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50 Tips

To Help Improve
Your Business

The Top 50 Tips Provided By Irish


Business Owners And Managers
Page 2 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

INTRODUCTION
Irish business owners are an inspiration.
In Sage, we have seen our business
customers face the past four years with
determination and a business intelligence
that has seen them through some very
difficult economic times. Not only that,
but we have seen a whole new range of
businesses coming to the market that are
confident in the future. We wanted to use
this e-book to enable Irish businesses
to share their success and the steps that they have taken to
ensure the longevity of their business. It is clear that some of
them have made changes that have really helped their business.
As Sinead Hayes from Advent said when we interviewed her for
this e-book “Doing nothing is not an option, so I would say keep
trying different things – see what works and then do more of it.”
I would echo this sentiment and encourage any business owner
that is struggling to consider real and serious change in their
business. Perhaps one of these 50 tips can be the starting point
for change in your business.

As another one of our contributors, Carol Tallon of Buyers Broker


advised; “Don’t be afraid to blaze a trail. Recession levels the
playing field for businesses, the best will rise. All businesses are
relative, success is measured in the context of the market.”

Liam Mullaney
CEO of Sage Ireland and Sage Technologies

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 3 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

Contents
1. STRATEGY 6 - 10

2. PEOPLE 11 - 16

3. MARKETING 17 - 21

4. BUSINESS PROCESSES 22 - 25

5. FINANCE 26 - 30

Doing nothing is not an option,


so I would say keep trying
different things – see what
works and then do more of it.

introduction 2

Contibutors 4

About Sage 50 Accounts 5

about the Contibutors 31 - 32

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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contributors

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 5 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

About Sage 50
Accounts
Sage 50 Accounts is Ireland’s marketing leading
accounts software. It is designed to streamline all your
accounting routines, reduce data entry and save you
time. Sage 50 Accounts 2013 is the best release ever,
and we can thank our customers for that.

We listened to over 4,000 customers who provided


essential user feedback. From that information and
the great ideas put forward we’ve designed the most
comprehensive package to date.

Sage 50 2013 will give you much more control over


your finances and will ensure that you are up to date
and compliant with the very latest legislation.

From streamlined navigation to simplified language and screen layouts,


we’ve made everything easier to find and use.

Sage 50 2013, the best just got a lot better.

Call us on
1890 88 20 40
or try it now for free

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


1
Strategy
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1 strategy
1. Write A Business Plan Every Year
For anyone starting a business, writing a business plan is a
crucial first step. Writing a business plan forces you to consider
What works in
your business model, your marketing strategy, and commits you
individual cases to sales forecasts including a cash-flow projection. However,
with individual don’t let your business plan gather dust, it should be a living
customers is breathing document that you update regularly and every year
you should write a business plan for the year ahead. We do this
ultimately worth
in Sage and it is an essential part of our planning activities for
nothing if you the year ahead.
can’t scale that
Avril McArdle
and apply the Digital and Marketing Manager at Sage Ireland
same high levels
of services 2. Everything You Do, Make It Scalable
and customer Every week and every day our company gets a little bit better.
satisfaction This can be through major initiatives like launching our Wine
Club, or just a small process improvement, like improving the
design of our delivery boxes to reduce breakages. Everything
we do, however, must be scalable to be worth doing. That
means a packing process working for 1,000 internet orders as
well as it does for 10, or delivering to Donegal as quickly and
cost effectively as Kinsale. What works in individual cases with
individual customers is ultimately worth nothing if you can’t scale
that and apply the same high levels of service and customer
satisfaction indefinitely.

Michael Kane
Chief Taster, Curious Wines

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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1
1. Strategy

3. Competitors Can Be An Asset, Watch Them,


Know Them
While we had no direct competitors when we started, as ours
was the first company in Ireland offering exclusive, nationwide
sourcing, our main competitors were estate agents. Our
strategy was to educate the market that estate agents work
for the sellers. If buyers wish to be represented Buyers Broker
Avoid the trap of could offer that service. As new direct competitors came into
being all things the market we kept in close contact, to the point where we do
to all people quite a bit of collaborative work. We have now taken over two
competing firms and this principal continues to work for Buyers
Broker.

