Checking the credit-worthiness of your clients

If you are performing a service or selling a product to a client before getting paid, you are essentially extending them credit. A bank wouldn’t give you a loan or credit card without checking your credit-worthiness, and you should do the same with your clients.

There are a few ways to go about this and a few things to remember.

Why you should check credit-worthiness

The obvious reason to check the credit-worthiness of your clients is to minimise your risk when extending credit. When you are not paid on time it affects your cash flow – the lifeblood of your business. Trying to get the money you are due can be a painfully laborious process, even an expensive one, so it is better to prevent that nasty situation from happening in the first place.

Assess their attitude about costs upfront

One way to assess a customer is to have a frank discussion about costs right from the start, where you lay out all the facts, including realistic cost projections and the reasons behind the costs. It is understandable for a customer to try to negotiate at this point, but if they push back too hard or seem very concerned that could be a red flag. Obviously you can’t use this as your sole determining factor, but if there are already one or two warning signs then you should definitely think twice.

Bank references

You can ask your potential customer for a bank reference to get a basic idea of how risky the bank thinks your potential customer is. You don’t need to base your decision solely on this, but it can provide a good place to start.

The ‘pro-forma’ approach

You can use a pro-forma approach to build trust between you and your customers. This is a good option if you want to foster long-term relationships with your clients. Pro-forma is where you require immediate payment for the first few invoices. Once the customer has proven their ability and willingness to pay you can begin providing credit.

Credit checking agency

Using a professional credit checking agency is not the simplest and cheapest option. However, if you need to check the credit-worthiness of a potentially large client then it might be an avenue to try. An agency will give you a proper risk assessment in situations where you stand to lose a lot if your clients don’t pay.

If you do the above, you should be able to weed out most of the chancers. However, this does not mean that you won’t from time to time struggle with a client that doesn’t pay on time. To further prevent this from happening you can use debit order systems whereby a third party debit order collection service automatically collects the money owed to you from your client and deposits it into your own account. If even that fails, educate yourself on how to get money owed to you. There are measures you can take when clients aren’t paying you, but it’s best to avoid those situations by checking their credit-worthiness first.

Does your business make a good first impression?

There is a reason that the phrase “first impressions count” is such a cliché. It is because it is true. The first impression matters whether you are looking at a book’s cover or going on a blind date. Have you ever thought about what the first impression of your business might be?

What do clients and associates perceive when making contact with your business? Read this tips to make sure you make a winning first impression every time.

Have the right host

People too often underestimate the role of the receptionist or secretary in creating a good first impression for their business. Very often he or she will be the first human point of contact someone has with your business. Think about the impression it makes if your receptionist is hunched over at the desk, badly dressed, rude and loudly smacking gum? Make sure you have the right receptionist representing your business.

Show your brand

You don’t only want a good first impression. You want the right first impression. If someone walks into your office or finds your website, will they immediately get a good feel for your brand image? For instance, you do not want to give the impression that you are crazy and quirky if your brand image is strongly related to you upholding a time-honoured tradition. Not sure what your brand image is? Then your first job should be to pinpoint and define your brand.

The decal

This point is possibly the most obvious ones but bears mentioning anyway. What is the general impression of your physical retail or office space? Is it tidy and professional or does it look like no one cares? Have you made use of professional retail shopfitting in Johannesburg to make sure your space is the best it can be?

Online presence

Just about every business needs to have an online presence these days, whether that is with a website, social media or both. Even if your business does not have a significant digital component to it, remember that many people will still try to find it online. Do a Google search of your business and see what comes up? Your website should be well-designed and professional, and your social media channels should reflect your values and brand image.

With these few tips you should be well on your way to making sure that your business is giving the best first impression it can. If you haven’t been making a good first impression up till now, then it’s time to work on your second impression.

Choosing an impactful business name and logo

logosMany people who start their own business, have their plans sorted, they know what they want to do and how to go about doing it. But the one thing they can sometimes struggle with is, coming up with a memorable name and an extra ordinary logo design. A trendy name will always grab the attention of clients and thus ensuring that it’s made a memorable impact.

The logo

The logo’s design should state what the company is about without having to go overboard, and leaving a thought that makes the consumer think, “what on earth is that?!”

Assignment 3’s Eban Human, says that logos are the best way to identify a brand and that, “The brand should express who the company is and leaving a lasting impact. This is how empires are built. Marketing makes a company thrive and your logo should become part of your marketing tool.”

If you’re not a designer, then get someone to create your logo. No matter where you live there is shopfitting in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban etc. These people are in the business of making designs and possibly know more about what will make an impact.

