We haven’t written a “Work Life” post in a while and I’m a firm believer that it’s a critical part of a productive work environment. So taking a break from all our “Work Smarter” posts, I hereby offer something on the lighter side. And hey, as April gains momentum in, it’s also a GREAT time to make some positive changes to start FY17 fresh!
In the early days of my field service career, I took over a territory from a tech who was… let’s just say, less than the ideal service rep.
My very first service call in his territory told me what I was in for. I called the customer to give an ETA and her response was, “Two hours? Yeah, right. I’ll see you tomorrow, if I’m lucky.”
I was shocked, so I had to ask, “Excuse me, but why do you say that?”
“I’ll just finish that email, oh look my friend is messaging me, oh and there’s someone knocking on the door of my office, and that report is due, and my phone is buzzing …”
Does this sound like you? Are you trying to do a million things at once and failing at them all?
A robust rostering system is essential in any hospitality or retail business. Ensuring you have the right number of staff rostered on will keep your customers happy, and your wage cost looking great.
When Fortune tabs you as the #5 Best Workplace in Retail for 2015, you’re on to something good.
This week Xero Gravity host Elizabeth Ü chats with Anthony Bucci, Founder & CEO of online motorcycle retailer RevZilla. Anthony’s passion for hiring the right person is undeniable. He shares his learnings from those first handful of hires made at RevZilla and offers invaluable insight into how to grow your best team.
We’ve all worked with them at some point – the employees or coworkers who are chronically late for work but who are the first ones to head home at the end of the day.
When they’re on the job, they do the minimum that they can get by with without getting fired. Many label them as ‘lazy’ or ‘slackers’ and quickly write them off as a potential layoff candidate.
It’s that time of the year again – the time when you’re looking over your books and seeing what worked and didn’t work. You’re thinking about goals for the year ahead and wondering how you can improve profit in your company. And one simple solution is staring you in the face: you can raise prices.
Hands up if you recognise the process of; receiving an invoice, getting it to your bookkeeper, making sure it’s entered into your accounts, filing the invoice and then storing it for several years…
The profitability of any job undertaken by a field services business can vary significantly from expectations at the time the estimate for that job was created. Removing this variability and delivering consistent profits should be the goal of every business owner.
Five customers from 100 leads is huge. But what about the other 95 that started out interested? The answers lay in digital marketing.
This week, Xero Gravity host Elizabeth Ü chats to Michael Mothner, Founder & CEO of online marketing firm WPromote. He’ll bust digital marketing myths and provide solutions that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. We’ll also explore questions like, “We created a website, what now?” and “I get business from world of mouth, why do I need digital too?”
There is one quality that every trades or services business needs to survive – trustworthiness. Without it, a company and all who sail in her are destined for a watery grave.
Understanding your target audience is vital for developing a marketing strategy that works. Without a particular ideal customer in mind, your efforts amount to little more than wishful thinking. There are very few niches where a business will be unopposed, and if you aren’t making efforts to refine your marketing focus to build better leads, you can be sure that your competition is. Having a great product is only part of the equation. Getting it in front of the right faces is as, if not more, important.
Over the last few years we’ve been able to get a pretty good handle on your biggest pain points as a business.
One of the easiest ways to drive sales for your business is to have repeat and referral customers. But if you want a customer to keep coming back, or to refer you to their friends, you have to keep them engaged. This doesn’t mean hammering them with emails or making sure they’re following all your social media accounts. It means interacting with them in a meaningful way, a way that makes an impact.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming an increasingly popular concept in the retail world. More and more merchants are realizing that giving back doesn’t just make the world a better place, it’s also good for business.
“We selected our 12 best managers and we psychometrically profiled them. From that profile we were then able to build what we saw was an ideal person that would fit our culture.” - Angus Kennard, non executive director and third generation leader of Kennards Hire.
Engaged employees are the secret weapon of successful organisations of any size. If your people are happy, committed and empowered, they’ll stay with your business. Your customers will get a better experience, you spend less on recruitment and re-training, productivity soars and absenteeism plummets.
Doing your timesheets can be a time consuming task. But now they’re a breeze with the long-anticipated addition of Timesheets to Xero Me.
It’s another big step towards bringing payroll out of the back office – and we’re really excited to have made it happen for Xero Australia.
We’re excited to announce another development in our long-running global partnership with Square. Square is launching Square Reader in Australia, enabling business owners to quickly and securely accept card payments directly on smartphones and tablet devices.
