The Hidden Mystery Behind Building Trust with Potential Customers

The Importance of Building Trust With Customers

We don’t buy products, services or companies. Well, we do, but we buy them from people we trust. We all operate in competitive industries. Our prospects can find what we sell just about anywhere. So, how do they decide who they buy it from? They buy from the person they trust. Therefore, people buy from people – first.

Importance of Building Trust With Customers

Knowing this, we have to be sure we are conducting ourselves in a way that is trust building. The number one way to build trust is to care more about the prospect than about ourselves. And yet, one of the hardest things to do is to NOT think about the sale.

So, what do we do? Start by embracing the idea that the more you think about selling, the less you will actually sell. You will be working against yourself and your best interest. If you can own this truth you are on your way to gaining trust and growing your business.

Now, focus on your prospect. The more you learn about them the more you will be able to identify if, and how, you can help them. The truth is this is all they are interested in. They don’t care about your product or service. They care about the problems they have, the challenges they are facing, and their own success. If you can connect your product/service to their situation, you are far more likely to gain their business.

You can’t assume you have a solution for them. That’s one of the traps of sales — believing your offering is valuable to everyone. Maybe it should be, but it isn’t. It’s only valuable to the people or companies who see value in it. And the only ones who are going to find it valuable are the ones that trust you to provide the solution.

Consider these three steps to being the person your prospect will buy from:

  • Assume nothing — Realize that you don’t know whether you have something they should buy until you know more about them. You also don’t know if you want to do business with them until you know them. Just because they look like they fit a mold doesn’t mean there’s a fit.
  • Do discovery — Develop a comprehensive list of questions you can ask them to really learn about them. These questions should go beyond the scope of the situation you can resolve. You want to know how they operate, what is most important to them, their budget and timeline, and more.
  • Really listen — This is critical. Attentive, intentional listening is the most important part of trust building. When you are really listening to someone they can feel it. And you can honestly determine whether you can help them, and whether you want to. This real listening provides you with the platform for responding to them.

When you implement these steps you will find that you are developing deep relationships where you should be. You will build trust that will positively impact your business over time. And the people or companies that should be buying from you, will.

They will want to enter into a business relationship with you, and they will refer you to others. Because people buy from people. Period.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The Hidden Mystery Behind Building Trust with Potential Customers” was first published on Small Business Trends

The Hidden Mystery Behind Building Trust with Potential Customers


48% Who Want to Sell Have No Exit Strategy

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Having an exit strategy when you start a business makes it that much easier to execute rational and informed decisions when you want to get out. But the UBS (NYSE: UBS) Q1 Investor Watch Report, “Who’s the boss?” reveals 48 percent of business owners don’t have a formal exit strategy.

This is the 22-second edition of the quarterly survey, and this time around it is looking at how investors feel about business ownership. The survey also explores the exit strategy of business owners, including selling their company and leaving it to their heirs.

In the report, UBS points out the majority of business owners don’t have a full understanding of what takes place in the selling of a business. It identifies a knowledge gap for the 75 percent of owners who believe they can sell their business in a year or less. This is on top of the 58 percent who have never had their business formally appraised, and the 48 percent without exit strategies.

Stewart Kesmodel, Head of Global Family Office, Americas for UBS Global Wealth Management, explained the challenge of selling a business this way in the press release. He said, “Selling a business successfully requires a great deal of planning, which owners often underestimate. Before pursuing a sale, it is important for business owners to not only have a view on the value of their business to potential buyers, but also an understanding of how that price applies to their personal needs post-transaction.”

In the survey, 1,085 of the 2,245 high net worth investor were identified as business owners (770 current/315 former). Their business had at least one employee and $250k in annual revenue.

Key Business Exit Strategy Findings

Selling the business is the preferred strategy of 52 percent of the respondents, which 41 percent plan to do within five years. Another 20 percent said they plan to leave it to family, 18 percent are going to close the business, and 10 percent don’t know.

As to the reason for leaving the business, 65 percent said it was a good time to sell and they are ready to retire, while 49 percent indicated they are looking to find a work-life balance.

So how do the heirs feel about inheriting a business?

More than 4 in 5 or 82 percent rather have the money from the sale of the business, and only 18 percent said they wanted the business. This is probably why 89 percent of owners said they won’t pass their business on because family members are not interested. Lack of qualification and wanting a family member to take another career path was sated by 21 and 9 percent of the respondents respectively.

