Customer Service and Your Business

Customer service has been an important part in the success of any business in the United States and around the world.  An increase in technological advances has made it possible for companies  to do business not only across states , but across the globe as well.

Unless you are a local mom and pop shop servicing a small town or city, globalization for you doesn’t mean much, but for many businesses, expansion seems like an obtainable goal they are trying to achieve.

Doctors, dentists, optometrists and other types of small business rely very much on customer service.  They are facilities that are specialized and serviced their communities, and rely on giving excellent customer service. But are they?

The front of your practice or the front of your retail store are the first welcoming sights customers see as soon as they enter the premises.  Great customer service begins there and then.  Many small businesses forget how important those first moments are when customers enter the store or  their private business. 

In the retail industry, research has shown how important customer service is for the prevention of shoplifting.  For many other industries where services are provided, great customer service means keeping your current customers and adding some more.  As a doctor, optometrist, dentist or other health care provider, the front office is as important as the service the health care professional is providing.

Do you have a private practice? Have you checked lately how the people in the front office greet and interact with your customers? Is that something that as the owner you find acceptable?

The front office of your private practice is a small window into the care customers might be expecting when they visit your practice.  Loud, obnoxious, and tactless front office personnel cannot be an acceptable choice for your practice even if they are great at paperwork.  If you find yourself questioning whether the way the front office employees behave while doing their job is appropriate, it might be time to relegate them to the behind the scenes office.  You might find that even though,  you as a doctor are providing excellent care, customers are unwilling to come back to your practice.

Adding new customers to your current list means good business.  Are you adding them or loosing them?  Do you know the reason why you are losing them?

Providing excellent customer care every single day, and not only providing good service but making sure you go beyond what is expected, is one of the ways some businesses across the globe are thriving while the competition is shrinking.


   

Happiness and Company Culture

Small businesses have many positive things going on for them.  The owners have total control of what’s going on in their business and take care of things personally and quickly.  Many of them do not look for ways to pass the blame onto others, they are the owners after all. The business succeeds or fails because of them.  If they plan carefully and consider the advantages of having a team around them, then the chances of success increases.

The beginning of any business is hard.  Lots of hard work, and maybe loss of income can become quite a strain for many small owners.  That is some of the reasons a third of the small businesses that start do not make it past the first two years according to the Small business administration.  And half of those businesses do not make it past the 5th. year.

A business plan before starting a business, and a financial plan to weather the first years should be a necessity for many small owners.  The difficulties that you will encounter the first years of the business are always unexpected. You know you will have difficulties but don’t know what they are.  Later on, the good and bad experiences you encounter will give you the experience and the forbearance to weather the storms.

There are millions of small businesses across the United States.  Some grow to become great, powerful companies, and a lot of them do not.  What is it then that makes some companies thrived while others go under?  For many people great companies show a handful of characteristics that makes them great, but as always great or good means something entirely different for people.

But for  companies to succeed, the first thing to remember is that employees play a crucial part in the success of any business.  Employees that understand that they are working for a company , and that they are supposed to be a team, not sole individuals with different purposes, make a better company.  They as a team, have a more happy, positive company culture, and research has shown time and again that employee’s happiness plays an important role in the success of the company.  Happy individuals that know the company’s philosophy, and are on board, will make the company a better place all around.


The United States Unemployment Rate

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website gives you a clear idea of the United States unemployment rate in this country.  Certainly, it is the lowest unemployment rate for the last ten years in the United States and many economists predict the economy still has room to grow.

So, if employment is not an issue for many workers, what are some of the perks you can offer to attract and keep quality employees for your business?

Businesses across the globe understand that employees can make or break a business, which one do you want to be? What are some of the benefits you can include in hiring an employee for your business?

To read more about this and other stories, follow the links below.


The Smaller the Small Business, the Bigger the Insurance Discontent: J.D. Power

Not all small businesses are the same when it comes to customer satisfaction with their commercial insurance. There are actually widening satisfaction gaps among small businesses of different sizes, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Small Commercial Insurance Study.

