Are You and ACE or an Afterthought?

Posted by Kevin O'Driscoll on November 11, 2013

I remember a few years ago when my wife Karen and I were trying to find a builder to construct our dream home. It was a lengthy process to find the right individual. We wanted someone who not only understood our goals but was reputable and had a history of producing a great finished product.

Before we made our final selection, we conducted interviews with a number of potential builders. Looking back on why we chose who we did, I realize it had a lot to do with the fact that the builder seemed to be in very high demand. He was constantly meeting with potential clients. I knew him, liked him and trusted him and I remember thinking, “Wow, we’d better get on board with him before he’s completely booked up!” Read article / comment »

But I dont want to go back to school

Posted by Kevin O'Driscoll on September 3, 2013

How can I get myself to do what I need to do?

While we all took and some of us teach “time management” courses at some time in our adult life, it alway seemed so great in theory but horrible in practice and I never knew why. After speaking to many of my peers, I realized I was not alone in these feelings. We could get all pumped up to get organized, get focused and get going but it became one more thing we needed “to do” that day.

Well over the last couple of weeks I have been reading a book, “How can I get myself to do what I need to do?” as well as listening to several audios by a gentleman, Terry Gogna. I had the pleasure of spending a little time with him at a recent weekend business conference I attended with my family. Read article / comment »

The Top 10 Ways to Increase Your Cash Flow

Posted by Kevin O'Driscoll on July 8, 2013

Lack of cash flow – the Number One killer of small businesses! Here are some great ways to increase cash flow in your business. Put one or two ideas into practice and watch your cash grow!

1. Remove the roadblock.

Perhaps your customer’s account is unpaid because their largest customer isn’t paying or they’ve just lost a big account. Offer your customer the opportunity to make installment payments. You can arrange automatic payments from their bank account. This ensures you receive the payment monthly as agreed on.

2. Help your customer and in turn, help yourself.

Suppose your customer’s normal supplier has equipment problems and won’t be able to meet the deadline for a very important job. Connect your customer with someone you know who could help them out and you’ll be helping your customer, your business contact and yourself! As their cash flow grows, they have more money to pay you!

3. Be persistent.

When you contact your customer ask when you can expect payment. Be persistent in calling your customer for payment while remaining pleasant. It will pay off.

4. Strengthen your credit policy.

Add a condition that an account at 60 days past due, is authorized by the customer to be charged automatically to a credit card the customer provided when opening their account. This eliminates past due accounts and gets the money in your account.

5. Monitor your customer’s credit health.

Compare the customer’s Days Sales Outstanding (total amount owed divided by the average daily sales. Assuming the customer owes $15,000, with average daily sales of $420, the Days Sales Outstanding would be 35.7 days ($15,000 / $420 = 35.7 days). This means, with a credit policy of net 30 days, some portion of their account is past due. Having an indicator of an account’s status allows you to be proactive in collecting accounts on time.

6. Simplify billing.

Mortgage companies, insurance companies, private schools and health clubs have two things in common – a monthly bill to their customers and the option for the customer to pay the bill by automatic payment from their bank account. You can offer this service to your customers, too. It typically costs $2 to $4 per account to separately bill and collect on a monthly basis. The typical per transaction cost for automatic payments is only $0.30 to $0.50. Benefits are:
a) a cost reduction by at least half
b) a cash flow you can count on
c) time freed up from billing and collection for acquiring more customers, revenue, and profit.

7. Avoid waiting for checks to come in the mail.

Take the customer bank account information or credit card number over the phone instead of waiting for the promised check to come by mail. You can offer automated payments from your customer’s bank account to pay their account in full or to make installment payments. Once the payment is authorized, you control when you’re paid, rather than waiting for the check in the mail.

8. Identify debit cards to eliminate the credit card fee.

Credit card transactions have a fee of 1.5% to 2% of the ticket amount plus a per transaction fee of around $0.25. A sale of $70.00 would incur $1.65 in charges ($70 x 2% = $1.40 + $0.25 transaction fee = $1.65). In contrast, debit cards incur at most $0.50 per transaction. On this sale, you’d save $1.15, more than two times the total fees charged on those transactions identified at the point-of-sale as debit, not credit cards.

9. Get connected.

If you conduct business on the road, wireless technology makes having a credit card terminal with you a real possibility. You can process those swipe transactions at the point-of-sale, where the lowest rate applies (saving as much as 0.5%), keeping more cash in your account.