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Takeaway from the UBS Survey

Plan early with different exit strategies in mind. This will allow you the flexibility you need to get the most out of your business, whether you sell it, pass it on to your family, or have someone else manage it for you.

You can take a look at the rest of the data here and the partial infographic below.

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Business Exit Strategy

Images: UBS

This article, “48% Who Want to Sell Have No Exit Strategy” was first published on Small Business Trends

48% Who Want to Sell Have No Exit Strategy

5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchise Businesses

5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchises

The recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could have a major impact on franchise businesses. The tax reform will likely lead to changes ranging from increased deductions to a more financially stable customer base.

Ways Tax Reform Is Helping Franchises

Here are a few of the specific ways this new legislation could help franchises.

Increased Cash Flow

Because of the lower corporate tax rates and larger deductions for pass-through business structures, the new tax bill is expected to help businesses of all sizes save money on tax payments. According to President of Franchise Marketing Systems Christopher Conner, who has worked with franchise businesses ranging from Blimpie to UPS, this increase in cash flow and the ability to keep and reinvest that money into growth opportunities is the number one potential benefit of the new bill.

He said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Franchisors and Franchisees now have more cash flow and capital to put towards hiring, growth and investment into the people who support their business’ operations.”

Ability to Invest in Employees

Because of that potential increase in funds, franchise businesses should have more money available to hire new employees, invest in training and provide more competitive wages for existing employees to keep them happy. This can help you retain those team members for longer, decreasing turnover costs and strengthening your company culture, things that can have long-term benefits for your business.

Better Options for Structuring Your Business

One of the tax reform changes that’s most pertinent to the small business community is the new 20 percent deduction for pass-through entities. This is any type of business where the income passes through to the owner’s individual tax returns, including sole proprietorships, partnerships and S-Corps. For some franchise businesses, this could offer some opportunity to reap even more financial benefits by adjusting the structure of the business, though the actual impact will vary for each individual business.

Conner says, “We always recommend speaking to a CPA, but it has been recommended by several to transition your business to an S-Corp. The new tax regulations offer a larger degree of benefits to corporations than other business entity structures.”

More Write-Off Opportunities

Owning a franchise business requires some investment in equipment and supplies, some of which you can write off as deductions on your tax returns. And the new bill raises the limit on how much of those expenses you can deduct, potentially making it more financially beneficial for you to grow your business by making those investments.

Conner says, “The write off for capital investments has increased substantially where businesses are incentivized to now invest in equipment, real estate and other capital investments where with the new tax reform, business owners can write off up to $1 million in asset investments in the first year of ownership which is incredible and extremely advantageous for business owners.”

Potential for Economic Growth

Of course, the most general goal of tax reform is to support a healthy economy. Since many franchise businesses, like fast casual restaurants and automotive service providers, tend to target middle class consumers, a tax bill that puts more money in the pockets of those customers is likely to be a benefit for franchise owners as well.

The new tax bill adjusts the some of the tax rates for middle class families, lowering rates by a few percentage points in many cases. There’s also a larger standard deduction and child tax credit that could lead to more deductions for average families. These benefits might not have direct applications to franchise businesses right away. But over time if they have the desired effects on the economy as a whole, it could lead to a customer base with more money to spend.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchise Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

5 Ways Tax Reform is Helping Franchise Businesses

What I Learned from My Immigrant Parents About Succeeding in Business

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What I Learned from My Immigrant Parents About Succeeding in Business

In the past year, there’s been a lot of conversation about immigrants. All this talk made me think about my parents, who emigrated from the Basque region of France and Spain and started small businesses here in the U.S.

Growing up in Northern California, I was often embarrassed. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but as a teenager, I was all too aware of the fact that my parents weren’t educated and spoke broken English, and that my father didn’t wear a suit to the office. I didn’t realize how wonderful they were until much later. At the time, all I could think was that while other parents looked clean and professional after work, my father was dirty and smelly when he came home from his gardening business.

However, when I spent a year in Paris with a French family, I started to appreciate the skills my parents instilled in; they’ve helped me navigate my life. Now that I’m in the business world, I’m even more grateful.

Although my father’s gardening business was entirely different from the cloud-computing industry I work in, there are more similarities between our jobs than you might think. I learned many things from my parents that have carried me throughout my career, including how to position myself for success and how to treat customers.

These lessons still help me today in my job as senior vice president of marketing for small and medium businesses at Salesforce. Here are five things my immigrant parents taught me about being successful in business.

