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Marketing mastery: How to convert more door swings into sales

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Second of two parts)

In part one of this series, I discussed how you can increase your closed sales ratio simply by maximizing your repeat and referred customers. In this installment, I’m going to discuss why having a selling system will also help you increase your closed sales.

“We now have a 70% close rate,” Rob, a dealer from Utah, told me. “And our margins are over 40%.”

Rob had recently implemented a selling system, and he was excited not only because of the increased close rates, but because his margins were so much higher. It also gave him a quicker way to train new salespeople.

Here’s what Rob’s salesperson told me: “I started only six months ago in the flooring business, so I’m pretty green. For months, my residential margins were 30% to 35%. I’d end the day totally exhausted and realize I hadn’t closed any sales. It was discouraging. We’re right down the street from two home stores. People would come in and say, ‘Lowe’s quoted me this price,’ or ‘Home Depot quoted me such and such.’ I was always having to compete on price. A few months ago, Rob implemented a sales system and training program. “Since then, my overall close ratio has been over 70%.”

Admittedly, not every dealer will get results this quickly and dramatically, but that’s not the point. The point is, going from no selling system to actually having one will oftentimes dramatically improve your results.

Here are some tips for developing a selling system.

If it’s not written down, it’s not a system. Every step of Rob’s selling system is in writing. For example, he has scripts for greeting walk-ins, for taking control of the sales process and for getting prospects to sit down for a consultation. His sales team is trained on using a printed questionnaire during consultations.  Having a written system makes it much easier for Rob to train his team and troubleshoot problems that come up with individual team members.

Scripts are important at the beginning and end of the sales process. This is because greeting prospects and closing are the two most critical times of the sale. It’s also where most salespeople mess things up.

Rob’s script for greeting walk-ins does several things: it makes the prospect feel welcome; differentiates him from competitors; takes control of the sales process; and sells prospects on the benefits of having a consultation.

Your closing script should include a reminder of your unique selling propositions, a discussion of your guarantee/warranty information and how prospects could benefit. Instead of giving one quote, give prospects quotes for three different flooring packages: low, medium and high. This way, instead of choosing between you and a competitor, they can choose between you, you and you.

Your selling system should feel like a visit to a trusted physician. When a physician meets with a patient, he doesn’t burst into the exam room and say, “What kind of pills did you have in mind?” Instead, he sits down, asks questions, writes down the answers, diagnoses the problem, then prescribes. Your selling system should do the same thing. Sit down with your prospects, ask questions and write down the answers using a printed questionnaire. Then, and only then, prescribe the flooring options which best fit their taste and lifestyle.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.

 

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Lisbiz strategies: Managers should be trained to ‘coach’

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Every team looks to hire superstars. However, extremely talented people are hard to find and recruit—and did I mention expensive? Just look at major league sports teams and what they spend to bring in superstars. If you really want great talent, why not coach the ones you already have? Take those Clark Kents and turn them into supermen and superwomen.

If you aren’t already building superstars, consider the idea that your managers may just be managing and not coaching. Those who don’t coach aren’t necessarily bad managers, but if they don’t coach they are overlooking an important tool to develop talent. A good manager can kick your butt when it’s needed and help you focus on what you’ve been avoiding.

The coaching statistics are pretty impressive. According to a recent study by Knowledge Tree, sales representatives receiving at least three hours of coaching per month exceed their selling goals by 7%, increase revenue by 25% and improve closing rates by 70%. Who wouldn’t want those statistics?

Teams are how things get done in most businesses. Think about your own company—what jobs do you have that don’t depend on several people to get it done right? We usually don’t think about how we can coach individual members to make them even better. For example, if you owned a major league franchise, you would try to figure out how to get your investment to pay off.

Interestingly, you actually have a major league franchise and have a lot invested in the people who work for you. Think about how much you have invested in your showroom to keep it looking clean and up to date as well as your trucks and vans.

Things are good, you say, why change anything? This is often called the complacency of success and could be the beginning of the end. The more we want things to stay the same the quicker they are changing in the real world. They say hindsight is 20/20; it can also bite you in a place you can’t reach. You may be wasting a whole lot of time and money not doing anything. Here are somethings a coach can do for you:

Make your team more functional. You know those stupid jokes your employees play on each other when there’s nothing to do? Once they start building goals and questioning their values, they will have plenty to do. They will also begin to understand their team members and start working together. Tasks will get executed more efficiently when there’s something in it for everyone.

