Category Archives: Business Tips

How to Retain Your Top Employees During the ‘Great Resignation’

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Retain Top Employees During Great Resignation

We are living in a time of the so-called Great Resignation. This clever name refers to the millions of Americans who have quit their jobs in the past year. Today’s workers are starting over on their own terms, looking for employment that is more flexible, offers more competitive packages, and treats them like human beings.

Even if you think your workplace is up to par, you might be in danger of losing your top employees to this mass exodus. They say the grass is greener on the other side, but you can always start watering your side of the fence so that your turf remains lush and attractive to top talent. With that thought in mind, here are some ways you can convince your best employees to stay with your organization despite the turnover nationwide.

Keep Your Business Organized

Your top employees are no doubt some of the most capable individuals in their field. They don’t want to feel like their talents are being wasted because they’re always having to put out fires and repair damaged workflows. An organized business model will remove those tricky variables so that your team members can focus on what they do best.

There are lots of benefits that come from having an organized business. For starters, you can find important information and materials when you need them. Responsibilities are clear, and team members have the resources to complete their tasks efficiently. All of those benefits contribute to a positive work environment that employees will be hesitant to leave.

Don’t know how to start getting organized? Try using a software program for project management, scheduling, or payroll. Such solutions can be implemented almost immediately and begin yielding results.

Show Appreciation

When hiring new employees, you might be extra attentive in an attempt to make them feel comfortable and committed to your business. After some time, it’s easy to slack off on the things that made you an attractive employer in the first place. If you neglect your existing employees, they’ll start looking for a change of scenery.

There are many ways you can express appreciation toward your employees, most of which require little more than simple effort. Try saying thank you more often and greet employees as they arrive each morning. Hold the occasional team lunch to encourage interaction and give your employees a treat. Simple gestures such as these can go a long way to making employees feel appreciated, noticed, and cared for.

You should also look for ways to reward your team for their hard work and dedication to the company. Hand out bonuses, offer incentives, and revamp your benefits package for tenured employees who deserve some extra compensation for everything they do. This will help ensure your business doesn’t fall victim to the Great Resignation.

Ask for Feedback

Listening to your employees’ concerns and taking action that directly benefits them is another great way to show appreciation. Solicit their feedback in an attempt to make the workplace better for them and keep your retention rates high.

There are — at least — two ways you can ask for feedback from your employees. You can create a survey in which responses can be anonymous. By filling out an online form, employees can share whatever they want without hesitation. Your survey can contain specific questions about the workplace but should also have a section where your employees can add their personal thoughts.

The other option is to hold face-to-face meetings with your workers and ask them for feedback directly. This can be done as part of performance reviews or other regularly scheduled meetings. Asking about — and listening to — their concerns will make your employees feel like their voice matters.

Make Changes As Needed

Once you receive feedback from your employees, do something with it! Team members might feel even worse if you listen to their opinions and then do nothing with their input. Making needed changes to your organization for the benefit of your employees is sure to boost retention rates even during the Great Resignation.

In addition to taking feedback seriously, seize the initiative to make positive changes on your own. Employees shouldn’t feel that in order for change to happen, they have to submit a signed petition or approach their supervisor directly. They’ll be much more pleased when management shows that they can analyze a situation and make it better with their own time and efforts.

If a team member does move on, conduct a candid exit interview. Knowing why employees leave your company will help you know what changes you need to make. For example, during the peak of COVID-19, it was a great benefit to be able to work from home to avoid getting sick. Enabling remote work is a way many companies have kept their best employees throughout the Great Resignation, rather than seeing them flock to other organizations that allowed remote work first.

Improve Your Work Culture

A large study on the Great Resignation found that the leading cause of employee turnover was a toxic work culture. A poisonous work environment can dissuade your best employees from staying regardless of the pay and benefits. Considering how much time they spend at work, employees greatly value an atmosphere that is positive and fosters their professional development.

The question now is how do you improve your workplace culture? This might involve changing your management style to micromanage less, allowing employees greater flexibility, or even firing an employee who’s always causing problems for the team. Improving your work culture will create an environment where your top employees can continue to thrive and want to remain for the long haul. If you stand around and do nothing to retain your top talent, your employees could walk away to pursue new dreams. Instead of watching them go, make a concerted effort to improve their workplace and enable them to achieve their professional goals in your organization.

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3 Technology Advancements that Improve Virtual Events

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Technology Advancements Improve Virtual Events

Tech is always evolving — even in a pandemic. It’s clear that the impact of this evolution is apparent everywhere. However, the events industry is one of the most obvious areas impacted by the ongoing change.

The gathering of people in large quantities for protracted times is something that was diametrically opposed to the concept of shelter-in-place orders, quarantines and social distancing imperatives. This has led to an explosion of technological tools to help facilitate safe and effective virtual events.

Some of these take care of the basics, while others enhance the experience. Let’s take a look at a few different technologies that have made virtual events not just possible but palatable.

Shifting from a surviving to a thriving mentality

Before looking at specific tools, it’s important to understand the paradigm shift that is taking place. When the pandemic started, the crisis turned the remote-work concept into a necessity. The ability to work from home was no longer a perk reserved for fancy benefits packages or highfalutin jobs. It was something businesses were employing to stay alive.

Now that the initial wave of “survival” remote work is behind us, it’s become clear that remote work isn’t going anywhere. It’s become an expected perk, and it’s one that workers aren’t letting go of any time soon. When the pandemic started, 98% of remote workers said they wanted to work from home at least some of the time. A year later, the sentiment was still strong, with more than half of workers declaring that they would rather quit than be forced back into an office.

This has left C-suite executives struggling to figure out the right way forward. Many companies are scooping up office space and decking it out to lure workers back into a dedicated professional setting.

However, at the same time, there is a sincere understanding that remote work will, at the least, play a part in most businesses’ futures. The virtual tools are already in place thanks to the pandemic, and they can help if there is another pandemic-like emergency.

With that said, many virtual office spaces aren’t necessarily set up to thrive. Instead, they have tailored themselves to a “survival” attitude — and with the rapid pace of technological evolution, they’ll fall behind if nothing changes.

