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Money Matters

When I ask business owners about their biggest frustration when it comes to their clients or customers, the most common answer is their too price sensitive. So would it surprise you to learn that only 15% of the market shops on price alone?!!

That's a pretty amazing statistic when you think about it.

So that means for 85% of our potential clients or customers, price is not the most important issue. But often as business owners we don't articulate the value of our product or service to them, and therefore price is the only comparison tool they have...

Click here for some great tips on re-training our potential customers or clients to focus on value rather than price, and dramatically increase the success of your sales process.

And if you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Business" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon,
Caren

 

 

 

What's the deal with housing prices?

For all of you who are sick of the sound of my writing, you're in for a treat today. Caren Hendrie Discusses House Prices

Property is always one of the hottest topics for us Australians, and one of my fave economists Dr Shane Oliver (Felix Stephen is still my number one) has written a terrific - and very reader friendly - article about the current state of play for housing.

It's not overly long and there's some pretty pictures.  Just click here for a copy.

And if you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Money" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon,
Caren






 

Is your guarantee growing your business?

Most business owners guarantee their work in some form or other.  I'm sure you do.  At the very least, there's legislation in place protecting most consumers and providing a minimum standard of service or product quality.

The problem is most people don't use their guarantees to best advantage.

Most businesses don't tell you about their guarantees at all let alone promote it.  And guess what, a compelling guarantee can be a very powerful marketing tool to increase sales and generate revenue.

But how, I hear you ask?  Well just click here for my easy-to-read "Every Gurantee is a MARKETING Opportunity" fact sheet.

If you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Business" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon,
Caren



I'm not very tall.

Ok, that's an understatement, I'm pretty short.

5 foot nothing to be honest (perhaps still being a little dishonest).

Anyway, that may be the reason I have so many soapboxes (short-girl syndrome!!) and you guessed it, I'm about to share one with you right now.

For anyone who's been to one of our Family Finance presentations, you'll have heard me waxing lyrical (ok - ranting) about the fact that with everything we're taught in school, basic household financial management is not part of the curriculum.

Think about it for a moment - who was it that sat you down and taught you step by step how to manage money?  Things like:

  • Budgeting
  • Shopping
  • Credit cards
  • Getting a loan
  • Compound interest
  • Living out of home
  • Earning income
  • Investing
If you were lucky your parents trained you, but in most cases no one did.  And even if it was your parents, in many cases they were winging it themselves!

So we're given no formal training, is it any wonder then that we often find managing money complicated, challenging, frustrating?  And that it's the cause of many family arguments, not to mention tears?

And by the way, if you have young children and you think the arguments you have with your partner about money are bad, wait until you have teenagers...(BTW - affordable boarding school options is another one of my soapboxes tee hee).

Today I want to focus on protecting your family's lifestyle because it's an area that's often neglected and it's really important.

Insurance tends to have a bad rap for the wrong reasons, mostly being that we'd rather not talk about it.  Because let's face it, insurance is something that we're only ever going to get value out of if something pretty bad happens right?  The problem is that by not talking about it, or not doing anything about it, we still can't stop that bad stuff from happening - it just means you could be financially devastated if it does.

Anyway, rather than focus on all the reasons you should have insurance cover, because I think most people know them even if we don't like to talk about them, I thought I'd dispel the top 5 myths instead!

Click here for my top 5 insurance myths - BUSTED.

And if it's reading that whets your appetite for information, then click here for a copy of my article "Is it time to review our dinner time conversation" and/or click here for some VERY interesting facts on critical illnesses...

Of course, if you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Money" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon, 
Caren





 

What does it take to create a great offer for your clients or customers?

Remember that advertising slogan "oils ain't oils"?  Well I'd also like to submit that "offers ain't offers". Most businesses make special offers to their customers or clients at some stage, and of course the objective of doing this is to entice them to buy your product or service.  But an offer will only do that successfully if it's constructed properly, and to do that you need to first understand the psychology behind offers.

You may not consciously realise this, but when you make an offer what you're trying to do is overcome human inertia.  You're trying to create a set of circumstances that will motivate your customers or potential customers to take action.

