Mar 212016
 

depressed_trollIf you believe the political pundits, a large percentage of the electorate is stressed and worried about the upcoming presidential election. What does this have to do with your business?  In many cases, a lot!

Are you spending your time and energy worrying about politics?  Then your business is losing out! Whenever there is uncertainty, people tend to freeze instead of being proactive.  Don’t allow your business to suffer the unintended consequences of your inattention, put your focus back where it belongs.

Start mining the data in your  CRM.

  1. Lookup customers who have not been contacted in the past 6-12 months. Give them a call just to say hi. This is a perfect time to solidify your relationship with them and find out if they have any unmet needs.
  2. Work with your sales staff to verify that they are documenting all of the phone and physical calls with prospects and clients. Your database should be updated daily.
  3. Confirm that your sales staff in documenting all quotes and Opportunities in your database. Make sure you run reports weekly on Opportunities and review their status with sales on a regular basis.
  4. Schedule a webinar and send out email invitations through your database to introduce any new products or services to your client base and prospects.
  5. Update information in your database with information specific to the products and buying habits of your customers. Once that data is input, you will be able to target them with emails or physical mailers that are specific to their needs.

After nearly three decades of working with Act! and hundreds of client databases, it is amazing to see just how powerful a tool a database can be for businesses.

As always, let me know if I can assist you with your database needs. My goal is to help my clients grow their businesses and prosper no matter what the political climate.

Kathleen Vanden Broecke, Act! Certified Consultant & Trainer – 719-538-6015

 

 

Dec 062015
 
My newest ride

My newest ride

There are two types of motorcycle riders- Those who have laid their motorcycle down, and those who will!
It happened in 1998 in Elbert- Colorado– they had just finished laying six inches of gravel thru the entire town for future paving plans. I was cruising along great until I turned off the main road. When the leader of my trip decided to make a U-turn, things didn’t go well for me! Quite inexperienced at the time, I attempted a low speed U-turn in the loose gravel. I thought it would never happen to me, but I dropped the Harley Davidson like an old movie stuntman on a lame horse! Luckily it hasn’t happened since, my current ride is shown above.
What does the above incident have to do with computers– A LOT! There are two types of computer owner/operators- Those who have had a hard drive crash and those who will have a hard drive crash sometime in the future. And so it goes, a few months ago, the hard drive on my main computer crashed. The good news was that I had a backup of the data on my computer, but I did not have a backup of the image on my hard drive. What does that mean? That means that my operating system needed to be reloaded and all of my programs needed to be reinstalled and registered. Many do not have original software and/or serial numbers to re-register software.
So again- Do as I say, and not as I DID! Make sure you back up on a regular basis all your information. It can be done on a manual basis, or by utilizing software and/or hardware systems to automatically sync or copy your information. This is NOT a time to skimp!  After all, if you suddenly lose the data on your server or one of your critical computers in your business, what would you do? Over the years, I have used a product called Carbonite to backup my data. Their prices are reasonable and today they have even more options than were available when I first started using them.  If you are interested in looking at either backing up just your data backup or also backing up the actual image of your hard drive, I suggest that you check them out.  You can click here to learn more.  They even have free trials!
Why, you ask am I focusing on this topic with so much intensity? I have looked in the eyes of clients who have lost all of the data on their computer, and as an Act! software consultant and trainer it is devastating not to be able to help!
Don’t let it happen to you– It will ruin your day and probably negatively affect your business!  Give me a call if you need information that will protect you from loss of data on your computer system. You can then sleep much better with less worry from the DATA GRINCH!

Kathleen Vanden Broecke, Act! Certified Consultant & Trainer

Effective Business Solutions

719-538-6015

kvb@actcolorado.com                        www.actcolorado.com

 

Jan 262014
 

For the past few years, Microsoft® and IT professionals have been trying to remind us that Windows® XP would stop being supported starting April 8th, 2014.  What does it really mean?

1.  Microsoft® will no longer be releasing security patches for computers running Windows® XP operating systems.

2.  As time goes by, you will find that new software and applications that you desire along with hardware (printers, scanners, and copiers) may not be compatible with your Windows® XP computer. Click here to go directly to the Microsoft® site for details.

 What should you do if you are still running a Windows® XP machine?