As an employer, it's important you understand the difference between employees and contractors. You're responsible for getting it right!
Keep tabs on your business relationships without fuss. Connect and collaborate seamlessly with your contacts. That’s what you get from the tighter integration of Xero and Google Apps for Work announced today.
SEO. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking it’s a one-time thing. It turns out that investing in search engine optimization and content marketing is actually one of the most important facets of running your business. Long story short, if your business has a web presence, you need to know SEO.
This week on Xero Gravity, Rand Fishkin, SEO wizard and founder of Moz, talks about the importance of optimizing your website and how it’s changing with social and mobile.
Keep up to date with the latest in the tech sector.
Inventory management has been around for as long as there have been businesses that stock and sell products. Even in the bygone era of having main street village shops and trades, some kind of inventory management was used, even if it was only a brief daily stock take followed by simple restocking, manufacture and acquisitions.
Determining the cost of a job accurately and efficiently can be challenging, overwhelming and fraught with risk. When you price a job right and win it, it can deliver instant improvements to your bottom line — but getting it wrong can be a very expensive mistake.
When my brother-in-law started his landscaping business in 2007, he didn’t expect his part-time operation to escalate to 50 hours of work per week within two months. And it was a big commitment for him to employ his first staff member six months in, but was necessary for him to meet demand. As soon as he was aware of the demand for the service he was offering, he prepared himself for growth and this planning quickly paid dividends.
Project Workflows should just…flow, right? Even Google Images represents ‘workflow’ as a series of harmonious shapes neatly connected with arrows... But in the real world things RARELY go according to plan. Remember that client who defaulted on payment, the tensions that arose within project teams and of course that one time the budget got blown out…?
Striking out on your own and starting a business is one of the hardest things you can do in your professional life, but the work isn’t over the second you open your shop. Once the business is up and running you constantly have to improve and optimize to stay ahead of the curve and, most importantly, to become — and stay — profitable.
We love curating list posts, especially list posts that feature apps and tools to help you work smarter. We recently published a post on handy browser extensions to improve productivity and get more done. This is one landscape that’s always changing however and we’re always looking to provide the most up-to-date and helpful information to help you achieve more. A conversation with a colleague sparked this particular post, and I hope you find it helpful – I certainly have.
The issue of bullying at school is well-known and reasonably well understood. But workplace bullying is just as big a problem. In the US, for example, 27% of employees have experienced bullying, and managers are the main cause.
Wherever you find people who are driven, ambitious and strong-willed, there’s potential for bullying. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that some of the people reading this are workplace bullies.
When it comes to building rosters you want to be as accurate as possible when forecasting future staffing requirements. Time again, we’ve seen rosters being created based on instinct and manager experience.
As a small business owner, it’s quite likely you play both the role of salesperson and debt chaser. On one hand you want to keep the relationship positive so you can continue selling to that customer, but on the other hand you need your bills paid for your business to survive. Maintaining customer loyalty and satisfaction while keeping a credit control policy that’s abided by can (at times) put you in an awkward position.
Cash is often referred to as the lifeblood of an organisation, a key factor that determines business success or failure. In many cases, cash is vital for daily survival; a small business that doesn’t have enough cash on hand to pay suppliers might not be able to open the next day.
Social media. It’s big, it’s fast, and it’s growing. What can you do to make sure you’re using the right social channels to connect with your customers and market your brand?
In this episode of Xero Gravity, hosts Elizabeth Ü and Gene Marks are joined by Mychelle Mollot, CMO at Klipfolio, and Raheela Nanji, Director at Ree Consulting Inc., to discuss all the nitty gritty details of social media in business.
When business is booming and everything’s going well, it seems fair to cut back on your marketing efforts. More business means less spare time, so investing effort in marketing becomes difficult, and easy to neglect.
Customer retention is vital for the growth and sustainability of any eCommerce business. The cost of acquiring new customers means building loyalty within your current customer base should take precedence.
With smartphones at our fingertips, customers are searching online more than anywhere else to research a product. As a small business owner, it’s critical that you have a website ready for customers who are looking you up. Understanding why it is important and figuring out where to start can be intimidating. Here’s what you need to know.
As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So if 2015 was a busy, challenging or downright insane year, it might be time to re-think a few workplace habits as we tear another page off the calendar and hurtle headfirst into 2016.
A phone call or email 'out of the blue' offering you a not-to-be-missed investment opportunity could be a turning point in your life. If you say 'yes' to the deal and the offer is a scam, you could lose thousands of dollars or end up with enormous debts.
