3 Things to Consider Before Opening a New Business Location

Opening a new business location can provide many advantages, from additional profits to increased brand exposure. However, there are essential steps to ensure the success of your expansion that many small business owners forget. Investing into opening a brand new location without sufficient preparation can be detrimental to your entire business operation. Therefore, it is essential to take these three steps prior to opening a new location.

 

Research

If your original small business location is successful, that is not a guarantee that it can be replicated in another location. The first step you need to take when considering expansion is to research the market to see if there is an actual need for your products or services in that specific area. For example, a children’s indoor playground may be thriving in a suburban area with a large population of families with young children; however, this same business may not succeed in metropolitan areas where mostly singles and working professionals without families reside.

 

Once you determine if there is a need for your offering, research any possible competition that may already have a large portion of the market share. Competition alone should not prevent you from expanding, but you must be prepared to present a good argument as to why their clients should do business with you, whether it be lower prices, more unique offerings or better customer service.

 

Test

Before you fully commit to opening another location, it may be advantageous to initially test the market to see how customers in that specific area will react to your offering. If you want to open a new brick and mortar restaurant location, consider sending a food truck into that area first. This will not only increase your brand exposure in that market, but will also provide feedback as to how well the public reacts to your menu and prices. Similarly, instead of opening a full-fledged store, you may start with a cart at the mall, which is a smaller investment and allows your sales representatives to actively market your products to individuals walking through the mall.

 

Market

Many small business owners are perplexed when, after opening another location, it stands empty with no patrons. This is a typical mistake that has to do with a lack of a good marketing strategy that alerts residents that a new business has opened up. Unless your business is in a location with a lot of foot traffic, your potential clients may not be aware of your company’s existence.

 

To avoid this, you must allocate a budget and consult with a strategic marketing consultant on the best ways to reach your target audience. Your marketing plan can involve a variety of channels, such as television, internet and traditional marketing, such as fliers and coupons. You must be prepared to spend money on advertising for some time before your new location becomes profitable.

 

Although expanding your small business does require risk, this venture can be extremely profitable with the right preparation and commitment. The associated costs to research the market, conduct tests, put an effective marketing plan in effect, and pay for the actual location and new employees can be significant. However, careful planning and affordable capital can turn these costs into a lucrative new revenue stream.

 

Have you completed these steps and are ready to expand? Many small business owners looking to expand their existing businesses have been able to secure funds to grow with a small business loan from IOU Financial. Learn how to get started.

Financial Results for the Three and Six Month Period Ended June 30, 2016

MONTREAL, QC / ACCESSWIRE / August 25, 2016 / IOU FINANCIAL INC. (TSXV: IOU) (“IOU” or “the Company”), a leading online lender to small businesses (IOUFinancial.com), announced today its results for the three and six month period ended June 30, 2016.

“IOU believes loan quality is imperative to achieving its long term objective of loan origination growth of 25% to 30% annually. We are very pleased to have sustained healthy loan originations while continuing to emphasize loan quality in the quarter. IOU’s disciplined growth path distinguishes it within the fintech marketplace,” said Phil Marleau, CEO of IOU Financial.

“IOU is committed to profitable growth achieved by increasingly focussing on credit quality and continously improving operational efficiencies. To that end, we are working diligently to deploy our next generation proprietary IOU Risk Logic Score, part of our continued investment in innovation and technology. Finally, closing our $50 million credit facility with Midcap Financial in the second quarter, lowered our funding costs and enhanced our competitive position in the marketplace,” continued Mr. Marleau.

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

Loan applications rose significantly year over year. As a result of a continuing strategy aimed at maintaining the quality of IOU’s loans, loan volumes decreased slightly during the quarter. Loan originations in the second quarter ended June 30, 2016 were US$31.8 million versus originations of US$33.8 million for the same period last year. For the six month period ended June 30, 2016, IOU Financial originated US$57.1 million in loans, representing a decrease of 12.2% over loan originations of US$65.1 million for the same period last year.

As of June 30, 2016, IOU’s total loans under management rose to $79.6 million as compared to $73.4 million at the end of the second quarter 2015, representing a year over year increase of 8.4%. On June 30, 2016, the principal balance of the loan portfolio grew to $35.5 million compared to $19.5 million at the end of the second quarter of 2015 while the principal balance of IOU’s servicing portfolio (loans being serviced on behalf of a third-parties) was $44.1 million compared to $53.9 million in 2015.

