Small Business : Big Goals

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As a Business Relations Consultant with the Better Business Bureau, I’ve had a great deal of conversations with small business owners that share a common question, how to survive in today’s economy? I wanted to share some information that I studied recently from Tai Lopez. If you are already incorporating these, great, but if not, I hope this might be a help.

  1. Gaining Knowledge

In sales, I found that the end goal is to convey an understating of a product or service no matter what that industry is. This requires reading websites, magazines, books to have a better understanding of my customer. Even Tony Robbins said to read a book a day. Gaining knowledge not only subjects of interest but also, things that might not interest you will give you a competitive edge over your competition. This happens by knowing your customer and relating to them all levels.

  1. Strategy

Having a plan is something everyone says, but truly is an idea! To have a plan of action is the key. For instance, if a business owner is looking for a way to get more foot or internet traffic they could use BBB e-quote program that generates leads from people who visit our site on bbb.org/akron. Or using the accredited seal on their website to establish trust with a potential customer who are looking for companies who have demonstrated sound business practices. BBB offers those tools and more, but having a strategy is vital in survive in this economy.

  1.  Execution through Immersion

The last point that Tai brought up was being immersed in gaining knowledge and your strategy. One of the Webster’s definition for immersion is deep mental involvement. It takes a commitment to the strategy, from the small detail to the overall goal of your plan, you have to believe and commit to that belief that it will work So as a small business knowing the culture, being able at times to engage in conversation with people from all different background, building a relationship with the community, strategically planning how to grow, increase your web presence are a few ways to survive in this economy.

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Orlando Romine
Business Relations Consultant
oromine@akronbbb.org
http://www.bbb.org/akron

 

 

 

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How to Open New Doors with Social Selling?

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One of my first jobs after graduating at Kent State was in sales. My Uncle who was also in sales asked “Do you know the ABC of selling?” I said “No, what is it?  He said “Always Be Closing.” I took that advice to heart and it helped in the beginning. However, having a mid-set that your leads and prospects will close automatically if you talked them into it is increasingly more difficult.

Our society today, social interaction is mainly driven by technology. Consumers have an opportunity to research and fact find without a sales person, so it’s important to use the ABC of social selling.

What is Social Selling?

Jill Rowley’s #SocialSelling takes the ABC idea to social selling with the term Always Be Connecting. Social selling gives a salesforce a powerful tool to learn about customers before even speaking. More importantly, you are building a relationship far before you make a call. Customer who are on Linkedin, or Facebook are real people, so having relatable posts or pertinent information that would be a help to their industry is key. This also gives you an understanding on what challengers your company can help them solve.

What social media should I use in social selling?

In my research many of the contributors leaned towards LinkedIn for potential customers. This is a more professional site and would have the potential customer’s business information instead of children’s pictures, rants about the Cleveland Cavilers or other personal information. The exception to the rule is current Facebook friends. If you already have a connection with friends and established relationships, you should engage them. An example of this is one of my High School friend who is now a relator. She has a business profile on Facebook and I already was friend with her.

Hopefully, you can utilize Social Selling as a great tool, make lasting relationships, and be a solution to your customer’s problem.

Contact BBB of Akron’s Orlando for more information on this topic, or to discuss opportunities your business can have when partnering with BBB.

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Orlando Romine 
oromine@akronbbb.org
330-564-2484
bbb.org/akron

The Sour Truth: Used Lemons?

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Maybe this will sound familiar. You’ve researched car buying guides, looked at maintenance records, and studied ratings.

You have done your research, haven’t you?

You decided that a used vehicle would be the perfect fit for your budget. Now at last you are ready to begin. With a racing pulse and slightly sweating palms, you begin sifting through descriptions of thousands of cars online, filtering, sorting,and ultimately driving over to take a look.

Umm…. You did go look at the car, didn’t you?

OK, let’s start there.