Carol Tallon
Managing Director, Buyers Broker Ltd

4. Consider A Multi-channel Strategy


A multi-channel strategy means using a number of different
channels or engagement points to reach a customer. The
objective of multi-channel is to make it easy for the customer to
purchase in whatever way is most appropriate for the customer.
Channels may include selling online, in store, over the phone or
on the go using mobile. The ability to offer multiple engagement
points for customers in addition to your website has been
proven to drive additional revenue for merchants in both
increased sales and customer retention.

Sean Wilson
MD, Sage Pay Ireland

5. The Internet Can Kill You!


When addressing the Internet, be crystal clear about who your
target audience is. Avoid the trap of trying to be all things to all
people. The Internet is a rigged game. It is rigged in favour of
those who specialise. If you are a generalist the internet will kill
you. People search specifically not generally. People choose
specialists, not generalists. So when preparing a web strategy,
focus ruthlessly and achieve clarity about who you are trying to
reach.

Ian Dodson
CEO, Digital Marketing Institute

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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1. Strategy

6. Be Strategic In Your Communication


When you are communicating internally and externally, ask
yourself the question ‘Am I delivering the right message in the
right way to the right person?’

By being more mindful over how you communicate, you make


it more likely that you will impact others with your message.
Am I delivering Always consider how your messages make the other person
feel and not just what it will make them think. Emotions produce
the right
action. Your customers will be more likely to buy and your staff
message in the will be more likely to listen if you pay attention to how you affect
right way to the their feelings with your message.
right person? Owen Fitzpatrick
Owner, Owen Fitzpatrick International

7. Include Social Media In Your PR strategy


Social media has been an exciting development for the PR and
communications industry. 90% of PR briefs received at Elevate
in the last six months have required some element of online and
social media strategy. Despite all the hype about online PR, it
does not live without offline / traditional PR. Social media offers
powerful new tools for PR agencies to use and the web can give
great consumer insights – both good and bad. The same rules
apply, define your objective, set your strategy accordingly and
measure outcomes. Listen, engage and enjoy.

Emma Kelly
MD, Elevate PR

8. Think Global
Ireland is a market of 3.5 million or 250,000 businesses. The
global market is 7 billion, 190 million companies at a rough
estimate. Most of these companies are online or are soon to be
there. The same time it costs to develop the small Irish market,
could be spent on developing a global market, particularly if you
consider going on online (which you should). With technology
and with the communication channels you now have at your
disposal, it is as easy as trying to do local business. The world is
a global village now.

Ron Immink
Co-founder of Small Business Can and CEO of Bookbuzz

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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1. Strategy

9. Focus On What You Do Best


We focus on what we do best – we are not trying to be all
things to all people, so if we don’t do something, we will either
partner with somebody who does provide a particular product or
service, or we will refer our clients directly to another company.

Sinéad Hayes
Don’t let your Sales & Marketing Manager, Advent.

business plan
gather dust, 10. Make Decisions
it should be a There is true power in making decisions: where you are today is
a direct reflection of the decisions you made days, months and
living breatihing
years ago, and where you want to be tomorrow will be the direct
document that result of the decisions you are about to make. Here are my
you update decision-making keys:
regularly
• have a robust decision-making process, and include these
two vital ingredients: belief and commitment
• align every decision you make with your goals, milestones and
big outcomes
• avoid making decisions based on fears, and focus on making
decisions based on faith
• it is normal to have fears when you aim at big things; do not
let these fear moments control your decisions.
Frederique Murphy
CEO, Frederique Murphy Ltd.

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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people
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2 people
11. Make Your Customer’s Needs The Forefront
Of Your Sales Strategy
Get your Always have your customer’s best interests at the forefront
of your thoughts. If you can understand what their business
culture right. really needs, you can begin to build a long standing and loyal
Find out who’s relationship. Good negotiation is about finding the common
committed ground for both you and your customer and maximising the
in your potential collaboration between both parties. If you understand
their business requirements clearly, and they understand how
organisation your product or service can clearly help them, you are a long
and who’s not. way towards a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship.
For those that
Barry Murphy
aren’t, find out Sales Manager at Sage Ireland
why they’re
not and what 12. Learn From Your Customers
needs to change Take the time to talk to your customers to understand their real
to make them needs. Observe how they use your product or service or carry
committed... out a survey of your customers to find out what they really think
and then use that information to customise your service offering
to meet their needs. Encourage your customers to give you
feedback and be open to listening. They can tell you what is
good and what needs improving but be careful about listening to
what you only want to hear. A happy customer can be your best
advocate. Not all comments will be positive but you learn more
from an unhappy customer than from a happy one.

