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Retaining & Increasing Revenues from Existing Customers

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Your existing customer base are vital to the success of your Veteran Owned Small Business.  It is always nice to gain new market share and customers but keeping the ones you have and generating greater revenues with them should be a major focus for you.   You have a much great likelihood of almost 70% to sell to an existing customer than only perhaps 20% likelihood of selling to a new prospect.   The message is that never take existing customers for granted.

Some marketing strategies are obvious and common sense but it is always good to have more than one in your arsenal. Below are some marketing strategies to assist you in retaining and increasing business from your existing clients:

Get Personal: Send out thank you cards by snail mail or email cards thanking your clients for their orders(s) and letting them know that you appreciate them.   You might also consider sending out birthday, anniversary or seasonal greetings too.   You can customize communications to engage and interest your clients.  This is an excellent way to build loyalty.

Reward Loyalty:  Make your existing clients feel special by holding exclusive sales or offering special loyalty discounts.   You can also offer gift cards or a free gift to those existing clients who refer friends and family to your business including those who spend a certain amount with you.

Send Out Newsletters:  Communicate by sending out a newsletter with valuable information such as upcoming events, sales and advice.   This is highly effective in staying in touch with your existing client base and keeping you front and center with them.  You should also encourage your clients to share your newsletters with others that will generate more business.

Hold Customer Events:  If possible and many of your clients are local, host in-person social events such as a dinner or wine tasting.  Now in the times of COVID, you can host virtual events including a wine-tasting event via Zoom.  Events are a wonderful way to show how much you care and stay in touch.

There are different marketing vehicles that will work best for you, so it is important to make the right choices in terms of what works, what is cost- effective in time and expense.  Below are some marketing components to consider:

Understand Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP):  A Unique Value Proposition UVP) is simply a concise statement that summarizes and persuades why potential and existing customers should patronize your business.  This should be to the point and in way is your “tag line”

Create Your Customers’ Profile:  Define exactly who is your perfect customer in detail including demographics such as age, gender, marital status, income, locations, likes, dislikes, etc.  This will assist you in selecting the right marketing vehicles and how to place them including your messaging that will resonate with your target audience.

Evaluate Your Customers’ Marketing Options Through Their Buying Cycle:  Learn where your customers and prospects go for information about the types of products and services you offer.  This knowledge will assist you in deciding how to convey your Unique Value Proposition and how to move customers through a successful sales cycle.

Define Your Marketing Budget:  You need to figure out how much you need to spend on marketing and every business is unique.  You may want to begin modestly and as you increase revenues, add to this budget as you find out what works and what is not effective.  Test out different options and do not spend more than you can afford too.

Create Your Marketing Plan:  Memorialize in writing your Unique Value Proposition, the profile of your customers and the marketing options you will use to achieve your goals with your budget.   Use this as a guide and modify it as you test and learn what works best.

Buy a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM System):

This system will be  your “customer Bible”.  It will enable you to organize the information you obtain on existing customers and prospects to effectively manage your marketing.   There are many types of Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMS).  Choose careful in terms of one that is easy to use, can grow with you and fits your budget.

Marketing to retain and increase revenues is an evolving process, a work in progress.  You will be learning so much and the more you know, the greater your revenues.

 

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

 

The federal Small Business Agency known as the SBA has a few new ways to help small businesses stay in business while we all navigate the COVID crisis. Thanks to H.R. 748 the SBA has been able to expand their loan programs with new offerings for small businesses as well as some specific options for large corporations.

 

What Other Assistance does H.R. 748 Provide?

 

The program also provides $17 billion dollars to small businesses that have existing SBA loans. These funds can be used to pay six months of principal and interest payments on existing SBA loans.

 

1.) Additionally, the program provides $10 billion dollars for disaster loans and emergency grants. Each of these types of loans are limited to $10,000 per small business. These types of loans are quite like the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP described in part one of this mini article series.  They can be used for other operational expenses beyond payroll, mortgage or rent, and utilities.   In theory, any small business that applies for an economic injury disaster loan receives an advance, within 3 days, of $10,000 regardless of whether they eventually are approved for the loan. This $10,000 advance does not need to be repaid either. The loan itself can be for up to $2 million dollars at a low interest rate (currently it is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations). Repayment terms vary. You can apply for this loan directly from the SBA here> https://covid19relief.sba.gov/.

 

2.) The program also provides $265 Million dollars for SBA business development services. The SBA offers Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) that provide no-cost services for small businesses and entrepreneurs that will assist in critical business areas such as:

  • Consulting
  • Mentoring
  • Training services
  • Business development services
  • and much more

 

What Other Financial Assistance Programs Have Been Added for Businesses that Do Not Qualify for Other SBA Programs?  

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is having severe economic consequences all over the United States. Many larger businesses are ineligible for SBA programs. However, the goal of H.R. 748 is to assist large employers as well. Some of the additions that can help larger companies include:

 

1.) H.R. 748 states that the Federal Reserve can now make loans, as well as loan guarantees, to businesses not covered by other programs.  They can also now make loans to state and local governments. Unlike the SBA programs for small businesses, the Fed cannot forgive these loans and borrowers must repay them.