Help the team adjust to any changes. A good coach can act as a consultant and teach the team skills that will help them adjust. The coach can also teach problem-solving skills.

Help you see employee patterns. Good coaches look at nonverbal cues, the language people use when they speak about themselves and others. Do they say they feel powerful and then use “wimpy” or tentative language, such as “maybe” or “I should do that” instead of “I will?” These things take away from their power. Do they see themselves as team players but always use “I” instead of “we” when talking about how a task got done? Do they sit with their arms crossed while leaning back in their chairs? A coach can pay attention to these telling cues.

To learn more about coaching, join me at The Remodeling Show in Baltimore, Oct. 9-11, at the Baltimore Convention Center, where I will be speaking on, “The Coaching Edge, Building a Successful Team.” You can also call me at 518.495.5380.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Dear David: Effective ways to better manage your time

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By David Romano

Dear David: 

In one of your columns you stated the No. 1 motivating factor to happy employees is a sense of accomplishment. I guess that is why I feel so burnt out and frustrated. It seems the longer I own my business, the less I get marked off my to-do list each day. Any advice you can give on how to get more done would be greatly appreciated.  

Dear Normal Owner,

You are not alone. The good news regarding your dilemma is it is completely mental. You create it—and anything you create you can manage. It’s time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around starting a new project or improving what you are currently doing.

There are countless techniques that can be covered such as the use of a “do not disturb” sign on your office door, doing a better job of delegating the small stuff, to turning off your phone or email for extended periods throughout the typical workday. I have outlined several proven techniques that have made a real difference in my life when it comes to juggling multiple businesses while still having time to spend with my family and friends.

Plan ahead. Take the last 30 minutes of every day to plan your next day. Don’t end your current workday until you’ve completely outlined what you need to get done and in what order for the next day. The most important part of your day is the time you set aside to schedule time.

Make a list. Create a Kanban board listing what you have to do, what you are currently doing and what is already done. Better yet, paint a wall with chalkboard or whiteboard paint and section it off into the three grids. Use post-it notes and place a new task on “to do.” Move it to the “doing” section when it is being worked on, and then to “done” when completed. This board is a great visual that is always top of mind and hard to forget what needs to be done.

Time box your tasks. Time boxing refers to containing your tasks within fixed time slots. For example, box task A from 9 a.m.–10:30 a.m., task B from 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m. and task C from 2 p.m.–4 p.m., etc. Time boxing helps you stay disciplined and prevents your tasks from dragging on.

If you set a specific time frame and strictly adhere to it, you will find a way to get the work done. Note: Set a time that is challenging, yet achievable. If a task takes three hours, don’t allocate more time than it requires. Box for three hours or less so you can learn to optimize your output during the time frame.

Use the 80/20 rule. This rule states 80% of output is brought about by 20% of effort. The remaining 20% of output is achieved by putting in 80% of effort.

Let’s say you have a report due; but, in order to produce the best report possible, you need 100 hours. According to the rule, you can get 80% of the quality in by spending 20 hours (20% of 100 hours). In order to boost the report’s quality to 100%, you’d have to spend 80 hours (80% of the time). From an effectiveness standpoint, that doesn’t cut it. The 80/20 rule tells us to get 80% of quality in and chuck the remaining 20% since the time needed doesn’t justify the value we get. You can keep revising something to perfection, but that time is probably better spent working on a new task.

David Romano is the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting. He is currently the director of Romano Group, headquartered in Dallas. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Al's column: Tax breaks—What you need to know

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Bart Basi

 

If you’ve managed to secure an extension to file your 2017 taxes, there are some things you need to know. If you thought the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) signed into law Dec. 22, 2017, was the final determination on tax matters for the future, you were wrong. Earlier this year, Congress approved the Bipartisan Budget Act, which contains a number of tax provisions and extensions of more than 30 expired tax breaks. While the majority of tax relief in the legislation applies only to the 2017 tax year, the retroactive changes will have a large impact on the current filing season.

Additionally, a number of new provisions within the Bipartisan Budget Act modified provisions passed under the TCJA. The modifications include new mandated tax forms for seniors filing taxes as well as excise taxes on investment income regarding private colleges and tuition. The IRS has recognized the extensions and modifications will have a direct impact this filing season.