IOU improved gross revenue for the quarter ended June 30, 2016 of $3.5 million versus $2.9 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2015, representing a 22% increase as a result of the increase in the loan portfolio. For the six month period ended June 30, 2015, IOU Financial gross revenues improved to $6.8 million, in comparison to $5.5 million for the same period in 2015.

IOU recorded net revenue for the quarter ended June 30, 2016 of $1.6 million versus $1.8 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2015. Two elements drove the decrease. First, an increase in interest paid as a result of the convertible unsecured subordinated debentures which closed in November 2015. Second, an increase in the provision for loan losses. For the six month period ended June 30, 2016 IOU Financial recorded net revenue of $3.5 million versus $3.8 million for the same period in 2015, a decrease of 8.2%.

Operating expenses were $3.1 million during the second quarter of 2016 versus $2.5 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2015 as a result of an increase in staffing expenses, professional fees as well as legal fees relating to the closing of its credit facility. Legal fees relating to the closing of its credit facility amounted to approximately $0.3 million. For the six month period ended June 30, 2016 IOU Financial recorded operating expenses of $6.0 million versus $4.7 million for the same period in 2015.

IOU closed on the second quarter 2016 with a net loss of $1,479,997, or $0.02 per common share, compared to a net loss of $696,296 or $0.01 per common share during the same period of 2015. For the six month period ended June 30, 2016, IOU Financial had a net loss of $2,788,226 or $0.05 per common share (2015: $911,294 or $0.02 per common share).

IOU closed its second quarter 2016 with an adjusted Loss of $1,136,135, which excludes certain non-cash and non-recurring items, compared to an adjusted loss of $603,989 in the second quarter of 2015. For the six month period ended June 30, 2016, IOU Financial had an adjusted loss of $1,609,615 compared to an adjusted loss of $865,149 for the same period in 2015.

IOU’s financial statements and management discussion & analysis for the quarter ended June 30, 2016 have been filed on SEDAR and are available at www.sedar.com.

About IOU Financial Inc.

IOU Financial provides small businesses throughout the U.S. access to the capital they need to seize growth opportunities quickly. Typical customers include medical and dental practices, grocery and retail stores, restaurant and hotel franchisees and e-commerce companies. In a unique approach to lending, IOU Financial’s advanced, automated application and approval system accurately assesses applicants’ financial realities, with an emphasis on day-to-day cash flow trends. It makes loans of up to $150,000 to qualified applicants within a few business days, with affordable charges favourable to cash-flow management. IOU Financial’s speed and transparency make it a trusted alternative to banks. To learn more visit: IOUFinancial.com.

Forward Looking Statements

Certain information set forth in this news release may contain forward-looking statements that involve substantial known and unknown risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, certain of which are beyond the control of IOU including, but not limited to, the impact of general economic conditions, industry conditions, dependence upon regulatory and shareholder approvals, the execution of definitive documentation and the uncertainty of obtaining additional financing. Readers are cautioned that the assumptions used in the preparation of such information, although considered reasonable at the time of preparation, may prove to be imprecise and, as such, undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements. IOU does not assume any obligation to update or revise its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

The TSX-V has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

For more information, please contact:

Philippe Marleau
Chief Executive Officer
(514) 789-0694 ext. 225

David Kennedy
Chief Financial Officer
(514) 789-0694 ext. 278

Small Business Finances 101: Understanding Income

Income is the life source of your business. All your planning and strategies aren’t going to mean much unless you generate enough income to eventually make a profit. There are two types of income your business needs to track. Gross income is the money you receive from selling your products or services minus the costs of goods or services sold. Net income is your profit after you subtract all your expenses and losses.

As a small business owner, you need to know the most reliable ways to collect the income you owed, and how to properly report the income you receive.