Nigel Pim
Director, Pims Business Systems

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 13 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

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2. People

13. Keep Staff In The Loop


Where a business has staff employed and it gets into difficulty,
it is important to engage with the employees to communicate
the situation properly. Where payroll cuts need to be made it is
important to look at all the options with the employees – such as
reduced hours, career breaks, unpaid leave, lay off etc., – and
not just the obvious choices of wage cuts and redundancy. It
Encourage may be possible through communication to implement a series
your customers of changes to working conditions and methods and achieve the
to give you same or even more payroll cost reductions than the more harsh
and direct redundancy.
feedback and
be open to Tom Holmes
Director, Ballymount Accounting
listening... but
be careful about
14. Nurture Your Business Culture
listening to what
We’ve recently made a statement of core values that represents
you only want
what Curious Wines is all about. I think above all else this
to hear says we want to be open and transparent, and committed to
world class service with our customers. To state these values
publicly instils a culture in our company as we grow, ensuring
we actually deliver on values like service and accountability,
and don’t just pay them lip service. Even though we’re small,
everyone is committed and highly protective of these values, it
sends out a strong message to customers, suppliers and future
employees. Get your culture right. Find out who’s committed
in your organisation and who’s not. For those that aren’t, find
out why they’re not and what needs to change to make them
committed. Only when you’ve a unified and committed company
internally can you look outside to find success and growth.

Michael Kane
Chief Taster, Curious Wines

15. Hire People Who Are Better Than You


The best piece of business advice I got was “Don’t be afraid to
hire people who are better than you are.” I liked that. Be humble
and you’ll get great people on board who can maybe even teach
you a thing or two along the way.

Gavin Duff
Amplify Marketing

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 14 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

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2. People

16. Get Out From Behind The Desk And Get


Stuck In
One of our key business strategies from the start has been
“We will come to you!” We feel that the best way to gain
an understanding of your business is to actually be on your
premises or in your factory. Too many people in our profession
have been reluctant to come out from the office and get stuck in
The best way with the client at their business. Our feeling is that the client will
to gain an be much more comfortable in their own business setting and it
understanding will be easier for them to relate to us as their accountants.

of your business Tom Holmes


is to actually Director, Ballymount Accounting

be on your
premises or on 17. Invest In Your People
your factory... We continuously invest in our people – we have invested
and get stuck in heavily in training and accrediting our team and in particular our
Support/Implementation Team over the past 12 months. We see
with the client at training as a vital component in the development of our team.
their business.
Sinéad Hayes
Sales & Marketing Manager, Advent.

18. Business Is Business, People Are People –


Everything Else Is Just Vocabulary
I’ve worked across a range of industry sectors; retail,
manufacturing, professional services, tech. They each have
their own ‘language’. The trick has been to stay focused on the
value proposition to the customer – business and people. I think
one of the challenges for owners/managers in adopting new
technology is the vocabulary. It can be really off-putting when
people are talking about clouds and tribes and yet it’s pretty
straightforward with a handy thesaurus of analogies.

Joan Mulvihill
CEO, Irish Internet Association

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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2. People

19. Engage Your Team


To remain competitive and prosper in a challenging economy it
is inevitable that we will need to change our business processes
and ways of working.

Your co-workers can provide a great source of insights, so no


matter how busy you get, a weekly update meeting with your
Your team is a great way to access their collective ideas.
co-workers Use the team meeting it as an opportunity to celebrate success
can provide a as well as ensuring everyone is engaged and aligned to your
great source objectives and are clear on how they can contribute to the
success of the business.
of insights, so
no matter how Krishna De
Biz Growth Media
busy you get, a
weekly update
meeting with 20. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
your team is a Everything that you desire, wish for, dream of, everything you
want is outside of your comfort zone, so you need to step out to
great way to
get it. Here are the keys to stepping-out:
access their
collective ideas • accept, face, embrace, and push through your fears to break
through your comfort zone,
• learn how to embrace the uncomfortable every day with daily
actions,
• every time you will stretch outside of your box, you will grow (it
is a never-ending process),
• it takes courage to step out of your comfort zone, so have
someone to stand by your side as you do.
Your ability to move forward depends on your ability to make
decisions and on your ability to step out of your comfort zone:
take actions and make it happen.

