Sears Canada Bankruptcy – What Happened?

 

Some people will say that Sears problem was having the perfume counter at the entrances of the stores, effectively and automatically excluding anyone sensitive to perfume as they didn’t want to walk past the fragrances to reach the rest of the merchandise.

 

However that’s not it, part of the problem is simply that Sears’ clientele is generally older and less interested in online shopping. “The reality is, when your top line falls as significantly as it has and your customer base doesn’t buy online — they are middle-aged to older, and they shop the store — as much as you try to shift channels to online, it’s just not happening,” one former executive said.

 

Centered on the hashtag “#wevechanged,” the brand launched a marketing campaign and had opened a pop-up in Toronto designed to bring attention to its new product lines, which are aimed largely at a younger demographic.

 

It should have been a simple transition from catalogue to the internet – but what happened? Sears didn’t evolve quick enough and the company got stuck in a prior decade and didn’t cater enough to the new generation of spenders. They fell behind in being modern and welcoming the Gen X and Gen Y customers, who are the main spenders these days. The window of opportunity to transition from paper to online closed quicker than they thought.

 

“Assess the potential of your company assets and pay attention to your competitors’ growth strategies.” Business owners need to stay on top of their company’s assets and keep an eye on their competition, changes in the marketplace and your consumer’s expectations. They just launched a new rewards program to boost its already prime service. Always stay up to date with retail trends whenever possible as they are always changing.

 

“Your business must be mindful of how to add value for your customers.” In comparison, a company like Amazon, has been able to provide value for customers by perfecting the challenge of online retailers, which is the supply chain. They shorten wait times and have hassle-free returns addressing the two biggest pain points of the online experience.  By doing so they have opened a new channel for external partners. Consider what kind of value can your business add.  Perhaps special services for online customers, buy online and pick up in store. Your customers will love these because it’ll make their overall experience shopping with you easier.

 

With the growth of technology over the last decade, the ability for businesses to quickly adapt and accommodate for changing customer expectations will only become more important as technology becomes more advanced.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

 

Things to Watch for In a Small Business Loan

 

A reliable way to get some extra capital for your business is a small business loan. Whether it’s for covering your startup costs, or it’s to fuel a new initiative, getting a small business loan is both exciting and nerve-wracking. It’s important to pay attention to the type of loan you’re getting into, if you aren’t careful, you could end up with something that’s almost impossible to pay back.

 

Interest Rates

Obviously, you want the lowest interest rate possible, but the interest rate you get will depend on a few factors. Your credit history and the terms of the loan you’re seeking to get are the main ones. If you want a lower interest rate, you may have to sacrifice some other preferences to compensate for it.

 

Terms of the Loan

If you’re thinking long-term, or if you don’t have an existing stream of revenue to help you with the monthly payments, you might consider the longest term possible, ranging many years into the future. However, do be aware that paying off your loan early can result in a prepayment penalty – so remember to pay attention to that in the conditions of the loan.

 

Expansion

If you’re looking to invest in expansion, you may me tempted to get the most amount of money you qualify for; after all, having access to more capital gives you more flexibility, and will save you time if you need to borrow more down the road. Always start by outlining the fundamental costs that you’ll need to cover for your business. Don’t just guess, do your research, talk to your peers and calculate your best guess for what these needs will cost you.

 

Financial Institution

Of course, you’ll want to go with the provider that can offer your business the best deal, but the working relationship you’ll have with the loan provider also matters. If you already have a history with one institution, it may increase your likelihood of getting a better deal with them in the future, so be sure to take that into consideration when deciding your line of credit, loans, and checking accounts.

 

After these steps, you should start meeting with different lenders in your area and see what they have to offer. Just remember to read the fine print carefully, and only move forward when you’re confident about the long-term benefits of your decision.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

 

Grenfell Tower Fire: Do You Have a Fire Safety Plan?