Collecting Payments

  • Extending credit: While it’s nice to extend credit to customers, it can also be a money-losing proposition. People who pay with cash or payment card (debit, credit or gift) are your best customers. The only risk they pose is counterfeited bills or cards, which is a pretty small risk. When you get into checks and merchant accounts, you have to be more careful.
  • Credit cards: Many small businesses (55 percent in 2013) do not accept credit cards because of the steep fees and the possibility of disputes. If you sell online, you have no choice but to accept credit cards and pay the fees. Remember that if you don’t accept chip-embedded (EMV) credit cards, you are liable for the costs of fraud, a source of friction between merchants and card issuers.
  • Merchant accounts are business-to-business (B2B) credit arrangements with clients and suppliers. A 2014 U.S. study of B2B invoices found that a troubling 42.5 percent were paid late and that 5.6 percent were still uncollected after 90 days, which is the usual definition of a default.
  • Checks are not desirable, as too many things can go wrong. This is especially true if you have customers living abroad. It can take forever for a mailed check to reach you. Then there are the problems of stolen or overdrawn checks. Unless you have a long relationship with a customer, it’s best to avoid being paid by check.
  • Direct deposits via automated clearing house, transfers and electronic transfers are quick and safe for domestic payments. International transfers take longer. The only problem is getting your client to agree to make direct deposits.
  • Collections: If you are owed money, you can try to collect it yourself, hand debt collection off to an agency, or write-off the debt. In any event, late payments have a negative effect on your income.

Accounting for Income

Accounting is essential knowledge for your business. Keep your books up to date because delays can cause mistakes that might end up hurting your business and getting you audited by the IRS. You can hire a bookkeeper if you have enough activity to make it worthwhile. Many small businesses use software such as QuickBooks to perform bookkeeping. It’s up to you to evaluate the time you need to spend on using software versus paying a professional to do the work for you.

If you operate on a cash basis, you acknowledge income when it is collected. However, if you use accrual accounting, you report income when it is earned, which is usually before it is collected. Whether you use cash or accrual accounting, you need to keep accurate and timely records. This is especially important for figuring net income, which is the amount you are taxed on. To calculate net income, you must account for all expenses, costs and losses. If you miss some deductions, you’ll pay more tax than necessary.

If you need to stabilize your cash flow, hire a bookkeeper, or expand your inventory to bring in more income, IOU Financial offers convenient, low-interest rate commercial loans to help your business grow. Visit our loan calculator to get started!

How Small Business Owners Can Learn From US Olympians

When you hear the words Olympics and Team USA, the pure dominance at the Rio games from athletes such as Michael Phelps, the women’s gymnastic team, and the women’s beach volleyball team come to mind. But when you hear the words Olympics and business owner, you may not see a connection. Competing in the Olympics and being a savvy small business owner may have more similarities than you think.

When you’re a business owner in today’s competitive market, it can be hard to stay on top each day, quarter, and year. However, by learning from how Team USA trained their way to an amazing showing at the Olympics, your business may be better prepared for market dominance.  Here are 5 ways that business owners can learn from the USA Olympians’ success in the Rio games.

 

  1. Teamwork

When you watch the communication between beach volleyball athletes Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, it is pure magic. Their understanding of their respective roles and how they fit together makes it easier to find the correct location when it’s their moment to strike, and their approach to teamwork has translated into domination of most matches by large margins. Follow their lead. Work as a team, communicate with each other, and be clear in your team’s objectives. Working as a team will only make your business more dominant.

 

  1. Know the talents of each person

Many small businesses fail because they force employees to do tasks they lack the skillset to execute well. The women’s gymnastic team is a clear demonstration of getting it right. Their coaches know the skillset of each gymnast, and they allow those athletes to execute their specific events.  Putting the brash employee at the helm of sales calls or putting your best communicator behind the scene helping new hires fill out their time card is not a good use of your talent pool. Sometimes making a change and switching the person you’re paying to do a task with the person who is the right fit is a smart logistical move. The women’s gymnastics team changed their rotations and identified the right talent for each event. Play to your strengths and let those talents rise!

 

  1. Preparation

Have you seen the preparation that goes into a single event at the Olympics? If you haven’t, you should watch any athlete’s story and see where they started in their event preparation. Winners are not built overnight; they put in work for years before they can aim for gold. Your business should follow the same path.

By bringing on the right talent for the future, your business can prepare for the road ahead. Sure, you have immediate needs, but you should also look to bring on and train a team for the future. Prepare for growth and hire visionaries. Anticipate rough times, so hire great problem solvers. Look for the talents you need to weather storms and when the rain comes you’ll be ready to find good use of the extra water.

 

  1. Know your focus and focus on what you know.

It’s not a question that Michael Phelps knows swimming. He knows the events he is good at and the ones he is not, and he uses this knowledge to direct his focus. Do you know your business model? What product does your business excel at providing consumers? Knowing what your business is and how to develop that product or service in a focused and exact way will only add success. Trying to do too much or expand too fast may give you excitement, but it could also leave you watching other competitors take home gold.