Frederique Murphy
CEO, Frederique Murphy Ltd.

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 16 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

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2. People

21. You Can’t Beat Experience


Over the past 10 years we have “kissed many frogs”,
researched, tried & tested many products and when it comes
down to awarding contracts it is this experience that wins over.
Understanding what works and what doesn’t and the ability to
learn from our mistakes is key to our business.

Your ability to Naomi Sharpe


Marketing Manager, FibreLED Ltd
move forward
depends on your
22. Recruit Fairly And According To The Law
ability to make
Interviews are daunting for the person being interviewed,
decisions and
but can also be intimidating for the interviewer. There are
on your ability to currently nine grounds under Irish legislation that you may not
step out of your discriminate against existing or potential employees. These are
comfort zone marital status, family status (children), race, religion, age, gender,
disability, sexual orientation and membership of the Travelling
community. As an interviewer you have to tread the line between
assessing and getting to know the potential employee with
ensuring you don’t ask any question that may be deemed
inappropriate. Asking question directly related or indirectly
related to seeking information on these nine grounds means you
could immediately fail any complaint made by an unsuccessful
candidate under the Irish Equality Act. The best way to protect
your business is to ensure anyone involved in making hiring
decisions is properly trained on how to select candidates while
staying compliant.

Katie Craig
Head Of People Services, Sage Ireland

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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marketing
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3 marketing
23. Access Competitive Intelligence
A recent global study of CEO’s conducted by IBM identified that
within the next three years, aside from face to face engagement,
We invested
social media will be the most important way for businesses to
in re-branding connect with customers.
- despite
If you are looking to use social media start by being clear about
tought market
what your objectives are for using social media and define how
conditions, you will measure your success. Even if you are not planning to
we realised use social media at this stage, you can access useful data to
the potential help you be more effective with your marketing and customer
service by evaluating the online reputation your brand, product
cost of “doing
and services on forums and social media sites.
nothing”...
Krishna De
Biz Growth Media

24. Make Sure Calls To Action Are Clear On Your


Website
A call to action is the part of a web page that solicits an action
from a user, the most popular call to actions includes “buy now”
and “learn more”. Ensure call to actions are prominent on your
website by drawing attention with a sufficient size of message,
a colour that stands out and sufficient use of white space
surrounding the message. Also ensure it’s above the “fold” of
the webpage, so the user doesn’t have to scroll to notice it.
Effective call to actions are one of the most important elements
of converting a visitor to a buyer or encouraging a user to take
the next step, compelling call to actions can have a dramatic
impact on sales.

Sean Wilson
MD, Sage Pay Ireland

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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3. Marketing

25. Use Online To Build Your Business Offline


For retail, getting your store online helps but getting more foot
fall to your brick and mortar business using online marketing is
often forgotten. We are frequently surprised at the number of
retail firms who fail to collect customer email at POS and fail to
follow up with getting feedback about products purchased.

Social media is Chris Byrne


Founder of Newsletter.ie
an invaluable
tool, not only to
26. Use Social Media To Convey Your Brand
get your name
Personality
out there and be
We’ve relied on social media to promote our business and
recognised, but communicate with existing and prospective customers since
to listen to your we started in 2008. It’s an invaluable tool, not only to get your
consumers name out there and be recognised, but to listen to consumers,
position your products and your messaging accordingly, and to
get your brand personality across. I believe social media is most
effective when it’s unfiltered and without hidden motives. Be
yourself, show the world what you’re about, and listen to what
people have to say.

Michael Kane
Chief Taster, Curious Wines

27. Blogging Can Drive Your Business


Social media has been our greatest asset to date. It launched
us into the media, with regular TV/radio/print exposure. Our
blogging in particular really drove the business and helped me
to find a publisher for my first book in 2011, the Irish Property
Buyers Handbook. I have since had the 2012 edition published
in print and digital format, together with two business e-books
on Competitive Intelligence and Pre-negotiation.

