Knowing your customers helps spur sales and return business

September 1, 2013  |  Management

A customer is standing in front of you. Maybe she has a question. Or a complaint. Or maybe she’s thinking about a purchase, and wants to discuss a product issue. What do you say to best serve the customer, and bring about a win-win resolution of the conversation? Sounds like a simple question.…
Contingency plan: An unexpected breakup leads to solo success

July 1, 2013  |  Feature, Industry News, Management

“I think the most significant lesson I’ve learned over the past couple of years is not to get too comfortable,” says Cindy Boersema, owner of The Nautical Needle in Holland, Mich. “Being a business owner is not about relying on others to always be there to work for you and with you—bec…
Successful succession planning

July 1, 2013  |  Feature, Management

Sooner or later, everyone contemplates retirement. For those who own a closely held or family-owned fabrication business, retirement is more than just a matter of deciding to not go to work anymore. In addition to ensuring there will be enough money to retire, business owners, shareholders and partn…
The do’s and don’ts of online discussion groups

July 1, 2013  |  Management

So why bother to join one of those online discussion groups? If you think a group is just one more dreaded task, you’re mistaken. Think for a moment about the insight and ideas you gleaned from your last professional conference. Or the practical tips colleagues give you on the telephone every …
Tech blows in

May 1, 2013  |  Feature, Management

OK, you’re afloat in the Bahamas. The enclosure protecting your pilot house blows out. You need a fix right away. Wind, waves, weather—it happens all the time, but replacement isn’t always easy. In many such cases, an enclosure must be fitted carefully to your specific boat. So, stuck there in…
Creating a dream shop

May 1, 2013  |  Feature, In the Shop, Management

Steve Jobs started Apple in his parents’ garage. Amazon, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Mattel and Microsoft also began in garages. Dell and Facebook began in dorm rooms. And Virgin Group’s humble beginnings trace back to an old church crypt. Like Jobs, Larry Schneider founded a company in his parents…
Marketing in the digital age

May 1, 2013  |  Feature, Management

Like all things, marketing products and services have changed over the past decade. A typical marketing campaign of yesteryear for a small business involved direct mail, print ads, radio and billboard advertising, flyers, posters and listings in the Yellow Pages. Today, 98 percent of consumers sear…
Handling online criticism

May 1, 2013  |  Management

The right—and quick—response can salvage your digital reputation. By Rebecca Kennedy Imagine this: You’re surfing the web some morning, and a flurry of negative posts about your business or product line pops up. The criticism could come from a consumer website, a blog, a social-med…
Selling through to the end

March 1, 2013  |  Feature, Industry News, Management

Solid customer relationships is the underlying goal in successful sales. By Barb Ernster Sales strategies might serve different objectives and involve different tactics, but for the most part they are universal to businesses of any size, follow the same trends, and transcend industries. Building sol…
Cruising on the web

January 1, 2013  |  Feature, Management

Everyone has a website these days. Right? You don’t? Cheer up. In a way, even if you don’t have a website, you’re in the same boat with a lot firms that do. Many people, hosting a web presence or not, are still trying to figure out how to design and maintain a site that actually … <div>…