Learn four strategies that can help you retain your customers, and even onboard new ones, during disruptive times.  By FINSYNC  COVID-19 has turned the world upside down for small business owners. You, like many others, have probably had to deal with cutting costs, laying off employees, and securing funding for your business.  And while crisis management is important, it’s equally important to think ahead and focus on retaining your customers. The major changes in the market have altered the purchasing habits of your customers, and you need to adapt fast.  We’ve put together four customer retention strategies that will help you retain your customers. To help you persevere in the new economic climate.

Increase Your Online Presence

Your customers are probably spending more time at home than ever, which also means more time online. This provides a great opportunity to create additional interest around your products or services, which can be achieved in multiple ways. First, you should stay connected with your customers in a more casual way through Facebook and Instagram. Think outside the box and experiment. You can stream anything related to your business, from a Q&A to a launch party or a product tutorial. This type of content can help customers stay engaged with your small business while also providing some much-needed entertainment. Social media platforms can also help create a sales channel to replace the one you may have lost in the physical world. You can add links to your products or services directly in the videos and photos you post to make it easier for customers to make a purchase.  

Rethink Your Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is all about creating sales leads by publishing valuable content for your target audience. Regardless of where they are in their buying journey. However, the coronavirus has drastically changed the needs of your customers as well as their buying journey. This means that you also need to adjust the content you’re publishing. For example, if you run a small consulting company within the legal or personal finance space, your customers are probably looking for information about unemployment benefits, employee rights, and budgets, rather than investment advice and help with real estate documents. This gives you an opportunity to build a thought leadership position, both with your existing clients and prospects.

Enable Easy Payments

To ensure payment continuity, small businesses should focus on offering as many online payment options as possible. These days, cash payments can easily be replaced with credit card payments. Not only does using a credit card make it easier for customers to pay you from the comfort of their homes, it may also be a preferred payment method for those whose financial situation has changed.  Payment platforms like FINSYNC make it easy to accept a variety of payment types, including ACH and credit cards (even if you don’t have an existing merchant account). You can also convert paper checks into online payments by acquiring a lockbox. This way you won’t have to deposit the checks in person, and you can still do business with customers who can’t pay any other way. 

Communicate Frequently With Your Clients

Prioritize keeping your customers in the loop about how COVID-19 is affecting your business. This is different than any social media content you may post, and will likely be a more serious and straightforward communication. Perhaps your small business can start a newsletter. Or maybe you add a new landing page to your website where clients can go to be updated on the most important information. But if your products and services are especially useful during the COVID-19 situation, you can take it a step further. How about hosting a webinar where you demonstrate how your products and services can be helpful? Or follow up with customers by phone or email to see how they’re handling the situation? It’s also a good idea to put extra effort into customer service, such as video instructions, how-to pages, detailed FAQs, etc.   There’s a balance to be struck between necessary and redundant information. If you succeed, you may kill two birds with one stone; you can retain customers right now, but you may also gain new ones once the crisis is over. After all, word of mouth is powerful, and we all know that happy clients are some of the best salespeople a small business can have. 

Maintain a Customer-Centric View

Now more than ever, it’s important to focus on your customers. Recognize that the purchasing journey — from why customers buy your product to how they pay for it — has changed and you need to adapt accordingly. To retain customers, and even gain new ones, make sure that your small business is providing valuable information during this time of uncertainty. Go back to the core of your business and ask yourself what kind of problems your customers are dealing with right now. Focus on how your products or service can make this period easier for your clients. And, of course, make it easier for them to pay for those services with online payment options. Your customers and your business are likely to face tough times. How you handle the current disruption can define whether you’re able to retain and grow your customer base.
Learn how FINSYNC helps start-ups simplify payments, payroll and cash flow — and get access to start-up capital and small business insurance.  By FINSYNC  Being a small business owner is both exciting and stressful. Your to-do list is never complete, and chances are the majority of items on that list are non-revenue bearing tasks. FINSYNC can help you run your business more efficiently with intuitive tools. Meanwhile, save you time and allow you to focus on getting your start-up off the ground. The FINSYNC ecosystem consists of three main pillars: software, service database, and start-up funding.  No matter what stage your start-up is in, your business can take advantage of some or all of these pillars. Here’s how: 

