An Employee Wants to Change Teams. What Should You Do?

Most companies carefully assemble teams to work on projects. Bringing the right talent together is crucial for achieving sales goals, as our Corporate Business Solutions consultants often recommend. Ideally, the teams you assemble together should work well. But in real life, this is often not the case. Conflicts between teams can occur, even though it shouldn’t commonly occur. If a team member asks to switch teams, as a manager or the owner, you must give careful consideration to the request (even if you really don’t want to). Here are several things to do when an employee wants to change teams:

Ask for Specifics: Some employees are forthcoming, some are not. As the boss, you should ask for specifics why the employee wants to switch. It could be because the employee feels as if he or she is not up to the task assigned. It could be some other malicious reason as well, such as harassment. Small business owners must be very careful regarding keeping the company culture civil. If one employee feels uncomfortable due to a toxic workplace, then others might be too. Therefore, it’s important to get to the bottom of why an employee wants to leave the team.

Interview Team Members: Stories are never one sided. You should interview the other members of the team, especially the team leader, as to why the employee might want to switch. This should be approached carefully. You don’t want to sow discontent between your employees. Asking some general questions may help. Later, if you suspect bad behavior, you can ask more probing questions.

Talk to Other Managers: It is important to also get the input of other managers or executives on the situation as well. If the need to switch is caused by skills deficiency or misplaced skills, then the managers or HR should evaluate how the employee might have been misplaced on the team.

It’s not always easy to put together the perfect team. Company culture, HR evaluations, and overall management all play a role. Are all these aspects working well together at your small business? To find out, contact us at CBS-CBS.com.

 

How Small Businesses Can Manage Employee Vacations During Summer

It’s the summer! For small business executives everywhere, this also means hordes of employees going on vacation. According to market research, about 30 percent of the workforce at the average small business takes paid time off during the season. Business managers should carefully handle vacation time off to avoid being shorthanded. Summer is also the season when customers are more than willing to spend money. Here are some tips for capitalizing on the season while employees are also taking time off:

Plan in Advance: To avoid disruption due to some employees being on holiday, it’s important to plan in advance. Have employees inform you at least a month in advance of extended summer vacations (ones that take a week or more). Then don’t forget to inform the other employees about who’s going to be on vacation so they, too, can make plans accordingly. Our Corporate Business Solutions consultants highly recommend holding a meeting among key managers and individuals to notify everyone of who is going to be absent and to maintain a master list of vacation schedules which can be consulted by management to be able to make needed adjustments where necessary.

Encourage Employees to Make Cover-Up Schedules: It’s very important for employees that work in teams to be on the same page. So if someone is going on summer vacation, tell that employee to get schedule fill-ins for necessary tasks. Everyone on a team should know about who’s covering up for whom on vacation.

Send Reminders: In addition to meetings, don’t forget to set up reminders to inform everyone in writing who will be off. For example, you can send email or Slack reminders about summer vacations. Encourage employees to do the same.

Set Vacation Deadlines: Employees going on vacation should be given deadlines to complete tasks before they take time off. Let them understand that no time off will be available until these tasks are done. This is why planning vacation time in advance is important.

Reward Fill In Employees: If an employee takes over a colleague’s tasks while he or she is on vacation, then don’t forget to acknowledge that fill in employee’s contribution. Managers can offer praise, bonuses, rewards like free pizza, or an extra day off during other seasons. These rewards will encourage employees to fill in more, so the company is less likely to be shorthanded.

Small businesses should offer reprieves for employees during the summer months. Use the above tips to make sure the holiday time doesn’t disrupt business. You can ask the professionals at CBS-CBS.com for advice on all matters related to small business, including staffing issues resulting from employee vacations, during a comprehensive business analysis of your company.

Why Your Business Needs to Use Chatbots

Providing proper customer support is an important but often challenging aspect of running a small business. Over the years, there have been many innovations in offering customer care, from written letters to giant outsourced call centers. Now IT has yet another solution for customer support: chatbots.

If you don’t already know what a chatbot is, it is a software program that allows customers to contact a virtual customer representative. It’s like Facebook Messenger, but it’s custom designed for your company. CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants often come across small businesses that struggle to provide praiseworthy customer support. For small businesses owners who want to be on the cutting edge of customer support and have a need for customer interaction without increasing costs significantly, we recommend switching to chatbot software for numerous reasons. Here are some of the more compelling reasons why your business needs to consider chatbot support:

Offer Support 24/7: Chatbots don’t need to eat, sleep, or go home. Therefore, these tools are the best way for companies to provide all day, every day, customer support without drastically increasing costs.

Chatbots Reduce Overhead Costs: Running a call center or hiring employees to provide customer support is extremely expensive. Chatbots, on the other hand, are low-cost options that provide the same services at a fraction of the cost.

