Author Archives: Mike Bayes

About Mike Bayes

My One Call LLC is a Sales Acceleration Firm based in the Denver Area.

Cash Flow Engineering. Optimizing Your Profits. (Construction)

The following is the written plan for a work shop given on Cash Flow Engineering.

“An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics, and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical, societal and commercial problems. Engineers design materials, structures, and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost.[1][2]The word engineer is derived from the Latin roots ingeniare (“to contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”).

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“Engineering (from Latin ingenium) is the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to invent, design, build, maintain, and improve structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes.”

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Cash Flow Engineering is the process of applying known mathematics and industry Knowledge to apply solutions that provide consistent, and predictable Cash flow in a scientific and proven methodology that combines both financial reporting and operational implementation. It’s result is to increase profit and reduce risk for construction companies.

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Cash Flow Engineering has two very important parts:

 

1.) The knowledge and information of key areas of your finances that impact profits

2.) The implementation of real automated AND human processes that map the operations for profit.

What’s missed in 90% of the businesses we work with is this integration – Automation with process. We all take blueprints seriously in the actual physical building of a home or  large construction project, yet we consistently work with sloppy financial tools which  drive the physical process.

The fact is nothing good happens in business (or life) without it being a Intelligent thought first. Nothing in this room arrived without the fuel of Intelligence, and the implementation of that thought process.  The table you’re sitting at …  was engineered with the right information and started with intelligence.  The lighting, the ceiling and the roof… even the door you walked through, all started as an idea, and was engineered with good information, the right tools and experience… for profit.

So why don’t we “engineer” our profit? Profit like anything physical is just the manifestation of good thought process and knowledge into a “real” thing by using the best tools available.

 

Anyone feel profit isn’t real?  Just like everything you are surrounded by in this room, profit is just as real and can be engineered. We call it Cash Flow engineering.  

Components of Cash Flow Engineering

- Intelligence.  You need expertise

- Thought Process..  you need experience

- Tools… you need automation and process

- Implementation… you need systems

- Reporting…  you need accurate numbers

What we deliver to clients is the automated system, and much of the broader Intelligence needed to insure profits, mitigate risk, and sleep much better at night, through a predictable and consistent Cash FLow system we call Cash Flow engineering.

Detailed thought process……How many of you know…  

where to get a building permit?

What the average wage is for a framer

What the average square foot cost is for the projects you build?

 

Broader Inteligence:

How many of you know:

The industry average cost of marketing?  Are you spending more or less than the competition?

What the industry and local average Net profit is for a company like yours.

 

What is your critical mass quarterly to survive?

WHat percent of your gross your overhead needs to be to make the right amount of profit?

 

What’s your monthly break even amount?

 

What is your net profit on projects that cash flow after your break even amount

 

How to calculate a 18% margin on job that costs 100K?

 

What margins you need on all jobs to make a reasonable profit.

 

What  is your cash flow on every job, every week

 

This is the larger Intelligence that is nearly impossible to have unless you have worked with 100’s of home builders and contractors, and managed billions of dollars in Cash Flow over the years.

 

The most misunderstood value a company brings to the market… is Intelligence, experience and the tools to build with.

 

Any of you ever witnessed an idiot as a competitor?  Notice how quickly they disappear?

 

In Cash FLow engineering… you view every dollar spent as an investment.  And if you can pay out a dollar… that returns $1.25 that year, you’d be throwing every dollar you could find at it.

 

In fact… your labor is an investment and must return a percentage.

Your marketing is an investment that must produce a return on the dollars spent.  

Your Financial management should be the same.  You should EXPECT a profit on that cost.

 

That’s what cash flow engineering provides… a profit on the financial management of your company. Our average client, using cash flow engineering see’s a 2-3% increase in (NET?)  profits.

That can be a 10% to 30% increase !  

 

So for the next 70 minutes or so I’d ask you to change your thought process from this old fashion view of profit

 

(Pyramid with profit on top)

 

To this

 

Pyramid with Profit as foundation

 

Profit isn’t a result, its a plan

What you will learn today:

Importance of Cash Flow

What Is Cash Flow Engineering

How to implement it in the 4 areas of operations

 

But first lets talk briefly about Cash Flow in general…

Point One:  Every large Successful company has a CFO who has  one main responsibility,  to insure consistent and Predictable cash flow.  Some of you may as well, but in many cases its just not economically feasible to pay a CFO 200K  a year.  Cash flow engineering gives you this function, at tiny percentage of the cost of a CFO.  And…  it doesn’t need a staff, or an office , or an expense account!

 

So, if you all would allow me to, I’d like to apply to be your CFO or CFO assistant for the next 70 minutes, and tell you how I (or your current CFO)  can and will deliver Predictable and Consistent Cash Flow and turn your accounting and bookkeeping into a partner that makes you more money.

 

everybody okay with that?  Thank you!

 

As your CFO…Let’s talk about…

 

a Commonality of successful Construction Firms.

 

In our experience, THey all have  trusted advisors in key disciplines. The owners or senior managers play this role on operations, and sometimes sales and marketing. But you see a void many times in the finance area.  Remember… 33% of your net profit is a result of each area. And that experience is a key component of success in any area.

 

Ask The group – What are the key disciplines of your business?

 

( write on board)      Operations, Sales/marketing/ Financial Management  (any others)

 

Now you can define if each area is doing a good job by asking these questions:

 

Operations:

Are jobs completed on time.

Are customers Happy  

any other questions the group can think of ?  Write them down

 

Sales and MArketing:

You have a steady flow of projects and leads

You close an acceptable rate

The leads you get are for the right type of customer

Any others?