#1 – There is no substitute for “kicking the tires.”
Internet access to car dealerships and online ads has brought a vast inventory to the consumer’s fingertips. But there is no substitute for a visit. You need to make sure the description matches the ride. A picture online, or even a phone call to the seller, is no substitute! The best rule of thumb is probably to purchase from an established dealer near your community. In this way, when service is needed it is possible to return to the place where you made the purchase.

#2 – You knew I was going to say this, right?
Make sure you check the BBB’s Business Review and letter rating of a dealer before you visit. We have many auto dealers in our area who place a premium on customer service. Find out who they are and patronize them.

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#3 – Inspect the vehicle, or better yet, have the vehicle inspected by a third party you trust, someone who is not emotionally involved in the sale. Either take a mechanic with you to the lot, or ask to take the vehicle to a mechanic on your testdrive.

You are going to test drive the vehicle, aren’t you?

This is critical. If the dealer will not allow a third party inspection, buy your car somewhere else.

#4 – Finance terms matter.
Financing. That’s another topic altogether, and we will talk about that another day. But while we are talking about the third biggest expense for most people (after taxes and homes), we just have to say, read your sales contract and any finance terms if applicable. Many consumers make the mistake of stopping at the monthly payment. (“I can totally afford this!”) Forty-eight months (four years!) later when the car has lost its luster, they start wondering why they are still making payments and pull that paperwork back out.

That’s when they discover they are paying two to three times the purchase price of the vehicle. Consider paying cash now for a lesser vehicle and start putting money aside monthly for the next one. That way you’ll be paying yourself insteadof someone else.

#5 – It may surprise you to find out that in Ohio and many other states, “Lemon Laws” pertain specifically and exclusively to new cars. In other words, legally there is no such thing as a used lemon.

#6 – Although many people believe they have three days (or a month, or 15 days, etc.) to return a vehicle if they experience a problem, Ohio law provides no such protection. When you sign a purchase agreement and drive your car off the lot, it is yours unless otherwise specifically stipulated in your sales contract, and that is rare.

#7 – There are two basic protections against breakdowns or repair costs. The first is something called a “We Owe” sheet. If you or your mechanic discover a problem, and you would like the dealer to fix it as a condition of sale, you must have it noted in writing that the dealer will fix the problem.

The second protection against certain types of problems is a warranty. There are many different kinds, and as a general rule the more things they cover, the more expensive they are. In most vehicle purchases, a warranty is a negotiated or added term of the sale. Some purchase such as Certified Pre-owned may include a warranty as a part of the purchase price.

#8 – In some states, even used vehicles must pass an inspection before being put up for sale or driven on the road. Ohio is not one of those states. Remember, a car purchased in Ohio will not necessarily pass an inspection in New York.

As always, your BBB recommends that you look for one of our accredited partners.

Research. Inspect. Look for the seal. Start with trust! And happy hunting!2Q4A6586

 

 

Dave DeShon
Dispute Resolution Consultant
BBB Serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit & Wayne Counties 

BBB’s Holiday Helper: A Guide to Gifting and Giving

 

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Although retail stores skip right from ghosts and pumpkins to tinsel and mistletoe, the Thanksgiving weekend is still the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Better Business Bureau is offering these tips to shoppers:

Do your research. Find businesses you can trust on bbb.org. We have BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses, from the most popular chains to local shops. Read past customers’ experiences and see how the business responds to complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses carry the BBB seal and have pledged to uphold our Standards for Trust, as well as handle complaints promptly.

Read the ads carefully. Black Friday is known for “door busting” sales, but sometimes quantities are limited or there are other restrictions. Before you wait in line for hours or brave the boisterous crowds, be sure you know what’s really being offered. For more tips: bbb.org/blackfriday.

Shop around. Not all of the best sales or the best prices are in the big box stores. Thousands of small and independent businesses are participating in Small Business Saturday on November 28. Look for the “Shop Small” signs at local businesses for Small Business Saturday specials or visit shopsmall.com for a list of participating retailers. For more tips: bbb.org/shopsmall.

