Posts Tagged ‘Business’

3 Ways to Engage Your Customers

December 27, 2011 1 comment

By Heidi Adams

CONTESTS:English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

Run a contest in-store or on Facebook or BOTH to promote a new item you’re going to carry.  Perhaps give consumers the chance to name it.  Name this new cookie flavor and win, a month’s supply.

If you’re not in the cookie business you could have them guess the amount of something or come up with the next promotion themselves.  It’s a great way to get feedback.   The prizes don’t have to be expensive, remember you’re catering to people who already like you.  Something like a gift card or even merchandise you were going to put on sale anyway works fine in this instance.


If you’re like a lot of small businesses, you are trying to grow your online following.

Post from the Madison College Libraries page.

A fun thing to do on a Facebook Fan page is a give-away.  The giveaway would be randomly drawn from your list of fans once you reach a certain number.  For example, the Madison College Library wanted to reach at least 600 likes and they chose to give away a nook color once they reached that number.

Another tactic is to do smaller prizes but more of them – an example would be “help us gain 20 fans by the end of the week and we’ll give away a $15 gift card.”

If you’re a business that works with vendors frequently, you might be able to ask for some free product to help promote.  It’s always a great way for them to advertise, too.  “We got a set of widgets from our widget vendor, comment on this post and be entered to win them.”


So you thanked the customer after they paid for their merchandise.  What about when they got home, or even the next month to see if they are still happy with their purchase? You might think it’s excessive, but if done the right way it will build your relationships.

Here is an example,  you up-sold the customer at your salon on a new shampoo that would work for them.  What about emailing them or better yet- Facebook messaging them to get their opinion?  You could word it like, “Thanks again for coming in last week!  What do you think about that new brand, is it working for you? Let me know what you think”

If you have the customer snail mail address, write them a letter, “Thanks for doing business with us. We hope that welder is getting some good use, let us know how it’s going and send us a pic of your work!”

In this rough economy a little goes a long way.  Be sincere and say thanks!

If you have ideas or thoughts on customer engagement comment below or write us an email:


Less Stress POS (Point of Sale, that is.)

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Marshawn Hunt

The everyday task of any business can be very stressful. Swamped with paperwork, invoices, and other task? Make it easier on yourself get a POS System. A POS system helps with the maintenance and the growth of a business. Point of Sales systems help eliminate stress caused by hardships of the workplace. Why do all the work when you don’t have to?

A POS system reduces the amount of paperwork a manager/owner has to fulfill at the end of a business day. POS systems are consistent and accurate when filling out paper work, invoices, and keeping track of orders. It allows the manager/owner to be aware of other responsibilities that come with running a store/business.

“A good POS allows you to allocate your human resources to the customer service area of the business” Gary Ruffing says. That means they no longer have to be counting, calculating, ordering, and checking cash-register accuracy. (Gary Ruffing, senior director of retail services for BBK Ltd., a business advisory firm in Southfield, Mich.)

Business owners who are pretty busy may not have time to be at the store or place of business as much as they want. Problems could arise at any moment, when the manager isn’t there to acknowledge and act on the situation. With a POS system any employee can access and perform a variety of task on the POS; it is a well formatted and accurate system. “A POS lets you have that important level of control when you’re not there” says Jim Melvin, chief executive officer of Siva Corp.

POS systems helps maintain; prices, and quantity of products that are carried in the chain. No more dealing with papers which get lost, or unorganized filing arrangements. Stores run out of products all the time, the POS systems help with tracking products, and how many/what time particular items are being sold as well.

POS systems eliminate the stress and hassle of doing exhausting paperwork. Technology is evolving as we speak! POS systems are working as you read! POS systems lighten the workloads of managers and business owners. POS = less stress.

Here are 7 reasons to switch to a point of sale system.

Jump start small businesses with Groupon

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Steve Krause
If you’re a discount shopper you’ve probably heard about the online discount web site known as Groupon.  Well after hearing about this from a few friends of mine I decided to see what all of the hype was about.  After doing a little research online on, I learned that Groupon is a group buying website where discounts on products are offered in certain cities or regions where it could be 75% to 50% off of random products like hygiene supplies, services like spa therapy, or a certain meal at a restaurant.

Check out buzzraid for more details on the logistics!

However, the only way customers can take advantage of these “hot deals” on Groupon is if a certain number of people buy the discount which makes it a win-win for the customer who gets the discount and for the store owner’s who get enough business to make the discount worth their while.

