Cuting Buinsess Expenses – Changing Business Strategies

Jar of Money

Dear M&M:

I am trying to cut down on business expenses and was thinking I would skip sending out Christmas cards this year.  What do you think?

– Melinda

Dear Melinda:

If you are asking is it WORTH sending out those season’s greetings to your business contacts? Yes!  With building a relationship with your clients and prospects, a business Christmas card acknowledges that you took the time and effort to think of them. These tips will help you use business Christmas cards to build a relationship with your clients and prospects:

Don’t go overboard with designer labels and customized messages on your business Christmas cards. Dollar for dollar, no one really cares if you handwrote your company’s name or if it was printed onto the Christmas card. Include a business card with your business Christmas card. If family and friends are your customers too, I would suggest sending out two separate Christmas cards. Send out an extra Christmas card just from you that is not business related. Always include a handwritten note inside the business Christmas card. Make it short and sweet. For example, “All the best in the New Year, Bob!” And don’t forget to spell the contact’s and company’s names correctly. And don’t forget to send the assistant a business Christmas card, too. Never underestimate the importance of the assistant.

 -M&M

Dear M&M:

As the New Year approaches, I was thinking to change some of my business strategies, how do I do that best?

– Raymond

Dear Raymond:

Changing business strategies typically involves analyzing your current business practices and determining where and when adjustments are required. Adapting your business model involves risks, so plan ahead and examine alternatives before taking any action to modify your company’s strategic plan. Introduce changes slowly and be prepared to return to your previous strategies if your new strategies don’t pan out for your business.

Step 1: Examine your key performance indicators. Look at revenue, sales and other metrics. If sales are down or customer satisfaction lags, conduct focus groups or surveys to get more information. Changing customer requirements could dictate major restructuring by your company in order to remain competitive. Review industry benchmarks to see if there might be a long-term industry shift that may impact your business.

Step 2: Introduce a new initiative. Expand a current product line or market it in a totally new way. For example, sell your products through an online store instead of a more traditional retail business. Look for new customers who may not currently be targeted as consumers of your product. Investigate new forms of communicating with customers such as social media technology.

Step 3: Ask your employees, suppliers and partners for their input. Find out what they hear firsthand from customers and competitors. Adjust your business strategies to exploit opportunities. For example, change your hours of operation or pricing model if those actions can help you remain competitive.

Step 4: Conduct market research. Tap into resources such as the Hoover’s, Nielsen or Forrester websites to get information about leading companies in your industry. Use these websites to get free access to selected research reports, newsletters or audio and video content. Sign up for email notification about new research that can help you shape your business strategies. Get details about salaries, reorganizations and cost-cutting measures at other companies producing similar products and services in your industry.

Step 5: Communicate and train your employees on new business strategies. For example, if your company shifts its focus to place more emphasis on customer support, ensure your policies and procedures reflect this new strategic direction.

Step 6: Rate your employees on the critical skills needed to adapt to achieving the new business strategies. Identify performance gaps and, if necessary, recruit, interview and hire new personnel who possess these skills. Provide opportunities for these new employees to coach and mentor existing personnel on new technology, techniques and practices to help your company succeed.

Step 7: Evaluate your business strategy adjustment six months after you make the changes and then again after a year. Analyze the results and impact on operational metrics. Expand programs that show promise. Cut back or refine programs that produce less stellar results.

 -M&M

To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email  hollism@svedf.org

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