Tag: accounting software Australia

 

Business Growth Tips: How SMEs can realistically harness their data to increase sales

Can you as a SMEs compete with Corporate’s?  Here is a Guide on how increase your sales, have life balance and make more profits.

Use your Data to Increase SalesThe biggest difference between SMEs and Corporate’s  is that they generally have more people to give more smarts to using their data and leverage that they have to enable them to increase sales.
Learning how to realistically harness your data will lead you to increase sales that can bring you in excellent profits. I state this with specific experience.
I have created and assisted many building industry related company, from SME to corporate’s. What I write here is a guide for SME’s based these companies actual experience. Now, I won’t name the companies how have been less successful, but I will later name the company, that I know is successfully harnessing their data and really making it work for them to increase sales, profits and managing their business better.
About 5 years ago, I met 2 companies that created outdoor verandas, pergolas – that style of item for home owners. Through their introduction I then did work for Bluescope Steel. All 3 companies had data and all 3 companies were looking at leveraging their data. So what did they do, that made one company really stand out from the others that was not a corporate.

With the corporate company, Bluescope steel, their marketing division had decided to create a loyalty program to get builders to purchase more products from them. They used their data to increase sales with a loyalty program. This loyalty program planned to give some nice bonuses to the builders that repeat purchased from them. So a smart idea, that had, marketing people, sales people and finally IT people involved in preparing this process. Finally they had administration that managed and maintained the idea. So a lot of staff and money for a simple idea to be implemented. Rather hard for the average SME to challenge – or is it?
This blog is really a guide for SME’s so the 2 SMEs I refer to are real live companies. I will refer to them as SME1 and SME2. SME1 eventually went out of business, SME2 is growing and getting stronger every day in every way, from Sales, Quality, and Service and of course profits. I will review the main data groups that they collect.

Increase Sales with Accounting Data.

Both SME’s in the case used MYOB Premier. Both SMEs had the ability to refer and look at their data via the MS Office tools. So what was different. SME1. Used MYOB to record and store accounts. SME2. Used MYOB to record and store accounts – plus made the accounts and interactive part of his sales process. For example, the accounts directly linked to his sales database, and showed when a person paid, amount paid, values, costs of sales. Plus, if this client was a good client – they used this data to consider “on selling” other options to this client, and to get further referrals from this client. The ability to harness accounting data is not limited to MYOB, in fact, this same function I have used with Xero, Sage, and Quick Books.

Increase Sales with Referral Data

Both SME’s asked for referrals when with a client. SME1, wrote this down in his note book and when and if he could, he has someone attempt to follow these up. SME2, really harnessed their data again, they turned every single prospect into a micro sales person. They did this by sending every single prospect their own Business card sized referral card. This card the client could then give to friends as well as suggest referrals that were immediately entered into their personalized CRM that the manager over viewed and watched. Making sure that people were contacted in a timely manner and the valuable referrals were followed whilst the lead was “Hot”.

Increase Sales with Trade Show Data

Both clients also had exhibitions at trade shows. Both collected data. SME2 had his office staff call the referrals post the trade show, and attempt to set up appointments. He hoped that they got appointments from most of these people, but he had no idea how many he got, how many appointments he got or even how long after the show that these people were contacted. He had no idea how many he lost. SME2 however, entered all his leads immediately via his IPad, had his office staff contact them within a 48 hour period, and had sales people out to communicate. He made sure quotes were timely, and costed correctly. He had procedures and standards for every step of the way, and his reporting told him exactly which sales people were succeeding or not, and to make sure that he got the most out of his sales leads.

Increase Sales with Rectification Process (Complaints)

We all have them. The way we handle these situations shows the quality of the company. SME1 gave the manager the complaints to deal with directly. SME2, has a data based rectification process, that every call, review, call back, photos etc. is recorded. When this began there were a few cases to be cared for, however the open cases at my last check were zero, and it seemed that each case that was raised was less in quantity and less in time to resolution. Having a clear process that could be tracked was definitely working for SME2, plus it seemed from report review, quite a few referrals came out of the clients that did have a complaint that was quickly and appropriately resolved.

Increase Sales with Phone Data

SME1 had gone out of business before he could cost effectively consider using this technology. SME2 however had grown and now automatically integrates the phone call in data. So if the phone rings, the database immediately opens up that phone numbers client information. This is increasing their efficiency, personal service and giving the client a much better service than previously. Plus the manager now knows of all phone numbers of new prospects so sales and leads can’t be lost.