1.  If you work with an IT professional, consult with him/her for their input, they know you and your needs best.

2.  If you do not have an IT professional, I have listed several considerations for you.

a.  Is this computer connected to the internet?  If it is, you very well may be vulnerable to security attacks.

b. Does this computer run an application that is vital to your business?  If so, you may want to disconnect it from the internet and continue to use it while you decide on whether or not you want to upgrade your current software or migrate to another.   Don’t wait until it stops working and cripples your business.!

c.  Have you been dragging your feet on upgrading because of all of the “horror stories” regarding Windows® 8?  It is true that Windows® 8 requires time to get used to.  The good news is that you can still get Windows® 7 on many computers (you may have to look a bit) and Microsoft® will support Windows® 7 until January 14, 2020!  Interesting article published by PCWorld just this week!

d.  I would strongly suggest that you do not upgrade your current Windows® XP computer to either Windows® 7 or Windows® 8.  It is almost certain your hardware will not run well.  With both desktop and laptop computers at such reasonable prices these days, it pays just to buy a new computer and start fresh.

What is the lesson here?  If you depend on your computer(s) in your business (who doesn’t today?), make a concerted effort to keep your technology up to date. If not, you will end up rushing into making decisions that should be made in a more calculated manor.  As you move forward, make sure that you have trusted advisors to assist you in your technology decisions.

Happy 2014!

Kathleen Vanden Broecke, Act! Certified Consultant & Trainer

Effective Business Solutions

719-538-6015

kvb@actcolorado.com                        www.actcolorado.com

Aug 272013
 

My 1994 Toyota Camry just turned 149,000 miles last month. Over it’s almost 20 year life, it has been a reliable vehicle. Several sets of tires, several batteries and countless oil changes. In addition, there have been some rather large expenses (serpentine belt, power steering pump & more). I venture to say that there were at least five times in the last 19 years that I have spent more than $1,000 on my Camry.

Why am I telling this story now?  At least once a week I receive a call from one or more business owners who are still using ACT! 2000 (version 5) or ACT! 2002/2004 (version 6), wondering how much it will cost to upgrade.  Some are looking to spend almost nothing and others are astute enough to realize that they have been using the same software with no extra costs for the past 10-14 years!  Even my Camry has required maintenance costs (not to mention gas!).

If you are one of those people who had the foresight to purchase and use contact management so long ago (when it wasn’t even common place), embrace with open arms the opportunity to upgrade and explore features that will propel your business forward.

Yes, there will be a bit of an investment, but the changes will pay you back in increased profits and productivity in your business.  Just “DO IT”!  Find someone to help you through your upgrade.  Your database is one of the most valuable assets in your business, so don’t take any chances!

I would be happy to invest 30 minutes of my time to discuss your upgrade and to give you a cost estimate.  We perform many of our upgrades over the weekend as to minimize disruption to your business.

Kathleen Vanden Broecke – act! certified consultant & trainer – 719-538-6015   kvb@actcolorado.com

P.S.  Whether your current ACT database software is:  ACT 5 (act 2000) , ACT 6 (act 2002/2004) , act 7 , act 8 , act 9 , ACT 2005 ( ACT 7 ) , ACT 2006 ( ACT 8 ), ACT 2007 ( ACT 9 ) , ACT 2008 ( ACT 10 ) , ACT 2009 ( ACT 11) , ACT 2010  – Give me a call to discuss moving your contact management forward!

Mar 252013
 
© Pavel Losevsky - Fotolia.com

© Pavel Losevsky – Fotolia.com

Picture yourself relaxing on a beach somewhere “south of the border” after you have just sold your business for a Gazillion Dollars! There may be things you can do now or in the near future that can make it a reality!

Do you believe that a solid contact management system that is utilized properly is a huge business value builder?  In previous blogs we have reviewed the positive attributes of having a database (and backup of course) where a natural disaster has occurred (Flood, hurricane, fire, power outage, mudslide etc.).  Moving forward from obvious need to have backup and detailed records of your business assets (i.e. Customers, vendors, contracts, financial figures, strategic plans) we will explore the “not so obvious” positive impact of a superior database management system.

A.  You have probably heard the old phrase, “awning calls”, in reference to outside salespeople’s “fake activities”. These calls are drive-by customer visits that never happened, but show up on those old yellow ledger-size paper call report forms!  As a business owner or manager, you need to know the detailed activity of as many of your sales channels as are feasible. (distributors, sales reps, employees, independent contractors and inside sales, etc.).

Now that communication and synchronization with the “mother ship” can be done instantaneously, it is easier to have a clear picture of real time activities, quotes, history, prospects, and sales. Today your company’s ACT! database can be updated on an  iPad, iPhone, Android Phone/Tablet or Blackberry (and more).  This way your entire team will be on the same page relating to your clients and prospects status, needs, pending issues and more.  The importance of an updated database becomes critical to the survival of your business when one or more of your super sales staff leaves your organization to work for a competitor, starts their own competing business, retires, or dies.  At EBS we have witnessed all of the aforementioned circumstances and more!  These are just a few of the reasons why businesses have lost an enormous amount of value because of ill-conceived or unreliable data records.  Transparent, synchronized, useful, and detailed contact information is your best hedge against huge business losses!

