Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Its A Small World After All.... (repeat)

Here is Logan, live from Disneyland in Anaheim, CA! Yes, the family vacation is on track - the kids are wiped out.

They sleep, I type.

The best part of a theme park for me is the people watching. You will never find a better melting pot of families to stare at while they are staring back at you. Yesterday, the best part of my day was helping someone out who I saw filling a baby bottle from the tap in the men's room.

Not cool... disgusting even.

What I haven't said, is that I lived down in this area for 7 years or so, and formerly had season plasses to the, "happiest place on earth." This makes me an expert. When you are an expert, it is your duty to share what you know to help the world in some way (at least that is how I feel). So, I've been around the block here in the Magic Kingdom, and this guy clearly hadn't. From what I gather, the little secret I shared with him isn't even clearly marked on the map...

What was the little secret? The ultimate customer service experience. Yes, I've never had better. Down on Main St. is a little door in between the Corn Dog Cart (best in the world) and the restrooms. Inside are people dressed like nanny's from the 1800's who assist you with all things baby. There are little toilets, changing tables, ice cold water on tap... it is a stress free zone for stressed out mothers and fathers.

They even - without a legal waiver - will wash and heat your baby's bottle for you.

Anyways, I told this guy to get out of the john, and get down the street to a little piece of daddy heaven. I'm sure the silent oasis in the midst of chaos had to have helped sooth the evening for them.

Moral of the story - share what you know, because nice people are the kind of people your customers tell their friends about.

Now, time to roll the kids out of bed for another day in sunny Southern California, expensive food, and, "Dad, can I have a 15" $10 lollypop?"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Who's Who? You're kidding right?

Hasn't the time come that those infamous, "Who's Who?" books went the way of the dinosaurs?

I received a letter yesterday from some company asking for my money in order to be in their guide. Now, if I were technologically illiterate, I might wonder if that could help me network outside of my network... however, I'm a big geek at heart.

So here I sit typing on Blogger, monitoring Twitter, updating Facebook, and trolling through LinkedIn's Answers section trying to help folks out with their questions... and these people think they can help me network?

I say - it's over people. Go quietly and no one will snicker.

All that someone has to do to monitor their exposure to the world today is to type their name into Google and see what floats to the surface. There are of course, two sides to every coin... if you made some nasty comment on a ListServe back in college - guess what!?! It lives on! Of course, we all know this, and much can be forgiven in this day and age.

The tricky part is if your personal brand isn't showing up at all. My name is a beautiful thing. Yup, I'm gloating. Not because it is such a cool name and that I make my Momma proud (which she claims I do), but because I'm pretty much the only one on the Internet using it.

Goody for me! I'm so unique that all the 'Logan Cashwell' hits are mine, and mine alone! (mostly)

Now.. what about the Jim Smiths (no offense Jim), or heaven forbid, the folks with a last name that is also other people's first name? Welcome to the puddle of quicksand called the Internet.

All hope is not lost though. Anyone can work on bringing their name to the surface. The important thing is not to worry about more than the sphere of influence you are looking to hang out with.

This means that when, 'Bob John' in Tampa gets Googled with a keyword relevant to his business - That is where the money is at. Getting your name associated with your industry and the Google searches that your kind of customer are making is the trick.

So, when some puts in a search, " Payroll Service" into the moneybox on Google - what shows up?

You? Great!!!

ADP/Paychex/Intuit? Not so great...

If you really want to use this channel, now is the time to take a few steps.  Here are the first few steps I would take if I was starting off raw in this effort:

  • LinkedIn.com Profile (make sure the public profile is turned on)
  • Facebook.com Profile (even if you never use it - Google seriously searches this)
  • Twitter.com Profile (even if you never use it - free pointer back to your home page)
  • An, "About" section on your company web site with your name and some history in the first paragraph that identifies you with your business.  This is so the little preview in Google shows the searcher that you are indeed the one they are looking for.
  • If your email address isn't recognizable (Bob1967@whatever.com) get rid of it.  Buy your own domain name if you don't have one and make it Bob.John@BobJohnsPayroll.com. Apps.Google.Com can set you up for a whopping $10.00/year with your own domain and email addresses.  Who can't afford that?  I bought thecashwells.com for my personal stuff, but use Logan.Cashwell@gmail.com for LinkedIn, etc.  It is about recognition.
Feel free to Google me as a test run.  Enjoy the video of my kid's gymnastics meet, right along with a link to this Blog... but it is all about me - and that's what Networking online is all about (and no, my ego isn't really the size of a hot air baloon - I swear!).  