 

Finance:

You always know how much money you have in the bank

Youre always collecting money BEFORE work is performed

You never worry about making a payroll

You know how much is going out and how much is coming in very week, without guessing

You make profit on every job, and you don’t have surprises come up that bring down your profit

Any others?

Now please take a look at your first page of our handout  and take a few minutes to answer the questions on the what’s working and what’s not page.

 

(give them 2 or 3 minutes to do this)

Then… okay, now quickly

Rate yourself and your company in each area 1-10

 

Sales/Marketing  1-10

Operations   1-10

Finance   1-10

Done?  Good…

 

I want to give you a formula you’ll be using in a second to figure out how much money you can add to your bottom line by using cash flow engineering as your CFO or to assist your CFO.

 

In construction your net profits will basically reflect your

expertise in the three disciplines…  

 

So lets take a look at your answers… and figure each discipline will be contributing 33% of your profits., if your answer in that area is at least an 8.

 

On the next page you can see a worksheet that you fill out.

 

Assume 100K in profits  or add your own numbers from last year, or projected for this year.

 

I’ll use 100K  because its easy…

 

Profit: 100,000

 

The reality is any score below a 5 is probably costing you ALL of that area’s contribution to profit. Any score between 5-7  is probably costing you 50% of that area’s contribution.

How many had anything below an 8 in operations?

In Sales and MArketing?

In finance?

 

On your worksheet…  take your gross profit and now subtract either 16%  or 33%  of the dollars as lost profit due to underperformance in that area.

 

at 100K  thats 16,000  or $33,000. And I hope most of you are doing much more than that!  

 

Another way to look at this lost opportunity is to figure out how much additional gross revenue you will need to make those same dollars.  So, If your lost opportunity in Finance is $35000,  You will need to sale build and complete an extra $350,000. in  projects to make up for that.

And by the way, if you’re doing 1,200,000  a year…. your net had better be 100K, or something is very very wrong.

The entire point of this is for all of us to recognize that each area of your business has a profit opportunity, IF it’s run well.  And in construction companies,  Finance is generally the area that the managers have the least amount of experience or knowledge in, and especially when it comes to how to make money using Finance.

 

Thats why I’ve spent the last 7 years figuring out the CASH FLow Engineering system for you…

 

Cash Flow Engineering is this:

 

1.) The knowledge and information of key areas of your finances that impact profit…

 

2.) The implementation of real automated AND human processes that map the operations for profit.

It works to engineer the 4 major components of operations that makes up your profits

 

1 Bids or estimates….

2 Job Cost Tracking

3 Progress tracking and reporting

4. Change orders or exceptions

 

Cash Flow Engineering  is a process that combines operational systems with financial reporting and awareness, which insures a profit on every Job.

 

Now, as your CFO  I’d like to show you how each component should be engineered to assure profit

Lets look at

 

Estimating and Pricing:

 

The most common mistakes I’ve seen in Estimating are:

 

Each mistake causes a builder to start losing money… from the VERY beginning!

 

So.. we engineer your estimating process to automatically safeguard your project against these problems!  Doing this with automated tools is the best system. It removes a bunch of mistakes, and saves a ton of time.  

 

Pricing slides here  Jeff insert your slides here on pricing and estimating.  Remeber.. its about the process…  

 

10 minutes

 

Lets look at the Principles of Cash Flow Engineered Pricing for estimates and why they will make you money.

 

(  Explain and then show screen shots of our CashFLO software to use as an example

 

At the end ask… Can you see how just this can make a business more money?  Right!  And thats what Cashflow engineering does for the estimating process…

 

It is the result of good information…  good tools and experience

 

( Margin exercise here?)  Jeff insert one slide on Margins. ONE!

 

I can’t move on today without giving you one exercise that might change your business for the better forever if you fail.  So don’t worry about a grade here.

 

Write down three costs:

100K

200K

300K

 

Write down how you would calculate a margin of 30% on each one, and what that number + 30% margin is.

 

Wait…

Ask for answers.

 

some will be right… some will be wrong.  

 

Explain BRIEFLY how a margin is calculated….  and have the margin slide up.

 

Ask… can you see how important this is in your pricing and estimating.

 

Pricing and estimating is the foundation of profit, and doing it with the right tools, the correct information and intelligently is what cash flow engineering is about. I built a software that does this for you, or you can do it yourself. In our business, we do all the backend work, so your job is to just use the tool.

Lets look at the second component:  Job Cost tracking!

 

As your CFO… I see Job cost tracking as taking your final estimate, and tracking your performance against that profit goal.  It’s not something you should review at the end of a job as a report card… with cash flow engineering you see the profit of every job every week, and you will know if you are on track, or need to make changes. And you will know in 5 minutes per job or less.

 

Question: How many of know exactly where each project you build stands from a cash flow basis every week.  Are you making money, or losing money… right then?  

 

Get answers….

 

In cash flow engineering you should never be cash negative …  never.

 

Here’s a little example of the intelligence we use in cash flow engineering

 

(Screen shot of dash board)

 

Go through ONE job dashboard.  Just the dash board.  Use one that is not doing well.

 

HOw do we do this?

Information

Intelligence

a tool

and an operational relationship… you seeing it and acting on it as a process.

 

Lets talk briefly about  the principles we use in Job costing…

 

Jeff use your slide(s) here. No more than two.  no more than 5 minutes.

 

So can you see how a well engineered job costing system can make you money?  Knowing what’s happening at any step in a project?

 

Question….Tell me how you could use this information?

Great….  

BUT  as we all know they are challenges that come up during any job…  unless anyone here never has a change order or a scheduling problem on any projects?  Anyone?