With more than 30 extensions to previously expired tax breaks, it’s important that business owners as well as individual filers work with a knowledgeable professional to minimize tax liabilities. The TCJA is essentially 500-plus pages of dense tax and accounting material; the Bipartisan Budget Act is another 650-plus pages of legalese. Understanding the material can be confusing. However, it’s vital to take advantage of what is offered by the IRS to maximize your dollars by minimizing your tax liabilities.

New game, new rules
December 2017 marked the beginning of a new tax era. The TCJA, as the Trump Administration has so often stated, is the first major tax reform since the 1980s. Many businesses are aware of major corporate tax changes, but the TCJA may also change the way individuals file their taxes, not only this year but through 2025.

One major aspect of the new tax law is an allowance for pass-through entities to claim a 20% “below-the-line” deduction for the owner’s qualified business income. However, the 20% deduction is subject to limitations that are currently being interpreted as to their application. The TCJA has labeled a “specified service trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, consulting, athletics, financial services and brokerage services” as services that don’t qualify for the 20% deduction.

Here are some other examples of how the new TCJA may affect you:

Home mortgage interest. This is a frequently used deduction that allows filers to deduct the amount of interest paid on their mortgage. After the TCJA changes, the deduction is now limited to claiming the home mortgage interest only for interest paid or accrued on the acquisition debt during those years.

Alimony/separate maintenance. Previously, anyone who paid alimony or separate maintenance payments were allowed to claim them on their federal taxes and were allowed a deduction.  This deduction has been repealed.

Moving expenses. Everyone moves at some point in their life, typically many times. For the years 2018-2025, the above-the-line tax deduction for this item has been repealed. However, special rules apply for those in the United States Military.

These are just a few of the changes under the new tax code. Contact the Center for Financial, Legal & Tax Planning at 618.997.3436, or via email at melissa@taxplanning.com, for clarification or to schedule a consultation.

Bart Basi is an attorney, a certified public accountant and the president of the Center for Financial, Legal & Tax Planning. He is an in-demand speaker and writer on financial issues impacting various businesses and industries.

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Lessons learned: A few minutes makes a big difference

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Tom Jennings

 

When asked to compare the difference in performance characteristics between a top producing sales professional and an average performer, I always respond that a common trait professionals exhibit is they are willing to invest an extra few minutes per day toward their goal of being successful. By this I mean the minutes they are willing to prepare prior to their sales shift beginning.

Ask yourself if the following scenario sounds vaguely familiar: one minute before he has to be at work, the low-performing salesperson comes gliding through the front door with his breakfast in one hand and his cell phone in the other. He appears as if he has been out of bed for about 10 minutes. His hair is still damp, his tie is draped over his shoulder and his shirt tail is untucked. His rationale is he doesn’t need to be dressed up yet. He’ll have time to finish getting ready when he gets to work. He proceeds to drape his coat on the back of his chair, drop his car keys on the desktop and announces, “I’m here.”

While this may seem exaggerated to some, I have witnessed similar behavior far too many times. The sad reality is those who are only willing to give such marginal efforts are too often allowed to get by with such non-professional performance. Even if he is not concerned about his income-retarding behavior, his manager should be.

Recently, a dealer asked me for suggestions regarding a salesman who was habitually late nearly every morning. When I inquired how long he had been employed, I was told 18 years. I laughed and said not to worry about changing this guy’s behavior as his ship had sailed a long time ago. If he wasn’t fired with enthusiasm by now, then perhaps the time had come for him to be fired with enthusiasm. Remember, as a manager, you will always get the behavior you are willing to accept.

Can you imagine a pro golfer stepping to the first tee with no warm-up session on the driving range? How about the bus unloading a football team in uniform at kickoff time? No mental warm-ups. No physical warm-ups. Just toss the coin and kick off. Never going to happen.

You can’t imagine a great singer not going through the scales before a concert. A talented musician would not perform without ensuring their instrument was in tune. Why should striving to be any less professional in our chosen field be considered acceptable behavior?