Millennial Customers Prefer Chatbots: The market will soon be dominated by millennials who are highly tech-friendly. Millennials prefer to interact quickly with an app than to pick up the phone and call a company like their parents did. If your business’s primary audience consists of millennials, chatbots will very likely improve customer satisfaction levels.

Cut Down Waiting Time: Chatbots can respond rapidly, so customers do not have to wait for a human representative to pick up a call or an online message. One of the most common problems with customer care is that it takes too long to deliver. Chatbots will eliminate this problem.

Deliver Custom Ads: Not only do chatbots actually help customers with issues, these programs can also deliver ads. Unlike with phone systems, chatbots are sophisticated enough to deliver personalized ads to the right customer, thus increasing the chance of a conversion.

If you want to learn more about how to improve the customer experience at your company, you can make an inquiry at CBS-CBS.com.

Does Your Business Need to Change Course?

A while back, a CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultant advised a printing business that needed to change direction. Our consultant took the owner through a learning process so she could move her business forward. It can be difficult to say when your business needs to change course. Keep in mind that no business stays the same, ever. So even if you don’t like it, as markets fluctuate, your business may need to take a turn for the better. Here are several glaring signs that your business immediately needs to change course:

Slow Growth: It’s fine if the growth numbers for your company are not always inching upwards. Most companies go through periods of slow growth. However, the company should be able to overcome these slow growth periods. Compare your growth trajectory to that of your competitors. It should not be perpetually facing downwards. If slow growth is a prolonged issue at your company, then it’s time to reevaluate your goals and adapt a new strategy.

Challenges from Smaller Competitors: If the smaller competitors your business may have ignored in the past are looking like actual threats, then that should set off warning alarms. A smaller company can surpass yours if growth is severely lagging. It should be an indicator that your business is losing its competitive edge and should change course immediately to thrive in the future.

Low Customer Satisfaction Numbers: Nothing is more indicative of a need to change than low customer satisfaction numbers. While negative reviews, complaints, and low ratings are to be expected, the majority of the feedback your company receives must primarily be positive. Your company should continuously receive a lot of customer feedback. If feedback is declining, or is increasingly becoming negative, then it indicates an even worse fate: insignificance of your brand.

If your business faces any of the above problems, then it’s time to change course. Suddenly changing the trajectory of a business is not easy. It requires a solid plan. But first, you should seek advice from a CBS-CBS.com consultant to identify the underlying issues that are causing growth or sales problems at your business. After careful scrutiny, the consultant will be able to present you with a proposal for changing course and becoming competitive again.

How to Use LinkedIn, According to Its Founder

If you add every LinkedIn request you get, even the ones from complete strangers, then you are using the social network wrong, according to Reid Hoffman, the founder of the site. LinkedIn is the most popular social networking platform for professionals. CBS Corporate Business Solutions highly recommends owners of B2B small businesses to have a LinkedIn profile.

Hoffman’s advice about using the site comes from Keith Ferrazzi, the author of “Never Eat Alone.” Ferrazzi once met Hoffman, who gave him a golden piece of advice about using the site. As the anecdote goes, Hoffman encourages users to make “meaningful” connections on the site. Rather than add every friend request, as you would on Facebook, Hoffman suggests asking this question before accepting a connect request: Could this person introduce me? If the answer is no, then it’s best to ignore the request.

The point of having a LinkedIn profile is to make connections with mutual benefit. Mainly, it’s a great platform for initiating introductions with long-lasting business benefits. For B2B business, LinkedIn is a great place to find new clients.

Here are several other ways to make connections on LinkedIn:

Update Your Profile: Make sure your profile has a very professional and compelling headline. This is the most commonly read part of your LinkedIn profile. If it needs updating, then promptly do so.

Include a Picture: Do not leave the profile picture section blank. Also, do not upload brand logos or any other picture that is not a professional headshot of you. Most LinkedIn users look at the profile picture, so make sure you have a highly appealing one uploaded.

Use Keywords: It’s perfectly acceptable to use keywords relevant to your line of business on the profile, especially in the headline. However, the keywords must be inserted very naturally.

Upload Details of Your Resume: Upload professional details of your work experience that doesn’t fit in your resume on LinkedIn. Use the blank spaces to fill out job descriptions. A potential client interested in your business may look up your LinkedIn profile, therefore it’s important to stay as detailed as possible.

Want more advice on how to improve your company’s social media presence? Contact us at CBS-CBS.com.

