Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Staying in Control When Everything is Out of Control

If you're anything like me, the way I gain control when everything is out of control is do something....ANYTHING.

Sometimes the distraction of learning a new skill or sitting in on the countless COVID-19 SBA CARES ACT webinars, seminars and online video calls gives my brain the chance to form a plan of action I wouldn't have thought of if I only focused on the problem. 

I find that because I help such a variety of business owners, I always need to switch gears to whatever pertains specifically to their business. That little shuffle helps my brain take a break, gives me that feeling of accomplishment and leaves little crumbs behind that eventually come up when making new plans in a situation like the one we are all currently facing.

There are so many training sites that have free certifications either COVID-19 or specific to your business.  Why not take an hour each day, improve your skills and share the results on social media so everyone sees you are working at solutions.  

Not only does this make me feel better to share something positive and optimistic, it's rewarding to be a small part of the solution and that's encouraging. 


Ok Small Business owners, let's do what we do best.  SURVIVE! THRIVE! LOOK ALIVE! 
Here are 5 ideas of what we can do now to be prepared to bounce when we reopen.

1.Dentists: Call your patients and remind them to floss! Its all about staying in touch. 
2.Barbers/Nail Techs/Hair Stylists/Colorists:
Let's be real... you don't want your clients looking ragged.  Your best advertisement is when they still look great 6 weeks later (ok maybe not great, but not gross either). Send out group texts or videos with a tip of the day (a little gel goes a long way, paint your roots with eye shadow & hairspray, you get the idea)
3. Restaurants, delis, caterers, dessert shops, coffee shops: Of course you're doing delivery and curbside pick up. But, some people just don't want delivery every day or they forget you're out there.  Why not post a daily easy DIY family recipe (that may include an ingredient they can  order from you like pizza dough or capers) on your social media. They'll have fun and trust me, they'll call you when they want the good stuff. 
4. Home improvement, landscapers, florists, contractors: You know we need you! But to stay top of mind share basic "how to" videos so folks can do the basics until you can get together again.  
5. Real Estate Agents: This one is easy.  STAY IN TOUCH!  If you've got a listing sitting on the market right now, your client doesn't know your value until you show them. Share video of the listing on social media, change it up, lengthen the descriptions to demonstrate the features of each room and amenity. No open houses? There sure are when you post a room by room, cabinet to closet walkthrough.  Add  internet video to your email newsletter (search  email video integration)  This is a great time to get buyers' attention.... what else are they doing?

Get the point? If you have a way to email, text or call your customers (especially our beloved senior citizens) while everyone is home, they will appreciate you now and remember you when it's time to reconnect.
Success can be as easy as finding new ways to serve your customers' needs and maybe adding a whole new dimension to your business.  

Be well everyone! See you soon!


The CARES ACT needs to care for small business or the US will be filled with bankrupt businesses (99.7% under 500 employees) and unemployed workers. 

It was a mistake to allow so much $ to go to chain restaurants (eventhough it was a separate section) and callously divide the rest between several special interest groups instead of the small restaurants and businesses the act was intended to help. 

In addition, the SBA needs to communicate directly with small business owners.  It was clear from the beginning that the same banks bailed out in 2008 were only interested in their own needs.  The money was given to the businesses that make them money. 

There was no incentive for the banks to pay staff to distribute loans that will be 'forgiven' leaving no interest or principal for the bank. 

And let's talk about property tax. Where will the payments for that come from? Landlords can't collect rent which often goes straight to mortgage and property expenses and homeowners haven't collected a paycheck or unemployment in a month. NJ needs to discount these "dues" to allow homeowners to catch up.

Let's see what happens this week. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Minimum Wage Increase Doesn't Help Minimum Wage Workers

Raising minimum wage to $15 an hour is bad for the economy,  business AND minimum wage workers. 

Most employers pay what they can afford while they struggle to keep the lights on. The higher minimum will require either schedule cutbacks, layoffs or higher prices IF the business doesn't close.  This will have the $15 an hour worker NOT making ends meet at a higher salary...AND...they and their employer WILL be paying additional income and assorted payroll taxes on the higher wage.
Also, the reduced staff will reduce customer service while increasing the burden for the remaining workers. 
The business owner will also lose good workers who were already paid $15 an hour because they will want the same un-affordable % increase.
The simple answer is that NJ should LOWER TAXES & TRAIN lower wage workers to earn more because they will then be worth more.  This helps with a 'hand up' to all New Jersey residents not a 'hand out' that won't help.
So, we've created a petition to tell Governor Murphy to get it right for NJ workers: Sign this petition if you agree that to earn more,  an employee needs to be worth more. Tell NJ to lower property, sales, gas & income taxes AND provide training grants that require minimum wage workers improve their skills before they earn a raise to $15 per hour. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Don't Blame The Internet