This buying website is a great tool for business owners to not only get people into their doors, but it’s also a way to attract new customers to your place of business as well.  With Groupon members constantly getting email alerts about discounts in your store they have to make the effort to forward the Groupon deal to their friends, family, co-workers, basically anyone they can to try and get enough members to take advantage of the discount and make the online voucher valid.

Sure, you’re probably going to have to offer somewhat of an outrageous one-time discount like 50% to 75% off on a product or service you offer, but if enough people buy the discount on Groupon to make the offer valid, odds are you’re going to get all of those customers who bought the discount into your place of business to use the voucher.  Once you get the people into your place of business to use the online voucher they might be inclined to buy other products or services you offer or even become new loyal repeat customers.  Makes sense doesn’t it?

I feel that this could be a successful tool for smaller businesses to attract new customers and help their businesses grow. With the way consumers are pinching pennies these days, what better way to get them into your place of business than to offer them a great discount.  The hardest part about starting up a business or even maintaining a business is getting people into the door.  That is the beauty of using Groupon for your business is it gets people into the doors.  After that it’s up to you to build a relationship with them and retain them as a long-term loyal customer.

I recently read a small business Groupon success story in an online article in Inc. Magazine written by Jason Del Rey entitled, “How to Use Groupon to Boost Sales”.  The article states how a small brewery owner Matt Lincecum woke up one Wednesday morning and his office phone was ringing off the hook, for hours.  The article went on to say how the calls were so overwhelming that he had to direct them to the company voicemail with the greeting, “We love you very much, but we are overwhelmed at the moment.  Please check our web site on Monday to make reservations there.”

The article also went on to explain how Lincecum’s brewery, Fremont Brewery, partnered with Groupon to offer a tour of the brewery, a pint of beer, and a pint glass for only $7, a discount of over 50%, but led to such a demand for brewery tours that Lincecum had to hire another person to help give and schedule the tours.

That’s a classic example of the power of Groupon and how it can help jump start a small business and provide an abundance of business overnight.  Groupon targets and attracts deal hunters and penny pinchers, but if you get them into your store and have them leaving happy and satisfied not only will you possibly have a new loyal customer, but you also have some dam good word-of-mouth advertising as well for they will be telling their friends and families about this new small business they love that they found on Groupon.

The Photography Industry Goes Digital

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

By Beth Eggemeier

kodachrome 200

Every industry that has experienced major change over the last 2 decades is a result of technological advancements. Technology advances in the digital revolution has replaced film in the photography industry. Kodak’s Kodachrome film ruled the photography industry for decades, but on September 14, 2010 the very last roll of Kodachrome film produced was given to famous photographer, Steve McCurry to shoot “old-school” film photos.

It ended an era. The emergence of digital photographyhas fulfilled consumer’s demands. It is now the preferred media for capturing photos. In our fast paced society, consumers are unwilling to wait to see photos of their loved ones, photos can be viewed immediately, which means instant gratification.  Editing images in a digital format can be done by the average person and the photos can easily be printed at home.  All of this,

Image representing Photobucket (Old) as depict...

Image via CrunchBase

without loosing any quality in the images.   Digital photos are easy to share with friends and family, which has sparked an emergence in online photo sharing sites such as Flicker, Photobucket as well as the surge in consumer’s sharing via variety of social media outlets.

Digital photography provides opportunities for small businesses and their marketing efforts. Historically, business owners paid top dollar for professional quality images for developing marketing collateral, product catalogs, and adding visual interest on their websites.  But as the technological advances in digital camera equipment increases, the prices remain affordable.  Business owners can now create visually robust marketing pieces much more affordably in a do-it-yourself fashion or by hiring a freelance photographer.

Nikon D700 camera

An extremely good quality digital camera can be purchased for about $500.00-$800.00.  Today, brands like Canon and Nikon are leaders in the consumer market.  The availability of price friendly equipment has resulting in many individuals exploring freelance photography businesses.  There are over a hundred photography studios in the Madison area, many of which are small freelance businesses who are able to provide high-quality digital images for marketing purposes.  Seeking out a freelance photographer for your next marketing campaign just got more affordable!

If you are interested in learning more about photography, there are many educational programs offered in Photography and Visual Communications at Madison Area Technical College.

You also might enjoy reliving the Paul Simon Kodachrome song from the 1970s!

Technology in Restaurants

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

During the economic recession of 2008, no industry was hit harder than the restaurant industry.  With consumers struggling to get by, it seemed that the first costs to get cut by families and consumers to tighten up their budget was eating and dining out at restaurants.

