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4 Simple Ways to Create Amazing Customer Service

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
By John Bocker


I visited a small specialty retailer tonight and was amazed to unfortunately experience all of the missed opportunities for the establishment to make money!  I could have spent more then $200 but actually left empty handed.  I have been a retailer across various categories for more than 25 years and continue to be amazed at how much under-utilized information and training is available for retail businesses everywhere. Yet when it comes down to providing great service to sell a product, I continue to find the majority of sales personnel in retail missing the primary opportunities to maximize the sale.  Why is this a continuing issue and what can business owners do to correct it?

Retailers across America selling all types of products including tools and hardware, beauty products, apparel, sporting goods, and now even cannabis in Colorado are finding it very difficult to achieve their sales goals and are frequently scratching their heads and wondering why they're falling short of daily sales expectations. Sadly, I also continue to hear from business leaders that “we’ll make it up next week” and other excuses that fall short of addressing the obvious.  In this article I will outline four key areas that can quickly turn businesses around with management leadership focusing on the important selling behaviors that matter most.

These best practices have been proven through “A-Team” exercises over and over again where the best selling employees in the company were assigned to execute to the highest degree possible for a short period of time in a specific store. The behaviors and activities were choreographed, specialty areas were specifically assigned to team members, participants were monitored and supported by business coaches, and all were challenged with “stretch” sales goals.  In every A-Team exercise, the results blew away sales expectations!

1.  Hire the right person!  How many times have you heard this? 
One of my greatest mentors showed me the real impact of requiring retail sales candidates to actually move to the sales floor during the in-person screening process and actually “sell” a specific product to the interviewer.  This simple exercise really challenged the true capabilities of the candidate and revealed whether or not they actually possessed the skill-set, personality, courage, demeanor, presentation skills and product knowledge to be hired as a great sales person. Any candidate can say they know how to sell, and any candidate can say they really want to be a sales person but when you actually put them to the test of impromptu selling, you can quickly and easily validate those who are and are not qualified to represent you well and be a great sales person.

2. Set the expectation

Set the expectation with each sales person that every guest that walks into your business has the potential to purchase thousands of dollars in product if provided the best service and sales attention possible!  We’ve all been amazed when this happens and we celebrate such events but why not think of this as a standard instead of the exception?  When you set the bar very high, it exemplifies the fact that every customer can be the “magical customer” if treated with respect, made to feel important, treated as a “VIP”, and provided outstanding customer service beyond anything he/she can get from any other retailer in the area. Every employee should understand the simple fact that every customer who visits your business will maximize their spend if you qualify their needs, provide a solution, provide great service and build a relationship with that customer.

3.  Engage with every guest

Engage with every guest first by understanding whom they are, where they work or live, their name, their needs and how you can fulfill their total expectations. Today's retail world is unfortunately still filled with sales people who use the old-fashioned and tired approach of “Can I help you?” “Help you find something?” “Find what you're looking for?” and in the worst-case scenario, no approach at all. Today's consumer who is willing to spend as much as necessary for great service and product solutions is just waiting to be over- serviced as a “VIP” and approach that makes them feel special, respected, valued and important. When your customers feel all of these emotions, they become a customer for life and price becomes less important. Great selling is about relationships and rapport and not about price. If your sales people can understand the value of a relationship, you will win in so many ways! This is critical to your success as a retail owner and cannot be left for chance. This process has to be modeled, coached, validated, reinforced, recognized and applauded when executed correctly. Miss any of these aspects of the great sales process, and you will never achieve your full potential as a business owner.

4.  Coach your sales people to genuinely thank and reaffirm with every customer

Lastly, coach your sales people to genuinely thank and reaffirm with every customer how important they are to the business, how excited you are that they have visited with you, confirm that you filled every need that they had and go the extra steps to find out what their future needs are and build a lasting relationship.   Building your client relationship is more important than ever in today’s competitive marketplace. And it's the same reason so many people return over and over to their favorite coffee house, restaurant or lunch spot. There are several great retailers that do this well and if you can model their sales activities and professionalism, you can build your own mini super-retailer reputation and brand that will prompt customers to brag about you and become raving fans of your business. 

And don't forget that if you can build a team that executes to these four points, you owe it to the team to recognize and reward them in creative, sincere, fun and relative ways.


John Bocker is a professional retail and hospitality business strategy consultant specializing in maximizing profitability, risk management, employee integrity, training, and driving success! John is Founder and Principal at JB Group, LLC based in Denver, Colorado where he partners with business leaders to exceed sales and profit expectations.  Visit www.jbgroupco.com or call (720) 514-0609 for more information.

