Today in Global Small Business: wegg® Program On How to Build a Great Global Company Culture

©2019 Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global™.  All rights reserved.  Used with Permission.

What’s affecting me, my clients, my colleagues and other global small business owners:

  • wegg® on-the-ground workshop held in Chicago is right around the corner — June 5th — and it’s on how to build a great global company culture.  If you want to move from good to great on exporting, this is the program to attend.  Please join us and hear from our famous host Radio Flyer, who has won numerous awards for best places to work.  To learn more and to register, visit: https://womenentrepreneursgrowglobal.org/2019/05/06/how-to-build-a-great-global-company-culture/.  I [Laurel Delaney] will be attending.
  • Quote of the week: “As history has repeatedly proven, one trade tariff begets another, then another – until you’ve got a full-blown trade war. No one ever wins, and consumers always get screwed.” – John C. Calhoun
  • Tariffs on all imports from Mexico begin June 10, 2019.
  • How an Oregon brand went from a small business to a global powerhouse in wellness
  • 42 countries agree to international principles for Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Making globalization work for Africa.

Starbucks Provides More Reward Options in Its Loyalty Program to Consumers

Starbucks has announced plans to revamp its North American loyalty program in order to continue its rapid membership growth. The American coffeehouse chain announced this ahead of its’ annual shareholder’s meeting slated Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

Coffee markets in the U.S. and Canada have become more competitive than that it has ever being, giving room to rivals such as McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Brands to invest in their own java offerings. Restaurant Brands International’s Burger King announced last week that if customers order for coffee through their app, they will be paying just $5 for a whole month of coffee. Meanwhile, $5 happens to be the cost of a Starbucks cappuccino. Also, Craft coffee shops with their high-end beverages have not ceased from implementing new strategies to lure coffee consumers.

Aside from the above-mentioned competitors, other restaurant companies have also invested in their app-based rewards programs, just to keep their consumer’s loyalty.

In an interview with CNBC, Starbucks chief marketing officer Matthew Ryan said the company has established the definitive loyalty program in their space. Regarding its competitors, “they’re trying to be the best” Matthew said, adding that “It’s a little hard for them [Starbucks competitors] to catch up to where we are right now.”

Starbucks has had some kind of difficulties in making customers come back. Even its latest drink innovations did not quite go down well with consumers. During Starbucks first quarter, same-store sales recorded a 4% growth in sales, with 3% coming from average check size increase. For now, coffee chains have focused on drinks that drive brand affinity such as the Nitro Cold Brew.

However, Starbucks has succeeded in convincing customers to come back through its app. The app helps customers to order and as well as pay ahead of time, thereby skipping long queues. It also helps the company in fine-tuning promotions and new products by providing access to customers’ data and in providing required awareness for the program. Currently, Starbucks is preparing to unveil delivery service to a quarter of the company’s stores by the spring with UberEats. Alongside this preparation, the company is making plans to add delivery orders to the rewards app.

Three years ago, Starbucks started a value-based program that gifts customers’ two stars as they spend $1. However, after several iterations to the program, members can now receive free foods or drink items for an accumulated 125 points. Starbucks said the points can now be redeemed by members once it’s up to 25 points starting from April 16.

New Starbucks redemption options taking effect from April 16 are listed below

Points Incentive
25 stars dairy substitute, additional flavor or  an espresso shot
50 stars hot tea, bakery item or brewed hot coffee
150 stars Hot breakfast, parfait or handcrafted drink
200 stars Lunch sandwich, salad or protein box
400 stars At-home coffee or select merchandise

Another change taking effect from April 16 is to take points hoarders into account. Those members whose loyalty program membership is attached to their prepaid card or Starbucks Rewards Visa credit card won’t have to worry again about their points expiring. The current rule implies that all gold level points will expire six months after the month they are earned.

Need Freelancers? New Program Helps Small Businesses Connect with the Best

freelancers

By Rieva Lesonsky

Hiring is challenging for small businesses in the best of times. But finding skilled talent, whether full-time, part-time or freelance, in an economy at essentially full employment is especially tough.

Help is on the way. Upwork, the largest freelancing website, launched Upwork Plus this morning. Upwork Plus is a “packaged service offering” created expressly for small, growing businesses to help them find and hire top-tier freelance talent.