The study found that the gaps in overall satisfaction among micro- (fewer than five employees) or smaller-size (five-10 employees) small businesses and larger-size (11-50) small businesses have never been wider. While there has been significant year-over-year improvement in overall satisfaction among customers in the larger-size group, there have been sharp declines in satisfaction among customers in both smaller-size groups.

“The small business market has been the best growth area for property and casualty insurance carriers in a stagnant, soft cycle marketplace,” said Greg Hoeg, vice president of U.S. insurance operations at J.D. Power. “Our data shows that the small commercial market is still ripe for competition. While looking at the small business market in aggregate shows relatively steady levels of customer satisfaction year over year, the serious gap between very small businesses and larger small businesses could present an opportunity for those carriers that get the small business formula just right.”


What Kind Of Small Business Employees Do You Need To Grow Your Company?

Many small businesses benefit from hiring employees. At some point, you may decide that you need more hands on deck at your company. When that time comes, you might not know where to start. You want individuals who will make a difference in business operations. What kind of small business employees do you need to grow your company?

Knowing what to look for in a candidate is not as easy as it might seem. After 30 years in entrepreneurship, I’ll be the first to admit that looking for employees to hire can be tough. When hiring an employee, you need to know what characteristics to look for.

What Kind Of Small Business Employees Do You Need To Grow Your Company?

There are many different types of employees in a business. Companies have leaders, followers, go-getters, and employees who do the bare minimum.

You will have employees who struggle from time-to-time or lose motivation. Highs and lows are inevitable in life. But with the right attributes, your employees will use their skills to grow your company.

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or ready to give a pep talk to your current workforce, consider the following characteristics.


 

Small Business and The Market Place

Depending on what news outlet you read or watch, you are going to learn how the economy is booming or businesses are disappearing. The fact is that small business owners in the United States face many challenges through out the lives of their business.  The many challenges they face spring from government legislation or economic changes they have to face every year. This week many small business owners that sell through Amazon learned that the items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.  Unlike big companies that can offset this return policy change, many small business owners are thinking differently.

For more about this and other stories, follow the links below.


Amazon’s new refunds policy will ‘crush’ small businesses, outraged sellers say

Amazon sellers are up in arms over a new returns policy that will make it easier for consumers to send back items at the merchant’s expense.

Marketplace sellers who ship products from their home, garage or warehouse — rather than using Amazon’s facilities — were told this week by email that starting Oct. 2, items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.

That means a buyer will no longer need to contact the seller before sending an item back, and the merchant won’t have the opportunity to communicate with the customer. If a consumer is returning an electronic device because it’s difficult to use, for example, the seller won’t be able to offer help before being forced to pay a refund.


Ransomware attacks hit small businesses the hardest

It’s just one of the grim findings in Malwarebytes’ new ransomware report.

If it seems like reports of ransomware attacks — malicious software that holds data hostage unless a ransom is paid to the person or organization behind it — are increasing, Malwarebytes agrees with you. The company released its Second Annual State of Ransomware Report recently. Among the findings is that 22 percent of small business that were hit with ransomware attacks were crippled to the point they had to cease operations immediately.

It’s a somewhat staggering figure, but it makes sense once you think about it; large corporations often have the resources to work around (or, let’s be real, pay off) these types of attacks. Small businesses, especially ones that rely on day-to-day operations to function, can’t cope in the same way. “To make matters worse, most of them lack the confidence in their ability to stop an attack, despite significant investments in defensive technologies,” said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes, in the press release. The survey also found that small business owners and operators are less likely to pay a ransomware demand.


Survey: Small business optimism reaches highest point in a decade

Small business optimism continues to climb in the third quarter as business owners said they are the most optimistic in more than a decade, according to findings from the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, conducted July 10–14.

In the quarterly survey, which measures the optimism of small business owners, the overall Index score jumped to 106 in July – an 11-point increase from 95 in April and the highest since 113 in April 2007. The increase in optimism was driven by several factors, including:

  • Strong financial situation – Seventy-six percent said their current financial situation is very good or somewhat good, up from 73 percent in April.
  • Healthy revenues – For the second quarter in a row, almost half (46 percent) said their business’s revenue increased over the past 12 months, up from 41 percent a year ago.
  • Ease of obtaining credit – Nearly half of small business owners (48 percent) said credit will be somewhat easy or very easy to obtain over the next 12 months.
  • More hiring – Twenty-one percent said the number of jobs at their company increased over the past 12 months, up from 19 percent in April.