How Businesses are Adapting

So, in the same way that businesses are investing in bigger, better office spaces, if they’re going to keep their remote workers “in the fold,” they need to allocate similar resources toward maintaining their virtual activities.

In the case of an office or onboarding software, many companies can utilize third-party activities. You choose your provider and they keep things cyber-secure and up-to-date with the latest cutting-edge tech.

In the case of a virtual event, though, the responsibility falls to organizations to make sure that they’re keeping their virtual event experiences (and the variety of tools that it requires) contemporary and effective. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some technological advancements that are helping businesses not just host virtual events, but improve the experience, as well.

1. Communication tech

A disorganized in-person event will leave attendees feeling they didn’t get what they paid for. A disorganized virtual event will lose those attendees completely before the event has ended (and in many cases before it’s even started.)

This is why you want to use high-quality communication tech to keep everyone on the same page — and this isn’t just referring to paying for a Zoom account. You want additional tools to help your event run smoothly.

In the early days of the pandemic, there was a fair amount of grace for companies as they figured out how to host an online event in a smooth, productive manner. Now, event attendees no longer give grace to an unorganized virtual event. Furthermore, if companies do not ensure structured, well-organized, or productive virtual events, their attendees won’t stick around.

Using Communication Tech to Increase Engagement

The ability for attendees to listen to lectures and training sessions after the fact means many will jump ship as soon as they feel bored. They know they can come back later to listen to the recording (often at 1.5X speed to get it over with faster.)

That’s why it’s important for companies to use the right communication tools to keep their events organized and on track. This starts with a good digital calendar. This can have an impact on multiple levels.

For instance, the obvious one is smaller meetings. When your event includes a handful of people, you can use a digital calendar to inform everyone of the time of the event. Many calendar apps also allow you to add live-stream links, notes and guest lists. These tools can also instantly generate notifications if any event details change.

Along with smaller gatherings, a calendar is critical to larger events. As you begin to plan an event, you can use a calendar app to orchestrate logistical meetings and make sure that your team is staying closely connected. You can also, of course, use that app to help attendees remember when the event takes place.

2. Comprehensive quality

From Zoom to GoToMeeting to Microsoft Teams and much more, there is no end to the number of web conferencing tools out there. This is nice when it comes to selecting a platform that works for your particular needs. However, it can also make it difficult to maintain consistent, quality events over time.

Remember, each event doesn’t just include your virtual meeting platform. It also integrates dozens and even hundreds of different headsets, microphones, operating systems and endless other factors. Even the physical condition of each attendees’ space can impact things like light and audio quality.

That’s why you need to consider technological advancements that can work behind the scenes to smooth out and improve the overall quality of your events — both during and after the live portion. This is the virtual event equivalent of mixing and mastering separate musical tracks to create a unified end product.

Livestorm, a video engagement platform, offers a case study of this tech in action with their use of the call recording API to create comprehensive recordings of on-demand streaming events. The tool records high-quality A/V elements, but it goes further by helping capture additional things, like on-screen shared files, for participants to access in a playback feature.

We live in a world where it’s no longer okay to just connect everyone connected in a virtual room at the same time. If you want to create a quality event for your attendees, you need this kind of tech to unify things into a single, comprehensive experience.

3. Interactive elements

So far, we’ve touched on the organizational and quality elements of virtual events. These are critical starting points. This is because logistics and basic quality are critical to making your event stand out against the competition.

Now it’s time to consider how to make your virtual experience not just impeccable but unique. This should focus on making your event as interactive as possible. Fortunately, there are multiple ways that tech can make that possible.

When it comes to the event itself, there are many ways that you can spice things up. A good example of this is Immersive View. One of the biggest hurdles of virtual events is making it feel like the event is all happening in one single place.

Earlier in 2021, Zoom offered a fun way to address that problem with its Immersive View tech. This brings all of the virtual participants of a virtual event into a single “virtual space.” The result is fun and restores a sense of togetherness for an event.

If your event feels perfunctory and dry, you can also turn to tech to make things a bit more interesting. For instance, SnapBar allows companies to set up virtual photo booths. This provides an interactive element that enables participants to bond and better remember the experience.

Keeping up in the virtual event world

There are many factors that go into hosting a good virtual event. This starts with basic things like picking out a web seminar platform, but it can’t stop there.

Companies around the world are getting in on the virtual event experience. This is quickly upping the ante and setting a higher standard that attendees will naturally expect. As technology develops, it’s important that teams find the best new tools to help keep their events at the forefront of the virtual experience. There are many ways to do this, from obvious organization to comprehensive quality to engaging experiences.

The critical factor is that companies shift away from a “virtual events are helping us survive” mentality. Instead, they should foster a thriving mindset throughout every virtual event that they host. Only then can they expect to keep up and both survive and thrive with the times.

3 Technology Advancements that Improve Virtual Events was originally published on Calendar by

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5 Ways Businesses Can Bring In More Customers This Spring

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Bring More Customers Business This Spring

People tend to get out and patronize businesses more frequently when the weather is nice in the spring. However, they may also need an incentive to do so. That’s where marketing comes in. When running a business, you need to embrace the changing season and break out some fresh strategies that will bring in new customers.

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar shop or a completely digital business, there are several things you can do to increase your customer base this spring. Here are five ideas to try en route to a successful second quarter:

1. Boost Your Marketing Efforts

Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to turn the heat up on your marketing game. You must grab the attention of consumers as soon as they start making their way outside. If you’ve positioned yourself to stand out, then once the weather is nice, your business will be booming.

Use all of your marketing channels to promote your business. Create a “Spring Discount” post to put on your website and showcase your new products and service offerings on social media. Try to put some form of marketing out every single day to maximize your exposure.

2. Consider Growing Your Team

Another way to attract more customers is to grow your team. With added employees, you can accomplish more with your business, such as helping more customers in a single time slot or increasing your deliveries. There are three different ways to grow your team this spring.

First, look at hiring some seasonal help. This is something that delivery companies often do around the holidays when there’s a huge influx of packages. Seasonal workers don’t require a long-term commitment and will be a great help when you’re running small promotions.

Your other options are hiring additional full-time employees or contractors. For example, you can hire a new full-time team member who specializes in digital marketing. Alternatively, you could engage a contracted marketer who only gets paid for specific campaigns, like the ones you’re planning to implement this spring.