Sales personnel and managers alike should spend a few minutes each morning walking your showroom to make sure that everything is in order. Are there new items displayed? If so, do you fully understand them? Are all prices clearly marked? Are all of the lights on and in working order? Is the background music playing at a pleasant volume? Are the design tables clean and ready for the first customer in the door? Are your demonstration supplies restocked and freshened? While these may seem like small details, professionals realize they are not. Any unnecessary time spent fumbling and stumbling in a customer’s presence reduces her perception of your professionalism and causes concern. As the customer’s perception of your abilities declines, so does your chance of making this sale. Why take this chance?

If you want to be successful at sales, the first person you need to sell is yourself. Create a mindset and working atmosphere that is conducive to your success. Invest a few minutes each day being prepared to succeed. Your customers—and your wallet—will be rewarded.

Tom Jennings is vice president of professional development for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). Jennings, a retail sales training guru, has served in various capacities within the WFCA.

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Al’s column: Turning browsers into buyers

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Lisbeth Calandrino

In this modern age of digital marketing, it’s critical retailers move beyond the traditional means of targeting consumers. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting dealers completely abandon tried-and-true methods of marketing to new and existing customers. Rather, they should seize all available opportunities—along with the host of online marketing tools available—to turn browsers into buyers.

According to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a provider of digital marketing automation and analytics software and services, 70% of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies. MarketingSherpa, a firm specializing in tracking what works in all aspects of marketing, reported 61% of shoppers say they like to receive promotional emails weekly; meanwhile, 29% said they want to receive them more frequently.

If you are unsure how to employ online marketing tools in your business, the following are a few tips to get the ball rolling.

Develop a plan of attack. Most businesses only focus on their advertising efforts when they have something special to promote. However, an email marketing campaign should be about more than just promotions. It should give your customers useful information they can use throughout the year. It’s also a good idea to build email campaigns around holidays, special occasions and important events.

Know your customer. This might sound rudimentary, but do you really know “who’s who” in your database? Your customers may include property managers, builders, architects and homeowners. Should they all receive the same email message? Certainly not. According to the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report, companies using email list segmentation saw 39% higher open rates and 28% lower unsubscribe rates. Put another way, if you met 50 people at a networking group you wouldn’t say the same things to each person, would you?

Devise compelling subject lines. You don’t have to be a wordsmith to excel in this area; just think creatively. For instance, if you want your customer to know something, tell her what it is in the subject line and then give her the full story in the email body. Oftentimes the content has nothing to do with the subject line. A great subject line can spark interest, but if the content isn’t relevant, the customer will stop opening your emails.

All customers are not created equal. When you create your campaign, you need to segment your customers. The customer who has bought from you is different from the one who hasn’t yet made a purchase. Don’t treat them the same. Target each group and send them relevant messages.

Let’s say you meet 40 new people at a networking event and put them in with the rest of the people in your database. Since you don’t know these customers, you don’t want to treat them as if you do. Rather, know that this is a special group that you want to get to know so they will see your information as useful and want to keep hearing from you. Once you gain their trust and they recognize your brand, you can begin to send them offers.

The trick is not to get overwhelmed or overthink things. Think about emails, alerts and messages you receive from some of the places you shop, and try to emulate the ones that inspire you or compel you to act. And if you’re not comfortable in tackling this yourself, by all means assign someone on your staff—maybe a millennial? —who’s more familiar with the technology and various media.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Al's column: Turning browsers into buyers

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

In this modern age of digital marketing, it’s critical retailers move beyond the traditional means of targeting consumers. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting dealers completely abandon tried-and-true methods of marketing to new and existing customers. Rather, they should seize all available opportunities—along with the host of online marketing tools available—to turn browsers into buyers.

According to Salesforce Marketing Cloud, a provider of digital marketing automation and analytics software and services, 70% of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies. MarketingSherpa, a firm specializing in tracking what works in all aspects of marketing, reported 61% of shoppers say they like to receive promotional emails weekly; meanwhile, 29% said they want to receive them more frequently.

If you are unsure how to employ online marketing tools in your business, the following are a few tips to get the ball rolling.

Develop a plan of attack. Most businesses only focus on their advertising efforts when they have something special to promote. However, an email marketing campaign should be about more than just promotions. It should give your customers useful information they can use throughout the year. It’s also a good idea to build email campaigns around holidays, special occasions and important events.

