Connection and our Mental Health

Melbourne is now in its second week of lockdown 6 and the feeling is low. In my many conversations over the past week, the words flat, unmotivated, sad, heartbroken, and heavy have been used to describe how people are feeling.

We, humans, are social creatures we thrive on connection with others. One of the greatest impacts on our health and wellbeing is our feeling of connection and belonging. With the current impacts of lockdowns staying connected has become increasingly difficult and yet more important than ever.

Feeling disconnected and not belonging leaves us feeling isolated and alone. Loneliness can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health which is clearly taking its toll when you listen to the language being used to describe how people are feeling.

When the connection is lost, we are more likely to see increases in:

  • Depression and suicide
  • Cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • Increased stress levels
  • Decreased memory and learning
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Poor decision-making
  • Alcoholism and drug abuse
  • The progression of Alzheimer's disease
  • Altered brain function

Before we ever heard of COVID-19 Smart Company reported in September 2019 that the mental health of our 2.2million small businesses in Australia is at a crisis point. The mental health issues among small business owners in Australia are more than double the national average.

Over half of small business owners compared to 1 in 5 of the general population are living with mental health issues from stress, low-level anxiety to depression.

Data on the 2020 -2021 period has not yet been released but I can only imagine the mental health of our small business owners being even higher.

So, what can we do?

  • Find ways to keep connected
    • Call a friend, family member, colleague, or customer. Check-in with the purpose of brightening their day and yours.
    • Play virtual games together like Golf Clash, Kahoot, Ticket to Ride, Water Cooler Trivia.
    • Join a group – check out the meetup platform for a range of groups. We’d love to have you join ours buildingconnections.com.au
  • Process your feelings as they come up instead of letting them build up. Let yourself be okay with whatever feelings bubble up.
  • Stick to a routine of sleeping, eating well and exercising
  • Breathe deeply and fill your lungs with fresh air…when you don’t need to wear a mask that is.
  • Be kind to yourself and others… kindness is contagious
  • Take control of your thoughts… you get to choose where you put your focus. Focusing on gratitude and appreciation is a great place to start.
  • Reach out for support when you need to “A burden shared is a burden halved”

Reach out to your:

  • Accountant or Financial Advisor
  • GP
  • Coach or Mentor
  • Building Connections community

Help:

  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
  • Lifeline 13 11 14

9 tips to working with new customers

Opening your emails to find a purchase order or receiving a call to proceed with a project is super exciting, believe me, I get it! I remember in the early years with our first business the rush of excitement when we got a project over the line… especially the big jobs with seemingly good margins. We would be so keen to get off on the right foot, to do a good job, and hope to secure ongoing work with the new customer that we were so focused on pleasing them that we lost focus on what our business needed.

Sometimes things worked out fine and other times we were left with little profit or never receiving payment that left us out of pocket. Running a business on emotion is not such a good idea. As a business owner, our responsibility to our business must come first. Systems and structure are essential across the business. It may seem a massive task but once you get in the swing of recording what you do and creating templates and processes as you go, you’ll be amazed at how smooth and efficiently things run.

The onboarding process is where you get to set your boundaries and expectations of each other. It’s much easier to have this clarity from the beginning to avoid awkward or difficult conversations down the track.

  1. Follow a checklist so nothing slips through the cracks
  • Putting structure around onboarding new customers will
    • increase cash flow,
    • saved time and frustration chasing money with
    • no need to use debt collectors or the SOP act,
    • plus fewer challenges on site
    • which all equals less stress and agitation
  1. Get all the details of the person or business responsible for paying you (it may be different from who you provided the quotation to).
  2. Check you have your customers correct ABN, full business name, and both physical and postal addresses. You may also want to get a copy of a driver’s license.
  3. Be proactive in getting the information correct at the beginning you could have an onboarding form to be completed by the customer or by your admin team. Check out our template in our member resources.
  4. Do you require a deposit to secure the work?
  5. Consider providing new customers with a welcome pack/email and include an introduction to your team, copies of your insurance, your bank details and payment terms, a workflow so they understand your work process, or a checklist for them to complete prior to work commencing.
  6. If you are receiving a purchase order or contract from your customer, make sure you read it fully and address any concerns prior to accepting the purchase order.
    1. Look at their payment terms will their terms impact your cashflow (some large companies have been known to pay 45, 60, or even 90 days from the date of invoice)
    2. Do they require copies of documents to be attached to invoices?
    3. Do invoices need to be sent to specific people?
    4. Is it a commercial project that requires a payment claim scheduled to be completed?
  7. Set your follow-up tasks to maintain the relationship. This allows you to keep on top of any obstacles that may arise early. If you don’t use a CRM you can use outlook or google calendars to schedule follow-ups or we like using the free version of Hubspot.
  8. Don’t leave anything to chance and if the arrangement doesn't work for you know when you to walk away.