10. Eliminate bounced check headaches.

Wouldn’t it be a relief if you didn’t have to make calls to collect bounced checks? Most bounced checks are a result of a math or timing error on the customer’s part. You can avoid losing a good customer to embarrassment by collecting bounced checks electronically. With a check recovery service, it is collected electronically through the U.S. banking system. You get paid the face value of the check upon collection. The customer who wrote the bounced check is charged a reasonable fee, set by state laws. And, best of all, no collection phone calls to your customers. Spend your time re-investing your improved cash flow to increase your business.

Refine and Advance and You will stand a Chance

Posted by Kevin O'Driscoll on April 9, 2013

So you had a good year last year, that’s a good thing What do you think was missing that kept it from being a great year?  In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins says “Good is the enemy of Great”.   Oh great you say, it isn’t enough that I had a good year, now someone wants me to be perfect.  No, not perfect, just great!  And why not, after all when you started your Business you likely had a vision or dream about how you were going to do things differently, bigger, better, faster than anybody else.  You were going to make a difference, innovate and dominate, leave a legacy that would live long after you left the scene.  I hope I’m not scaring any of you, I’m hoping to inspire you to not settle for what you have, as good as it may seem in the moment.

What will become abundantly clear when you are growing your company is that the work will be hard and much of your time will be sacrificed to make it happen.  The learning curve will be very steep at times, but the reward will be sweet and worth every moment you have to wait.   For those of you that think success will happen overnight, you’re probably better off buying lottery tickets, the odds are better.

The truth is, most Businesses are quite simple to operate, just not easy to do. Almost every Business operates on the same model of gathering customers through various marketing strategies and then having an effective conversion process or sales system to create a new customer.  The next step is implementing customer service systems to serve them well, keep them coming back and become raving fans for life. We must also have an effective Human Resources division to select, hire and train our personnel to perform the duties and responsibilities of the various positions. 

Ideally we would have a policy or procedure for every operating component of our Business, a system that would ensure smooth operationsA system that could allow the business to operate with or without you being there.  Finally, we must understand our financials, manage our fixed and variable costs and keep the cash flowing. All of this of course hinges on one critical component.  That component is your leadership and your ability to manage your disappointments and celebrate the wins.  You must create a culture that rewards and empowers your team to be their very best and to have them constantly seeking ways to do better than before.  All of this must be done while juggling your family life, personal interests and maintaining excellent health!

Simple enough right Just not that easy to do!   So where do you start on this road to greatness?  The question our clients hear us ask all the time is “How do you eat an elephant?”  “One bite at a time!”

So in the interest of greatness, take a few minutes and do the exercise below.  Imagine the wheel you are about to build as a wheel on your car.  How smooth or bumpy would the ride be?

The Work/Career Wheel 

Draw a circle on a piece of paper and divide it into eight sections, like a large pizza.  On the outside of the wheel above each slice, write the following points; Marketing & Sales Processes, Customer Service Strategies, Relationship with Employees; Understand Financials, Systemization of Business, Organization & Time Management, Leadership & Vision and Work/Life Balance.

 For each section of the Work/Career Wheel, score your sense of satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 (10 = very satisfied). If an area doesn’t apply, replace it with a more appropriate label.  Once you have scored all the sections, identify the top three areas that you would like to target.  Ask yourself the question “if my current score is ____ in this area, what would a 10 look like?”

How’s the ride?  I hope this has been revealing and at the same time encouraging that you can build a successful Business.  At the very least, set aside 1-2 hours each week to work on your Business in the areas you have identified as priorities.  Imagine the smooth and refined ride of your vehicle with 10’s in every category.

Show Me the Money!

Posted by Kevin O'Driscoll on March 25, 2013
Remember that line from the movie Jerry Maguire? Where sports agent Jerry Maguire played by Tom Cruise has a conversation with his football client Rod Tidwell played by Cuba Gooding Jr.
Rod says he’ll remain Jerry’s only client, if Jerry will do one thing for him…
“SHOW! ME! THE! MONEY!”
 
Then he asks Jerry to say it with him and soon he has Jerry screaming, “Show me the money! Show me the money!”
 
That scene makes me think of what most business owners feel when they are talking about the frustration of their marketing efforts to grow their small businesses.
Perhaps you feel like this also Read article / comment »