Reasons Your Business May Fail

Some businesses do fail. Most owners do not want to imagine a scenario where their business might actually fail. While this is understandable, consultants with Corporate Business Solutions encourage business owners to imagine scenarios that may lead to failure. It’s important to keep failure in mind when running a business to avoid making a fatal mistake. Here are several situations to keep an eye on that usually cause small businesses to fail:

Not tracking cash flow – Many small businesses we review track sales, but not the cash flow. A business owner should always know how to predict the cash needs of the business going forward. Now, sales might have increased, but how did that affect the cash flow? Some businesses increase sales and also other expenses along with it, which can result in a cash crunch. If your business is not tracking monthly cash flow, then it could be on the way to failure by not being able to pay all expenses when they are due, including payroll.  If you can’t pay your bills on time, it can lead to punitive actions by suppliers which can have a snow ball effect on the business.

Spending too much on products – We do not recommend businesses invest on a product, service or infrastructure on the basis of “hopium”.  Business investments must be based on realistic sales numbers which indicate the market worthiness of the product or service. Businesses should develop minimum-risk products first. Then, make sure the product is actually profitable before proceeding to further investments.

Overspending on appearance – Appearances are important in the business world. But it can also get out of hand. More often than not, small business owners tend to overspend on leasing office space at fancy addresses, buying expensive furniture, sending partners on over-the-top business trips, and the list goes on. Spending a lot just to appear successful could lead to serious debt. Failure to control costs is one of the most common reasons small businesses fail. We recommend keeping things humble until the company actually has solid sales numbers to justify additional expenses.

Avoiding business taxes – Small businesses must be aware of all taxes related to running a business, such as payroll taxes. Avoid the temptation to solve cash flow problems by not paying payroll taxes on time. Failure to pay taxes can lead to costly penalties and could even lead to a shuttering of your business.

Overpromising – Do not promise customers or partners things you cannot deliver. Your company will be expected to deliver as promised, and if you cannot, the business will not survive.

Afraid that your business may go broke or fail due to any reason? Contact us at CBS-CBS.com to fix the problems and ensure the continual survival of your company.

 

How Restaurants Can Improve Employee Performance

The food service sector is one of the toughest industries to run a business in. Competition is high, and without a watchful eye, costs can run amok. CBS Corporate Business Solutions can help restaurant owners improve productivity with business reviews. Owners of the restaurants we have reviewed are quite concerned about employee efficiency. Business places like restaurants are highly dependent on employee performance. Inefficient employees can ruin customer service and drive up costs. Here are several tips our consultants recommend for restaurants that want to improve employee efficiency:

Provide Clear Instructions – If you want your employees to perform as you intend, vague instructions or directions will not deliver the results you desire. It’s important to make sure employees know what’s expected of them. Explain clearly which tasks employees must be carried out each day, the performance standards you expect for the employee, and how quickly the task needs to be done.  One of the foundations to the work we do for our clients is to develop the methods, systems and controls needed to operate a restaurant both efficiently and profitably.

Avoid Micromanaging – While it’s important to give clear instructions, it’s equally important to avoid micromanaging. No one likes it. Also, micromanagement leads to a “wait to be told” work culture, where the employer has to direct everything. A productive workplace has employees who can take the initiative. So, train employees well so they don’t always have to be told what to do.  When the proper systems are put in place, employees know what is expected of them.  In addition, employees have a clear understanding of what they need to do to be accountable.  Moreover, businesses which are system- dependent are more successful than those which are people-dependent.  The proper systems allow management to have more control.

Reward Good Performance – Reprimanding bad performance but never rewarding good performance can leave employees confused about the service that’s expected of them. If an employee does a really good job, it’s important to let them know you appreciate a job well done. Rewards can boost morale and also motivate others to improve their own performance.

Understand Their Work-Life Balance Needs – Overworking employees often leads to bad performance. It’s important for employers to understand that employees require sufficient time to spend with their families. So don’t force people to take on extra shifts or work on holidays. Seek willing employees to take on the extra shifts, when needed.  A respect for work-life balance will improve employee satisfaction and lead to better performance.

Make sure the employees you hire are well trained and have the necessary tools to carry out their jobs.

Unsure about whether your restaurant workforce is performing as well as they should? Contact us at CBS-CBS.com to get an affordable performance review.

How to Cut Costs at a Small Retail Business

Corporate Business Solutions provides management advice and cost reduction strategies for small retail businesses, among a host of other services. Retail businesses fail more often than not due to excessive expenses. Even retail giants like Wal-Mart and Macy’s have faced this dilemma. It’s important to start early to prevent a potential disaster if expenses are out of control. Here are several tips, gleaned from our years of experience, for reducing costs and managing finances better at your small retail business:

Automate inventory management – Automation is reducing costs for businesses in many different sectors. Retail is definitely one of the biggest sectors to benefit from new technology. In recent years, manual inventory management has gotten quite expensive. Some outlets have found budget success by switching to cloud-based software. According to one study, using cloud-based programs saved some retailers about 30 percent of operational costs. We know from experience that retail outlets, especially inherited ones, are quite stubborn regarding adopting modern practices. However, we highly recommend switching to new ways of managing inventory to significantly reduce costs.

