Thursday, 19 May 2011

Lesson Four: Good admin is vital!

Picture the scene. You go out and sell up a storm today – every customer you see loves your product and the orders fly in. Next week you deliver 1000 units to 20 clients, and they all promise to pay you in 30 days. You go out with your friends to celebrate the success of your business and everyone is envious of you.

Thirty days later you’ve continued your hot selling streak and deliveries are flying, but no money is coming in. You call your first client to ask for payment, and he says he hasn’t received an invoice from you. By now you’ve forgotten how many units you sold him, so you invoice him for 800 when in fact you delivered 1000. You get paid 30 days later and think all is good when in fact you’ve actually lost money on the deal. The same happens with the rest of your clients except that you bill them for 800 units when you actually delivered 500. They get upset with you, and you’ve lost valuable clients.

This may seem far fetched, but you wouldn’t believe how many times this (or something similar) happens each day in South Africa. Believe me when I say that bad admin has ruined more businesses than you would believe.

When you deliver to a client, get him to sign a delivery note and make sure you have a copy. The delivery note should at the very least have the date, customer’s name, how many units you delivered, and the signature of the person who received the goods. Now when you invoice him you know exactly what you delivered and you have his signature should he ever dispute anything with you.

The opposite is also important. Check your supplier’s invoices to see that they reflect the right number of units and that you have been charged the agreed price. You don’t want to pay too much and waste your hard earned profit.

You might be busy, but don’t ever neglect your paperwork. Good admin is a vital part of any business, big or small.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Lesson Three: How to maximize conversations with clients!

Don’t swear!
You will never, ever score points with a prospective client by littering your speech with swear words. I’m certainly not a prude but I’m always amazed when people use foul language at a business meeting or appointment. At best the client won’t mind; at worst he or she will take offence. Either way you aren’t enhancing your prospects of making a sale or keeping a client.

Don’t say anything which might offend during conversations with clients – running down a religion, race or population group and swearing are two absolute no no’s.

Don’t badmouth your opposition
Nothing irritates me more than when a salesman runs down his opposition while trying to sell me something, and most people I speak to feel the same way. It’s rude, unprofessional, and will very rarely score points with your potential client.

If asked about opposition products rather acknowledge their good points, then explain why your product is superior. That way you give the impression of being up to speed with what’s happening in the market place; unbiased and professional; as well as displaying good knowledge about your own product.

Assess the situation
If your client is frantically juggling phone calls and issuing orders to staff, it probably isn’t the time to try to engage him in idle chit chat. In that situation your best bet is to ask if you can come back at a more convenient time. You won’t have his full attention so don’t even try to launch into a sales pitch because you’ll be wasting your time.

Accept a cup of tea or coffee if offered
Time spent with a client is never time wasted. The more you are able to talk and connect with your client the more chance you have making a sale (provided you adhere to the two points above of course!).

Accepting a cup or tea or coffee guarantees you time with your client – use that time well.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Lesson Two: Under promise and over deliver.

If you think a customer’s order will be ready within 5 days, tell them they can have it in 7 or 8 days. That way you give yourself breathing space in case something goes wrong (and believe me, they do!), or you look super efficient when you deliver earlier than expected. Never tell a customer he can have delivery in 5 days and then take 7 days to deliver – that’s an absolute no no.

Switch roles and see how you feel if you send your cellphone in for repairs and they tell you it will be ready in two days, but five days later you’re still waiting. You’ll be breathing fire and screaming at whoever you can get hold of. Some companies seem to think that if they tell you the truth about how long a job will actually take, then you’ll go to a competitor instead. In a minority of cases this is true, but most of the time it’s not. One thing is for certain though – that customer will never use you again if you take five days to deliver when you’ve promised to complete the job in two days. Given a choice, most people will continue to use your services if you do a good job and deliver on time, even if you are slightly more expensive than your competitors.

This week end we went to a restaurant with some friends, and after an hour the hostess came to our table and promised that our meals would be another three minutes. Twenty minutes later there were six hungry, very unhappy patrons still waiting for our meal! Even though we all enjoyed our food we all said that wouldn’t go back to that restaurant.

The restaurant could still have rescued the situation if the hostess had apologized for the delay and brought us two focaccia's with their compliments.

Mistakes happen – but you can still impress your client by accepting blame (don’t make excuses if it’s your fault) and giving him or her something extra to compensate for your mistake. 