Scale as You Grow

It’s easy to scale your business with FINSYNC’s platform.  If you’re a start-up, you can begin with a basic subscription to handle all of your payments. The platform can be up and running within 24 hours with ACH, check processing and charge card processing. As your business grows and you hire more people. Then, you can add features like payroll, cash flow management, and accounting.  Connecting your bank accounts and handling all of your payments through FINSYNC will give you a real-time projection of the health of your start-up. This is crucial for any business. Therefore, the more FINSYNC features you use, the more accurate your cash flow projections will be.  Another small business start-up resource that FINSYNC offers is free, easy-to-access support. If you have questions or need help with a feature, you can reach out by chat or phone, or access a comprehensive support library online. 

Take Advantage of the Gig Economy

There are two ways you can leverage the gig economy through FINSYNC. First, is by having your independent contractors track time directly in FINSYNC. This way, you can have a better overview of their expense, and you can pay them as a part of your main payroll.  Secondly, you can get access to the expertise of financial professionals like bookkeepers and accountants through FINSYNC’s services network. Your start-up will be matched with an experienced financial professional who is well-versed in your specific industry. No need to waste valuable time on the recruiting and hiring process, or invest in a full-time employee. This on-demand network of vetted financial professionals can support you at every stage of your start-up’s growth.

FINSYNC Partners With Accelerators

FINSYNC works with several accelerator programs that offer excellent support for start-ups. In addition to mentoring business owners that take part in many of these programs, FINSYNC offers participants a discount for its all-in-one accounting platform. Check the perks program at your accelerator or contact FINSYNC Support to find out what start-up discounts are available. Some of the accelerators FINSYNC works with include:
  •     Techstars - a seed accelerator from Boulder. The highly competitive program has helped over 1,600 start-ups since 2006.
  •     Boomtown - provides seed funding, business resources, company-building curriculum, mentorship, and community. They run 12-week accelerator programs in Boulder and Atlanta.
  •     The Farm - an Atlanta accelerator sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal that offers event space, a prototyping lab and coworking facilities.
  •     Atlanta Technology Village - offers mentorship, working space, and pre-accelerator programs for start-ups.
  •     ATDC - Georgia Tech’s technology business incubator offers coaching, community, and capital for start-ups.
Taking part in programs like these can help start-ups get a leg up on their new business with invaluable resources and advice.

Streamline Your Processes and Save Time

FINSYNC’s consolidated system can help start-ups save time and work more efficiently so you can focus on growing your business.  Having all of your back-office functions on a single platform makes running a start-up easier for solopreneurs and small business owners alike. There is no need to integrate with additional applications or remember multiple passwords. The consolidated system also makes it easier to manage your workflows.  With FINSYNC, your accountant, bookkeeper, or even a lender can log in and get access to real-time information about your business. This significantly limits time spent faxing, copying, and sending files over email. More importantly, it enables your team to make better decisions and move faster. 

Get Financing Through FINSYNC

The third pillar of the FINSYNC platform is financing. If your business is looking for start-up capital, take advantage of FINSYNC’s network of lenders. There are several benefits of taking this route instead of the more traditional one. First, the application process couldn’t be easier. You fill out one application in a matter of minutes that gets submitted to several lenders.  Second, and perhaps most importantly, your application will only be submitted to lenders who operate within your risk profile. This means that the lenders are more suited for the development stage and the needs of your business. Often requiring less time in business than traditional lenders.  In addition to revenue, lenders typically look at how well you manage your cash flow. With FINSYNC, all of these metrics can be easily documented. Increasing your chances of getting approved for funding.