3. Know Current Trends in Your Business Niche

Trends in business are constantly changing. While your company should have a model of consistency, you need to keep an eye out for trends as they arise. Adding new looks and stylish offerings to your product and service lines can give you considerable boosts in sales and foot traffic when implemented correctly. After the trend fades, you’ll still have your established business model standing strong.

Let’s say you’re a wedding planner looking to book a bunch of springtime weddings. You’ll have better success if you know the latest wedding trends. This could be a specific flower arrangement, color scheme, or even a playlist that the betrothed couple fell in love with on social media. Have all of this at the ready, and use it in your marketing, and you’ll have plenty of customers asking for your services.

4. Watch Your Competitors

Your business won’t be the only one making moves in the springtime. Keeping an eye on your rivals will help you stay competitive as you strive to draw in new customers. If you’re not aware of the strategies they’re implementing, it will be more difficult to optimize your own.

For example, you might be the owner of a local gym with a competing gym a few blocks away. By doing your homework, you find out that they’re unrolling a program to incentivize new membership signups. With that information, you will know to offer something even better to attract those same new members.

You should also learn from the mistakes your competitors make. If a competing salon runs a first-time customer promotion and loses money, you’ll know not to run the same deal. Instead, make some adjustments to their promotion so it works better for your business.

5. Get Involved Locally

Your community will likely be putting on events to celebrate the changing of the season. Getting involved in these events will help you put your business on the map as well as give back to the customers who live in the surrounding area.

If you run a veterinary clinic, offer to set up a booth at the community pet adoption event and provide pet treat samples and discounted products. Own a med spa? Sign up for a space at the next community wellness event. Put up a banner, provide product samples, and hand out fliers, and you’re sure to pick up some new customers from each event you attend.

Whether your business typically slows in the winter or you’ve enjoyed a steady shopping season during the colder months, a little spring marketing can go a long way toward boosting your business. Shed that winter coat and get ready for the best spring your business has ever experienced. If you start laying out your spring marketing plans before the last bit of snow melts, new customers will be lining up outside your door in no time.

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4 Recommendations for Teams in 2022

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Recommendations Teams 2022

The mixed work model will likely be commonplace throughout 2022 and well into the future, so we may as well get used to it and learn to do it well. Consider these suggestions to help you create a great mixed-team work approach.

COVID brought on the full-hybrid work model, and as long as it continues to work well, it will likely be the work model forever. Teams will experience growing pains until hybrid work can work out the kinks and become the norm. While no one technique works for all individuals, positions, or projects — consider these suggestions. Creating a productivity schedule is crucial.

Develop the hybrid work model with your company.

There is no one-size-fits-all hybrid work paradigm; it must match your organization’s culture and personnel. The key to success is co-creating that model with your team and providing communication avenues and expectations.

Avoid making top-down judgments with your hybrid worker without consulting a few team members. All decisions, no matter how small, immediately affect your employees. Ask about employee preferences and attempt to fulfill them. Take time to listen to individual needs so that discontent and anger don’t erode your culture and morale.

1. Agree on the office’s role in the hybrid environment.

Consider which structures work best for your team. Take care of your workers, and they will care for your consumers. Popular hybrid work arrangements include remote-first with office days or office-first with remote days. Some firms only meet in person once a month — but your very individual business needs will have to dictate many of your decisions.

Agree on the office’s role in the hybrid environment. Is it to encourage cooperation or relationships? Collect everyone’s ideas and don’t simply go back to work because that’s what you used to do. Alternatives to your enormous, unoccupied workplace may also benefit your yearly budget.

2. Trust your staff

Let people work in ways that make them happy and productive.

Set goals and deadlines for your team instead of time monitoring. It’s challenging to be productive and present when working remotely. However, measures should not be considered a punishment but a tool to help personnel achieve their objectives.

Most employees don’t work the eight hours they’re at the office because they have spontaneous meetings and strong connections with coworkers. Consider: managers should ignore time as a productivity indicator and trust staff to accomplish their jobs well. Time as an indicator is a sign that the objectives are too simple and that the workers are distant since they don’t need to cooperate as much or “look busy.”

Otherwise, you risk the “watermelon effect” — excellent “green” performance, but a significant chunk of red underneath the surface, representing an awful employee experience. Employees may address issues with coworkers rather than management at the (virtual) water cooler.

3. Meetings: rethink

Don’t be a victim of your success.

We need to discover new working methods to not spend all our time in meetings and our weekends and nights on “serious work.” So we need more asynchronous work.

Adopt a facilitator’s approach to developing new working ways — concentrate on understanding human interactions and structuring work to fit them best.

Asking check-in and check-out questions helps to keep meetings sociable. Having off-topic talks and connecting with people is vital.

4. Foster connections and interactions

Consider alternatives like walk & talks, virtual coworking, music quizzes, open office hours, and buddy systems.

During their initial weeks or months at the organization, a “work buddy” meets with new workers one-on-one to facilitate a seamless transition.

This allows for knowledge exchange and learning even while working remotely. Younger workers who rely on senior staff for information appreciate this exchange.

Encourage your staff to plan walking meetings or catch-ups with one other. Walk & Talks help you exercise and interact with others. Plus, they help alleviate our collective Zoom fatigue.

Leaders and workers may add open (virtual) office hours to their calendars or status bars to encourage more spontaneous talks. During specific time windows, anybody may phone that individual to bounce ideas off, discuss a problem, or check in.

Virtual coworking allows people to work together yet on their projects. A group video conference is great for collaborating on separate tasks. People feel more accountable and productive when cameras and microphones are on.

Having the appropriate tools helps to facilitate teamwork.

There will be an issue with your team when you introduce information or tools that:

a) team doesn’t grasp the purpose of and

b) tool doesn’t enhance the team workflows or productivity.

Also, the tools must easily integrate synchronous and asynchronous operations. Tools and admin for their own sake are harmful, so giving people the correct tools and listening to their comments goes a long way. If tools aren’t helpful after a long test period, destroy them. Don’t utilize them because it’s tradition.