Carol Tallon
Managing Director, Buyers Broker Ltd

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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3. Marketing

28. Show And Tell


Telling and showing people what you do is the best form of
business promotion. Consider speaking at conferences, provide
business education and training and become active on the
networking scene. You can then demonstrate your knowledge
and expertise and even your products to your audience.

Telling and John Crawley


Owner, The Finance Expert
showing people
what you do is
29. Get The Right Domain
the best form
If you have a business idea, but are not yet ready to go live,
of business
make sure you claim the domain name for your business as
promotion early as possible. Choosing a domain name is one of the most
important branding decisions you will have to make. Whenever
possible, register your company name as your main URL
because it is what people enter first when searching for your
website, but do some research to ensure that your URL does
not infringe on any registered trademarks. You should also
consider registering your product/service names as additional
URLs.

Sally Tomkotowicz
Marketing Manager, Register365

30. Establish A Brand For Your Business


We invested in re-branding – despite the tough market
conditions, we realised the potential cost of “doing nothing”
when it came to investing in our brand. This investment has
been invaluable – we now have a clear, concise and consistent
message that enables us articulate our unique selling points to
prospective clients.

Sinéad Hayes
Sales & Marketing Manager, Advent

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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3. Marketing

31. Test Your Business Brand


Carefully establish your business identity and test it at each of its
delivery touch points. Here are some simple questions for you
to ask about your business brand. Does your company image
properly portray your company offering? Is your company image
capable of communicating effectively to your target prospects?
What does the word “Brand” mean to you and your company
Within the next in terms of generating incoming business, referral business and
three years, return on marketing spend investment?
aside from Vincent Scanlon
face to face Owner B2B Signs & B2B Print & Director at
Marketing Institute of Ireland
engagement,
social media
will be the most 32. Invest in SEO
important way There are users all over the country on Google.ie who are
actively seeking your brand, product or service. Capture them
for businesses and convert them. Ranking well on Google is not optional, it’s a
to connect with must, particularly if one of your main revenue streams is online.
customers Be wary of agencies who will promise you a number one ranking
on Google as this is not ethical. In short: invest in SEO now
before it’s too late because your competitors probably are.

Gavin Duff
Amplify Marketing

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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business
processes
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4 business processes
33. Optimise Your Customer Acquisition Process
Examine your customer acquisition funnel and identify any points
in the process where potential customers are falling off. Perhaps
We have
you are struggling at the beginning and not getting enough
migrated all our customers to your website or perhaps your problem is further
communication down the funnel. By examining your process you can identify
to the cloud. what you need to improve.

This allows our Robert McNamara


consultants Senior Account Manager, Sage Ireland

to pull up
mail on their 34. Use Cloud To Enable A Mobile Workforce
smartphones, In a drive for efficiencies, we have migrated many of our
tablets, laptops, company processes to the Cloud. Our company database is
Cloud based, and can therefore be accessed from anywhere.
works stations This means that our consultants can pull up vital information
or home from anywhere in Ireland, or the world for that matter. We have
computers also migrated all of our communication to the Cloud. This allows
our consultants to pull up mail on their smartphones, tablets,
laptops, work stations or home computers. As many of our
consultants are often travelling to and from meetings, this allows
transit time to become work time.

Gary Mullan
Owner, Prosperity Recruitment

35. Get The Right Tools To Support Your


Business Processes
We put a lot of effort into our support and finance process.
Having the right tools to respond to customers quickly has
helped grow our reputation for being responsive.

Chris Byrne
Founder of Newsletter.ie

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 24 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

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4. Business Processes

36. Apply Technology


Technology used to be a barrier to entry. No small company
could afford investing in mainframes, software development and
super computers. No longer. Cloud, open source and Moore’s
Law have changed all of that. Technology is a commodity
and as a result is a must have. Apply attribute listing to your
business process (breaking down your process to the smallest
word of parts possible) and see where you can apply technology and/or
mouth and the outsourcing. Anything that is routine can be digitized. Stick only
maintenance with the core of what makes you unique, special and different.
Focus on data capture and learning everything about your
of our good customers. It will cut costs, make you scalable and your work
reputation will be much more enjoyable.
is of vital
Ron Immink
importance to Co-founder of Small Business Can and CEO of Bookbuzz
the continuation
of our business 37. Embrace Change
Change is never easy and no one really really likes it but it’s a
question of deciding to go for it, committing to the newness of
it all and trusting that it will work out for you. It’s not just about
buying the technology, it’s about buying into it, dedicating the
time to learning new things (digital marketing, online sales for
example) and sticking with it. There are so many great case
studies of inventive businesses that have invested more time
than money but are now realising the benefits and standing out
from the competition.

