Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Whatever happened to the Small Firms Association

I am a member of the Small Firms Association in Ireland. There web site is, but the email address of their director is Who is IBEC is the Irish Business Employers Confederation of which the SFA is an offshoot. They share the same building.

The SFA is for businesses with up to 50 staff, IBEC would deal with the bigger businesses. Both organisations are great business organisations and I cannot fault their professionalism and the assistance they give to their members. It's just I now feel that the smaller business has become left behind and that the bigger businesses are more important than us.

Small business and big businesses have very different agendas. ISME the Irish Small and Medium sized Enterprises organisation does not have that compromise, but then but then it does not have the larger resources that IBEC can give to the SFA, but then does it need them?

So back to my original question, whatever happened to the S.F.A. Is it the same organisation I joined many years ago.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Phone numbers hidden by the caller, what do they not want you to know

Today a got a call from a person claiming to represent a well known insurance broker and claiming that they were operating a discount scheme in association when an organisation I was a member of.

Seems straight forward but, they had blocked their outgoing phone number from being displayed on my phone, so caller id was useless in this case. How would I know if they were genuinely from this insurance company? My policy is if they hide there number from me, then they have something to hide. They may not want you to have the option to ring them back because they want you always to go through a switchboard e.g. software support departments, or they are selling you something from a dodgy company.

I sometimes advise people to block phone numbers when they are making final debt collection calls to make sure that your customer who owes you money is not avoiding you by using caller id to identify you. But when selling, why do you want to hide who you are?

You may no realise that your phone lines block their outgoing numbers to your customers. Try ringing out on each line you have to confirm if they are blocked and what numbers do appear on caller id. Consider whether or not blocking your phone number is a good or a bad thing. If your customers like you, then they wont mind a call from you. But if a unknown number appears on their phone then what goes through their mind, maybe "is this person hiding something, that their product is not up to scratch or the company they work for is dodgy"

I know that I wont be dealing with this well known insurance brokerage business.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Staff who want to help or is it to help themselves get a commission

I went into my local PC World store this morning with the aim of buying a microphone and headset for a project I am working on. As I entered the store early this morning I was greeted by a member of staff who asked, "Can I help you". I love the fact that someone actually took notice of me and in fairness to PC World of Swords, Co. Dublin, the staff do usually ask can they help. I replied, "I am just looking for a headset and microphone" and continued to walk on as I felt it was going to be a quick in out job for me, choose from the shelf and go.

1st issue - I had to find the shelf. The staff member could have brought me to the shelf
2nd issue - Which headset to choose. I wanted a good quality headset and microphone with a USB connection.
Well it took me 10 minutes to find and decide on what I wanted to purchase.

Had the staff member asked me what it was I came into the store for and could he help me with deciding on what to choose, he may have added a sale to his quota and possibly upsold me with something else and I would be happy to recommend or go back to the store next time I wanted some piece of PC equipment.

I did buy the headset and I am not criticising anyone, but some many businesses lose sales because they don't ask the customer what they want and possibly show them what they really need and make a friend of that customer because they helped them. PC World is not the cheapest store, but it is convenient. But just imagine if its sales people changed their introduction when they met you at the front door, how much sales could increase.

This applies to all businesses. How many stores do you walk into and walk back out because you could not find what you were looking for or found no staff willing to help. They scary part is this could be happening in your business right now. We all have to differentiate ourselves from the competition with things getting tight and people watching what they spend. We all need sales, lets not lose any unnecessarily. I do sometime really want to buy, please make it easy for me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Great at selling to a customer but lousy at listening to what they want to buy

I went to a petrol station to buy a cup of coffee. The dispenser with my favourite coffee ran out when I was filling my cup, so I topped it up with some plain black coffee. As I was standing in line to pay, the person in front of my had a cup of coffee and when paying was asked by the sales clerk would he like to get a muffin for just 1 euro extra. I thought, great upselling.

I was next and I informed the sales clerk that the coffee dispenser was empty and I assumed he would apologise and tell me he would resolve the issue and get me my favourite coffee or just apologise. But no, he looked around for someone other staff member, but with no one else to be found he just ignored what I had told him, took my money and then moved to the next customer.

It appeared to me that all he wanted was to sell and not to serve me the customer. I wanted to buy and all he got was what he wanted to sell. He did not lose any money, but my opinion of him as helping customers is that he only wants to help himself and not go out of the way to help me the customer.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

To much information can kill a company

If you are fortunate enough to have your accounts system humming smoothly, the next problem is being smoothered with too much information. You can analyse sales by product, by customer, by area, by rep, by most profitable, the list goes on.

So you need to choose what is relevant. Would it be better to find out what your not selling, but a question the numbers can't tell you is why you are not selling.

Perhaps you should be asking your former customers why they are not buying from you and put down the report telling you how great your sales where this month and find out why 75 percent of your customer list did not buy from you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is it better to have money in the bank or have up to date accounts and know you are losing money

You can always have money in your bank account because you have not paid anyone, suppliers or taxes. But are you making money? If you don't have up to date monthly accounts, you wont know if you are amking money. If you judge your financial state by only looking at your bank statement, you will not know if you are profitable. But at least if you have monthly accounts showing a loss you know you are not profitable.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Bank of Ireland Mortgage and a long time customer

Bank of Ireland are offering a mortgage rate of 4.7% to new customers only. They will not give it to current customers. I spoke with one of their mortgage advisor's and she said there was nothing she could do. So what will probably happen now is that I will move all my accounts from Bank of Ireland to a bank like NIB (National Irish bank) who offer better rates.

I know of people in business who have their business loans, business mortgages and home mortgages with the same bank. They are all linked so that can't negotiate a better deal. While it seemed a good idea in the beginning having everything under one roof (bank), it does reduce your negotiating strength, as for a small business to move to another another bank is a major undertaking.