Investment scams are often so professional, slick and believable that it is hard to tell them apart from genuine investment opportunities. Our tips break down how investment scams work.
Mobile devices give us convenience and efficiency. Like taking a quick photo of a receipt and submitting an expense claim while on a business trip.
But there are still times when you need the convenience of a larger screen. Sometimes you need to look at multiple things at once. Closing Xero to open a browser, your banking app, Dropbox, then jumping back into Xero does the job, but it’s not efficient.
Why small businesses should switch to inventory management software. How much is spreadsheet-based inventory management costing your business? Chances are more than you think.
Apple’s recent release of the iPad Pro has brought up the question again, can you replace your laptop with a tablet? For some early adopters, the answer is yes.
Xero CEO, Rod Drury, is among those early adopters. He recently made the switch and decided to stick with it. His motivations for doing so:
Procrastinators act as though they have all the time in the world. The truth is, the tasks we put off become the roadblocks that prevent us from moving forward. Breaking this behaviour is as simple as following a few practical tips that will put your time back under your control.
A strong service culture within your business leads to improvements in customer experience and can give your business a competitive advantage in your industry.
Because customers now have more choice than ever — making it even easier to switch suppliers or service providers — field service businesses must work harder and smarter to build relationships with customers and sustain long-term loyalty. Building a service culture within a company is an extremely valuable way to do this, as it leads to opportunities for higher growth and revenue and helps create strong relationships with your customers.
Change. It is the one crucial element an organization needs to be able to execute if it wants to remain relevant and profitable in an increasingly dynamic and challenging global economy. It is also the one vital element that generates the greatest amount of resistance, and throws up the largest number of obstacles to success, than any other business necessity.
Reading a book, finishing a project. Baking a cake. Playing with your kids, throwing a stick with your dog, discussing eastern philosophy with your cat, raising money for charity, writing that novel, painting the house, building your own boat, learning a language, Netflix & chill, making your own jam, mowing the lawn, playing Tetris on your cellphone, discovering an ancient Mayan treasure ...
With many products and services you can increase sales and attract large numbers of new clients by using personalisation.
Personalisation just means you modify what you are selling so that it has more value to a particular type of customer.
Mobile-friendly simply means that your website is compatible with a range of devices that aren’t desktop or laptop computers. This includes smartphones and tablets, which in themselves cover a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions. These smaller devices, especially smartphones, need a website to be attractive and brand-relevant while being functional and easy to use with one hand, a thumb, or several fingers. Multi-touch technology means that users often have a range of ways they interact with the screen, and your site must make it simple to navigate and interact to cover all bases.
We all know by now that it’s essential for a business to have an internet presence; a company website is the mainstay for anyone doing business in the 21st century.
But what about a company Facebook page, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile? Are you losing out on potential customers by ignoring these social networking heavies? Do you panic when you think about how your lack of social media savvy has caused you to miss out on reaching your sales goals?
One of the most frustrating things in life is when you get all fired up and decide to make some big improvements in your results.
So you set goals to get in great physical shape, improve your business results, spend a lot more time with your family etc.
Welcome to 2016!
To help your business start 2016 off on the right foot, we’ve put together a list of changes for business that came into effect from 1 January 2016.
Writing a fantastic blog is just the first part in the process of channeling more traffic to your site. To be of any value, it needs to be read and shared by your audience and beyond. Below are five of the most common and effective ways to give your content exposure.
What do Elizabeth Holmes, Sara Blakely, Linda Avey and Arianna Huffington have in common? They are all female entrepreneurs who have successfully built billion dollar businesses. But what does differ dramatically is their age.
If you are a business owner, moving your accounting software from “on-premise” to “the cloud” can bring huge benefits. Not only could you save bucket loads of time, but cloud accounting software is cheaper, more secure and accessible anywhere.
It could be one of the most asked questions by trade contractors: should I be focusing on my cash flow or my profits? It can be a difficult question to answer, as cash flow and profit both play critical roles.
Every business wants to make each year better than the last, and at Vend, we’re all for helping retailers do exactly that. So for this post, we’ve put together some action steps that you can implement to help make 2016 your best year yet.
Whether last year’s performance could use a lot of improvement, or you did extremely well and want to break your own record, the pointers below will help you kick off the year strong:
If you’re a busy business owner with lots on your plate, it can sometimes be overwhelming knowing where to begin. But if you try and do it all, things will undoubtedly get neglected, or you’ll find yourself dreading those painful hours when you have to trawl through hundreds of unread mails.
