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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

Jun 152012
 

You better THINK this through!  UTOPIA – an IMAGINED place or state of things which is perfect – Does not apply to this subject.

We have Nine reasons to question the viability of “The Cloud” for you and your company.  This is the first of three messages that will detail many topics regarding “Cloud Feasibility”.  As consultants we strive to tailor solutions that fit the specific needs and aspirations of our clients.   If you are an ACT! user (or want to be), we offer several “cloud based” solutions for your ACT! database.  Each offers different levels of flexibility and functionality.  We do however, want you to be satisfied with the products we recommend, so a full analysis of your needs is critical prior to making your decision to move to the cloud.  This same analysis needs to be made for any and all applications that you are exploring moving to “The Cloud”.

1.  Stable Internet Connections may not be available in many physical locations or situations.  Most of us have had loss of internet connectivity either at the office or while on the road.  That means you have NO ACCESS to your cloud data.   Also, Government and private enterprises are always fighting over cyber rights and manipulation of system.

2.  Security of information and sensitive data. Keep in mind that your information is exposed to the entire planet!  If the Pentagon can be hacked, so can your cloud and everyone else bundled into it!

3.  You may loose the flexibility to use your current customized configurations of  applications that are important to you. Examples would be accounting system integrations, nightly imports of updated data from one application to another.   Also, hardware such as business card scanners and other imports you may be performing may not fit into “The Cloud”.

MORE OF THE  “CLOUDY NINE”  TO FOLLOW SOON!

Feb 072012
 

Do you find that sometimes you need to be reminded to get back to the basics in your business?
Recently, I attended a group of local marketing seminars. One of the seminars that I attended reminded me of a some proven practices that I have used with my database clients, but have not used consistantly. I could make all kinds of excuses, but mostly it is because I have not been religiously using my CHECK LIST!
Check lists have been used successfully for decades in aviation operations, and are also used now more and more in the medical field, resulting in fewer surgical and treatment errors.

What were some of the best practices that I was reminded of?

1. Either on a monthly or quarterly basis, take stock of your database. Are you getting the reports that you need? Is your database doing what you want and need for the growth of your business? Is it supporting your marketing and sales efforts? These are just a few questions that you can ask yourself when utilizing your database. If your database is just being used as an address book, your are missing a lot!

2. Who “owns” your database. One person in your business should be championing your database and the use of it, making sure that it is giving you what is both expected and needed. This utilization should be understood and promoted by everyone in your organization.

So, develop a checklist specifically designed for your business/service and adhere to it religiously. It may save you from CRASHING and BURNING on your next project flight!

Kathleen Vanden Broecke
ACT! Certified Consultant & Trainer
kvb@actcolorado.com

Apr 042011
 

Carpal tunnel syndrome.

How do I know? Within the past few weeks I was experiencing pain in my shoulder radiating down my arm and eventually reaching my wrist and hand. One day, after providing online support for one of my ACT! database clients for several hours, the pain in my wrist was to the point that I knew a trip to my physical therapist was in order.

Over the years I have known many people who have had carpal tunnel syndrome, but I didn’t think it would ever happen to me! While working with clients, I work on several styles of keyboards and mice. Do you have a prevention program at your business? The cost in loss of man hours can be very high, not taking into account the inconvenience of one of your key employees going to therapy several times a week or even worse, having surgery!

My physical therapy office suggested that I see their occupational therapist for my first visit. They said that patients are arriving in large numbers with the same problem and much worse. What is surprising to them is that the patients are younger and younger each year. The results were that I was diagnosed with “pre carpal tunnel”. Good news for me, but incredibly humbling. One of the things that I learned was that this comes from cumulative behavior.

My occupation as an ACT! Consultant and Trainer depends on my ability to use a computer! In order to ensure that my “pre carpal tunnel” condition does not progress into full blown carpal tunnel syndrome I have been very motivated to follow my therapist’s directions.

First – Performing several exercises diligently several times every day.

Second – I am visiting the therapist twice a week.

The third has been the most difficult. I needed to limit my time on the computer during my healing process. Just take a minute and think of all of the tasks that you perform on your computer or cell phone every day. E-mail, tweeting, texting, job responsibilities etc. This was actually an eye opening experience for me.

Fourth – Purchasing an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. As I examined the documentation on correct computer posture, I also found that an under the desk keyboard tray was in order.

Click here to find exercises to help protect you and your employees.

These have been my experiences and are in no way meant to be seen as a doctor or therapists diagnosis.