Check out the competition

Look at the kind of names your competitors have. Make a list and compare them to spark your own ideas and to help you come up with a name that is bested suited for your company.

Consider you demographic

The company name should resonate with the people you are trying to reach. Use what you know about your demographic to measure the relevance of any names you have brainstormed.

Let you creativity flow

You may want a name that is easy to pronounce and remember, but don’t skip over the value of coming up with a name that is completely unique. Not only can this make your business unforgettable, but it can also provide a great opportunity for a back story, if your inspired name has a special meaning.

Consider all the angles

Think about how the name will fit into the everyday operations of your business, and the message it will convey to others. You want the name to be perceived with positive connotations and not influence scepticism.

Thinking about a name for your business should be a fun task, not an exhausting one. Once you have your business name and logo behind you, it will be fun to tell people how you came about it. You can even work it into your marketing story. Your customers will get a sense of who you are and whether they can relate to you, if they don’t’ they will most likely try the guy next door. That’s why a name and logo that resonates with everyone is always the best option.

 

Give your retail store a makeover

Even in our digital age your retail space is still important. Sure, you can have an expertly designed website and well-populated social media profiles, but for many businesses that cannot replace their physical space.

Has it been a while since your store has been updated? If so, you might not be making the right impression. That is why we are going to help you give your store a makeover.

Realise your retail store is your brand

Take a good look around your store. Now think about your brand. Do they align? It is important that you understand that your retail store is an extension of your brand and therefore needs to reflect your brand image.  Remember that your primary advertising tool is first and foremost your own store. This of course means that you should have already clearly defined your brand. If you haven’t done that yet, then you had better do it now.

Give your store layout flexibility

As part of your store makeover, why don’t you arrange the layout in such a way that it can be easily adapted again in future depending on the season or special promotions going on at the time. Use shopfitting that allows you to change the look and feel of your store without too much cost and difficulty. For example, there are standardised, multi-functional applicable components that can accommodate your changing sales promotions.

Speak to the professionals

If you feel a bit overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, have you ever considered speaking to professional shopfitters? They can help you with every element, from mapping the layout to assisting with the technical things like the electrical work and plumbing. They will also know what trends work for the locations. For instance, shopfitting in Johannesburg might have different needs than that in a small town in the Easter cape.

Remember customer experience is key

It is not just the quality and pricing of your products that make up the impression your customers have about your store and brand. At the end of the day, it is about the whole shopping experience. Does the physical layout make for fluid movement, even during peak hours? Are customers encouraged to browse around and find different points of interest? If your customers just want to rush in and get what they need, then you haven’t given enough importance to the customer experience.

These are just a few of the key considerations when giving your store a makeover. Just remember that your store needs to reflect your brand and keep customer experience in mind at all times. If you do that you are well on your way to having the ideal retail space.

Advertise your brand

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While you might think that banner ads and print ads are enough to promote your business, this is not the case. If you have a small to mid-size business, then you can basically do a lot more to advertise your brand to the nation. Investing in advertisement is an investment to your future. Ads reach people, people reach people and the best business strategies reach people. Your job is to use this incentive to strengthen your capabilities.

Sign up for Google AdWords

Google AdWords will help you bring in new business, improve online sales, keep the phones ringing and will keep customers coming back for more. The sign up is totally FREE, all you have to pay for is when someone clicks on your ad to visit your website or calls you. You get to decide who to target your ads to customers in certain countries, regions or cities – or within a set distance from your business or shop. Your business will be found by people on Google when they’re searching for the service you offer.

Get published online

An alternative to online advertising is to advertise your business by submitting articles to reputable websites. In exchange for your content they allow you to include links in the article that will take them to your website. This will provide you with potential traffic that will lead to your business. Not only that, but it also helps establish you as an expert in your related field. People generally associate businesses with their branding. Your logo should be incorporated into your site for people to be able to identify it. Get customised logo branding from shopfitting in Johannesburg if you don’t have any yet.

Incorporate bloggers

Source influential bloggers in your industry and ask them to review your product or service. They will be very keen to do so if you give them free product for them to use. However, if you can’t find a blogger to write about your service for free, there are those who will do it for a fee. This kind of endorsement is typically more effective and less expensive than a banner ad.

Add your business to local listings

It just so happens that you can add your small business to sites such as, Google Place, Yahoo Local and Bing Local for free. Take advantage of people searching for businesses in your area, by claiming your local listing and filling in the information.

This is your business, so make it a success and use what you have to your advantage. The only way to let your brand gain power is for people to know about it. You have the tools and the means and most of them are free of charge. Get to it today and start making a difference.