Once the, 'all about you' part is out of the way (because its really all about the customer), you can begin to give back to the network.  No one likes a begger out there - but everyone likes to read what someone is saying when they are helping someone else out.  So get out there and lend a hand.

When it comes down to it, it is just about being there when people are looking for you.  If you can be present when the prospective customer is looking for help, you are much more likely to get the chance to make your pitch, and build that new relationship.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Embrace The Horror!

If the economy is going to give us lemons, let us make lemon drops (take that any way you’d like). The way that I choose to look at the world around me, there is a sugary sweet lining to every challenge that is presented to us. The current situation is no different than any other. Read on! I am going to hand you the key to a little payroll treasure box I found.

On a day when I've seen my little brother’s gift card from the holidays became invalid due the bankruptcy of the issuer... on a day that those who cashed out their retirement and put it under the mattress are the only serious investors left (slight exaggeration, but it sounded nice and alarmist?)...

...I see opportunity!

I see the opportunity for existing and new small and mid-sized payroll service bureaus to take on serious additions to their book of business. We have the opportunity to serve the client in ways that the Big Bureaus cannot. The reality of it is that their forecasted annual attrition of clients is equal to your wildest dreams for your business, and finding a way to channel just a small piece of that action through your door is what we need to concentrate on.

Attrition? To them - meaningless. To you? You could feasibly double your book of business. The question is – are you willing to reach out and make a grab for it?

The Promised Key (Simple, but true)

Small businesses are just dying for someone to come in and help them save money. Aren’t we all?

Helping a small business who is currently using a national bureau save money doesn't require you to change your pricing structure. The market has shifted, and your standard price sheet is looking better every day.

Just yesterday I was talking to a new friend of mine who I met at IPPA’s Sales & Marketing Workshop in Vegas earlier this month and he had a story to share with me about a recently added client. I’ll give you the short and sweet version… As I recall, he sat down with the client to discuss how they could better serve their needs, and found that the national bureau’s pricing was in excess of 40% higher than their retail rates.

Now, even if your sales team is doing a sloppy job of selling your services – how can a client say no to saving that kind of money in today’s economy? Have them put away the sniper rifle, and bring out the double-barreled shotgun!

Put on your hunting vest, payroll season is open!

You have the payroll experience to get the job done, now it is time to market your payroll service to the companies who need your help the most. Right now, everyone needs to save money. Even a conversation with the prospective client about what other areas they might find some savings can ingratiate you to them.

Call your clients! Find out how they are saving money - take notes.

HINT: this is your new marketing plan

If you jump on this bandwagon full of new clients, you are now (if you weren't before) working in a consultative role, helping people to save their businesses, and that... is something you can feel great about!

Your current client base is the foundation of this year’s growth. Their cost saving moves and strategies, shared across your client base will help you keep those clients, and with your prospective clients – this will be corner stone of your new relationship. The question is, once that corner stone is set – how high are you going to build?

If you would like to talk more about how to get this rolling (without a sales pitch from me – unless you beg for one) give me a call, I'm here to help - 219-567-0245

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Recharging The Batteries!

I am winding up my day, getting together what I will be taking with me to the IPPA Sales & Marketing Workshop in Las Vegas tomorrow.

I am really looking forward to this event! Last year's was quite valuable, and I was able to bring back a truckload of information to share with my clients, and prospective clients.

Of course, all of the good tidbits will land here as well.

If you are currently running a payroll service bureau of any size, the IPPA has a lot to offer to you. We are in a niche business, so the opportunity to hang out with your peers is a rare occasion in and of itself. The other aspects of what comes together at an IPPA event surround operations, tax, sales & marketing, and other topics of interest to any bureau, regardless of size. If you are new to payroll, this could be a great opportunity to find a mentor or two to work with you on strategies for building your book of business.

I would strongly recommend taking a look at what they have to offer: www.ippa.net