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Starting a Business? Skip the Plan

Not all entrepreneurs need a business plan. Most start-ups succeed because the founder had an authentic vision and clarity of purpose, not a well-written document. While not all planning is bad, the content that most business plans focus on has little to do with the reality that will actually emerge. Instead of agonizing over a document, focus on identifying exactly why your business should exist. Clearly articulate the bigger goal at hand, whether you call it vision, purpose, or calling. This will guide you and the business. And remember that the team is more important than any plan. It’s worth spending time making sure you are working and partnering with the right people.

Partnering with the right suppliers is a very important investment and must fit with your business plan.

Telephone Answering and messaging services should work like they are your team and behave like they are your partners if you are to achieve the growth you are expecting. This service is essential if you are starting a new business as you can then focus on growing and nurturing your business, the company you partner with should be as passionate about your business as you are and they should be interested in helping you grow your business.

Accountants should be proactive and be able to give great advice when you need to resolve an issue.

IT support is essential as all business must have communications and email as well as web presence.

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It’s not always about missing the call it’s about how it’s answered

Over the last two years we have been evaluating our business and looking at what makes us so different to other answering/call centre services. We have had the pleasure of visiting a call centre and looking at what they do compared to us and really we are poles apart in what we do.

Obviously we answer calls just like they do but that’s where the similarities stop. Yes we answer the call and capture the information. The way we do this is very different because our receptionists (Not Call handlers or operators as they would be called in a call centre) answer the call and will know who the call is for but will know a little about your business and also all your staff members as well as the departments they are in
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In a call centre the call handler will have a call pop up on their computer screen which will tell them which company the call is for and also a script for how your call is answered . Their job is to answer quickly and really get you off the line as soon as possible so they can answer the next call. This is because call centres work on volume and really not always quality. They will only have limited options for whom to send the information to.

We on the other hand also answer the call but without formal scripts or time limits on taking the call because we would rather get as much information as possible. This sometimes has helped the companies we answer calls for actually gain more relevant and pertinent information. One example is when one of our receptionists answered a call and the person was a little forward and pushy about talking to the director, he came across as a hard-nosed sales person. We had a long conversation with the person and found out exactly what he wanted. It turns out he was actually the director of a well known national company and wanted 100s of his projects to have this particular product installed. Initially he was only talking about one project but when our receptionist asked the question he advised that it was really for hundreds of projects. Of course we transferred the call to the director informing him of the importance of the call. The sale was closed a few weeks later but turned out to be in the millions of pounds. So you see it’s not always about missing the call but more about how the call is answered.

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View your business in the eyes of your customer.

On a recent Hotel Inspector the advice that Alex Polizi gave the business owner was view your business through the eyes of your customer and in so doing would you can see what you provide as the first point of contact with your company and the customer experience given. Often the gap between service expectation and service delivery can be quite wide but this gives opportunity to improve and minimise this gap

This is so true when you evaluate your business. We are always looking at this mainly because I am out of the office for days at a time and can benchmark my service when my receptionists send me a message or transfer a call to me. As well as this I sometimes call in without my phone ID showing so again know how well the calls are answered. This way I always get what my clients get and so I have almost a daily idea of how they we are doing.
When I ran a well known Pizza franchise outlet I had to benchmark from day one because the store i bought was failing badly. Of course trying the products is one but again there are so many ways to evaluate how well your service is for the customer. I used to call customers weekly to see if they were happy with the service and product and was it hot enough on delivery. By doing this regularly the gaps began to show where the business was failing and after 3 months I implemented changes to improve the service, product and sales. These were simple to implement as it involved retraining the team and making sure the changes were effective again with asking my customers.

Just those simple changes gave me an increase of over 50% in sales.
An example of great service with poor follow up.

We asked a double glazing repair company to take a look at the windows in our home to get them repaired. They answered the call well and were quite friendly so this made me feel that this company will give me great service. The company came and took a survey of the windows in question and even gave me a tip on how to get the lock on my patio door to work. The sales person even sprayed the lock and it worked a few days later. I though how nice and great service.

They then let themselves down by not providing a quote or even contacting us again. I guess they have too much business.

I have to admit if they had answered the call in an unfriendly way then I would have not carried on with the conversation.

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A Testimonial

This is unedited and from one of our clients.

Hi jet

I wanted to say a big thank you to yourself Rita and all the team you guys and gals are my most important supplier; the service you provide is amazing your team always answer my calls professionally and when taking sales calls provide excellent information for me to follow up the call.

Please feel free to provide my details to any of your perspective clients if they require further recommendations.

All the best

Stuart and all at Retro-me

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The Best Strategy for Reducing Stress

Imagine you’re on holiday, sipping a cold drink and listening to the water lapping on the beach
Relaxing, right? Not for my friend Tom

Tom is not usually stressed-out. For many people, Toms daily work would be hair-pulling stressful — he’s an estate agent who routinely deals with a multitude of nagging problems related to tenants, banks, property management, and rapidly changing valuations. But Tom routinely handles it all with steadiness and perspective.

So why was he stressed on holiday? The same reason most of us get stressed: frustrated expectations. Tom was expecting an important call on his mobile phone and he didn’t have signal where he was. He was experiencing the gap between what he expected to happen and what was actually happening.
That’s the underlying cause of stress and it’s afflicting us more these days than ever because our expectations keep rising, thanks in part to exponential improvements in our technology.

“How quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 10 seconds ago.”He said. I fall into this trap, and most people around me do too. We expect more not only from our technology, but from each other and from ourselves.

So what can you do about the stress and frustration that comes from unmet expectations? You have two choices: Either change the reality around you (Not so easy to do) or change the way you run your business by making some changes.

Of course if he had used us (telephone-answering.biz) to answer his calls and either advise his customers he is away and we can get his assistant to deal with the problem. Tom would have had a relaxed holiday without stress and knowing his business is fine and all his customers are taken care offand of course return fully recharged to and ready to take on the challenges ahead.

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