 

Lets look at how Cash Flow engineering automates and integrates a process to handle these opportunities using intelligent thought process, automation  and the a system.

 

But first…  would someone share how they handle change orders, or exceptions now?  In other words—  how do you know a cost that was on the estimated went over the plan?  Say your electrical cost was based on 10K, but the bill is 13K.  How and when would you know, and what would you do?

 

Get answers… and brief discussion

 

Great…  As your CFO, let me walk you through a Cash Flow engineered system, that is automated and allows us , if you implement it, to never lose a penny of profit using job cost tracking.

 

Jeff insert Two Slides here on Job Costing, and a screenshot of

our Job Costing in Cash Flow.

Walk them through it  3- 5 minutes

 

( Job Tracking will go along the same lines….  starting with a question to the group  and then into the cash flow engineering slides of your choice as related to scheduling)

 

Closing:

A summary of the importance of Intelligence, thought process and system are to profit

 

A example of a client using cash flow….  success!

 

THanks for allowing me to be your CFO this morning.  I hope it’s been valuable… and I want to let you know how we can actually work together if you like.

 

We have three ways-

The full day CFO financial check up. I’ll will spend a day doing…..

with you…  at the end of that day you’ll have an actionable plan to make more money. I only have one spot a week, so you need to speak to us today to schedule it.

 

We also have a quick one hour review…  a get to know you better session where we ( details)

 

And, if you’re ready, we can discuss a performance based  accounting/bookkeeping  and cash flow engineering service. And yes, we can do everything for you including the Intelligence, tools, and implementation. BUT  only if you are ready to commit to higher profits.  Talk to us today to schedule a meeting.

Google Hang Outs Now Available From Your Web Site

This is Important! >>>>>

This is Important! >>>>>

Google disrupts customer service industry

Did Google just disrupt the disruptors?  The
 tech giant recently announced that it is 
offering the technology for a button that will launch a Google hangout directly from a 
company website.  

 Hangouts is Google's name for its 
videoconferencing service that allow several 
people to join the same video chat from multiple devices, including smartphones. 

  A related service, Hangouts on Air, allows a video conference to be recorded directly to 
Youtube.   Originally a part of its Google+ 
social network, it has since spun off into a standalone service.  

The service was announced on the official 
enterprise blog for Google posted by Stephen 
Cho, Head of Google Apps and Hangouts Technology Partnerships  "With this new Hangouts 
button, apps everywhere will let colleagues, 
partners, and customers meet face-to-face
 anytime, anywhere, and work more effectively together with just one click" Cho explained, "A number of our early partners have already 
enriched their applications with Hangouts".   He specifically mentioned several of their 
partners in the sales and customer service space, "Sales reps working in Salesforce.com can automatically kick off a Hangout with their 
account team through Esna; in myERP, a sales 
rep can start a video meeting with any 
customer prospect.    Zendesk helps support
 agents start a Hangout to consult with other agents and internal staff, while Freshdesk lets a customer service agent Hangout with a customer to quickly resolve support issues".

The hangout start button can be configured by any moderately skilled developer and let you 
specify if it starts up a text chat, a video 
call, a video conference or a recorded on Hangout on Air.   Since the customer has control
 of their own camera settings, this 
essentially allows for deployment of an Amazon Mayday- like customer service button on any 
website or app allowing customers to see and 
communicate with the representative, whether they are using their video camera or not.

It seems that Google has once again put a 
disruptive game-changer on the market.   
As described by the CITEworld blog  
http://goo.gl/KlurVp "Pretty much everybody 
has access to Google Hangouts, and Google is
 letting anybody embed the button. Obviously, you lose some of the really deep functionality for customer service agents to go hands-on 
with customers that Salesforce offers, but 
it's definitely more lightweight and almost 
certainly easier to deploy in an application. 

  There's a move towards using collaboration 
and chat technology for better customer 
service. It's going to be really interesting 
to see if Google Hangouts gets further built
 out as an enterprise offering with that kind of service as the focus".

What will this free application do to the 
large number of startups and small software 
companies have developed similar fee-based 
applications?   No one really knows, but the 
news can't be good.   They will likely either have to either adjust and offer more value
 added services, or incorporate the technology into their own offering.   Clearly this is a development in the customer service technology industry that cannot be ignored.

Companies like www.teledini.com, a client of 
ours seem to like the news.  It will bring 
further viability to WebRTC  and Video applications.

Want To Sell More? Look To Product Development First

Sales is not about convincing people who do not want your service to buy it. Sales is about finding the people who do want your service and letting them buy it.

Odd that this premise is so overlooked in business. I’ve worked with 100’s of small and medium business owners or senior managers who really didn’t get this. And it can be a fatal flaw to a company.

Sales

There is a complete misunderstanding of what a salesperson/group/ division is capable of. I’ve worked with owners of multimillion dollar companies, who really think the simple act of hiring a professional sales person means that sales person should now be able to convert most (or at least a decent amount) of prospects by using the magic they have learned throughout their career, no matter how good a fit the service or product is, no matter the position of the product in the marketplace, no matter the branding of the product. In the mind of the less informed, a sales rep can sell anything.

Add to that the natural and common tendency for owners to have a higher regard for their offering than the market itself, as well as the common optimistic early sales projections and outlook communicated by the new sales force, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

I should note that I have worked with sales people who can sell anything, but they are very rare, and they generally produce much lower customer loyalty. Perhaps these are the salespeople owners are thinking of when their expectations are that a “sales person” can sell anything.

The solution is a well thought out sales and marketing assessment before you go and buy the farm. And this is tricky, because the reality is marketing is primarily responsible for identifying the target market (People who will like your service) finding out how to reach them , and then attracting them to your sales group or funnel.