 

Ohio Small Business News

For small business owners, tax breaks come as a way to help them stay afloat, and in some other  circumstances to use that money to invest it in their business. 

With Ohio’s legislative leaders appointing a panel to take a serious look into the state’s tax breaks, we wonder whether they will look into the tax breaks granted to special interest groups only, or whether this action will cause the small business owner to be left out.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Small Business Cybersecurity Insurance Is Vital, House Panel Told

The nascent cybersecurity insurance market can play an important role for smaller businesses, which remain a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals, witnesses and congressmen said at a House Small Business Committee hearing July 26.

Larger corporations have already begun to learn to shift and mitigate cybersecurity risks through insurance, but smaller companies need to get on board, they said. Companies should also follow federal cybersecurity guidance and understand that they must control cybersecurity risks when acting as third-party vendors to larger companies, witnesses said.

Large-scale cyberattacks, such as Petya and WannaCry, made larger companies take note of the need for insurance, witnesses and lawmakers said at the hearing.


Home is where the heart is

There’s no place like home.

That’s the theme of this piece on VentureBeat.com written by Cleveland native Robert Hatta, a partner at Columbus-based VC firm Drive Capital. The headline: “Why Midwesterners leave Silicon Valley and go home for better opportunities.”

He begins with a focus on Travis McCleery, who earlier this year left Netflix, where he led interactive product design, to move back to Columbus to lead product design for Root, an insurance company that uses data collected from drivers’ smartphones to more fairly price and sell auto insurance.

From the piece:

When Root first contacted him, he was skeptical. He left Columbus for a reason, after all. “In Silicon Valley, everyone is trying to invent the future – it’s in the DNA,” he told me “You’re surrounded with all of these brilliant, driven people. It’s hard to resist the call. I just couldn’t find that here in Columbus a few years ago.”

His first questions were about the quality of the team and the size of its ambition, and what he learned convinced him that it was time to return. “Here’s this super-scrappy, talented team trying to completely disrupt the $200 billion auto insurance industry. And they weren’t messing around. They had built an impressive technology platform in a short time.” So he moved his young family back to Columbus.


Editorial: Time to look at those tax breaks

Ohio’s legislative leaders have finally appointed members to a special panel that is supposed to take a critical look at the many state tax breaks granted to special interests. That would be a lot more encouraging if they hadn’t so obviously been avoiding it.

Ohio’s legislative leaders have finally appointed members to a special panel that is supposed to take a critical look at the many state tax breaks granted to special interests. That would be a lot more encouraging if they hadn’t so obviously been avoiding it.

Ohio’s tax credits, deductions and exemptions divert about $9 billion from the treasury every year. Some no doubt serve a worthy purpose, but just as surely many others are unjustified giveaways to powerful interest groups or well-meant ideas that don’t actually work.


Small Business and The Senate’s Health Care Bill

As a small business owner, do you offer health insurance to your employees?  Many businesses do not offer health insurance for their employees, and small business owners specially feel the pinch when offering health care coverage to them.  The Senate Health Care  Bill-if it passes-would alleviate some of the burden these small businesses feel, keeping in mind though that some other people would have to pick up the tab for it.

For more about this and other news, follow the links below.


Senate’s Health Bill Would Make Life Easier For Some Small Businesses

Some small-business owners burdened with high health care costs would get a break via an obscure provision in the health bill proposed by the GOP Senate. The provision would offer less regulation, more bargaining power and better prices.

But those benefits could come at a cost to others.

The clause, included in the proposal advanced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., last month, would exempt insurance policies sold through “associations” from most Affordable Care Act mandates and state regulations. To be able to offer these plans to their employees, small businesses join an association, which may be loosely based on certain types of professional, trade or interest groups that offers insurance to members.