Here’s ten ways to make sure that you start 2016 with purpose, vision and the courage to super-charge your firm!
Does your business have a story? The kind of story that demonstrates your business is committed to upholding its values? This may be key in retaining staff and making them happy.
Surveys are great. They often provide you the down and dirty data needed to develop or validate a hypothesis.
Market research is another fantastic tool. It provides the broad net needed to understand the intricacies of who your target customer is, and what their pain points and needs are.
Businesses that boost the technical skills of their employees lift their productivity and profits, as well as improve worker satisfaction. Despite knowing this, most firms still suffer from skill gaps.
A recent survey in the UK found that while most companies accepted the business benefits that would flow from improving their staff’s digital skills, only 14 percent felt their staff training was adequate.
Effective and supportive management is a key ingredient in making sure your employees love their jobs. And one of the most important aspects of being a good manager is giving clear feedback to your team members. This is something you should be doing consistently throughout the year. But yearly performance reviews are the perfect opportunity to reflect holistically on what went well and what could use some work. Here are some tips for how to conduct constructive and effective yearly performance reviews.
Christmas is a great opportunity to relax and recharge, but if you’re like us, you might find it hard to just drop everything and take it easy.
Instead, you are just as likely to spend the first half of your long-anticipated break worrying about an unfinished project, checking your emails, and stuck with your brain in the office while your body is on leave.
The latest you need to know.
In today’s competitive marketplace, there is little room for error for owners and operators in the field services industry. Businesses are under more pressure than ever to deliver an exceptional service that aligns with what customers expect.
So you’ve made a New Year's Resolution. Several in fact. You’ve declared next year is YOUR year. Your business is going to triple, you’re going to be more productive, manage your teams better, nail time tracking on its head, and finally learn all those collaboration tools and apps you’ve been meaning to. You’ve got it sussed...or so you think until February rolls around, you’ve started none of the above and the year is about to slip past as it’s always done.
If January 2016 mirrors the years that have gone before, it will be the busiest month in the calendar for people starting a business. Returning from Christmas to an unfulfilling job and a burning idea to turn a hobby or passion into a way of making a living, people in their droves will take steps to become their own boss. Will you be one of them?
When building a business, it is important to learn as much as possible from industry leaders and people with experience. Fortunately, many of these people have written about their experiences and distilled their most influential and successful ideas into books. There are thousands of business books, each claiming to teach you something vital to your success. Below are some of our favourites and ones we find genuinely enlightening.
In a competitive market, customer loyalty is everything. Keep your customers coming back for more and encourage them to become loyal brand advocates, and profitable growth is a given.
Where to in 2016?
Customers. Without them, you wouldn't be in business. But sometimes they are the sole cause of all our stress and woe. That's especially true during busy times of the year, which for many industries is the leadup to the holiday season.
We all know that cash flow is king. But just how much sway does it have? Well, you might want to ask the nine out of 10 small businesses that have failed because of cash flow problems. That’s, right, according to D&B, 90% of small businesses close their doors because of poor cash flow management.
One of the biggest troubles small business owners face is access to capital. So activities like theft or fraud can cripple a small business in a heartbeat.
I received some excellent marketing advice recently from Lori Nash Byron the founder of Famous in Your Field. Lori was talking about the power of content marketing. And here a few of the tips she shared with me about content marketing.
When you sell an expensive or high priced service there are three marketing challenges you need to solve…
One of my favourite marketing experts is my good friend Troy White in Calgary Canada. 7 years ago Troy had an epiphany. He realized that the best marketing promotions he had done for his clients involved some wacky themes.
Blogging is one of the most valuable tools that a business has to engage with customers; it’s a direct communication channel to share timely and relevant information, plus, it fuels SEO for your business website.
Being the busiest shopping season of the year, retail sales during the holiday months can account for as much as 20-40% of a retailer’s annual sales. That’s a lot of revenue–and it takes a lot of additional work to achieve. That’s why the holiday season always brings about a spike in temp hiring.
If you’re one of the many merchants looking to hire seasonal employees in the next few months, it’s high time that you start looking, vetting and training people. Remember, you’re competing with a lot of other retailers for talent these days, so the sooner you get started, the better.
To be the best our staff need to be the best
5 policy changes that could improve the retirement income of Australians
Customer retention is the most important form of marketing. These are people who have already engaged with your business and their return depends on the quality of your products and the standard of your service. A loyalty program offers added value and a tangible reason to shop with your company again.