Slowly but surely the economy began to make a turn for the better by 2010 and currently in 2011 is continuing to head in a positive direction.  With that said however, the restaurant industry still continues to face difficult challenges to get consumers into their doors.  Restaurant owners continue to monitor current trends to help them increase annual sales and reach their customers more effectively.

One current industry trend that is on the rise is and restaurant owners are keeping an eye on is the rise of mobile hand-held technology use.

HTC Aria android 2.2 smart phone review

Image via Wikipedia

In the article, “The 7 Trends of 2011”, written in QSR magazine by Jordan Melnick, Melnick sites that Dennis Lombardi the executive vice president of food service strategies for WD partners stated about mobile devices, “ It’s the wallet of tomorrow, the Wi-Fi of tomorrow, the internet of tomorrow all contained in one device.”

With this current booming trend of mobile hand-held use, restaurant owners are devising ways to take advantage of the current trend to boost business and sales in the restaurant industry.

Melnick stated in the article, “Gaining access to consumers as they go about their daily lives is the marketing holy grail, especially for restaurants, which can benefit immensely from being able to reach consumers at that crucial time when craving strikes.”

The use of mobile devices not only can help restaurants get customers into their doors by receiving discounts and promotions on their mobile hand-helds, but can also give customers the option to txt in their orders ahead of time and transfer order history from one location to another offering convenient ways for their customers to communicate and conduct business with their favorite restaurants.

The use of mobile hand-held devices is not only a growing trend for the consumer, but is being considered as an advantage of by many restaurants in house.  Melnick stated in the article that Peter Wolf, CMO at Partech, said, “ restaurants in 2011 will begin to broadly integrate mobile technology into their in-store operations.”

By this, Wolf means that restaurants will begin to provide their servers with mobile devices to take orders from customers or running entire POS systems on mobile tablets.  Another emerging mobile trend in the restaurant industry is the use of mobile apps to cut out the middleman like severs or cashiers to complete and pay for orders with the use of the mobile app will also start to be on the rise for consumers in their dining out experiences.

Other emerging trends in the restaurant industry include using mobile devices to display information about products and product lists to their customers with the use of mobile devices.  In the article written in Nations Restaurants News entitled, “ Technomic Predicts 11 Trends for 2011”, written by Mark Brandau, Brandau states that, “ Look for restaurants to gain a competitive edge with the new technologies and applications, including kiosks for ordering and displaying nutritional information, iPads for displaying wine lists, and hand-held devices for providing tableside payments.”

These are new and innovative ways to convey information to their technological consumed customers through the use of hand-held devices giving the business owners a competitive advantage in the restaurant industry.

In the technological world we live in today which consists of individuals becoming more dependent on their smart phones, tablets, etc.  It’s clear that there are many ways for the restaurant industry to take advantage of these current trends to improve customer satisfaction and interaction. Creating customer convenience can and will benefit the in-house operation of a restaurant. By using POS hand-held software’s and displaying product information in new and unique ways to consumers they can enhance the dining out experience.

Krystal restaurant wi-fi poster in Birmingham,...

Image via Wikipedia

It will truly be an effective way to improve the restaurant industry in the hard economic environment we live in today.  Mobile hand-held devices are becoming a way of life for consumers and offering apps and other opportunities for customers to interact and do business with your restaurant is an emerging trend that will surely keep your business ahead of the competition.  I encourage all restaurants owners to incorporate some of these emerging mobile industry trends into their businesses before your competitors do to not get left behind in the mobile madness that is sweeping our nation.

Groupon Collective Buying Power

December 14, 2011 1 comment

Written By: Jai ingersoll

Groupon has become a trend that offers a very useful tool for businesses to use with their online marketing campaigns. Groupon offers competitive daily deals with large discounts normally between 40% – 90% from top local business in over 100 U.S. cities.  The definition of Groupon taken from their site states, “Groupon uses the power of collective buying to create hundreds and thousands of new customers every day where each deal goes viral and often sells into the thousands”. Brands Groupon currently works with are consumer pacakaged goods, beer, wine, and spirits, fashion, accessories, diet and fitness, health and pharmaceutical, automotive, electronics, financial, beauty, entertainment, and travel.

For instance, you can purchase $40 for $85 worth of aromatherapy facials from A Healers Hand, located in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.  All deals includes a link to post to twitter, email, facebook send and facebook like.  Listed directly under the deal is a description of the business, a link to the website and facebook page,  testimonials , reviews and links to online articles,  and additional offers.