New Senate Healthcare Bill Slams Small Business Owners And Savers

Senate Republicans today released version 2.0 of their Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

This version of BCRA is a major lurch to the Left from the original BCRA and conservatives supporting this process have some things to think about.

A Tax Hike on Small Businesses and Savers

The major departure from the original BCRA is that v2.0 fails to repeal the 3.8 percentage point Obamacare surtax on capital gains, dividends, and other savings (the “net investment income tax,” or NIIT). It also fails to repeal the 3.8 percentage point tax bracket for the self-employment tax and the payroll tax ostensibly earmarked for Medicare

In failing to do so, v2.0 of BCRA raises taxes by over $230 billion over a decade relative to v1.0 of BCRA.


US small-business optimism dips in June, remains near high

A gauge of U.S. small-business confidence fell in June as business owners expressed frustration over gridlock in Washington, according to a National Federation of Independent Business report released on Tuesday.

The group’s Index of Small Business Optimism fell to 103.6 last month from 104.5 in May, although it remains near its highest level in more than a decade. The index surged following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president last November, and in January hit its highest level since December 2004.

The rise was largely attributed to business owners’ optimism surrounding Trump’s promises of deregulation, tax breaks and infrastructure spending.

But Congress’ inability to deliver on those promises has muted confidence as business operators grow wary of political infighting over the health-care reform legislation, and prospects for tax reform are uncertain.


 

Taking Your Business To A Better Place

After a holiday break or vacation break, we do come back to our business ready and inspired to do better.  We look for ways to improve, and we try to make less mistakes.  Not always, but a break from any business is a good motivator to come back stronger.  As you look into your business, can you see what things to improve and what things to let go? Are you inspired to try something new? 

Read more business news by following the links below.


U.S. factory orders fall; core capital goods orders revised up

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – New orders for U.S.-made goods fell more than expected in May, but orders for capital equipment were a bit stronger than previously reported, suggesting the manufacturing sector remained on a moderate growth path.

Factory goods orders dropped 0.8 percent, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday after a revised 0.3 percent decline in April. It was the second straight monthly decrease in orders.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders falling 0.5 percent in May after a previously reported 0.2 percent drop in April.

Factory orders were up 4.8 percent from a year ago.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy, is losing momentum after gaining steam since mid-2016 amid a recovery in the energy sector that led to demand for oil and gas drilling equipment.


How to take your business from small to big

Q:  I have owned two small businesses and am ready tostart another. I am wondering about growth. My businesses have always stayed fairly small. This time, I want to create something that can scale big. But how? So far, it’s not in my wheelhouse. — Manuel

A: In my book The Big Idea, I looked at people who had unique ideas for businesses and examined how they took that nugget and turned it into a brand  —  things like the Xerox machine, Velcro, Kitty Litter,the cell phone.

While that book looked at breakthrough, innovative products, the idea here is the same, namely, how do you create growth?

Let’s note up front that luck plays a factor, just as it does in life.

When George de Mestral went for a walk one day, he never expected that he would end up with burrs in his sock. But as luck would have it, he did, and decided to look at them under the new microscope he (luckily) had recently purchased.


Ask Doug & Polly: What causes most small businesses to fail?

QUESTION:  What most often causes small businesses to fail?

ANSWER: We’ve heard a lot of people say that the inability to get funding is the thing that causes small businesses to fail.

On the one hand, this may be true. If small businesses had access to an unlimited source of funds, they would never fail.

These businesses also might never make a profit, but as long as they could continue to go back to the well for more funding, they could stay afloat.

We would argue that failure to obtain funding is usually a symptom of a more fundamental problem, but not in and of itself the cause of business failure.

The more fundamental problem is that the business owner has not adequately answered the first question that every business must answer: Why should a prospective customer buy my product or service rather than a competitor’s?


 

Ohio Business Tax Cut and Medicaid Freeze

If you haven’t heard the latest news about Ohio’s Business Tax cut, then here we have them for you. How about the Repeal of Obamacare? We have an article for you as well.  But if you are a small business owner, and make more than $250,000, then the business tax cut may benefit you and you would like to continue like that.  But, if you are dealing with other issues, like when to open a second location for your shop, we have those articles for you too. Read more about these issues by clicking the links below.