Teams in hybrid mode

Balance is essential since individuals have varying amounts of energy while socializing. You don’t want your staff exhausted or lonely. Using these suggestions might assist your employees in shifting to the hybrid model in a manner that seems so natural you’ll soon be calling it work.

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4 Outdoor Activities to Try This Winter to Boost Your Productivity

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Outdoor Activities Winter Productivity

Winter is the season of the year when many people begin spending most of their time indoors. You’ll want to get outdoors this winter to boost your productivity. Consistently being indoors has the effect of blending days together. The blending of days isn’t mentally healthy for anyone — so let’s mix it up a little by adding outdoor activities to our Calendar.

This Winter Boost Your Productivity With Outdoor Activities

It’s much harder to feel like your life provides the variation needed and desired when you stay inside all of the time. Even a quick “nippy-cold-walk” at lunch will boost your productivity and confidence for the long-haul afternoon. You’ll want these outdoor breaks for that very reason and there are plenty of exciting things to do outside that will help clear your head. Here are four outdoor activities to treat yourself to when your motivation and productivity are low.

1. Go for a Mindful Stroll

When you find yourself stuck in a confusing loop of working without motivation, take a walk outside to refresh yourself. While it can be painfully cold outside, it will actually help feel that cold. Sufficient clothing will keep you comfortable as the breeze hits your face, making it easier to focus your mind on the walk itself. The outdoors provides a natural separation from work indoors. Focus on what’s physically ahead of you for the best results.

This change in environment, this combination of low temperature, fresh air, natural sound, and sunlight, puts you in a different mindset than the one you’re working with indoors. It allows you to think of other things, to look at the world outside of your work, and to experience it authentically. So grab someone from the office to walk with for a refreshing walk-talk, or set aside a permanent time to walk around once a day to break up the monotony of being at your desk.

2. Immerse Yourself in Nature-Based Activities

Take a pilgrimage to the next level by seeking out activities designed for nature like hiking or skiing on the weekend. You can, for example, trek out into the forest away from town for a few hours and be fully separated from the work that’s stressing you out. Skiing and hiking are perfect for solitude if you’re overwhelmed by your relationships at home or work.

If water doesn’t freeze over in your area, rent a rowboat and set out into the water for some time alone. Still, it’s exciting to do these things with friends or family too, and they are always welcome to join if that works for you.

You may not be the kind of person who needs solitude for you to recharge, so bring along everyone you want to stay in touch with. Getting out in nature is about getting your energy back however you see fit. Understand that everybody is different, and give yourself time to figure out what’s best for you.

Remember that you don’t have to bring people along if it stresses you. Instead, being alone with your thoughts gives you the chance to renew yourself — and that’s what you’ll want for higher productivity.

3. Return to Your Childhood

When you’re immersed in work for any period of time, it’s essential to fit in exercise for both your physical and mental health. But structured exercise can easily feel like another chore and cause you more stress in the long run. Instead, make your nature exercise something to look forward to — in this case, try stretching the meaning of the word “exercise” as much as you want. Growing up in a warm or cold climate, you’ll surely remember how winded you’d be coming in after playing in the ocean or snow all day. You felt exhausted — and it was great. Think “kid” again, and be that kid.

Snowy days (well, ocean days, too — I’ve had both) are perfect for unstructured exercise. Building a snowman (or woman) is a blast, though I’d rather not do most activities alone — how about you? Instead, explore the neighborhood, and start a snowball fight — it’s an excellent way to burn energy with the snow bearing down on you. Neighbors may think you’re nuts, but that is invigorating too.

Then, you can come back inside and settle back in with a warm cup of tea with a renewed sense of motivation. At the very least, the contrasting environments and mindsets are great for getting away from the more structured work. You’ll come back with renewed focus, and you can work longer, too.

4. Head for the Mountains to Boost Your Productivity

Sometimes longer breaks are needed after a long work week — especially if you have a family with their own responsibilities. Consider a more extended, more involved activity that you can get excited about, like sledding, skiing, or snowboarding. Drive out from the home to find the best hill to barrel down or the closest mountain resort to dust off those skis and relax your brain. Watch for freebies — like Tuesday, ladies’ night at the local ski resort is fun — you’ll spring out of bed the following day with motivation.

It sounds counterintuitive to go so far from work to be more productive but in fact, the opposite is true — you need this time to recharge.

A nice break in the great outdoors will put a spring in your step — and make it much easier to focus at work and get in the zone. It also will allow you to partake in hobbies that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate in — benefitting both sides of the spectrum. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it makes.

Taking a break where, when, and how you want it will help you recharge. And, yes, if you haven’t taken this type of time for yourself in a while — you may be a little stiff (okay, really stiff). But it feels so good — and you’ll feel alive. Working too much (without a break) makes Jill a dull girl.

Trade your work shoes for snow boots, and they’ll be much more comfortable when you return.

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5 Ways Appointment-Based Businesses Can Save Money on Energy Costs

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Appointment Based Businesses Save Money Energy Costs

Take a look at your most recent energy bill. Is it higher than you’d like to see? You may regard your utility bill as an unavoidable cost of running your thriving appointment-based business, but it’s a part of your expense column that deserves some time and attention.

Not only can focusing on your energy bill save you money, but you’re also doing your part to take care of the environment. A lower energy bill means you’re being more responsible with your consumption of non-renewable energy and limiting your carbon footprint.

There are several ways your business can save money on energy costs. Some of them are as simple as the flick of a switch. Here are some energy-saving examples you can implement today:

1. Improve Your Lighting

Lighting will always be a significant portion of your monthly electric bill. You can’t expect to run your business without at least a little bit of lighting, but there are some ways you can lower your energy costs while remaining illuminated.

Start by switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs in all of your light fixtures. Newer models use less electricity, providing the same amount of light for a fraction of the cost. Sensor lights in areas with less traffic such as supply closets will automatically turn the lights on and off. A light left on by accident will bring your bill up higher than necessary.

You can also look for ways to let in more natural light. Sunshine isn’t always a guarantee, but on sunny days, you can use a few windows or skylights to light your business space while leaving a few lights off for the day.