An offer gives people a reason, an incentive, AND an opportunity to try your product, service, or business for themselves.  They no longer have to take your word for it - they can try the product or service or your business as a whole and find out for themselves what it's like to deal with you.

Better yet, it gives them a reason to act NOW rather than later.

Click here to read more, including important factors to understand when creating your offer, and ELEVEN offer types to consider.

And if you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Business" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon,
Caren

It's tax time - now it's a party!!!!

We're well into the personal tax season, which means it's party time at The Hendrie Group, as we keep busy during one of our favourite times of year (Christmas comes a close second of course ha ha).

We're still offering evening appointments through to the end of September, so if you can't come during the day then just call and make a time in the next few weeks.  As you can imagine, evenings book up pretty quickly so the sooner you call us the better.

The ATO's turnaround time for lodged tax returns has been pretty good, with most of them coming back just on two weeks.  However, we recommend allowing three weeks as sometimes they take a little longer.

We appreciate that most people don't find tax time as exciting as we do, but part of our job is to keep you informed, and this year Dean's personal tax newsletter addressed a few issues that you may find of interest including, but not limited to:

  • A guide to 2014 tax return preparation charges;
  • How the tax-man helps you protect your family;
  • New criteria for the net medical expense tax offset;
  • A simple explanation of the Medicare Levy Surcharge;
  • Changes to the private health insurance rebate;
  • The ATO's new stance on claiming travel and overtime meal expenses;
  • Buying an investment property.

Click here if you hadn't had a chance to read this year's Personal Tax Newsletter for a quick and informative look at some of this year's relevant tax issues.

If you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Money" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon,
Caren

 

 

 

 

It boils my blood when I hear business coaches claiming that price isn't an issue in business, that's just rubbish!  That said, I completely agree that it's not the only issue.  In fact in most cases it's not even the most important issue.

As a Financial Adviser I like to deal with facts, and there's a survey done on a regular basis by the Technical Assistance Research Program in Washington, which addresses why customers don't buy from you or why they leave you and move to a competitor.

The results are broken into 5 categories:

Convenience 3%
This means a person would choose not to deal with a business or would leave that business because it's more convenience to buy elsewhere. 

Relationship at a high level 9%
This means that someone close to your customer opened a new business or moved to another company and they want to deal with that person because of the important relationship.  It could be a close friend or a family member. 

Miscellaneous 5%
This is simply those reasons that couldn't be categorised clearly. 

Product/price/time 15%
This actually means potential customers want a certain product or service, at a certain price, whenever they want it - for example, right now, next week, or what have you. 

______________ ? 68%

Click here to find out "The real reason customers stop doing business with you".

Talk soon,
Caren

 

 

 

 

 


You may recall that last year I posted about the importance of branding for smaller businesses, and I pointed out that the image, qualities and promises projected by your brand should also be reflected in every aspect of your business performance, from the satisfaction your products or services deliver to the manner in which your phones are answered and the way you deal with queries or problems.


But I missed something HUGE.

I forgot to mention that anyone you employ - even on a very casual basis - also represents your brand, and you need to make sure that they're providing the same customer service experience as you do.  Something happened to me recently that really drove this point home.

I do most of my grocery shopping online, and a couple of weeks ago the driver delivering my items pointed to a photo in our entry and asked if that was me.  When I told him it was, he immediately asked "what happened?" Obviously I asked him what he meant, to which he replied, "You look healthy there, now you just look skinny and sick".

I was absolutely mortified.  And it probably wouldn't surprise you to learn I won't be using the services of that business anytime soon.

You see even though the business is incredibly successful and very well-known, they have a staff member who is not representing the values or the customer service of their brand.

Now my example is extreme, but it raises the issue of how important it is to make sure our clients and customers are receiving the same service from our team as they do from us. And I have 4 tips to help you achieve this:

1. Hire the right people:

This is obvious but not easy, and I certainly wouldn't presume to tell you what qualifications or experience you should be looking for when you're recruiting.  But I will point out that you'd expect someone in a job interview to be on their best behaviour.  So if they don't impress you in that first meeting as someone who'll represent your business well, they probably never will.