At a local shop, I asked for a price of an item. There were two on the shelf with no price.
FOUR sales personnel were chatting with each other at the desk. They looked at each other and finally decided the item should go into storage because they had no price, no one to ask, no customerservice system.
I left the store and found the item in 20 seconds online.
Do not blame the internet for the empty stores you see in your neighborhood.
TRAIN YOUR STAFF!  ....and why did this store need more staff then registers or customers anyway?
SECRET SHOP YOUR STORE: If you can't afford a service, ask a friend.
Give a friend a gift from your store or a local restaurant and ask them to check a list of what's important. Here's a list to get you started:
1. Was the sales area neat?
2. What were the staff doing?
3. Did anyone greet you?
4. Did anyone offer to help you?
5. Did you feel welcome?
6. Did the staff talk to you during your visit?
7. Did anyone make suggestions during your visit?
Use the results to train your staff and reward them for increased sales that result from their efforts.
The fact that someone enters your store is huge! Your staff needs to understand that it is a privilege to serve your customers. 
They need to be reminded, often, how return customers make a difference to the success of the store and their job.
If someone shops local,  they enjoy building a relationship with you and like to know they matter. Make them feel that way and you won't need to fear the internet.
Need customer service training in Northern NJ? We'll shop your store and tailor a class just for you. CALL-ISG

Thursday, May 24, 2018

20 Point Annual Business Review - take a few minutes to keep your business on track

20 Point Annual Business, Bookkeeping, Marketing, Event Planning Review

Here are some items to consider each year.  This doesn’t replace advice from your attorney / tax preparer.
__1. Are there any business deposits that are NOT income? ______________________________
__2. Are there any expenses that should be booked as personal? __________________________
__3. Do you owe any estimated taxes we should remind you of during the year? _____________
__4. Are there any additional accounts, credit cards, savings, check books, etc. that we should include? ____________________________________________________________________
__5. Are there any leases, payment plans, loans we should be tracking?  Did you purchase or sell any large equipment this year This doesn’t replace advice from your attorney / tax preparer for bookkeeping guidelines.
__6. Did you file your NJ Annual Report? _________
__7. Do you have an Alternate/DBA that needs to be renewed? ________
__8. Do you have any business licenses that need to be renewed?____________
__9. Have you added any products / services that are taxable? If you’re not sure-we can check.
__10. Do you have any plans to sell or dissolve your business in the next 2 years?  Are you prepared for the related taxes, fees?  If so, let’s set up a meeting with your attorney/tax preparer.
__11. Do you have any insurance or pension plans to monitor? Let’s set an appointment with your representative.
__12. Have you reviewed/updated your company manual? What’s new in your industry?
__13. Have you had the chance to review your vendor costs, banking and credit card providers?
__14. Customer satisfaction: Have you surveyed your clients for an idea of what products/services are most popular, need revising or replacement?
__15. What are your plans for team training this year? We can help with Customer Service and Software Training or help bring in presenters from industry vendors.
__16. Is your website up to date (SEO, SEM, products/services/blog, mobile ready)?
__17. What marketing did you do last year? Expect to repeat this year?  What worked/what didn't? It’s important to set a budget for marketing/advertising that reflects a portion of sales or a set amount based on anticipated sales.  We can help get you to the right plan and budget.
__18. Are you planning any direct mail or event marketing? We can help with preparation and followup.
__19. Have you considered a 'customer appreciation' day/event/mailer/gift/handout? No budget? We can help you get creative!
__20. Are you making the most of your local Chamber of Commerce and trade/networking organizations? These are a great place to pick up new ideas, connect with business owners, find new vendors and promote your products and services.

Need help with this list? CALL-ISG! 973-334-3110

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

7 reasons postcards are a great tool.

Direct mail continues to be a great marketing tool. Here are 7 reasons we like to keep post cards in your toolbox:

Post Cards Are:

1. Cost effective
Cheaper than a letter to print and mail.

2. Easy to measure success
Add a coupon or bounce back message and collect the responses.  Better yet,  return it to your customer to reuse next time!

3. Creative top of mind
Statistics show that many clients return to a business after receiving a reminder.

4. Easy call to action
It's a quick easy way to see your message.

5. Readership extends beyond the recipient.
Nothing to open.  Everyone it passes get to see the message.

6. Compact reminder
Whether it contains a coupon or appointment reminder,  it fits anywhere from purse to pocket or bulletin board.

7. Post cards don't land in spam!
Humans still filter their mail personally.  Your message has a 90% chance of being read. Add attractive color and text to catch the viewer's eye and your message is sure to stay on top of the pile!

Need help making post cards a part of your marketing mix? Call ISG today: 973-334-3110