 

  1. Adaptability

Structure is good, but failure to adapt is business suicide. Times change, interests change, and your business should adjust. This is no different than when Olympians get to the games. They size up who is in the lane next to them and push a little harder down the stretch. Relay teams see if they are ahead or behind and adjust to the difference, and when setbacks happen, the U.S. has found ways to get back up, refocus, and go after it even harder. Your small business should focus on its niche but also be ready to re-focus and adapt to the changing environment around your company and its customers.

 

 

It is no question the United States Olympic teams have dominated in Rio. Domination has come with preparation, focus, and other skills needed to rise above the crowd and take these games by storm. Running a business is no different. Watching the ways of Team USA can be a lesson in how to not only make it to the top tier in your field, but also walk away with gold to show for your hard work.

Empowering Entry-Level Employees and Staff to Succeed

There is a difference between supervisors and real leaders. Supervisors simply manage their employees, making sure they accomplish their daily tasks and follow the organization’s rules and regulations. A business leader, while being responsible for the workload, also makes it a priority to empower employees to advance in their careers. Entry-level staff members greatly benefit from an invested manager who promotes their strengths, helps them work on their weaknesses, and provides them with career-related advice. There are specific ways a manager can empower entry-level employees to succeed.

 

Setting Objectives and Giving Feedback

In order for your employees to thrive, they need to clearly understand what is expected of them. Instead of just delineating daily tasks, include your staff in the entire scope of the projects. Sit down and create concise and measurable objectives so that you and your subordinates are on the same page about what needs to get accomplished. Goals are important for four reasons:

  1. They provide guidance and direction.
  2. They aid in planning.
  3. They boost employee motivation.
  4. They help managers provide feedback.

Once clear goals have been established, managers must provide regular feedback so that employees know whether they are on track to meeting their goals or not. The only way your staff can grow in their positions is if you point out areas in which they need to improve, tell them what must be done to enhance their performance, and then explain whether they are meeting the previously set benchmarks or need to improve their skills.

 

Mentorship Programs

Mentorships usually pair an entry-level and a senior-level employee together so that the more experienced professional can provide advice, training and other resources to the newcomer so he or she can succeed not just in their current role, but in their career. An employee who is just starting out can greatly benefit from guidance from someone who has succeeded in the same industry, can share their network of contacts and can provide support.

Inc.com believes mentorship programs are “low-cost, yet high-quality, solutions” that show staff that management cares about them, result in better trained and engaged employees, and promote employee job satisfaction and loyalty.

 

Additional Education/ Training

When business leaders are truly invested in empowering their team to succeed, they should help staff advance their knowledge and skills so they can constantly grow in their positions and prepare for more senior roles. Offering paid education to your employees can be advantageous for both the organization and staff. Your business will benefit because employees will become more proficient in their industry and become better assets for the company by being more productive and efficient. In turn, the employees will be more loyal and satisfied with their job.

 

While larger companies can often finance their staff’s education at a college or university, smaller businesses may not be able to afford this. However, it may be possible to provide staff with other trainings or online courses that can advance their professional abilities, such as typing classes or communication workshops.

 

These are three of the ways that leaders can empower their team members to succeed instead of just overseeing their workload. When managers are invested in helping their employees grow, they’re in a better position to accomplish their goals and retain their staff.

 

Looking for more management tips? Check out the Management section of our blog.

5 Ways Your Small Business Can Capitalize on Olympic Hype

If you haven’t noticed, its Olympic season in Rio. If you have noticed, you are armchair-clutching, edge-of-your-seat watching, and stand-on-your-feet rooting for your favorite athlete to win gold and set him or herself apart from the competition. If you also are a business owner, you may be able to capitalize on this hype and build a steady flow of business and sales while people have Olympic fever. In this post we will review five ways your business can capitalize on the Olympic hype and create engaging ways to bring in new customers.

 

  1. Offer Olympic-sized discounts based on medal counts.

Medal counts are one of the most talked about factors of the Olympics. How many one country has over the other, down to how many each individual has from each country, is highlighted and talked about.  Use this to your advantage. Offer a percentage off based on total medal counts for a specific athlete, a country, you name it! Update it each day and keep customers coming back as the medal count rises.