Outsource non-core business tasks – If there’s room to outsource certain tasks or activities at your retail business, do so without hesitation. For example, if you need a writer to come up with product descriptions, hire a freelance writer, not a full-time employee. Small tasks not related to the core of your business, like graphic design, can be outsourced to save money, and in some cases, time. Outsourcing has other benefits too, such as getting expert advice in an area your staff is unfamiliar.

Go virtual and pay low rent – Thinking about expanding your office? We highly recommend switching partly to a virtual office instead. Virtual workplaces allow employees to connect with each other regardless of where they are located. Some parts of your business will probably require a physical office. You can pay low rent for a small physical office for the core group members and host other employees over a virtual office. You can also consider hosting virtual storerooms and the like to save money on actually leasing a showroom. For example, Audi, the car brand uses virtual showrooms in select locations to save money.

Of course, each business has unique needs. If you contact us at CBS-CBS.com, we can evaluate your company’s expenses and recommend cost-cutting measures as part of a long-term financial strategy.

Getting a Small Business Valuation

Small business owners often do not have any reliable way to determine how much their company is worth. There is always a ceiling for valuations, but the number is important for tax purposes, investments, and estate planning and inheritance situations.

Business valuation involves getting an assessment of finances and intellectual property a company owns. Calculating how much a small business is worth can be tricky. Most small business owners try to come up with an estimate on their own, only to find out that the processes involved can be complicated and unreliable. But there can be a method to madness. You can hire an expert evaluator, like the professionals working at Corporate Business Solutions. In addition, it’s worthwhile to know that the business valuations involve the following:

Recreate Costing – One of the popular tools used to value businesses is this method called cost recreation. This involves sit calculating all costs it would take another person to start the owner’s business. Costs will be replicated for marketing, buying inventory, office rent or lease and hiring staff. This method is relatively easy to do, but it is not necessarily scientifically accurate.

Market Comparison – A more investor-friendly approach is the “market principle” method, where a company is valued based on how much other companies of similar size and capacity are worth based on numerical figures. For example, if a business twice the size of yours sold for a million in the market, you can value your company based on that.

Multiplying Earnings – This method values businesses based on current and future earnings. If you expect your profits to increase, you can value your business by taking into account future expected increase in earnings.

Business valuations can be complicated for small businesses and should be done by a certified business valuation expert with the proper valuation credentials recognized by the industry. We highly recommend hiring professionals to get an accurate valuation of your business who have the proper credentials. The pros at CBS Corporate Business Solutions can help your small business obtain a valuation that investors can trust.

Tax Tips for Small Businesses

Planning a good tax strategy is crucial for running a small business. Our experts at Corporate Business Solutions routinely offer professional help for smaller companies to develop a sound tax strategy for the long term through one of our affiliated companies which specialize in strategic tax planning. While it’s highly recommended that small business owners hire an knowledgeable firm with experience in strategic tax planning to develop a tax plan, there are some things the owners should also do. Here are several easy tax tips all small business owners should follow:

Track All Expenses – Do not forget to keep very close track of all business expenses for the whole year. Keep a record of expenses regardless of how small they are. You should record income and expenditures as soon as they happen, so you don’t forget to do so in a timely manner.

Keep Business and Personal Expenses Separate – This may sound like a no brainer, but some small businesses often struggle to keep up with this fundamental rule. Small companies are informal atmospheres. So it’s easy to get personal expenses mixed in with business ones. But avoid doing so at all costs. It can complicate your tax strategy. In addition, failure to keep personal and business expenses separate is one of the key issues which can allow a person suing the company to pierce the corporate veil to go after personal assets in collecting on a legal judgment.

Offer Social Benefits to Employees – Offering care benefits to employees, like health and dental, can actually reduce the tax burden for small companies. Therefore, worker fringe benefits should be considered as part of an overall compensation plan.

Get Trainee Deductions – The tax code allows businesses to deduct certain educational expenses needed to train employees and improve overall skills in the workplace. You can get tax deductions for things like attending seminars and fees spend for conventions.

Take Mileage Deduction over Auto Expenses – Mileage deduction is more advantageous especially when gas prices go high. So, if you are facing a choice between mileage deduction and an auto expense deduction on your form, consider the benefit of choosing mileage.

Donate Unused Inventory for a Deduction – If you have unsold inventory, donate it to a recognized charity instead of storing it in a costly way. Small businesses can claim tax deductions for donated inventory. Do keep thorough records of donated inventory because documentation is needed to get the deduction.

The above are a handful of simple things you can do to reduce the tax burden at your small business. Contact a CBS Corporate Business Solutions expert to develop a more comprehensive tax strategy for your company.