1. Make every moment count.

Being an immigrant isn’t easy. In most cases, people who’ve just arrived in our country need to learn English – and it can be challenging to build a life in a new environment. You also need to get to know your new community, make friends and learn the nuances of a new culture.

Running a small business is also challenging. There’s much to do to find customers, make the sale and meet expenses; and it seems there’s never enough time in the day.

My mother was always busy. If she wasn’t learning English (her native tongue was Basque), she was working on the business, or strengthening ties to her new community by volunteering or nursing sick neighbors. She made every moment count.

My father, who spent some time as a shepherd in Wyoming and was bored stiff, realized that he wanted to continually learn. Today, at 84 years old, he still reads Barron’s or watches CNBC.

This philosophy has stayed with me. When I don’t have a specific deadline for my job, I can always find something worthwhile to do, like volunteering, exercising or professional development. It’s helped me stay challenged, motivated and fulfilled.

2. Ask for what you deserve.

Although my father was the face of our family’s gardening business, my mom was the person who made things happen behind the scenes. That included managing the finances and having the hard conversations.

When I was in elementary school, my father maintained the garden of an estate in the next town over. The man who owned the estate became the U.S. secretary of defense and moved to Washington, and my father continued to maintain his property. The bills didn’t seem to follow him east; and after several months, my mom grew frustrated and called the Pentagon. After a few transfers, she got him on the phone and received the check four days later.

Don’t expect that you are going to get paid or recognized for the work you are doing. You have to ask for it – and be persistent. Set clear expectations with your manager both for projects and promotions; and keep a record of your achievements so you’re ready to ask for an upgrade in responsibilities, more recognition or a bonus.

3. Find mentors and advocates.

Many people were helpful to my parents when they were starting out in the U.S. One of my father’s customers, Mr. Paul, who was as American as apple pie, took an interest in our family and helped my mother practice her English. He later took her to the DMV to get her learner’s permit so she could start driving instead of biking around town. Having left her own father behind, my mother saw Mr. Paul as the father figure that she needed to make this country her home.

Mentors and advocates are invaluable in the work world as well. They can offer perspective on your performance or career that you won’t get from someone in your immediate chain. You can join a networking group, meetup or community organization, or you can find an individual, either within or outside of your company. Be open to different opportunities and establish relationships. They may already exist in your life without having that formal title – like Mr. Paul was for my mother.

4. Pay it forward.

My parents’ story would have been very different without the opportunities that Mr. Paul and others created for them. My mother has continued to pay it back her entire life. She’s 83 years old and still making meals for sick neighbors and visiting people who are lonely. This sense of purpose helps keep her going too.

Paying it forward is important in the work world as well. I’m a firm believer that we all, especially women, need to support each other. We need to make time for coffee, lunch, conferences and meetups to share our insight and advice with others.

You get as much out of being a mentor as you do a mentee because it’s a great opportunity to get different perspectives on what’s happening in the world.

5. Be true to yourself.

Although it sometimes bothered me while I was growing up, my parents were always unapologetically themselves. My father wore his gardening clothes like a badge of honor. He never pretended to be anyone other than who he was. And, almost to a fault, they were truth tellers. They were known as people who were honest and trustworthy.

Being true to yourself is critical for business leaders as well. You need to establish trust if you want people to buy into your vision and support your team. I learned from my parents that I’m much more relatable and trustworthy if I bring my authentic self to work. I share my interests, challenges and vulnerabilities with my team. Building rapport in this way has helped me build stronger relationships and become a better leader.

Photo via Salesforce

This article, “What I Learned from My Immigrant Parents About Succeeding in Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

What I Learned from My Immigrant Parents About Succeeding in Business

1 in 5 Businesses Will Abandon Their Mobile App by 2019

1 in 5 Businesses Will Abandon Their Mobile App by 2019

Businesses big and small often struggle to find a useful purpose for their mobile apps.

This is especially frustrating because developing and updating an app so it remains at least somewhat functional requires more than a nominal investment.

Well, it appears that businesses are finally realizing this and many will give up on their apps in the next year or two. According to new data from Gartner, 20 percent of businesses will drop their mobile app by 2019.

Why Businesses Will Abandon Their Mobile App

And the reasoning is quite simple: they’re just not worth the investment. Not only is there the initial cost of developing a mobile app. You have to keep it updated, deal with customer problems, and then promote it to customers in the hope that they might download it.

There’s more data to show that they won’t, despite your best effort. And even if they do, getting customers to use it requires more skill and often, bending over backwards to make it worth a customer’s effort.