David Abramson, VP of Growth at Upwork, says Upwork Plus was created to ease a particularly onerous pain point for small business owners—finding skilled freelance talent. After many conversations with small business owners Upwork realized they needed to create a “new model” to help small business owners, “who are under so much time pressure,” connect with the site’s top freelancers.

Future Workforce

The hiring challenge was underscored in Upwork’s 3rd Annual Future Workforce Report, which showed:

  • Over 3X (43%) as many small business hiring managers said hiring had gotten harder in the past year than though it had gotten easier (13%)
  • 57% cited ‘talent scarcity’ as their top hiring challenge
  • Hiring the right talent was ranked as the top growth driver for small businesses, followed by securing new customers and creating new products/services
  • High-growth businesses (small businesses who have grown more than 30% YOY) are turning to flexible, freelance talent to help ease project workloads and drive business forward:
    • 72% of high-growth businesses leverage freelance talent, and they expect to increase their utilization
    • 87% of businesses currently using freelancers plan to maintain or increase their usage in 2019

Small businesses face the additional challenge of competing with larger, better funded mid-sized or enterprise-level companies that can afford to pay more and offer better benefits.

Abramson says small businesses are “very innovative in how they run their own businesses” and they need innovative solutions. That’s what they’re getting with Upwork Plus, which is loaded with features, including on-demand support, greater visibility for job posts, dedicated dashboards for collaboration, and access to an exclusive community board devoted to Upwork Plus customers.

For $49.99 a month, Upwork Plus members get:

On-demand support from account managers. In addition to having access to 24/7 customer support, Upwork Plus customers can call on account managers “to help them post their first job or scale their hiring.” You can also “opt-in for talent specialist services that can assist in sourcing and highlighting top freelancers.”

Greater visibility through promoted job posts and client badge. Upwork Plus customers receive a monthly ‘Featured Job’, which, among other things, is included in a daily digest sent to top-rated freelancers. Clients also receive a client badge on the freelancer’s search results page to help attract talent.

Collaboration across an organization. Upwork Plus customers can track program efforts across an organization all in one place using their dedicated dashboard. It also enables customers to access collaboration and project status tracking tools.

Plus Community Board. I have long thought that small business owners need more access to one another—a place they can connect and talk about shared challenges and solutions. Upwork Plus customers get access to an “exclusive community board with guides and resources to help them find success with Upwork. Learning tools and forums will allow new clients to ask questions and share tips with other customers.”

The Importance of Freelancers in Growing Businesses

Freelancers have a major impact on U.S. businesses. The 5th annual study from Upwork and the Freelancers Union—Freelancing in America—reveals:

  • In five years, the freelance workforce grew 3x faster than the non-freelance workforce
  • 7 million Americans freelance in the U.S. today, up 3.7 million in the past five years.
  • Americans spend more than 1 billion hours per week freelancing

Upwork already offers special solutions for Business (mid-market) and Enterprise companies; Upwork Plus now gives small businesses a specific solution of their own.

There’s more information about Upwork Plus here.

Freelancers stock photo by GaudiLab/Shutterstock

5 Elements of a Successful Employee Training Program

If your peak season is on the horizon or you’re looking to expand your business, you’ll likely need more staff on board. While you’re laying the groundwork to hire new people, don’t forget to budget for training. It might seem easier and less costly to forego a formal training program and rely on the “watch, listen and learn” method for onboarding new hires. But the more you learn about the benefits of training to employees, the more you can appreciate how essential this step is to the success of your business.

The Benefits of Training to Employees

Even the best job candidates may need to polish certain skills or learn more about your business. For example, maybe you need to train them on your new customer service program or teach them how to operate your equipment. Maybe some of your hires will be filling the positions of recently promoted staff and need to be brought up to speed. Perhaps those advancing employees need training to enhance the professional skills required to excel in their new posts.

Whatever your training needs, the importance of training employees is essential: it not only shows that your company wants everyone to be on the same page, but also demonstrates your commitment to helping them succeed. As a result, your employees are more likely to be happier, more engaged and more productive. Neglect training and you could end up with workers who not only perform poorly but also become too dissatisfied to stay in the job for long.