Make Sure You Have an Emergency Response Plan 

 

A deadly overnight fire raced through a 24-storey apartment building in London last Wednesday. While details regarding the cause of the fire are beginning to come in, it is an unfortunate reminder that a fire can break out anywhere, at any time with no warning signs.

 

When it comes to your small business, it is important to remember that it is also susceptible to fires and numerous potential hazards. Whether it is an overloaded circuit, over used and deteriorating electrical cords, heat producing equipment or electrical appliances left plugged in at the end of the day, there are a host of factors that can cause a fire in the workplace. The first step in protecting your employees from injury, and your small business from property loss, is to ensure an emergency response plan is in place.

 

Not sure where to start or what to include in your small business’ emergency response plan? Click Here or on the image below to download a basic version of an emergency response outline.

 

Emergency Response Plan Outline

Emergency-Response-Plan--Link

 

It’s important to modify and fill in the document to reflect your business and how it is conducted. As some industries may face more risks than others, there are additional sections that may need to be added to your small business’ emergency response plan.

 

In addition to your emergency response plan, the items below should also be completed/indicated and reviewed on a regular basis:

  • Exit locations are clearly marked
  • Emergency procedures should be posted on each floor
  • Review emergency procedures on a regular basis with all employees
  • Conduct fire drills on a regular basis with all employees

 

Keep in mind that all aspects of your emergency planning should take into account the type of business you run and the nature of your workplace/worksite. For example, assembly area procedures will differ between a contracting business that works on different job sites, versus a retail business where the location is constant.

As the owner/employer you should be ensuring that a properly tailored emergency response plan is in place and up to date, whether it is run by you or an appointed member of management.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation. 

Fidget Spinners – Latest Viral Product?

Can You Get Your Products To Go Viral?

If you haven’t heard of or seen someone playing with a Fidget spinner, where have you been? These small metal or plastic designs rotate around a small bearing in the middle to achieve a satisfying spin that can go on for minutes on end. They were originally positioned to help children channel their nervous energy, but then turned into the hottest new trend that has taken over the internet and playgrounds across the country.

 

We’ve all seen this before, with “Trashies” – little rubber characters that resemble garbage items with eyeballs, Shopkins – cute rubber grocery items with faces and now its Fidget spinners.  As an entrepreneur these products all raise the question of how you can you get your products to go viral as well? There are some common traits across all of these items.

 

Accessible Pricing

They are all available at an accessible price point.  Most of these products are available for under $10.  That means they are the sort of thing any retailer — whether they are WalMart, The Dollar Store or the local smoke shop — can feature by the checkout or cash register where they are unavoidable for parents hopping with kids.

 

Simple Catchy Value Proposition

People like having hobbies and like to collect things.  This is applicable to things ranging from hockey cards to antiques to vehicles.  Products such as Trashies, Shopkins and Fidget spinners offer kids a unique way to collect according to their tastes while enabling them to negotiate with their peers.  Kids love to collect and exchange all sorts of collectibles on the playground and in the classroom.  Also all of these have the common trait of being portable so you can take them anywhere as well as being uncomplicated and virtually unbreakable.

 

Easy Concept and Name

If you want your product to go viral, it should not require a PhD or a user manual for people to understand what it does.  If you can assign a catchy explanatory name to it, that is definitely a step in the right direction.  Because of their terrific names, its easy to get a sense of what a Trashy or Fidget spinner is and what it does.

 

Eventually, like most viral trends, the fidget spinner will fizzle out and be a fond memory for most.  Entrepreneurs however should learn from the success of such products and always be on the watch for the next big trend.  By grasping key of the elements of the fidget spinner sensation and incorporating them into your own business ideas or marketing strategies, you’re bound to have a viral success eventually.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

Small Business Survey Favors Bullfrog

Over 80% of Small Businesses Would Buy Insurance Online

 

Earlier this year Bullfrog Insurance took the opportunity to survey thousands of small businesses to better understand how these customers perceive insurance, how knowledgeable they are about business risks and how receptive they are to the concept of a digital brokerage.  The results of this endeavour were exceptionally eye-opening.