Joan Mulvihill
CEO, Irish Internet Association

38. Measure Your Customer Service Quality


It is up to management to lead the way and coach their team as
to why giving excellent customer service is important and ensure
measurement of customer service quality is part of business
processes. Although you might think you are giving excellent
customer care, if there is no way of recording and measuring
this then you can’t really be sure or have a level from which to
improve.

Michael Thompson
Accounts Production Support Team Manager at Sage Ireland

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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4. Business Processes

39. Build A Good Reputation


In our business you are only as good as what your last client
says about you – word of mouth and the maintenance of our
good reputation is of vital importance to the continuation of our
business. The cultivation of a good reputation and the provision
of a good service is of vital importance. We have found that
doing someone a “good turn” will pay back at least ten fold in
It’s not just goodwill and referral business in the future. We have helped
about buying the people that have been in trouble with the Revenue, we have
the technology, helped our local school keep their books, we have helped
charities – all of this work was done “pro bono”, but we do it
it’s about because it builds our reputation.
buying into it,
Tom Holmes
dedicating the Ballymount Accounting
time to learning
new things and 40. Build Efficiency
sticking with it
Is your business operating with maximum efficiency? Could one
person do the job that two people are employed to do? Is there
time being wasted doubling up or doing manual processes that
could be automated?

We have developed our own sales methodology, which has


proved successful. We have adapted our CRM system in-house
to reflect the process we follow. This gives sales people a clear
direction and gives management the necessary view of what’s
happening. Knowing that processes are followed consistently
means that it is easy to measure performance and it also means
that it is easy to “tweak” something if it is not working.

Sinéad Hayes
Sales & Marketing Manager, Advent

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


5
Finance
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5 finance
41. Cash Flow Is King
It’s vital that a business keeps the cash flowing throughout the
good times and the bad. You need to understand how and
we added a
when the cash will flow. You can do this by preparing cash flow
freemium model projections to understand how your cash flows are going to
to the business change in the coming months. By doing this you can prepare
with online in advance. You should also be trying to accelerate inflows and
slow down outflows. You can do this by examining ways of
payments and
converting debtors’ balances into cash by way of early payment
our business discounts, invoicing promptly or reviewing credit terms. You can
jumped to more also reduce your stock levels by pricing slow moving stock at a
than 5,000 discount. To stem outflows, investigate extending credit terms
with suppliers or renegotiating a lease agreement.
customers in
that year alone David Merrigan
Commercial Finance Manager, Sage Ireland

42. Volume For Vanity, Profit For Sanity


Our business is typical of one that has a relatively small number
of high value customers and we are always seeking to grow our
customer base. A lot of managers focus on growing the volume
of their business, even at the risk of margin. If every deal does
not have a value proposition on it’s own merit, you are doing the
wrong deal. Don’t discount to win volume.

Robert Baker
Founder & CEO, Baker Security & Networks.

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 28 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

5
5. Finance

43. Compliance Is Important


It is a basic requirement of all tax payers (individuals and
companies) to ensure that they are aware of the relevant tax
deadlines and ensuring that they are meeting the compliance
deadlines for the relevant taxes that they are registered. With
the implementation of Revenues Online Service (ROS) the
interaction between the tax payer and Revenua has improved
It is important considerably and it is important that both your tax agent and
that both your your business are registered for ROS. This will allow you to view
tax agent and your deadlines, liabilities and tax history in real-time and also
allow you to receive important notifications from Revenue.
your business
are registered Mark Ryan
Director, Quintas
for ROS. This
will allow you
44. Offer Your Customers A Pricing Structure
to view your
With Regular Payments
deadlines,
One thing I’ve felt since 2008 is that it’s becoming more
liabilities and difficult to keep a consistent cash flow and this is mainly due
tax history in to customers/clients feeling the strain of lump sum payments.
real-time Within every proposal I set a pricing structure with regular
payments, broken down by month. This helps your own cash
flow and the smaller amounts are much easier to accommodate
for customers.