What’s new for SME2?

Well SME2 is discussing other tools that will harness their data. Only a week ago, we discussed more mobile version of data access to assist with QA, servicing, staged photos etc. The tool we reviewed was CRM-Map.com, as this is a google maps database interface tool that allows the storage of files and photos and is not operating system dependent.
So as you can see, SME2 really did harness their data to increase sales. SME1 has since closed his doors. So you are probably wanting to know who the SME2 is – the company I have discussed here is Utter Gutters.

Utter Gutters is a fabulous SA based company, with fantastic caring, diligent staff.  The management and growth of this company that I have been able to actively watch and participate in a small way as Accede Holdings Pty Ltd. The instigator of this growth, is not myself, but the owner of Utter Gutters. I have  been privileged to be a part of the team that has acted on his initiative, and been able to watch as he led his company to increase sales by harnessing their data.

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Accounting Software Packages Which way to go?

Welcome back to work and 2015. I get this question so often, and this year is no exception, that I have decided to blog about this. The question I get, We are reviewing our accounting and have heard about, what you think about this?

In the Market place there are many Accounting Packages and they all target different style businesses. What I will focus on here is the Small to Midrange business size packages that are most popular in the market.

Here they are… Accounting packages for your Business

xero4Xero  This is a relatively newer product to the market place. Xero I have found to offer a wonderful cloud based solution for small to mid range businesses. If you have fair to reasonable internet, then this product is one that is definitely worth investigating. I have found that their speed to do jobs, e.g. invoice, remit, pay, reconcile is excellent for a cloud based product. They have a good backup option and data can be easily exported. Disadvantages, if a business wants more or the business needs change, then you will probably end up having to change product suppliers. This product was specifically created for the small to mid cloud based accounting market. It is very good in this area in terms of performance and usage. Xero created a developers area and this is dynamically growing. Xero is definitely the leading kid on the block. This product is now being taught at most Major Tafe colleges and WEA, but as yet, this is not big in the schools area.

myob2MYOB MYOB was a little slow in getting a good cloud based solution for the small to mid business range, but it has that now. The reason it was a little slow, is due to a massive advantage that Xero does not offer. That being that MYOB has a lot of other products in its range. For example if you have MYOB Account Right Premier and are supported, you automatically get the cloud version included in your support free. You can upgrade to MYOB Enterprise if your business grows. They purchased the accountants version of Sol6, a document manager (not so good for accountants), and a range of other accountant tools that automatically integrate with MYOB Account right, Essential or Enterprise. So in truth, MYOB has the range and accountant support. MYOB also has a great developer range. This is a set of products that developers have created that plug into MYOB to make MYOB do so many other things e.g. Subscriptions, Onsite Technician and auto billing, Pricing there are many options with MYOB and if you want flexibility and expect growth MYOB would be the tool to look at. This product also handles all the Australian Payroll rules.

MYOB is also the product most taught with WEA, Tafe, Schools so getting qualified users or temps is really easy.

quick4Quicken This is not as popular in Australia as Xero or MYOB, but World Wide, this is a top seller for small to mid range accounting. One of the best features of Quicken is its ease of use and terminology for Non Accountant Managers. Quicken just makes sense to Managers and Business owners. Quicken is one of the oldest accounting products and really started as a cashbook based product so it came from the perspective of managing a business not the Accountants perspective. Quicken Cloud is fast and stream lined, but not so nice to develop applications with. This area is still a limited in flexibility. I have also found that this is not as Australianised in respect to reports, payroll and changes in legislation. This is rarely taught in Tafe, WEA or schools, so generally you are seeking people that already have experience or you have book keepers that are able to learn this product via on line courses.

So Cloud or Not?

In short this is a money question. Today if you have a non cloud based system, your only cost is support. If you wish to go to cloud, you will have a monthly fee. Cloud however is the way to go if you are new to an accounting product and yes there is a fee so be prepared to pay, but you will have no purchase fee and that is the benefit of cloud based. In the end you will find the pricing is pretty similar.

Cloud is the way to go. However for some total cloud is not an option as yet due to speed, product performance, etc. However if a business is not using cloud for backup, storage and other base functions they really need to review their IT and the costs of their IT.

So how do you decide?

