Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Measuring up. Adding value to your service makes you VALUABLE to your clients.

Sketch by Kari McPhail Design - Do Small things with Great Love
Photo and Design by Kari McPhail Design www.karimcphail.com
We have clients tell us all the time that they are so glad they found us, they were going to go to another place that sells office supplies or ships packages but the price was almost double. Will we be the cheapest place to order every kind of product or do every order? Are we the best fit for every project or working style out there? Maybe not. When we periodically search out bids for like products we can safely say that we can beat many prices and if we can't…do you get the kind of service you are looking for? 
We have clients tell us that they went to an office supply store copy shop and asked for a print to be a certain size and had to pay for all of the wrong size prints that came out…not at the do it yourself copier, but the coworker was doing the prints for the client. Seems a little strange when there's an easy mathematic way to figure out what % will enlarge something i.e. 5 inches and have it come out 10 inches…but it's not the client's job to know that. 
It's not the client's job to know how many we put on a press sheet, what we have to do to get it ready etc… all they should know is what they want it to be (or ask for a suggestion), and we can make it happen for them. 
Today I had a call from a long time client in the doctor's office who wanted to order some envelopes himself and bring them in to be custom printed…the problem was…he couldn't really do the order on his phone while in the waiting room. No problem. I took his credit card # over the phone (that's trust) ordered what he needed and had it shipped directly to me so we can customize it and deliver to his office next week. 
Trust me, I spend a lot of time providing customer service to clients. I take their projects to their offices, suggest stock, suggest quantities, even design or repair files as needed. It's just part of the job. It's part of the integrity that makes us VALUABLE to hundreds of clients all over Snohomish County and Eastside, Seattle area, Puget Sound region, even nationwide and several international countries. We are trusted. You can count on us. We will give you a great idea, or help hone yours, we will execute with first class quality, service, and value.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Action...propel yourself forward

Getting stuck is something that happens to everyone.  Getting yourself and business in a forward propulsion can be tricky but taking the monotony and emotion out of your problem, may just help you solve it.  Regaining footing when you are stuck can be tough.  You've got to stabilize yourself, regain your footing, reposition your direction, dig your path and put all of your energy into your path.  It's a tough, but not insurmountable feat that with a little help you can roll forward and blaze new trails.  

Here are 3 ways to dig out of the mud.

1.  Remove emotion to counteract roadblocks:  Emotions bring defensive reactions and when there's work to be done a reality check is in order.  Think critically without blame to find a sensible alternative to your blocked path.  This will allow you to have clear focus, a key element in decision-making and problem-solving.  While business without emotion can be cold and unforgiving business with too much emotion can be irrational and indecisive.  Get yourself in a new frame of mind and look at your problem or roadblock as an outsider…give and take your own advice as a consultant.

2.  Get out your compass and map your path:  A solid plan, a clear path and knowing where you are will take the guesswork out of where to go, how to get there and how to remove roadblocks.  It does a business no good to propel forward aimlessly careening into potholes and sidetracking from the mission.  Take serious stock of your assets, your place in business or career and make a serious map.  Once you have a comprehensive assessment and plan you can make the decisions that will take you where you want to go.

3. Pick the right fuel to propel yourself forward:  Would you light your barbecue with jet fuel, would you use a match to start your car?  Of course not.  The friction of developing your work and habits into momentum should not dig you deeper into a rut, they should be strong enough to apply pressure to move your forward yet strategic enough to move you forward.  Give yourself the positive energy, spark of inspiration, and put enough pressure on yourself to succeed in whatever direction you position yourself in.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Finding the will power and organization to get it all done is tough.  You may be an expert in your profession but don't forget you won't necessarily be an expert in all areas of running a business.  Luckily, you don't need to be...

Here are 3 skills you will need to get it all done.  

1.  Follow through:  Some would say organization is top of the must have list, but I would argue that there is no organization without follow through.  You must be prepared to execute immediately small tasks because there will be a deluge of them.  Piling up paperwork or retuning phone calls in a busy office with little help just won't do...you've got to be a master of the immediate and complete cycle of tasks or being an entrepreneur will easily be overwhelming.  

2.  Bravery:  Bravery means having courageous behavior or character.  Display of courageous behavior does not mean there is no doubt, fear, or uncertainty, it just means your behavior and character display bravery.  While there is no substitute for the hard work that carries your business forward or the expertise required in your field you have to have the courageous behavior and character to work through all of that and lead your entrepreneurial endeavor or business.

