Category Archives: General Business News

How to Build Trust with Customers Online

January 1, 2018

Build Trust Online, Build Trust Customers When it comes to selling online, gaining users’ trust is a serious matter for businesses. Based on a July 2015 poll from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, security and privacy concerns are a big reason consumers are not doing more online. The survey found that 45 percent of respondents have stopped at least one online transaction due to these concerns, such as purchasing items online, commenting via social media, or making Internet-based banking or investment arrangements. With these statistics, what can businesses do to gain the trust of their visitors and shoppers?

Tell Customers What You’ll Do with Their Information

One way to gain trust with online customers is to explain how their information is collected and handled when they visit a businesses’ website. This is accomplished by creating a Privacy Policy that website visitors can review. A privacy policy explains what information is collected from visitors, and how that information is stored, used and disclosed internally and with third parties. Examples of such sharing include giving consumer details to third-party companies that work with the original website owner to help with order fulfillment or customer surveys.

Another way to gain the trust of website users is to explain how personal information is handled when it is entered on a company’s website and when it is transmitted to data centers. Whether entered via an online contact form or when placing an order, names, emails, shipping and billing addresses and telephone numbers are common pieces of information that consumers expect to be safeguarded.  When transmitting consumer information, businesses can provide another layer of security by ensuring the green lock appears next to the web address.

Businesses can do this by using Secure Socket Layers (SSL) Certificates or Transport Layer Security (TLS) Certificates to ensure that each user’s session is encrypted. A privacy policy also may describe how the business’s physical security is setup for its data center to reassure consumers their data is at minimal risk of being intercepted by hackers regardless of the stage of transmission.

Let Customers Contact You at Their Convenience

A business can help establish credibility by creating “About” and “Contact Us” pages on its website. Given the fact that anyone has the opportunity to setup a business presence, providing identifiable and verifiable information can help build trust with visitors and customers.

The “About Us” section may include information about who founded the company and how the company started, along with traditional contact information, such as phone numbers for sales, ordering, ongoing support and social media contacts. Using verified Twitter accounts of the business itself or select departments, such as a dedicated support department, can give visitors additional reassurance that they are dealing with the intended company. To gain consumers’ trust, a business’s information can be validated through third-party certification.

Obtain Independent Verification

Becoming accredited with a third-party agency that’s well known by visitors can help increase trust. Using the Better Business Bureau as an example, consumers will know many details of the company’s past and present business operations. Along with requiring a company to follow a privacy policy and ensuring “secure financial transactions,” businesses must have been in existence for at least six months. Requirements also mandate holding necessary licenses and bonding requirements, along with creating trustworthy advertisements. If online users have any doubt about the legitimacy of a website and its contact details, a business could encourage visitors to follow up with the third-party verifying agency to show the business is committed to honesty and transparency with reputable, independent business agencies.

Sources for the study, statistics and the Better Business Bureau:

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Is it the Right Time to Franchise a Business?

December 1, 2017

Franchise a Business, Trade Association's 2016 Franchising Top Markets ReportWhen a business owner wants to expand his business concept across a region or the country, franchising can be an attractive option. According to the International Trade Association’s 2016 Franchising Top Markets Report, franchising was projected to generate $944 billion in financial growth for the nation’s economy, expanding more than 3 percent in 2016. The same report also expected the franchise business model to create an additional 278,000 jobs in 2016. With the potential for franchising to create greater value for business owners, is franchising right for your company?

Determining a Business’ Ability to be Franchised

Before a business model can be franchised, it’s worth looking at different types of franchise models. One model is creating a standardized business system that can take the form of a hotel or motel, a restaurant/dining establishment or a graphic design/printing business. Other types of franchises include selling either pre-made products or manufacturing a product onsite (be it a food item or tangible marketing materials) under the corporate headquarters’ direction and brand or trademark. From these different models, business owners should look at the type of product or service they are selling and how their experience compares to the rest of the industry.   

When it comes to evaluating a business’ ability to be franchised, along with reviewing the profits and sales records, one important factor is the organization’s concept and how easy it can be replicated regionally or nationally. Franchises that have a greater chance of being successful give consumers something they are accustomed to in their daily lives. However, a franchise must also put a unique spin on a familiar product to help distinguish it and help it take off beyond its initial location.

Taking the food service industry for example, a quick-serve chain that sells hamburgers or pretzels that uses organic, sustainable raised ingredients and is served to customers via a conveyor belt is an example of delivering a familiar product through a unique approach. This is just one example – looking at how the product is differentiated from the rest of its competitors is what is important to scalability and consumer interest.

By highlighting that raw ingredients are grown 100 percent organically, consumers may be attracted to the brand’s product health and environmental commitments. Potential franchisees create value by producing a predictable and easily executable system for standardized employee training, both initially and for ongoing needs.

What Role is Desired by the Business Owner?

When business owners transition from owning a single location to becoming a franchisor, their role changes. Business owners often transition from repairing shop fixtures and selling their namesake product to becoming the No. 1 salesperson, explaining how the franchise works and how it can benefit franchisee owners. Other considerations for business owners include how open are they to outside partners, or having to secure debt financing for future expansion.

Some individual states have regulations for selling franchises and the Federal Trade Commission requires a Franchise Disclosure Document to be filed with the agency. This document includes a manual of operations for franchisees, information on the management team’s business background, audited financial statements, etc. Along with the regulatory requirements, franchisors also need to think about what fees and royalties franchisees must pay; the detail and length of training each franchisee receives; and what products or equipment the franchisee buys from you, the franchisor. 

Making the move from an established business owner to a franchisor is a complex process that may not be a good fit for every business. However, for the right type of business and those running it, becoming a franchisor can take a unique concept nationwide.

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