7 Steps to create your Newsletter

Step 1 – Who is your audience?
If you haven’t previously done the exercise of creating an avatar (traits that make up your ideal customer), there is no better time than now.
List all the things you know about your ideal customer. What do they look like, what are their interests, where do they hang out, what’s causing them pain, what keeps them awake at night, what are the top 5 challenges they are experiencing?

Step 2 – Who are you sending your newsletter to?
Within your database, you will have customers and you will have prospects, those you have spoken to or quoted jobs for but not yet worked with. Keep in mind prospects are those that meet your ideal customer criteria, not everyone who you have ever met.
The purpose of the newsletter is to stay on the mind of your ideal customer, be seen as an expert, and with the long-term goal of generating more income.

Step 3 – What to write about?
People will only invest time in reading your newsletter if it is of value to them. So how do you provide the value you ask? Think of the challenges and interests of your ideal customer, these are the topics that will capture their interest and provide value.
• You can write an article yourself or collaborate with another business that has the same target audience and ask them to provide an article, case study or share a link to a service or application they have found useful.
• Promote a new product or service you are offering.
• Share any community involvement you have participated in – fun runs, volunteering, giving blood.
• Promote your point of difference – what is it you do differently to your competitors.
• Tips and tricks. Tips to choosing the right contractor. Safety tips.
• Awards or recognition, testimonials, or feedback from customers.

Step 4 – What to call your newsletter?
Your company name (Building Connections) Newsletter may not get readers hooked. A great example of a newsletter I always open, and a few others in the industry I know eagerly open when it arrives in their inbox, is the Safety Soapbox from Worksafe Victoria. The trigger for reading this newsletter is the photos of outrageously dangerous and stupid activity on work sites.
What will trigger your audience to open will it be a humorous name or headline, will it be images, will it be hard-hitting facts. Your message must trigger your ideal customer to open and read.

Step 5 – What to include in your newsletter?
• Seems a no-brainer but often a forgotten item is your business name, email, website, and phone number. Make it easy for your customer or whoever reads your newsletter to get in contact with you.
• Start with an exciting lead article and/or captivating photo.
• Do you have a product you could review, a new technique for delivery, an app or software you are using that could help your ideal customer.
• Do have a process that would be useful for your ideal customer to know about.
• Include a regular Tips and Hacks section to help your ideal customer achieve a specific action? For an electrician, it could be 3 steps to Electrical safety on building sites or 5 things you must know about….
What are some of the questions your customers ask? Make a list of these questions and create a list of tips.
• Upcoming events that would be of interest to your ideal customer.
o An annual customer golf day
o Fun run or walk you participating in or want to support
• Make your customers feel like they belong and introduce them to your team. This can simply be a photo of a team member each edition with a fun fact about them and what their role is in the business. Or you could interview your team member and make it a feature article.
• Invite someone outside of your business to write an article.
• Get a team member to write an article.
• Include a funny section in each newsletter. A funny story, a joke that relates to your industry.
• Celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, awards, etc of business, staff, or customers.

Step 6 – How to layout your newsletter?
• Headlines need to capture your audience immediately, list up to 30 headlines before you decide on which will create the biggest impact.
Some possible ways to start your headline
 Announcing …..
 Don’t ….. until you read this
 Now available
 New …
• Aim to make the headline 25% of your article.
• Keep your font size at around 10 points.
• In general, too much print in one block turns people off so break up articles into small paragraphs and indent them.
• Subtitles are also useful to draw attention when skim reading.
• Include pictures as most people are visual, add a caption under the photo. I always check out photos and captions before reading an article how about you?
• Keep your layout simple and easy to follow. Refer to newspapers and magazines for ideas on the layout or use applications like Canva to format.
• A one or 2-page newsletter is sufficient if you have pages and pages chances are you will be wasting your content and energy.

Step 7 – How often to send a newsletter?
This will depend on your ideal customer. Think about the newsletters you receive, and ask yourself these questions. How often do you want to receive a newsletter? What makes you unsubscribe to newsletters is it the content or is it the timing?
You may want to look at your annual calendar and reverse engineer scheduling newsletters to coincide with things happening within your business. You may decide to send quarterly starting with a New Year theme or a business anniversary (5 year anniversary of opening).

 

Source Instant Repeat Business by Bradley Sugars


Untap a goldmine of opportunities in your business

Do you maintain a database or are you flying by the seat of your pants?

Whether you call it a database, a customer list, or a CRM you will have valuable customer data sitting in your business that is an untapped goldmine waiting to be unlocked.