Ohio budget panel votes for Medicaid freeze

House, Senate still must approve

COLUMBUS — Republicans generally were not happy when Gov. John Kasich did a run around them four years ago to use a budgetary panel to draw down billions in federal funds to partner with Obamacare to expand Medicaid.

While they quietly appropriated the money to keep the program running in the current two-year budget that will expire Friday, they’re not being quiet anymore.

A House-Senate budget conference committee on Tuesday voted 4-2 along party lines to keep a Senate-passed provision requiring the state to ask for federal approval to freeze enrollment in the program beginning on July 1, 2018.

That provision might force Mr. Kasich to again thwart his fellow Republicans by exercising his line-item veto authority.

Those already in the program would continue to receive coverage. But after that date, the program could not accept new enrollees and would not allow those who were previously on the program but dropped off because of a short-term change in their eligibility status to re-enroll.


New analysis says much of Ohio’s business tax cut goes to the rich

When talking about Ohio’s controversial business tax deduction, Republicans often paint the picture of hard-working, small-business, mom-and-pop-type operations.

“The people I see benefiting from this in my hometown own small restaurants downtown, coffee shops, florists, dry cleaners, folks like that,” Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, told his colleagues Wednesday night.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Scott Oelslager, R-Canton, added: “They go to work every day, turn on a light in their stores, factories and farms and hope somebody comes in and buys their product. We have lifted the spirits of these people.”

But a new analysis by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission indicates that as much as $450 million a year of those business tax cuts are benefiting a wealthy slice of wage earners who represent only 0.5 percent of the state workforce and just 5 percent of those claiming the deduction.


When To Open A Second Location To Grow Your Small Business

“When you are completely booked solid, you have only two options: raise your rates or expand (or both!)” says Rachel Beider, licensed massage therapist and owner of Massage Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, NY. Beider’s solution to growing a small business was to add a second location in Brooklyn, named Massage Greenpoint.

“After raising our prices, we still had long waitlists of clients,” she explains, “and I knew that many were coming from the neighborhood just north of ours.” So Beider found real estate a little farther north from her original studio and opened her doors. Massage Greenpoint has been open now for six months and is continuing to grow. “It is the best investment that I’ve made,” she says.

Many business owners question whether it’s time to open another location, wondering if they’re creating new opportunities or spreading themselves too thin. While you can never know for certain before taking the leap, these entrepreneurs found that certain conditions were signs that the timing could be right.


 

Ohio Small Business News

According to The Ohio Department of Taxation, Small Business tax breaks introduced back in 2013 by Gov. John Kasich is costing the state close to a billion dollars in 2015, and is expected to be much higher for 2016.  Talks to repeal the tax break are underway, with Governor Kasich pushing back against repealing it.

For more bout this and other news, follow the links below.


Ohio Democrats: State should end small business tax break to generate $1.1 billion a year

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Senate Democrats on Thursday pitched their idea to patch the $1 billion state budget hole — eliminate Ohio’s small business tax break.

Repealing the business income tax deduction, phased in since 2013, would generate $2.2 billion over the next two years, according to analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission.

Democrats said the money would cover the expected revenue shortfall without making cuts and leave another $1 billion to spend on education, health care, local governments, libraries and Ohio’s opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

“Some people will tell you there’s not enough money to go around, but our real problem right now is irresponsible tax policy,” Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko of Richmond Heights said at a news conference.

Specifically, Democrats would spend the additional $1 billion on the following over two years:


Kasich Pushes Back Against Repealing Small Business Tax Cut

An income tax break for Ohio’s small businesses in recent years is under fire from Democrats and some Republicans. They say the current budget situation shows it’s time to end that tax cut.

Governor John Kasich is firmly rejecting those suggestions.

Recently, state lawmakers in Kansas ended that state’s tax break for small businesses, saying it didn’t create jobs and cost the state too much money. A similar tax break is costing Ohio more than a billion dollars, but Kasich says he’s not for ending it.