 

  1. Use creative, Olympic-themed marketing slogans.

There are so many story lines surrounding the Olympics that you can play off of to create interesting marketing material. Use intriguing taglines for your marketing efforts. Slogans like Bolt into Savings, Simone says “come on down,” or Take a final lap in our clearance sale, will give your business the Olympic sprit and turn a few heads at the same time. Who knows what storylines will develop, but if you stay active with the latest events, customers will take notice and remember your name even after the torch goes out.

 

  1. Offer products geared towards the Olympics.

You don’t need to run an athletic store or a gym to capitalize on offering products geared towards the Olympics. It is not just about the events, but the people, the countries represented, and the medals. If you sell clothes, offer discounts on sporting apparel featured in the events. If you sell food and drink products, offer products that athletes would use at a discounted rate. Do you offer travel services? Showcase a package fit for any Olympian (whether you are in Rio or not).

 

  1. Create an Olympic event or contest.

Businesses that interact with their customers often generate more sales and leads in the future. Why not showcase your business by creating an Olympic-themed event for your community? Offer gift cards for customers who compete in events, guess Olympic-based trivia questions correctly, or do their best Olympic impressions. With endless options and fun contests to be held, it is a win-win to offer such interactive business events.

 

  1. Share a funny company video–Olympic style.

There are a lot of couch watchers who think they could run as fast, jump as high, or spike a volleyball as hard as the athletes at the Olympics. Gather some co-workers and make a fun video of you attempting similar events featured in the Olympics to show how difficult it really is. Film your coworker running a 200-meter and display their time against the gold medal winner’s time. Film your company doing a relay race in the pool and compare your company record with the current record-holder’s results on the screen. Have fun with the fact that watching from the couch is much different. That will help customers get off their couch and head down to a fun, creative store like yours.

 

When it comes to generating business and buzz, staying current with the most relevant topics on consumers’ minds will help increase your exposure, sales, and leads for Olympic season and beyond. By capitalizing on the Olympic hype, your business can rise to gold and set yourself on pace for a record year. Enjoy the Olympics and have fun boosting your revenue at the same time.

Small Business Finances 101: Making Payments

We’ll admit that its more pleasing to collect payments rather than make them, but you can organize your business to optimize how you make payments so that you minimize their impact. There are two ways you can optimize your payments – when you pay them and how you pay them.

Timing Your Payments

A good rule of thumb for timing your payments to minimize impact to your cash flow is this: Delay payments to vendors and suppliers until they are due, unless you can receive a discount for early vendor payment.

Many suppliers offer terms like 2/10 net 30, which means you get a two percent discount if you pay the bill within 10 days, and that in any event you have to cough up the money within 30 days. A two percent discount might not seem like much, but don’t forget that you earn it by accelerating a payment by only 20 days. That works out to a colossal annual percentage rate (APR) of 36.7 percent, which means you can cut your vendor cash outflow by more than one-third simply by taking advantage of this discount. Where else are you going to make a return like that?

Payment Methods – Business Checking Accounts

You set up a business checking account, or at least you should have, when you launched your business. There are three ways to pay from your checking account, and they each work best for different situations:

  1. Paper checks: You can write checks manually if the volume is small, but let’s assume you are running your business using some sort of software support, such as QuickBooks or an accounting system with accounts payable (A/P). In these types of programs, you set up all your payee classes, such as vendors, employees, customer refunds, tax payments and so forth. The system will prompt you to write checks when due, but more importantly, it will print the checks on your local printer. You’re too busy to write checks by hand, so printing them is a must. If you are a larger company, you might use a bookkeeper who will perform this function for you. You can also have the system print and mail checks to your payees from the cloud, so that you never have to physically deal with paper checks. QuickBooks supports regular and one-off auto payments this way.
  2. Debit card: You might use a debit card when making certain types of purchases, such as office supplies, business travel and entertainment, or even tax payments. The card is handy for both online and in-person payments, and there is usually no fee for using it. The only warning is to make sure your checking account doesn’t become overdrawn, causing the debit transaction to fail and even cost you penalty fees. (The same precaution applies to checks you write). Debit cards can be linked to electronic wallets, so that you can make a debit payment from your smartphone without having to whip out the plastic card.
  3. ACH electronic payments: You can authorize automated clearing house (ACH) electronic payments from your checking account, either on an individual basis or by setting up an auto-payment schedule with a payee. The latter is appropriate for monthly expenses such as rent, insurance and so forth. It’s also regularly used to pay employees electronically. On the payment date, the money is wired from your checking account to that of your payee’s. No checks are involved. You can set up ACH payments to push them out at your discretion, or to have recurring payees pull them from your checking account.