Rather than invest in a mobile app, Gartner finds more businesses will be and are investing in automated customer service tech and chat apps to stay in touch with customers.

“As more customers engage on digital channels, VCAs are being implemented for handling customer requests on websites, mobile apps, consumer messaging apps and social networks,” managing vice president at Gartner Gene Alvarez says in the report. “This is underpinned by improvements in natural-language processing, machine learning and intent-matching capabilities.”

Gartner also found that 84 percent of companies they surveyed plan to invest in improving their customer experience in the coming year. One major way of doing that is adding Virtual Customer Assistants. Some businesses told Gartner since implementing a VCA, they’ve had as much as a 70 percent reduction in time and resources spent answering customer questions.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “1 in 5 Businesses Will Abandon Their Mobile App by 2019” was first published on Small Business Trends

1 in 5 Businesses Will Abandon Their Mobile App by 2019

Spotlight: Franchise Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

Spotlight: Dog Training Company Zoom Room Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

The pet industry is booming. But it’s not all about boutique grooming products or homemade treats. Service businesses like Zoom Room are also appealing to pet owners.

The company takes a unique approach to dog training, focusing on training with dog owners and also giving the animals a place to exercise and socialize. You can read more about the business in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides dog training services that focus on helping dog owners.

Mark Van Wye, CEO of Zoom Room told Small Business Trends, “Zoom Room is a national indoor dog gym and training facility with the moto, “We don’t train dogs, we train the people who love them.” Zoom Room focuses on providing curriculum that deepens the bond between dogs and their owners. This allows the owners to fully understand their dogs’ behaviors and creates a distinctly social atmosphere at Zoom Room. Zoom Room also has philosophy to train dogs using only positive reinforcement. This is not only the most effective and humane means of dog training, but it’s also something every dog owner can do.”

Business Niche

Involving the owner in every step of the process.

Van Wye says, “Unlike other dog training facilities, Zoom Room is climate controlled and owners are required to be with their dogs at all times, which plays into Zoom Room’s mission to deepen the bond between dog and owner. Zoom Room also features cutting-edge curriculum not seen anywhere else. In addition to being experts in dog agility – which can be taught to any dog, no matter its size, age, breed or experience – Zoom Room also offers specialty classes including Shy Dog, Calm Down!, Pup-lates®, Scent Tracking, Urban Herding, Flyball, Rally Obedience and more.”

How the Business Got Started

Because of a gap in the market.

Van Wye explains, “Zoom Room was created because there was no indoor space for owners to train with their dogs and there was a lack of quality dog training curriculum outside of the traditional obedience training. We wanted to create a unique place where dog owners could come and play, train and exercise with their dog, while socializing with other like-minded dog lovers.”

Spotlight: Dog Training Company Zoom Room Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

Biggest Win

Securing investments for franchise growth.

Van Wye says, “One of our biggest wins in Zoom Room’s history would have to be the recent investments we’ve secured with experienced franchise investors to spur the franchise growth of our brand around the country. We’re confident Zoom Room would become the epicenter of any dog-loving community and with the pet industry expected to top $96B in sales by 2020, we feel there’s no better time than now to expand the brand.”

Biggest Risk

Increasing retail offerings.

Van Wye explains, “When we began, our focus was almost 100% on the training and socialization services we offered, and the only retail products we carried were minimal and meant to enhance the training. Even though it seemed that consumers had countless options for purchasing pet retail at big box stores, boutiques, and online retailers, we took the risk of slightly increasing the footprint of our stores and dramatically increasing the amount of retail products we offered. It was a gamble because the investment was significant, and there was no guarantee that we could compete with all the other well-established options. But our conviction was that we could differentiate by carrying a curated line of solution-oriented products, almost all American-made, with all-natural treats, eco-friendly toys and puzzles, and truly the best in class across all product categories. We knew that clients whose dogs we had just trained would deeply trust our recommendations of the best stuff for their dogs. And the gamble paid off. Retail product sales now account for as much as 40% of gross revenue at our stores. We haven’t looked back.”

Lesson Learned

Find the right franchisees.

Van Wye says, “In our early days, we were so excited to get the Zoom Room concept launched across the U.S. that we didn’t do enough due diligence into the financial wherewithal of those applying to become franchisees. We didn’t verify their amount of available liquid capital to ensure that it was sufficient for launching and growing a business. As a result, we saw some stores close because the owners, from the outset, were unable to properly stock, staff or market their locations. If we could do it all over again, we would have asked the hard questions at the beginning, and worked with a great partner like Benetrends. These days, we partner with them – experts in the field – to diligently qualify our candidates as well as to assist them in securing all necessary funding to make their business a success.”

