Awards & Engraving

September '19

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A&E SEPTEMBER 2019 • 49 Sales & Marketing guarantee of the results. That sums up what small business is all about, but maybe that is why the rewards for a successful small business are so terrific. There is the reality of making a living, and when we are just starting our small business, there is the normal lack of extra capital to venture out; it can be difficult. However, if you can stand back and take a good look at where you are and where you want to go (making sure you are honest with yourself ) then this can be a fruitful exercise to help you focus on your goals. Many things in life are determined by our attitude and desire, but we must be careful to calculate the odds for success in advance. Research your options. PURSUE GOOD ACCOUNTS Tip: Often you might ask those who know you best — a good friend or family member — to give you an honest appraisal of your abilities and possibilities. Everyone is born with unique talents, but no one is blessed with every talent. It is important to recognize our positive attributes and develop them to serve us. Look for talents in others that you might not possess and get their thoughts. Whatever and whoever you have as clients in your business, ask the question, "Are they good for your business?" A good account can be profitable but might tie up your time so much that it is impossible to develop and expand your business because there just isn't any time left for development other business. A true leader of their business plans instead of just living in the present. A true story: Approximately 30 years ago, I started to develop a segment of busi- ness that would connect me with several different organizations across the country. I could create items for recognition that were similar for each of these groups, but all would be with a different twist so that each was distinctive to each client. I developed a plan where we could also break off from the original design and make additional items at a price that was attractive, and when the orders were grouped together, we could buy the base materials in bulk. It would be difficult for our competition to compete. It was profitable for our company (profit is not the only thing, but it is difficult if not impossible to survive without it). I began to market the products in several different states and met with a great deal of suc- cess quickly. The plan was well-received, but it almost overwhelmed our produc- tion department. That was soon adjusted, and all was well. A-1 grew to another level quickly. We started acquiring several accounts all dealing with similar products. One of these accounts became a night- mare. When it came to service, the account needed a babysitter. They required more time and made damaged goods claims. Their main problem was that they would wait until the last minute to inspect their shipment. We suspected that the damage claims were not justified because we shipped similar products to several other groups across the country and were not having any problems. After 17 years with this account, we ana- lyzed the entire account, which was over $150,000 a year. The results were that we fired the client in order to allow our com- pany to grow. We briefly missed the account, but the attitudes of the employees saw an overnight change. I experienced this same change of attitude when we let a longtime employee go a few years earlier. We had a complete change with the other employees — all of them stepped up and production increased immediately in both cases. Our business suffered a hit with this loss, but it proved to be temporary as that lost account was soon replaced. A-1 tripled its total company volume in five years, which was amazing and had not happened since the beginning years. (An interesting side note: one of the longtime employees of this account placed a huge order with another group he was involved with because he had such a good experience with A-1.) Tip: The point of this real-life story is that we found that it is important to rid ourselves of a cancer. This cancer might be with another employee or a client. It is important to be honest with yourself. This is not a decision in either case where you should act with impulse or haste, but it should be a well-thought-out decision. The adage that the customer is always right isn't always true. You must be prepared to run your business. If you have any questions, feel free to call 1-317-546-9000; e-mail me at; or write me at Stephen L. Capper A-1 Awards, Inc. 2500 North Ritter Avenue Indianapolis, IN 46218 A&E Learn how to attract the right customers for your business with this article from fellow A&E columnist Aaron Montgomery:

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