To make the most of your small business hiring, you need a well-designed plan. Here are some guidelines for creating an effective employee training program.

Align Training With Your Business Goals

According to Forbes, it’s important for company leaders and human resource managers to be on the same page when establishing a training program’s objectives. Is your focus on ensuring the uninterrupted flow of your business operations? Making sure new workers reflect your company’s brand and values? Preparing future leaders for more responsibility? Whatever your goals, you need to define them before you start creating your training program. Then, structure the program to achieve those aims.

Make Training Adaptable and Relatable

Ideally, both the delivery and content of your training will be adaptable to employees’ work schedules and learning styles. That might involve making some lessons available in an online format, incorporating video training sessions that workers can access on demand, or ensuring any training presentations are relatable to people from various backgrounds.

Address Specific Skill Gaps

Your business may benefit from a training program that has several different learning tracks, such as oral and written communication skills for entry-level administrative or customer-facing employees, software training for sales staff, or leadership development for midlevel managers. For many small business owners, firming up soft skills — like communication, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and collaboration — is one of the highest training priorities. You can customize your learning content to address your company’s specific skill requirements.

Track Participation and Measure Results

You won’t know whether the dollars you’re spending on training are paying off unless your plan includes some way to measure the benefits of training to employees. Consider using software that collects and analyzes data on who accesses your digital learning content, how well they understand the lessons, and whether their performance improves when their training is complete. You can also develop your own method for monitoring the effectiveness of your training program.

Business owner trains a new hire on storing inventory properly

Consider the ROI

Effective employee training costs money, but the rewards make it worth the investment. For one thing, having well-trained workers is cost-efficient. The more workers understand their jobs, the more likely they are to do them right. That tamps down the cost of do-overs, wasted supplies and disappointed customers fleeing for your competition.

Training can also help improve retention, so you spend less on recruitment to replace workers who leave because they see no opportunity to advance. By the same token, offering training makes it easier to attract top-quality workers who view educational and career development opportunities as important workplace benefits.

If you want to implement a training program but don’t have enough cash to cover the cost, a short-term business loan could help you invest in your new hires without dipping into your working capital.

Now that you understand the importance of training employees, take steps to create a training program that enables your staff and your business to thrive.

This Program Diagnoses Website Issues in 15 Minutes

SiteGuru audits your business’s site to find and correct anything that’s standing between you and your target demographic.

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Having a stellar piece of real estate on the web is crucial for any growing business. It’s one of the first things potential customers, clients, investors or business partners will look at when they’re determining if they want to work with you. A great website adds a level of professionalism and credibility, but it’s easy to make mistakes if you’re new to the digital marketing game.

That’s why a lifetime subscription to SiteGuru is a must-have for your company’s website. The program performs a complete audit of your site, then uses a three-pronged approach to help you get a higher volume of quality clicks.

SEO Problems

Proper Search Engine Optimization pushes your website to the top of Google’s search results. SiteGuru takes a deep dive into the inner workings of your site to suss out SEO issues. The program gives you actionable results based on this audit to help you maximize the effectiveness of your chosen keywords and site content. It’ll also help you optimize meta descriptions, page titles and semantic structure so you can make Google Search work for you.

Usability Issues

Getting users to your website is only part of the battle: if parts of your site are difficult to use, you’ll lose potential customers every day. SiteGuru’s audit checks for usability issues, like broken links and security. It also tells you if your website is optimized for mobile use, so your clients and customers can quickly browse on their smartphones.

Troubleshooting

If your website still isn’t meeting its benchmark goals, SiteGuru gives plenty of tips for general troubleshooting. It explores the skeleton of your website to find problems you may have overlooked, like errors in your HTML and structural problems that make your website too slow. You’ll also receive a weekly update on how your site is doing and how you can improve it, so you’ll always be on top of your latest metrics.

Get a lifetime subscription to SiteGuru and kick your website up a notch for only $29.99

Why No Company Is Too Small for a Relocation Program

relocation program

By Michael Krasman

There is a war for talent going on and attracting and retaining talent has never been more difficult. One way to guarantee a larger pool of candidates, and open the door for more accepted offers, is to consider looking for candidates outside of your city and the surrounding area.

Of course, to make these offers more attractive, organizations would have to consider offering relocation benefits during their recruiting process—something that has generally been considered too complex or expensive to implement at small companies.