2. Automate Water and Climate Control

In addition to automated lighting, there are other ways you can automate your business to improve energy efficiency. Take public restrooms, for instance. Automatic water shut-off and auto-flushing toilets help to reduce the overuse of water by guests and employees.

Another example of automating public spaces involves climate control. A smart thermostat will automatically regulate the temperature in your building. It uses a lot less energy than running an AC unit or space heater during the workday. You can also adjust the thermostat depending on the time of year to further optimize your energy consumption.

3. Clock Out Your Hardware

Energy usage dips down significantly when your employees clock out for the day. However, your business is still using energy that you will ultimately have to pay for, even without workers or paying customers. While some power usage is required, such as for regulating the building’s temperature throughout the night, there are a few things you can unplug to save on energy costs.

Any office equipment should be powered down at the end of each shift. Computers that are on and plugged in all night will sap extra power even though they’re not actively being used. You can even go as far as to unplug kitchen appliances in the break room or other devices that would otherwise raise your power bill unnecessarily.

4. Keep Your HVAC Systems Up to Date

With all the hustle and bustle of running a business, when was the last time you thought to have the air filters in your building changed? It’s easy to overlook this small task when you’re busy managing employees and appointment schedules day in and day out. It’s also an example of something simple you can do to keep your energy costs low.

A dirty air filter makes it difficult for your HVAC system to run at full capacity. It has to work harder to perform the same function, which uses up more energy. Plus a dirty air filter means the air in your business isn’t going to be as clean and pure as you’d like it to be.

If you own your building, you’ll need to keep your other equipment up to date as well. It might take a significant down payment, but you’ll be able to significantly reduce energy costs in the long run. Replacing your HVAC systems might not seem fun when you first see the bill, but a good system can operate for over a decade, and you should definitely reap the benefits in the coming years.

5. Look Into Renewable Energy

If you really want to lean into energy efficiency, take a look at some of the renewable energy alternatives that are available. Unfortunately, these options have high entry fees, but they also have long-term benefits that are well worth considering for both your wallet and your business’s longevity.

The best example for businesses is probably the use of solar power. Solar panels can be placed on rooftops to soak in the sun’s rays and convert them into heat and electricity. Since this energy comes naturally, you won’t have to use as much electricity from your local power company.

The biggest issue with renewable energy is that it can be inconsistent. Your business can’t run on solar power at night, and it will get limited energy on a cloudy day. Even a little bit of assistance from the natural elements can help you cut down that power bill, though.

Try to do one simple thing that contributes to lowering your power bill before the day is done. Then create a long-term plan that helps transform your business into the most energy-efficient one on the block. You’ll soon see that energy bill plummet.

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How Your Appointment-Based Business Can Stay Competitive This Year

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Appointment-Based Business

There are numerous ongoing challenges entrepreneurs face when starting and running an appointment-based business. One of them is learning how to position yourself against the many competitors in your industry. Where there’s one business in a particular space, there are many others vying for the same customers.

There’s no perfect business formula that guarantees you’ll be the best appointment-based business on the block. However, the list of competitive methods you can use to boost your business is extensive. These are just a few effective ways you can make your own company stay relevant this year:

Provide a Simple Online Portal System

The easier it is for customers to make appointments, the more bookings you’ll fill. A complicated appointment scheduling process is not a system that will keep you competitive.

Take a look at your current online portal. Start by analyzing the layout of your website. You want everything to be straightforward and easy to find. The simpler your navigation, the better. Use clear, clickable action buttons that guide users through the booking process and enhance the user experience.

The overall design of your online portal is also important. Use colors that can easily be associated with your brand without being oppressive or hard on the eyes. You can also fill blank spaces with images or other designs to make your online portal more attractive.

Offer Incentives

With so many businesses in the hunt, it can be a challenge at times to differentiate yourself from the competition. You should always prioritize improving your services over anything else. You should also consider providing some complimentary features to put your business over the top. Offering incentives is one way your business can set itself apart.

Incentives are especially effective at bringing in new customers. Prospective customers might be lured to your business over the competition due to an ongoing promotion. If you run a hair salon, for example, you might offer a free styling product with every haircut. A service station could do a free tire rotation with every oil change. Once you get new clients through the door using incentives, you can wow them with your services to convince them to return.

Speaking of customer retention, you can implement an incentive program for that, too. Frequent visitors can accrue points for free services or other rewards. A referral program can get you new customers and simultaneously reward your existing customer base.

Offer Online Payment Options

Many customers today prefer to make payments online rather than in person. Making a payment online takes much less time than scanning a card at the front desk or counting out the cash in one’s wallet. This leads to shorter appointment times for customers, who will always appreciate the efficiency.

Online payments also mean you get your money faster. Sending customers bills after an appointment will result in lag time before you receive payment. Worse still, such bills require your staff to print them out and mail them, costing time and money. With online payments, you can receive your fee as an appointment is being booked, even before the customer arrives at your place of business.

To make your online payment options competitive, don’t include processing fees for people who choose to pay online. These sorts of fees can easily turn customers away. Also look for ways to include all of your customer’s preferred online payment options, such as accepting multiple types of credit cards or even top payment apps such as Paypal or Venmo.

Provide COVID Updates

There are still lots of consumers out there who are worried about the different strains of COVID-19. Be respectful of these customer concerns and look for ways to make your business accommodating to them while still operating at full capacity.

A simple way you can assist these customers and keep your appointment-based business competitive in 2022 is to provide COVID updates for your area. You can include these updates on your business website or using your brand’s social media pages. This will let customers know what measures you’re taking to limit the spread of the virus, such as requiring masks or limiting appointment bookings as cases rise.

Don’t just stop at COVID news. Use your business influence to provide updates on other noteworthy community events. For example, you can use your website and social media pages to advertise local events such as fundraisers, food drives, and more. Getting involved in the community allows you to draw closer to your local customers and create an emotional bond that competing businesses will envy.

The most important thing to remember for your appointment-based business is that in order to stay competitive, you cannot settle. If you start to coast, you leave room for one of your competitors to catch up to you. Continue to set goals for yourself and your business throughout 2022 and be willing to try new things. You will always find yourself in the pack of the best appointment-based businesses around.