Start by asking your accountant what they use and they suggest. Accounting costs are huge and if using the same product as them will save you money do it. Look at your business plan, model, developed products, costs. See what your competitors use and what they think of their tools. Finally read the above I have no affiliation with any product. I have customers using all of these products and I therefore see these products from quite a different perspective. In short they will all do book keeping. But which is the best product for you, well in the end you need to decide this, but don’t be surprised if with experience you change products.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Government and Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Government and Politics is a fact of life. But here in Australia are they a saint to us or a Demon? Well, I think they are a bit of both.

Politics in this context is all parties, elected or not, federal, state or local. The political party in office I am referring to as Government in this document.

In short I see both good and bad – and it relates to our actual set up.

To begin with, let’s start on the demon side and end with the saint side.

The biggest demon is that unlike a parent or business making decisions for the best long term outcome, Government and politics are based on an election period – e.g. 4 years. So often either the wrong or not the best decision is made, to fit this situation. Coupled with this, is that one government may start an initiative only to have the next government kit it out – and all the cost, setup etc. is lost.

To put this simply, I have international host sons. They come to me – each and every one with a reason for coming to Australia. Some clearly have been sent here because they need alternative teaching, parenting or even experiences to bring them back to a good level in their home country and family life. However, I have to state – that right now, I am faced with a home problem, if I was to fix this problem long term – I would take a specific course of action, but to fix the problem short term – so that I have a quality of life, I am taking another course of action. This is in fact is the core issue facing our government.

My son, who studies Politics at ANU was last night (almost middle of the night – of course, he is a uni student) discussing the carbon exchange option that Liberals have dumped. He was weighing up the good and bad of this. In short – the scheme is good. The reason for not proceeding, is that this needs to be adopted internationally (basically by all countries), and it needs clear guidelines for judging the credits and debits in respect to carbon, plus insurance of etc. In the ideal world, Australia would agree to this, and every company including the government would need to buy and sell carbon credits. However being an overly nurturing government, our government wants to do all the buying and selling for us – or this is how it is currently set up. But not all the rules are clearly established. So instead – it is dropped in total, until all the minor issues have been sorted out.

au govIf our government wants to do this correctly – it should set up the infrastructure that every business has to buy and sell the carbon credits. Then as a country it would legislate that this should happen. But our overly mothering government wants to do it all for us, and just give us a bill to pay. This of course increases the cost to manage this, plus liabilities. But most importantly it increases our dependence on our government and our complacency. In a time when we should not be complacent e.g. with Carbon, why do this – well that’s the demon – it is easier.

If they drop it until it is a signed matter of fact with all the rules etc. in place, then great for business and business and those employed see the government as a hero. If they collect the tax and pay it those in credit e.g. the Amazon forests etc. then who is going to elect them next time? So the bottom line – is that Liberals in this decision have elected to go with the demon.

Now what about the saint? Well in many ways our government is saintly. It supports disabled, homeless, health, education, infrastructure the list goes on. We might complain, but really our government is supporting so much. However the demon part of this is complacency by individuals. Our wonderful saintly government won’t let us starve or go without. So we don’t have to do things, like insure, work etc.

In simple terms, our government are tight rope walkers. The rope is that of make the best decision for our country within their limited election criteria. So whatever your political lean, realise in the end, your party will be limited when they get in power, if they wish to stay in power. You just have to hope that they will make the best possible decision for you and your country.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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How to Deal with Family Members in Business

2.0.1Family and business. What a huge topic. We have all heard these statements:

  • Family Business
  • Family and business just don’t mix
  • It is business not personal.

Well all of the above have a place, but the facts are, a lot of us run businesses, have families, and want to help our families, and this may mean giving them a start in our own business. Or you may in fact be running a family business. So what I want to go over here are some rules to surviving this process.

Rule No 1. Don’t Get Personal.

We have heard the rule it is business, not personal. But the statement really should be – if criticizing, don’t get personal. This should apply to everyone and in fact everything. The moment we get personal, we lose credibility and objectivity. Being family this is not easy. One needs to turn off personal issues, the morning breakfast, an argument etc. and purely focus on the function you are attempting to resolve at business.

Rule No 2. Leave your personal issues at home.

Now we state this rule to staff, however when it is our own family at work, it seems this rule is not so easy to follow. However, it is even more important for us to follow this, as we set the example to all our staff.

Rule No 3. Say Thank you.