Yet most companies I have worked with don’t have a budget or an understanding of how these two key disciplines must work together to achieve success. So they put all their dollars in one or the other, or severely under budget one.

So if you buy into this premise, the fundamental success of sales for you company starts with product development. A good sales rep can’t sell a product that is hard to use, or poorly designed. A good sales rep can sell a product that is easy to use, and has a clear advantage for their target market.

So working relentlessly on improving what you sell, will do more for driving sales than anything else you can do.

After that, you must have a marketing machine to get the service in view of the right buyers. Once that is accomplished, sales comes into play. Sales is the last piece of the sales process, following product development and improvement and then marketing.

So if you’re struggling with sales, perhaps where you should be looking for answers is in your product or service offering, or are you asking your salesperson to be both your marketing department and sales department.

By: Mike Bayes

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Lead Generation Is Easy (Not)

Building a Lead Generation Program Is Easy (NOT).

So… I’m asked all the time how to build sales for a business. Should I do Social Media, SEO, Advertising, Direct sales, all of that.

I think the first point to start with any “sales” program is the understanding of one very important principle. So to get to that lets start with this question which is this: Sales starts with and goes no where without what?

There are many good answers to this, you might say..

- A great product, – A sales person, – An offer, – Marketing dollars, and on and on.

But the pragmatic answer is this: Sales go nowhere without “leads”. A lead is a business or person who has been qualified as a prospect AND expressed interest in what ever it is you sale.

This is Important! >>>>>

This is Important! >>>>>

Lead Generation is hard

Now here is the second principle you must understand….Lead Generation is hard, expensive, and can be very painful. That’s why “inbound Marketing” has become such a big tactic. Inbound marketing whispers the promise of easy leads being sent to your inbox, ready for your sales rep to close.

The mistake in this concept is that Inbound Marketing is HARD, expensive and can be painful. like any other form of lead generation, it just has a prettier face.

So if you want to build sales, you have to understand, it’s going to either cost money, or it’s going to take all your time (if you’re a small company).

How much money depends on your service or product, and market. To get the picture on how you should budget (or spend) on sales (and 30% to 50% of that should be in lead generation) you need to understand there are different type sales strategies and customers. Depending on your growth strategy, and your tactics have a everything to do with the cost.

If you’re in a sustain mode, relying on referrals and luck, then your budget is tiny because it costs very little to acquire referred customers.

If you want new “open market” customers, that’s a completely new game. And these new customers are your growth group. You have to sell to them in a completely different way. They don’t know you, so you have to establish trust in the relationship. That takes time and money.

So here is a simple formula you might consider. A new market customer will cost you at least 15% of your Gross revenue. So if you sell $2500. Web sites, a new market customer will cost $325. Also understand that that’s 15% of a new sale, not 15% of your gross revenue. If your revenue is evenly split between referred customers and open market customers (a nice healthy mix), your budget is 7.5% of all revenue. That’s why the first few years of a business is so tough! Your cost of sale is twice to three times what your established competitions is.

The thing that really stops most companies from investing that 15% is the fact that it’s money up front, and it takes time to get the return. If you want 10 new customers in a quarter (or a day, its all just math) you are going to have to invest $3250.00 , it may take 6 months to see the total first stage results (First stage is the original prospect buys, second stage is when they refer others).

So if you have an ongoing program, you’re into the budget $3250 time 6 months before the first months return is final. Ouch! That’s why most start up sales programs don’t have a positive return until the 9th month.

if you do it wrong (which is easy to do) it’s throwing your money away. So you can start to see the pain… it’s hard, and it’s temporarily expensive. Not only that, but if you do it wrong (which is easy to do) it’s throwing your money away. And the first way to do it wrong is by NOT focusing on lead generation first.

For small companies without a sales department or person, you are going to have to outsource your lead generation. Sorry, no choice if you want to grow. You’re also going to need to put some dollars into it. So if you don’t have 15% of the expected new revenue ready to spend, your not ready. If you want to add $1,000,000.00 in sales in the next 3 to 12 months, you need $150,000.00 in funds. Sorry, that’s the truth. And of that 30% to 50% should be in lead generation.

The bottom line in a successful lead generation campaign is this: If you don’t have the money, it’s not going to work 95% of the time.

So if you do have the money or time where should you spend it for the best return on Investment? Well, that’s a whole new subject, which I will write about soon. But, here’s a big hint, you should start with Lead Generation.

You can generate leads with:

Social media campaigns managed by a professional firm with a great track record.

• Search Engine Optimization
• Email campaigns that drive qualified prospects to euth your site, or your online presentations
• Advertising on any media
• Trade shows
• Direct sales
• Co-op marketing
• Networking
• Referral programs

And a bunch of other tactics. All of which, falls under business development, because any of those tactics have to be implemented well, and will need to be integrated with other parts of your business to be successful.

That’s what I do with companies. What I call business development. And that starts with assessing budgets, strategies and tactics to be uses, and finding decent measurement metrics and tools.

It’s hard, it’s expensive, and it’s painful at times. It’s also the way 95% of businesses grow, and owners become wealthy.

Your choice is to recognize the challenges, and do nothing, or boldly go where few small businesses go, which is find the money and courage to grow.

How to become a thought leader in the area of social media and content creation, or how to Blog like a rock star like Miley Cyrus

If you are going to become all of that you better understand what it means:

(Thanks to https://plus.google.com/u/0/110456355529414581848  Laurie Varga for getting this going,)  Follow her, she’s  a Rock Star super ninja!!

Thought leaders: These are people who have decided to lead through blogs and articles versus real life accomplishments or actions.

