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!

Jun 092012
 

The Long Ranger rides again!  Yes, his horse’s name was “Silver” (not to be confused with his sidekick Tonto’s horse “Scout”).  Why all this talk of  “SILVER”– because Sage ACT! has just turned 25 years old, so it is their magic Silver Anniversary.

Between the chaos of spreadsheets, and the expense and complexity of many CRM programs,  lives and alternative- ACT!- the Customer Management solution.

Imagine something that keeps all your phone numbers, emails, meeting notes, to-dos, and documents for everyone you do business with in one, organized place.  What if this info was easy to find and even easier to update, so you could stay focused on building long-lasting, profitable relationships?  Sage ACT! is the # 1 Contact and Customer Management choice of small businesses and sales teams designed to do just that.

Along the way the method of naming the evolution of  14 different versions of ACT! changed,  so when you contact us regarding where your version stands  in the 25 year old family, we can clarify your specific match to your current needs or aspirations.  We also can compare ACT! to other types of CRM products, specific brands, and related data base management systems!  (cloud or software based).

Technology is moving at WARP speed,  and to keep up with your competitors,  increasing requirement of information systems,  and a world of new communication devices,  you need the latest CRM methods and knowledge!  We can recommend additional supplemental programs that work with ACT! to enhance  customization to your company and industry specifics.

So KEMOSABE, (which means “Faithful Friend” in Potowatomie Indian language) — Call us to get info on compatibility of ACT!’s  past versions or the latest and greatest version,  with your existing hardware and office technology etc.   This is not your GRANDFATHER’S  data base management system!

HI-YO  SILVER –  THE LONG RANGER RIDES AGAIN!

Kathleen Vanden Broecke

ACT! Certified Consultant, Trainer & Faithful ACT! User for 25 years

719-538-6015

 kvb@actcolorado.com                       www.actcolorado.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 232012
 

Social media should be something that will enhance your life on the CYBER PLANET!Don’t make movements with that mouse that may detract from your personal and business goals.You may KNOW what you DID,but WHAT where you THINKING?!

Ref: LinkedIn- When you connect with a person or business, the first click will DEFAULT to an instant connect.  Spend the time to click on the “Include a Personal Note” box to relay interesting data to the recipient.  It may be important if you where trying to get a position with a government or business campaign that your Dad, Brother, and Uncle just gave 4 million dollars each to the recipient’s specific campaign (12 million bucks should get you an interview!).  Also, utilize the “get introduced thru a connection” prompt when applicable.

Ref: Facebook- Friending your current spouses ex-husband or ex-wife may not be the best thing for your current marital well being!  (can you say BLUNDER McFLY?)  Just call an old college friend to get the latest info of that ex-spouse from Hell.  Also, quickly accepting a friend named Charles Manson may better be served with a close check of other contacts you have in common to see if he is that infamous convicted murderer or a personal social friend of Bill Gates, the God of the Computer industry!
       In the case of both LinkedIn and Facebook, connecting and friending should be approached cautiously.  Beware of  competitors, vendors, customers, friends, enemies, etc.,  that may have questionable  intentions.   Sometimes familiarity breeds contempt or danger in the form of personal risk, embarrassment, or business loss!
Don’t create a CYBER MINEFIELD for yourself.  Social Media can and should be fun, entertaining, profitable, educational, enlightening, etc.
A professional carpenter is said to MEASURE TWICE before cutting, so you should THINK TWICE before you click that mouse!

NOTE:  How do two of the more recent additions to Social Media apply to your business?  Click these links to learn more.   Google+     Pinterest

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

Dec 032011
 

This fall I had the pleasure to attend a very special event.  Before I tell you my group, I want for you to think about what groups are resources to you in the following areas.

  1. Inspire you to be the best you can be at your profession
  2. Provide you with educational opportunities to assist you in #1
  3. Offer support when you need assistance for a client that your expertise does not meet
  4. Serve as a sounding board for challenges you are meeting in your business

Some of you may belong to a mastermind group or a trade organization that fulfills these needs.  Others of you may have a trusted group of friends that you bounce ideas off.  As the year comes to a close, I encourage you to solidify those relationships that are beneficial and if you find yourself lacking in this area, start asking around for groups that may enhance your ability to run your business.

At our last ACT! Consultants Conference this fall I was reminded of how lucky I am to be part of a group that has such a diversity of knowledge and one that shares so much with each other.  We spent four days together sharing how to serve our clients better.

If you haven’t found a good group, keep looking, they are out there!

Forever working to improve,

Kathleen Vanden Broecke – ACT! Certified Consultant & Premier Trainer

 

 

May 172011
 

Every Spring my favorite tree blossoms and reminds me of new beginnings. 

When was the last time you spent some quality time reviewing your business and all of it’s processes?  Why not make the season change a catalyst for you to do just that!

What do I mean by processes? I suggest that you look at the following and any other processes in your business.

  • How are your phones being answered?  Do you have a friendly person answering the phone relaying the image that you want for your business?

What happens to inquiries that come in?  What about complaints?  Do you have a process setup to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks?  Are your leads being followed up in a timely fashion?  Do you know where each of those leads are in the sales process?

Where do you keep information about your clients and prospects.  Paper files, legal pads, EXCEL® spreadsheets, an occasional sticky note?  Interested in learning how a simple database software tool can increase your profits and make you more organized?  Call me for a complimentary demonstration of ACT!  (719-538-6015) No pressure, just take time to learn what is possible!

When you go to a networking event, where do you enter your new contacts and how?  Have you considered a business card scanner?  Click here to learn about your options.

Have you considered moving to a paperless office, but have no idea how to make it happen?  Check out this article and then talk with your IT professional.

Do you have a marketing plan to engage your business in Social Media?  We have a complimentary seminar coming up to help you get started or move to the next step.

If any of these items have made you consider making some changes, wait no longer!

Kathleen Vanden Broecke – ACT! Certified Consultant & Premier Trainer – Effective Business Solutions

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.

Mar 072011
 

Many of my clients are independent contractors. Some are in the mortgage industry and others in various other industries. I’d like to tell you about one of those clients. For the sake of anonymity I will call my client Susan.

Susan has been an independent contractor for the same firm for over 10 years. The more successful she has become, the more the owner of the company makes her life miserable. The owner continues to increase her cost of doing business as an independent contractor for the firm and has taken most perks away that were included in compensation when she started. Why, you might ask, does Susan stay? She makes over $150,000 a year and is the sole support for her family.

What does Susan do to protect herself? The biggest thing that she does is that she uses her ACT! database religiously. She updates information regarding her customers, prospects, correspondence, phone calls etc daily. In addition, she backs up her database regularly and restores on her home computer. Because she is an independent contractor and has not signed a non-compete clause, this is perfectly legal.

She does not want to strike out on her own or go to a competitor, but if the day comes that the owner pushes her too far, having her ACT! database gives her options she would not have otherwise.

Kathleen Vanden Broecke
ACT! Certified Consultant & Premier Trainer
Effective Business Solutions
kvb@actcolorado.com
719-538-6015