Offering to break down payments shows a client that you are


responsive, flexible and understanding. It also has a positive
effect on your relationship.

Christina Giliberti
Owner, CG Online Marketing

45. Do Not Accept Everything As It Is


Design it as it should be, plan then implement to make it
happen. For example, we could not afford the payment terms
and conditions that were standard in our industry so we
designed our own. New entrants to the market adopted ours,
and ours then became the industry norm for buyers agents.

Carol Tallon
Managing Director, Buyers Broker Ltd.

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 29 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

5
5. Finance

46. KCD (Keep Costs Down)


Even if a company isn’t struggling it should be in a constant
root and branch analysis of costs. People forget that even in the
boom years, many businesses went bust because outgoings
exceeded incoming revenue.

Gary Mullan
If every deal Owner, Prosperity Recruitment

does not
have a value 47. Cut Costs At The Back-end
proposition on There has never been a better time to become leaner and more
efficient. This does not mean you cut quality at the front-end,
it’s own merit,
that is what customers still want. Cut costs at the back end.
you are doing You would be surprised the number of non-IT companies, who
the wrong deal. end up running IT departments they don’t need, or paying
Don’t discount external consultants to keep servers going. These costs can be
cut by moving to the cloud.
to win volume
Robert Baker
Founder & CEO, Baker Security & Networks.

48. Make It Easy For Customers To Pay You


Too often this is an area that is least optimised in a business,
often to its detriment. A few years ago we added a freemium
model to the business with online payments and our business
jumped to more than 5,000 customers in that year alone.

Chris Byrne
Founder of Newsletter.ie

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 30 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

5
5. Finance

49. Make Every Cent Accountable


When dealing with vendors and suppliers ask if they can make
the proposed spend measureable and accountable. The
same applies to businesses offering a service. Companies
need to measure the benefit of their investment. Data analysis
and accountability need to be the heart of all communication
planning as real, tangible results should be delivered from all
activity.

Jason Nebenzahl
Managing Director, PHD Ireland

50. Engage With Creditors (especially the


Revenue) As Early As Possible
It is important that where a business finds itself in difficulty
over paying its creditors (to include trade suppliers, banks and
Revenue etc.), that it seeks to engage and talk to the creditor(s)
as soon as possible about the situation. From our experience
it creates a good amount of goodwill with the creditor if this
engagement is initiated first by the business in trouble rather
than the creditor finding out elsewhere that there is an issue.
From our experience once the initial problem is communicated
to the creditor, it is usually relatively straightforward to get an
agreed deferred payment arrangement with the creditor.

Tom Holmes
Director, Ballymount Accounting

It is important that where a business


finds itself in difficulty over paying
its creditors, that it seeks to engage
and talk to the creditor(s) as soon as
possible about the situation

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 31 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

Advent CG Online Marketing

contributors A Sage Gold Partner, started up in 2003


with a small team of five people and now
employ 15 people. Advent specialises in
CG Online Marketing; a digital support
and consultancy agency based in Cork
that launched in 2008, covers a range of
software development services for Sage 200 custom services including SEO, marketing/
Accounting Software and Sage CRM. content strategy planning, copywriting,
website project management, advertising and
Amplify Search Marketing analytics.
Amplify is an Irish search marketing agency
owned by Digitalworx Ltd, the online group Curious Wines
of The Irish Times and was founded in in Curious Wines was founded in 2008. They
January 2011. They specialise in search import their own wines from all over the
marketing and help businesses effectively world, retailing through an innovative wine
reach their customers through a variety of warehouse concept on Cork’s Kinsale Road
digital search touch points. and wholesaling to a range of commercial
customers including bars and restaurants.
Baker Security & Networks After growing turnover by 25% from 2010 to
2011, they are now running 40% ahead in
Baker Security & Networks was founded in
2012 for the same period in 2011.
1995 and employees 15 people. They are
Ireland’s largest Google Apps reseller. They
have over 120 Google Apps Customers and Digital Marketing Institute
support over 90,000 Google Apps. The Digital Marketing Institute was founded
in 2008 and has established itself as a key
Ballymount Accounting support to the Digital Marketing sector in
Ireland, offering Diplomas in Digital Marketing
Ballymount Accounting was incorporated in
and Social Media.
June 1998 and specialises is in the provision
of part time financial control to small and
medium sized businesses. The company has Elevate PR
access to specialist business services such Elevate is a medium sized PR agency
as Auditing, Insolvency, IT and HR etc. with a client portfolio of leading brands,
organisations and owner entrepreneurs.
B2B Signs Elevate PR was established in 2001 by
Emma Kelly and currently has 11 staff.
B2B Signs was established by Cork
businessman Vincent Scanlon over ten years
ago. B2B Signs provides a complete range Frederique Murphy Limited
of signage solutions for businesses and Frederique Murphy is a mind-set strategist,
organisations all over Ireland. who founded her business to focus on
her passion: transformation! Frederique’s
Buyers Brokers business acumen stems from having been a
communications and change management
Buyers Brokers was started in 2006 to help
consultant for over ten years, working on
buyers cope with the changing market. They
multi-million dollar programmes around the
advise clients on current market trends,
world and running a successful business.
source a selection of potentially suitable
properties, presenting the best to property
buyers. .