Shop for Small Business Insurance Through FINSYNC

Is your start-up shopping for small business insurance? FINSYNC’s insurance network can help make this process a lot less painful and time consuming by connecting you with a business insurance broker that best suits your start-up’s needs.  Similar to FINSYNC’s lending network, you simply fill out one quick application to get connected with a broker that will help you shop around for the best rates on general liability, workers compensation or cyber insurance.

A Simple and Intuitive Way to Run Your Business

FINSYNC makes it easier to manage your payments, employees, and contractors. In addition, the platform can also provide you with real-time cash flow projections. As a result, It's easier to make informed business decisions.  Whether you use the platform to automate time-consuming back-office tasks, connect with a vetted bookkeeper or secure funding for your start-up, FINSYNC can help streamline your business operations so you can focus on getting your new business up and running.  Ready to accelerate the growth of your small business? Meanwhile,  Start with a free, week-long trial of FINSYNC to see how the platform can transform your start-up.
Hiring new employees is a considerable undertaking for small businesses. Growing companies also have the option of tapping top professional talent by bringing in contractors.  By FINSYNC How do you know when it’s time to hire a new employee? As a small business owner, you’re used to wearing many hats, and doing whatever needs to get done at any time. Still, even you have to sleep sometimes. If you’re having to turn down clients, preparing to launch a new product or location, or have a specific set of tasks that require a different set of skills than you have, it may be time to bring in some help.  Hiring is one of the biggest challenges for small businesses; in one survey, half of small business owners ranked it at the top of their list of difficulties. From recruiting and hiring the right candidate to setting up payroll and retaining employees, hiring is a huge time and financial commitment. Fortunately, contractors offer another option to help growing businesses scale and complete critical tasks.

Recruiting Talent

Start by writing a job description you’ll want to consider what skills, requirements, and experience are needed for the job, as well as which soft skills and preferred qualifications would make for the ideal candidate. Be sure to include information about your company, the day to day responsibilities of the job, your contact information. Also request documentation you want candidates to submit, such as a resume, cover letter, or portfolio.  Take your time to really think about this — a well-written job description will help you identify well-matched candidates and attract highly qualified candidates to your listing. Consider including compensation and benefits information to make your job listing more competitive. Once you’ve perfected the job description, it’s time to place an ad. Paid online job boards such as Glassdoor, Career Builder, and Monster.com are a great place to start.  Ask around! Social media is a great place to get the word out, especially LinkedIn. LinkedIn has a paid job board and allows you to see how you may be connected to a particular prospect. If they have a robust profile, this can both signal their professional readiness. It can give you additional insight into their character, working style, and fit for the job. Don’t stop with LinkedIn, though. Post on other social media and get in touch with your network; often family, friends, and business associates will know someone who is just right for the job. 

The Hiring Process

Organize the resumes you’ve received by yes, no, and maybe. Some ways to narrow it down include matching the qualifications that you absolutely need, checking for major errors or sloppiness, and reviewing for soft skills that will fit your company culture.  Once you’ve narrowed down the applications to the candidates who you want to interview, plan out your interview questions and establish an interview process. Be sure to avoid questions about a candidate’s age, race, national origin, or religion, due to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations.  The best questions allow you to learn more about how the interviewee might function in a given role, how they think, and how they solve problems. For example, in a customer-facing role, you might ask someone to describe how they handled a difficult interaction with a customer in the past.  You can also ask about past experiences where a candidate felt proud, challenged themselves, or assisted others, as well as why they’re interested in your company specifically and how they see themselves completing their first 90 days. Finish up by asking if the prospective employee has any questions for you and establishing next steps for the hiring process. When you’ve chosen the candidate who’s the best fit for your business needs, decide on the compensation that makes sense for the role. Then extend an offer letter. Each state will have different requirements for what must be contained in your offer letter. Be sure to check out your state’s department of labor website. Feel free to call your candidate over the phone and let them know they’ve been hired. You may do this before extending the formal offer letter. It’s a great moment for both of you to share!