2. Commitment

Many business owners complain that team members 'don't take responsibility, cost too much, don't do any more than they have to, arrive late, go home early, make mistakes all the time, don't take any responsibility, blame each other or the customers, drag their family problems into work, make personal phone calls all day.  It would be easier to do it myself.'

If your team members are treating their roles as if it's 'just a job', it's time to get them more involved.

The key is for you to take charge and do something.  One strategy that a lot of really successful businesses do that can be incredibly effective is to implement a 'team commitment.'

Call a team meeting - again even if they're casual or contractors, they're part of your team and need to be involved - and explain that you want to get their involvement in more areas of the business.  Tell them that you want to make a commitment to them, have them commit to their roles and, together, make some commitments to customers.

Then print your team commitments and give everyone a copy - it would be great if you could get them to sign it.  This could be a great marketing tool if you frame a large version, including all team members' signatures, and hang it in your reception area or shop.  That way, you, your customers, and your team members have a constant reminder of your commitments.

3. Set expectations

"You don't know what you don't know".

The arch-nemesis of Small business owners is time (or lack thereof) and when we employ people we ideally want them to be able to hit the ground running.  We often don't have the time or resources to spend on intensive and time consuming training.

The problem with this is that no matter how skilful a person is, they can't possibly meet our expectations if we never articulate them!  Think about it, if they knew exactly what to do and how to do it without us, they'd probably be running their own business.

At a bare minimum set written expectations for all team members around:

- Their role and responsibilities in the business;
- The flow and quality of work;
- The relationship between customer and business, and their responsibilities.

4. Systems

And the final step to achieving consistent brand representation from your team is having robust systems in place.

The best and most successful businesses have formal systems to help their team provide a consistent experience to their customers and clients.

These may include (but are not limited to):

- Step by step sales systems
- Scripts for handling enquiries
- Scripts for setting up meetings
- Scripts for generating and/or analysing leads
- Email templates
- Letter and other documentation templates
- A position description so that they can describe your business to potential customers in 30 seconds.

Your business and your business brand is important, so when you relinquish total control of it by hiring staff, you need to make sure you retain control of how it's represented.  Don't hire people who from the outset you feel won't be a positive ambassador for your business, encourage commitment from team members, set clear expectations, and put in place robust systems to help your team provide a consistent and terrific experience to your clients and customers.

If you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Business" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon,
Caren

PS. If you or anyone you know of is thinking of buying their first home, click here for details on an upcoming FREE session about what's involved in getting that first home-loan now that banks are getting tough...






Should you be managing your own super?

We recently held an education session on Self Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF).  The feedback was terrific, and whilst I can't fit two hours worth of information into one blog, I can share a few of the salient points, and also extend an offer that we made on the night - not something we do very often.

A SMSF is quite simply a super fund that is set up by people who want to control their own retirement savings, and has less than 5 members.

What you find is that your standard super funds can be quite limiting in the types of investments that you can choose from.  So for people with reasonably high super balances that can be a real disadvantage, and you find that often those people will prefer the flexibility of a much greater range of investment opportunities, and having complete control over investment decisions.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission will tell you that you probably need $200,000 - $250,000 to make it worthwhile, and that's because you need to justify the compliance or accounting costs that are involved.

It's important to point out that you still pay accounting and compliance costs in a retail or industry super fund, the difference is that they are often percentage based or a combination of fixed and percentage.  This means that people with small balances don't pay a lot for the accounting, but people with higher balances are actually often subsiding the costs for other people.

From the research we've done over the past few years, we'd agree that at $200-$250K it's definitely worth considering, especially if you're going to be making contributions for a while, but it becomes particularly cost effective for balances of $400,000 plus.  In many circumstances it will be a cheaper option than retail or industry super!

Oh and that doesn't mean $400,000 per member, but combined... Just bear in mind that members of a super fund must be family or in business together.

Perhaps the greatest SMSF misconception is that it is a lot of work for the members, but for the SMSF owner it doesn't need to be any more difficult than being in a standard super fund.  Make your Accountant and Financial Planner (ideally under one roof) do all the hard work!