 

2.) H.R. 748 also provides the federal -19 pandemic. The funds are as follows:

 

  • $25 billion for loans to passenger air carriers
  • $4 billion for loans to cargo air carriers
  • $17 billion for loans to businesses critical to maintaining national security
  • $32 billion for additional financial assistance to air carriers and related employers (such as caterers and airport contractors)

 

Small Business or Large Corporation – if you need help to keep your business afloat while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the United States, then check out what is available to you from the SBA and H.R. 748.   We advise that patience is in order.

 

If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, we invite you to join.  Please be advised that there are not any dues or fees and you can use our seal on your collateral and website.   You may register for membership here:   https://vamboa.org/member-registration/ ‘’

 

Everyone stay safe and healthy!

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Did you know that the Small Business Administration (SBA) helps small businesses obtain the loans they need? The federal SBA provides a wealth of financial assistance, and other services to small businesses across the United States. Recently they have added quite a few new programs to help thanks to H.R. 748.

 

How does the SBA determine whether or not your business is considered a small business? The SBA determines whether you are a small business using either your revenue numbers or your employee headcount (the headcount varies by industry).

 

The main SBA program most business apply and qualify for is a loan guarantee program. The SBA may repay a portion of the amount borrowed by qualified businesses in cases when the small business borrower cannot repay the loan. Loan guarantees reduce the overall risk to the lender, thus enabling the small business to obtain more favorable terms, such as a lower interest rate or longer term.

 

The SBA also directly makes low-interest loans to businesses and nonprofit organizations following declared disasters. A disaster loan may be for either covering repairs and replacement of physical assets damaged in a disaster or covering small business operating expenses after a disaster.

 

What is new?   H.R. 748 is!

In general terms, H.R. 748 provides $349 billion dollars for forgivable small business loans. This program is called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and was designed to subsidize small businesses so that they can continue to pay their employees and overhead costs while their revenues have been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Unlike a typical SBA loan, businesses will not be required to repay these loans if the money is used exclusively to pay:

  • Employee wages
  • Employee benefits
  • Mortgage or rent for the business’s location
  • Utility bills for the business’s location

 

Instead, the loans will be forgiven after eight weeks. The business is required to clearly document how the money was used to ensure adherence to the loan program’s rules. If the business has not properly documented spending the loan money, or spent the money on other things, they will be required to pay all of it back in full at an interest rate of four percent (4%).

 

Is $349 Billion Enough to go Around? 

The program has enough to provide every eligible employer a forgivable loan for up to 2.5 months of payroll.   With this said many are receiving so much more including businesses that you might not characterize as small businesses.   For example, large public companies and major sports teams have received PPP funds and the the money has been depleted once already and refunded.

 

Who is Eligible for Assistance? 

All businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 employees are eligible. There are also a few businesses that will qualify even though they have more than 500 employees. For example, a business may have more than 500 employees per location. Some sole-proprietors and self-employed people are also eligible for relief. Loans are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

How Much Money can you Get? 

You can qualify for about 2.5 times your average monthly payroll, or up to $10 million dollars. You do not even need to prove that you could potentially pay back the loan; instead, you simply need to prove that you have been running your business prior to February 15, 2020. This sometimes translates into the money going to businesses that don’t need it and there has been some widespread fraud.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of this mini article series.   Part 2 will provide information on other assistance programs that H.R. 748 provides. There are even a few programs designed for specific types of large corporations.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association believes that small veteran and military business owners should benefit first.   They made huge sacrifices for our nation.  We are disheartened to see huge corporations receiving this money and the program running out.

 

If you are not already a member of VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, please consider joining.  We do not charge dues or fees and members can use our seal on your collateral and web site.   Here is a link to register to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Inventory Management Benefits

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By Debbie Gregory.

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VAMBOA hopes you have enjoyed the previous five articles in this series.  Inventory Management is the final article and here we go.

Inventory management varies from store to store, company to company and industry to industry. However, the basic principles remain the same across the board. Inventory management ensures that you have the correct products in the quantities that you believe you will need. It is one part of the overall supply chain management that means that you know what you have, what you need to order, and how long it will take you go obtain more once you place your order.

Proper inventory management answers important questions, such as:

  • What items do I have?
  • How many of a specific item do I have?
  • When do I expect to run out of a specific item?
  • When do I typically run out of this item?
  • How many will I need to reorder?
  • How much stock does the supplier have of this item?
  • How long will it take for the supplier to refill their stock of this item?

How do you keep track?

There are several ways you can track your inventory. The most basic would be a simple spreadsheet where you log items in and out as you ship/sell and receive them. Another method would be to use dedicated inventory software on a computer and we have covered in the prior articles a number of viable options. Larger companies or suppliers use electronic data interchange (EDI) systems that plug directly into their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

What are the benefits of good Inventory management? 