Know your customer. This might sound rudimentary, but do you really know “who’s who” in your database? Your customers may include property managers, builders, architects and homeowners. Should they all receive the same email message? Certainly not. According to the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report, companies using email list segmentation saw 39% higher open rates and 28% lower unsubscribe rates. Put another way, if you met 50 people at a networking group you wouldn’t say the same things to each person, would you?

Devise compelling subject lines. You don’t have to be a wordsmith to excel in this area; just think creatively. For instance, if you want your customer to know something, tell her what it is in the subject line and then give her the full story in the email body. Oftentimes the content has nothing to do with the subject line. A great subject line can spark interest, but if the content isn’t relevant, the customer will stop opening your emails.

All customers are not created equal. When you create your campaign, you need to segment your customers. The customer who has bought from you is different from the one who hasn’t yet made a purchase. Don’t treat them the same. Target each group and send them relevant messages.

Let’s say you meet 40 new people at a networking event and put them in with the rest of the people in your database. Since you don’t know these customers, you don’t want to treat them as if you do. Rather, know that this is a special group that you want to get to know so they will see your information as useful and want to keep hearing from you. Once you gain their trust and they recognize your brand, you can begin to send them offers.

The trick is not to get overwhelmed or overthink things. Think about emails, alerts and messages you receive from some of the places you shop, and try to emulate the ones that inspire you or compel you to act. And if you’re not comfortable in tackling this yourself, by all means assign someone on your staff—maybe a millennial? —who’s more familiar with the technology and various media.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Marketing mastery: How to convert more door swings into sales

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(First of two parts)

“We’ve been advertising with Angie’s List and Home Advisor, and running Google AdWords,” a dealer from Colorado said during a meeting about additional ways to market his business.

I asked him what his monthly ad spend was and he said about $6,000. I followed up by asking how many walk-ins out of 10 wind up purchasing, and he said three.

“Before you spend additional money trying to attract more traffic, you need to do a better job converting the traffic you already have,” I said. “If you simply increased your close rate from three out of 10 to four, that’s a 30% increase in revenue with zero additional marketing.”

I’ve had similar conversations with other flooring retailers. Many dealers who want to increase their revenue jump immediately to increasing their advertising spend and too often this is premature.

In reality, many dealers can increase their revenue significantly by simply closing more of the people who are already walking through their front door. I work with dealers who have increased their closed sales to seven out of 10 walk-ins, and who get a 90% close rate on jobs they quote. These kinds of close ratios require the implementation of strategies specifically designed to increase closed sales.

Here are some key strategies for making this happen.

Repeat and referred customers

“Can you tell the difference between a referred customer and a stranger who visited your store because they saw an ad?” I asked a dealer at one of my training seminars.

“Definitely,” she replied. “A referral already trusts us. We really don’t have to ‘sell’ them like we would a stranger.” Other dealers in the audience agreed.

When someone has purchased from you before or they were referred, they come in your store with pre-built trust. In general, they are less price-sensitive, the buying cycle is shorter and the closed sale ratio tends to be higher than with strangers.

Dealers I work with who get 70% to 80% close ratios do so in part by increasing their number of repeat and referred customers. By increasing the amount of repeat and referred customers visiting your store, you’ll automatically increase your closed sales—even if you don’t do any additional sales training.

The most powerful way to increase the number of repeat and referred customers walking through your door is by marketing to your database with a monthly newsletter and a weekly e-newsletter. I’ve seen dealers come back from the brink of bankruptcy, triple their revenue in a couple of years and even open additional stores. They did other things as well, but marketing to their database was the key driver.

You should also train your RSAs on how to generate referrals from your already-scheduled installations. When you’ve done a great job for a customer and they are thrilled with your service, it’s very easy to get referrals. However, most dealers don’t train their team on how to do this, and as a result they’re leaving a fortune on the table.

In part two, I’ll reveal additional key strategies for converting more door swings into sales.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.

 

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Dear David: Achieving a better work-life balance

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By David Romano

 

Dear David:

I purchased two flooring stores from my parents about 10 years ago. My wife works alongside me and we have two children. Growing up, I watched my parents spend most of their time inside the store, which took a toll on my childhood and their well-being. I swore I would not let that happen to my family, but I find myself doing the same thing. Help me break this pattern before this business breaks me.