Spotlight: Dog Training Company Zoom Room Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Spreading the word to potential franchisees.

Van Wye says, “We would use 100% of it toward marketing, advertising and PR. After the investment we received in the late summer of 2017, and all of the profound improvements we’ve since made to our infrastructure, we now have the bandwidth for limitless growth, so we’d earmark those funds to help us get the word out about the Zoom Room opportunity to dog-loving entrepreneurs across the U.S.”

Company Mascot

A Komondor named Clyde.

Van Wye explains, “Our Mascot almost since our inception has been Clyde Orange, a hilarious and majestic Komondor. He’s appeared in movies and commercials, like Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and Marmaduke, but it’s his Therapy Dog training that best defines him. He is eternally patient with the literally hundreds of people a day who stop and ask to take his picture, and with children who love to hang onto his cords. The Komondor has for centuries been a serious working dog, guarding livestock, but thanks to his training since puppyhood at the Zoom Room, Clyde can also ride a skateboard around his home in Venice, CA, or let his awesome dreadlocks fly as he runs the agility course. But most often he is just the perfectly mellow and loving family dog. Our CEO’s son learned to read by reclining against Clyde – more than twice his size – and uninhibitedly reading books like Dog Man aloud to him. (This mirrors a program we offer at the Zoom Room called Ruff Reading®, in which kids can leave fear aside by reading boldly aloud to trained therapy dogs.)”

Favorite Quote

“The time to make up your mind about people – is never.” Katharine Hepburn to Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Image: …Zoom Room, Mark Van Wye

This article, “Spotlight: Franchise Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training” was first published on Small Business Trends

Spotlight: Franchise Takes a Unique Approach to Dog Training

Does Your Small Construction Firm Waste More Than Half Your Day on Unproductive Activities?

Construction Industry Ready for Technology Disruption: Construction Companies Waste More Than Half a Day on Unproductive Activities

More than half or 57 percent of the time on construction sites is spent on unproductive activities. This according to new infographics from Volvo titled, “Top Tech Trends to Boost Construction Productivity.”

Construction Industry Ready for Technology Disruption

As the data provided by Volvo points out, construction is one industry ripe for disruption with technology. The inefficiencies due to low productivity are responsible for $1.6 trillion in losses and growth is limited to just one percent.

For the many small businesses making up the construction industry, the tech trends Volvo highlights are extremely important in boosting productivity across all operations, including the hiring process. The suggestions the company makes start with readily available and affordable technologies construction companies can start implementing right away. There is also new generation eco-friendly heavy-duty construction equipment designed to boost productivity.

The infographics look at how drones, artificial intelligence, connectivity and new generation eco-friendly heavy-duty machinery can help construction companies become more productive.

Artificial intelligence (AI), which is being adopted by almost all industries can introduce new levels of efficiency, but there will also be challenges as the technology evolves. Volvo says by 2035 AI has the potential of increasing construction productivity on site by 40 percent. However, 60 percent of building professional believe the productivity increase is going to come because of AI and autonomous construction equipment. And in 45 years, there will be a 50 percent chance machines will outperform humans.

Connectivity will bring together the many different moving parts and equipment in any given project. This will allow them to track and monitor the equipment and workers remotely or from the site. With onboard telematics and machine control systems, supervisors will be able to analyze and streamline their workflow with project management apps.

Technology Adoption Challenges by the Construction Industry

The construction industry is highly segregated when it comes to the different skillsets used by the workforce. And in most cases, the projects are one-offs, making the application of new technologies that much harder to create and implement.

But in an industry slated to be worth $10 trillion by 2020, more companies are developing technologies to bring this segment in step with other industries. The Volvo infographic just points out how some of these technologies can be applied to make construction companies more productive.

You can have a look at the infographics below.


Construction Industry Ready for Technology Disruption: Construction Companies Waste More Than Half a Day on Unproductive Activities Construction Industry Ready for Technology Disruption: Construction Companies Waste More Than Half a Day on Unproductive Activities Construction Industry Ready for Technology Disruption: Construction Companies Waste More Than Half a Day on Unproductive Activities

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Does Your Small Construction Firm Waste More Than Half Your Day on Unproductive Activities?” was first published on Small Business Trends

Does Your Small Construction Firm Waste More Than Half Your Day on Unproductive Activities?