How to Get Your Business On Google's Map and the First Page of Google Search Engine Results

Thursday, October 13, 2016
By Kendra Fernandez


Local businesses struggle with gaining an online presence when it comes to Google search results. This tutorial should answer the question, "How do I get my business on Google and the Google Map?". Approximately, only 37% of businesses have claimed their listing on Google's map. If you do this today, chances are you will be one step ahead of your competition!



EPA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announces the release of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Solicitation (https://www.epa.gov/sbir/sbir-funding-opportunities) to support the development and commercialization of innovative environmental technologies. The solicitation is posted on FedConnect, and all applications must be submitted through this electronic system.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participates in the SBIR Program as a result of the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. EPA is calling for small businesses to apply for Phase I awards up to $100,000 to demonstrate proof of concept in the following topic areas: air and climate, manufacturing, toxic chemicals, water, water and homeland security, and greener buildings. See the full solicitation for specific subtopics under each topic area and for details on how to apply. Successful Phase I companies are eligible to apply for Phase II funding, up to $300,000 for two years with a commercialization option of up to $100,000, to further develop and commercialize their technologies.

For general information on how to apply, visit https://www.epa.gov/sbir/how-apply-sbir-contract.


Missed the June 14, 2016, webinar on how to apply for the 2016 EPA SBIR Phase I Solicitation? Learn more: https://www.epa.gov/sbir/sbir-special-announcements

The EPA SBIR Program is part of EPA's Sustainable and Healthy (SHC) research program.

Adams County Small Business Conference Draws 90 Participants

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Inaugural Adams County Small Business Conference was held Friday, October 7, 2016. Front Range Community College’s Westminster campus played host to over 90 attendees who spent the day gathering information to help their businesses grow and prosper.

“We were excited to host this great event, thanks to the support of our community partners,” said North Metro Denver SBDC Senior Director Glenn Plagens.

The morning kickoff speaker, Kari Knutson, brought energy and passion to the start of the day, reminding business owners that they need to remember what fuels them. Highlights from throughout day included an economic development panel featuring eight area economic development leaders sharing their community initiatives, and a total of 12 unique training seminars spanning marketing, finance, human resources and specialized manufacturing programs. Keynote speaker Eric Spellman provided a wealth of information on how small businesses can improve their digital marketing efforts.

“This was our first time holding this type of conference, and we are encouraged by the responses we’ve received. Next year will be even better!” 


Click to see images of the event!

 

 

Key People to Add to Your Business Team

Monday, July 18, 2016
  By Kat Rico
  

You’re in business for yourself, yes, but you should never be in business by yourself. In order to be productive, you need a team of people behind you! Here are some key people we recommend that you have on your side for better and for worse while you’re in business (in no particular order).
  1. Accountant – You don’t have time to learn all of the tax and bookkeeping ins and outs, and you shouldn’t have to. Of course you should have a basic understanding of the concepts, but an accountant can help you figure out where your business might be hemorrhaging money, opportunities to save on taxes, and whether you have adequate cash flow to hire that first employee.

  2. Attorney – Things happen. Contracts go bad. Maybe you said something you shouldn’t have. Whatever the case, your attorney is there to help you and go to bat for you. They can also help you before you make a potentially bad decision by helping you select an entity type, review a lease, draw up a standard contract to use for jobs and more. Along with your accountant, your attorney can be a strong business ally. The best option is to have an attorney before you need one.

  3. Mentor – This is a person who has business experience, preferably in your industry, that you can bounce ideas off of and will give you constructive advice without sugarcoating reality. Your mentor needs to be someone who doesn’t have a stake in the business (so no investors), they only have a stake in your success. Meet them once in a while and catch up on the good, the bad and the ugly of how your business is doing. Don’t use your mentor just to vent or brag, but to learn about how you can do your business better. As a shameless plug for our services, this is the best area where the SBDC can help!

  4. Banker – Don’t just have a bank, but a banker. A real person you can call at your bank when you don’t understand a fee, need to buy some equipment or need to order checks. Communicate with them on a regular basis. Your banker is your friend and can alert you to potentially fraudulent activity, but only if they know how you normally spend your business money.

  5. Marketer - Your marketer should be able to help you identify who your customers are, how to reach them, and understand if you're reaching them. The best description we've heard comes courtesy of Larimer SBDC Social Media Specialist, Amy Alcorn, who told us, "Not having a marketing person for your business is like trying to flirt and winking in the dark." Don't invest money in advertising, online or otherwise, without talking to your marketer about your strategy.
Of course, there may be a couple of other people you want to regularly consult with about your business depending on your industry, but these are a good starting point to build a supportive network to help your business succeed.