Real-time Inventory Tracking:

Instead of taking the time to constantly count how many items you have in stock, an inventory management system enables you to keep track of all your inventory. You can call up any item in your inventory and check its status in moments, at any time. This saves you both time and money.

Prevents Unnecessary Ordering:

If you know how many of an item you have, you are much less likely to accidentally order too many of any one item. You do not need to rely on any possible miscommunication or recent sales that you are not yet aware of as inventory is updated in real-time.

Reductions in Cost:

Over-ordering is not simply a storage problem; it also ties up your cash reserves and can lead to loss or spoilage of product (depending on your industry). A good inventory management system enables you to be aware of exactly how much you have of something and when you will run out of it so you can avoid accidental over-ordering or waste.

Better Overall Organization:

Good inventory management helps you organize your stock or raw materials. You will clearly be able to see which items sell fast, which do not sell well, what times of the year certain items sell better than others, and more.

Better Forecasting:

If you can easily track how often products sell out, you will be able to avoid empty shelves because you will know when you need to order more before you completely run out of any product(s). Automated systems can be set up to send alerts to trigger automatic reordering of items once they reach a certain level. Inventory management systems also allow you to store and access past data so you can better forecast future sales and performance.

Improved Sales:

Utilizing a good inventory management system allows you to see when you are selling more of any items which provides you the opportunity to better promote those items to customers. It also allows you to determine which products are under performing so that you can eliminate items from your offerings that are not selling.

As you can see regardless of the size of your business or whether you are a retailer, supplier, vendor, or manufacturer, you need to be practicing solid inventory management techniques in order to always have a clear picture of what you have on hand.

To manage your work better, especially now that you and your team may be working more remotely, you may want to upgrade your computers and peripherals.  For this reason, VAMBOA has joined forces with Dell Technologies to offer VAMBOA members and friends significant discounts.

Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, we welcome you and want you to know that there are not any fees or dues.

Here is a link to join and spread the word:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Best Inventory Tracking Software

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

VAMBOA is pleased to bring you the fifth article in this special series on Inventory Management and the next to the last article.  Enjoy!

Based on some of our research, we found the following to be some of the best available inventory tracking software in 2020. If you need assistance selecting the right software for your specific business, we strongly recommend that you consider consulting a professional in this industry to provide you expertise on numerous vendors.

Below are a few recommendations for Point of Sale (POS) and inventory management software solutions that you may want to check out:

Infoplus Commerce:

Infoplus looks to be a good option for small companies planning on mid-level growth but may be a bit too much for smaller companies or startups. It is highly configurable and includes some warehouse management functions.

LS Nav:

LS Nav was developed by LS Retail.  It was built specifically for the retail and hospitality management industries. This tracking software also includes a mobile app along with the desktop software.  LS Nav allows you to quickly and easily organize and categorize your inventory, modify prices, and find your best-selling products.

Ordoro:

Ordoro is a cloud-based shipping and inventory management app. Ordoro includes barcode scanning and shipping functions, such as label printing.

ShopKee:

ShopKeep is another cloud-based option that was designed to be used on an iPad. You use your iPad as a Point of Sale (POS) device as well as your inventory manager. The app allows you to easily upload all your current inventory, keep track of top-selling items and track the costs and profit margins for each item.

SPS Commerce:

SPS Commerce is a very user-friendly system. It is used by companies of all sizes, large retail chains to small mom-and-pop stores and even suppliers. SPS Commerce even includes features that help you get your products into retailers all over the country, both large and small retailers and many you may not have heard of yet.

Vend POS:

Vend POS is a Point of Sale (POS) solution that allows you to categorize products by name, type, brand, supplier and SKU. You can also build customer reports and generate auto-reorders when a product drops below a pre-set level.

Wasp Barcode:

Wasp Barcode is a good inventory solution for smaller or medium sized companies that have as little as five employees but less than one-hundred employees. This system has cloud options, includes a barcode system, and inventory tracking software.

Zoho Inventory:

Zoho Inventory is the only solution on the list that offers a very basic free plan to try it out and this makes a lot of sense before you make an investment in Inventory Tracking Software. It is easy to set up and integrates with most of the popular ecommerce platforms. This is a wonderful way to test it out if you are a smaller company and just getting started.

VAMBOA wants to make the disclaimer that we are providing general information.  We are not endorsing any of these inventory tracking software products and we do not receive any revenues or fees from any of these inventory products reviewed in these articles.  Our goal is always to bring you excellent information to assist you in making good business decisions for your veteran or military small business.

Keep in mind that with a good inventory management system, you can take more control of your business, accomplish more, sell more items, and waste less time and money on your inventory. Stay tuned for the final article in this series on Inventory Management.

To manage your work better, especially now that you and your team may be working more remotely, you may want to upgrade your computers and peripherals.  For this reason, VAMBOA has joined forces with Dell Technologies to offer VAMBOA members and friends significant discounts.

Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, we welcome you and want you to know that there are not any fees or dues.

Here is a link to join and spread the word:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

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