Posts Tagged business forum

Business Apps- Brand enhancer, business tool or a waste of time?

Are businesses turning to apps to improve business efficiency, generate sales leads, win new business and keep existing customers engaged?

This was a question posed at the Business Exposure Group meeting.

The discussion was split into two halves.  Firstly, using applications to organise your business life and secondly, the value of a bespoke business app for your business.

Included in the value of applications to assist your business many of the members were regularly using Dropbox, Google Docs, Evernote, Hip Chat, Re Quall, Campfire, to name but a few.

It became clear from the outset of the discussion that very few businesses ask where does a downloaded app fit into their business?  Some felt that most apps add another level of complexity into the company’s business processes, which are not always welcomed by staff who exhibit strong resistance from these business tools, as they become disruptive to familiar work patterns and create additional stress.

In the groups there was a clear difference between those businesses which operated and were heavily reliant on organisational apps, as opposed to many more conventional businesses who had not embraced the advantages of introducing this technology into the day to day functioning of their employee’s job roles.  In fact, this supported research which showed that only 22% of SME’s provide apps for their employees to use at work.

One of members explained that his salesmen had increased their van sales by 450% in the last 6 months since he gave all his drivers an app that enabled them to check stock and pricing in real time, process orders and print instant invoices.

Whereas, another member stated that cash strapped business people are tempted by free online apps that promise to simplify any number of business functions, but in reality the apps require a significant amount of effort to use them effectively.

Moving the discussion onto the question of the value of providing a bespoke app was unanimously discounted for those operating in the B2B world.  A good app is built to engage customers and encourage loyal customers to come back through in-depth functionality.  Which is great for B2C but B2B members preferred the option to upsell with a face to face opportunity rather than an application.

Apps are only any good if they are regularly used by the customer, otherwise they just become a fad and are easily forgotten.  The consensus of opinion was that money was far better spent on ensuring that a business website was up to date, functional and fully mobile enabled, instead of squandering monies on an app which many members were unclear as to how to determine a return on investment from an app, which may show evidence of a contemporary business but not necessarily one that has found the need for an app to succeed in adding significant value to their customers.

80% of businesses don’t have a mobile strategy, so the conclusion around the table was that our money is better spent improving our customer’s mobile experience rather than building a mostly useless and profitless app.

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How does your business run when you’re away?

Many business owners deny themselves an annual holiday because they simply won’t risk leaving the company in another person’s hands.
For those who are brave enough to go away, the majority spend the week fretting about what is happening back in the office.

The problem usually stems from the owner being the only person in the firm who knows how to run the business effectively because all the information is all stored in his/her head. If this continues to be the case, the business owner is never going to truly switch off when he’s away.

To build a scalable business, you need to put the correct systems in place for when you are not there and this means sharing responsibility as well as your intricate knowledge on how to run your business.

Businesses should create an operations manual which is regularly updated. The bigger the business, the more in-depth the systems.
People need clear job descriptions and firm direction on how you want your business to operate.

Stop reinventing the wheel. Make sure procedures are correct rather than constantly changing them.

Establish where you want to be in three years time – do you want to have six, 12 or 1,000 employees?

This will help you steer your business in the right direction and help you set achievable goals.

The content in this article was taken from a discussion at a recent Business Exposure Group forum.

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Discussion summary from our March events

          Selecting personnel who will make you a profit and not just provide a service.
          Techniques to close a sales order after finding the buyers ‘pain’ and real reason for purchase.
          Creating a business organisation that knows how to sell.
          Our changing approach to marketing and communication in the current climate (spend and tactics).
          How social media can be part of your business and customer development.
          Group feedback with regard to this years salary reviews.
          Systemizing your business to make it scaleable and attractive to a purchaser.

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Discussion summary from our January events

We now have 9 Business Exposure Group forums in Leeds, Wetherby, Manchester, Sheffield and Bradford.

This month’s January meeting went really well and the issues across several discussion groups included:-

  • How to make your business offering in 2011 stand out.
  • What techniques are we using to get past the” gatekeeper “and arrange meetings with new prospects.
  • How to offer discounts running alongside normal trading terms, without down- valuing your core business.
  • How to make your staff feel passionate about your customer service.
  • The value/cost of a pay per click campaign.
  • Business opportunities arising because of the recession and how to finance them.

The high value of the group advice was commented on by many of the members.

The dynamic within each of the groups is maturing well.

The next meeting of the Manchester Premier Business Forum will be on Tuesday 1st March at 1.30pm, at the Forsyth Centre, The Triangle. Exchange Square. Manchester.

Please let us know if you may be interested in being invited to one of our groups by emailing philipdrazen@bxgroup.co.uk

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