However, when it comes to building out a relocation program, (and like anything else in matters of business) it is always better to be proactive than reactive.

Putting a relocation policy in place before you need one means you’re paying attention to the potential company growth and employee experience.

Whether you’re a new and growing business or a lean, mean team, putting a relocation policy in place before you need one means you’re paying attention to the potential company growth and employee experience. In fact, without one, you could be hurting your own chances of success, especially when it comes to recruiting and retaining new talent.

Why Relocation Programs are Important

If you’re having difficulty hiring a candidate, a relocation program may not be the secret sauce you need to seal the deal. However, it can open more doors, and even help convince a candidate to accept a job offer. For some industries, there can be a need for highly specialized skillsets. However, some mega-cities are sucking up talent from all over the place, leaving the skills gap much wider in some areas than others.

And for HR this is fundamental. Because companies that are not in these areas will have a much harder time finding talent. After all, they can’t compete with the large company brand reputation or high starting salary.

A relocation program allows you to expand your search, so you can find the right fit with the right skills for your company. Not only will you be able to draw from a larger, deeper talent pool, but it will also be easier to seal the deal with the recruit. Solid relocation assistance can be the only thing standing between a “yes” and a reluctant “no.”

Recruiting Young Talent

There is also a segment of the workforce that, without a relocation program in place, could be discounting your company altogether: recent college grads. This population of the workforce may need some extra help when it comes to finding and relocating for a job. After all, due to their newness to the market (and crippling student debt), they’ll likely struggle to find the means to finance the large endeavor. If you have a program in place to help these new grads, you may be better equipped to fill your workforce with the younger generation. Plus, when providing relocation as a benefit, these young candidates will have a better view of your employer brand and will be more likely to spread the word, painting your company as an employer of choice.

Making it Work

It’s entirely possible for you to run a successful relocation program, even if you’re strapped for time, money and resources. In fact, one of the best ways to make employee relocation more affordable is to consider partnering with an employee relocation software company. When software is at the front and center of relocation, it’s easier to track, administer and control relocation costs.

Michael Krasman is a serial entrepreneur who has co-founded five high-growth businesses over his fifteen-year career. He is currently the CEO and Co-founder of UrbanBound, a cloud-based Relocation Management Software company that is reshaping the way employers offer and administer relocation benefits to their employees. 

Relocation program stock photo by gpointstudio/Shutterstock

How to Create a Customer Loyalty Program on a Budget

“Some people sell things so they can have customers — a smart business has customers so you can sell them things.” Dan Kennedy

Customer Loyalty Programs are a Profit Building Marketing Strategy

You already know that existing customers are more profitable customers.  The general assumption is that loyal customers purchase from you over and over again.  And, if you have a great product or service, customer loyalty will just happen automatically.  This is only partially true.

What you may not have considered is that existing customers who purchase across your entire product line are even more profitable, more loyal and more likely to refer your business to friends and family.

If your goal is to increase your profit margins, increase sales to existing customers and sell additional products and services to existing customers – consider instituting a Customer Loyalty Program as part of your sales strategy.

Look. Customers can be loyal as a habit. And this type of purchasing behavior can expose you to risk. Restaurants and retail shops understand this all too well; this is the customer that comes in frequently and always gets the same thing.  Their purchasing behavior is a habit, but if you suddenly eliminate this product or service or change something, you run the risk of losing that customer forever.

What is a Customer Loyalty Program?

A customer loyalty program is a marketing tactic that uses a system of structured rewards for customers in exchange for desired behaviors. They use the psychological principles of reciprocity, commitment and loss aversion to understand, reward and retain existing customers.

A great customer loyalty program fulfills on three typical marketing challenges and marketing goals:

  1. Increasing customer retention and lifetime value
  2. Selling, cross-selling and upselling more products and services to existing customers (which increases your profits)
  3. Understanding and profiling your ideal customer – because loyalty programs naturally capture your customers’ purchasing data and information.

Creating an easy-to-use customer loyalty program is a great marketing tactic if you have a decent number of customers, but they are stuck in rut or habit of buying specific products or services and not trying more profitable, more expensive products or services that might benefit them.

What are the different types of customer loyalty programs?