Portrait of Socrates. Marble, Roman artwork (1...

Influencers: These people need you to be under the influence of one substance or another to read or hear their 15 minutes presentation , and then sell you books from the back of the room.

Rock Stars:  Unless you sell out stadiums at $125.00 per ticket you are not one of these.

PHP Rock Stars

 

 

Ninja:  Narcissistic SEO practitioners who use vernacular to first sell results  and the to defend  them.

Semantic: It was the best of times it was the worst of times.  Please, who started this!

Content creation:  A title used on a blog to attract undue attention. As if its as important as having a baby. Seriously.  Just write good stuff, and please don’t write about content creation.

Work/life balance:  No such thing. Grow up, get a job.  Have fun.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monthly SEO Check and Web Presence maintenance

Monthly SEO Check and Web Presence maintenance.

From time to time we are asked what we do monthly to check on a web sites SEO status. So, instead of boring you with a narrative I thought we would just post some of the instructions I give to our SEO people. It’s in no way completely inclusive, but if you want to D.I.Y this is a good guide.

On Site:Home Page and Main keyword page.

- Meta Tags:  The Title and Description

Google Web Toolkit

  • Does it contain the keyword(s))

  • Does one of the two contain a local intent keyword if a local company.

  • Find the meta tags by right clicking on a blank part of the page. Click on “page source”  A new page will open.

- Does the home page have a G+ icon that goes to the business G+ profile?

If not, refer them to this link on how to add a business page: http://www.google.com/+/business/

Mention that when the Business profile is complete, they should add the G+ badge to their home page. Instructions are in the G+ business page information.

- Does the home page have at least one out bound (external Link) to a high authority site? Example:  Check our B.B.B. ratings and a link to their B.B.B. page

- Does the site have good quality content?

Google 貼牌冰箱(Google Refrigerator)

Internal pages should be added from time to time, and a page from the main navigation should have at least 700 + words.  The information should be useful and well written.

- Does the site have a Blog?  If yes, is there new valuable content on the blog? Are blog titles used that will be easy for the search engines to identify what the blog post is about. Are they using a SEO plug in for a word press blog.

- No blog?  Add one. They can pay content writers to produce blogs. (average cost $70 to $129.00) or write their own.

Site Structure: Is the navigation clear and using a silo system for main search topics ?

Site Load Time:Does the site load in an acceptable time.  Check GWT  for speed test.

NAP (Name, Address, Phone)

Does the site clearly display the local businesses Name address and phone number on the homepage and contact form.  Suggest they use http://schema.org  mark up for their address. Their web master can do this very quickly.

If its a local company are they using a local number? Add one if they are using a n 800 number.

Google Web Master: Is there a current site map on G.A.?

Reputation Management:

Search for business name on Google.

Check all first page results for any positive or negative reviews.

Here’s what you find under My One Call LLC

What ever review sites show up (Google, Yelp, Youtube)  you should encourage the web owner to ask for more positive reviews on those sites and make them aware of any non positive mentions or reviews.

MOZ Rankings: Go to MOZ.com and log in.

Run an open explorer report on the main URL. Note and communicate the Page Authority, and Number of links. Down load a monthly back link report.

Competitive assessment:  Search for their main keyword and city (if Local)  Note the top ranked sites.  Make a note of the top three. (do not include directories)

Go to moz.com open Site Explorer.  Add top three competitors to “compare link Metrics ”Copy report to client.

Run Open Site Explorer for the top three sites. Look for linking opportunities.

Provide a brief summary of work completed this month or period.

Social Mentions

Continued Web site presence on My One Call LLC sites

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By Mike Bayes

My Google Plus Profile: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MikeBayes/about

More about us www.salesjumpstart.net

Want to learn more about Google Plus and promoting your business?

Try these two G+ Guru’s (my words not theirs)

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JesseWojdylo/posts

Stephan Hovnanian is a true G+ Master! https://plus.google.com/+StephanHovnanian/posts

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Using Google+ Communities for Business

Have you ever considered building an online community for your business?   There are many ways to do this- from building and hosting your own using open source software to using an online community builder or building one with tools on the existing social networks – Facebook and Linkedin, for example, both have offerings in this area.

One of the newest, and potentially most significant players in this market is Google.   First launched in December of 2012 Google Communities provided an easy set-up, but a minimal feature set.   It had the advantage, however, of a large audience of potentially interested members, having been built as an integral part of Google+.   I have built several communities on Google+ – including one with over 20,000 members, so I know some of the ins and outs of this technology and would like to help save you some time and do what I can to help your community be a success should you decide to build one.

English: Google+ wordmark

English: Google+ wordmark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

First, it is important to understand the difference between what Google calls “communities” – but goes by many names in the industry (“Groups” on Facebook other services, “online forums” with some other technologies) and a “page”.  A page is a way of promoting your business that is offered by Google, Facebook and Linkedin.   A page is like a simple website with an administrator can post information and users can comment.  Users cannot, however, initiate a post.  With a community users can both comment, as they can on a page, but they can also initiate posts.    Communities can also be either public or private while most pages are public since they are used for promotional purposes.

This can make the moderation of these communities a little more complex than just the standard customer relations function of addressing and managing comments as you would have on a page.  Let’s take a hard look at Google Communities – both its strengths and weaknesses to see if it could be to the advantage of your business.   I’ll also try to give you a few tips on building your one community on Google+ should you decide to go that route.   First its strengths:

Advantages to Google Communities

1.  It is a snap to set up.   It is so easy to setup a Google community it will probably take me longer to write this post.   The is a bit of an exaggeration, but you can get the basic setup finished in five minutes or so, and improve it from there.  The setup is just not a big deal.

