4 Ways Business Owners Can Optimize Tech Investments

You don’t have to be a genius to recognize that new technology can have a big, positive impact on any given company. Most professionals realized this fact years ago. Yet, despite the acknowledgement that new technology is crucial to business success, many companies still make poor –– or at the  very least inefficient –– tech investments. And that can prove just as detrimental as failing to invest in the first place. With that in mind, today we’ll share four tips that business owners can use to ensure they get the most from their tech investments. Check them out here:

Perform Regular Upkeep

If you bought a $50,000 car, would you leave it out in the rain? Would you never change the oil? Would you drive it recklessly? The answer to all of those questions should be an unequivocal “NO.” Unfortunately, businesses rarely treat their tech purchases with the care they deserve. Indeed, performing regular upkeep and maintenance is crucial to optimizing your tech purchases. Downloading regular upgrades and taking care of your hardware might require a little extra work, but it will save your organization lots of money and spare your team an untold number of headaches.

Train Your Staff

If you’re like many other companies, odds are you’ve purchased new tech features to help you improve your customer service during COVID-19. Still, doing so is insufficient if you don’t then take the trouble to properly train and educate your staff. After all, your employees are the people who will operate the new technology –– so it’s an employer’s responsibility to show them how to do so effectively.

Conduct Thorough Research

One might imagine this could go without saying, but no business leader should make a significant tech purchase without first performing thorough research on the product or service. In most instances, business owners can find tech products that are specifically tailored to their industry or even their business. For example, a pharmacy point of sale has many features that won’t be found with a POS system designed for a restaurant or a bar. Bottom line: be a savvy tech shopper and do your homework before you pull the trigger, not after.

Listen

Your staff, your customers, other business professionals –– all of these sources can provide business leaders with vital information needed to improve their tech purchases and subsequent implementations. It’s impossible to appreciate every aspect of your organization if you don’t make it a point to solicit feedback from others on your team or in your industry. What’s more, reviewing key survey results and relevant metrics will allow you to make more informed decisions in the first place. Remember, great leaders aren’t afraid to hear what their colleagues have to say!

How to Manage Your Company’s Customer Experience During COVID-19

The world’s current pandemic is forcing companies to reassess their business operations, including their products and services, as well as their marketing practices. Of course, any changes to these factors is really just a way for businesses to profitably respond to changing customer need. Indeed, enhancing the customer experience can be a crucial way for businesses to maintain their relevance at any time, but especially during a crisis. Here are a few tips for managing the customer experience when times get tough:

Enhance Visibility

We all know how important it is for a business to be visible. During a crisis, whether it’s an emergency within a company’s own ranks or a systemic problem affecting society as a whole — we’re looking at you, COVID-19 — remaining top-of-mind and trustworthy, will likely be the key to solvency. Trust, after all, is what attracts customers and keeps them coming back to a company. Now is the time for a company to enhance both its external and internal communications so that customers and employees alike recognize that it is actively focused on the crisis at hand and is seeking ways to meet the needs of all involved.

Be Creative

A crisis necessarily affects when and how customers reach out to a company. Thus, businesses must reimagine their customer and employee interactions, finding new ways to interact with consumers, as well as their own staff, so that meaningful contact is never lost. This could mean that companies boost their points of contact, increasing their social media presence, offering enhanced call center capacity and/or providing more technical support for their products. It could also mean expanding delivery options or restructuring manufacturing processes. Carefully considering customer service vs customer support, in particular, and the ways in which each influence consumer and employee loyalty means companies can potentially mitigate the repercussions stemming from strains to production and/or decreased consumer activity.

Listen

Don’t add to consumer or employee burdens by asking them to solve problems for you. Instead, listen. Find ways to monitor relevant chatter instead of directly soliciting feedback. Digital channels are especially suited to this type of review since they can save money and accelerate the information gathering process, thereby permitting businesses the opportunity to implement change at a quicker pace.

A pandemic may be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but other crises will certainly impact companies over the course of their lives. Maintaining focus on a superior customer experience will undoubtedly be the key to sustainability and — ultimately — profitability!

East Coast Businesses Are Struggling Under the Weight of COVID-19

As Congress considers yet another wave of stimulus checks and emergency measures to keep the economy running, many businesses have yet to see any positive results from previous Congressional actions. The East Coast has been particularly hard-hit by the virus, with states like New York and New Jersey seeing the highest case counts and deaths. Even as lockdowns ease around the country, many business owners wonder how they will get access to the funds they need to reopen.

This doesn’t just apply to businesses in large urban areas like New York City or Miami, either. Many business owners in rural communities are struggling to get customers into their stores. Millions of people are without jobs and still waiting for financial aid from the government. This means that they have little to no extra money to spend on non-essential (and even essential) expenses.

So, where does this leave businesses? To be blunt, it leaves them in a particularly tough situation. Should businesses furlough their workers and shut their doors until aid arrives? Should businesses trust that Congress will act swiftly and provide funds for struggling businesses? Or should businesses attempt to provide their services as they always would, working under the assumption that this will all pass over quickly?

There’s really no simple answer. The fact remains that thousands of businesses on the East Coast (and throughout the country) are at a crossroads, with no solution in sight. Money is tight, people are desperate, and the looming threat of a deadly virus is only adding additional stress to the situation.