Each of the customer loyalty program types here are ideal for solving a particular marketing challenge.  Read through each one and see which one sounds like one that could help you overcome that challenge or meet a marketing goal.

Points-Based to Increase Purchase Frequency

Points-based programs are the most common type of loyalty program. Customers earn points for every purchase they make which can then be redeemed against rewards, credits, discounts towards purchases of other products or services, or free services. Ideal for businesses with frequent, low-cost purchases who want to increase the number of times customers purchase from them.

Use Wilbur Rewards to implement a points-based customer rewards program. When customers earn enough points, they receive an instant cash reward and their points return to zero automatically. Customers use their phone number to pay for their purchase at their next visit. Instant Reward Programs are perfect for the majority of businesses, especially if your business has a simple pricing structure, small ticket items and regular repeat purchases. This type of program easily replaces a punch card, reducing fraud.

Wilbur Rewards also has an “extra points” option which is ideal for providing your customers an incentive to purchase at specific dates and times or when you want customers to try a new product or service.

Tier-Based to Increase Upsells and Higher Dollar Purchases

The tier-based system encourages repeat purchases and higher value purchases in order for the customer to get access to higher value rewards.

Basic participation entitles the customer to a basic reward such as a discount. In order to get bigger, better rewards, customers have to increase the frequency and value of their purchases. This loyalty program works best for high commitment and high priced businesses. A great example is the Sephora makeup brands loyalty program.

You can implement this strategy quickly and easily with Wilbur Rewards as well. Wilbur members can save points until they want to cash in their points for a prize. Loyalty reward points are only redeemed when members decide to cash in. Graduated rewards are perfect for businesses with a wide variety of customer spending habits and frequencies. By offering different prize levels, you can keep every customer interested and feeling appreciated.

Values-Based to Find and Create Brand Ambassadors

If you’re a purpose-driven business with a set of core values and you’re looking for customers who share those values who can ultimately serve as brand ambassadors, this is a type of customer loyalty program for you.

For this program to work, your values and beliefs have to be a core part of your marketing message and then you have to find a way to reward your customers in a way that fulfills on your shared values.

A great example of this type of customer loyalty program is Warby Parker, Bombas, and Tom’s Footwear.  All of these brands will donate their products to less fortunate customers for every product that you purchase.  The more you purchase, the more you help others.  It’s a great way to help your customers feel good about themselves.

Popular for certain target audiences. Understanding your customers means understanding their values and lifestyle.

Depending on your brand and your target audience values you may offer a non-monetary reward as a result of your customer purchase.

Partnership Programs (Coalition loyalty) to Support Referral Relationships

This type of loyalty program is a great way to support and build referral partnerships between businesses who share the same ideal customer.

In a partnership or coalition loyalty program, you reward your customers with benefits from a partner business. For example, a real estate agent may have a partnership with a cleaning company or an insurance agent,  Or a bank might have a partnership with a restaurant or a hair stylist may have a partnership with a clothing store.

Paid Program – Membership Program to Increase Profits

This is one of my favorite types of customer loyalty programs because you literally get paid TWICE! Once, when the customer pays their membership fee and the second time when they actually make a purchase using some of the discount options for the program that they are in.

The best example of a successful paid loyalty program has to be Amazon Prime.  You pay an annual fee and in return, you get free shipping, discounts on products and monthly free deals with books.

A good example comes from the restaurant industry, but can be applied to almost any business.  You create one or several different VIP member packages that include free offers and discounts at a tiered level.  Then you host a monthly event for members only and invite them to bring a friend.  This grows your membership and repeat business.

Gift Card Program or Spend Program to Drive Traffic to Your Store

Another popular option is using a customer loyalty gift card program.. Sometimes this is called a spend program. This is an often overlooked customer loyalty strategy because businesses “feel” like they are giving product or money away for free. But this is a myth. Gift card loyalty programs not only drive existing customers to your store, these customers actually will purchase more than the gift card amount.

The basic idea is that your customers receive a gift card after they reach a certain purchase amount over a time period.  Some businesses offer a gift card from their business (which provides an incentive for a customer to return and purchase more products and services) and sometimes they provide a gift card to a partner if they are running a partnership program.

Use this customer loyalty strategy to drive additional traffic to your store.