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Business Advice Part 1

I said I would be sharing some business advice with you over the next few weeks, and below is my first installment. My experience has been as a small business owner so these thoughts are largely directed at SME’s and entrepreneurs, but I’m sure anyone in business will be able to relate.

Please feel free to post your comments (good or bad) and let me know if any of this has been a help to you.

1. Look After Your Clients

No matter what business you’re in, you won’t survive (let alone thrive) without clients. They are the people who pay the money which allows you to put food on your table and pay your rent or bond. Without them you don’t have a business.

Stats show that it costs 8 to 10 times as much to get one new client as it does to keep a current client. That’s why you need to do everything possible to keep your current clients coming back to you.

We often hear that we give poor service in South Africa, and while in some cases that might be true, you can use it to your advantage. Assuming that your prices and the services you offer are the same as your competitors, you can keep customers coming back to you by giving them better service than anyone else.

Better service doesn’t mean constantly contacting your clients or bombarding them with emails of your latest offer, because that can drive people crazy. Rather concentrate on doing the basics right.

Always be friendly and courteous. You’ll be surprised how something so simple can result in repeat business. Everyone has a life outside of work, so find out what your clients’ passions are. You won’t believe what a difference it makes to your relationship if you can spend a bit of time discussing golf, fishing, fashion, cars etc before trying to secure an order. 

When you’re asked to quote do so as quickly and efficiently as possible, and make sure you include everything your client is asking for.

There’s an old saying which is very apt: “In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king”. In business this translates to meaning that if your competitors are giving terrible service and you’re giving good service, guess who the customers will end up using. Remember that the reverse is also true!

Give your customers better service than they expect and they will always be your customers.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Business Advice for Small Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

I don’t have an MBA from Harvard; I’m not a doctor of business; I’m not a billionaire and I’ve never written a best selling book on how to succeed in business.

Then why have I decided to give advice on how to conduct business? What qualifies me to dispense these pearls of wisdom?

The answer is simple. I’ve been in business for over 25 years. That means that I’ve had my share of successes and failures; I’ve enjoyed the rush of landing a huge order and the despair of losing one which I had banked everything on getting. I’ve dealt with bank managers who only want to loan you money if you can prove that you don’t need it; I’ve faced the reality of having to cut my losses and close a business which was sucking the life out of me.

In other words I’ve paid my school fees and lived to tell the tale. More importantly I’ve learned (usually the hard way) what works and what doesn’t work in business. If I can help only one person to avoid the pitfalls that I went through and to apply the lessons I’ve learned over the last 25 years, then I will have achieved what I set out to do.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing some things which some of you may already know, but will be a revelation for others. Please let me know if my articles are helpful and feel free to reply with any advice you may have on how to be successful in business.

- Tooky Johnson

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Monday, 11 April 2011

In the Spotlight with Tooky Johnson...


Tooky Johnson is currently the director at Biztown.  He studied at UCT and has been involved in sales and marketing all his life.

Tell us a little about Biztown and how the idea came about?
I've always preferred dealing with people I know rather than with strangers. Firstly because I feel I can trust them more, and secondly I prefer to support my friends and hopefully they will reciprocate. Trouble is I don't know what businesses my friends from school, varsity, sport etc are involved in, and I realized that most of them don't know what I do either! Biztown was designed and launched to fill that gap, and luckily a lot of people seem to also like and support the concept.

What makes Biztown different?
Biztown is like combining Facebook with The Yellow Pages - it's a business tool designed to let you deal with real people rather than faceless companies. It also gives us all a platform to let our  friends, acquaintances and anyone browsing the site know what services we can offer them.

Who is Tooky Johnson?
I'm a spearfisherman who has to work to support my passion! Seriously though, I've been involved in sales all my life and have seen that "its not what you know but who you know" that so often counts. I've lost out on business because a potential client would prefer to deal with his or her friend, and I've also supported friends rather their opposition for the same reason. Biztown stems from there and I've wanted to create this site since the internet first came on the scene.

Why did you decide to go with TheMagsBrand?
Mags is such a household name in SA and she's also such a fantastic, bubbly person that I liked her from our first meeting. She's been out of the limelight for a while now which makes her an even more obvious choice. People will see or hear her and think "I wonder what she's up to now". They can go onto Biztown and find out!