A referral service is offered in order to help facilitate and increase memberships.  If you refer a friend to Groupon, you can get $10 in Groupon Bucks once they purchase their first deal.  Groupon Bucks can be used toward any Groupon purchase, and they never expire!  You can share your personalized referral link using the tools listed on the left of the page by sending it via email, facebook or twitter.  If someone joins Groupon within 72 hours after clicking your link, Groupon will notify you within 24 hours of their first purchase and will automatically send $10 of Groupon Bucks to your account, and includes unlimited referrals.

GrouponWorks is the process by which business can set up a Groupon.  GrouponWorks offers businesses valuable new customers, efficient measurable marketing, and exposure via social media and face to face conversations.  Groupon can help you grow your audience, expand your market and deliver millions of qualified consumers with custom sponsorship and feature opportunities.  Groupon offers Merchant Services to educate merchants so they have the most satisfying Groupon experience possible with the highest return on investment through deal optimization, capacity planning tools, redemption cycle planning, editorials, webinars and simple redemption tracking.   They also offer a day of feature support to prepare you for the day of your feature with advice on customer service, website readiness, and discussion board practices.  Groupon can be consulted for feature support, promotion follow-up, best marketing practices, two-way ratings feature, and education via newsletters and webinars.   Groupon Now!™  Real-time deals that attract customers exactly when you need them.

According to an article in Time/Moneyland, posted in May of 2010, 23 million Americans bought daily deals at Groupon.  Mashable states that Groupon is worth $12.7 Billion, and began trading stock publicly as of Friday, November 4th, 2011.  Groupon’s top competitor is Living Social valued at $6 billion and climbing.  Groupon may or may not be a trend in the future, but with the type of marketing that can be done by almost any business using this tool, there will certainly be other new business models like Groupon popping up to join the bandwagon.

Making sense, of WaterSense

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment
by: Kim Musel
What does being “Green” mean? In the plumbing industry this does not just mean more efficient in that it uses less electricity, but that it uses water more efficiently with less waste and with less pollution “downstream”.
In 2006, the EPA launched the “WaterSense” program. It is a program ran through the EPA that creates and maintains voluntary water efficiency standards. While the program is currently voluntary it is a major driver for standards and practices within the industry to reduce water use, save resources and money, and is going to become law in several states including Texas and California by 2014.
If a product has a WaterSense label that means that it meets certain minimum environmental standards, for example, being 20% more efficient than average products, performing as well or better than the old standard, and that they provide real savings as proven by a third-party certifying organization, such as Underwriters LaboratoryGeorge Morlan WaterSense toilets
The WaterSense label can be found on sinks and faucets, shower heads, toilets, urinals and even a whole new home. So while everyone wants the luxurious multi-head shower towers, or the huge waterfall shower heads, they can still have that luxury without all of the waste.
Emissions Requirements for Plumbing Equipment?
Who thinks that they need to worry about emissions for a water heater? But think about it. Any appliance or “machine” that burns a fuel has exhaust emissions. In Texas and Southern California, areas that have particularly high pollution rates, especially in large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston and Dallas, it makes sense to look all sources of pollution, not just cars. For a natural gas fired water heater to be installed in Texas or Southern California a third-party must certify that the appliance meets specific low NOx (nitrous oxides) requirements. The current requirement is that any emissions being vented directly from the water heater into the atmosphere contain less than 40ng/J of nitrous oxides.
When Gray is Green So, how about recycling our water. really, I’m not kidding. it’s not just possible but becoming a real trend, especially in more arid areas where using anything just one time is seen as irresponsible and wasteful. This “Graywater” is water from showers, laundries, dishwaters, or collected rainwater etc. and is being collected and reused for other non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets and irrigating landscapes. There are even new technologies that allow the gray water to be filtered to the point where it is cleaner than when it came into the home in the first place.
What else is going on?

Did you know that the temperature just six feet under your feet remains at a constant temperature all year around? Geothermal heat pumps can not only heat our water but our homes as well. A geothermal loop system can be installed either straight down or outlying within a trench.

Geothermal power technologies

Image via Wikipedia

 During the summer, excess heat from the house can be returned back to the ground where it is cooled and returned back into the home to cool the house, and vice-a-versa, during the winter, the warmth from the ground can be harvested to heat your home and your domestic potable water supply. I have a co-worker who did this last year and experienced significant savings over the old propane furnace and water heater that she previously had. She also now has central air conditioning that she never had before.