Key Results - Providing Insightful Solutions to Maximize Business Results

Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Owner: Marge Fajardo
Story by: Chris McCloskey


Key Results is a small company with a long reach. For almost twenty years, Owner, Marge Fajardo, has worked with individual leaders globally and a variety of business groups from small local companies to large governmental agencies in Washington D.C. The ultimate goal of Key Results is to improve the interpersonal health of an organization and build on their people-power to produce better results. 

Prior to starting Key Results, Fajardo worked in business, government, and education for more than 15 years. “I saw a lot of untapped potential and conflict that drained the energy of organizations and distracted them from being the best they could be. I wanted to provide skills and solutions to help leaders build on their own strengths and unlock the potential of their people,” Fajardo said. To address these challenges, Key Results continually researches the field of human potential, leadership, and team development. They provide cutting-edge assessments, workshops, coaching, and organizational development strategies tied to the outcomes of the organization.  

“The people-part of business is complicated and ever-changing. When people understand, trust, and value each other more, the whole organization changes,” says Fajardo.
 
In working with leaders and companies, Fajardo draws on her professional background and experiences, her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and Management, and several certifications in professional coaching, mediation, assessments, and her training in business mastery. She also partners with a cadre of certified coaches with backgrounds in psychology, human resources, and organizational development, to deliver customized programs.  

When leaders are brought in to restructure a team, Key Results coaches are there to provide assessments, strategies, coaching, training, and leadership support. Fajardo said, “We help them assess where they are and create a vision of where they want to be. Then we help them fill in the gap to get there. To be successful, it takes great communication-both speaking and listening, emotional intelligence, and an understanding of how humans adapt to change. The Key Results approach helps teams learn how to develop trust, deal with conflicting ideas in a constructive way, build commitment in all team members, and hold each other accountable to create the desired results.”

Fajardo showed her commitment to providing even more value for her clients by participating in the Small Business Development Center’s Leading Edge class.

7 Steps to Start a Business

Wednesday, July 06, 2016
  By Kat Rico
  


Ok, so it can end up being more complicated than 7 steps, but we’ll do our best to keep it concise for you. Do yourself a favor and hold off on the business cards until you’ve completed these steps.

*Disclaimer: Depending on your industry, where your business is located, and the type of business you are operating, this may not be a complete list. As a business owner, YOU are responsible for complying with the law. Do your due diligence BEFORE starting your business.*


  1. 1. Location check – Where will your business be located? If you’re operating out of your home, you need to check with your landlord or HOA to make sure you are not violating any clauses about home based businesses. If you’re renting a space, verify with your landlord and the city/municipality that your business will not violate any existing zoning laws.

  2. 2. License check – Some businesses require special licenses that can take months to apply for. Colorado has an “Occupational License Database” online at: http://www.advancecolorado.com/business-colorado/occupational-license-database.

  3. 3. Local registration – You may or may not need to register your business with your city or county, you’ll want to check both to make sure. This can also vary if your business is home based. The key to look for is a “Business” section on their website, from there you should see information about potential licensing requirements. While you’re there, pay attention to how to pay sales and use tax if this applies to your business, you may need a separate tax license.

  4. 4. State registration – In Colorado, you must register your business with the Colorado Secretary of State. Again, look for a “Business” section and you’ll find information about how to register your business. The entity type you register as will affect your taxes as well as how much legal separation there is between you and your business, so choose carefully. It can also be difficult and expensive to change your entity type after you’ve started, so again, research is key. You can search here and make sure your desired business name is available in your state as well.

  5. 5. Federal registration – For tax purposes, you’ll likely need to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS online. Your entity selection will affect how income from your business appears on your tax return and whether or not you’ll be responsible for paying estimated taxes.

  6. 6. Separate your banking – This is a really big deal, even for small single owner businesses. Set up a separate bank account! Your banker will need your EIN and to see you’re in good standing with the Secretary of State. Both your accountant and attorney will recommend you don’t ‘pierce the corporate veil,’ which in essence means that you are walking, talking and acting like a business, and this is especially important with finances. If you co-mingle funds or operate your business from a personal bank account, not only will your accountant charge you more to sort it out, but it can put all of your funds in a legally liable position if something goes wrong.

  7. 7. Walk the walk, talk the talk – Now you can do things like buy business cards, technology for your business, take jobs and make sales under your official business name. You’ve still got a long way to go towards building your dream business, but you’re going in the right direction!

Still lost? Check out our upcoming workshops for "Start-Up Orientation" for classroom training, or register for consulting.