Other Payment Methods

Although you’ll handle most of your major business payments with your checking account, you can also optimize your other payment methods to make sure you’re using your money wisely.

  • Cash: Stay away from cash for everything except petty purchases. It’s a hassle to account for and creates problems when doing your taxes since you have to provide evidence for payment of your deductible expenses.
  • Credit card: A business credit card is useful, especially if money is tight and you have to spread out payments. Be aware that interest rates can be high, and that credit cards aren’t appropriate for some types of payees, such as employees.
  • Loans and lines of credit: When you need extra money, a loan or line of credit makes a lot of sense. One advantage of a commercial loan from IOU Financial is that you repay the loan in small daily installments via automatic ACH payments. Not only is this convenient, it means you don’t have to contend with large monthly payments.

If you’d like to learn more about making payments and other basic aspects of running a business, download the e-book “Cold Hard Truth on Small Businesses and Money,” written by Kevin O’Leary, star of ABC’s Shark Tank. There is no one better to answer questions about your small business payments than the small business expert himself!

Should your business join the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

Whether you are starting a business or have been in business for years, you are no stranger to the amount of sites, platforms, organizations, and more that want you to join their listings for site rankings, customer reviews and business accreditations. When considering the many options, there is one you should really focus in on: the Better Business Bureau (BBB). In this post we will review the top 5 reasons why you should consider applying for BBB accreditation and how they can help your small business grow.

 

  1. Not everyone can join.

The BBB is not a social sign up site or built on a one-stop, register-and-done platform. You do not “join” their site. Instead, you apply to be accredited, and they verify the businesses they are listing. This enables your small business to uphold its credibility and showcase it to your customers. When customers see the BBB sign, sticker, or logo on a business, they see that your company is trusted and, therefore, can be trusted with a customer’s hard earned money.

 

  1. People trust the BBB.

The BBB is one of the most visited sites when it comes to people looking up businesses and information related to company practices.  The BBB has been around for more than 100 years, and they have built a trusted name in protecting the public from bad business practices. Having BBB accreditation adds value to your small business’s brand because it shows you are trusted by one of the nation’s largest organizations dedicated to…well, trust.

 

  1. It allows you to handle claims and complaints.

With word of mouth and many online methods for customers to share their feedback about your business, a few bad reviews tanking your business and its future is a gamble many people do not want to take. With the BBB they give your business a fair chance when it comes to addressing claims or complaints. The BBB verifies claims are by real customers and give not only the customer a voice, but  also the business owner a fair shot at addressing the claim. With the protection of BBB support your company can weather a few bad storms should rainy days head your way.

 

  1. It adds to your company’s visibility.

If nobody knows about you, you are not reaching any customers. The BBB offers businesses a blend of accreditation and visibility that no other site like it can promise. The BBB reports to get millions of visits a day to their site from customers looking to verify the legitimacy of businesses like yours. In addition, the BBB is known to be one of the top 350 websites in the United States (according to Alexa), adding visibility and even website search engine optimization to help your small business be seen.

 

  1. They want your business to do well.

The BBB does not exist to just place their stickers on storefront windows. They are in existence to help businesses grow and do well. With resources like webinars and training, the BBB is there to help you achieve your vision and goals.

 

When evaluating your options for listing sites, accreditations, and endorsements, the BBB should rise to the top of your list. They are there to not only protect the customer, but also to encourage your business to grow while adding legitimacy and standards to a market filled with many services that are below par. Consider the BBB and consider the benefits!

5 Ways Business Owners Can Stay Focused on Their Goals

Being a small business owner comes with many freedoms and perks. On the flip side, owning your own small business can come with its fair share of challenges and problems to solve on a regular basis. With so much demand for your time, how do you stay focused during the day while you are pulled in so many directions?

 

Here are five ways to be goal oriented while running a business so you can keep your small business on track and profits on track too!

 

  1. Plan Monthly Milestones

It is no surprise that chunking out tasks or setting shorter-range goals helps achieve the bigger picture. By focusing your energy somewhere in the middle, you can keep your long-term focus on track while also monitoring the progress as you go. Plan monthly milestones and factor those into the larger scheme of what your business model is trying to accomplish. If things look to be on track each month, continue the plan. If you are further away from your business goals a few months in, it may be time to course correct.