Hybrid Loyalty Programs

Of course, you can create a customer loyalty program that merges several different types of programs This is called a hybrid loyalty program.

The most common combination is that of point-based system with a tier program as it makes the calculation of points easy for the customers and encourages them to pursue next loyalty level and thus, more purchases.

How to choose/create a customer loyalty program?

When it comes to choosing or creating a customer loyalty program for your business, there’s no doubt that it has to be:

  1. Easy to Use
  2. Customizable to your business
  3. Provide customer information that you can use in your marketing
  4. Low-cost and easy to implement and manage
  5. Provide a great customer experience, so that they use it.

But how do you actually choose the right loyalty program for your business? It’s not as overwhelming or expensive as you might think.  If you follow these steps in order, you’ll find that the right choice will jump out at you.

WARNING — do not skip ahead and try to pick a software first, you will get confused and overwhelmed because there are different types of customer loyalty program software systems based on the type of program you are running

  1. Run your financials.  Reach out to your accountant or bookkeeper and get a firm understanding of who your most profitable customers are (and what they buy) and what your most profitable products and services are (and who buys them).  Get a firm understanding of your costs and profit margins so that you can make intelligent decisions on what level of discounts you can offer.
  2. Determine what marketing challenges you are overcoming or what marketing goals you’ve set for yourself. Once you’ve run the numbers and reviewed them, you will have some firm marketing goals or challenges.
  3. Decide on how you want your customer to engage with your loyalty program. This is an important element of your choice because different loyalty program software solutions require different levels of engagement and work for your customer.  You need to know your customer and how they are most likely to engage with your software. Some customer loyalty software platforms require your customer to use an app, while others only require that they have a phone number.
  4. Match the loyalty program to your marketing goals.  The next step is to match the goal you are trying to achieve with a loyalty program that will deliver. For example, if you have lots of customers purchasing a low-profit item.  Maybe you want to shift them over to another higher-priced product or service that they will prefer and where you will make more money.  In that case, you can choose a tier-based program or use a points program to reward them with this higher-profit offer.

That’s basically all there is to it.  With the appropriate loyalty program tactic in hand, it’s time to find a technology tool or customer loyalty program software that will help you manage this program.

How to Find the Right Customer Loyalty Software for Your Business

You’ve decided on your customer loyalty program, now you need a customer loyalty software to help you implement it and manage it.  This can get a little challenging if you don’t even know what to search for and how to choose a system.

Step 1: Research your options

The customer loyalty program space is extremely cluttered.  In other words, it’s going to be really, really hard to find an all-inclusive list of all the software that’s out there.

Your research phase will take a little while as you get a lay of the land.  Here are a few tips to help you along.

Answer these questions before you go searching:

  • How many people will be using it
  • What industry you are in
  • Specific features or functions you want (points, membership,
  • Is it web-based (Saas) or installed on a computer
  • Which mobile platforms does it need to run on (Android or iOS)

Answering these questions will keep you focused on your search as you’ll need to search on Google, industry databases, etc. to get a list that you’re happy with.

2. Visit software directories to get seed names

Now that you know what you want, visit sites like GetApp, Capterra.com and G2Crowd to see what companies and software are listed on those directories.  In my research for this article, I felt that Capterra was the better choices as they have a clear cut category for “Customer Loyalty Software” and filters available to help you narrow down your choices. However, G2Crowd doesn’t have categories or filters, but when I searched on “customer loyalty software” I received about 200 listings. Both Capterra and G2Crowd have customer reviews that will help you get a better understanding of what each platform offers.

3. Ask your industry association

If you belong to an industry association, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to them and simply ask what platforms they recommend for their members, you may even get some special discounts.

In this article, I’ve laid out a simple step-by-step process for you to implement your customer loyalty program.  While I did provide resources for you to research and choose a customer loyalty software, I’ve also recommended Wilbur Rewards as a customer loyalty software because it’s an ideal, low-risk, easy to start platform for the most basic rewards programs.

Don’t let another year go by without leveraging the power and profitability of your existing customers.  Use a customer loyalty program to reward your loyal customers for their purchases, to start gathering data about your ideal customers’ preferences and (this is my favorite) to cross sell more profitable products to your existing customers.