DOL Rules - What You Need to Know

Thursday, June 30, 2016

by Stacy Stolen

Real Value Consulting/VolkBell Insurance




The rules are here … now what?

Here's What You Need to Know

Anyone earning less than $913.00 per week; or $47, 476 annualized base:
• Is now (most likely) entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a week
• Is now required to track and account for all hours worked within respective time keeping periods

How you make and communicate required adjustments to an individual's current salaried compensation is up to you, and there are several options you might consider. Here are five simple steps you must take now to comply with the FLSA’s latest changes, and make sure you stay in compliance in the years ahead.
1. Increase salaries of current exempt employees to more than $913 per week or $47,476 per year. Exempt employees earning more than that will not be entitled to overtime.

2. Reduce bonuses for exempt employees whose overall compensation exceeds the new minimums. Increase salaries by the bonus amounts.

3. Reclassify exempt employees as nonexempt and pay them hourly. Of course, you will still have to pay overtime when they work more than 40 hours per week.

4. Reclassify exempt employees and pay them on a commission or fluctuating-workweek basis. Consult your attorney to learn more about the fluctuating workweek system, which pays a salary to nonexempt employees whose schedules vary from week to week.

5. Increase staffing levels to eliminate unnecessary overtime.

You can be assured that the DOL, which has already increased its investigative force by 33% since 2010, will put employers under even more scrutiny in 2017 by visiting many employers and auditing; be sure to reach out if you need more information!

DOL Labor Standards Changes

Monday, June 27, 2016

by Stacy Stolen

Real Value Consulting/VolkBell Insurance



On May 18, 2016 The U.S. Department of Labor released its final rule regarding the changes to the overtime threshold for the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Among other things, the Department has doubled the minimum salary needed to qualify for these exemptions, from the previous level of $455 a week (or $23,660 a year) to $913 a week (or $47,476 a year).


Key Provisions of the Final Rule

The Final Rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for Executive, Administrative and Professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the Final Rule:

  1. 1. Sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the South ($913 per week; $47,476 annually for a full-year worker);
  2. 2. Sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test to the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally ($134,004); and
  3. 3. Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles and to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

Additionally, the Final Rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

The effective date of the final rule is December 1, 2016. The initial increases to the standard salary level (from $455 to $913 per week) and HCE total annual compensation requirement (from $100,000 to $134,004 per year) will be effective on that date. Future automatic updates to those thresholds will occur every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020.

For more details:
https://www.dol.gov/featured/overtime


Access Business Conference 2016

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

In conjunction with the Access Broomfield Chamber, we would like to invite you to an upcoming event, the Access Business Conference. On March 24, join us for an all day event featuring guest speakers, breakout sessions and networking. So often business owners find it hard to get away from the day to day operation of their business that they forget the importance of stepping back to plan the larger picture. See the information below, we're sure you'll find this to be a valuable event.

Presented by


Thursday, March 24, 2016

8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Cost: $99 for Broomfield Chamber Members
          $149 for Non-Members
 





500 Interlocken Blvd.
Broomfield, CO 80021

   

Thursday, March 24, 2016

4:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Seperate tickets for the After Hours Event only
Cost: $20 for both Chamber and Non-Chamber Members
   
 

The registration fee for the main event includes:

  • - 2 Keynote speaker addresses
  • - Panel discussion
  • - All breakout sessions (3 sessions total,  6 different topics)
  • - Lunch
  • - Entrance to Xhibit After Hours Event
  • - Business Expo
  • - Networking
  • - Food
  • - Two drink tickets



 Conference Agenda

 
8:30 am Registration
9:00 am Welcome & Opening Comments
9:15 am - 10:00 am Morning Keynote Speaker
     Brad Bernthal - Silicon Flatirons Center
          Entrepreneurship Initiative Director
10:15 am - 11:15 am Access to Capital Panel Discussion
11:30 am - 12:45 pm Lunch & Keynote Speaker
     Mayor Randy Ahrens - City and County of Broomfield
          State of the City and County Address
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Breakout Session #1
  • - How to Get Local Customers with Social Media, Email Marketing & SEO
  • - Bridging the Gap of Misunderstanding Between Corporate America and Our Nation's Veterans
  • - Speed Lending
2:15 pm - 3:15 pm Breakout Session #2
  • - Creating Your Organizational Culture: Aspire. Hire. Fire.
  • - Avoid the 50 Fatal Errors or Running a Business
  • - Speed Lending
3:30 pm - 4:15 pm Breakout Session #3
  • - Relationship Building: Grow Your Network
  • - The Proven Process that Executives Use to Generate Revenue