2.  It is good for relationship building.   Since users can initiate posts, there is less of a “pearls before swine” quality to the engagement.   While you will want some moderation guidelines, basically your members can say whatever they want whenever they want.  This will have the effect of having the relationship be more “authentic” – you are basically putting yourself out there.

3.  It can enhance your stature in a subject area.   Since you will be managing a community where people can freely express themselves, you will have to be fair and allow a different views to be expressed – in some cases possibly from competitors.  .  Depending on the subject area, this may help you to be seen as an expert in this area.

4.  You will learn from it.   Since a well managed community will have a variety of views being expressed you may learn some new things and get new ideas.   With a “page” setup you might just be hearing what you want to hear.  Sometimes when a discussion gets lively on a community some great ideas can be generated, and new ways of looking at things can be revealed.

5.  There may be some SEO Benefit.    Google indexes posts in its search engine your business might get a bit more exposure through it.  In addition, with Google Communities you are allowed to display up to 10 links on the Community home page and these can be links to your business or other resources for your members.

7.  Hangouts and Hangouts on Air.   While the technology for communities themselves may be more or less traditional – and even have less functionality than most systems, there is an important exception.   Hangouts – Google’s name for video conferencing, is integrated with communities and is an amazing technology.   These hangouts let you meet in a live videoconference with up to 10 people which can take your community to a whole new level.  There is also a “Hangouts on Air” – currently not as well integrated but still possible, that lets you “broadcast” these hangouts and record the to Youtube.   This alone may be reason for you to select Google communities if you have a subject area and population of potential members you feel could benefit from this kind of video presentation.

Disadvantages to Google Communities

1.  It is hard to get new members.  Don’t expect an immediate flood of member requests once you setup your community.  Since they are so easy to set up there are tens of thousands of them – maybe more.   You may have to build your community one member at a time at first.   It is also possible that your best potential members aren’t active on Google+ at all, and even if you persuade them to join they won’t participate much.

2.  Moderation can be a challenge.   It would be nice if these things “ran themselves” but they don’t.   Posts that are low quality or off topic are frequent, and you may have to use your best diplomacy skills – or your hammer –  to address these.   It is not uncommon for “drama situations” to break out and it is even possible for whole communities to “melt down”.   As community owner, you will be responsible for this.

3.  It’s Time Consuming.   Managing your community – including approving new members, participating in discussions,  moderating disagreements, encouraging quality and posting your own content can be a major time sink.   This must be weighed against the advantages of having a community.

4.  Communities compete with each other.  Google set up communities so that anyone could start one on any topic – and they can even have identical names as other communities.  This means that there are many overlapping and competing topics all competing for the same audience.   The is particularly true of the larger communities with broader topic areas – it is probably best to not compete with those communities unless you are willing to invest substantial effort.

5.  Spam is a major issue.  Google communities are absolutely plagued with spam.   They have a spam filter that is pretty good at weeding most of it out, but you will still see it.  There is also a problem with “near spam” –  posts that are just bad for whatever reason.  While this is mostly an issue on the public communities, it is not unheard of on the private communities either.

So should you do it?

The answer is, of course, “it depends”.   Don’t do it “just because you can” however, anyone can set these up and an empty community won’t do you any good nor will one you work on extensively that never gets “traction”.    Think first about precisely what you want to accomplish with your community and then carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages listed above.   At this point in the development of communities it is unlikely that a broad topic will work unless you are already a recognized authority in that area and have a ready population of followers.  That is not to say private communities won’t work, however, or even public communities in niche topic areas.

Going for it?  Here are a few tips.

So if you have weighed the advantages and disadvantages carefully, and you think it can help your business or practice area, here are a few tips to help you get started:

1.  Set up the community completely before you invite anyone.  As we discussed here, the initial community setup can be done in just a few minutes, but doing it right can take considerably longer.   Get everything ready.  Have some good web copy for your descriptions, set up your posting categories and write some moderation guidelines. – you will need them later.

2.  Have content ready.   Consider “seeding” your community before you even invite anyone with a few interesting posts that set the “tone” of the kind of posts you want in your community.   The last thing you want is for new members to to join an empty community.   It might even be a good idea to have several posts pre-written for future postings.

3.  Identify Prospective Members.   If you are already active on Google+ identify everyone in your circles who you think might be interested in your community.  Make a special circle for these prospects.   If you aren’t active on Google+ it may be a tougher slog, but do some searches on your topic area and build a circle based on this interest.

4.  Invite your best prospects.   Try to get a commitment from as many of the people you know who might be interested.  Write them and tell them what you want to accomplish and enlist their support.   After you have done this, send an invitation to these prospects.

5.  Start engaging.  Try to get a conversation going with these initial members.   Use your best content if necessary.   Do whatever you can to “make it interesting”.

6.  Invite a “second wave” of prospects.   Now take the rest of that circle you have built and invite those potential members.   Write a good introduction about why you think will be a good community.  Continue promoting your community however you can as an ongoing effort.

7.  Select a Moderator.   Ask one of your members to help with moderating the community.  This will not only reduce your workload a bit, but will have the added benefit of making your community look a bit more “established”.

That’s about the best advice I can give you.   The rest is up to you.  Wishing you the best!

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Ecommerce for Solopreneurs

Ecommerce for Solopreneurs

By Rob Gordin. 

Suppose you want to start selling online, but you are a one man (or one woman) show.  What solution fits your needs the best?   How much work will it be to get up and going?   How much will it cost?  Is it flexible and easy to maintain?  Does it provide a growth path for the future?