Be safe online. The National Retail Federation expects online sales to top $105 billion this holiday season. Shop safe online; look for a small lock icon and an extra s in the URL (https… the extra “s” is for secure). Watch out for look-alike websites that mimic famous brands but that may be a scam. Use a credit card for online shopping, as it has more fraud protections than a debit card. Make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited email and social media messages. For more tips: bbb.org/cybermonday

Be wary. Cyber Monday is one of the biggest online shopping days, but beware of scams. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for holiday-related cons that require you to link to a website and share personal information. Scammers take advantage of bargain hunters, seasonal job seekers, and harried parents looking for the hot new toy or latest gadget. A popular holiday scam comes in an email claiming to be from a package delivery service. If you see a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker so we can warn others.

Give wisely. Charitable giving is always high at the holidays when donors are feeling generous. Giving Tuesday on December 1 is all about being generous after the shopping frenzy. Make sure the charity you select will be a good steward of your money. Check out give.org for charity reviews from BBB Wise Giving Alliance. For more tips: bbb.org/givingtuesday.

Check out bbb.org/akron to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam, read tips, follow us on social media, and more!

Giving to Charity? Follow these Tips.

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This is the “giving” season! We know that it feels good to get presents this time of year, but it feels even better to GIVE. This year, your BBB urges you to review the following tips before you make any charitable donations as not every “charity” is to be trusted. Make the biggest impact with your donation by following the tips listed below.

  1. Get the charity’s exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem.Thousands of charities have “cancer” in their name, for example, but no connection with one another.
  2. Resist pressureto give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor.
  3. Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals. What matters is what the charity is doing to help.
  4. Press for specifics.If the charity says it’s helping the homeless, for example, ask how and where it’s working.
  5. Check websites for basics. A charity’s mission, program and finances should be available on its site. If not, check for a report at www.give.org.
  6. Check with state charity officials. In many states, charities are required to register, usually with the office of the attorney general, before soliciting. Click http://www.nasconet.org/documents/u-s-charity-offices/for the relevant office in your state.
  7. Don’t assume that every soliciting organization is tax exempt as a charity. You can readily check an organization’s tax status at www.irs.gov/app/eos.

For more information about charity reviews – visit your BBB’s website here or contact Kim Ickes.

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Kim Ickes, Director of Administration
Better Business Bureau of Akron
222 W Market Street
Akron, OH 44303
Serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit & Wayne Counties 
p: 330-253-4590

BBB’s Laws of Life Essay Contest Under Way in Area Schools

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“Love. Perseverance. Gratitude. Compassion. The laws of life are the core values that we take with us wherever we go and whatever we do. The Laws of Life Essay Contest challenges young people to discover for themselves the values that will guide them throughout life.”

The Laws of Life Essay Contest asks students in grades 9-12 to self-reflect and write about ethical principles that will help them develop leadership skills and their character. And in the processcollegestudent_twitter, they will learn more about themselves and what they stand for after reading the UncommonSense® FRAMEWORK. Plus it gives teachers the opportunity to really get to know their students and encourage empathy and compassion.

A local contest is as simple as one teacher and one class — or whatever works for your community. All resources are available on BBB’s website to start the contest. Download them free at: go.bbb.org/akron-lolessay

The Teacher’s Guide has suggested lesson plans and essay prompts and suggestions on how to integrate this writing assignment within state and Common Core standards.

“The Laws of Life contest fit perfectly into our 10th grade curriculum, giving me a chance to review narrative writing skills with students early in the year and then revise and edit with students until the due date. I incorporated several standards and used an essential question to get students interested in the assignment: Where do we come from, and how does this shape what we believe?  Students really enjoyed creating narratives based on their own strong opinions and beliefs. I was so proud that 5 of my students won cash prizes!