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Get More Done with the DRY Principle

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Get More Done Dry Principle

Take a minute and think about your everyday tasks. I’m sure that many of them are likely to be repetitive and time-consuming — whether you’re working in an office or from home. But, is there a way to reduce this workload to get more done so that you’ll be productive instead of being busy?

Thankfully, there are several strategies you can try in order to get more done. Examples include the Eisenhower Matrix or the Pareto Principle. But, have you tried the DRY Principle?

What is DRY, and How Does it Work?

Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas, in their book The Pragmatic Programmer, coined the phrase “don’t repeat yourself” in 1999. They describe DRY as “Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system.”

In software engineering, DRY is a technique for reducing repetition in code. Coders streamline coding using a single, reusable source, aka “snippet,” whenever appropriate. Hence, the name, don’t repeat yourself.

As well as saving time, writing the same thing multiple times means that there is less room for human error. After all, if you make a mistake once, you’ll probably make it twice. Plus, if you decide to make any changes, you only have to do this one time.

The bottom line is that less code is good. It saves time and energy. It’s much easier to maintain. And, it also reduces the likelihood of bugs.

While the DRY Principle originally applied to software development, it can be adopted into other facets in order to get more done. For example, on a daily basis, how many emails do you send and receive? Essentially, you’re recreating the same structure with slightly different wording with each email. And, when you’re calendar is already booked, this can be very tedious.

DRY requires that you take note of all your actions throughout the day, one at a time. You can include tasks that are within the following categories in order to meet this requirement:

  • Unplanned events, such as a phone call from a client or urgent text from a colleague.
  • Monthly and yearly obligations, like annual reports and one-on-one meetings with team members.
  • Everyday routines and your top priorities.

Once you’ve compiled this list, you can determine which ones apply to the DRY Principle. From there, take note of how repetitive, time-consuming, and intimidating each one is, and mark them down. If the top candidates are DRY Principle qualifiers, you can automate as many of these as possible.

In some cases, you will not be able to automate all the duties. However, you can streamline certain parts to help you get more done.

Where Are You Repeating Yourself?

Have you ever used a system like Getting Things Done (GTD)? If so, the DRY Principle should be easy to understand as both follow a similar process. DRY, however, aims to avoid redundant processes.

To get started, keep a daily journal for at least a week. Then, you should track your time for a more accurate picture for a month or so. This allows you to take note of your routine tasks. But, this should also help you identify less frequent occurrences as well.

Here are some pointers you can use while tracking your time.

  • Add unplanned or unscheduled tasks, like responding to a client’s email.
  • Keep track of monthly and annual tasks. Examples of these are quarterly reports, audits, invoicing, and tech maintenance.
  • Ask others what their routine tasks are to fill in any gaps.

Hopefully, you now have a bird’s-eye view of your tasks. Next, you need to decide which tasks are best suited to DRY.

You can do this using whatever tools you rely on to track your tasks. For example, you can create tags or labels for each category in your to-do list or time-tracking app. The categories can then be added as columns in a spreadsheet. Or, you can go old school and write them down with a pen and paper.

To make this process easier, hone in on the corresponding categories;

  • Pain points. These would be the activities that you dread so much that they cause you to procrastinate
  • Bottlenecks. Which tasks are bogging down the rest of your day?
  • Tasks that require a lot of time. Review your time-tracking results and determine which tasks consume most of your time.
  • Work that repeats itself. Which tasks do you find yourself doing over and over?

As a result of categorizing your tasks, you can now identify which tasks are suitable for DRY. DRY is most likely to benefit tasks with a repetitive nature. You can eliminate repetitive tasks from your list if they aren’t essential so that you can focus on what’s important.

Create Templates

After discovering where you’re repeating yourself, you can now find ways to eliminate them so you can get more done. And, perhaps the most accessible place to start is through templates.

In most cases, templates are blank documents that need to be filled in. You can either create one from scratch or download a premade online. Regardless, templates will save you time since you’re no longer constantly creating emails, invoices, or calendars every day.

Generally speaking, templates are most needed in the following areas:

  • Emails. Office workers receive an average of 121 emails each day. As a result, there’s a possibility you’re sending the same emails repeatedly. You can create your own template by removing all the personal information and saving it for later use.
  • Internal communications. Examine your most recent communications and search for patterns. Even a minimal template can ease your stress and save you time.
  • External documents. Contracts, proposals, invoices all seem to look the same. However, when you remove the information specific to your clients and partners, you’ll have a template to use, and you can customize it as needed.
  • Presentations. Prepare a presentation template if you deliver more than one presentation a year. Then, regardless of how different each presentation appears, the basic structure can remain the same.

One more thing with templates. You should consider them as non-static documents. You should, therefore, update the template if you notice that you’re always making the same changes.

Automate Routine Tasks

During the course of your workday, you perform several repetitive tasks. But, what business tasks should you consider automating?

For starters, scheduling appointments. It’s easy to schedule appointments with calendar apps. You can send your calendar via email or link it to your website. You can now show others your availability so they can select a time and date that works for them. Once chosen, the event will be automatically added to schedules for all attendees.

Sorting and responding to emails, posting to social media, and filling out online forms can also be automated. This is also true for proposals, invoicing, customer service, and data backup.

You may only have to spend a couple of minutes on each task. But they add up quickly and divert your attention.

Follow the 30x Rule

Until now, we’ve only discussed the many ways you can leverage tools and messages to save time. However, DRY can also be useful in your daily activities.

“Most managers would think it’s crazy to spend 2.5 hours training someone to do a 5-minute task because they think ‘it would just be faster to do it myself,” notes Management consultant Rory Vaden. “That is because most managers are stuck in classic ‘urgency’ thinking of only evaluating their tasks inside of the construct of one day.”

“In which case, it never makes sense to spend 2.5 hours training someone to do a task that they could do themselves in just 5 minutes,” says Vaden.

According to Vaden, you should allocate 30X that amount of time to train others for any task that can be delegated and repeated. For example, a five-minute task delegated and trained for 2.5 hours will save you 1100 minutes (over 18 hours! ), according to the 30-X rule.

Mathematically speaking, it’s Total Task Time (5 minutes 250 working days) – Training Time (5 minutes).

