Almost all businesses use technology in some fashion it is nearly impossible to avoid it, but are you maximizing the benefits from this new tech? Many of us use computers and phones on a regular basis but there is so much more they can do for you and your business then just tracking orders and speaking with customers they can actually increase profits and build new customer leads. These technologies can also help you free up valuable time as well.
First let’s talk about the cloud. Now you may have heard this on a TV commercial or in various print ads but you might not understand the freedom these types of services can offer you. A “cloud” is a type of storage but instead of storing the information on your own computer it stores it on the service providers’ server. This allows you to access this information from anywhere, the office, your home, on a business trip, without the need to carry around an external hard drive or e-mailing files to yourself. There are many providers that offer a basic plan for free such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive. If you aren’t using a cloud service you should sign up for an account to try it out since you can also create shared folders which you can share with many people and this helps when you work on a group project and the files are too large to e-mail. I have used all three and have found that Dropbox is by far the simplest to use and what I like about their service is if you recommend them to your friends and they sign up they reward you with additional space for free up to 16gb.
Social media is your friend. The major social media sites are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace, GooglePlus+, and YouTube. You can’t afford not to be on social media. Now that being said don’t logon to every social media outlet you can think of and create an account. It is important to ask yourself a few questions before you begin. Where does the majority of your customers come from? Are they local? What social media are your customers likely to use? What social media are you familiar with? If your customers are local you are going to want to increase this local traffic and to do that you should consider getting your business listed on Yelp!, Google Places, and also start using social check-in tools like Foursquare. Next, try to determine what social media your current customers are using. You can do this with a brief questionnaire with a chance to win a free part or free service this way you get valuable data, one lucky winner gets free part or service, everyone wins. If a majority of your customers are on Facebook and LinkedIn there is no need to invest time in creating a Twitter account (yet). Finally, what social media do you use? If you currently use Facebook for personal use it will easy to use it to promote your business.
Use e-mail wisely. According to Convince and Convert 44% of e-mail users made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional e-mail. So make sure if your customer gives you their e-mail address you follow up with monthly newsletters and alerts about sales and service specials. People are more likely to purchase if you offer a special incentive such as a percentage off service if they present the e-mailed coupon. This is a great way to stay connected to your customers another great way to connect with your customers is by making yourself available with Skype or GoogleTalk this way if your customer is online they can get immediate answers to their questions.
Finally, in this instant age we are becoming accustomed to why not get paid instantly, from anywhere? If you do onsite service calls and are not currently set up to process credit cards it is easier than you think. If you have a smartphone or Ipad you can sign up for a mobile payment tool such as Square, Intuit GoPayment, or Paypal Here. These are all very simple to use and are a great alternative if your customer would like to pay with a debit or credit card. It is always a good idea to give your customer options when it comes to payment.
These tips should give your business the technological jumpstart it may have been missing. And if you would like to offer any additional input to any of these services or something I may have missed please feel free to send me a note at Steve@Stenten.com
Written by Steve Wilmer
Steve started with Stenten’s in October of 2011 and currently maintains Stenten’s digital footprint. This includes contributing to our Blog, monitoring our technical Forum, and posting to our various social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest. Along with increasing Stenten’s digital market Steve also has knowledge on many performance parts for golf carts including controllers, motors, and tire & wheel combinations.