Yesterday we sent an email advising recipients they may need to change their Xero password. This email was originally intended for active users in Australia. However, it was distributed more widely. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion, though this is a useful and timely reminder to change your passwords frequently.
You need to cancel your ABN after you’ve sold or closed your business.
To help make sure your business is prepared for the conditions this summer, it’s important to take the time to plan what you would do in an emergency situation or during a natural disaster.
Australian entrepreneurs face many of the same obstacles as their counterparts around the world, with one unique addition: our deep-seated, psychological fear of failure. It is a cultural issue I have had to face personally in recent months, and one we must face collectively as a nation if we are to build an environment where innovation and disruption can thrive.
If you require your employees to wear a uniform, you may need to pay them a uniform allowance or provide them with a uniform at no cost.
It might be hard to imagine now but what if something were to happen to you? Would your loved ones be taken care of or would they face a tough financial future?
The greatest gift you can leave your family is having your affairs sorted out before you go.
If you have made plans, do your loved ones know where to find them? Would they know what assets you have, what insurance policies are in place or how to access your superannuation or life insurance?
Here are some simple steps you can take to protect the important people in your life.
Technology is flipping the way small businesses deal with the world. Everything from automation to new ways of financing your operations, are all transforming the sector.
Here’s what small business owners can learn from the big tech news events this month.
For business owners, upgrading or changing software systems is usually an opportunity to upgrade or change the business itself. A chance to try something different, make things easier or more efficient, or give a fresh interface for employees. However, if not implemented carefully, such changes can turn into costly, time-consuming nightmares, due to the various difficulties involved. For this reason, change management is a critical step when implementing any new software in a business.
“Counting your chickens before they hatch” is an idiom that’s thrown around a lot in day to day conversation. Little do people realise its relevance to business strategy. In a nutshell, it means to ‘plan how you’re going to utilize the good results of something, before those results have actually occurred.’
Just like most organizations, the success of a retail business relies on the unity and alignment of three critical elements: people, process, and technology. This is especially true when you’re running several retail locations. With multiple moving parts, stores, and teams, it’s essential that you keep every component in sync to ensure that your business runs smoothly.
At Xero, we use the power of technology to foster innovation, connection and entrepreneurialism. To create beautiful work that makes a difference. This is why, each month, we speak to business leaders within our like-minded community. We want to see how they apply similar values to shape their businesses, and their future.
This month, we speak to Stephen Borg. He’s an experienced executive recruiter who, together with his two business partners, started Miller Leith. The firm aims to turn the recruitment industry on its head. They’re creating a more personal, community-minded and supportive experience for businesses and candidates alike.
Stephen tells us in his words why genuine connections make all the difference, how you can innovate work to be a force for good, and how a value-driven service can transform business challenges.
I don’t know about you, but I really love it when a customer takes the time to give feedback about the service my team has provided them, whether it’s good or bad.
Positive feedback may be the most pleasant to receive, but it’s actually the negative feedback that brings the most important benefits. Negative feedback provides valuable insight into where the team is falling short, and pinpoints the specific areas that need to be improved.
One of the benefits of having a modern inventory management system is that it aids business decision-making. Central to this is the comprehensive real-time data that can be analyzed with this software. Managers, factory staff, and retail staff alike will benefit from relevant information that concerns their particular role in the business. This article will discuss how inventory management software can help decision-makers in different areas of a business.
We’ve all heard the phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words. We believe, when advising your clients on their businesses, graphs and charts have the same impact on numbers. Graphs and charts condense large amounts of information into easy to understandable formats that can clearly and effectively communicated. With approximately 65% of people being mainly visual learners, meaning they easily pick up information with their eyes and prefer to be taught something by seeing it in a graphical manner. This is especially relevant when there is a lot of data and complex material to understand. Delivering information that’s pertinent to their business and in a visual way gives your client the greatest chance of understanding, implementing and valuing your advice.
Inventory is considered to be one of the most important assets of a business. Its management needs to be proactive, accurate and efficient. Whilst holding either too much or too little inventory places a burden on both productivity and profitability, it is still essential for most businesses to hold a sufficient quantity of inventory at all times.
What do you think when you think of HR?
Administrative? Transactional? Boring?
Yep, the traditional human resources department hasn’t got the best rep. And for good reason – it’s where the business dots the i’s and crosses the t’s, where policies and processes are fine-tuned. It’s not exactly thrilling stuff.