As bosses, we often forget to say thank you. To our staff and especially to our family staff. Thank you mean a lot, to all of us. Including staff saying thank you to the boss. So often this little bit of polite culture has been missed. Let us bring this back as new fashionable standard. A good thank you can really brighten your day.

Family-BusinessRule No 4. Your office should appear as a business reflection.

Why do family businesses leave the old settee at work, or the broken printer, and take the good one home. Why not let your customers see that you are doing well, so that they want to invest in you. Why make your office a 2nd grade home. Make it a first grade place that your clients would feel great about. Remember “WYSIWYG” What you see is what you get – most clients use this standard and reflect the business appearance in this manner.

Rule No 5. Keep your business out of certain private space areas.

Initially when my husband Henry and I met, we met as associates, then became business partners, and finally we married. However we found that we brought into our marital private space business, and soon we were swamped. To the point, that our personal relationship strained, our business relationship hit the GFC, and we had no space. So we brought about the rule of Business talk only in the front room. This meant that we did not bring business on to the other party without asking, and we showed Respect.

Final Rule RESPECT.

This is imperative. Always show respect to your own family members. WE generally do this with non-family members, and then forget – because they are family. If anything, this should be the other way around. Realize how great it is to work together, cherish the fact you can, and respect each other.

So with that all said – you should now be able to work, live and play as a family.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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What you Need to Know about Virtual Products

virtual products

Do any of these ring true to your business?

  • Space is limited
  • Staff are reducing or need to reduce
  • Must increase profits
  • Need to service a wider area
  • Need to give more to get /keep your staff
  • Wasting time due to poor efficiency

These reasons and others have brought about the rise and demand in Virtual Products. This demand is increasing at an exponential rate.

So what Products are going Virtual?

  • virtual productsSoftware

Accounting

CRM’s

Design Software

Databases

  • Banking
  • Staff
  • Communications
  • Libraries and Books
  • Advice / Education
  • Bill Payments
  • Receiving bills
  • Storage of Records
  • Photos and Memorabilia
  • Videos and Entertainment

This is a new generation for businesses. We all have to begin to go virtual. So here is a check list that may assist you.

  • Define your business processes. What of these can be improved in time, cost or efficiency by becoming virtual?
  • Do you have an internet and intranet presence?
  • Make sure you have a good SEO and good SEO processes in place to make sure your Presence is found on the internet.
  • Review all your costs.
  • Review your marketing plan. Make sure you have a good internet presence.
  • Consider your biggest costs and how can you minimise them
  • Get rid of your local server and go Virtual – major cost and time saving.

Here is a couple of personal stories that may interest you or even inspire you to consider going Virtual.

Virtual Book Keeper

virtual-productsI was employing a book keeper at $25 per hour, and she came to my office, did my books, I paid her as an employee and this work took her 16 hours per week. I found that I was spending about 2.5 hours per week answering her questions, reviewing her work etc. I found that I was not really happy with her quality of work, and so decided to that as my son was at Uni, he did a MYOB course, and then I trained him to do the MYOB work for me. My son, moved back to Canberra, and he does all my MYOB work remotely. He is paid the same $25 per hour, but finds he can do all the same work in an average of 2 hours a week. Some weeks he works 4 hours and the next none, but he gets all this work done, and I am only spending 30 mins a week going over admin questions etc. This is a huge saving. Now with Financial year coming up, I don’t need to buy him a new PC or anything.

Virtual SEO

18 months ago, my full time local SEO was just not getting me any results and the costs were not in accordance with what it cost me. So I cancelled this position. However, a good SEO is worth their weight in gold. So I began my search for a Virtual SEO, and I feel my search has now found true fruition. In fact I am sending this blog from word to my Virtual SEO who lives in the Philippines. My SEO will then clean up, add images, check keywords and post this blog in a timely manner to my web site. Her key work is to make sure our webs are current, getting good natural position on search engines, make sure I do my work on time (e.g. be regular with my blogs) and keep me posted with key words, and new trends. To date, she has brought in a new lead. It is the first time one of my SEO’s had brought in a real solid lead. This lead may or may not result in a sale. Most of our sales are by word of mouth, so the fact that this has been achieved in only 4 weeks of employment, I am really impressed about. So with my virtual SEO, I don’t need to supply a desk, or internet, or a PC. I pay her what she asks for and make sure I pay in a timely manner.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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