Tag: phoenix small business

The Four Firkins

Upon moving across the globe from Australia to Minnesota in 2001, Jason Alvey found himself falling hopelessly in love…with good beer.  The craft beer movement was alive and growing here in the States and Jason found himself searching for a way to share his new found passion for the good stuff with his fellow Minnesotans.  He opened his first retail location of Four Firkins in May of 2008 and just a few years later approached SCORE Minneapolis for advice on expanding their space and boosting sales.

My Successes

Under the guidance of SCORE Minneapolis mentor Rich Barkley, Four Firkins moved locations in October 2011 to a more visible storefront that’s twice the size of their old shop.   The improvements are evident; December 2011 sales soared to $180,000 – double that of December 2010!  The new store has nine employees compared with five at the previous location and they are now on pace to triple sales.

How SCORE Helped

Of SCORE, Alvey commented, “It’s absolutely incredible.  If more people knew what these guys are capable of and what they do, they wouldn’t have any free time. Their phone would be ringing off the hook.”

What’s Great About My Mentor?

“I honestly could not have done it without their help, without their insight,” said Alvey of his SCORE mentors. “We are now at a completely new level. This is a dramatic improvement, and the potential to grow this is amazing.”

Check out the Four Firkins Website: www.thefourfirkins.com

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How to Get Your Suppliers to Give You a Better Value

Written by: Acceler8 Business Advisors

Does it seem like some business owners have all the luck when it comes to their suppliers? It always seems like they’ve got a newer, better deal than what they had before. So what’s their secret? It’s all about knowing how to get your suppliers to give you the best value they possibly can—and realizing that value doesn’t always mean money.

Getting the highest value from your suppliers is the fastest and easiest way to reduce the cost of operations. Of course the term “supplier” can mean your vendors, maintenance contractor, or even your landlord. So here’s how you go about getting the best value.

  • Look over your supplier arrangements regularly so that you are always on top of what you are paying and what you are receiving for that money.
  • Talk to your suppliers about bulk or loyalty discounts or other terms for those arrangements regularly. Often buying larger quantities or signing a longer contract can make a big difference in the price you will receive.
  • Consider if you are satisfied with the quality of the goods or services you are receiving from your supplier. If not, then it’s probably time to replace them.
  • The way your suppliers manage your account also makes a big difference because if it takes too much effort on your part to get answers to your questions, then you can probably do better.
  • Don’t be afraid to choose another supplier if the one you are using won’t let you negotiate to get the terms you need.
  • When looking at ways to cut costs, be sure that you aren’t getting lower quality. Reducing the quality of your own goods or services is the fastest way to send your own customers packing.
  • Think about whether you could reduce the number of suppliers you currently use. You’re actually spending extra time dealing with multiple vendors, and if one can supply the same goods or services as the other, why not deal with the same supplier for multiple services or goods. Just remember not to put all your eggs in one or two baskets though because you could end up with the opposite problem—no one to supply those needs if those companies suddenly go out of business.
  • Look at other benefits than just saving money. Paying less for delivery or being able to extend your payment terms can be a real benefit to you down the road.
  • Examine any intangible benefits you are receiving from your supplier, like development work that they are constantly doing to be able to serve you better.
  • As your business grows, you may even need to change your suppliers altogether, especially if you intend to diversify your own offerings.
  • Look everywhere for suppliers—even if it means taking your business offshore. The marketplace is bigger than it ever was before because now you can go almost anywhere to find a deal.

Just remember that not every business owner will find value in the same places. Improving your bottom line isn’t always about the cash. Sometimes it’s about tools that will make it easier for you to do business or to reach more customers. Spend some time figuring out what the term “more value” means to you. Sometimes getting a lower price won’t mean nearly as much as having an opportunity to double the number of clients you have.

To Learn More About Acceler8, CLICK HERE!

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What Small Business Owners Need to Know about Online Marketing.

Written By: Kristin Slice

According to Merchant Circle 51% of local merchants receive at least one online marketing sales call each week, with 10 percent called on almost a daily basis. Small business owners are barraged by sales people pushing online marketing. All of this sales pressure can be confusing and just adds to the high anxiety levels of business owners trying to improve sales. These four guiding principles will help you navigate your options:

1.)    You should have a solid Internet presence so you can be found when people are looking for you but online marketing is not for everyone! Small business owners have limited resources which means they cannot use every tool. Use the best tools for your business and your marketing strategy. It might be better to invest your dollars in more face-to-face marketing, targeted direct mail campaigns or event marketing.  Ask yourself the critical question: Does your target audience look for your services online? Second, do you have the resources to compete for those leads? In large markets (like Phoenix) it may cost a lot to be competitive.

2.)    Your business needs a solid, functioning website before you can maximize online advertising. Whether it is pay-per-click on Google or Facebook or banner ads, if people find your business online, the first thing they will do is visit your website. Make sure that you have installed an analytical program that that shows your website’s effectiveness. Meaning – those searching are taking appropriate action (calling you, placing an order, requesting more information).

3.)    Online marketing falls on a spectrum. If you just want to be found and have a basic presence, with a little bit of elbow grease you can accomplish a lot. Cut down on costs by doing what you can first. (Three Dog Marketing has a helpful guide.) You know your business and goals. Make sure that your online marketing efforts fall in line with your overall business strategy. Not everyone needs to be ranked first on Google.

4.)    One of the benefits of online marketing is that ROI and analytical data is easy to collect. The down side is that most of us have to rely on experts selling us the product to interpret the data. If you are going to invest in online marketing you don’t need to know the mechanics of how data is posted.  You just need to understand the analytics and review on a regular basis.

Online marketing is an ocean of possibilities. You don’t need be an Olympic swimmer but you do need to know enough to ensure that your business does not drown.

To learn more about Kristin and her company, Three Dog Marketing,        CLICK HERE!

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