As with many trades businesses time is chewed up working in the business and little time is left to work on the business. Yep, I hear you “how the F… can I do it all!”

When we’re caught up in the cycle of doing it’s hard to see a way off the hamster wheel. When our first business coach told us 12 years ago, we should be spending at a minimum 5 hours a week working on the business it seemed impossible, if we spent time working on our business how could we possible reach our financial goals, how could we keep our customers happy, how could we get everything done we were already working long hours and feeling exhausted.

We’ll turns out they were right the more time we invested working on the business the more successful the business became. The massive rewards weren’t confined to the business either the more structure we put in place the happier our team, customer and family relationships became.

So back to your data base! It costs around 5 x more to gain a new customer than to nurture an existing customer, it makes sense to maintaining great relationships with the ones we have.

Outboundengine.com recorded the following stats in a recent blog

  • Obtaining a new customer can cost 5 times more than retaining an existing customer.
  • By retaining 5% more customers you can potentially increase profits from 25-95%.
  • You are 60-70% more likely to sell to a customer you have previously worked with, whereas the chance of selling to a new customer is 5-20%.
  • A customer experience agencydiscovered that loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering.
  • American Express found 33%of customers will consider switching companies after just one instance of poor customer service.

Makes perfect sense but where the hell do I start, you ask.

Managing a customer database or a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) doesn’t have to be super complicated or expensive, but it does require time and commitment to keep the information accurate and up to date. A time investment that will repay you tenfold.

Step 1 – You customer data base is made up of people who HAVE spent money with you.

You’ll want at a minimum to record their name, contact number, email address and address. You can use an excel spread sheet or a CRM software application.

You may also want to record;

  • Type of business as an example commercial builder or homeowner.
  • Date they started trading with you.
  • List of projects worked on and profit margin.

A customer has already cost you money to acquire hoping, wishing, and praying they will return won’t get them back. Your customer base is where you build a tribe of raving fans that will continue selling for YOU! The trick is to surpass their expectations consistently.

Step 2 – Get clear on who your ideal clients are.

Rank your customers A, B, C or D

A = Your ideal customer – jobs you love doing, profitable, the customer pays on time, and you enjoy working with them and you have established a good relationship and done multiple jobs for them.

B = Potential to be ideal customer - jobs you love doing, profitable, slow payer, haven’t established a relationship, have worked on more than 1 job.

C = Cut or Cull – No repeat business, no relationship. Are they potential A customer? Do you build a relationship with them?

D = Cut – difficult to work with, don’t like the types of projects, unorganised, don’t pay on time.

Step 3 – So by now you are clear on the customers you want to work with and those that you are going to let go of.

The next step is to understand the needs of your customer and how often you need to be getting in touch with them. You could choose to tag by number of weeks between contact 4, 8 ,12.

Step 4 – Now that you have ranked your customers and tagged them with frequency of contact the next step is to create an ongoing customer engagement journey. A process that will enhance the customer experience and make sure you stay front of mind.

When your customers feel like they belong and a part of your tribe they will become an extension of your marketing.

Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking about your process.

  • Follow up after quotation.
  • Confirmation call prior to arriving on site.
  • Follow up call after work completed.
  • Call to discuss changes in legislation.
  • Industry insights
  • Send out a survey.
  • Newsletter bimonthly
  • Nurture calls every …. weeks or a week after your newsletter and use it as a topic of conversation.
  • Closed door event once a year
  • Anniversary card - recognising how long you have worked together.
  • Christmas/special holiday cards
  • Birthday cards
  • Baby gifts or card
  • Wedding gift or card
  • Celebration cards for clients reaching a milestone or winning an award.

What is HR? Do I need help?

What is HR? Do I need help?

When you have come from a small business the likely hood is you have never been exposed to a HR department. You may be wondering what is a HR or Human Resource department? HR department’s purpose is to recruit, onboard, train, manage employee records and updating of training requirements, performance appraisals, workforce engagement, payroll, and compliance.

As a small business owner there has been much head holding over the years when it comes to managing the process of employing and growing a happy, healthy, and productive team. I remember those early years and to be quite honest even recently feeling completely overwhelmed with understanding aspects of the Building and Construction On-site award… eek what a head spinner.

Starting out we had a grand vision of growing a team and being the leaders and business owners that others would aspire to. Not quite as easy as I thought!

Like many small business owners starting out I’d attempted to do everything myself and rely on the online services offered by ATO, Business Victoria and industry associations. What a rabbit hole I’d find myself in.

