What do businesses need?

I was recently at a networking lunch and someone asked me what is the most common thing you are asked for by businesses? What type of support are most people looking for?

The answer comes in two parts:

1. It is different for every business we talk too (although there are some common themes).
2. Quite often what they need is not what they ask for!

A few examples of common themes we hear are: I need help answering my phone, I need to do more marketing to reach new people, I need someone to do this time consuming but simple task.

“I need help answering my phone”

A lot of small business owners are integral to delivering the service of their business (e.g. therapists, consultants, trainers). These are businesses where you (and maybe a small team) deliver the service you are selling. Quite often in these cases you are too busy delivering your service to answer your phone.

One option is to hire a call answering service. However, this usually just results in a stack of messages for you to deal with at the end of the day. I’m not sure this is really any better than a stack of voice mail messages.

Instead, we suggest putting in place a combination of things that will stop your phone ringing and better service new and existing clients.

1. Ensure your website is fully up to date and contains all the information new and existing clients need.

One of our clients used to say “I just don’t have time to update my website”. We worked with her to streamline her content and turn this around. Now, the most up to date information about courses, locations and times is always listed on her website. Her clients now trust the site as a reliable resource and will check there first for information. This is one type of call eliminated.

2. Create an info@ or office@ email and hand it over to us.

We will work with you to pin down your responses to regular (and not so regular) enquiries. We build up an understanding of your business and, after a short period of time, we can reply to about 90% of questions that come into your email without having to disturb you. We can manage calendars, book people into classes, answer “how do I” questions, schedule call backs, etc. This again eliminates calls and, at the same time, provides a much better service to your customers.

3. Communicate regularly with existing clients.

Pre-empt your clients queries by telling them in advance what is happening. We can send general emails for you (e.g. our offices will be closed for the holidays from x to y, we have a new course available, spots are booking up fast for our event, etc.) and we can do specific follow-ups (e.g. it has been 6 weeks since your last appointment, would you like to book again, these dates are available).

“I need more advertising to reach more people”

We generally have two questions when we hear this one…

1. Are you reaching out to your existing contacts regularly?

It is far harder to win a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. Make sure you reach out to your existing customers regularly with helpful information, email marketing, special offers, etc. your list of existing or former customers is an amazing resource, use it wisely.

2. Who is your target market? Let’s look at effective ways of reaching them.

I once had a friend say “The business I work for isn’t really having any luck with Facebook”. I asked her:
What is the business? wholesale electrical suppliers
Who do they they want to reach? local landlords

This is a case where Facebook would not be my first choice. Certainly not just posting to your own page and hoping for the best. What can you say? – “Check out these great lightbulbs!”

It is so important to properly plan your online marketing. From email marketing to social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) The first step is to look carefully at who you are trying to reach and what are the most effective ways to reach them.

Our moto for this is to always “go for the low hanging fruit first”. We can help you put in place a proper plan to reach the right people.

“I need someone to do this time consuming, but simple task”

Often when people first think of delegating it is the time consuming, but simple tasks that they can imagine giving over to someone else. Something simple that they can quickly show us how to do and then give over to us. The problem is that they think, well, that takes me 4 hours, so it will also take you 4 hours (at your hourly rate).

This is very seldom the case. We have yet to come across a simple, time consuming task that we have not been able to streamline, automate or eliminate. There are amazing systems out there and we have a lot of experience in using them to their full potential. Let us have a look at your time consuming tasks and how they fit with your business, you may be surprised what we can do for you.

These are just a few of the queries we get at Coastal VAs. All the businesses we deal with are truly unique and all have unique needs. Contact us at office@coastalvas.com to schedule a meeting/skype call so we can use our expertise to make your life easier.