Overall, Sean and I were extremely impressed with how Nella,Vince and Ricardo manage Scooter Dynasty. Like every business, there is always room for improvement. So even if you think you business couldn’t do better, I’ve outlined the top 5 areas Nella (and most likely you) can address in effort to scale your business to earn several million in profit per year.
5 Solutions to Common Problems Every Small Business Face
Problem: Similar to Nella, you most likely have a full-time job (parenthood) when you’re not managing your company. Because of competing priorities, you can’t run your business alone. You need to find ways to leverage people, technology, and processes to give you the bandwidth required to sustain and grow your business.
- Find a team of advisors to help you actively think through management decisions, and most importantly, HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE. Register to the Camino Financial Incubator to get personalized advice from people like Sean and me.
- To help you manage your tasks download Trello on your computer and your smartphone. It’s as simple to use as post-its but much BETTER!
Monitoring and Coaching Your Employees
Problem: Since Nella has to spend most of her time at home with her children, she can’t go to the store everyday. When you’re not onsite everyday, it’s only natural that your employees get comfortable with the status quo. If you want to grow your sales by at least high single digits, you’re going to need to reinject energy in your team so they can perform better. For instance, Ricardo, the store manager, is a very nice and experienced person, yet needs coaching to reach his full-potential in his role.
- Install cameras in your store or office to monitor your employees. Even if you’re not staring at a screen all the time, you’re employees will think you are!
- Upgrade your call center software so you can record all the calls, and see a dashboard of all the inbound and outbound call activity.
- Setup group chat with Slack or WhatsApp to communicate real-time with your team. It’s FREE!!
- All this is a waste of money unless you set up a formal peer review process. If you’re like most small business owners, you probably only give informal feedback to your employees. A formal quarterly or, at least, mid-year review is a good exercise to ensure you’re measuring your goals and working on developing professionally. This may be a little awkward if you’ve never done this, but it’s totally worth it and the employees will starting demanding it.
- Make sure everyone on your team is the right person for the job. We are NEVER a fan of suggesting small business owners let go of employees based on superficial observations. Every employee at a small business is a KEY PLAYER with unique knowledge that may be tough to replace. However, if an employee cannot play by the rules or continues to be a distraction, then it may be time to let them go. NOBODY IS IRREPLACEABLE and you need to fire fast after you’ve given the person a fair chance to meet expectations. The laurels of your business will ALWAYS rest on the quality of its people. Assessing whether someone is value-add or a distraction, should be a key objective of the review process outlined above.
- Consider hiring new staff if you still think the business is understaffed, especially on the sales and customer service front.
Problem: Nella’s business benefited greatly by its geographic location. But, her success made her a little “relaxed” on actively communicating with customers. To avoid losing customers or getting negative reviews, consider creating a process to strengthen your customer relationships when they’re not in the store or office.
- Set up a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Luckily, cloud technology is on your side, and you should be able to set up a user friendly and inexpensive CRM in no time. I recommend you keep it simple. Your CRM is only as powerful as the data you add to it. You also want to consider integrations with your other systems such as your POS, so it automatically updates when you sell something. You can learn more about CRM systems in this post. And here is a blog that breaks down different CRM options.
- Survey your customers. In the case of Scooter Dynasty, I like the idea of doing it at least 2 or 3 days after they purchase a scooter. Remember that the best ideas come from your customers!!
- Set up email campaigns through MailChimp or Constant Contact for your customers or prospects. Many of our clients don’t apply for a loan when they first hear of us. However, about 30% of all our clients come back after reading our emails. The good news is once you set the emails up, the campaign requires minimum work because it’s fully automated!!
Problem: The good news with Scooter Dynasty was Vince had done a lot of groundwork to organize their inventory management system. The bad news is they were not using the data to unlock more value in the business. By analyzing the turnaround of your inventory, you can better stock your store to maximize sales and avoid product delivery delays for your customers.
- Run the numbers. Export your inventory lists in Excel and run the following analyses:
- Breakdown your sales by product or features (e.g. brand, size, color)
- The point here is to get into the discipline of running simple analyses on your business. Once you get started, you’ll find it hard to stop digging more into the numbers 😊
- Once you have identified best selling products by category, plan to reduce inventory levels to be proportional with these best sellers. This should save you retail space. If you absolutely feel you need to overstock certain products, I would consider cheap warehouse space to store inventory that can be delivered to prospective clients within 1 day.
- Find more tips on how to manage your inventory efficiently here.
Growing Your Business
Problem: If you’re not growing, you’ll eventually lose to the competition. Unfortunately, many small businesses close their doors when they enter the market because they’re not strong enough to face large competitors. The more successful your business, the more likely you’ll face competition. So start playing some offense now when you’re in a position of strength.
- Get to know your customer. You’ll throw your money down the drain if you don’t have a clear view of who your customer is. One way to do this is by creating a “customer persona”, the profile of your ideal customer.
- Start advertising with a small budget on Facebook. Angelica gave an amazing workshop on how Facebook Ads work. The beauty is there are a ton of free resources online to help you become Facebook wizards. Here are some to get you started:
Found this helpful? Register to our Incubator to get a free business evaluation like the one we did for Nella and Vince at Scooter Dynasty.