“To raise taxes? Nah, we don’t raise taxes in this state,” Kasich said.

Kasich says the case in Kansas is different because that state didn’t cut spending at the same time the tax breaks were enacted, and he says Ohio did.

Ohio’s revenues $841 million short of projections for this fiscal year.


Small businesses in clean energy sector still hope for best

NEW YORK: Small-business owners who install solar panels or help customers use clean energy don’t seem fazed by President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, saying they expect demand for their services will still keep growing.

They’re confident in two trends they see: A growing awareness and concern about the environment, and a desire by consumers and businesses to lower their energy costs.

“It’s an economic decision people are making, although it also makes environmental sense,” says Suvi Sharma, CEO of Solaria, a Fremont, Calif.-based company that designs and sells solar energy panel systems.

Trump said he was putting U.S. interests ahead of international priorities in leaving the agreement that would, among other things, require the United States and other countries to report greenhouse gas emissions. The United States is the world’s second-biggest emitter of carbon after China, and carbon is one of the gases that scientists cite as a key factor in global warming.


 

Small Business And Millennials

Many people have said Millennials are an entitled generation.  They are lazy, lack focus, and believe they should be paid more for the work they actually do.  But, many people believe Millennials are a generation where they embrace change and failure, where they believe in possibilities, and the high certainty of accomplishing those possibilities.  The old rules and habits of Generation X and baby boomers are not something Millennials embrace. So, when we see articles about Millennials and small business ownership, the fact is nobody should be very surprised.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Millennials and small business go well together, study says

Millennials — Americans born between 1980 and 2000 — may be the most entrepreneurial generation ever. A new study shows Millennials have more experience with small business and greater desire to start businesses than previous generations. But the study also demonstrates a continuing need for help for entrepreneurs if they’ll create the jobs America needs.

The study, released Wednesday by America’s SBDC, the association of the country’s small business development centers, shows that people in their 20s and 30s are eager to launch new companies and be their own boss and that they trust themselves to provide their own financial security more than they trust others.

This entrepreneurial yearning isn’t idle dreaming. Even though they’re younger, Millennials are already more likely to have started a business than Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and mid-60s) or Gen Xers (mid-60s to 1980). They’re in a hurry, wanting to start businesses soon. But they know they need help.

“We are very encouraged that millennials are strongly inclined to begin the entrepreneurial journey,” said C.E. “Tee” Rowe, CEO of America’s SBDC, a network of nearly 1,000 SBDCs providing free consulting and low cost training.


9 Trends That Explain Why Small Businesses Are Thriving Now More Than Ever

70 percent of businesses are going to change hands in the first five years.

According to a recent Gallup Surveyoptimism among small business owners is the highest it’s been in eight years. In fact, “the percentage of small-business owners expecting company revenues to increase over the next 12 months rose from 48% to 58%.”

What’s causing this optimism? It probably has something to do with the following nine trends that are explaining why small businesses are thriving now more than ever.

1. Small business owners are motivated for the right reasons.

After surveying more than 1,000 of its small business customers from all 50 states, Guidant Financial found that “dissatisfaction with Corporate America” ranked as the main reason why respondents pursued business ownership in 2016. However, that motivation doesn’t exactly explain why small businesses are becoming successful.


Workers wanted: Skilled-labor shortage hinders business boom

If economic trends continue as expected, Friday’s all-important jobs report will show further strengthening of the labor market and a declining jobless rate across the nation. 

With national unemployment at a 10-year low, the U.S. economy has arrived at a pivotal moment. In conversations with small business owners in my role as executive vice president and head of business banking at U.S. Bank, I hear a renewed sense of economic optimism. While many are still recovering from challenging times, small business owners in the 25 states where we operate feel more positive about the U.S. economy than they have in years and, importantly, are making plans to expand, invest and hire.

Every year, U.S. Bank surveys small business owners, and this year’s findings confirm the optimism is real: Nearly 80 percent say their own business is stronger than ever. Forty percent say they plan to make a capital expenditure to expand their business in the next year and about one-fourth expect to increase the number of people working for them, both eight-year highs in the survey.