Our accounting team has a specialisation in this area and we manage about 120 SMSFs and I can tell you right now that very few members want to have involvement in the compliance side of things like preparing the accounts and tax returns, updating trust deeds, writing minutes, arranging actuarial certificates...

When it comes to the rules, well they're pretty much the same as for any standard super fund - the difference is that you (and your Accountant) are responsible for making sure the fund meets it's obligations.

One rule that's changed relates to borrowing within a SMSF.  Previously no SMSF was permitted to borrow, but now you can - within some pretty tight rules.  If you're considering taking advantage of this opportunity you should definitely get advice.

And finally, within your SMSF you can invest in pretty much anything that constitutes a legitimate investment - shares, property, managed funds, artwork, coin collection, wine collection - as long as it meets all the legal guidelines of the "sole purpose" test which means it MUST be solely invested for your retirement.

Ok, so that's the "bare bones" summary.  At our education session we offered everyone who attended a free 45 minute session to chat about whether or not a SMSF would be worth considering.  We don't usually extend these offers to people who didn't attend, but in this case we're making an exception.  Do-it-yourself super is an area that's growing and growing fast (there's currently more than 500,000 funds in Australia!!) so we want to make sure you have all the facts to make an informed decision as to whether it might be a worthwhile strategy for your long-term financial security.

Click here for a copy of the offer - it expires June 30.

And if you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Money" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon,
Caren

Think about it now, not later

I rarely recommend that certain books are a "must" because different people have different taste, and I wouldn't presume to think that just because I like it everyone else will.  But the E-Myth by Michael Gerber is different because it revolutionised the way people think about business.  In my book (ah c'mon, it's been awhile since I threw in a bad pun), it actually is a must for business owners.

The crux of Gerber's E-Myth theory is that very few people are "born" entrepreneurs, instead what he suggests happens is that we have an entrepreneurial seizure.  One day we decide we don't want to work for anyone and we just have to be our own boss.

Naturally, most people that go into business are really good at what they do - so a good technician - but not necessarily good at running a business.

So then it's up to us to develop entrepreneurial skills to GROW our business.  Gerber was the one who coined the phrase that you need to work "ON" your business, not just "IN" it.

Now to truly be an entrepreneur and grow your business, it's critical that you "begin with the end in mind", which is a concept invented by another business brain, Steven Covey.  He said, and I love this, "If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster."

When we start out in business we expect to be in it for the long-term right?  We have goals.  Some of them loftier than others.  One important goal that's often neglected is how we want it to end.

If you're planning a trip you need to know where you're going before you can plan the route yeah?

In order to achieve any goal you need to set it, visualise it, and plan for it.  This includes ultimately exiting your business.

As business owners we take significant risks on board, in anticipation that we'll be duly rewarded in the future.  For most of us, we expect the prize to come in retirement (with some lifestyle rewards along the way of course), but it doesn't just magically happen.  We plan for it.

Do you want to sell your business for a profit?  Are you hoping to cease the physical work, but remain a shareholder with a regular income?  Will you simply wind down the business?  Do you want a family member or staff member to succeed you?

Starting with the end in mind helps you build not only the type of business you want, but also the business you need to reach your ultimate goals.  And that's what it's all about - achieving goals you've set for yourself and your family.

One of the most important roles of a Business Adviser is to help their clients achieve those goals, and this means regularly measuring how you're tracking towards them.

Note you'll often hear me harping on about how important it is to review your business and I think most business-owners realise this and even agree with it (even if they don't always do it), but not a lot of business owners think about valuing their business to determine how they're tracking towards their goals.  In fact, most business owners don't consider doing this unless they're about to sell.

If you missed Michael Moschetti's article "Why value your business?" in our latest "4 Ways Bulletin" click here because it may give you some interesting food for thought.

If you'd like to hear more of what I have to say on the matter, click here for a recording of my most recent "You & Your Business" radio segment on 98.1FM Radio Eastern.

Talk soon,
Caren
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