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


Page 32 50 Tips To Help Improve Your Business, sponsored by Sage 50 Accounts

Krishna De Pims Business Systems

contributors Krishna De is an award winning


communications strategist, commentator
and mentor. She guides business leaders
Pims Business Systems started in 2001
helping business prepare for the Euro and
currently employs 10 People. Pims sell
on how to integrate digital and social media support and train Sage Software, specialising
communications into their business strategy in maximising the benefit businesses get from
to boost their visibility, reputation and profits. Sage software.

Irish Internet Association Prosperity Recruitment


The Irish Internet Association is the Prosperity is Ireland’s only specialised digital,
professional body for those conducting creative, media and marketing recruitment
business via the internet from Ireland. agency. Incorporated in 2001, they currently
Established in 1997, the IIA is a strong voice have a team of ten specialist consultants.
for over 300 member companies.
Quintas
The Finance Expert Quintas is one of Ireland’s leading
The Finance Expert’s was started in 2003 by accountancy firms, offering clients market
John Crawley after 23 years with the Ulster leading business and personal financial
Bank Group (owned by RBS). They offer the solutions. Quintas are based in Cork and
services of a seasoned businessman with with a team of over 60 dedicated staff, they
significant banking, business, marketing and specialise in all areas of audit, tax, advisory
strategy experience. and wealth management.

Newsletter.ie Register 365


Newsletter.ie provides an online platform Register 365 offers domain names and web
that makes it easy for any business to create hosting as well as Ecommerce solutions
email newsletters which get delivered. It’s and DIY website building tools. Register365
free for 2,500 contacts. Newsletter.ie was is part of the Dada Group, an international
started in 2002 and now has ten employees group of companies who specialise in
with offices in Ireland and San Francisco. providing professional Internet services.

Owen Fitzpatrick Sage Pay


Owen Fitzpatrick is an author, speaker, Sage Pay is Ireland’s leading multi-channel
psychologist, trainer and broadcaster. Owen payments provider. Every year, Sage Pay
was the presenter and expert of the RTE processes billions of Euros worth of secure
primetime show ‘Not Enough Hours’. Owen payments for its 40,000 customers and
is also the co- author of ‘Choose Freedom’, makes the process of accepting payments
an international bestseller, which has been online, in store, over the phone, or in person
translated into 6 languages. simpler, faster, safer and more profitable for
businesses of all sizes.
PHD
PHD is part of Omnicom Media Group, Small Business Can
which is made up of PHD, OMD, M2M and a Small Business Can started with a year of
number of specialist media companies. research and preparation and was launched
in April 2009. It is now a brand in its own
right, has 15,000 members with Ulster Bank
confirmed as a partner for another five years.

Sage. Making Business Better. Call us on 1890 88 20 40 www.sage.ie


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Sage Ireland
3096 Lake Drive, Citywest Business Park, Dublin 24, Ireland.
Tel: 1890 88 20 40 (International: +353 1642 08 00)
Fax: 01 642 0899
Email: sales@sage.ie
www.sage.ie
Sage Hibernia Limited 2012