B.  As a business owner or manager, in the old days it was called “management by walking about” or TCB (taking care of business).  Today, most businesses have become very high tech, allowing many to do business anywhere on the Globe!  This impacts both who you do business with and who your employees/contractors are.  But the old underlying reason for KNOWING your business environment/industry and truly UNDERSTANDING what is GOING ON is still valid.  Whether you are mining information from your database or performing research, it now must be attained in a more detailed and updated fashion!  Engaging in Social Media through links in your ACT! database can be powerful in this regard.

C. Let’s look back to the original statement depicting you relaxing after selling your business.  You may able to run your business without having this powerful contact management tool mentioned earlier. However, when someone is performing due diligence prior to buying a business, you need detailed, current, organized, and transferable tools to enhance the dollar value of your business!

You worked hard to develop your passion or dream, but when you want to reap the financial benefits from your years of hard work, your longtime PERSONAL INTUITION is not near as important as MARKETABLE and TRANSFERABLE assets!

Let Effective Business Solutions show you products and procedures to help make the items A, B, C  above a reality.  (WOULD YOU LIKE A LITTLE UMBRELLA IN THAT TROPICAL DRINK ? !)

Kathleen Vanden Broecke – ACT! Certified Consultant & Trainer

Effective Business Solutions – 719-538-6015 – www.actcolorado.com

 

 

 

Jan 112013
 

Looking forward to the business world in the new year, it is a good time to regain some basic principles and focus on the opportunities.  The past year we have had election blues, unemployment, forest fires, irritating  automated phone systems, Washington D.C. declared a NO progress city, hurricanes, fiscal cliff debacle, and the Kardashians are still destined to be the last standing after a nuclear holocaust (along with the cockroaches!).

We have been Twittered, Blogged, Facebooked, Tweeted, Tickled,  Linked In, over texted,  Pinterested, poked,  smart phoned, over apped,  and “I approved this message” to death! etc.

In the vernacular of the 1976 classic film NETWORK, it is time to say “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!”(Google that phrase and listen to the clip of that film by actor Peter Finch, who made that comment famous).

When you are up to your butt in alligators, it is important to remember your initial objective was to drain the swamp!  The world around us is a huge distraction, so put the blinders on and march straight forward into 2013 and beyond with a clear, concise, and positive attitude.  If you are reading this and still in business- you have SURVIVED all of the above “happenings”. So now is the time to kick in  the afterburners and rocket your business to new levels!  Here are some good ways to start:

A. Keep your needle pointed on the ” business MAGNETIC NORTH”.  Don’t be swayed by the huge amount of “static” in the business world- develop clear marketing strategies and plans.

B. “TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS”- back to basic true customer service, return messages, communicate in person. (remember how your business was built!)

C.  Develop programs and procedures that SIMPLIFY both your business and personal life.

D.  Be POSITIVE and SMILE, you made it thru a very chaotic few years, and you are still a business “left standing”.

E.  Even though you are STILL STANDING doesn’t mean you did everything right- be willing to CHANGE and do some new things.

F.  Tell your customers that you APPRECIATE their business, (if you do, and if you don’t appreciate their business-get rid of them as a customer!)

G.  Work hard and take some TIME OFF.  Absence from constant work stress can lead to clarifying thoughts and ideas.

Effective Business Solutions can help you realize all these above items. Call us and find out how Sage ACT! data base management and  additional add-on products can improve your business, and help benefit you LIFE in the coming years.

Have a Great 2013 and BEYOND! ( In the words of Star Trek’s  SPOCK-” LIVE LONG AND PROSPER”!)

 

Oct 172012
 

A gruff old drill Sargent once told a new Army recruit that there were people in this Army that could “steal a radio and leave the music playing”.

I’m here to tell you that there are customers and contacts in your business that can do the equivalent.

A. In aviation aerodynamics there is “parasite drag” (any non lifting surface on an aircraft).  In business that translates to anything/anyone who is a  burden on your company resources with no inverse appreciable gain.

B.  Sucking up your oxygen- taking time away from really “important stuff”

C.  Negative Energy- Risk with very little reward, can deflate company enthusiasm

D. Wasting your time- you will never get time spent back again, and time is money !

E.  Cling-Ons- (that’s not the Star Trek Klingons!)  You have no future use for them (except to serve as a bad example)

F.  Activities that are non-urgent and non-important.  The TIME MANAGEMENT GRID  is a much used and abused management tool!  Take a look for yourself and honestly review how you spend your time.