 

Many Businesses Are At Risk

As many of our customers are first-time buyers, we had anticipated that a fair amount of the people who filled out the survey would confess to not having insurance.  We were taken aback slightly when the numbers came in however.  A disturbing 35% of small businesses who filled out the survey confirmed that they did not have insurance coverage. To put that into perspective, consider all the products and services you make contact with in a given day – now consider the idea that more than 1 in 3 of them may not have business insurance.

 

 

 

Reasons and Realities

Small business owners are busy people stretched in a thousand directions, so the idea of taking up precious time to deal with a broker and file forms during business hours is something they are inherently averse to.  This was confirmed by results that said 22% of them viewed the process of obtaining insurance as “too complicated”.  Many were also under the somewhat unfounded impression that insurance is “too costly”.  Each day clients are stunned to find out Bullfrog Insurance has General Liability policies available from as little as $350 a year.

 

 

Ready for Digital

Bullfrog Insurance specializes in selling business insurance online because we believe business owners are busy people who want to get coverage when they want, not when brokers are available.  Therefore we asked small business owners how they felt about the idea of buying insurance online.  We were pleased to find a very decisive number of respondents confirming they were willing to buy insurance online.  Over 80% of respondents confirmed they would buy insurance online. Beyond those there were 4% who confirmed they were not even aware you could buy coverage online.  What a pleasant surprise!

 

 

Conclusions

While the Bullfrog Insurance survey made it apparent that there are still a large number of business owners who do not understand or see the value of obtaining coverage to mitigate against unforeseen risks, it did confirm that the majority of business owners do appreciate the importance of insurance.  It was also clear that the industry still has a fair amount of work to do to further educate customers, reduce complexity and dispel myths about the costs of insurance and the difficulty of obtaining coverage.  Beyond this, it was encouraging to see that customers do want to have the option to shop and buy insurance online and will take steps to get coverage online whenever possible.

 

Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

Small Business Call Center Technology

Call Centre Technology You Need To Stay Ahead

 

Being able to offer exceptional customer service is the primary goal for call centers, whether they are focused on inbound calls, outbound calls, SMS, chat or social interactions. Depending on organizational needs, call centers can implement an array of different technologies. These technologies can help businesses rethink the way they serve clients, so that they are providing better service and utilizing resources more effectively.

 

CTI – Computer Telephony Integration

CTI is a type of technology that enables computer and telephone systems to interact together. When agents using, CTI receive incoming calls, a screen pop up is displayed, showing the caller’s account information on the agent’s computer screen. This saves time for both parties by giving the agent the customer info they need to lead the call and solve the problem.

 

ACD – Automatic Call Distributer

This telephony system recognizes, answers and routes incoming calls to the terminal or agent that is best suited to handle the caller’s needs. Knowing where to send incoming calls before they are answered is a huge help for companies receiving a large volume of calls. It also helps meet the customer’s needs more efficiently.

 

CRM / Call Center Serving Application

CRM software gives agents all the customer info they need to solve a customer’s needs as quickly as possible. Agents can also use the servicing application to document customer interactions that can be brought up if the caller needs more help in the future. These systems enable an organization to provide insight to all customer interactions across business units.

 

Call Recording Systems

This is helpful should an agent or manager need to review what happened on a call. More advanced recording systems can record calls, as well as any other interactions associated with the call, such as emails and chat sessions. Call recording can be historical or in real-time, allowing call center supervisor to intercept an off-script or out of the norm call and provide on demand coaching.

 

Having all the technology in place, so that your businesses’ call center can run smoothly is crucial if you want to give your customers an experience worth repeating. Be sure to visit the Bullfrog Blog often for more tips on marketing, productivity and risk mitigation.

 

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