These aren’t easy questions to answer, and there are a mind numbing number of options, but this article will give you a few things to consider in making a rational decision on the best eCommerce system for you.  This is not intended to give you every possible option in selecting a platform for your  business  - that would be all but impossible.   Rather, we would like to provide a “framework” for ways you can think about it so you can make rational decisions on the eCommerce approach that is best for you.

There are two things that Solopreneurs generally don’t have in great abundance – the first is time, and the second is of course, money, so those will generally be the primary consideration, but there are many others.   Let’s take a look at the possible options, and note that there is a great deal of overlap with each of these approaches.

1.   Use an open source platform.   Many solopreneurs are into DYI (do it yourself) approaches, so these are always popular.  Basically this just means you select one of the many solutions that have been developed by the open source community, then configure and modify it to fit your needs and then host it on your own server and domain.  A few of the more common examples in this genre:

  • Zencart

  • Magnito

  • OpenCart:

  • osCommerce:

  • Miva

  • PrestaShop

The Upside:  For all intents and purposes, you will “own” this system and can do what you want.   There will be no monthly service fees beyond what you pay for hosting, and no transaction fees beyond what you pay to your credit card payment provider.  There will also be a great deal of flexibility in development – with some effort, you should be able to get the exact “look and feel” that you want.

The Downside:  This is not for the faint of heart.   Even if you are technically skilled, this is often a “trip into the weeds”.   You very will may find yourself working far more on your technology, then you are on selling and marketing your products and services.   The maintenance and upkeep of these systems can be daunting, and technical support can be spotty at best.   In the case where the open source software company also has a paid version, there will usually be less functionality and the free version is mostly meant to eventually get you to upgrade to the paid version.

2.   Use a Content Management System.   This is somewhat similar to using open source software, except in this case software that is designed for managing content on websites is used, and a plugin of some kind is used to provide the eCommerce functions.   Depending on the technology selected, this can be either easier or more difficult than using open source software designed specifically for this purpose.  A few of the common examples in this genre:

  • Joomla with VirtueMart Plugin

  • Drupal with Ubercart Plugin

  • WordPress with WP e-Commerce (and others)

The Upside:  Most solopreneurs who use this approach are already using it to manage their website so it has the advantage of being well integrated with what is already in place.  It can often be a superior way to showcase products, as not everything is oriented to :”selling” so product displays can be mixed with other content.

The Downside:  This is usually not quite as flexible as using an open source system specifically designed for eCommerce.  Technical support is usually through online forums and can be frustrating and time consuming.

3.   Use Commercial Software.   This is also similar to the “free open source” approach, but in this case solopreneurs elect to pay for their software solution – either through a one time or ongoing licensing fee.  Note that “open source” and “free” are not exactly the same thing.,  Software can be open source – meaning you have full access to the source code and can modify it if you wish, but it still requires a licence fee.   Also, some commercial ecommerce software does have free versions with less functionality.   A few of the common examples in this genre:

  • Magnito (also has free version)

  • CS-Cart Shopping Cart Software

  • X-Cart Shopping Cart Software

  • Pinnacle Cart

The Upside:   Purchased ecommerce store software is generally has a higher initial cost but there is only a single payment and then you own the software or have a permanent licence.  Support is generally superior and you have an accountable party and “someone to talk to” if something goes wrong.   Purchased software is also usually more flexible and can be modified to suit your needs.

The Downside:   Primarily the up front fee, and also the danger of being “locked in” with a single vendor.   It is not unheard of for these companies to go out of business which will leave you with no growth path.

4.   Use a Hosted Platform.   This is an approach where you do not host the ecommerces software at all, but rather use a host to provide this service.  Typically you will “embed” the shopping cart into one or more of your website pages, but is is also possible to use many of these as standalone platforms – even while retaining your domain name.  Be aware that there is a wide range of functionality with these platforms.  Some hosted platforms provide no more than an “add-on” cart which is deployed on an existing website by copying a few lines of HTML, while others provide a complete stand-alone website builder can be added onto an existing site or used independently as your entire website.   A few of the many examples in this genre:

  • Yahoo Stores

  • Intuit Ecommerce

  • Shopify

  • Paypal Shopping Cart

The Upside:  This is a great solution for beginners because the hosting is included and there is usually no technical setup required.   There are some great deals out there especially if you don’t have a ton of different items to sell.   In general, the will support multiple payment providers so that is one less thing to worry about.

The Downside:  There is usually a monthly fee and often transaction charges.   Many of the deals out there are “loss leaders” and If your store is successful there could be some hefty fees and service charges as you grow.  When the platform is provided without charge, some companies put advertisements on your store which can be a turnoff to your customers. It can also be extremely difficult to migrate to another platform once you have selected one of these services.  

5.  Get in Bed with a Giant.  This is an approach where you use the solutions provided by one of the major players in the ecommerce industry.  At the moment, there are really only two “giants” to consider – Amazon and eBay, but we can expect all the major social networks – Facebook, Google+. Twitter and Pinterest to have offerings in this area.   The two major examples in this genre:

  • Amazon Webstore

  • ProStores Store (An Ebay Company)

The Upside:   These sites know how to sell, and there may be some advantages to their dominant market position.   If you are selling on Amazon or eBay anyway, this is something you probably want to consider.   There are generally multiple payment options and since these sites are highly “trusted” you may get more sales by associating with them.

The Downside:   Since these services are associated with these giant companies, your branding may become overwhelmed by the larger company.   The solutions are often more “canned” and less flexible than other approaches.

6.  Get Social.   This is an approach where you sell primarily socially – either through an existing social network or through sites that have been specifically set up for this purpose.  This is an emerging genre and we can expect to see more players in this area, including all the major social media companies.  A  few examples in this genre:

  • Etsy  (mostly for art and handcrafted items).

