.  I started listing a few business ideas and what I could do to  make money (just enough to buy my own clothes and pay as much as I want, visit France every year, re-decorate my house once in a while and all the other girly things I want to do on a weekly basis.

But, remember I am not a hillbilly , I know stuff and I am street wise. I enrolled at the  http://US business school for a 6 weeks course on small businesses. Nowadays it is easy, just type “how to create a business plan” into any search engin et Voila, there you go.

I learned very quickly that most small businesses fail if it is not properly planned with a business plan that includes both a financial plan and a marketing strategy. Before you do anything, invest in only that: a business plan. After compiling your business plan and the outcome of the break-even figures you can start dreaming about your small business.

I AM SURE YOU HAVE, LIKE ME MANY OPTIONS!!… but don’t multitask. After compiling your list of possible ventures, draw up the business plan and only after you have established that the outcome is positive, sit down, start all over and this time do it properly and stick to the plan.

My list included:My own bed linnen range, a self-catering guesthouse, designer front doors, french inspired metal works, boutique wines and possibly my own clothing range.  Too much!!

A French Vanilla creation

In my next blog I will tell you more about my very own linen range called Granny’s linen, which was my very first small business