Dear Owner,

You are not alone. A recent study by Family Living Today and Now Sourcing uncovered surprising statistics about work-life balance across the country. Right now, the United States ranks 30th out of 38 countries that have positive work-life balance. Maybe that’s because, according to the research, more than 11% of American workers say they work 50 or more hours a week, and 66% do not believe they have a healthy work-life balance. In fact, many people (33%) also find themselves working weekends or holidays.

According to the same study, some of the short-term effects at home of a poor work/life balance include: 38% lack of  focus and engagement at home; 51% missed important life events; 40% ruined time spent with family/friends (conference calls, called away from activities); and 50% less time with friends and family.

Some short-term effects at work include: 36% poor productivity; 68% poor morale; and 41% feeling burnt-out or fatigued.

What’s even more alarming are the long-term health effects for employees working over 55 hours per week: higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke; higher risk of anxiety (1.74x) and depression (1.66x); higher stress and cortisol levels throughout the day when expected to be available to work on their off-hours.

Here are some things that can be done:

Switch off your phone. Checking updates and emails during your time off interrupts your relaxation and stresses out your body.

Make time for exercise. Physical activity boosts energy and concentration and is usually the first thing scratched from your schedule when you are busy.

Eliminate the extras. People who are overworked tend to overwork themselves. I recommend painting a Kanban chart on  your office wall organizing tasks, with “to do,” “doing” and “done.” This will allow you to keep track of tasks, become more efficient and feel comfortable walking away from the office when everything you set out to do for the day is done.

Delegate. This is normally the Achilles heel of small business owners. There is glory in being involved in every facet of your business and putting in more hours than everyone else. However, studies have shown no correlation between working longer and harder and the profitability of a business. The most successful entrepreneurs own a business and not a job and spend their time managing people and process. Once you build a strong, self-reliant team with detailed job descriptions and dashboards your life will change in an instant.

The E-Myth Foundation found that business owners who took more than one month vacation each year were both more efficient and more profitable than those who took less time. Spend individualized time with each member of your immediate family every year. This allows for bonding and an appreciation for those who have sacrificed for the good of your career.

David Romano is the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting. He is currently the director of Romano Group, headquartered in Dallas. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Marketing mastery: How changes to Facebook affect your marketing

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

Facebook recently made major changes to its newsfeed and the types of posts that will be favored moving forward.

“As we roll this out you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, announced recently. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” He goes on to say that Facebook has “a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.”

These changes will have a major impact on your Facebook marketing. Let’s dig into the specifics of what this means for your flooring business, and how you can use these changes to your benefit.

Meaningful interactions. Facebook wants to foster real interaction between human beings in its newsfeed. This means we’re going to see a reduction in product pitches in favor of content that has real value and encourages meaningful “back-and-forth” discussions.

Facebook’s algorithms now put less emphasis on likes and shares in favor of posts that spark conversations. This doesn’t mean likes and shares are no longer important—they still are. What it does mean is Facebook is giving the biggest reach to posts with dialogue.

Effective posts. So what kinds of organic posts generate the kind of engagement Facebook is looking for? The same things that have been working all along.

  • Photos of real customers. I see dealers posting professionally shot product photos and getting very little engagement. No matter how great these posts look, a smartphone picture of a happy client—either in their home or the showroom—outperforms them in overall engagement. This is why you should train your salespeople on how to ask for and get photos of clients.
  • Home improvement tips. This is something any dealer can do, and it ties in directly with what you are selling. It is the kind of “valuable content” Facebook is looking for. These can either be links to articles you have written, your blog or—best of all—a video of you demonstrating how to spot-clean a carpet, do a home repair or other tip.
  • Community events. This can include food drives, holiday events, farmers markets, high school sporting events, etc. Think of your business as a community hub and create posts that will make people want to pay attention to your page and content.

The death of engagement bait. We’ve all seen posts that ask people to “like, share and comment.” This can be in the form of a contest or a request to become a follower of a business page. This is called engagement bait. Facebook now wants your posts to be interesting enough for people to interact without engagement bait. Any post that directly asks people to like, share or comment will be penalized.

Boosted content. Now that Facebook is deemphasizing organic posts from business pages, you should consider boosting your posts. This will give you more reach, and it can be done cost-effectively. We began using this strategy for all the dealers whose Facebook accounts we manage, and we have seen a measurable increase in results compared to non-boosted posts.

If you’d like me to evaluate your Facebook marketing, email support@flooringsuccesssystems.com.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.