Fortunately, if your business has received aid from the government or you’ve found ways to keep afloat during the crisis, this is a good time to reevaluate your business processes. For those who have funds on hand, hiring a market research agency could be a great way to study the current consumer base and see how to best proceed in uncertain times. Not only could this help your business survive the current crisis, but it could also help you come out stronger once this is all over.

In any case, the argument over how best to restart the economy rages on throughout the country. Many business owners think it is too soon to lift quarantine restrictions for the sake of public health, while others see it as a necessary measure to revitalize an economy that is teetering on the brink of a depression. As Washington D.C. and all 50 states debate the pros and cons of opening, businesses and workers are forced to sit and take it on the nose.

What happens in the coming weeks will have a huge impact on thousands of small and medium-sized businesses. Will the opening of states help businesses make up for their losses? Will unemployment numbers return to normal levels as businesses regain lost income? Will government aid be enough to keep the economy from sinking into a depression? Only time will tell. In the meantime, all we can do is prepare ourselves for the difficult times ahead and try our best to keep our personal and business financials in the black (and hopefully green).

5 Ways to Add Value to Your Home

Home-improvement projects have become increasingly popular over the years. And, to be fair, what’s not to love about making your house a better place to live? Not only will fixing up your home add to your enjoyment of it, but doing so can also boost the value of your home. If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, then make sure to read this blog first. Here are five effective ways to increase the value of your home and make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Focus on Aesthetics

When it comes to moving property, curb appeal can be a game-changer. Just as in business, first impressions matter a lot in real estate. As such, homeowners should start their beautification process outside. Planting a tree, adding a well-kept garden, repainting the exterior, or refinishing brick or concrete walls can all make a property stand out more to buyers. What’s more, adding fresh paint to the inside of your home can also improve its appearance significantly.

Cut Energy Costs

Installing smart light bulbs in your home is a small way of reducing energy costs. However, if you really want to dramatically cut down on utility bills and set your home apart from others, consider getting solar panels installed on your roof. Thankfully, there are many reputable companies like Envision Security that can help you make your home much more energy-efficient.

Conduct Regular Maintenance

Just because you’re looking to sell your home, it doesn’t mean you can cut back on regular maintenance. In fact, just the opposite is true. Stay on top of day-to-day yard work and hire inspectors to come out and look at your fireplace, chimney, and basement on a semi-annual basis. Taking care of a small problem now could prevent a big one form occurring –– and costing you –– down the line.

Expand

Bigger is almost always better. Adding on a garage, a porch, or a deck is a major project to be sure. Nevertheless, completing a home expansion will invariably increase the square footage of your home, and thus make it more attractive to some buyers. Only start such a project if you’re committed to doing it right, though. Otherwise, it could end up backfiring and cost you more in the end.

Call in a Pro

Spending just an hour or two with a real-estate agent or interior designer can give you a much better understanding of what you can –– and should –– do to up the value of your home. Plus, they’ll be able to let you know more about the housing market in your area and what you can reasonably expect from your efforts. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call in a professional!

5 Tips for Starting a Successful Company in St. Louis

Starting a successful business anywhere is a tall order. Yet, the reality is that some locations are better than others. The good news for professionals living in the Midwest is that St. Louis is one of the best places to launch a business. Indeed, according to one report, St. Louis is the seventh best city in the entire country to start a business. To that end, today we’ll share five important tips for business owners looking to hit the ground running in the Gateway City. Check them out here:

Pick a Solid Location

St. Louis is unique in that the population of the metro area is quite large, but the city limits are very small. Indeed, though nearly 3 million people live in or around St. Louis, only about 300,000 live within the city proper. As such, it’s important for prospective business owners to pick a location that suits their needs and their industry. Businesses that rely on foot traffic, for instance, will want to consider places like the Loop, Soulard, or downtown to set up shop. Alternatively, it’s possible to land some excellent real-estate properties deals in the suburbs surrounding St. Louis.

Partner with a Local Organization

Any time a new company enters an unfamiliar market, it’s a good idea to partner up with a popular organization with strong local ties. In the case of St. Louis, there are plenty of charitable and philanthropic groups that could use the support of a thriving business. Partnering with a charity is both a good thing to do and a quick way to win some solid PR points.

Create a Strong Company Culture

In order to stand out in a crowded field, businesses need to develop a unique culture and attract talented professionals. Of course, building a strong company culture is easier said than done. It requires lots of hard work and patience. Fortunately, by implementing educational programs like ethics training and career advancement courses, business leaders can mold a positive workplace atmosphere.

Deliver the Goods

St. Louis is located in Missouri, which for the uninitiated, is known as the Show-Me State. Given that fact, it’s good policy for new businesses to deliver on the promises they make early and often. Naturally, this will help you win the trust of local patrons and boost your company’s standing within the community.

Embrace the Area

St. Louis is a major metropolitan area, sure, but it’s got a lot more in common with small towns across America than it does sprawling behemoths like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Thankfully, business owners who tap into the unique culture of St. Louis have a great chance of connecting with consumers and building a company with long-term viability.