  • Envato (for digital goods)

  • Threadflip (clothing)

  • FriendShopper

  • Vendio Ecommerce (for Facebook stores)

The Upside:  This sites often specialize in niche areas, and come with a built in community of prospective buyers – a big plus for the solopreneur.

 

The Downside:  As with hosted services, the growth path is uncertain and you may find yourself needing to do a migration at some point – which can be even more difficult since you may have active buyers and prospects in the community.  Also, since the genre is new, no one really know what will happen.  New players will almost certainly emerge, and there may be a shakeup with some of the existing companies.

7,  Go Mobile.    More and more people are buying off their mobile devices – smart phones and tablet computers.   While this genre overlaps somewhat with the others, it is worth considering in its own right.   A few examples in this genre:

  • Square

  • Venda

  • Shopgate

The Upside:  This, along with social commerce, is likely to be “the wave of the future”.  Most ecommerce providers will be designing support into their platforms if they haven’t already

The Downside:   Many new and smaller players that may not provide support for more traditional methods.   Some “trendy features” may not stand the test of time, and not all products are ideal for being sold on mobile devices.

***

At best, a report like this can just scratch the surface on an industry as broad and multidimensional as ecommerce.   For all intents and purposes, you can expect just about every Internet technology company to try to get a “piece of the action” this, for the simple reason that it is “where the money is”.   Most players in this industry will be integrating different approaches so it shouldn’t be to difficult to find the provider that is best for you.

For most solopreneurs, however, the best solution will likely be to use one of the hosted platforms.  These will allow you to get up and selling almost immediately, which you can’t do with either open source, content management or commercial software.

Regardless of ths solution you select, do your homework.   Select the approach you think works best for you and write up some specifications for your needs before you even look at the prices and feature sets of the different systems.   Avoid any services  require you to pay a percentage of your sales and “free trials” are all but useless.  Even with hosted platforms, there will be some effort in setting this up so you want to select the system that best matches your needs.

 One more thing – don’t delay.  If you have products to sell, you can be making money sooner than you think.

About the Author. Introduction. Rob is the founder and owner of one of the largest business communities on Google Plus.  You can find his information on his G+ profile. Because he interfaces with over 25,000 small business owners he has a unique knowlege of that market. He also is the founder of http://world-startups.com/


 

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The Forgotten Element of Time:

The Forgotten Element of Time:

My understanding of time is that it is a necessary illusion.

It’s best explained like this.  Visualize time as a ribbon,  like a road, that stretches across the mental universe. its length represents the progress we make in understanding things.

We are either making progress(moving forward) or not moving at all. It’s not possible to move backward once real knowledge is learned or discovered. So we can either move or don’t move. It is possible to make large leaps in moving forward however, and those leaps advance your knowledge to a new place on the ribbon.

Ribbon of Light

So what happens at the end of the ribbon?  Well,  it has no real end, but I see it as rolling up into a tight completed integrated universe that we are now free to experience all of it at once.

Hows that relate to your life, or your business?

For me, we forget to look at our daily activities and efforts as either progress or no progress on the Ribbon.  Is what we are doing in time, in whatever manner, making us smarter, better or of more value to others?

Same thought for a client. Is what you are doing making them Better, Smarter, or of more value?  If so, you are progressing, if not you’re standing still on that ribbon.

Work on moving your clients on that ribbon, and you may find all new ways to be of value, and new services to provide. A whole new world can open to your business if you view your business priority, as making progress daily, and helping others do the same.

Progressive thoughts:  How can I make my clients life easier?

Non Progressive:  How can I make more money on what I sell.

Progressive thought.  I will help at least 2 business people a day that do not pay me to do so.

Non progressive:  I will call 30 businesses and ask for an appointment so I can make more money.

There isn’t a good or a bad in any of this, there is only a progression in the right direction, or no movement. Same place, same time.  No progress.

I can not prove any of this, I only knew that when I think and act in these terms, the business does well.  When I don’t , I may have temporary success, but it always disappoints in the long run, often times manifesting itself as the constant need for more stuff, or more money, or more time….

English: Sibsey Parish Clock Nick The local fa...

If I make progress each day  (add a little or alot to my knowledge of how things work), and do the same for others (with can not be helped if you are advancing) then its a good day.

 


 

 

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SEO and the M Theory

Okay.. so years ago there was this huge debate in the physics world about the M theory. Some said it involved 10 dimensions, some said 11. Some said there were an unlimited amount of universes, some said there were 122… whatever.  The point being, the quantum theory community had a bunch of different “opinions” on how the universe (in a quantum way) worked, and worked at the quark level.

This all evolved into the string theory….and all things being made up of vibrating energy. The rate at which the thing vibrated made it appear as either matter, light , or gravity. Easy right?

So strings are little pieces of energy that vibrate.

You see where this is going right?  In the end (so to speak, as there is no end to anything in the string theory) one amazing scientist came before all the others and basically settled the debate by proving that they were all saying the same thing, they were just looking at it differently.

Local SEO and Digital Marketing is all the same stuff looked at differently.  Here is what makes up a partial list of areas that SEO’s and inbound marketers (heck we can’t ever decide what to call it!) think make up the SEO universe.

On Site:

Words

Words strung together

And a bunch of other details…

Okay.. that’s it for on site.  Now for off site:

Social sites

Blogs

Directories

Paid advertising

Mentions

words

words strung together.

and a bunch of other areas…

Heres what I think SEO is:

Words strung together throughout the Internet that vibrate differently.

Now, Apply Newtons law of motion… an object in motion has a tendency to stay in motion  ( picking up more mentions, links and words strung together)  and you have SEO.

 

Thank you