3.  Confidence:  Entrepreneurs and small business are a huge portion of the economy, even companies like Apple, Amazon and Disney all started in garages.  Whether you intend on starting the next corporate giant, or just work for yourself in a small professional group the confidence and wherewithal to keep going when others give up or make excuses is key.  Confidence will give you the steam you need to work through problems that arise without quitting.  Confidence will give you the drive to sell your ideas and yourself to the right people.  Finally, confidence will help you carry your feet one foot in front of the other while you knock on the doors to grow your business.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's not just business it's personal.

3 ways to make your business memorable and valuable by developing personal relationships with your clients.  

While you certainly don't want to damage a professional reputation with your clients, you do want to let your clients know you are invested in working with them and their success.  Go ahead and show a little love.  Here are a few easy ways to get started.

1. Buy a round of coffee:  Sitting down and getting to know your clients business and your client's personal style and preferences can help you work together.  Ask about how they like to communicate, text, email, phone calls, or personal visits…  the answer may get you more business than you knew was available.

2. Show your thanks:  Many familiar clients not only help keep us in business but expand it by referring others, giving positive feedback and reviews, and helping entrepreneurs find their niche.  Make sure you return the favor and keep you and your business in a positive light with a handwritten note, a phone call, and best yet refer someone.  A personal gesture shows you are thinking about your clients needs and investing in their business.  

3.  Be a resource:  Knowing local business owners and other entrepreneurs can make you a resource for all sorts of people.  Talking to people about their needs even those that don't pertain to your business can make you a valuable asset and "go-to" person.  Don't cross the line and be a "know-it-all" but refer and connect others to individuals and businesses that can follow through and be trusted to offer good products and services.  A can-do attitude, even for things you can't do yourself goes a long way.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What if the age old saying - If you build it, they will come - doesn't work?

What happens if the old saying is wrong?  What if you pour your heart and money into your new business and no customers line up?  Hang in there and borrow money from everyone you know till it turns around?  Close up shop, give up and get a job?  Hire a few sign holders to dance on the corner?

It turns out owning a business is more than just a great idea.  It's more that just a stellar product.  It's more that just a winning look.  Owning a small business is not for the faint of heart.  It takes a bit of grit, a lot of creativity, but mostly sweat.  Yes, not what most people want to hear.  It will take many hours of doing things you don't like for a little bit of satisfaction when what you love works. 

Here are 3 ideas to get you on track:

  1. Network in Person:  Social media, websites, blogs and business profile pages are essential but don't let those replace the real social networks, meeting people face to face.  Go out to meet the business owners in your community.  You can introduce yourself to businesses in your town.  Take advantage of the local chamber of commerce after hours mixers and business lunches.  Visit your clients if you are a service or meet the locals for a community retail business.  The more the clients like you the more they will support you in your business.
  2. Give your family and friends a shout:  Don't expect your family and friends to be your only client base but be sure to keep them in touch with what you are doing.  Keep your friends and family apprised of your achievements, works, new products and clients and let them know you appreciate and follow up with their referrals.  Be sure to take the utmost follow through and good work ethic with personal referrals.  It's the most important type of advertising.
  3. Showcase: Be sure to put your best foot forward and put photos or stories about your work on media, in your store and in your sales presentation.  Your best work will sell itself.  If people see enough of your portfolio, product list or great ideas that have helped your clients they will be back for more.  Be patient, do good work and represent you and your clients well.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reaching clients by design

Reaching people is easy…reaching the right clients takes a bit more thought.  
What style of design will fulfill expectations and appeal to the clients you are reaching but also stand out?  When I work with a client on a logo design we talk about any ideas and styles they love, who their clients are, and what goals they are trying to accomplish in their business.  While it's about art and a nice cohesive look, it's also about the audience. 

Here are 3 ways to ensure your design will have the right look to the reach people who will become your clients.
  1. Research the competition:  It's important to have a vision and stand out but it is equally important to see what the other guys are doing.  Some company logos are designed with the expected elements.  While this helps reinforce the company's industry it may just make your company blend into the competition.  If everyone in your sprocket industry has sprockets in their logo of course people will know you sell sprockets but how will you stand out.  Take something that says what you do, who you are and make the design speak to that in a unique way.  Meet expectations by being unexpected.
  2. Think unique:  Now that you've researched the best and worst in your industry, think about the look you want and what you want it to say to your clients.  Your look will need  to translate from print, to web, to mobile, and beyond so it's important that it's versatile.  The best designs are simple and compelling they say something about your business and you while keeping something unique to be memorable.
  3. Don't over-think it:  There's planning, research and a well thought out plan but spending too much time thinking or picking apart ideas will drive you bonkers and never end.  Don't be afraid to make a decision and morph down the line.  Sometimes it takes a while for new businesses to find their niche.  Remember it's the clients needs that you are fulfilling with your products or services.  Make a decision you love, see how people respond.  Even large companies re-brand and update their logos periodically.  You don't have to live with it forever.