G.  “Wanting something for nothing”  Don’t be afraid to charge money for all your products or services. Being a philanthropist is wonderful, but do it on your own terms, not someone else’s.

H.  Opportunity Lost- while your attention is being taken by a “high maintenance” customer, your competition may be targeting a new, vibrant, or high potential organization.

Finally-  “Non-Profit Business”  is an oxymoron!  All companies have fixed and variable cost, and a reserve for future growth.  They may not have the traditional “net profit”, but no company can afford to waste time, energy, or money on the items listed in the above A thru H!

Let your Database System (Such as ACT!) help you identify and manage these potential “Blood Suckers”-  Effective Business Solutions (EBS) can help you!

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES,  BREATH THE PROFITABLE FRESH AIR, and UNBURDEN your company from all that PARASITE DRAG!

Kathleen Vanden Broecke – ACT! Certified Consultant & Trainer

Effective Business Solutions – 719-538-6015

 

 

Aug 152012
 

This is the final installment of “exploring the viability” of moving your data to the cloud. Whether it be your database or any other data critical to your business, the possible pitfalls need to be examined before such a move occurs.

7. What is the overall cost of the entire program? All that glitters is not gold, but it may cost you a lot of Gold if you get into a program that does not entirely fit your needs. It is easier to be more competitive if you have a specific propriety configuration that can enhance your position within your industry.

8.  Sometimes everything you need does not adapt well in the cloud scenario. Just because an off-site server backup makes sense to protect against the physical, catastrophic, or theft damages, does not mean that a hundred other applications make sense.

9. ALERT!-  The “Cloud” is just a politically incorrect name for a SERVER!, no more or no less.  They can put smoke and mirrors around this, but all the rules , limitations,  and concerns involved with a computer server still apply.  Your information is part of a huge CLUMP that has everybody’s STUFF on it!  The Patriot Act allows the U.S. Government to compel an organization to turn over all their information, which will include YOURS,  without informing the data owner that they have done so.  (BIG BROTHER has just sucked you dry)!

We hope the preceding ” CLOUDY NINE”  tidbits of information have been beneficial for future decisions regarding Software and Cloud Pros and Cons.

Hopefully it will give you a  “SUNNY DAY”!

Kathleen Vanden Broecke

ACT! Certified Consultant, Premier Trainer and Hosted Solution Partner

719-538-6015                      kvb@actcolorado.com

 

Jul 222012
 

This is a continuation of our nine topics exploring the “Cloud feasibility” for your company, and important factors to consider when making changes in your database systems.

4.  The “creeping cost” of the cloud provider, caused by add-ons and charges for future services. Need I remind you of the past experience that everyone has had with cable TV companies!  Losing  Turner Classic Movies unless you fork over more money, will be pale in comparison to losing control of all your customers Social Security numbers!

5. If the cloud doesn’t perform per your expectations, how can you get your data back, and at what expense?  They can literally SHUT YOUR BUSINESS DOWN!

6. Quick access to your data may not be available to all the current and future communications equipment (laptops,I-Pads, smart phones, and future undefined devices).

THE FINAL THREE COMING SOON!

Kathleen Vanden Broecke

ACT! Certified Consultant, Premier Trainer and Hosted Solution Partner

719-538-6015

Jul 022012
 

Recently, several catastrophic events have taken place affecting our clients both within and outside of the United States, natural disasters such as floods, forest fires and electrical outages stemming from heat waves, just to mention a few.  We hope that our neighbors here in Colorado will be able to rebuild, return to surviving structures and/or resume normal business activity soon.

In light of these recent events, we would like to remind everyone of the importance of having back-ups for your computer systems.  More specifically, making sure that you have all of your critical data backed up (including your database, accounting systems and any other mission critical data).  From an economic standpoint, the most important thing is to be able to continue doing business after a natural or man-made disaster has occurred.  If you get the call to evacuate your home or business immediately, it would be nice to know that your critical data is backed up. You can either physically take your backup with you or have it in “the cloud”, where you can draw upon it to restore.  We at EBS can guide you through the various options and-or implementation to fulfill this very important need for your friends, family or business.

Please have a safe and enjoyable remainder of the summer!  Contact us for more information on backup and cloud-based solutions for your business.

 

Kathleen Vanden Broecke

ACT! Certified Consultant, Premier Trainer and Hosted Solution Partner

719-538-6015