Setting Up Payroll

If this is your business’s first time hiring employees, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is like your company’s Social Security Number. If you have a bank account in your business’s name (which you should, in order to build business credit), you will already have an EIN. In addition to an EIN, which is a federal tax ID, you’ll need a state or local tax ID. Whether you need a state or local tax ID will depend on your state’s individual regulations; check your state’s government website for more information.  All employees will need to fill out and return a W-4 form. Decide on your pay schedule, leave and vacation policies, and which benefits you will offer. Some benefits, such as social security, workers compensation, and new parent leave are required by law. Others, such as disability leave and unemployment insurance, vary by state. There are also some optional benefits that you may opt to offer to employees. For example, health insurance and retirement plans.  Have a plan to administer payroll. Learning all of the complex filing requirements and keeping money moving is probably not something you have time to learn and then keep current on an ongoing basis. Where you can add value on payroll is being sure your team’s hours are correct and reimbursement requests are getting paid. FINSYNC’s cloud-based payroll software can help you automate your payroll along with many other time-consuming back-office tasks, such as invoicing.  

Employee Retention

Experts estimate that it costs upwards of twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. Employee retention starts with hiring the right person in the first place, so interview carefully. Consider the compensation and benefits you’re offering as well. Even if your small business doesn’t have the budget to rival major corporations, you can do your best to be competitive in your field.  Create a positive work environment. Listen to employees’ expressed needs and whatever they choose to share about their day-to-day lives. Encouraging open communication, with ownership and between employees, makes employees more comfortable expressing ideas, needs, and concerns when they arise.  Meaningful praise and recognition from management does wonders for employee morale. Clear expectations and aligned goals help employees feel that their work is valued and valuable. It gives them a clear measure to work against.   Find ways to be flexible based on employee needs. This is where the importance of listening comes in. Considerations such as telecommuting, flexible work hours, a condensed work week, and back-up child care can make all the difference to busy professionals. 

Working with Contractors

The process of recruiting, hiring, and retaining new employees can become a job in and of itself. Especially for a small business owner with so many demands on your time.  It can take an average of 36 days for a company to fill a job opening, and the hiring process overall costs companies an average of $4,425 per employee, and as much as $14,936 for an executive.  Not only is the process itself expensive in terms of money and time, getting it wrong can be costly as well — each bad hire costs businesses an estimated $17,000. Between the required benefits and taxes companies must pay for full time employees, and the additional benefits that you may choose to offer to attract top level talent, hiring costs continue to pile up. According to the US Department of Labor, benefits alone account for more than 31.4% of the average full-time employee’s total compensation For many small businesses, contractors are a less expensive option. The hiring process is truncated, turnover is less of a risk to the business. There’s also no need to pay additional taxes and benefits on top of the contractor’s compensation. Contractors are also ideal for projects that don’t require a full-time employee. With contractor talent, you can scale your team up and down according to business needs, temporary needs or projects. 

Find qualified contractors without the hassle of screening and hiring with FINSYNC’s virtual assistance network.

FINSYNC partners with independent professionals in the fields of Bookkeeping and Accounting, Financial Analysis, Corporate Strategy, and Human Capital Management. Fill out a quick questionnaire, and get matched with a vetted professional that fits your business’s needs, projects, industry, and budget.  Growing businesses need support, but hiring a full-time employee isn’t always the most time or cost-effective option. For many small businesses, contractors help to close that gap. They provide high-quality professional services without the challenges of hiring full-time employees. For ad hoc projects, seasonal needs, professional services, and even ongoing work. Contractors are often the best of both worlds, allowing small businesses to tap top professional talent to scale their workforce up and down as needed. Whether your small business is looking to build its team with full-time employees or augment your workforce on an as-needed basis, recruiting and hiring the best fit for your business is the first step to success.
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