What do you hope to achieve with Biztown?
I would like to see Biztown become the preferred search platform for everyone looking for a new supplier. I want every one of our advertisers to get new people contacting them for business because they've seen their profiles on Biztown. 

Who should advertise on Biztown?
Anyone who wants to attract new customers. Anyone who knows the value and importance of advertising your business. Anyone who's never advertised because they think it's too expensive.  At R149 per month its the most innovative, cost effective advertising you'll ever get!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Website Update

We're changing our home page slightly to add even more value to our advertisers. We will soon have a "Featured Profile" on the home page, and its absolutely free to all our advertisers.

Your picture and profile will appear from time to time on the Biztown home page, which gives you and your business fantastic exposure.

The only catch is that you need to have a photograph of yourself on your profile, as we will only be featuring profiles with pictures. It's dead easy to add a picture (if you don't know how to do it ask anyone between the ages of 8 - 18!). 
Please make sure the picture doesn't exceed the size indicated.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Biztown hits the airwaves

As we've mentioned Mags vd Westhuizen is the voice behind our East Coast Radio advertising campaign.

It's time to turn our radios on and tune into East Coast Radio - 94.95fm frequency - Durban, because starting next week Monday a total of 25 thirty second ads will be broadcast!

Tooky Johnson who spent the morning with Mags in the East Coast Radio studios yesterday had this to say about the experience, "She hasn't lost any of her charm and personality since she was last on air, and the live reads sounded amazing."

We can't wait!

For those of you who are 'out-of-towners', you can tune into East Coast Radio via http://streema.com/, which is a free online radio tuner - how great is that?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Facebook or Twitter?

According to Facebook statistics, Facebook has more than 500 million active users, 50% of which log onto Facebook on any given day.  As each user interacts with an average of 130 friends, this means a total of 700 billion minutes spent looking at Facebook pages every month.  A vast number indeed.

Twitter on the other-hand currently has more than 190 million users and has grown substantially over the course of five years.  According to the Twitter Blog, a post titled #numbers, Twitter was up and running for 3 years, 2 months and 1 day before it gained its one-billionth tweet.  And look at it now - a billion tweets every week!

So which is it for you?  Do you think Facebook has a better platform for publishing rich media or do you find yourself leaning towards the clutter-less Twitter, that leaves you free from your friends latest Farmville updates?

Whatever your preferred social media, we at Biztown have got you covered.

For our Facebook Fans you can find us on:-
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Biztown/127966373924984
and for those Tweeters we have:-
http://twitter.com/#!/Biztown_SA or look for us @Biztown_SA!

Make it your business!!!

Monday, 4 April 2011

New Face of Biztown!

Hi Everyone

It’s hard to believe that the first quarter of 2011 has come and gone already. It seems like just the other day that we dusted off holiday cobwebs, sent kids off to school and prepared to do battle with the new year. January, February and March have come and gone in the blink of an eye and we’re already into the second quarter.

We are pleased to tell you that during March we concluded negotiations with Mags Van Der Westhuizen of Big Brother and East Coast Radio fame. Mags has come on board as the Biztown Brand Ambassador, and we look forward to a long and happy relationship with her.

Mags is a well known personality throughout South Africa, with an instantly recognizable face and voice. She is the face behind our online banner campaigns, and the voice behind our East Coast Radio advertising campaigns. Her association with Biztown has already reaped benefits, and we anticipate more and more browsers using Biztown to find new suppliers as our advertising gains momentum.

Our advertising news is that we currently have an online banner campaign at www.iol.co.za. I O L stands for Independent On Line, the news website of The Independent Group which is the biggest newspaper group in South Africa. We have also signed a year long agreement with East Coast Radio, where we will have 25 thirty second adverts broadcast each month. Our advertising is what draws new browsers to Biztown, and we are committed to growing our browser numbers substantially this year, leading to better and better exposure for all our advertisers.


Keep a look out for Mags!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Biztown Blogs Around The Block

"YES, Finally!" Do we hear you say?

That's right, Biztown is on the blogging map.  Ready and eager to inform you with news, updates, announcements and any interesting factoids we have!  

Biztown has brought you yet another way to meet, interact and find new customers, clients and suppliers. The Biztown blog lets you read and talk about new initiatives brought to you to help you build your network.  

Watch this space for exciting new updates, as well as industry articles, insights on the people helping you build your networks, and other items of interest.