I got a call a couple of days ago from my friend Mina Vrhovec. Recently she started a company that is involved with selling tourist arrangements and seles of membership cards that offer discounts to the members. I liked the idea a lot, but while listening about her business and the way it operates I noticed a couple of great flaws and I gave them some top notch advice, considering that they are operating on low budget.
Whole company consists of 7 people, that are divided in a 3 groups:
- Business 2 business sales – 3 persons
- Retail sale – 3 persons
- Web presence team – 2 persons
Company is ran on shoe string budget, that derives from their immediate income and from their personal resources. They are leveraging Mina’s huge network and their youthful enthusiasm. So far they were operating pretty much old fashioned, writing down their clients on a piece of paper or in separate documents and than compiling it all together in one database that was located on Mina’s personal computer. Communication with retail clients was conducted door to door, by sales team. While communication with business was conducted via phone’s and meetings. They had a lot of meetings and a couple of problems with people who were working on the website. Here are the solutions that I offered them. First of all, I told Mina to link Google Apps to their website. Within Google Apps than they had to appoint business email address to each of participants to increase participation. Inside of the Google apps, they allowed sharing of contacts and grouping them in 3 categories:
- team members
- retail clients
- business partners
Consistent email will help in company branding, since web address linked with email would help them enhance brand awareness and will allow Mina to have control over company communication in single place. It will also ease her the process of issuing new email addresses and managing their content. For company computers I recommended using Linux as operating system, with Google Chrome as their main browser. For managing meetings and scheduling events I recommended using Google Calendar.
Reason why I recommended Google Cloud is the low budget of the company, and information gathered aren’t that much of a problem. And in case some of the team members get hacked, Mina can always revoke access rights of the users in few simple clicks. Now their main program will be Google Spreadsheets where they will conduct CRM activity and keep all of the contact information of the clients and partners. Sales representatives will be able to gather information right “on the field” into Google docs, through Google Docs application on their Android phones. This will allow them massive advantage over their competitors, because the data will be collected in real time and will diminish the repetition of same tasks and will prevent sales reps to have additional work when they get home.
Now for the web presence team I had other great free solutions. I issued them a task of creating simple WordPress website, where they will empower it with their design skills and ease of use. WordPress is free platform, which is fairly easy to setup. I recommended them cheap local hosting for the SEO purposes. Than gave them instructions to integrate Google sites for personal organization and pull all the informations from Google Docs, Google Contacts and Google Calendar into one place. Next word of advice was to connect the website with Facebook and Twitter through simple WordPress automatically installed plugins. This will help them leverage their CRM and merge it with the data that they have collected through their offline efforts. Each person / business partner will contain links to their Twitter and Facebook addresses along with their email addresses.
For the purposes of communication with retail clients, I recommended using Mail Chimp, free mailing list manager, that helps you send out newsletters up to 2000 subscribers and 12 000 emails per month. For promotion purposes I recommended Google Adwords and Facebook ads to target their potential clients. Price of running this setup for your business would look something like this:
- 10 – 120 $ for 1 year of shared hosting
- 10 $ for domain name (this is required in order to setup Google Apps, linked to your domain)
- Minimal fee for applying for grouped phones
- 100 – 150 $ per person for cheap Android powered phones (+minimal contract) (In Mina’s case this cost was paid by team members who wanted to buy new cell phones)
- Advertising fee