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Tips 61-65: Stop Catering to Problem Customers

By Entrepreneur Staff

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Stop Catering to Problem Customers

The time you spend with cranky customers, slow payers and penny pinchers could be spent more productively building relationships with your good customers or finding new ones. Besides, life's just too short and, after all, you're the boss.


Reduce Customer Returns By Improving Quality Control

I don't know about you, but I hate giving back. It's so unproductive.The first part of any quality-control solution starts with information. Why are items coming back?

Let's say you're a clothing manufacturer with a high level of returns. Are there flaws in the fabric? Maybe you need to find another supplier. Or maybe something in your assembly process is damaging the material. Is the fit wrong? If so, and a number of people seem to have the same problem, perhaps your pattern is wrong. Did the garment wash up poorly? If this is a sporadic problem, an inaccurate fabric treatment mix may be to blame.

A strategy for lowering your returns might include better inspection of raw materials, preventative maintenance on machines, improved operator training or regular finished goods sampling.


Don't Be Someone Else's Venture Capital

Wait until new products, services, advertising opportunities and the like are tested by someone else before you give them a try. They all have a great story about what a deal whatever they're peddling is. If it's that great, it still will be in a few months. If it's not, they won't have learned their lesson on your nickel. Remember, the pioneers take the most arrows.


Get Free Advertising

Think about sending newsworthy stories to the local press or offering charitable donations that will provide your company with visibility. A single public relations stunt can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in free publicity.

Any business, no matter how boring, can be made newsworthy with a little dose of creativity.

Suppose you own a Wisconsin-based accounting firm.No one, except maybe CPAs, are titillated by trial balances, captivated by contribution margins or enthralled with EBITA. How could you hope to land a spot on the national news?

Well, thinking outside the balance sheet,you could offer to doAlicein Dairyland's taxes, for free--she's the state's most recognizable spokesperson. You could send out a press release about tax credits for sequestering bovine emissions. It would make a great piece for Got Moo-la, the state's annual business assistance directory. An advance press release, photos included, will ensure a herd of reporters will be standing by. I won'tmilk the concept any further. I think I've made my point.

Not a week goes by when I can't come up with some news tie-in to one of my books. High fuel prices allowed me to pontificate on the amount of gas the nation could save if those who could work from home did. The swine flu offered the possibility of stories on how telework reduces the spread of disease.Earth Day allowed me to pitch the green benefits of telecommuting.The Google Cash scheme gave me the opportunity to crusade against thework-at-home job scams that bilkmillions from consumers every year.

PR is something you can do on your own, with very little training.

65.Optimize Your InventoryRunning out of raw materials or inventory costs you . So does having too much. You need to find that "just right" middle. To do that:
  • Monitor your stock with a system that automatically deducts items as they are sold and alerts you when it's time to restock.
  • Reduce the amount you keep on hand. The cash-flow impact of reducing your inventory from 60 to 30 days is about $8,000/month for every $100,000 of inventory.
  • Be careful not to overstock just because an item is on sale. Today's good deal may become tomorrow's stale inventory.
  • Don't fall in love with a product; it's your customers who have to love it.
  • Sell off stale inventory.
  • Investigate just-in-time inventory options with your suppliers.
Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff


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