It’s All About Staying DRY

Because all these processes are getting done in the background, you will have more free time because you won’t need to perform repetitive tasks manually. So when it comes to time management, the DRY Principle is an effective tool to experiment with.

By maximizing your output now, you will have more time to spend on the things that matter most in the future. And, to get started, take a look at your current workload, and see if there is anything you can automate under the DRY Principle.

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7 Tips for Firing an Employee Gracefully and Ethically

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Firing an Employee Gracefully

As an empathetic leader, I couldn’t help but cringe when I read how let go of 900 employees…over Zoom. Not only is this a PR nightmare. It can drain morale and create a toxic work environment.

But, could it get any worse? Well, here’s what an employee, who wasn’t fired, had to say about the experience to Business Insider.

“You’re the lucky ones,” CEO Vishal Garg told them. “Garg said the people he laid off had been low performers — and then he set the bar even higher for those of us left, telling us it was time to work even harder than before,” the employee added. “It was pretty scary to hear that from someone who had just fired 900 people.”

“This wasn’t my first time being at a company going through layoffs, but this one was different,” they stated. “There was absolutely no warning, and in the aftermath, Garg belittled the laid-off workers to the rest of us and told us there would be no second chances from now on. The whole thing was demoralizing.”

“Since the layoffs, everyone has been on edge,” the employee elaborated. “We’re all looking behind our backs, expecting to get fired next. It’s not a healthy environment.”

While the optics are bad, we don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. So maybe Garg did have a valid reason for letting these employees go. In my opinion, though, he went about it the wrong way.

Why you might have to let an employee go.

One of the most challenging decisions we have to make is to part ways with a team member as a leader. Of course, sometimes, this is inevitable. Examples would be incidents of;

  • Acts of discrimination
  • Assault and harassment
  • Criminal activity
  • Insubordination
  • Lack of competence
  • Constant absenteeism

While the hiring process is intended to weed out unprofessional individuals, sometimes they slip through the cracks. And, in some cases, they may not actually display these characteristics until they’ve settled into their roles.

Additionally, you may have to downsize to improve efficiency or reduce costs. Or, you may have to pivot and change direction to respond to market changes.

Whatever the reason, if terminating an employee is inevitable, here are seven tips to carry this out gracefully and ethically.

1. Offer opportunities for improvement beforehand.

When an employee’s performance is in question, the chances are that a series of events have led you to need to make this difficult decision. That’s why it’s recommended that you might frequently consult with each member of your team individually to discuss their progress and offer feedback on where they can make improvements. You may also want to conduct performance reviews twice a year.

Generally, termination should only be the last option if the employee has violated the company’s policies. However, an employee can use a performance improvement plan (PIP) instead of firing them. This can help them track their progress, reach their goals, or discourage destructive workplace behaviors.

If you’re unsure whether your employee is performing well, ask your other team members for their perspective. For example, you could ask them about their attendance if they’ve missed deadlines or have difficulty communicating or collaborating with others.

If you document other members of the team’s experiences, this strengthens your case for why and how an employee must improve. In short, employees should never be caught off-guard when it comes to being fired. Instead, you should give them a chance to improve.

2. Inform human resources of the employee’s behavior.

The Human Resources department should be informed of all actions taken before terminating an employee. At the minimum, this should include implementing an improvement plan and how the employee progresses. In addition, documentation provides evidence and reasons for an employee’s termination by tracking the employee’s incidents and behavior.

HR can ensure that termination is a fair decision and that the proper procedures and protocol are followed. It’s also essential for both employees and the workplace that termination procedures comply with state and company requirements.

3. Create a transition plan.

“Choose the day and the time for the termi­nation deliberately,” advises management consultant and author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals Dick Grote. “While experts disagree on when a firing should occur, all acknowledge the importance of having a rationale — a good business reason for your choice of time and day for dropping the ax.”

“Doing it early in the day, early in the week, encourages the employee to get right to work on finding another job,” he adds. Furthermore, this reduces the chances of them spending the weekend planning revenge. “Friday after­noons, on the other hand, often create the minimum amount of disruption to the rest of the staff,” stays Grote.

Whether or not firing an employee is the solution, always put your company interests first. You probably put up with a subpar performance for months hoping the situation would somehow improve. As the end nears, make sure that the transition goes seamlessly not to harm the company or your colleagues.

“Check the succession plan for an internal candidate,” he suggests. For example, if you need to terminate someone, you may want to start recruiting and wait until you find a replacement. Sending these subtle hints to clients, customers, and even your team that staffing changes are imminent could ultimately work in your favor.

4. Be clear and concise.

When it comes to firing an employee, winging it is never the best course of action. You need to know actually what to say and how you’ll deliver the news. That’s why it’s suggested that you also practice the conversation you will have with the employee.

“Make sure you know exactly why you’re firing a worker, have specific examples, and bring the proper documentation, writes Kathryn Vasel over at CNN. “That includes copies of performance reports, any write-ups, and applicable financial forms like unemployment insurance and health insurance and 401(k) options.”

You should be clear and firm about the termination and the next steps. “There is no room or need to get into a protracted discussion,” said Dan Ryan, founder of Ryan Search & Consulting. “It is what it is; there is no productive discussion that can take place after.”

5. Don’t humiliate the employee.

“If I must fire an employee, I treat them with dignity because I don’t want to humiliate them,” writes Mike Kappel, founder, and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC in Forbes. “I will always fire someone in private behind closed doors.”

“Employment termination isn’t just bad for that individual— it’s also bad for the other employees,” he adds. “Other employees don’t know if or when they’re going to be on the chopping block.”

It’s also possible for your employees to have relationships with the fired employee, such as being friends outside of the workplace. As such, you could “risk draining the morale of the others if you fire someone in front of” the entire team.

He suggests it might be a good idea to fire the employee after the other employees have left for the day. In that case, the terminated employee does not have to leave their office (or wherever you fired them) in front of their coworkers.

Always have a witness.

“When you need to fire an employee, you and someone from Human Resources should be the only two people in the room with them,” Kappel continues. “If you don’t have an HR department or representative, grab a witness, like a trusted employee or even your business’s lawyer if applicable.”