Attempting to do it all ourselves obviously increases our workload, stress levels and often our ability to take care of our own mental health. I’m sure at some stage we’ve all experienced the wrath of an overworked, stressed and exhausted boss and assured ourselves that we would never behave in such away. Yep, I turned into that person I swore I would never be.

In the eagerness to grow our business and cope with the workload employees are often employed hastily with little thought to our obligations as an employer.

Speaking with many employees and fellow business owners the number one thing that seems to be overlooked is a clear job description that out lines responsibilities and how those responsibilities will be measured. The second is employee agreements or contracts setting the boundaries and expectations of employment.

With process in place, boundaries, standards, and expectations clearly stated for both employer and employee we can manage our team with confidence and concentrate on the most important aspect. The health, wellbeing and productive of us and our people.

We are all people; we all have stuff to deal with as leaders we can make or break someone so lets all aim to be great business owners and leaders.

I have invited Peter Maguire form Ridgeline HR to speak at our next Building Connections “Laugh and Learn” so if your looking to learn more in a fun environment click here

How to get in front of potential clients?

How do I get in front of potential clients?

At last month’s Building Connections “Laugh and Learn” we had Allen Cook from Conversion Digital join us as our guest speaker.

Allen shared loads of useful tools to help us monitor our online world, how to improve our visibility and how to manage our reputation.

Often, we get so caught up in our routines or dare I say it bad habits (you know the checking emails or phones and getting sucked into a web of information that steals hours from our day) that we loose sight of the super important task of marketing our business.

Marketing must be our number one activity! Without marketing no one knows who we are or where to find us, what problem we solve or the value we offer.

One of the interesting points Allen bought up was the use of Google My Business (GMB). Surprisingly only 1% of Australian businesses are using GMB… now that’s a massive opportunity to stand out from your competitors. And it’s pretty simple to do!

Here’s what I learnt:

GMB

Creating a GMB page

Your Google my business page is ultimately another website for your business and a tool to drive traffic to your official business website. When someone does a google search for your industry – example. Plumber near me. You GMB page will pop up under the local map, potential clients can then click on your profile and see your open hours, read, and add reviews, ask questions, find out more about you, call you, and click the link to your website.

If you don’t have a GMB page google will step you through it https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778/

Once you have a GMB page

  • fill in all the information, location, open hours, services… add as much info as you can.
  • Add your logo and some photos showing what you do
  • Regularly (at least once a week) post a photo and content.
  • When posting content keep it promotional by answering questions your customers would be asking or sharing something educational about your business or service

Optimise content.

Use keywords and phrases in your GMB posts and in you website and Blog content to improve your SEO.

One really useful tool to optimise content is the answer the public website you get o ask one question a day for free and you get to see what questions the public are asking google.

Another great spot to look for content and optimising phrases is looking at the bottom of the google page and you’ll see what else people are searching for.

Upvote content on your site by commenting and encourage others to share their comments.

Become an encyclopedia for your business

Create blogs that provide your customers with knowledge.

Encourage the asking of questions on your GMB page and answer every one-off them.

Include interesting information and statistics on your website.

Business reputation

According to RevLocal 87% of people trust reviews as much as a personal referral. Which makes keeping on top of reviews super important. Allen recommends doing a weekly search on your business name to see what conversations are going on.

Ensure you comment on every review the good the bad and the ugly.

Yes, you will possibly get a review that isn’t 5 stars. Think of this as an opportunity to really stand out from the competition and respond with a heart centred response if the client has had a bad experience. Shit happens and it’s not always possible to keep everyone happy add to this you don’t know what’s going on in their world and what small issue could have tipped them over the edge.

Some response examples:

“Thank you for your sensational review we are happy to have been of service.”

“We are so glad you had a positive experience. Thank you for the warm words.”

“My sincere apologies that you experience …. We appreciate you bringing it to our attention and have now addressed this issue”.

“We'd love to clarify what has happened for you, however I've checked our data base and we don't have any record of a contract in your name.

I'd also like to note that there has been a few cases where our business has been confused with another business "……." and I'd like to confirm that we have no affiliation with this other business and we only operate out of ”………"

Feel free to contact us at ………..”

Reviews are gold and well worth investing the time in asking you customers to write a review.

Allen suggests aiming for 40 Google reviews, that way any bad reviews from unsatisfied customers or competitors will not drag down your overall rating.

Monitor performance of your website.

Did you know that search engines rank your website by Loading speed, Visual stability and how quickly can you interact? Google want people using their search engine to have a great experience so be sure to check your website vitals regularly to keep in their good books.

Allen shared that an increase of .10 can increase conversion by 8%

Add visiting these sites to you weekly or monthly tasks to make sure you pick up an issues

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

https://gtmetrix.com/

Did you find this information useful?