 

  1. Outsource When Possible

There is no way one person can do it all and do it well. With so many competing demands on your time, outsourcing some of the mundane or simpler tasks can free up your time and save you money. By finding freelancers to help with web design or a consultant to outline your upcoming marketing campaign, you can spend more time vision casting and meeting with your customers. Hire professionals who you can trust to take on some of the work and let your expertise shine in other areas.

 

  1. Survey Your Customers

You are in business to serve your customers. Why not ask them what they like most or want more of? By looking for feedback you can eliminate the stress and hassle of trying to predict what your customers like. Save time launching a new product or a new service feature by first asking what your customers think. Surveys are simple to set up and also add value to the customer experience. Survey responses might even help you set a few priorities you would have never considered.

 

  1. Plan for Priorities

Set aside time each day to handle the priorities that have to get done. Identify one major thing that you can’t finish the day without doing and focus on completing that task. The other stuff can wait, and if it’s not on that list it may not be as critical as you believe it to be. By setting aside time for priorities,you ensure the key elements of your business are handled each day. Remember to keep your “mission critical” task list short to ensure that it gets done daily and keeps its value.

 

  1. Reflect on Successes/Failures

Many successful businesses are able to not only reflect on what worked but also on what did not. Don’t just chalk wins and losses up on a tally board. Instead,explore why something worked or didn’t so you know what to avoid or do more of in the future. Businesses that survive the long term are ones that can identify where they hit the mark but also where they may have missed. Take the time to pick your head up from the day to day tasks to reflect and reposition based on what you’re seeing.

 

By staying focused on your goals, your business can weather the storm of distractions, market challenges, and day-to-day unpredictable moments. Being a small business owner doesn’t exclude a person from big time distractions, but staying focused in a structured way can help any business owner succeed.

5 Ways Auto-Body Shops Can Attract and Retain New Customers

Auto body repair shops are in strong and steady demand. However, attracting new customers to your local auto shop can at times feel like a losing battle when there is other shop competition. Here are five ways auto-body shops can attract and retain new customers, and you can implement many of them right away.

 

  1. Coupons & Package Deals

People like deals. Even if the deal is a small deal, people search for the best value for the price. By offering new or existing customers a simple and clear coupon you increase the chances that they will come in the door.  You could also offer a flat rate off an oil change or a discounted bundle such as a free car wash with service, and you will often attract new customers just based on the deal. Once they are in the door you can then use other methods (see our blog about loyalty programs) to retain them.

 

  1. Clear, Upfront Pricing

When people look for auto repairs they want to know how much they should prepare to pay, even in the worst of situations. Some local auto repair shops lose customers when the price of a tune up is M.I.A. and other services are simply listed as “call for quote.” People’s behavior suggest they will leave your ad, website, or phone call if the price is not shared clearly and upfront. Do not shy away from listing the cost of services out of fear it will scare customers away. Be honest with your pricing.

 

  1. Market Correctly

Marketing correctly is often overlooked or underestimated. Simply posting an ad online that says “We Have Great Services” does not speak to the customer who is looking. By having a clear, creative, and strong call to action in their marketing, local auto service dealers can increase their traffic almost immediately. Create clear campaigns, offer newsletter sign ups and discounts, and encourage word of mouth perks to generate steady traffic.

 

  1. Get Social

Whether it is social media or social events, being visible in a variety of mediums will draw attention to your auto body shop. Post deals, news, services, even testimonials on a social media page and encourage people to share. If there is a community event, try sponsoring a prize booth, participate in a raffle, or even hold a demonstration booth to educate the community. By being visible you can stand out from the crowd of auto repair shops servicing your community’s vehicles.

 

  1. Brand Yourself Correctly

Your shop may have the best deals, service technicians, and tools. But if nobody knows your name or your name is hard to remember, you may be forgotten in the crowd of other shops. If this is the situation you find yourself in, focus on re-branding your name or strengthening your existing brand. By having a trustworthy name and brand, you will attract a range of customers who look for the name just as much as the services offered.

 

Attracting new customers to any local auto repair shop can feel like a daunting task. With the help of these simple ways to attract new customers the process can be less daunting and more profitable so you can focus on creating and servicing long-term customers.

 

If money is the only thing holding you back from kick starting your new marketing campaign or re-inventing your brand, call IOU Financial. We offer affordable working capital for auto-body shops that are looking to grow their customer base or take advantage of new opportunities.