In the event that the employee sues you, having someone else in the room with you is imperative. Why? Because this individual can confirm your firing of the employee was legal and ethical.

During the termination of an employee, a police escort may be appropriate in very rare situations. That may sound excessive. But, if you feel that they may become aggressive or violent, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I once had to fire an employee with a police escort,” recalls Kappel. “She threatened to beat up another employee.” She also engaged in cage fights on weekends. So, when the officer arrived, the employee was let go — and thankfully without incident.

6. Keep documentation of the entire process.

Documentation is essential for the company’s reference — both during the termination process and afterward. These documents may include records such as a written notice of termination. As a rule of thumb, you should always document any actions taken, such as implementing a Performance Improvement Plan and its results, before firing an employee.

In general, the more documentation you have, the more straightforward this process can be? Why? Because it ensures that all work procedures are followed based on your employee handbook and pertinent labor laws. And, if the employee dispute the firing, you can use these documents to validate your decision.

7. Handle paperwork and tie up any loose ends.

In addition to termination documents, you should also bring the employee’s final paycheck with you. If you offer a severance package, explain what’s included. Review any noncompete or nondisclosure agreements with the employee, along with if they’ll continue receiving benefits like health insurance.

“After learning of the termination, the employee will most likely feel confused and upset,” writes Amy DelPo, attorney, for NOLO. Prepare to assist the employee by answering questions such as;

  • “Do I work the rest of the day or leave immediately?”
  • “When can I collect my belongings?”
  • “Do my coworkers know this is happening?”
  • “What should I tell my clients?”
  • “I have appointments scheduled for the rest of the week; what should I do about those?”

It would also be helpful if you developed a plan for ongoing work before the meeting to address the following;

  • Are these projects going to be assigned to someone else?
  • Are there any tasks the employee needs to complete?
  • Is the employee required to assist with the transition?

What to do after terminating an employee.

The following steps may be necessary after firing an employee. However, doing so may avoid terminating another employee or helping the department fill the vacant position.

  • Educating employees about workplace expectations. You can accomplish this by sharing employee handbooks and having one-on-one meetings. As a result, this could be enough to prevent additional firings.
  • Keeping employees in the loop. The law outlines specific guidelines about when and how to discuss an employee’s termination. However, being transparent about an employee’s termination openly and discussing any behavior that may still exist within the workplace will discourage rumors from being spread.
  • Posting a new job to fill the existing position. Reassign tasks to other employees after terminating an employee’s employment, or have managers temporarily take on those tasks to account for the departed employee. To avoid overburdening other employees with work and responsibilities, create a new job posting for the vacant position as soon as possible.
  • Strengthening your existing team. Host team-building activities if you need to bolster morale and encourage team bonding. You could also celebrate your team’s achievements or have some fun in the workplace, like throwing a pizza party.

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4 Methods to Improve Client Retention

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Methods to Improve Client Retention

There are two great battles being waged by businesses every single day: the fight to get new customers and the fight to get them to stay. Customer acquisition and client retention are a never-ending cycle for companies, one that requires a lot of time and effort to manage.

While it’s important for a business to always be looking for new customers, once a good clientele is established, retention is debatably a higher priority. Not only is it less expensive than acquisition, but having loyal customers will ensure that you’re continuously pulling in revenue to keep your company running smoothly.

Once you recognize the need to pay more attention to boosting customer retention, it’s time to take action. Here are a few ways you can make a more concentrated effort to keep your clientele around for the long haul:

1. Reminders When They Schedule

When a person books an appointment with your business, it’s their responsibility to remember the date and time they’ve selected and uphold their commitment. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit back and hope that every customer fulfills their end of the deal. A person’s plans might change, or details may simply be forgotten while navigating a busy schedule.

Providing your customers with appointment reminders adds extra security to each booking. This will make sure patrons get through the door on their first visit and ensure they can enjoy a high-quality experience that leads them to book future appointments with your business.

Appointment reminders can be provided in a variety of ways. You could write up appointment cards at the front desk, give a call the day before, or send texts, emails, or even app notifications. Customers should be able to choose how they receive their reminders, ensuring that they’re helpful and effective rather than pointless or irritating.

2. Periodic Complimentary Services

When you periodically reward your faithful customers, you’re more likely to see new ones stick around in the hope of getting those same deals. Incentives have long been a powerful tool for client retention. That’s why rewards programs that use recurring visits to accrue redeemable points are so commonplace today. If you reward loyalty, you’ll see it more often.

You don’t have to put together an entire rewards program to improve your customer retention. Get started by including one complimentary service that any repeat customer can take advantage of. For example, many car dealerships offer free oil changes to any person who purchases a new car from their lot. The sale of a new car is worth a lot more than a few oil changes, and this deal will keep the customer coming back, opening the door for more potential sales.

Some of the complimentary services you provide can be permanent. For instance, providing in-house Wi-Fi for guests is a relatively small gesture, but it will add to the overall appointment experience and promote retention at the same time.

3. Check In When It’s Been Awhile

If you haven’t seen a customer for an extended period of time, reach out to them. Let them know that they’re more than just a successfully closed sale. You want to be of service to them for a long time, not just take their money for one transaction and send them on their way.

When checking in with customers, be sure to make your interactions as personal as possible. Consumers can easily tell whether or not a company is being sincere. They will notice when a message is crafted from a template as opposed to one that is customized just for them. Send them an email that references past visits, or give them a call to check in and offer your services. This, in turn, can help your business improve its client retention.

4. Ask for Feedback

Sometimes in order to improve retention, you have to make a few adjustments. Instead of making changes blindly and hoping they work, ask your clientele for their honest feedback. Soliciting feedback from customers who only visited once is especially valuable because they can often share a specific reason they did not return.

The easiest way to receive feedback is through survey responses. After a customer has completed their appointment, send a thank-you email with a link to your survey. Ask specific questions about their experience and be sure to provide an opportunity for them to speak their mind on issues you might have overlooked.

Perhaps you are struggling to get feedback from your customers. Or, you just want to reward those who complete your survey. If either of these are the case, attach a little incentive. This should be something general, like a coupon code for Amazon, for example. This way, it also appeals to customers who only visited your business once and aren’t likely to return; At least not until changes are made.

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