This really boosted their confidence and got other students asking when the next competition would be. Even parents were excited! Being recognized for their work, let alone winning a monetary prize, is a first for many of my students. Therefore, I am thankful to the BBB for this wonderful experience, and we cannot wait to participate again!”

Ms. Aubrey Denton, English Department, Ravenna High School

The BBB of Akron sponsors this valuable experience for Ohio’s youth because we believe that to have trustworthy businesses tomorrow, we must encourage strong character in our youth today.

For more information about this enriching program – visit your BBB’s website here or contact Kim Ickes.

Kim Ickes, Director of Administration
Better Business Bureau of Akron
222 W Market Street
Akron, OH 44303
Serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit & Wayne Counties 
p: 330-253-4590

LOL-Web

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Button Up [Your Lawn]

Few areas of the U.S. present such a variety of weather conditions over a twelve month period (hey, sometimes over a twelve hour period!) as our area of Northeast Ohio. The climatic conditions challenge homeowners to be thinking months ahead as we plan our fall maintenance activities.

Lawn and yard maintenance experts point out that the healthy, green lawns of spring actually start with the work we do in the fall. Fall lawn maintenance plays a critical role in overall lawn and garden health even as we prepare for the cooler temperatures of winter.

The experts recommend several fall activities to foster a healthy lawn in the spring:stockvault-autum-in-ohio102462

  • Aeration – Aeration promotes root health. By perforating the soil, aeration relieves compacted soil and built up grass, and increases the flow of air, water and nutrients into the soil. Fall is one of the best times to perform this essential maintenance activity.
  • Overseeding – Overseeding, the planting of additional grass seed into existing turf, repairs the stress and damage of summer drought, insects, and foot traffic. Overseeding in the fall gives the new shoots the maximum time to develop a deep, extensive root system and mature before the onset of the next warm season.
  • Watering – If a lawn has a dry appearance or brown areas, moderate fall watering helps to regenerate plant growth even in this slower growing season.
  • Mowing – Don’t neglect mowing in the fall. Mowing actually helps keep your lawn healthy and free of weeds and lawn damaging insects.
  • Raking and Dethatching – Gently rake and remove accumulated layers of leaves and plant debris regularly. This activity allows your lawn to breathe.
  • Grub Control – September and October are the best time to treat your lawn for grubs, while they are still active and before they burrow deep into the soil for winter.
  • Bird Feeders – Clean and ready feeders for heavier usage during the winter feeding season.
  • Bulbs – Plant bulbs in the fall for spectacular spring flowers!

Many homeowners choose to leave their lawn care to the experts. Our BBB area has a multitude of high quality accredited lawn maintenance companies.

Many lawn care services require home owners to sign a contract of some kind. Your contract stipulates the number and frequency of visits, and the types of services the lawn and landscape maintenance company will provide.

If you presently use a lawn care company, review your contract carefully and plan any desired changes for next year. In particular, look for any clause that provides for automatic renewal or “opt-out” requirements. Such clauses stipulate that, unless specifically canceled, the terms of a contract are automatically renewed the following spring. Such clauses are included as a service to consumers. If you are satisfied with the service you received this year and you have an opt-out contract, in many cases you do not need to renew since that will take place automatically.

But what if you are not satisfied with some aspect of your service, or wish to add additional services for the 2016 growing season? Check your contract carefully for the specific method required to cancel or modify a contract. If you wait until the snow melts to begin this process, you may be surprised to look out your window some day early next spring and find the company’s crews busily preparing your property for summer.

And of course, when you consider a company for lawn maintenance or landscaping services, be sure to check our website, www.bbb.org/akron, to find accredited businesses in your area and check their ratings. You can also contact our office if you have any questions about companies or the services they provide. Let BBB help you find the businesses you can trust!

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David DeShon, Dispute Resolution
Better Business Bureau of Akron
222 W Market Street
Akron, OH 44303
Serving Ashland, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit & Wayne Counties 
p: 330-253-4590